Who Do You Say that You Are? The Stories of Spiritual Selves in the Postmodern, Postchristian World

There’s discouraging news again this month in my Episcopal denomination. No, not feuding seminary faculty and administrators—though that is truly awful—but another report of declining membership. Earlier this year, the Presbyterian Church (USA) reported similar membership losses. You can find the same sort of data on the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA),... Read more

Can You Feel Me Now? Embodied Ministry in a Digitally-Integrated World

In these fraught days of Ebola anxiety and debates over appropriate responses, I often find myself harking back to the summer of 2010, when I spent eleven weeks serving as a full-time Chaplain Resident (or intern) in a local hospital. One evening, I was summoned to visit a woman I’ll call “Elaine,” a patient who was isolated due to her highly compromised immune... Read more

‘Slow Activism’: Organizing to the Tune of a Different Piper

This fall, I am looking at the work of my church through a different framework. It began over the summer at the monthly meeting of our local clergy association, when I began learning about the difference between community activism and community organizing. Do you know the difference? I didn’t.   Basically, activism is focused on raising awareness on a particular... Read more

The Paradox of Congregations Becoming: Discerning 21st Century Ministries

Engaging the challenges and opportunities of 21st century ministry means navigating the paradox of continuity and change. You can see this paradox in phrases like “ancient-future church,” the Kingdom “now and not yet,” and so on. While this paradox is part of Christian faith for anyone, for 21st century church leaders it is essential to hold both sides of the paradox... Read more

Scriptural Scordatura—Playing the Bible a Little Off Key

Scordatura refers to tuning patterns for the open strings of violins and cellos that differ from the normally accepted tuning pattern of the notes G, D, A, and E. In Italian the word means “mistuned” or “out of tune,” and the connotation is carried into English where these alternative tunings are sometimes described as “abnormal.” The musical notation and accompanying... Read more