The American Church’s Exile and How to Move Forward

Well, 2021 is off to a fabulous start. I say that with sarcasm, of course.

There is little doubt that we are in a predicament, one that’s been building not just in 2020, nor over the past four years. It’s been unfolding for decades, if not centuries. I’m not sure it’s going to stop. As the old adage goes, “Things may get worse before they get better.”

There are a few things I believe the American (even global) church must engage in to change the trajectory that it’s on. Take them or leave them. But I am convinced they are worth taking up.

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Why the Church Calendar?

church-calendar The church new year launched two days ago as we entered the season of Advent. Many may ask why the church calendar? It sounds old, boring, and out-dated at best, or created to send us to our spiritual graves at worst.

At least those would have been my thoughts some years ago. But over the past decade I have been drawn to what we call the liturgical calendar.

What is it?

Post-Coronavirus & the Technological Challenge

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One of the wise practices I believe churches (in general, but not all) are taking up in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic is honoring the stay-at-home mandates issued by city mayors, state governors, and even the federal government. I do not believe this is an infringement upon our first amendment rights, nor is it persecution. Persecution would be if the stay-at-home mandate was issued only for Christians (or any religious group, for that matter). Rather, this is something being issued to as much of society as possible, all to protect from the spread of the virus and to help flatten the curve, as we await possible vaccine options to be uncovered. In a sense, we could say there is an aspect of loving our neighbors as ourselves through this practice of staying at home.

With that, churches have typically moved their services to online streaming on Sundays. Or, as in the case of my own church and others, we are recording the service and posting the videos, all in an effort to help ease technical difficulties.

Through all the streaming and videos of church services, what is interesting to note is the rise in church “attendance” over these past weeks. I put the word attendance in quotes because it is somewhat challenging to track this in the time of the Coronavirus, mainly because all one has to do is watch the video for a few minutes and he or she can be tracked as an attendee. Still, the numbers are saying attendance is up quite a bit. Continue reading

How the Body of Christ Talks

how the body of christ talksI was first introduced to Chris Smith’s work back in 2013 when he released his little ebook, The Virtue of Dialogue. I immediately held an appreciation for his work and perspective of the Christian life.

I continued to follow his work with Slow Church in 2014, noting it was one of the top books I had read in my Christian life. Lastly, I enjoyed his Reading for the Common Good back in 2016. So, one can imagine that I was looking forward to the release of his newest work this April, How the Body of Christ Talks. Continue reading

Space and Place: In the Aftermath of Notre Dame

notre dame cathedral

This past week the world learned of the fires that burst aflame in the Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris. There have been a lot of responses across the spectrum, both amongst religious and non-religious folk.

I myself have been interested in the response of religious folk, Christians especially. In particular, I came across a social media post in which, on the day of the fire, someone responded with a paraphrase of Acts 17:24: God does not dwell in temples made with hands.

From this post, and my subsequent interaction with the person, what he was basically saying was this: “God doesn’t care about buildings. There are more important things, spiritual things, things of the Spirit.”

Something of that effect, as far as I can make out. Continue reading