“Better Know a Theologian: An Introduction to the thought of James Cone”

Originally posted on Brentwood Christian Church:

James Cone James Cone

The Academy for Faith & Life at Brentwood Christian Church is pleased to present a new six-session series, “Better Know a Theologian: An Introduction to the Thought of James Cone,” set for Wednesday evenings from August 19 to September 23. Sessions will run from 6:45-8:00pm and will be taught by Rev. Snider. It is free and open to the public.

The purpose of this new series is to help participants become familiar with key theologians in the Christian tradition, particularly those whose work is of particular significance for the church and society. Participants in this course are expected to read two books over the course of our six weeks together: The Cross & the Lynching Tree (by James Cone) and Liberation Theology for Armchair Theologians (by Miguel De La Torre).

To sign up, please contact the church office.

About James Cone
Professor James H. Cone, known as…

View original 580 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

30 Signs You Might Be a Mainline Pastor


30 Signs You Might Be a Mainline Pastor

(1) Over half of your sermons contain quotes by Barbara Brown Taylor or Nadia Bolz-Weber.

(2) You admire Shane Claiborne for his radical commitment to Jesus, and you are truly inspired by him. You also secretly hate Shane Claiborne for the same reasons.

(3) When you’re out and about evangelizing, you don’t say “Can I tell you about the good news according to the Gospels?” nearly as much as you say, “Can I tell you about the good news according to Marcus Borg?”

(4) You abhor the movies “God’s Not Dead” and “Fireproof,” and while you support freedom of speech you aren’t entirely sure it should apply to Kirk Cameron. You also wonder why, when it comes to popular public debates about religion, your sympathies frequently lie more with the skeptic than with the strong believer.

(5) If the organizers of the Wild Goose Festival switched locations from North Carolina to, say, Colorado or Oregon, you would be in favor of that because of, well, reasons.*

(6) The vast majority of your congregants are at least 20 years older than you, and you’re not even young enough to qualify as a millennial.

(7) Instead of usually wondering, “Could it be Satan?” (like the Church Lady from Saturday Night Live), you usually wonder, “Could it be social injustice?”

(8) Even though Rob Bell is still just a wee-bit too evangelical for your tastes, you really like him a lot, and you especially wish his Oprah Winfrey Network show would’ve made it, mostly because you are out of Nooma videos and need some new material to show to the two kids (probably your own) who might show up for youth group. Also you think Rob’s old pal Peter Rollins is a far more interesting theologian, but you can’t show the youth group Pete’s videos because they’re too damn depressing.

(9) When somebody uses the word intinction, you know what they mean.

(10) You believe the Eucharist, and not the sermon, is the focal point of the worship service.

(11) The “new” wing of the church was built in 1955.

(12) One of the (many) unread books in your library is the Bible. On the bright side, you bought all of the Feasting on the Word commentaries so you’re good to go anyhow.*

(13) Your inbox is full of daily alerts from the New York Times, Human Rights Commission, Sojourners and the Huffington Post. Also, Barack Obama still wants you to give money to him.

(14) You desperately want to tell people that everything is going to be okay, and you think it’s your job to tell them that, but, you know, sometimes you wonder.

(15) You don’t know how in the world Rich Mullins could’ve penned the horrendously awful song “Awesome God,” because most of his other music is actually pretty great, and it’s just about the only “Christian” pop music you can stand. You also are sad that Bono is no longer very cool.

(16) You prefer telling people that you went to “grad school” instead of seminary. Also, you know how to spell Walter Brueggemann. 

(17) You’d rather quote Friedrich Nietzsche than Billy Graham.

(18) You’re free to talk about a bunch of theological perspectives in your sermon, but by God don’t you dare mess with the Sunday schedule.

(19) You can’t quite figure out how the church can sing Mary’s Magnificat every year and still not understand its (radical) implications.

(20) Sometimes you wonder if there should be a question mark at the end of Dr. King’s famous line about the arc of the moral universe bending toward justice.

(21) Other times you wonder if anybody is going to update the church website. Then you remember that’s your job too.

(22) You’d rather listen to the roundtable on Larry Wilmore’s The Nightly Show than to 99.9999999 percent of the sermons on the Internet. You’re also really going to miss Jon Stewart. But, hey, at least now you’ve got more time freed up to watch Colbert on CBS!

