FAITH: Congregations use various methods to try to pack the pews
When it comes to "pew retention" at church, the duty should be shared by every member.
FAITH: There is more than meets the eye when it comes to the faith development of children
Certainly it is important for a congregation to help youth find and articulate faith, but such treasure often grows by slow accretion, consisting of things as ordinary as seeing adults sing hymns of faith together or bow their heads to pray.
FAITH: Why be abrasive when witnessing to the love of God?
Because I was meeting a friend at the gate, I was subjected to this self-righteous verbal assault for 10 minutes, a man with a portable headset loudspeaker ensuring that nobody missed a single syllable. I was never so glad to see my friend finally appear.
FAITH: Buidling bridges doesn’t mean blurring our differences
Our nation is polarized these days in terms of race, class and religion. I read recently that counties with a Whole Foods grocery store vote overwhelmingly Democrat while counties with a Cracker Barrel vote overwhelmingly Republican.
FAITH: Ministers can offer a different perspective on church-owned housing
What kind of home is appropriate for a pastor? The answer depends on the socio-economic level of that congregation, the neighborhood where the church is located, the symbolic message the church wants to convey the community and its members and even the kind of pastor who may be attracted to congregation with a home in a certain school zone or ZIP code.
FAITH: Southern phyche says conversion is heart rather than head
What role does rationality play in the embrace of religion?
FAITH COLUMN: Putin aligns takeover of Crimea with religious sentiments
We Western Christians often oversimplify events that are in reality far more complex than we grasp.
FAITH COLUMN: Should prayers include issues such as currency value and financial policy?
An African archbishop’s prayer for his nation’s currency value and order that Satan release his old on the central bank call to question whether issues such as money and the economy should be included in prayers.
FAITH: Failing to understand others’ religious motivations leads to marginalizing
There is little wiggle room in the church any more and those who seek consensus are often portrayed as soft-headed and soft-hearted.
FAITH: House Bill would allow business owners – citing religious justifications - to legally deny employment to gay and lesbian people and evict such persons from hotels or restaurants.
A similarly worded bill has just been passed in Arizona where Gov. Brewer must decide whether to antagonize much of the business community by signing it into law.
FAITH: Legislation on guns in churches not state’s responsibility
I hate the idea of guns in church. But because I hate even more the idea of government in church I’ve changed my mind on this one.
FAITH COLUMN: Prayer was focal point of angry debate
The church will always struggle with the temptation to use power to define the parameters of holiness and reach consensus on the nature of God. Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on us, all sinners.
FAITH: Definition of distractions may differ
Most distractions the wise pastor learns to ignore, hoping to lead by example: a siren screaming, a ring tone chirping, an entire family obliviously walking down the center aisle during the reading of the scripture, a sanctuary too hot or cold, drooping flowers, precariously tilted candles, even frightened birds flying through the sanctuary. Eventually the calm pastor gets the upper hand.
FAITH COLUMN: The public stance on the constitution has made many Copts uncomfortable
Coptic Christians comprise about 10 percent of the Egyptian population and have endured ostracism and violence over the centuries.
FAITH COLUMN: Hundreds of factors guide where a person eventually decides to worship
Each person has unique criteria for determining which house of worship is the most comfortable fit.
FAITH COLUMN: There are many motivations for giving church another try
God uses many motivating factors to encourage people to engage in worship.
FAITH COLUMN: Touching on money matters is usually touchy with congregations
Pope Francis isn’t the first religious leader to say tough things about capitalism and he won’t be the last.
FAITH COLUMN: Sin thickets are easy to get trapped in
Everyone has sins and flaws from which they need to be rescued, which brings out the joy of what Christmas is all about.
FAITH COLUMN: A new nativity figure is a reminder of the realities of the world
The more powerful an individuals thinks to be, the more insecure and anxious that person can become.
FAITH COLUMN: A child raised in the church has a better chance to become a fulfilled, whole person
Christian denominations have many differences, but giving children the opportunity to thrive and follow God should be universal.
FAITH COLUMN: The biggest challenge we have is to acknowledge that God is larger than we are
The death of a proponent of the prosperity gospel leads to reflection on how Christians deal with those whose beliefs are different.
FAITH COLUMN: A private business contends portions of federal health reform violate its freedom of religion
If for-profit corporations are “people” in the eyes of the law, will the next step be to permit discrimination on the basis of age, race, gender, sexual orientation and disability by corporations and companies who use the Bible as their reason?
