I am a church planter working with a nascent church that targets Millennials and folks who have given up on church. Most of my pastoral life has been spent (over 40 years) in pretty traditional churches that failed in their calling to be outposts rather than fortresses. My last 10-15 years have been occupied with reading books relating to the matter of how to go about being the church in this age. Some of them have been critiques of the church such as unChristian by Kinnaman and Lyons. This book results from research done among Millennials and their assessment of churches today, particularly Evangelicals.
Two statistics are startling to me and have caused me to want to think more and more deeply about what church should look like in this part of the 21st century. In the 2010 census it was found that 20% of respondents selected “none” in answer to the question, “What is your religious preference?” “None” has never been that high in previous censuses. Additionally researchers have begun looking at another group never watched called the “Dones.” This group has not left God. On the contrary, they are full of faith. But they are “done” with church. The fact that this group is new and growing is proof that we need to put our “pay attention” hats on.
Continue reading 10 Books About Church
If human beings ever had a reason to feel pessimistic, it was during the time of Isaiah the prophet in the 8th century BC. The world was in political turmoil.
The nation of Assyria was ascending in power and gobbling up vast amounts of land. Israel and Judah had experienced the violence of Assyria when the Assyrian army swooped down in military soirees, totally destroying the northern part of Israel and also punishing the southern part. Countries surrounding Israel were trying unsuccessfully to create political alliances to withstand Assyria’s gathering power. Continue reading The Desert Shall Bloom
I was in a restaurant last week eating lunch with a friend when a fellow diner waved at me and called my name as he left the restaurant.
His face was familiar. His smile said, “I know you.” I’m sure I must have had coffee with him recently or share a group membership. But no name came to my mind. “Who is this person?” I thought.
I hoped my face did not betray my cluelessness. I put on a big smile and waved back even though I couldn’t dredge up a name to go with his face. If I had just a moment to converse with him, I could have figured out the mystery.
Continue reading Paying Attention
The woman was invisible.
She was the server waiting on a group of business people (mostly men). She served them well by keeping glasses filled, taking care of special requests, and serving the various courses of the meal.
But no one saw her. No one said thank you or acknowledged her presence. The most that anyone said to her was, “…more coffee over here,” or “That’s not what I wanted.” Continue reading I’m the greatest!
Cities sometimes see new businesses come and go after very brief lives. In many cases, the business creators had a build-it-and-they-will-come belief, and they were surprised when, after a grand opening, crowds did not frequent their new businesses.
The failure problem can often be reduced to one thing, namely, the refusal to do the work necessary to create third and fourth level connections. Joining the Chamber of Commerce and telling friends and family, though useful, are not enough to create healthy traffic through a business, new or old.
Continue reading How to Build Fourth-Level Connections, Pt. 2
I still remember the day that I lost my bracelet.
It was a gorgeous woven silver bracelet with a toggle clasp that Bev got me for our anniversary. It felt good on my wrist and looked good with lots of things.
I wore it as an every-day bracelet, and it became an extension of my arm. However, one day after arriving at home, I noticed that it was missing. I knew that I had it on earlier so I was certain that it was gone.
Continue reading Lost Things
I’ve been thinking about the way that human beings connect with each other, particularly how to turn simple-addition connecting into multiplication. I haven’t done a scientific study, and my observations may be purely anecdotal. Nevertheless I think that there may be some warrant to the truth of these observations.
First level connections are the simple daily interactions we have which arise as a result of our usual daily activities. The checker at the local grocery store is a first level connection. I call these connections, “bump-into’s” because they are generally not intentional beyond the need to go buy some milk or new shoes or gas or to register for a course.
Continue reading How to Build Fourth-Level Connections
I grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas. The hometown of my youth had segregated schools, racially separated water fountains, entrances to the local theater separated according to race, and sitting in the back of the bus if you were black. It was a big deal when LR Central High School integrated, and a cultural sea change began.
It’s no surprise to me that formal debates were a common means for taking on your opponents and proving them wrong. My parents would take me to religious debates at a large local auditorium. The air was charged like at a high school football game. The object was not to learn something new but rather to crush your opponent and make him look like a fool.
Continue reading Don’t confuse me with the facts.
Any organization that requires money to fulfill its mission goes through the regular discipline of closely examining its profit and loss statement. The P & L is a financial statement that summarizes the revenues, costs, and expenses incurred during a specific period of time – usually a fiscal quarter or year. Organizations that neglect to do this fail.
Using the same financial analogy, Jesus said that a man does not begin building a tower unless he first calculates the cost of construction as well as whether his venture could financially support itself. Nor does a king declare war unless he has enough resources to fight it.
Calculating the cost of a venture seems self-evident.
Continue reading Profit and Loss Statement
A few years ago I was sitting in a coffee shop not far from a 30-something friend of mine.
“Hey Bruce, how long have you and your wife been married?”
“Wow. That’s a long time.”
The brief conversation ended, and I went back to what I was doing. But not without reflecting on what had made it possible to live with the same person for that long. And now in the year of our upcoming 45th anniversary I’d like to suggest 5 of the secrets to that longevity. Continue reading 5 Secrets to a Healthy Marriage