(23) When someone you just met asks you what you do for a living, you first respond with a bunch of disclaimers so that when you get to the point where you actually have to say “I’m a pastor,” they won’t think you view the world the same way as, say, Sarah Palin or Pat Robertson. (Pro tip: It’s not a lie to say, “I’m in non-profit work.” Unless you’re Creflo Dollar or Joel Osteen.)

(24) You cringe when a congregant says your sermon reminded them of something John Hagee just said the other day. You also get tired of reminding people that his idea of the rapture is a modern day convention. And that it’s the book of Revelation, not Revelations!

(25) Every time somebody pulls out a chart or graph at the denominational assembly, all the numbers are trending downward. Including minister’s salaries related to inflation. And minister’s salaries not related to inflation.

(26) You wonder how many times you have to explain that the word tithe (as it’s used by the church) isn’t synonymous with the word offering, and that it actually means giving 10% of your income to the church. At the same time, you understand that family budgets are tight, student debt is real, and living wage jobs are hard for your people to come by. Sometimes you have to remind your board of this.

(27) Given your appreciation of multiculturalism and pluralism, coupled with your sheer distaste of triumphant religious hegemony, you find it moderately problematic that your favorite magazine is called The Christian Century. You also look for any excuse to say hegemony.

(28) Your denomination has been engaged in church-wide “revitalization and renewal” efforts for as long as you’ve been in ministry and you wonder if there will be full-time church work available for you ten years from now.

(29) You are oh-so-tired of people talking about what formula or style or program can get the Millennials back into the church! Enough already!

(30) You’re pretty excited about the prospect of being able to legally officiate weddings for same-sex couples.

Feel free to add your own in the comments!

*Disclaimer: I was just being playful with a number of these, especially 5 and 12, so don’t report me to the church authorities too quickly, because some of these are simply jokes. 

Updated disclaimer (12:12am July 10): Because there’s been some confusion, let me clarify: #5 is not a jab at NC; rather, it refers to laws recently passed in CO & OR, which, for the record, wouldn’t even affect any mainline pastors I know, including me. It is a contextually rooted joke that works by playing on the notion that Wild Goose is just like a Christian Woodstock (which is another running joke in mainline circles), but it has nothing to do with putting down NC as a state. As far as #12 is concerned, it’s a playful way of saying mainline pastors really like Feasting on the Word commentaries, and they frequently reach for them as quickly as they reach for the Bible, mostly because they’re lectionary-based preachers and Feasting on the Word is an excellent resource for lectionary-based preaching. But lest one get the wrong impression, rest assured that every mainline pastor I have ever known reads the Bible frequently and carefully. This is a light-hearted, playful reference! 

So to be clear: some of these items are serious, some are jokes, and some are a combination of both.


Filed under Uncategorized

New sermon series: “Help! My family & friends think I’m going to hell!”

Originally posted on Brentwood Christian Church:


“Help! My family and friends think I’m going to hell!”
(or, “How to Survive Get Togethers with Family and Friends — even if you don’t share the same religious beliefs”)

Rev. Dr. Phil Snider

Part 1 – July 5
Part 2 – July 12

Although the title of Phil’s new sermon series is a bit tongue-in-cheek, its content is not. One of the challenges we increasingly face — especially in the midst of so much religious and political polarization, which feels all the more prominent after the Supreme Court’s ruling last week on marriage equality — is the difficulty of navigating the close relationships we have with those who hold different religious beliefs than our own. After all, our religious beliefs often represent what we believe to be most ultimate, and we hold them very close to our hearts (this is true for both “conservatives” and “liberals”). At the same…

View original 184 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

A sermon (confession) for white people in the wake of Charleston

A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But Jesus was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” — Mark 4:37-38

Sometimes it feels like Jesus is sleeping in the boat. The wind is howling, the storm is raging, the boat is about to sink, and it feels like Jesus is sleeping.

In recent days, it has felt like the boat of our humanity, of our nation, of our collective dignity, has yet again been at stake, and the storms of humanity’s own doing — the storms of racism, the storms of violence, the storms that come from centuries of dehumanizing others — such storms threaten to capsize our boat, to throw us into the choppy waters, to leave us to drown, desperately reaching for the shore, crying out for help. 

There are storms of nature that at times threaten us, and this is the kind of storm the disciples faced in this story from long ago, when the waves pounded their boat, and Jesus just laid there, sleeping. 

But there are also storms of our own doing, storms for which human beings are responsible: storms of violence, storms of racism, storms of violence *and* racism, storms that threaten to tear us apart, that have already torn us apart.

