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Blog
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A Sober Warning

An op-ed from the August 7 New York Times, written by a United Church of Christ pastor is called "Congregations Gone Wild." G. Jeffrey MacDonald sketches a serious warning to pastors and congregations about our consumerist culture's potential to blow out the foundation and integrity of the pastoral calling.

Pastors
Blog
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What Did YOU Do on Your Summer Vacation?

Well, it has been a couple of weeks since I've been on-line. Yes, my family and I have been "on holidays," as we say up here in the "true North, strong and free"--or as Bob Dylan calls it south of the border, "the north country fair." Whatever you call it, after a hard start to our holidays with the death of a young mother in our congregation (see the blog, "Claudette's Cancer: A Hard Sanctification?"), God blessed us with opportunities to re-connect as siblings, cousins, parents, childen and grandchildren in two rounds of family reunions.

Pastors
Blog
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Do Christians Become Jerks Online?

A month ago Blizzard (a video game developer) announced they were going to require users of their online forums to use their real names with a hope to reduce trolling, flame wars, and other non productive comments. This was a bold move by Blizzard which shows the severity of their problem. Immediately, many users complained, and Blizzard ended up cancelling this requirement.

Church Communications
Blog
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Re-thinking a FAQ

Given our busy, individualistic Western lifestyle, a once-a-week small group may be too much to ask of a lot of people, but obviously not all. Those who have a vision to experience community that transforms lives and cities are ready. 

Small Groups
Blog
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How Shall We Lead Children?

In a bookstore we picked up the audio version of Jesus Storybook Bible (Sally Lloyd-Jones). We started to ask: how can we use this as a congregation? It got me thinking about elders and the spiritual lives of children.
When I came home from vacation one of the first newspapers we received had an excerpt from a book by Peter Hitchens (brother to Christopher): it spoke about the need to pass on faith to children. He writes

Elders
Blog
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Still Looking for Mr. Right?

The search is on for Sunday school leaders! If you’re having trouble finding leaders who will commit for the entire season, be creative about using people’s gifts and abilities even if their schedules are limited.

Children's Ministry
Blog
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Really? Small Groups at the Fitness Center?

 ... today my small group world and work-out world collided when I saw a sign advertising “Small Group Personal Training.” For a very reasonable price we are offered the opportunity to get the benefits of a personal trainer in a small group setting. The sign promoted other benefits of these small groups:

Small Groups
Blog
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Sidelines: Always Learning

As a "pastor family" there are several things that can set your family apart within the church congregation. Some of those things are obvious differences (like not being able to complain about the youth pastor's sermons!) and some are self-inflicted (like choosing not to get involved in things due to conflict of interest situations). But...

Youth Ministry
Blog
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Elders, Learning and Doing Theology

Every conversation about the things of God is laced with reflection about God. As elders, we are challenged to lead people in clear thinking. But that means elders need to think things through as well. So this makes me wonder: when and how do elders practice disciplined learning in the matters of faith?

Elders
Blog
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Living the Gospel

Imagine this. You’ve been in an ongoing spiritual discussion with someone and are asked, “So what is the Gospel?” How would you answer? I had a pretty pat answer in mind until I spent time reflecting on the first four verses of Isaiah 61. This passage points out a bigger understanding of the Gospel than I’m used to thinking

Small Groups
Blog
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Interagency Global Partnership Strategy (iGPS)

Many churches which have done a number of short term missions trips have been struggling with some common questions. "We have done construction or other tasks. Is there more? Is there a way for us to develop a relationship with another church or community? What are the pitfalls to avoid and the opportunities to embrace in doing joint ministry? What about serving together in a third location?

Global Mission
Blog
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Here Comes Trouble!

Yes, good ideas are often trouble. Timing is wrong, or they're not really that good, or they're great but no one can execute, or you have to exert energy heading them off without offending the source, and on and on....

Deacons
Blog
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Claudette's Cancer: A Hard Sanctification?

Yesterday a 40 year-old wife and mom from our congregation died. She had suffered from cancer for just over a year. It started with a mole in the small of her back that he husband saw one evening. Though discovered early, that made no difference to the raging cancer that devoured multiple organs.

Pastors
Blog
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Do We Need More Songs?

Maybe we should declare a moratorium on all new congregational songs… at least for a few years so we can catch our breath.

Worship
Blog
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Deaconal Power Lines

What if the most important thing a deacon could do to facilitate CHANGE would be to build a couple of really good relationships with members of the congregation? What if the purpose of the relationship was to discover together how to live a more Christ-like life, a life more marked by grace, and sensitivity to needs, and better use of gifts, and increased generosity? 

Deacons
Blog
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Guest blog: Inclusion and Excuses

With Rich Dixon's permission, I've copied an entry from his blog, Bouncing Back. In it, Rich applies an excuse analysis to physical accessibility of church buildings. The same analysis could be used to consider accessibility and inclusion in church communications, language used in worship and other settings, educational programming, youth group, small groups, outreach activities, work projects, and all other church related activities.

Disability Concerns

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