In Company

On the wall of my study hangs a poster-sized picture of my confirmation class. It’s a game for my church members to come in & try to find sixth-grade-Josh. Not a hard game, actually. I keep it even though I can’t remember everyone’s name—it was a big class, and not everyone was a regular at … Continue reading

A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

Holy Week is a bit of an exercise in futility for some of us liturgically-minded pastors. While the Sanctuary may be full on Palm Sunday and overflowing at Easter, the empty pews at our midweek services beg for some attention. I urge my congregations yearly to appreciate the joy of Easter by attending to the … Continue reading

The Christian as Leader

Leadership, leadership, leadership. We hear this mantra all the time, especially in the church. In fact, these 3 words were tweeted by Bishop Scott Jones on the opening night of General Conference 2012 as he reflected on the most important factors in United Methodist renewal. Though acknowledged as crucial, we might profitably ask, “What kind … Continue reading

Collect for the First Sunday in Lent

Your Son, O God, fasted in the wilderness forty days, and was tempted as we are, yet without sin: grow us in obedience to your Spirit, so by observing discipline we may be truly disciples, and that in our weakness we may know your power to save; through our Brother, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Discipleship, Leadership, and Community

For those of you who have read my blog somewhat regularly over the past year, you know that one of the questions I have is about how communities of faith grow both excellent leadership and provide a context for high-capacity Christian discipleship to flourish. [picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=greenhouses&iid=284895″ src=”0281/7c83f863-b104-4c59-8e83-424a3a407263.jpg?adImageId=10544181&imageId=284895″ width=”234″ height=”350″ /]One of the metaphors … Continue reading

An Identity Crisis

Eight years ago today (liturgically speaking) I preached for the first time in “big church”…not a devotional or talk but an actual sermon in the awe-inspiring sanctuary of St Paul’s United Methodist (Houston) on a Sunday morning: Transfiguration Sunday. It holds up, I think, and today seems oddly resonant. In honor of how the Holy … Continue reading

Discipleship and Attending Worship

One of the things that Mike Gaffney said this morning has really stuck with me. When asked, “How many college students attend worship” at his collegiate church-based ministries, he would respond, “I don’t know and I don’t care. The much better question is, ‘How many students are connected in relational way to a member of … Continue reading


Flipping through the wonderful new handbook from United Methodist Communications, I was impressed again by how much ministry our church does with so many people in so many places. The handbook does a great job of putting into words and images the scope of ministry (and structure!) in which our denomination engages. (I’m even in … Continue reading

Difficulties in Greenhouse Construction

Authentic communication of the Gospel today is challenged both by the lack of public space and by the inability to shape intimate spaces into graced responses.

Greenhouses for Discipleship

Where are the “discipleship greenhouses” today, in which hardy and quick-growing varieties of disciples could be nurtured and then re-introduced into the native environment to strengthen those around them?