In “The Art of Leading Change: Ten Perspectives on the Messiness of Ministry,” Mike Bonem learns from religious and secular business leadership–as well as from artists–to inform his thoughts on church leadership and change. Change is inevitable, yet our approach to engaging change will determine how well we deal with the “messiness” of ministry.
Foraging invites us into a relationship of gift to gift, abundance to abundance. In theological terms, foraging invites us to move from dominion to stewardship, and from stewardship to relationship and reciprocity. For in the end this world is God’s garden, and it is a gift and a grace—and a delicious taste—just to be a part of it.
A casi seis años de la tragedia, podemos decir que somos expertos en respuesta a desastres. Lo demostramos en los desastres que precedieron. Ya nada es igual. Ya no somos iguales, somos más fuertes, más resilientes… más sensibles. Así que seguimos sanando, seguimos amando, seguimos soñando.
Nearly six years after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, we can say that we are now experts in disaster response. We demonstrated this in the disasters that have followed since then. Nothing is the same. We are no longer the same. But we are stronger, more resilient…more sensitive. So we keep healing, we keep loving, and we keep dreaming.
As we learn to adapt in a post-pandemic world, the tools we learned during the pandemic can continue to be useful to us. Having the opportunity to participate in memorials and funerals online is important for processing grief in a new way.
Falling—experiencing failure, grief, loss, and despair—is a fact of life for us, as it was for Jesus’ early followers. However, hope inculcates the ability to get back up, again and again. And where there is hope there is resilience. In this way faith, resilience, mental health, and the post-resurrection experience are inextricably connected.
The inclusion of voices like the Free Churches Group and Baptists Together in King Charles III’s coronation represents the culmination of a gradual move towards inclusion of religious dissenters in British life.
George Santayana famously observed, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” What have we learned from post-Reconstruction?
Connected people live longer, happier, healthier lives. Connected societies do too.
One in five Americans live with some form of mental illness. Additionally, 5.5% of Americans suffer with a serious mental health disorder. There is an epidemic in our midst without an easy cure (if one exists).
National denominational conventions are opportunities to see each other in the flesh and to break down myths, stereotypes, and perhaps our fears of the other. When you see me, I hope that you will not just see me as Don Ng but also see me as an Asian American Pacific Islander person. I will see you too!
The church’s inattention to a growing and widespread acceptance that there is more than one universe, each existing on different planes that intersect in ways that make visitation between them difficult but possible, is a mystery to me.
To recognize Charlotte Rowe’s life and ministry is a matter of justice. Her courage and perseverance should inspire the unfinished work to eradicate gender bias in all its forms.
“The Quiet Girl” is a powerful reminder to appreciate the lower key approach, most often encouraged during Lent but usually ignored other times of the year for Christians.
Access to fully stocked libraries and the freedom to self-select books becomes part of an education that allows us to learn how to think. Interfering with that process by attempting to control access or selection is an attack on a fundamental freedom.
Our habits will predict our desired outcomes regarding the land and atmosphere we inhabit. Is there a personal philosophy of the sacred embedded in the idea of Earth Day for you that moves you to preserve, protect, and restore our earth?
For this Earth Day 2023, I invite you to meditate with me on the earth element, and particularly, to consider what the concept of re-earthing might mean, what re-identifying ourselves with and as earth might mean, in an age in which the earth element faces perhaps unprecedented challenges of ecological upheaval and climate peril.
A new, more modest, standard of living—one which considers the interests of our neighbors and the environment, and which seeks to expand equity of access to the necessities of life for all—is possible. To achieve it will require a change in perspective.
This Earth Day, I’m grateful for the people in my life who love the outdoors more than I do and have given me the chance to experience nature more fully. I’m also grateful to those who were and are committed to preserving the earth for all of us, for its beauty and for the way it sustains us not only physically, but also emotionally and spiritually.
