Best Practices

Why limit music to congregational singing?

This semester I have had the privilege of teaching a course in the Master of Arts in Worship program for Visible Music College (Memphis, TN). The title of the course is Worship, Aesthetics and the Arts. Frankly, this course was a stretch for me. It forced me to explore relatively unknown territories, including the deep…

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Why Small Churches Make Better Disciples Than Large Churches

In his 1905 essay on the family G.K. Chesterton writes, “The man who lives in a small community lives in a much larger world. He knows much more of the fierce varieties and uncompromising divergences of men. The reason is obvious. In a large community we have the freedom to choose our companions. In a…

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The Pastor as a Servant of the Word

Most historians, it seems to me, value the lessons and experiences of the past as a tutor for the present. That assumption explains my fascination with John Nevin. I am a purpose-driven pastor who needs a reason for being. When I began pastoral ministry thirty-five years ago, I discovered that neither I, nor my congregation,…

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This Feels Like Grandma’s Church

TWENTY WAYS MY DAUGHTER’S CHURCH DIFFERS FROM HER GRANDMOTHER’S While shopping for a new home, you checked out a three-bedroom ranch most recently owned by a 90 year-old grandmother who had lived in it for over 40 years before her death. It was priced to sell by her children who indicated the home needed a…

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Meetings Without the Pastor About the Pastor

Yet one more time, I received word of a secret meeting without the pastor about the pastor.  The most recent was like most of those which preceded it: A couple men in positions of authority “felt led” to invite others to an off-site meeting so the two of them could share their concerns about the…

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What is our mission as a church?

It was hard to admit but after several weeks of conversations with congregants, Grace Church was forced to acknowledge that their mission as a church was maintenance. They discovered that their entire purpose boiled down to keeping the church running and paying the bills.  Now there are people who get excited about maintenance, auto mechanics…

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Through Thick and Thin

As Christ-followers, we worship the Lord through thick and thin.  We worship the Lord in good times and bad, with plenty and with little, after victory and after defeat, during storms and while basking in the sun. We also worship the Lord through thick and thin practices.  Have you heard of that distinction? Those who…

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What do we value as a church?

Growing up in Chicago, I have frequented countless hot-dog joints and ordered many a double dog with everything but onions. (Note that for Chicagoans everything does NOT include ketchup.) I have also visited many McDonald’s, including the original in Des Plaines (IL), where I enjoyed a “Big Mac” and fries.  I find it interesting that…

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Is your pastor a leader or a manager?

My father, along with two of my uncles, owned Reliable Scavenger Service, a small, two-truck garbage company that serviced the near-north side of Chicago. The three brothers purchased the business from their father but, in time, my two uncles sold their shares to my father. One uncle moved to Florida where he hauled trash and…

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The Post-Covid-19 Church?

Like most of us these days, I’ve had plenty of time to ponder things. Lately I’ve been wondering, “How might the post-Covid-19 church be different from the pre-Covid-19 church?”  I predict some congregations will: Replace live-streaming with a recorded and strategically-produced weekly service. Those who have done so during this time have been receiving positive…

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