"Doing Church" in the 21st Century

Crucifix, Henry Miller Memorial Library,
Big Sur, CA
Mainline Protestant denominations in the US are shrinking, and no one knows how to make that stop.

I was brought up in the Lutheran denomination -- back when it was called the LCA -- and was a member of a New Jersey congregation until I went off to college. In recent years, one of my most formative experiences as a member of an ELCA congregation was doing joint activities with a cluster of churches from different denominations in Chicago. I'm now a member of a Christian church here on Madeline Island -- it's nominally a United Church of Christ (UCC) congregation, but one with a very diverse the members come from so many different traditions that I think it would be fairer to say it is an ecumenical Christian community. (In fact, St. John's UCC Madeline Island calls itself "a spiritual center for the whole community.")

I believe the Church grows when people find it life-giving enough to feel motivated to share it with other people. Ten years ago, I thought that social justice activities were far and away the most important way for the Church to be life-giving. Today, I still think social justice activities matter but I am observing other things that matter a lot, too.

Here are some posts I've written in recent years. They're in chronological order. (What do you think? Am I mellowing?)  I hope these posts, together with future writing, can contribute to the effort that so many are participating in, to find good ways to "do church" in the 21st century.


Easter Victory: The Guantanamo Lawyers


WWJD? Occupy!


Occupy Palm Sunday!

Thoughts Before Holy Week: "Talk About the Passion" with R.E.M.

Occupy Food Justice!

Was the Crucifixion a "signature strike"?

That Pentecost Moment (When Talk Becomes Priceless)


Does God "care" about the climate crisis?

Flies in the Ointment and Plumb Lines for Israel

When is Christianity Going Back to Being the Religion of "UN-entombment"?

The St. Luke's Crew and a Few Thousand Close Friends in Springfield to Say: "Marriage Equality Is a Human Right!"

Get Outside Your Comfort Zone and Have A Conversation Today (Welcome to the Ministry)


Good Friday, 2013: A Passion Play for the Drones Era

What We Do In Chicago During Holy Week: Make a Spectacle of Ourselves

What Happens When People Talk With Each Other (My Graeme Reid Moment)

Congregations That Worship in Glass Houses . . .

Hélder Câmara and "Missa dos Quilombos": "Enough of all injustice!"

Let the Church Out of the Closet

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Apostles


How Shall We Live in the Face of Empire? (Reading Mitri Raheb)

Christian "Church"? How about Christian "Liberation Organization"?

FAITH-BASED ACTIVISM: Are there any limits to its potential?

A Bible-rooted Christian Admonition to War Hawks: "PUT A MUZZLE ON IT!"

On Reading Ta-Nehisi Coates (A Confession)

What I Learned in Church (7 Habits)

Being Church in Logan Square, Chicago: An Ecclesiophilic Reflection

Getting Serious About Being Church in the 21st Century (St. Luke's Logan Square in Chicago)

Bringing Christmas Back to Bethlehem


Don't speak Spanish? "Sure you do . . . ."

Finding Accidental Saints in Berkeley (Reading Nadia Bolz-Weber)

Salvation History: "Follow the Drinking Gourd"

Do you dare make THIS human connection? ("Humans of Syria" Photography Exhibit at University Lutheran Chapel)

Decolonize Lutheranism -- A Northern California Installment

Can "Lutheran" Be a #BlackLivesMatter Denomination?

IN BERKELEY: Declaring Sanctuary, Changing Hearts and Minds

ELCA Resolution on Palestine / Israel: What Does It Mean for Us?

Is That Protest Music Coming Out of the Choir Loft? ("Touch the Earth Lightly")

DECOLONIZE THIS: The ELCA's Doctrine of Discovery Challenge

How Might the White Church "Die to 'Whiteness'"?

Which Way for the Church? Anti-Racism? or Comfort?

Is the Outcome of the 2016 Election a Matter of Theology?


CHURCH: What are we in the middle of?

Berkeley Organizing Congregations for Action (BOCA) Leads Black History Month Vigil: "Remember Our Names"

SANCTUARY (Church, City, State) and Solidarity with Immigrants

In Palestine: What Might a Flower Signify?

A New Lease on Life -- For Me, and For the World

WHO IS SAFE? WHO IS WELCOME? Seeking a Prophetic Path Towards Liberation 

The Multimedia Church: Movie Night


Stop Saying, "What has this to do with you? or with me?" Before Time Runs Out

A United Church of Christ (UCC) Resolution on Preventing Nuclear War ("Back From the Brink")

BFtB-WWND: "Back From The Brink": What Would Noah Do?

A Response to "The Wall" (a.k.a "the Separation Barrier")

Do You Know What You Believe? (The Apostle's Creed as a Focus for Thinking About Drones)

Church Activities to Repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery

The Mind of an Immigrant to Madeline Island

Noticing Nature at St. John's UCC on Madeline Island

The Woman at the Well and the Woman at GLIA

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