Do you want to volunteer with/through/at church? Excellent, now let’s think a bit about how you can best share your gifts through the body of Christ as part of the church’s direct institutional life.
Here at the dive, I’m exposed to a rare equality. My presence alone passes as my infinite value. I’m just Justin, and being him is enough.
Amid the noise and confusion and fear within our public life, we may want to take cover. We may seek out protection. But this narrow place only walls us off from each other just when we need each other. It causes us to narrow our response just when we must broaden it.
Amidst the current waves of shootings, earthquakes, train accidents, wars, and balloons, there’s been a rare event, a revival, a movement of the Holy Spirit at Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky. What do we do with the revival at Asbury?
Holy Wednesday is one of the days in Holy Week that we don’t seem to hear about as much. Yet, the darkness it represents is symbolized in Native American history.
It is one of my life’s ambitions to become like the woman who brought me and my wife a cup of cold water on a hot day in Providence, Rhode Island. I would cherish the opportunity to quench another’s thirst…either their physical need for a drink of water, their need to be drawn closer to the Divine, or their thirst for justice and righteousness.
They used to say “behind every good man there’s a woman,” meaning a wife holding down the home front, or typing the research papers and creating the index for the book. This year for Women’s History Month, I’m thinking about the opposite: “Behind every good woman there’s a man.” Put in a more nuanced way, many women who have an impact have men to support and encourage them along the way. That’s been true for me.
Better than sliced bread? Paul Tillich’s way forward for a religious consciousness to serve humanity
I’m not entirely certain this post is going to “work.” Basically, I’m going to try and convince you a long, opaque passage from an out-of-print essay by Paul Tillich is the best thing since sliced bread.
Mary Price Boday, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, author, educator, dancer, and survivor, is an excellent example for Women’s History Month.
Sometimes seizing an opportunity requires taking a chance on someone not having said “no,” but also not having given you permission. Then, be bold in playing your part. You just might excel at something others doubt you can do.
Peace starts from within. To maintain peace involves nurturing peace persistently. This is not a casual practice; it must be a lifestyle.
We know that Jesus, in his fully human and divine form, needed time in the wilderness with the Holy Spirit. So do we, in our fully human forms.
Because Sojourner Truth advocated for her rights, we can rightfully claim our places as women. Because Ella Baker was determined to lead by raising others, we are similarly determined in our leadership. Because Dorothy Height was not dissuaded from being herself, we can courageously be our authentic selves. Because of them, we are. Therefore celebrate, my sisters of the African diaspora. Sashay seamlessly from Black History to Women’s History and claim your unique space.
Woe to institutions and churches alike for attempting to play it safe when dangerous spaces are what the world needs.
Perhaps the story of Jael is a bit much for a kindergartener, but to me, to leave her out is to omit a critical aspect of God’s working, a story that sidesteps the neat patriarchy that the world has been accustomed to since the beginning of time.
The recent Israeli elections threaten core elements that undergird any lasting peace in Israel/Palestine, elements such as human rights, the status quo agreement governing Jerusalem, and religious liberty.
The Black Baptist church movement that began among enslaved Africans in the South during the Revolutionary War gave birth to the Black independent or separate church movement in the North.
Observing Lent and Daylight Saving Time is appropriate. We have lost an hour yet spend an hour (or more) in the regular Sunday service, balancing our weary selves with the higher purposes of Divine Worship.
Honestly, I can’t remember the first time I received communion, but I will never forget Communion on my couch, watching worship on a screen during the pandemic.
The world is a better place because of the fuss Judy Heumann made. We should be so principled and persistent in expanding access and opportunity for people with disabilities.
Recently, my email was hacked. While I know that getting hacked is increasingly common, I still felt violated and, in my heart, I experienced remorse for inconveniencing friends, family, and colleagues on my contact list. I spent the rest of the evening responding to people who contacted me to see if I was okay.
