First, a confession: I’m not a big fan of my birthday.
Actually that’s not quite accurate. I like my birthday just fine, but as an inherently private person I’m not a big fan of others’ expectations of how I should spend my birthday, so I’m deliberate about keeping the actual date under wraps.
I would never make it as an accountant. I tend to lose focus on details, and I’ve never been too motivated about dollars and cents. Plus I can get philosophical on something as simple as mathematical functions like subtract or multiply.
What to some might look like subtraction, a reduction in the bottom line, in God’s economy can be multiplication, compounding and expanding in every direction.
There’s little for us mainliners to celebrate in this new Pew study. We’re losing people, and fast. I appreciate Heidi Haverkamp’s realistic-yet-hopeful words here and Rob Rynders’ there. But, like them, I’m not interested in spinning an argument that the numbers are somehow lying.
The numbers are clearer, however, than the reasons for them.
Over the years I've heard my share of complaints regarding the "prayer of confession" in weekly worship. Not everyone feels this way, but it's not unusual to get a critique regarding such prayers' negativity. "Why do I need to say I'm no good week after week?" people ask.
I often think I hear colleagues asking, “How could we attract nuns to our church?” Actually they’re talking about “the nones,” of course. One of the clearest findings of the Pew Forum’s new religious landscape study is that fewer and fewer people have any religious affiliation at all. Catholics and mainline Protestants show the biggest drop.
A few years ago, during a vacation on the Outer Banks of North Carolina (a place where my family and I go every couple of years), my children were playing with their cousins on the beach. I was taking photos as they frolicked in the gentle surf along the wide expanse of seemingly endless ocean. There were sea and beach creatures, along with colorful shells, that also caught my photo snapping attention.
Somewhere in the midst of my attempts at capturing as many “Kodak moments” as I could, I lost my footing and fell.