wedding ceremony

Shacking Up: A Church’s Surprising Response

As the church, what works better: to curse the darkness or light a candle? Many seem convinced that God is calling them to curse. First and foremost. This seems especially true in matters of sexuality. For example, consider the issue of couples living together outside of marriage. For some church leaders, this is the ultimate test […]

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Sunday worship

Church’s Obsession with Sunday Morning

A friend of mine visited a large, famous church on a typical Sunday. The worship band performed with precision. The lighting and fog effects were state of the art. The pastor presented a polished sermon amidst specially built staging. Later in the week the pastor shared this church’s ministry secrets in a seminar. He described […]

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Ministry storm

Riding Out 3 Big Ministry Storms

These are turbulent times. And the church is swirling in the maelstrom. I was reminded of this turbulence as I reviewed Holy Soup’s top blog posts over the past year. Three topics catapulted to the top, fueled by viral sharing across the country and around the world. Here they are, with a few thoughts about what […]

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Hate the sinner

A Theology of Hate

We love to hate. In fact, we’re known for it. We’ve garnered a reputation for who–or what–we hate. Research shows that today’s church is known more for what it hates–what it stands against–than for what it loves or affirms. The population perceives a church filled with disdain. For example, the top characteristic that the unchurched population attaches to […]

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Bible monger

When “My Bible Says” Doesn’t Work

While speaking before a group I mentioned that the debate around homosexuality will present some complicated issues for the church. A man in the back of the room disagreed. “There’s nothing complicated about it,” he said. “My Bible says homosexuality is a sin. Period. End of story.” But for the people around him, it was […]

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Church: Does Size Matter?

Kelli, an unmarried middle-aged woman, says she chose her large suburban church so she could hide in the crowd. “I could come into this big auditorium and never see the same people every week,” she says. She’s in good company. Many megachurches like hers are growing–while the majority of the churches around them are not. “We’ve been seeing the […]

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The Dones

The Rise of the Dones

John is every pastor’s dream member. He’s a life-long believer, well-studied in the Bible, gives generously, and leads others passionately. But last year he dropped out of church. He didn’t switch to the other church down the road. He dropped out completely. His departure wasn’t the result of an ugly encounter with a staff person […]

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Church opportunities

Hopes for a Church Turnaround

What kinds of things give the American church hope for the future? In spite of declining trends, participants at the recent Future of the Church summit identified some clear strengths and opportunities for the church in North America. MISSION The stand-out strength, according to the participants, is the church’s central and unique mission. Perhaps that […]

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Church threat

The Church’s 2 Imminent Threats

What does the future hold for the church in North America? What are the church’s major weaknesses and threats going forward? Last week church leaders, reporters and analysts gathered to discuss the church’s prospects at Group’s annual Future of the Church summit. Participants grappled with a wide variety of factors affecting the health of the church. […]

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Church trends

A Murky Forecast for the ‘Religion Industry’

The dire headlines in the recent market research report caught my eye. “The industry exhibits stagnant participation.” “Industry value added is projected to decline.” What is this troubled industry? It’s the nation’s religious organizations. The business world’s chronicler of major industry trends, IBISWorld, decided to study and document the state of the religion “industry.” This […]

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