Life in the institutional church


Life in the institutional church

Apr 2014 Connections. A central Texas church has been resurrected, to the surprise of many people who have known it earlier. For years, United Methodist district superintendents who were responsible for it saw it as a problem church, and… Continue reading →

Mar 2014 Connections. Two Sara Miles books describe her conversion, the food pantries she started, her public observances of Ash Wednesday, and her food-related view of communion. Read and download 3-2014 Connections >

Feb 2014 Connections. Reflections on whether church rules express God’s will, and on readers’ responses to the January 2014 Connections. Read/download 2-2014 Connections >

Jan 2014 Connections. Two disagreements within the UMC are in the secular news: can clergy perform same-sex marriages, and is online Communion permissible? To settle these, does the UMC need more rules or fewer? Both reflect major differences in beliefs… Continue reading →

Dec 2013 Connections. Readers are heartbroken, saddened, and ashamed by my church’s actions, but thankful for my honesty, hope, courage, inspiration, and guiltless discussion. Read/download 12-2013 Connections >

Nov 2013 Connections. 21 years of writing Connections has shown me I’m not alone in my experiences and views, but my congregation now feels more like a wilderness than ever. Read/download 11-2013 Connections

Oct 2013 Connections. Many claims made by churches don’t match what is now known from other sources. Progressive views are too often kept secret, making churches unlikely to survive. Read/download 10-2013 Connections >

Sept 2013 Connections. Today’s focus on metrics can keep churches from focusing on purpose as much as they need to. And continuing to use ancient Christian words and metaphors can be harmful, especially to women. Read/download 9-2013 Connections

May 2013 Connections. Churches’ failure to welcome honest questions and to provide reliable information and real dialogue  is turning off many of today’s younger people and some older ones. Read/download 5-2013 Connections >

Apr 2013 Downloads. What should churches’ and seminaries’ basic purpose be? What distinguishes church from other community-service groups? Read/download 4-2013 Connections >

Oct 2012 Connections. Christians who feel a strong need for church change often feel alone in their home churches and communities. Read/download 10-2012 Connections >

Sept 2012 Connections. Churches that are like beacons in their communities. Read/download 9-2012 Connections >

June 2012 Connections. Church members need to be made aware of what their churches’ decision-making bodies are doing and what condition their denominations are in. Read/download 6-2012 Connections >

May 2012 Connections. First United Methodist Church in Omaha, Nebraska, has outstanding progressive ministries. Download/read 5-2012 Connections >

April 2012 Connections. UMC and others need to recover strengths of the Methodist movement, rather than staying bureaucratic and top-down. 2012 General Conference was crucial. Read/download 4-2012 Connections >

Oct 2011 Connections. Church decision-makers and the members who elect them need to be well-informed about the issues they will vote on, but unfortunately many are not. Read/download 10-2011 Connections >

Sept 2011 Connections. Many Christians retreat into gated communities, and many churches exclude people, while claiming to follow Jesus, who ate with tax collectors and sinners. Read/download 9-2011 Connections >

Jan 2011 Connections. UMC pastor Adam Hamilton sees the church losing young people because of its theology and resulting attitudes and actions. Older people are also being lost. Read/download 1-2011 Connections >

June 2010 Connections. Should progressive Christians focus on the church or on injustice outside of it? What should unwanted church members do? What is progressive Christianity? Read/download 6-2010 Connections >

Mar 2010 Connections. Church-going Christian friends report varied reactions to their churches’ worship services: merely different strokes, or important differences in content? Read/download 3-2010 Connections >

Sept 2008 Connections. Many Connections readers write about having disconnected from the church or at least feeling alone in it, because they find its literalism unbelievable. Read/download 9-2008 Connections >

Dec 2007 Connections. What seminaries should do. What do members expect? Can you help? Gifts that can make a difference. Revising our priorities. Continue reading →

Mar 2007 Connections. In Christianity for the Rest of Us: How the Neighborhood Church Is Transforming the Faith (HarperSan- Francisco, 2006), Diana Butler Bass reports on fifty thriving mainline Protestant congregations that are experiencing new vitality through innovative… Continue reading →

Feb 2007 Connections. In a study of fifty thriving mainline Protestant congregations across the U.S., Diana Butler Bass, a scholar who studies American Protestantism, found these congregations experiencing new vitality through innovative use of traditional Christian practices. Read/download 2-2007 Connections

Jan 2007 Connections. As I write this it’s not yet Christmas and I’m wrapping gifts. The church is on my mind more than usual, and I’m thinking about it while I wrap. I see a lot of resemblance between… Continue reading →

Sept 2006 Connections. Making disciples of Jesus Christ is officially the mission of the United Methodist Church. However, the Bible says a lot about making disciples and about being a disciple. Therefore many other Christians besides United Methodists also… Continue reading →

Feb 2006 Connections. Many pastors avoid saying a lot of what they know about Christian history and the Bible’s origins. They try to justify their silence by saying they don’t want to destroy the faith people depend on, even… Continue reading →

June 2005 Connections. The leadership of American religion is in the midst of a sea change, say James P. Wind and Gilbert R. Rendle, authors of a recent report published by the Alban Institute. We are in a time… Continue reading →

Apr 2005 Connections. What makes a church effective? Last month I suggested that we should evaluate pastors on their effectiveness as leaders, not just on how well they love and serve church members. But pastors aren’t the only people… Continue reading →

Nov 2004 Connections. The more I learn about the Bible and how it reached its present form, the more troubled I become by so many Christians’ insistence that the Bible’s words are all historical accounts, rules for all situations… Continue reading →

June 1997 Connections. The May Connections, about what I see as harmful clericalism and inconsistencies in using the clergy-appointment system in the United Methodist Church, has triggered enthusiastic compliments from most readers I’ve heard from. Read/download 6-1997 Connections

May 1997Connections. Recently, I was in a conversation in which some United Methodist women, clergy and lay, were discussing how rarely clergywomen are appointed to the positions that have the highest pay and responsibility, even when the women… Continue reading →