A Blog Pause for Book Work

Great news! Market Square Books will be publishing my work on small congregation advantages. It should be out in Spring 2023. 

But We Used To Be A Big Church…

Small congregations come in lots of flavors. The differences matter—even when the size is the same. See 2 reorienting questions for but-we-used-to-be-big congregations.

Participation Lessons for the Pentecost Season

Pentecost was not a spectator sport. It was not made for an audience. Observers saw drunks. But participants experienced something else–the good news of the High Holy in the Right Here.

A Superpower Story of Small-Setting Nimble

…So that’s what they did. After the last bowls and boxes go out each week, the small group transforms that car-selling-haircutting-video-watching-tattooing-now-food-pantry space into worship space. Not a hard task, really.  It is already holy ground. They are already a tent people. Next week’s boxes are moved against the walls. A work table is draped with a beautiful cloth and a cross. The room trembles with incarnational wonder. And doesn’t need a single pane of stained glass…

In Lament of Praise Bands

We gave up worshiping in Latin 500 years ago. It didn’t fit our incarnational theology. At Pentecost a messy diversity of languages showed up. And the Spirit sent us to all the people. So we changed our worship to the vernacular—everyday words spoken by ordinary people in each particular place. Everyday. Ordinary. Particular. 

The mission of the Church belongs in the vernacular. The best gifts of Right-Here. From every Even-Us group of folks. Context.

Small-Group Worship in Big-Group Space: The Challenge, Two Fixes, and How the Good News Talks Back

But there’s a bigger issue for small congregations in less-than-ideal buildings. The worship space may be whispering anti-gospel nonsense. Like “this is not-good-enough” or “you can’t keep up” or “just look: you’re barely alive anymore.”

Pay attention if you’ve heard these whispers. Because this challenge can’t be undone with a simple project. Or even with a bulldozer and new blueprints. Because this is a challenge of theology, not architecture. It marks a crisis of faith, not space. It means your building has become your hope. 

Let’s be clear: the kingdom of God cannot be reduced to brick and wood. Our hope has never been in our addresses, furnishings, and facilities. The Good News has no trouble talking back to sin and death, so buildings can pose no threat. By God’s grace, we are enough, we have enough, and resurrection overturns once-and-for-all the lie of “barely alive.”

God’s people have worshiped in temples and cathedrals. But we’ve also worshiped in wilderness and underground burial chambers. Ezekiel  announced it long ago. God rolls with us like a wheel. Even through the rubble of a destroyed temple. Wherever. Emmanuel is our good news. God with us. Here! So we roll out, too. Our worship buildings are simply tools of our ministry. 

Co-Creating Palm to Passion with Your Small Congregation

Palm-To-Passion Sunday solves the problem of Sunday-only folks missing out on Good Friday worship. It’s a problem, of course, because Good Friday is essential for grasping the depths to which divine love goes for us.

But the Palm-to-Passion format creates a different problem. Including the passion alongside the palm parade can create a bit of … well, worship whiplash. It’s a lot. 

Want to avoid the whiplash? Let the scripture guide that impossible journey. That’s the point of this reader’s theater resource…. 

3 Holy Week Resources for Small Congregations: Let the Scripture Work

It’s not all on you.

And it’s not even close.

You don’t need all the perfect sermon words. 

You don’t need to dilute the Holy Week stories with clever, original explanations. 

In Holy Week, you can trust our scripture to work. 

That’s the point of the following resources. They simply allow the scripture to speak to us. With us. Intimately. They are designed for messy participation. Not perfect performance. And intimate, messy, high-participation worship is one of your strengths.