From “Eye Roll” To “Absolute Necessity”: The Top Five Benefits Of A Strong Mission Statement

I have a confession:  earlier in my ministerial career I treated any conversation about church mission statements with the dreaded eye roll.

“Not again,” I thought.  “There goes someone pontificating about mission and vision, which if you ask me is just a lot of talk that compensates for not doing much work.” read more

Movers & Shakers, Week 2 — The “See The Art In Me” Sermon Rewind

Yesterday’s message …

  • Dealt with Bezalel and Oholiab, two of the bible’s movers & shakers who no one has ever heard of;
  • Gave the analogy that the tabernacle is to the temple as a food truck is to a restaurant (original!);
  • Had the people in the sound & AV booth call me a Prima Donna Preacher;
  • Concluded with part of an essay by author, columnist, and speechwriter Peggy Noonan that perfectly complemented the bottom line:  God turns the Can’t Remember Whos into the Can’t Do Without.


AV of Faces In The Crowd, including me at HPHS in 1980.             

That’s what a lot of life is like, isn’t it?  When you feel like you are little more than a face in the crowd.  Especially if you’re a natural introvert, it can be easy to go through life almost anonymously, as the same face in a series of crowds – at school, at work, at a ball game, in a traffic line, in a traffic line, IN A TRAFFIC LINE, at church.  It can be so tempting to view life through the lens that others are the movers and the shakers while you’re just a watcher and observer.  You spend your time with all the rest of the masses watching the movers and shakers operate.  Sometimes it feels like life happens around you, sometimes in spite of you, rather than because of you or through you.  read more

Welcoming Newcomers To Church With Brain Cells Rather Than Taste Buds

Yesterday’s post included some thoughts on my bromance with Aaron Mansfield, pastor of Morehead UMC in Morehead, Kentucky.

It also linked to our recent podcast, which you can access at the bottom of this post as well.

A good chunk of our conversation was devoted to this question: how do you welcome newcomers to church? read more

Social Media Has Made Me A Better Pastor With Better Friends

Yes, you read that post title correctly.

Social media has significantly improved my life.

Now: many people lament the effects of social media on the body politic, reporting how Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the rest accentuate our differences and polarize our nation.

And, if you’re United Methodist clergy, social media certainly helps to divide our denomination. read more

Top Five Tuesday — Top Five Ways Grass Court Tennis Is A Different Sport Than Clay Court Tennis

Several years ago, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal played an exhibition match called “The Battle Of The Surfaces” in which half the court was grass and the other half was clay.

The arrangement made me think of the line from Hotel California:  “this could be heaven or this could be hell …” read more

Movers & Shakers, Week 1 — The “Erasing A Generation” Sermon Rewind

Yesterday’s message …

  • Hinged on the fact that in Exodus 1, the Hebrew midwives are named while the all powerful Pharoah is anonymous.  A tiny detail with an enormous impact.
  • Noted some parallels between Pharoah’s attempts to erase a generation and the culture wars many of us in the church find ourselves taking part in.  A mom of a collegian sent me a message afterwards that her son had been taught — and tested on — the 52 genders in the human race.
  • Landed at this bottom line:  Your opposition is just your opportunity in disguise.


So when we think of movers & shakers, of people of major influence, we naturally think of someone with a big, recognizable name.  Lord, around Charlotte locally, most of you know the Belk family because of the stores, you figure there has to be a Harris or a Teeter or both.  A few years ago, there was Mayor Pat (seven terms!) who became Governor Pat and even though that didn’t end well for him that McCrory name sticks around Charlotte.  Or Hugh McColl with BOA.  Cam with his Panthers. Just big names all around read more

Movers And Shakers Launch: Erasing A Generation

Where do we find today’s biggest movers and shakers?

On Wall Street?  Washington DC?  The Silicon Valley?

These are the ones who shape our lives, what we believe, and how we spend our time.

But who influences the next generation?

Is it YouTube?  Hollywood?  The Video Game industry?

But what if there is an alternative? read more

What A Basketball WRITER Taught A Tennis PLAYER About Ministry

Bill Simmons, who is a Boston-bred, Ringer-based author and columnist, has written the definitive history of the NBA with his The Book Of Basketball.

In this, the quickest 800 page read of my life, Simmons is in turn unfiltered, poignant, statistical, profane, irreverent, and hilarious.

His gifts for footnoting and pop culture analogies have to be seen to be believed. read more

Princeton & The Pain Of Prevenient Grace

In yesterday’s post, I had the nerve to ask whether a degree from Princeton University (or any other “elite” school for that matter) is more of a burden than a blessing.

In case you’re curious, here I am as a college sophomore in backhand mode playing a match against Brown.  I won that day. You don’t think I’d post a photo of a LOSING match, do you? read more

Is An Ivy League Education A Burden Or A Blessing?

That question looks and sounds absurd, does it not?

Why would I even ask if graduating from one of the most prestigious universities in the country could be anything but an honor?  Why raise the possibility that it could be as much albatross as advantage?

Only someone privileged enough to go there in the first place could be ungrateful enough to ask the question. read more