"Should I call you 'Reverend'?" someone asked me recently. I
paused for a moment, thinking a million thoughts at once. I'm not much of a fan
of the "reverend" title, in part because of its problematic grammar but mostly
because I don't want to be revered.
If you had asked the pastor of the mainline
church I grew up in how his congregation was addressing public issues like
poverty, health or education, he would have pointed to a few church-sponsored
programs (like a child-care center and a Meals on Wheels program) but he would
also have named church members who were doctors, civil servants and public
Mary Valle, who recently heard of the Christian flag for the first time, I
grew up pledging allegiance to it at school. In 1897, a Sunday school superintendent
in Brooklyn was discussing with students the symbolism of having a U.S.
If you share my concern about the theological thinness of much of the
current craze of construing Christianity as a practice, get Roger
Owens's book. Even more, if you care about the theological identity of
the church, you will find The Shape of Participation to be this decade's finest work of ecclesiology.
Thom Ranier did an unscientific study to find out why many church visitors never return to a congregation. The top ten reasons: having to stand up and greet others during the service; unfriendly church members; unsafe and unclean children’s area; no place to get information; a bad church website; poor signage; insider church language (favorite example: “The WMU will meet in the CLC in the room where the GAs usually meet”); boring or bad worship services; a member asking a guest to move from the member’s seat or pew; and dirty facilities (“restrooms were worse than a bad truck stop”) (ThomRanier.com, November 11).