Although historic women’s ordinations are obviously a point of pride for mainline denominations like the ABCUSA, women still have to break through the “stained glass ceiling.” While women make up 50% of students in ABCUSA-run seminaries, the numbers of female senior or solo pastors lag behind, and Baptist women in ministry report numerous experiences of institutional misogyny.
The work of disability justice cannot happen without grief. I’m not sure any justice movement can. Before you can address the injustice, you must first acknowledge it. And when you do, it is likely to break your heart.
Creating space for persons with dementia and their loved ones in the life of the church is part of the broader work of improving religious access for people living with disabilities.
Nat Turner is a controversial figure in American history, and to many a source of contention. His legacy is one of conflict and controversy. Yet his legacy of fighting for freedom is still heard and must continue to be grappled with today.
James Black was a child prodigy. When I was a teen, he was my golf coach for a time in 1979-80. I know him as a spiritual man who touched my life at a time when I encountered all things awkward.
Following Jesus is action oriented. It is more than mere belief. You can believe all the right things and still do all the wrong things. Jesus demands that we do both well. This Lent, I challenge us all to look for the disconnect between our belief and our actions.
Don’t just receive the imposition of ashes on February 22nd. Invite others to join you. Tell them what it means to you. Let them in on a little bit of the mystery of this journey we are on together. The worst thing that might happen is they would say no. In which case your “ask” would go down in ashes like those written on your forehead.
To the broader public, Lent appears to be the period when some groups of Christians give up dessert or social media or some other measure of luxury to remind themselves of the sacrifice Christ made while in the wilderness. I would like to posit that this year we think of Lent less of a period of sacrifice and more of a period of journey back to where we came from – the garden.
For those who live with depression, there is something validating in the way Gerson plumbed the depths of his experience. For those who don’t, Gerson offered a window into the condition.
When I visited Abraham Lincoln’s son Robert Todd Lincoln’s summer home, I learned that Robert, as president of the Pullman Company, exploited the people whom his father freed. Yet black Pullman porters rose up to extend civil rights and social justice. Pullman porter E.D. Nixon paid Rosa Parks’ bail in Montgomery, Alabama, and asked a young Martin Luther King, Jr. to lead a bus boycott there. And Pullman porter A. Philip Randolph called for the 1963 March on Washington which culminated in King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
Our crisis raises deeper questions: How do you cultivate spiritual courage in the face of oppression? How do you summon compassion across cultural canyons? How do you encourage a sense of oneness in a fragmented society?”
In his later years, Rep. John Lewis turned to a new method to tell his Civil Rights-era experiences. The March graphic novel trilogy covers Lewis’ upbringing in the Jim Crow-era South and the experiences that helped him grow into his own. By the time of his death in 2020, Lewis was preparing the next chapter, entitled Run, Vol. I. Published posthumously in 2021, Run shares some of Lewis’ deepest struggles in the Civil Rights movement.
While watching the debacle that was the sixth out of 15 attempts by Republicans to elect a Speaker for the United States House of Representatives, I heard Scott Perry of Pennsylvania try to remind the racially and ethnically diverse Democratic members of the House that Frederick Douglass was a Republican. His intention must have been to suggest that were he alive today, Frederick Douglass would identify with Scott Perry and the members of the Republican Caucus in Congress. What Scott Perry needed then and now is a history lesson on Mr. Douglass.
If we follow Jesus’ radical example and teachings about love, it will ooze from our pores. We won’t need parlor tricks or a $100 million ad campaign. Our love for others will shine so brightly that it will be impossible to miss.
In Chicago, the preservation of the Black Panther Party’s historical sites is more than just a question over whether a place should be on a national register – it’s a spiritual question. The places that are central to the Black Panther Party also have the capacity to move us still today to consider their urgent, burning questions. And isn’t that the work of the church?
It’s easy to spend time, as I am right now, looking back and remembering the way things used to be, or looking ahead worrying about what might be. However, I have learned over the years that now is the most important moment. Fully living right now is the greatest spiritual practice, being present in the moment, being present with the person right in front of me.
