Reflecting on Rachel Held Evans’ Why Millennials are Leaving the Church Post 1- Style Vs. Substance

I have huge respect for Rachel Held Evans. I like her blog, I’ve enjoyed her books and I follow her on Twitter. Further I appreciate her mind, her love for Christ, her heart for others and from where I sit, I find her to be a wise and faithful steward of her platform.

The other day she wrote an excellent piece on CNN Belief Blog and her basic thesis was that Millennials are leaving churches because they are looking for “more substance than style.” In short, she concluded “we’re leaving the church because we don’t find Jesus there.” Ouch.

Her critique is too many churches are making the mistake of seeking to be “more relevant” as opposed to being more substantial.  That may not sound original to some but the real problem is it’s a consistent and oft-heard criticism.  Seeking to be a “little more relevant” is a very tired practice in many congregations throughout our country [Read more…]

Seeking Spiritual Renewal During a Busy, Sometimes Painful, Joyful and News-Filled Summer

There’s this set of feelings in September where you’re caught between being excited for the new ministry year and very much overwhelmed by it.

[Read more…]

Reflecting on Trayvon Martin & the George Zimmerman Verdict

Numerous times throughout the year, enormous controversies erupt across our country demanding all sorts of time, energy and attention. They include endless hours of media debate, arguments across social media, hurtful words, broken relationships and many times, we are reminded just how polarized we are as a society. In light of this, we are faced with a few options. One is to wait it out until media outlets find a new controversy to cover.  A second option is to jump right in the foray and swing away. And while there are probably a few more options, a third is to attempt to thoughtfully engage and contribute.

I’ll be honest, it’s tempting for me to sit this one out, avoid attracting any unneeded attention and frankly, I’m trying to catch my breath this summer. But since the news broke of George Zimmerman’s acquittal verdict, I have been trying to wrap my mind around what just happened. In doing so, I have been praying for peace, I’ve been praying that a healing process would begin to those who are suffering great loss, like the Martin family and the countless others who are hurting. I’ve been praying for the protection of others, from protesters to those near protesters to the Zimmermans themselves. And I’ve been wondering about justice, racism and our legal system. I’ve watched a little bit, and only a little bit of cable television but have read numerous of pages online.

Last night I felt somewhat informed, but a bit jaded. This morning I felt convicted that if we Christians move too fast past this, [Read more…]

A Reflection on Praying For Our Enemies

I try to remember to pray for our enemies during our pastoral prayers at Sunday services. It’s not part of “Look How Holy I Am” shtick, but rather a very needed reminder and call to God for help.  I find it’s needed for all Christians regardless of time period or culture, and today is no exception.  It’s also a very personal prayer – more on that in a moment.

Right now, Egypt is on my mind and the other morning I watched this horrific video of Morsi supporters throwing these teenage boys off a ledge in Alexandria. One was confirmed as dead, one of the attackers was holding an al-Qaeda flag, and sadly, there [Read more…]

Reflecting On Egypt While Watching the Fireworks in America

A few nights ago, I took my little boys to see the fireworks in Lexington, MA while my wife stayed home with our little daughter. Our oldest (he’s 5) is a little uncomfortable with the noise and intensity of a live fireworks display. Our second (he’s 3) loves them and kept announcing to those near us, “That’s the biggest one I’ve eveeer seeeen!!” (It was cute the first dozen or so times, “Ok buddy, you gotta stop saying that now …”)

We settled in on the hill overlooking the park, laying on the ground on top of our hoodies. My arm around the one slowly uncovering his eyes, my other hand around the other’s mouth muting his play by play analysis, my eyes were on the colorful night sky and a good bit of my mind was thinking about Egypt. I wanted to believe that many other men were holding their sons while grateful for their future, particularly in Egypt.

Earlier that day when Morsi was booted, I didn’t know what to think. Things were exciting, uncertain, disturbing, and potentially promising all at the same time.
So I updated my Facebook status and tweeted:

I’ve mentioned before how I feel inadequate in talking about the politics of the MiddleEast (many others should admit the [Read more…]

Book Review of Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church’s Mission by Amy Simpson

I was sent Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church’s Mission written by Amy Simpson from Inter Varsity Press for review. As always I am not required to give a positive endorsement but an honest review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Summary From Inter Varsity Press:
“Mental illness is the sort of thing we don’t like to talk about. It doesn’t reduce nicely to simple solutions and happy outcomes. So instead, too often we reduce people who are mentally ill to caricatures and ghosts, and simply pretend they don’t exist. They do exist, however—statistics suggest that one in four people suffer from some kind of mental illness. And then there’s their friends and family members, who bear their own scars and anxious thoughts, and who see no safe place to talk about the impact of mental illness on their lives and their loved ones. Many of these people are sitting in churches week after week, suffering in stigmatized silence. In Troubled Minds Amy Simpson, whose family knows the trauma and bewilderment of mental illness, reminds us that people with mental illness are our neighbors and our brothers and sisters in Christ, and she shows us the path to loving them well and becoming a church that loves God with whole hearts and whole souls, with the strength we have and with minds that are whole as well as minds that are troubled.”

What I Liked:
I genuinely appreciated Troubled Minds – I’m glad it was sent to me, I’m glad I read it – it’s needed for the church.  I read this book with the emotional backdrop of just losing a life-long friend to suicide who was suffering from a form of mental illness and of course, remembering the tragic death of Matthew Warren.  So this book is needed for a number of us on a number of [Read more…]