Like so many of you, I have spent the last few days overcome by feelings of emptiness and sorrow. The words of Lamentations ch. 2 have become expressions on our own hearts: “My eyes fail from weeping, I am in torment within; my heart is poured out on the ground…”

We so desperately want Jesus to calm the storm of racism that has ailed our nation for far too long, not just during years of slavery and segregation but well after, even and especially now. We want Jesus to heal the gaping racial wounds that feel so insurmountable, the gaping racial wounds that our nation so frequently fails to acknowledge and, as such, keeps us from truly becoming the land of the free and the home of the brave, with liberty and justice for all.

We would like Jesus to wake up and to calm our storms, like he did for his disciples long ago, to help us find solid ground, to still the kind of storms that keep black and brown people from feeling like they can gather together safely in this country, even in a sanctuary, or to walk to the convenience store and back without fear of death. And we long for Jesus to still the storms of racism that somehow lead whites in our country to feel like equality and justice for all somehow means less equality and justice for them, somehow means victimization for them, which in turn leads whites plagued by a seemingly chronic case of whiteness to be conditioned by fear all the more, sometimes in obvious, tragic ways for all to see, yet far more frequently in the quiet, daily, subtle, gnawing sensation that the racial divide in America doesn’t just hurt people of color but quietly destroys the souls of white folk as well. And when whites can’t quite suppress such feelings enough — despite centuries of ideology in their favor! — we become all too aware that we are drowning in a sickness unto death. 

If we want Jesus to wake up and calm these storms, if we dare solicit his help, we must take pause. We must realize that Jesus doesn’t offer cheap remedies; rather, he asks everything of us, including and especially honesty coupled with action. The remedy Jesus offers is not quick, and it is not without its challenges. In times like ours, the remedy he offers is less a soothing balm and more a disrupting presence. Stilling the storms of racism, which are inextricably connected to the storms of violence, requires us to face deeply into ourselves, to ask the difficult questions and acknowledge the uncomfortable truths about our nation’s history, including the daily fears of what it means to be black or brown in a nation that in a variety of ways continues to inflict grossly disproportionate amounts of violence upon black and brown bodies, a violence that is not just about the denial of basic human dignity and rights but, all too frequently, the very denial of life itself. If those of us who are white feel the sting of racism as something that gnaws away at our collective (figurative) soul, how privileged it is for that to be the primary affect of racism on our lives. There are figurative deaths, and there are literal deaths. Racism deals both kinds; but let us not equate the two. There is an existential sickness unto death, and there is death itself. Separate, but not equal. 

The truth that Jesus exposes, if we dare face it, is the truth of one who was violently scapegoated and subsequently murdered for crimes he did not commit. Jesus, the beautiful and blameless lamb, was executed by those who blamed him for their problems. “You are causing a disturbance!” they said to him. “You are threatening our way of life! Keep to yourself!” Sounds frighteningly similar, doesn’t it, to the rhetoric used by Charleston’s terrorist — “You rape our women and are taking over our country,” he said to those gathered for prayer at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church — employing rhetoric which has been invoked on countless occasions down through the years by white supremacists in order to justify scores of lynchings and murders.

If we want to know where the crucified Jesus resides today, we need only to look at the bodies of those murdered by an evil violence based on misguided fear, frequently rooted in a founding myth of racial superiority and prejudice and privilege and subjugation and dehumanization. Indeed, Jesus’ dead body hangs not only from a wooden cross in ancient Rome but from countless trees across the deep south of the United States of America; Jesus’ blood-soaked body has been laid to rest many times, not only in ancient Galilee but also in Birmingham Alabama’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church and Money Mississippi’s Tallahatchie River and Springfield Missouri’s own town square and Oakland California’s Fruitvale Station and Staten Island’s public streets and Cleveland Ohio’s public parks, and, now, on the floor of Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina, a state where the Confederate battle flag still flies high and, evidently, bows to nothing. 

Of course, we need to be careful here. We’re treading in dangerous waters. The life and death of Jesus exposes us to the truth of our collective existence (or, perhaps, the truth of our penchant for destruction), and, as such, we very well may prefer Jesus to stay asleep, so we don’t have to deal with the deep questions and uncomfortable truths that haunt our country and our society. 

After all, the simple but disastrously naive way to read the story of Charleston’s terrorist is to view him as an aberration, a bad apple, a lone wolf, as one who acted outside of the system, as opposed to being more properly understood as a symptom of the very system itself.