Progressive Christianity may be unique only in that it is willing to recognize and own, or at least strive to recognize and own, that faithfulness is continually a work in progress.
Daily walking has been said to lead to good health. For me, after walking the Camino de Santiago twice over the past two years, walking has now become a way to be with God.
In retrospect, Rian Johnson’s “Glass Onion” is a reminder of how far we have come (or devolved) as a global society over the past three years. As the “Knives Out” sequel unfolds, the greater mystery of social inequity and the people who thrive on fast fame and ill-gotten gain is along for the ride.
If we fail to heed the warnings of scientists, sociologists, and our children about climate change, will we listen to prophets? Will we listen to the clergy who passionately preach about creation justice? Will we understand that God is still speaking through God’s people and their actions?
When is it time to push, and when is it time to rest? The New Year is a time when our culture tells us to push on with those new resolutions, but winter is a time our bodies may want to slow down and, if not hibernate, at least sleep more. If you want to do your best work, try resting more. You may find you actually get more done.
God’s gospel is peace. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood on that holy ground. But what do our children see, hear, and feel about militarism from their churches?
As Martin Luther King Jr. became nationally celebrated, his legacy as a radical was also sanitized. This year and always, communities of faith need to tell the truth about King.
On this Martin Luther King Jr. Day, as we revere Dr. King, let us remind ourselves of a public love that is rooted in a patriotic devotion to creating a more perfect union. Public love is a call to concrete action, or as King said, “a willingness to go to any length to restore community.”
This year, I find it more difficult to offer predictions for the new year than I did two years ago, in the throes of the pandemic. However, here are church trends to watch—and reasons for hope—as we head into 2023.
Catastrophizing may be a new word, but it is not a new phenomenon. What we need is a sabbatical, a rest from worrying about our catastrophes and fixating on what we conjure up as the worst possible outcomes.
When pastors retire from full-time paid ministries, they often feel lost or unanchored. But for me, my daily walk has become a ministry, where I have formed a community that can be called “Sausalito Morning Church.”
Do I have to come up with something memorable, novel, and cutting-edge for my last Christmas sermon before I retire?
Rather than being passively obedient or overpowered, Mary was a person of agency who was willing to violate the rules.
Inviting Jesus to come and enter into our lives means embracing the unfamiliar, challenging the powerful, opening our circle of inclusion wider, sharing the gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Welcoming Jesus gives joy, peace, and hope; it also requires courage and sacrifice and, sometimes, brings heartbreak.
The possibility of cheap, clean, limitless energy is wonderful until one considers humanity’s inclination to injustice and capacity for evil.
The gift of frankincense, first given to the babe in the manger, now becomes a gift to you and a symbol of your ministerial service as an ambassador for Christ, ministering in his name to bring people together again in reconciliation.
The magi followed the star to Bethlehem and found what they were looking for. In the same manner, we need to follow Jesus, because he knows how to get us to where we want to go. Jesus knows how to get us to a more just society. Jesus knows how to get us to the Beloved Community.
I don’t want the worry and fear of something greater than what I’ve known. I want the comfortable past. But to choose that path negates Advent. It negates the story of God, the overarching narrative of the Bible that God leads us into new spaces for our betterment.
The problem with Christians decrying a reduction in Christmas expression by corporations and governmental institutions is the expectation that all people, businesses, and institutions must comply with Christians’ Christmas demands. This diminishes the witness of Christ by co-opting the message of Christianity with nationalistic priorities.
This is our hope. Even in the most polarized and divided of societies, Jesus came into the world. That was true in ancient Palestine, and it remains true today. Advent reminds us that Jesus is our touchstone.
Understanding Christian nationalism imperative to dismantling white supremacy, preserving religious freedom for all
Christian nationalism helped fuel the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, uniting disparate actors and infusing their political cause with religious fervor.