FAITH COLUMN: Bible study is challenging and not always easy on the listener
I drove past a church whose name included the word “Bible,” a not uncommon adjective selected by congregations to identify themselves as serious believers. What does this appellation really mean, though? Isn’t every church supposed to be a Bible church?
FAITH COLUMN: You will be surprised at how quickly the service of worship flies without a watch
Paying attention to this list will improve worship exponentially. What would be on your worship checklist to bring or to leave at the house?
FAITH COLUMN: The annual challenge for giving has value to congregations
It is up to each religious organization to make its best case for voluntary giving.
FAITH COLUMN: Some try very hard in the latter days of their life to change their image
The ideal of the Christian life is to be unassuming in behavior, meek in spirit and gentle of heart, seeking not to be remembered at all.
Prince George, 3 months old and in line to become King of England and head of the Anglican Church, was baptized this week in London, England.
He is accused of a triple murder. He may have attended the funeral of his victims and offered condolences to the family. He owns a pawn shop. Sold a pawn shop to his victims. Buys and sells gold on the side. Lives in Kentucky. He is a Baptist pastor.
Christianity, barely breathing in Western Europe and struggling to remain vital in parts of this nation, is growing explosively in Africa.
A Quebec political party proposes to ban the wearing of religious symbols by government employees.
The Rev. Creede Hinshaw talks about the lack of action on the part of congregations to oppose legislation that negatively impacts the poor.
The power of money – coinage, gold, silver, etc., is almost universally seductive, at least in modern society.
An Easter Sunday-sized congregation gathered for her funeral last Saturday at the Wynnton United Methodist Church in Columbus. I drove 100 miles to attend. Dodie MacElhannon was a servant of the Lord who loved the church, God’s world and God’s people. That’s why I had to sit in a folding chair on the back wall of the sanctuary, the only seats left available.
I took my weed trimmer to a shop to determine whether it was worth fixing. It was the kind of shop that is vanishing in our nation: a place where the customer can walk into the back and talk to the repairmen.
I took a little trip down I-75 to Florida last week, giving me the opportunity to reflect on the tackiness, ugliness and downright tawdriness of the billboards lining both sides of the highway. If there were ever a candidate for highway beautification, it would be this despoiled corridor, especially the stretches around Valdosta, Perry and much of Florida.
This week I want to reflect on a success story between the evangelical church and the public school system in Portland, Oregon. Samuel G. Freedman of the New York Times told the story in an Aug. 10 article headlined “Help From Evangelicals (Without Evangelizing) Meets the Needs of an Oregon Public School.”
Let’s think about school funding today, a subject that seldom makes its way into a column about religion and ethics. There is simply not enough money to go around in Georgia’s public schools. A few years ago we cut our Pre-K program (one of the best investments we can make in our children) by $54 million, reduced the K-12 budget by $110 million and slashed the higher education budget by $174 million. That’s lamentable, you say, but what is a state to do?
Pope Francis has made the news with regularity, having recently completed his first visit to South America since being named the new pontiff.
Almost every religion grapples with the meaning of giving and receiving, generosity and greed. How do these things add up for the believer?
Reports from eastern Oregon indicate that a farmer there found a strain of genetically modified wheat growing in his field this season, a puzzling discovery since Monsanto, which had tested that strain of wheat for 12 years, never put it on the market. Nobody can figure out how the wheat got there.
When does a service of worship last too long? What a subjective question!
A few years ago on a trip to the United Kingdom I noticed that few Union Jack flags flew from houses or businesses. A British friend explained that most Brits do not have that same sense of national pride we display here.
The New York Times this week described a small group phenomenon involving discussion of the often avoided topic of death.
Earlier this week many United Methodist congregations in south Georgia received new pastors on what they call “Moving Day,” prompting me to muse about the ways congregations receive new pastors.
The New York Times printed a fascinating report from William Grimes on May 27, “Something Happened on the Way to Bountiful: Everyone Sang Along.”
A photography student phoned the church a couple of weeks ago, asking the secretary if she could schedule an appointment with me.
A few weeks ago I promised some more thoughts on the religious problem behind too much stuff.
The Western Wall, one of the most sacred and prominent sites for Jewish and Christian pilgrims in Jerusalem, was the locale for anger, rock tossing and controversy last week when several hundred Jewish women exercised their legal right to pray at that prominent locale.
Almost two months ago Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was elected by his fellow cardinals to serve as the next leader of the Roman Catholic Church.
Last week country and western artist George Jones died. He was a hard-living kind of a fellow, according to the reports, carousing so hard and heavy that he was often too sick or bleary-eyed to appear at his concerts.