Of course we condemn his act — of course we are outraged by it — this is the most obvious of all things! But truly honoring the victims of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, and truly honoring the memory of Jesus, means we must not only condemn and be outraged by this single act, which is unfathomably horrific, but, even more, we must condemn and be outraged by the conditions that lead to such displays of violence in our country, over and over and over again.

As Jon Stewart noted in his moving segment on Thursday’s Daily Show, the roads in South Carolina, traversed by blacks and whites alike on a daily basis, are still named “in honor” of Confederate generals. And even though this shooting might largely be acknowledged as an act of racist violence, let’s not kid ourselves here —> the standard rhetorical climate on social media and cable news networks results in thousands of thinly-veiled, subtly-coded racist statements on a daily basis that are deemed perfectly acceptable by no small segment of our nation’s population. I mean, I’m a white guy in the Ozarks. When people don’t know I’m a progressive Christian pastor, the racist comments I am regularly privy to on a behind-the-scenes basis lack nearly all filters that might otherwise keep them from being said in public.

All of this sets the stage for contempt and anger and violence; all of this can make 21-year-old white men in South Carolina or Missouri or wherever feel as if their anger at people of color is somehow legitimate. At its perverse core, racist rhetoric, whether in implicit or explicit form, whether expressed on social media or interpersonal conversation or cable news networks, incites nothing but misguided anger and fear and blame that in turn populates the tragic killing fields of racism, with horrific consequences for all of humanity. 

Yet as much as I wish it wasn’t the case, things are even more complicated than this. As many whites are beginning to recognize, and as black and brown people have known for far too long, racism is not simply about individual feelings of prejudice by just “a few bad apples.”

As one professor writes, “a fundamental but very challenging part of [anti-racist] work is moving white people from an individual understanding of racism—i.e. only some people are racist and those people are bad—to a structural understanding. A structural understanding recognizes racism as a default system that institutionalizes an unequal distribution of resources and power between white people and people of color. This system is historic, taken for granted, deeply embedded, and, [while toxic and burdensome to people of color] it works to the benefit of whites.”

Many of us who are white in America don’t like to acknowledge such uncomfortable truths — I know I don’t — but if we want our response to tragedies like the one in Charleston to be more than just an empty rhetorical gesture, we must begin by telling the truth about our past — not white washing or sugar coating it. It begins by acknowledging that America’s original sin is the sin of racism, and that the signs and symbols of racism and inequality and misguided fear are still deeply entrenched in our culture. America is not exceptionalist, except perhaps in the numbers of those killed by armed violence, and the first step toward our collective healing is the act of confession, of being honest about our predicament, so we are not lost in a perpetual state of death-dealing denial. 

I say this not to condemn white people, or to make us feel guilty, but to encourage us, and our nation, to heal, to mend, to begin the journey of redemption and transformation. I say this because I believe we can change. I say this because I believe we long to change. I say all of this because our past doesn’t have to define our future. I say this to a largely white congregation because our black and brown brothers and sisters deserve a world that doesn’t benefit one group at the expense of another group. I say this not out of pessimism but out of an unbridled hope that our society, and our nation, can be better, can be redeemed, can be transformed. I say this because I believe in a God of second chances (and third and fourth and fifth and sixth and seventy times seven chances), I say this because I believe in a God of forgiveness and transformation and liberation and redemption and salvation. This call to forgiveness and transformation and liberation is part of the abiding witness of the black church, and it represents the church universal at its very best, and has already even been expressed by the families of Emanuel’s victims in words of forgiveness, just days after their loved ones were gunned down, which is yet another remarkable testament to the resiliency and courage and leadership that has long marked the black church in America. 

For white Americans, our honesty about our situation — our confession — must be coupled with our action. When we encounter the seeds that cultivate the killing fields of racism, we must stand up and speak out, guided by a desire for our world to be measured not by hate and fear and prejudice but by love and equality and justice for all. 

So when people continue to insist on sharing inhumane and racist jokes, whether they come in the form of a forwarded email or a quiet whisper, we must say, no more. When people think it’s somehow comical to compare a black or brown person to a monkey, whether it be the president in the White House or a peasant who doesn’t have a house, we must say no more.

