My former congregation prided itself on being warm and friendly. Then one Sunday Michael came to worship, and we discovered the limits of our welcome. Michael had Tourette's syndrome, a neurological disorder characterized by involuntary physical and vocal tics. At first, there were no signs of our visitor's disability; Michael seemed rather quiet.
Head out on a tour of the castles of medieval Europe and you'll quickly catch on to a castle's three key features. What you see first is the bailey—a large area surrounded by a substantial wall where most of the population lived and most of the life of the community was conducted.
I feel sorry for those who never
got to hear Peter Gomes work a congregation while a biblical text worked
him. He was a teacher, raconteur and best-selling
author. But his primary vocation was as a preacher.
Paul tells us to
"resolve" never to put a hindrance to the gospel before another person—and resolve
is what it takes. By initiating a conversation about hell, Rob Bell is putting his reputation on the line.
The first Sunday of Lent is the best time of the year to talk about sin.
Many people in the church, especially the mainline church, are stuck when
it comes to the overlap of sin and sensuality. No one really wants to be
the pastor who comes over all judgmental about sex.
James Fenimore Cooper Jr. and Margaret Bendroth are rummaging through church attics and basements in the New England states, especially Massachusetts, looking for records of early American life. Some churches are reticent to part with old documents, but the two historians point out how vulnerable the documents are and offer to keep them in a climate-controlled rare book room at the Congregational Library in Boston. Among their findings: a church in Middleboro possessed an application for membership submitted in 1773 by a slave (New York Times, July 29).