It's one thing to profess; another to do. Christians put a lot of
emphasis on professing—belief, repentance—but we also know that without
doing, those words are just so much hot air. Still, how do you know how
to be what you believe? Paul says, "Work out your own salvation with
fear and trembling.” This suggests to me that Paul didn't have an easy
I got a delightful report from a colleague's gregarious seven-year-old
the other evening about summer church school. When the little girl
asked what my favorite Bible story is, I hemmed and hawed. She quickly
confessed that hers was Ruth and then dashed outside to demonstrate the
There are always far more books than there are hours for reading, so I try to strike a balance between what I think I need to read and what I know I’ll simply enjoy. In the former category this summer is Lamin Sanneh’s Disciples of All Nations: Pillars of World Christianity.
Sometimes liberation is not enough. When the Hebrew people finally
escaped Egypt, they might have shaken off their shackles, so to speak,
but they still weren't done. Pharaoh and his army came barreling after
them. So they had to keep going as hard and fast they could, and their
faith had to keep going too.
Like it or not, our lives inevitably intersect with the lives of
others. Sometimes these intersections are happy ones, with people who
support and sustain us and whose full humanity and potential we
likewise respect and encourage. But some are full-on crashes with all
the hurt and destruction of a vehicular collision.
"I eventually realized that leaders are not made by books or workshops," says Lisa Yebuah of Edenton Street United Methodist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. "Leaders are people who marry their knowledge to action."
"I've been given an opportunity to color outside the lines," says Nanette Sawyer of Grace Commons and St James Presbyterian Church in Chicago, "the permission and charge to be creative and experimental."
"Progressive Christians do a good job with issues like LGBT rights," says Dennis Sanders of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Minneapolis. "But we're less good at helping people become disciples of Jesus."
"Religious commitments are no longer taken for
granted as part of North American people's lives," says Scott Kershner of Holden Village, a Lutheran retreat center in Washington State. "So space opens up to
ask very basic and interesting questions."
Nov 30, 2011
| An interview with Carol Howard Merritt
"What would happen," asks Carol Howard Merritt of Western Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., "if we coupled baby boomers' prophetic focus with the pragmatism of my generation? What if the church unleashed us to plant churches?"
Jul 28, 2011
| An interview with Katherine Willis Pershey
"People need to hear the good news," says Katherine Willis Pershey of First Congregational Church in Western Springs, Illinois. "If the church doesn't take on this
mission, I'm afraid—well, that's where that sentence can end. I'm afraid."
"We have rejected much of our immediate [evangelical] past," says Josh Carney of his church, University Baptist Church in Waco, Texas. Looking to older traditions, "we found that some of our objections had already been
Conducting funerals is one of the most important acts a pastor does. Inevitably, pastors have some tough funerals—after tragic accidents or premature deaths, or involving people with no faith or connection to the church. Michael Rogness, who has taught about funerals for over 20 years, makes these recommendations: carefully choose a fitting text for the sermon; try to articulate what the survivors are feeling, including their deep grief; don’t make judgments about what God was or wasn’t doing in the death of this person or about the deceased’s eternal state. Most important, “Proclaim the gospel to the survivors. The heart of our faith is that because Jesus was raised, death is not the last word” (Word & World, Winter).