In the times that a person is judged by the color of their skin and not the content of their character, we must say no more. In the times that public officials or media pundits or everyday people refer to blacks as thugs, or Muslims as terrorists, yet at the same time refer to whites responsible for mass atrocities not as a thug or a terrorist but simply as a likely victim of mental illness, we must say, no more. When a white terrorist blatantly declares his plan is to shoot up a church because he wants to kill blacks, yet people don’t acknowledge racism as the chief motivation, we must say, no more. 

It’s also important for us to ask, and seriously consider, why as a nation we valorize violence as the answer to all of our problems. We rush to war, we rush to arms, we act as though mediation or diplomacy is for the weak. Instead of blessing the peacemakers, as Jesus did, we call our guns peacemakers. And we wonder why we have such a disproportionate amount of gun violence in comparison to other countries.

And, perhaps most fundamentally, we should consider why there is so much racial animosity and anger in the first place. Is it really rooted in beliefs that God ordered one race to be historically superior? What kind of cultural conditioning goes on to make people think this way? (We know that children have to learn racism.) Does any of this have to do with misguided and perhaps unconscious fears, with whites looking for someone to scapegoat or blame for the ills of society, like what was done to Jesus all those years ago, like what a 2016 presidential candidate did to immigrants just a few days ago, when Donald Trump referred to Mexican immigrants as rapists ruining our country? Does it have to do with worries that the balance of power in America (which has historically benefitted straight white males) might be shifting, and whites are insecure about what this might mean?

These are all questions without easy answers. And I cannot begin to answer them for you. But I do believe that if we really care about being part of the healing of our nation’s gaping racial wounds, if we really care about the state of our collective dignity, we must begin somewhere.

I’d like to close by bridging together four quotes, the first three by three Nobel peace prize-winning laureates, and the fourth by the late Rev. Clementa Pinckney, an ambassador for peace and justice whose life, along with the lives of eight of his parishioners, was taken far too soon by the evils of a racism that we must give all we have to abolish, to send back to the deepest pit of hell from which it emerged. 

“The greatest tragedy [in the face of injustice] is not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people…

Therefore, we must not stand idly by…

For each of us has a responsibility. Sometimes we wait for people like Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela to speak up for us, and we forget they were just normal people like us, and we need to recognize that if we step forward we can also bring change just like them…

[For] America is about freedom, whether we live it out or not […] It is about freedom, equality and the pursuit of happiness. And that’s what church is all about: freedom from sin, freedom to be full of what God intended us to be, freedom to be equal in the sight of God.”

May our lives be measured by such a dream.


1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Payday loan laws must be reformed

I collaborated with Rabbi Barbara Block, Rev. Michael Overton, and Rev. Mark Struckhoff for this piece in today’s News-Leader.


On the pages of the News-Leader, readers frequently find clergy from across the religious spectrum expressing a wide range of differing opinions on a number of hotly-contested issues. Yet when it comes to predatory payday lending practices — which at their very core exist and thrive on a person’s misfortune — a vast and ever-growing number of clergy in the Springfield area stand united for reform.

Given the fact that the Bible contains over 2,000 verses related to economic dignity, it shouldn’t be surprising to see so many religious leaders stand united. After all, the Bible consistently condemns usury and teaches us to love our neighbors rather than exploit their financial vulnerability for selfish, unscrupulous gain.

Parasitic predatory lending practices use 400 percent interest rates to intentionally trap struggling families in debt. Clearly, the American public understands that 400 percent interest is wrong and immoral — as evidenced by the unique coalition of faith organizations and community leaders coming together to seek an end to the payday loan debt trap.

Many clergy are taking a lead on this initiative because we’ve seen the way predatory payday lending (which is better understood as legalized loan sharking) has decimated the lives of some of our beloved parishioners and friends. Predatory lending practices take advantage of people who find themselves with their backs up against the wall. What’s worse, payday lending companies want people to find themselves in desperate situations, which is actually the inverse of the Golden Rule. Instead of treating others the way you would like to be treated, predatory lending practices are forged in the hopes that others are treated exactly how you do not want to be treated.

This simply isn’t right. Anytime the most vulnerable members of society are taken advantage of, people of faith are called to stand in the gap — to do something about it — in order for love and fairness to be the measure of society, as opposed to exploitation and greed.

We are grateful for the many people in our community working toward true reform, including representatives from local banks and credit unions actively trying to figure out ways to provide small loans at a fair rate to those in need, so that a viable alternative to predatory lending might become available. This way, for example, if a person’s brakes go out and they don’t want to miss work, they’ll have the option of seeking a loan from a reputable, integrity-driven lender that helps them stay on their feet, as opposed to a payday lending company that is rooting for their financial ruin.

