Luke, “God’s Plan,” & Vocation

Contemporary Christians should back away from sure and certain language of God’s plan for us. A burning bush is by far the exception for bringing about vocational clarity. God saves angels for only super-special occasions.

An Installation Sermon: “Following” (Matt. 4:18-22)

For various reasons, I don’t often post my sermons on this blog, nor do I mention my work with the Presbytery of the Northern Plains. Today, however, I’m making an exception and posting the manuscript for the sermon I preached this morning at First Presbyterian Church of Fargo, ND at the Installation Service of the […]

How Pastors Have it Easy

Last weekend, when leading a Men’s Bible Study retreat, a group discussion led me to reflect on how easy pastors have it. Of course I’m not talking about workload, or the intellectual demands of pastoring, or the stress of shepherding a flock. Rather, I noted that when it comes to discipleship, pastors have it relatively […]

Acts 8:26-40, Castrating Our Customs

An exegetical essay of mine went up today at ON Scripture, a wonderful project of public theology hosted by Odyssey Networks. The project has a partnership with Huffington Post’s Religion work, so it also appears at that site. I’m going to start regularly posting some essays at my new Huffington Post portal which, honestly, is […]

Smartphones, Smart Pastor, Smart Church

Next time you see a group of young adults dining together at a restaurant, take a closer look at the table. Nine times out of ten, you’ll be able to glimpse at least one cell phone resting on the tablecloth or, just as likely, in someone’s hand. In many cases, multiple phones will dot the table as if they were part of the place settings. One might deduce that young people today have a medical condition causing indigestion unless they eat with their phones near at hand. Come to think of it, that’s dangerously close to the truth.

The dining scene hints at the fact that many youth and young adults today have a relationship with technology and social media that is core to their formation….

Here’s a list of five common phenomena among young people, and how the church might incorporate them into its worship, preaching, and communal life:

Teachy preaching and its discontents

Originally posted at Gathering Voices: Faith Conversations from TheThoughtfulChristian.com A few months into my current call as a solo pastor, I was sitting in a committee meeting when a member described what she told a friend about our church. She’d told her friend about our great youth sunday school and the friendly atmosphere of our congregation […]

My DOs and DON’Ts of Children’s Sermons

The tricky truth about children’s sermons is that it’s easier to come up with bad ones than good ones. Yesterday, a Sunday morning Twitter exchange with a few pastors got me thinking about my children’s sermon approach, and how it differs from many of my colleagues. For example, when I saw this site and the […]

The Blame Game

In internet time, this post is eons too late. But a NY Times Op-Ed from Sunday still bothers me three days later, so I’m posting yes, even 72 hours after its publication. In the Op-Ed, “Congregations Gone Wild”, Jeffrey MacDonald a UCC pastor, blames the trend in pastor burnout on congregational pressure. Congregation members treat […]

One Hundred Sermons

pulpit2

A few weeks ago, thankfully without any fanfare, I preached my 100th sermon. I know this number not because I carefully keep track, but because there are 100 files in my computer’s “Sermon” folder. Many of you more seasoned pastors might scoff at a piddly number like 100, but I’m guessing that, of those who […]