Articles tagged with: culture

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?

04 October 2013

Pastrix: Nadia Bolz-Weber's Cranky and Beautiful Memoir (Review)

Posted in Emerging, Leadership, Spirituality, Church

Pastrix3Nadia Bolz-Weber makes me want to be a better pastor. She also reminds me that I'm bound to fuck it up.

In her new book Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint, Nadia chronicles her upbringing in a fundamentalist church, her path to self-destruction as a young adult, her improbable call to ministry, and her journey with her people at House for All Sinners and Saints.

It is beautifully written, funny, and heartbreaking. It will make you laugh out loud and, if you're like me, choke up and wipe away the tears pooling up in the corner of your eyes. Often all on the same page.

Surely, Pastrix is one of the first great spiritual memoirs of post-American-Christendom.

Pastrix speaks profoundly to those who are alienated from the church. I want to buy a copy for all my friends, and I've got plenty, who have given up on church long ago.

For my part, I can't help but read Pastrix from my own perspective as a ministry practitioner and Lutheran pastor.

What I have learned from Nadia, in our conversations and again in Pastrix, is that being a better pastor is not about accumulating skill sets and eventually, finally, getting it right. Its about being open enough to God (who she refers to as "Jesus the Boyfriend," who gets all up in our shit) and God's people to have your heart broken.

18 July 2013

broken liturgy and Peter Rollins

Posted in Emerging, Leadership, Church

brokenliturgyLast night I attended broken liturgy with Pete Rollins.

Wow. It was amazing.

broken liturgy is, as the creative team behind it (John HardtChristopher Cocca, and Lin Preiss) will tell you, hard to describe.

It deconstructs liturgy and church (the tag line is "church undone") and at the same time is incredibly generative. It is avantgard and ancient. The MacBook sits on the piano. Hand cut figures are hand-placed on the the digital projection screen. It does not promise answers. It offers an experience, which is open to whatever you bring to it. It doesn't explain. It doesn't tie things up neatly at the end. The lights just come on. The ending is liminal: no permisson, no instruction, no dismissal. (Unlike my Lutheran tribe, which can't leave a room unless someone says, "Go in peace. Serve the Lord.") It is music, poetry, art, and story, beautifully and carefully combined. And it is broken. Over pints afterward, the team and Pete recounted some of the hiccups in the program and also noted that that's kind of the point. We are broken people—and this is a liturgy by and for broken people.

07 January 2013

The Church's Generational Log Jam is Making Everybody Cranky

Posted in Culture, Emerging, Church

logjamMinistry leaders can be so busy lamenting the fact there are fewer people in our churches these days that we often miss how the people who do attend are crammed together generationally.

We are unwittingly cramming six distinct generations into three traditional roles, and it causes all kinds of congregational tensions, which present persistent challenges to ministry leaders.

That’s the important point that Carroll Sheppard and Nancy Burton Dilliplane make in their helpful book Congregational Connections: Uniting Six Generations in the Church. I had the pleasure of co-leading a conversation on generations in the church with Carroll at a recent gathering of the Philadelphia Area Ecumenical Resource Network, and I appreciated this point:

“This is the first time in the world’s history when significant numbers of six demographic cohorts have all occupied the stage at the same time.”

“What is intensifying the problem is that these six generational cohorts are trying to squeeze themselves into an outdated three-generation model of elders, households raising children/career singles, and children.”

“In the six-generational cohort society, it is often unclear who is in charge, who will do the work, and who is raising the children.”

26 November 2012

Pastors, Stop Complaining About Sunday Morning Sports

Posted in Culture, Leadership, Church

soccerIt’s a common complaint among clergy types, “Sunday morning sports is taking people away from worship!”

This lament and the exasperation that accompanies it goes deeper than just whether a family shows up on a particular Sunday. It is the lament of the loss of the privileged place that the Churchand clergyonce enjoyed in our culture. And in our lament we risk alienating the very young families we seek to engage.

The emergence of Sunday morning sports is just a symbol of a shift that’s happening in our society where the church is no longer accommodated or propped up by our culture.

Clergy lament this. It makes our jobs harder. But, if we are honest, there is something deeper: it is the resentment of the loss a privileged place of not only religious institutions, but Christian institutions, and not just Christian institutions, but Christian people, and the leaders of those people, the professional clergy, us. We are mourning our own diminishing cultural position and privilege. That’s what I hear just under the surface when clergy complain to each other about Sunday morning sportsits the loss of our place, our privilege, our position.

13 November 2012

What Churches Should Learn from Mitt Romney's Defeat

Posted in Culture, Emerging, Leadership, Church

romneyA fundamental problem that led to the defeat of the Romney campaign, and Republican party more generally, in the 2012 election, is the same one that faces mainline congregations: mistakingly thinking that simply maximizing a coalition of aging white men is sufficient to win the future.

Much of the early analysis in the final days of the 2012 presidential campaign has focused not on policy, ideology, or ads, but strategy: polling, turnout, and, specifically, demographics.

It turns out that the downfall of the Romney campaign was not appreciating the demographic shifts that had taken place in the country over the last four years. America and the electorate had become more diverse and urban - and the tone, resonant issues, language, and culture had shifted along with them.

In many ways, the mainline church now finds itself in the same position as the Republican party - scrambling to catch up to changes in country and culture. The Church must understand the lesson of the Romney defeat and pivot toward the culture that exists now rather than the one that used to be.

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