Since Missouri is among the states that have the most outrageous payday lending laws in the nation, we hope you’ll add your voice to the growing chorus of citizens seeking true lending reform. If you’d like to be involved in this work, you can connect with Faith Voices of Southwest Missouri — an organization constantly striving to work toward the economic dignity of all Missourians — via Facebook, Twitter, or email (@faithvoicesswmo; faithvoicesswmo@gmail.com).

Rabbi Barbara Block, Rabbi, Temple Israel; Rev. Michael Overton, Senior Minister, First Baptist Church; Rev. Phil Snider, Senior Minister, Brentwood Christian Church; Rev. Mark Struckhoff, Board Member, Missouri Faith Voices


Filed under Uncategorized

Book Review: The Mainliner’s Survival Guide to the Post-Denominational World


As communities of faith continue to worry about the latest demographic studies documenting the decline of Christianity in the U.S., I’d like to call attention to Derek Penwell’s book, The Mainliner’s Survival Guide to the Post-Denominational World (Chalice Press, 2014). While valued institutions may very well be declining, Penwell helps us see that this actually harbors the potential to provide an opportunity for churches to consider valuing the call of Christ over and above the call of Christendom, which is something that has been lacking in the churches for far too long.

Here is the review I did for Encounter magazine:

It’s no secret that Christian congregations and organizations have long measured their institutional health and vitality based on numbers, particularly in regard to members and finances. As such, success in ministry is frequently understood in terms that are quite similar to the consumeristic market-driven economy that in many respects is viewed as more sovereign than Calvin’s God, leading more and more scholars to assert that it’s easier to imagine the end of the world – atomically, biologically, chemically, etc. – than to imagine an alternative to the consumeristic market-driven economy in which we (and our churches) live and move and have our being. 

However, Derek Penwell refuses to play by these rules, and his book shows that churches can (and should) refuse to play by them as well.

Penwell begins in familiar territory, citing various statistics related to mainline denominational decline that in one form or another have been voiced for over two decades, the affects of which culminate in what he calls a “vortex of doom” that leads congregants and pastors to feel “mounting anxiety about the prospect of failure.” But instead of allowing such fears to consume congregations, Penwell changes the conversation: “The prospect of death need not necessarily imprison us; it could, if we were able to shift our thinking, liberate us.”

It is precisely here that we begin to see that Penwell isn’t interested in the typical remedies for so-called “revitalization” that have become a dime a dozen in the mainline publishing market, remedies which in sum generally offer little more than the peddling of snake oil to desperate congregations that are much more interested in renewing a mythic past than in moving into a transformational – albeit risky and uncertain – future. Perhaps surprisingly, Penwell doesn’t offer a clear and concise remedy at all. Rather, he invites churches to risk, to leap, to fail, and to do so by embracing the heart of the Christian story, for “the gospel is first about failure and death—because it’s only losers and corpses who’ve got nothing left to lose.”

Instead of primarily worrying about typical market-related signifiers, which lead congregations to constantly want a return on their investment (e.g., new members, young families, additional pledges, etc.), Penwell challenges churches to focus on the gospel as a gift to the world – a gift which, as Aquinas describes, “is literally a giving that can have no return.” Penwell’s approach to congregational faithfulness is reminiscent of St. Paul’s notion of kenosis, in which Christ empties himself for the sake of others.

To be sure, Penwell affirms, it would be nice for congregations to experience new life in the process. But the point is not to do what is right for the payoff; the point is to do what is right out of faithfulness to the gospel, no matter what the return might be. And in a market-driven world that is constantly trying to manipulate people in order to get something out of them, such faithfulness just might bring with it signs of resurrection.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Brentwood Christian Church & the Supreme Court Ruling on Gay Marriage

Originally posted on Brentwood Christian Church:

Two hands creating a heart
As those of us around the country await the Supreme Court’s ruling that could potentially legalize same-sex marriage nationwide (same-sex marriage isn’t currently legal in Missouri), the General Board of Brentwood Christian Church, at its meeting on May 4, 2015, officially gave its approval for same-sex weddings to be celebrated in our sanctuary. As an open and affirming congregation, Brentwood has consistently expressed its support for equal rights, and the Board wanted to explicitly state that this includes celebrating same-sex weddings as well, in the same manner that might apply to any other wedding viewed as sacred in the eyes of God.

View original

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized