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23 March 2012

When We Reduce Evangelism to Membership

Posted in Steve Jobs, Leadership, Church

Join Now Former ELCA Presiding Bishop, Herbert Chilstrom, has commented on how the word "evangelical" has been hijacked by more conservative religious and political traditions.  

I don't disagree. However, I think the greater threat to our understanding of what it means to be "evangelical" is not a hijacking at the hands of outsiders, but how the term is being reduced by insiders - by us.

We have reduced "evangelism" to one meaning - the conversion of visitors to members, and the metric of successful evangelism as the rate at which these conversions take place.

14 March 2012

Steve Jobs on Self-Care: Keep Your Passion Kindled

Posted in Steve Jobs, Leadership, Church

Steve-JobsMinistry people are kind of obsessed with "self-care." We talk about it a lot and, truth be told, we tend to do a much better job talking about it than actually doing it.

There are all kinds of self-care strategies out there, which can include sprititual direction, retreats, sabbaticals, setting aside time to read and reflect, travel, and continuing education. I've done all of these and they have kept me grounded and well.

Nonetheless, there is something that really bothers me about the way we usually talk about self-care.

08 March 2012

Life is a Highway: Making the Case for Digital Ministry in Congregations

Posted in Digital Ministry, Social Media, Church

128 headline

In a couple weeks I'll be leading an adult forum at Redeemer on the phenomenon of social media and how we, as a congregation, are using it in our ministry. This may seem obvious to readers of this blog, but its not something we talk about all the time at Redeemer.

As I thought about what social media means specificially to Redeemer's ministry context something occurred to me, which helped me contextualize what we are doing with our website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and so on.

You may find it a helpful way in making the case for digital ministry in your own setting.

24 February 2012

The Church's One Vocation

Posted in Emerging, Church

Matt Wilhelm"Let me just say, I am not an active member of my congregation. If I told you that I aspired to be an active member of my congregation at this point in my life, I would be lying."

This Sunday our church welcomed Matt Wilhelm, Chief Program Officer for Calling All Crows, and, as I like to say, a good Lutheran boy, who spoke to us about the intersection of faith, service, and vocation.

In this midst of our time together, he hit us with this line, which I found refreshing because he expressed what many people in church feel, but often feel uncomfortable saying in polite congregational company.

"Yes, I like being connected to the church, but I don't aspire to be really active, at least not right now." Matt's point, as I understood it, is that he feels called to live out his vocation on the road and in the world and not so much within a congregation, at least not at this moment.

While I found it refreshing, I was also aware that these might be a challenging words for the heavily involved church faithful gathered there to hear Matt.

16 February 2012

The Five Things I Hope For In Our Next Bishop

Posted in ELCA, Leadership, Church

crozierThis spring our synod is discerning what qualities we seek in a new bishop. From my vantage point, this has been a good and engaging process. The ideas, opinions, and insights from people in the synod have been great.

However, many of the responses (including my own) have been very general in nature. We say the bishop must be a good administrator, handle conflict well, be Biblically grounded, patient, pastoral, and visionary. You know, just slightly better than Jesus.

All these things are true. I concede all these general ideas of what a bishop should be. But this only gets us halfway to where we need to go.

The key question for me is: what particular qualities do we need in a bishop now, in this time, and over the next six years?

13 February 2012

"Young People Should Be More Committed to the Church"

Posted in Culture, Leadership, Church

church councilYoung adults need to be more committed to church. At least, that's what I hear

What does that mean exactly? And, more importantly, how do we define that commitment?

Here's my hunch. When we say we want greater commitment from people, we mean commitment in the way people have purportedly "always" been committed in church. This tends to look like official positions with long-term time-intensive commitments of time. We reward longevity (not that there's anything wrong with that) but we less frequently celebrate shorter term commitments.

This ethos emerges from our congregational systems, which were created in a time when people had more time, when one-income families were more the norm, and when the landline phone was the latest technology. We no longer live in this world.

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