Church Category

09 November 2014

Welcome to God's Hackathon

Posted in Social Media, Church

HackerPut on your hoodies, friends. We’re gonna rewrite that old DOS code that’s been running the Church for too long.

Check out my latest article about church innovation in The Narthex:

The church today is in the midst of its own sort of hackathon—whether or not it wishes to be. Many of the programs and structures that served the church well in the post-World War II period have lost their resonance and impact. The old ministry hymnbook that worked so well in the mid-20th century, seems profoundly dissonant at the outset of the 21st. Ministry leaders are furiously rewriting their ministry scripts, hacking away at roles and responsibilities, liturgies and committees, and the sites and structures of worship. It reminds me of a painting by Paris Bordone of the child Jesus teaching in the Temple. As he holds forth, the elders and scribes around him are tearing up their old scrolls and recording Jesus’ new message, like so many hackers throwing out old code, making room for the new. Except now Jesus is wearing a hoodie and Keds.

Today’s ministry leaders, if they are not already, must view themselves as hackers, iterating, and in some case breaking things, in order to help the church move forward.

Read the full article at The Narthex.

Photo Credit: Alexandre Dulaunoy, “Everybody Needs a Hacker,” 2013. CC 2.0 license.

31 October 2014

The Church Kids Will Be Alright...You're Welcome

Posted in Leadership, Church

Skateboard-WingtipsLost in the debates over generational shifts in the church between Boomers and Millenials is a forgotten generation, Gen-Xers. And we might have a chip on our shoulder about it. Check out my new post that's getting a lot of buzz on the new online magazine, The Narthex, which I edit with Elizabeth Drescher.

Here's an excerpt:

You see, Gen-Xers know that the church has never and will never belong to us — not that we would want that. We are deeply skeptical of institutions. We understand that we are a transitional generation. We console older generations in their lament for how things used to be, even as we pry their clutched fingers from the reigns of power and control. And we are hurriedly trying to prepare the ground for Millenials, with their much needed technological and cultural fluency, to have voice and shape the Church and American Christianity.

Most of us are not digital natives, but we love technology and lead digitally-integrated lives. We are the last generation to enter seminary or divinity school thinking that ministry was a stable livelong career choice. And it turns out — lucky us — that we get to help preside over the death of Christendom and nurture whatever it is that comes next. We grew up with Boomers — our parents—but we associate ourselves with Millennials.

Read the full post here at The Narthex.

Photo credit: Jay Mantri. CC 0 license.

13 December 2013

On Advent and Liturgical Fundamentalism

Posted in Church

adventcandlesI recently posted a rant on Facebook about how so many ministry leaders were posting about the color of Advent candles and singing Christmas hymns in Advent. It went something like (well, exactly like) this:

“I have no patience for debates over the color of Advent candles and whether or not to sing Christmas songs in Advent. God became incarnate *mind blown*...and candles and carols are all some church professionals on Facebook can post about? Give me a break.”

I had seen so many colleagues posting about these things that I finally snapped and posted about it. 139 likes, 45 comments, and 5 shares later, it seems to have hit a nerve. Facebook informs me that its on of my most popular posts of 2013. Oh, well.

Here’s my problem with all this.

09 December 2013

Make Your Neighborhood Your Cathedral (Video)

Posted in Video of Previous Speaking Engagements, Digital Ministry, Emerging, Church

This fall I was invited to speak as part of a series called "Conversations that Matter" for the Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod of the ELCA. I gave the talk live at the first conversation in Nazareth, PA and then we recorded it for subsequent gatherings. The invitation was to speak about the future direction of the church in a way that provoked conversation and reflection.

This 22-minute video called "Make Your Neighborhood Your Cathedral" explores something I am deeply passionate about and I think is vital to the future of the Church—getting outside our church buildings and being present in public local and digital gathering spaces, whether it is the local cafe or pub, Facebook or Twitter. (Email readers will need to click here to view the video.)


23 October 2013

Keeping Sabbath With My Confirmation Class

Posted in Church

Remember-SabbathWe are learning about the Ten Commandments in our Confirmation class this fall, and most recently the Third Commandment: "Remember the Sabbath and Keep it Holy" and Martin Luther's explanation of it in the Small Catechism, "We are to fear and love God, so that we do not despise preaching or God's Word, but instead keep the Word holy and gladly hear and learn it."

Inspired by the work we are doing in my class Catechism as Platform and conversations on experiential learning with Bethany Stolle, I decided to craft a Confirmation class that was an experience of Sabbath, rather than just a discussion about it. It turned out to be a great mashup of premodern and postmodern, ancient and digital.

Luther's explanation of the third commandment, as I understand it, is about taking time to encounter the Word of God, whether that's on the traditional Christian Sabbath of Sunday morning, where we gather for worship and engage with the Word in Scripture readings, sermons, and the liturgy, or simply time apart from our busy routines in order for rest and renewal so that we can encounter God in the Word—which, for me, can be Scripture, or another person, or nature, or any number of ways people encounter and experience God.

When I introduced the session and told the kids that I just wanted them to relax and there would be time for them just to chill, they were pretty shocked. They are so programmed, just like adults, they weren't expecting to get permission just to be kids—really, just to be.

So, here's what we did, including links and resources. The entire experience lasted 90 minutes.

How are you cultivating experiential learning in your ministry? Share your good ideas in the comments.

16 October 2013

Two Talks on Evangelism in the 21st Century

Posted in Leadership, Church

Ethiopian-iPhoneWhat does evangelism in the 21st century look like? How is it different than 5, 10, 15, or 25 years ago?

In these two talks/sermons, I take on those questions and offer up strategies that have worked for me.

In short, evangelism must begin with repentence and it should involve more listening— holy listening— than it usually does. 

I draw on the work of the Barna Group in the books UnChristian and You Lost Me, Nadia Bolz-Weber's spiritual memoir, Pastrix, research from Elizabeth Drescher, and the work of Paul Hoffman described in Faith Forming Faith

What does evangelism at the ouset of the 21st century look like where you are?

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