Archives For Advice

True confession: science was never my favorite subject. My university science requirements were fulfilled with courses like “Human Nutrition” (I get to talk about food every day?) and “Geology” (how hard could looking at rocks be?). During 7th grade parent teacher conferences, my life science teacher reported I preferred talking to active participation in class (um, that was definitely the girl who sat next to me!). Studying theology as an undergraduate and pursuing a call to pastoral ministry allowed me to avoid all those labs and experiments my science-loving peers voluntarily signed up for…at least I thought so.

Crazy scientist. Young boy performing experiments

True confession: as a pastor in ministry, I do a lot of experimenting. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent, and continue to spend, a significant amount of time focused on youth ministry. My seminary professor Kenda Dean often asserted, “Youth ministry is the de facto research and development branch of American Christianity.” So, for me, experimenting comes with a territory. While I agree that youth ministry is a hub for inquiry and change in the church, I think those of us who serve as pastors in today’s church are, and will be, challenged to experiment more and more as we navigate a rapidly changing social, cultural, and religious environment. As I experiment in ministry, here’s what I’m learning. Continue Reading…

I read an article by Jen Hatmaker in the Washington Post titled, “How a Consumer Culture Threatens to Destroy Pastors.” While I agree that our culture is a threat to pastors, I wondered whether we place too much emphasis on culture and not enough on our need to create boundaries and realistic expectations. (This spoken from a minister.)  What if we looked at ourselves and asked, “How do I make ministry harder than it needs to be?”  Below are five ways:

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1. It Feels Good to Be Needed

Ministers love to be loved. And one of the best ways to be loved is to feel needed. Yes, I’ll teach Bible study; yes, I’ll preach 45+ Sundays a year; yes, I’ll visit everyone in the church every month. Congregants love these ideas and pastors (myself included) love to be needed.

2. We Think Ministry Only Happens When We Are Present

It is a hard pill to swallow when a minister sees a successful ministry that s/he isn’t leading/creating/nurturing. This speaks to our need to be needed and how we often assume (we all know what that word means) we need to be the leaders/facilitators/guides for every ministry. Continue Reading…

For many churches across the country, this Sunday is Rally Sunday or Kickoff Sunday—a time to gather the church family together again as a new program year begins. This is a time to celebrate people, ministries, relationships, milestones, and God’s presence with us. All of this has me thinking more generally about celebrations in the church throughout the year. Every Sunday we gather for worship, there is an element of celebration; even at the end of life, we celebrate a baptism made complete with a Service of Witness to the Resurrection. And I think we should also celebrate the sacred among the mundane and the smaller miracles in life.

The Bible, of course, is full of celebration! Our ancestors in the faith celebrated God’s presence, God’s guidance, God’s help, God’s saving grace. There was dancing in the streets, singing, music played on many instruments, shouting, inviting, feasting and more. Celebration is an important part of our journey with God. In a time when there is a lot of gloom and doom surrounding churches in general—in regard to loss in membership and questions about leadership or how money is spent—now is the time for us to celebrate what God is doing among us. What are the signs of God’s power and presence in your church? How is God calling your church to serve the community? Where are the signs of new life in your congregation? Continue Reading…