return to religion-onlineCongregational Life
An elaboration on the reasons why Wangerin, along with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, found it easier to speak of God with religionless people than with the religious. "I find myself ‘reluctant to mention God by name to religious people’ for fear I may get it wrong."
The author is encouraged by the vision of a truly missional church, both relevant and resistant, that incarnates a real alternative to mainline "maintenance" churches and evangelical "megachurches."
Herzog describes a new process of forming and teaching Christian doctrine based on dogmas arising out of discipleship rather than vice versa. Its origins are in the attempts of clergy and laity to meet the evils of the world as coworkers with God in the struggle for God's justice.
We need to learn that small size in churches might be an asset for mission. This article is about how a small church let go of the myths about size and without a fulltime professional minister converted its members into ministers.
The New Monastics are present day communities of Christians, living in the corners of the American empire, living and hoping for a new and radical form of Christian practice.
The origin of some of the unhealthiness that afflicts congregations is a lack of theological clarity, confidence and conviction. We are not autonomous, self-created individuals. We belong to God, who has created us for fellowship with the divine self.
In the view of even the most faithful and sophisticated church members, including those who are close friends of the clergy, the theological seminary and the seminary professor are mysterious and awesome -- familiar only to the privileged and spiritual elite, speaking an esoteric tongue, and no place for the laity. So a seminary professor was invited to spend his sabbatical at our church.
Especially in mainline churches, the percentage of members who are 65 and older is increasing. How can churches meet the needs of graying congregations?
Technological achievements such as computers may increase efficiency, but they often do so at the expense of community. "If I see one more article extolling the virtues of computers for churches or telling us how the computer can help us organize our sermons, I’ll blow a circuit."
From the ethos of economic life to the chatter of talk radio, our society is busy promoting the appetites and fantasies of the individual more than it is encouraging an investment in the larger aspirations of a community.
Hall deals with the meaning of the central belief that "Jesus is the Christ," and the Cross as God's act of solidarity and reconciliation.
(ENTIRE BOOK) James F. Hopewell provides a definitive study of congregational life. His thesis: we must understand each congregation's unique story that catches up and gives pattern to a church’s local culture -- its beliefs, its mission work, and its everyday administrative transactions, because it also reveals God's intention for that community of believers.
The author describes how his congregation moved to helping inquirers become faithful disciples of Christ.
Here are many reasons to be suspicious of organized religion, as well as many reasons to support it.
Addictive behavior robs Christians and churches of their full spirituality. Confronting these addictions offers the possibility of recovery and grace. It is a long process; as the Twelve Step Program of Alcoholics Anonymous states, addiction is cunning, baffling, powerful and patient. The first step is naming and facing the addiction.
The proclamation "Jesus the Christ is Lord" is the very Church of Christ and points to an ever-occurring happening in which a people find their self-understanding, an aspect of which is the very proclamation of this happening, which proclamation is both deed of concerned involvement in life and witness in the face of the life questions that such involvement provokes -- through which the Christ-happening happens to others and, in turn, becomes their life meaning.
Korean Americans are far more religious than Americans in general. The author reviews two books on the subject discussing the cultural patterns and problems of first and second generation Koreans, how they are different from other ethnic groups and the problems of assimilation into American culture.
The multiethnic pattern of the Mosaic church as seen by Gerardo Marti after being a participant-observer offers a "theological haven," in orthodox beliefs though quite unconventional, an "artistic haven" attracting all kinds of "mavericks, rebels or freaks," and an "ethnic haven" attracting a large and diverse immigrant population from Los Angeles.
Christians tend to "let individualistic preoccupations take over when Lent rolls around." Community can only be created around a faith; faith can only be creative within a community.
If a Christian congregation is faithful and effective it will make a difference. What does such a congregation look like?
St. Paul’s Central Park United Methodist Church serves a unique congregation of people who are broken with addictions. It is know as a Recovery Church, informing and defining its Christianity through 12-step principles.<
Church leaders have not given adequate attention to the local congregation as a vital context for addressing social issues. Unless these issues are placed in the context of worship or of debate on the budget, members are effectively educated to regard them as unimportant.
(ENTIRE BOOK) There is need of a much closer connection than we have had thus far between theology and evangelism. The Christian faith is both something to be believed and something to be lived.
What modernism sought to escape can help us find direction for social and congregational life.
Christian churches exist to worship God, to teach and nurture people in the faith, and to spread the Good News. They do not exist to establish "strictness" and clear church-culture boundaries or to claim the church’s "success" by the world’s standards.
Research into "the new paradigm" congregations, which have discarded many of the attributes of establishment religion.
Sabbath observance is not simply a moment of a week. It frames our attitudes, focuses our desires and helps us shape the pace and direction of our daily walk. It inspires and enables us to greet life with care and delight.
What intrigues the author is that certain specific oldline congregations do manifest vitality and show the marks of transformation. Perhaps that is where the leaders of the oldline denominations should begin in their search for a strategy of change.
A warehouse is a temporary place where you hold things. Stuff comes in and out. . . . Like churches should be, bringing people in, equipping them for life and sending them back into the world.