Miscellanies

Miracles Follow the Plow

There are two kinds of ground: fallow ground and ground that has been broken up by the plow. The fallow field is smug, contented, protected from the shock of the plow and the agitation of the harrow. Such a field, as it lies year after year, becomes a familiar landmark to the crow and the…

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The Ideal Associate Pastor or "2nd Chair"?

What qualities does the ideal Associate Pastor or “2nd Chair” possess? In search of an answer, I have posed that question to several Senior or “First” Chair Pastors. Without hesitation, Senior Pastors declare that loyalty is the most sought after quality. When asked to elaborate, Senior Pastors affirm that they need to know that the…

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ChapterNext Launches "Congregational Wellness Survey"

ChapterNext has developed a “Congregational Wellness Survey” to measure a congregation’s perception of its health. By measuring the vital systems of a congregation – including but not limited to worship, nurture, and  witness –  this tool allows the people in the pews to share their thoughts about the effectiveness of their congregation’s ministry. ChapterNext founder…

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Did we worship the Lord or just sing a few songs?

Have you ever left a service and asked, “Did we worship the Lord or just sing a few songs? It’s a simple question, one built on a simple understanding of worship: to intentionally and directly declare God’s worth. In other words, we worship the Lord when we pray words like “You are great or good…

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The Prophet In Our Midst

I was disappointed and confused after suffering an injury that not only splintered my back but shattered a dream that seemed to be the Lord’s will for my life. As a result, I wrestled with God’s will and questioned His sovereignty. But duty called and it was time to go to work. I would continue…

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Coincidence? I hope so.

Coincidence?  I hope so. We now witness a countless number of predominantly white young professionals moving to and planting roots in urban areas.  We also witness a record number of church plants by Protestant, white, young professionals in urban areas. At the same time, we witness the movement of many upwardly mobile African Americans to…

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Strategies for Planning Multicultural Worship Services

As a community seeking to embrace God’s mission of a church with representatives from every tribe and nation, how do we go about planning a worship service or liturgy which affirms our Triune God’s gift of diversity. As a pastor who once planted an intentionally multiethnic congregation and now as the Affiliate Professor of Worship…

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Pastors: Power Made Perfect In Weakness

In just about every age Christ’s ministers have their crises – unpredictable in advance, devastating when the strike. Let me sweep swiftly through seven areas that specify today’s crisis of the ordained ministry. 1.    Criticism. In our immigrant congregations the pastor was the expert in all areas from pulpit to politics. In mid-twentieth century the…

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Prayer & Medicine: A Tale of Two Congregations

Prayer and Medicine: here is a tale of two congregations. In recent weeks, I have witnessed two individuals pass out and keel over on their sides during a worship service.A couple months ago, while I was preaching with a Christian Reformed congregation, I watched an elderly gentlemen slowly lean over on his grand-daughter’s lap.  Instinctively,…

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Who puts new wine into old wineskins?

Who puts new wine into old wineskins? According to Jesus, no one. “Instead, they pour new wine into new wineskins” (Mark 2:22). While I am not an expert in the field, I understand that no one puts new wine into an old wineskin because, over time, the new wine expands but, unlike new wineskins, old…

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