I have read and sung the Magnificat, and I’ve certainly experienced mansplaining, but I’ve stayed on the margins of the discussion of “Mary, Did You Know?” in recent years, perhaps because I am drawn to a theology of not knowing, especially as a mother.
Advent invites us into an annual tension-packed and frequently confusing tapestry of extremes. Waiting for light to overcome darkness. Being honest about our despair while placing our hope in the Trinity. Admitting our fears while searching for peace. Experiencing Christ-centered joy amid our griefs. Naming evil but choosing love.
The prophetic witness of the Bible has an amazing capacity for summoning us to a new way of beholding the world. The prophets are needed as the Church approaches Christmas.
The season of Advent is a season of waiting—not the twiddling your thumbs kind of waiting, but active waiting. The kind of waiting that keeps showing up and doing the work, even when there is no feeling of accomplishment or fulfillment. It’s the kind of waiting that trusts that the work we do will come to fruition in God’s time.
The Christmas story flips the camera…to places hardly anyone was looking for joy.
Satisfying the longing for spiritual light in this world requires more of us that stringing up lights. Living the way of Jesus demands more than colorful, well-decorated homes with bountiful presents.
Advent is traditionally the time of waiting and preparation for the celebration of Christmas. For busy church leaders, I suggest choosing a practice to remind you we’re all waiting for the celebration of the birth of Jesus.
When we pray that all of this may be so; when we pray to love all bodies and minds; when we pray to be both broken and whole at once: we are praying to be more like God.
Inspired by a question I heard a young student ask years ago at an N.T. Wright lecture, a conversation between Wright’s eschatology and Kierkegaard’s teleology, framed in ethical terms, tears apart and rebuilds how I would typically approach Advent gospel readings.
This season of Advent, look for the miracle of the lit bush, the revelation of God in your midst. It might not happen in a bright field, as it did for R.S. Thomas, though it could.
You have heard how a pessimist says “My cup is half empty” and an optimist says “My cup is half full.” A person of faith says “My cup runneth over.” These are the most powerful four words of gratitude ever written.
Thanksgiving this year may be an opportunity to go deeper with your gratitude. Around the holiday table, or alone, you might reflect on what you’ve learned from the challenges of this time, and what the less-obvious blessings have been.
If we take seriously that Jesus is Lord of all creation, then Jesus is as much the Lord of the flies as Lord of you and me.
The irony of reading the eighteenth chapter of John’s gospel on Christ the King Sunday strikes me. While America gears up for Black Friday, the Church hears of Good Friday.
Words once spoken or written cannot be taken back. Words leave wounds. Verbal assaults within the Christian community may wound us personally, but more devastating is the impact hateful words have on the witness of the community of faith in the world.
The constitutional case against prayers at public meetings is clear, but it occurred to me lately that perhaps Christians who inflict such prayers on those gathered might benefit from hearing a Christian case against such prayers.
As people of the Resurrection, we are called to go outside. Most of the accounts of Jesus’ teachings and healings took place outside rather than inside.
I waited, auditorily enveloped in that stale recorded music loop, to find out if I was going to have to take that monthly student loan payment to my grave. In which case, it was still worth it, because I have already paid my “debt.”
Native American Heritage Month is a celebration of not only indigenous people and their descendants, but how they relate to God, the land, one another, and the world at large.
With my family’s military ties, Veterans Day has been significant to me; however, it has become even more meaningful over the years and especially since moving to the Hampton Roads area of Norfolk, VA. Veterans Day is a time to reflect on national service and sacrifice.
The Old Testament prayer of Jabez sounds remarkably familiar. It sounds like a cornerstone of the prosperity gospel: give me more. Where is the Jabez-style prayer for others?
How could a movement that was founded in part by the son of a Jewish rabbi, reconcile its Jewish-influenced heritage with its hopes to thrive in an antisemitic Third Reich?
‘To bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance’: Responding to the rising tide of antisemitism
Antisemitism is among the most entrenched and pervasive forms of hatred and bigotry in the United States.