Frustrated memorizer

Exporting America’s Religious Duds

It’s a major American export. Church ministry methodology. Much of it is accomplishing great things for the sake of the Gospel. And some exported ministry practices are just, well, embarrassing. I’ve been traveling in South America, and visiting some churches and ministries. It’s really interesting to see how Protestant churches here often closely resemble North […]

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Once a week church

Is Once-a-Week Church Too Much?

The habit of weekly worship attendance has already taken a hit among American churchgoers. Now a move is afoot to offer the Sunday morning routine just once per month. Even people who describe themselves as regular churchgoers are attending less frequently these days. That’s one of the factors that is contributing to shrinking church attendance on […]

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Clergy exodus

The Pending Exit of the Clergy

At the conclusion of Group’s Future of the Church summit, someone asked me, “What struck you most this week?” My answer surprised even me. The summit participants had explored several major trends that will affect the future of the church. We considered the implications of the growing population of Dones–those who have left the organized church, […]

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Future Church: Tastes in Worship

The faithful gathered around candle-lit tables in the darkened room. They heard a reading of Psalm 34:8. “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” They then tasted–literally. They selected small cups of various flavors and condiments. Some people discovered a familiar taste and reached for a second helping. Others gasped and chuckled as they felt […]

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Cuban house church

Incognito Zone: Where the Church Is Booming

The final leg of our cross-country trip brought us to a sequestered zone where the church is thriving. After flying over multiple states where the majority of congregations are stagnant or shrinking, we arrived in a land where church leaders are scrambling to keep up with the growth. This healthy church zone is a hundred miles wide and […]

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We Don’t Talk About That at Church

We talk about all kinds of juicy, newsy things with friends at work or school. But not at church. No. No. No. We can’t talk about that at church. Someone might get upset. But the church’s avoidance of these hot topics is one of the very things that is driving people away from church participation today. […]

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Meet and Greet: Shake and Fake?

Whenever a pastor or worship leader prods us to “stand and greet your neighbor,” I muster my little smile and go through the motions. “Good morning. Good morning. Good morning.” I assume the goal is to shake as many hands as I can in 60 seconds. I usually squeeze seven or eight hands as I twirl like a […]

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Bible-Centered . . . or Jesus-Centered?

The man caught me after a screening of our documentary film, When God Left the Building. He wanted to talk about the “real reason” the American church is struggling. “Don’t you think the main problem is biblical illiteracy?” he asked. “Nobody knows what’s in the Bible anymore.” His concern is a common one. It’s caused […]

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Shame on you

Shaming Them into Church

“You should go to church–and like it, whether you like it or not.” Some responders to my articles on the Dones (people who’ve left the organized church) have assigned total blame to the Dones themselves. “They’re backsliders,” they say. “It’s their duty to obey God and get their backsides back to church.” I’ve seen a […]

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Church bans

Ban the Books, Writers and Musicians

In times of loss, some organizations and their leaders react with primal instincts, which only hastens their demise. This self-destructive tendency appears in churches, businesses and political parties. Their leaders contend that the remedy for their decline is an intensification of their old brand distinctives. They react with strident efforts to drive their image toward the extreme, toward […]

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