A church I once served was born in a cheese warehouse, grew, purchased property, built a building, grew some more, plateaued, added an addition, declined and closed—all in a 50-year timespan. Now its building sits vacant, as much a liability as an asset to its judicatory.
Perhaps my father was wrong, but he wasn't alone. Check out this document—the general title is unmistakable: "COMMUNIST PARTY, USA" and then "NEGRO QUESTION." It's a memorandum of the United States Government dated August 30, 1963.
I called my carpenter friend Daryl when I needed some bookshelves installed on the wall of our tiny spare room. I have a collection of books that I had no room to store. I wanted the south wall of the room full of shelves, top to bottom.
Daryl came and studied the room.
“Why do you want shelves on the south wall?” he asked.
There are things which, when you are an inerrantist, never cross your mind, and yet when you cease to be one, you wonder how you could possibly have failed to think those thoughts, notice those things, and ask those questions.
I worked in Christian education for just a couple of years before I had a child of my own. It was remarkable to me how different my work began to look once I was a parent and could better understand the needs and perspective of parents and families within my congregation.
By now many of you have read about the man in the black shirt and white collar (not a black collar, as some reported with a hint of eeriness) who showed up at a terrible accident in Missouri this month.
Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) is the other thug we’ve been battling. It has beautiful flowers, butterflies love it, and it blooms for months, which is why it’s still sold as an ornamental except in states wise enough to ban it. Some loosestrife is marketed as “sterile,” suggesting it's okay to plant, but researchers have shown that the so-called “sterile” plants are as prolific as their peers.
The problem with loosestrife is that, grown on a continent where it has no natural insect predators, it takes over wetland habitat.
It happened again. A young family visited our congregation recently. They are looking for a church. They liked the worship service. They liked the kneelers (this is sort of unusual for a Lutheran church; we have had kneelers since the 1960s); they liked the sermon. But as they looked around, they made the observation, "There are an awful lot of gray heads out there."
Here's the thing about committing yourself to a daily discipline. I don't care whether you've vowed to pray or exercise or only eat M&Ms and watch Val Kilmer movies: eventually, you are going to get sick of it.