In the United Church of Canada, a liberal congregation is growing. Here's how.
In his recent biography of Billy Graham, Grant Wacker nicknamed the Baptist preacher “America’s pastor.” Owing to a prolific career that began in 1949 and has now spanned nearly 70 years, which saw him as the spiritual advisor to multiple U.S. presidents, the moniker is arguably fitting. Graham began his career at a pivotal time in American history, as Cold War anxieties pitted American piety against “godless communists.”
Often we want our churches to grow, but we're not sure what sort of tools to use.
Imagine having a conversation about the gospel, and then bringing an account of this conversation to a group led by an experienced supervisor.
Living in San Diego and having family in Norfolk, Virginia, I probably hear more sermons that involve military life than most Americans. I thought little of it this past Sunday when a video of a naval officer's account of war and call for church members to help those in combat and their families ran across the church televisions. But then we prayed for service women and men. And the pastor had all "retired and active" service people stand. It seemed a bit excessive. Then I realized it was Memorial Day weekend. It reminded me of the sermons of Gilded Age evangelist Dwight Lyman Moody.
Believers and nonbelievers alike are often reticent to talk about religion. Yet many people long for such conversations.
I saw the stranger across the crowded room. My eyes were drawn to him like a dog to a raw steak. He looked lonely. I could tell that he needed a friend. I smiled broadly at him. He smiled back, and that was my cue.
Our age doesn't need theoretical answers to intellectual challenges of belief. It needs personal responses to people's spiritual problems.
"I feel like a Hospice nurse," I sighed as I set down my bags. I had so many funerals in my small congregation that I had little time for anything other than caring for the dying.