Monday, April 27, 2009

Christianity Today Editor Suggests "Church Shrink" Conferences

A senior managing editor of Christianity Today, suggests evangelical churches need to become more demanding and that conferences on "How to Shrink Your Church" should be promoted.

Mark Galli says, "I'm not kidding."

What churches need to do is "introduce the harder edges of the gospel" and preach in such a way that attenders actually leave "because they see, finally, what Jesus is asking of them."

That necessitates creating new church conferences to show leaders how to manage decline as pastors demand more from their members.

Yes, welcome to the Church Shrink Conference with special workshops on "Exit Ministries" and answering the question "My Church is Growing, What Did I Do Wrong?"

For Galli, evangelicals may appear successful, but actually they have "succumbed" to "an emotionally and spiritually shallow culture."

He finds his evidence in a new book Holy Mavericks: Evangelical Innovators and the Spiritual Marketplace.

Co-authors Shayne Lee and Phillip Luke Sinitiere argue that the growing ministries profiled in their book are not strict in doctrine or strict in behavior. Instead, their ministry growth is the result of crafting slick marketing, sympathizing with felt-needs, and appealing to local culture.

Galli is not convinced such growth is the kind of "growth" Christianity needs.

Citing older -- and highly controversial -- research found in Dean Kelly's 1972 Why Conservative Churches are Growing and Laurence R. Iannaccone's influential 1994 essay, "Why Strict Churches Are Strong," Galli claims much of evangelicalism's past success has been due to the demands of doctrine and behavior placed by these churches on their attenders.

The underlying argument of this research is that strict churches draw people into greater participation in their churches, greater solidarity with other believers, and a greater sense of purpose in living to a harder-edged gospel -- especially in comparison with liberal, mainline churches.

Jesus Army Baptism ~ NorthamptonshireImage by cromacom via Flickr


Strict churches, therefore, grow more and faster than looser, low-commitment congregations.

Galli admits (I'm sure reluctantly) that "Many churches are growing because they preach a God of second and third and fourth chances, and a faith that gives palpable hope, joy, and acceptance. What's not to like?" 

He concedes that the "gracious aspects of the faith" are attractive.

Yet, Galli goes against the strict church research to argue that strict Christian groups are small. "The more strictly you adhere to the teachings of Jesus, the smaller the church will 'grow.'" 

What is his core belief? Galli believes that theologically better churches with strict moral standards may be numerically small, but they are spiritually superior despite less attendance. "These theologically conservative and morally strict communities are not winning converts by the tens of thousands." 

Of course, Galli is conveniently ignoring that most morally "non-strict" communities aren't growing either.  Galli is also dismissing that 1) few churches are large (like 1,000+ attenders), and 2) the "accommodation to culture" has been happening even among "strict" evangelicals since they began. 

(See my recent posts on the ministry of Charles Finney.) 

Never mind all that.  There is a clear vision in Galli's mind of what churches should be like, and this new book really irks conservatives like him who hope that the future of American religion does not follow any of these various developments.

Instead, Galli believers pastors and leaders in "superficially successful" churches need to introduce the difficult demands of the gospel. And this introduces us to the tricky notion of how to measure any congregation's "success."

Ukrainian Pastor Sunday Adelaja (in 2007)Image via Wikipedia

Perhaps Galli would object less to the ministries of Mosaic or Oasis as I describe them. While these are certainly not conservative churches in his mold, they do call people to high standards while simultaneously accommodating to a changing culture. I don't quite know.

I'm confident strict churches will survive well into the 21st Century, but I am not so sure that the development of evangelicalism as a whole will follow this path ignoring an accommodation to the life circumstances of people's contemporary situations.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Finney's Altar Call and the Quest for Efficient Evangelism

I just can't seem to get Finney out of my mind. One more post...

After lingering with Charles Finney's memoirs for the past week, it finally struck me that Finney's use of altar calls contrasts markedly from his own, personal process of conversion. It's not until you read his memoirs that you realize that his public ministry of evangelism is quite different from his private experience of conversion. But after reading through his whole book, I think I understand how the altar call connects to his own life experience.

Mary Magdalene, in a dramatic 19th-century pop...Image via Wikipedia

Finney mentions summoning attenders to make a public commitment early in his preaching ministry. But it is not until he talked about "the anxious seat" well into his memoirs that I understood what the alter call was intended to accomplish.

The very beginning of his memoirs is devoted to how he found his own commitment to Jesus. In particular, as Finney wrestled with his own salvation he found himself unable to pray. He could not find the ability to give himself over to God. He went in and out of his house, talked with others, and went walking the streets, roaming and anxious, and still found that he could not find contentment for his own soul.

He eventually looked over to the woods, a quiet stretch of land up a hill and away from other people. It was there that he went in private -- apart from the company of others.

There in the woods, Finney finally prayed out his confession and commitment, releasing himself, discovering a sweetness reconciling to God in prayer, and finding joy and rest for himself. When he committed to Christ, he committed to preaching the gospel of Christ.

As Finney began to preach, he was struck by the response to the messages. He tells story after story throughout his memoirs of people who agonized over their salvation and were overcome with anxiety over their spiritual state. Attenders moaned during church services. People regularly fell out of their pews and onto the floor. Both men and women fainted in the fellowship.

The consternation and disturbance hits all social classes and all professions both in America and in England. Beyond church services, Finney regularly made house visits (often late at night and often at great inconvenience) to counsel and pray over individuals moved near the point of insanity over their spiritual destiny.

I think Finney empathized with these struggles. He recalled his own turmoil before committing to Christ.

As a pastor, he wanted to save people from such pain.

anxiousImage by Martino's doodles via Flickr

See, Finney was convinced that an individual who clearly understands the gospel and their responsibility to respond to it will experience emotional distress. From his experience and observation, the gospel provokes an emotional agitation, a deep disturbance that persists until the person makes a personal and proper response to God.

It is therefore out of a pastoral concern for the crisis experienced by near-converts that Finney crystallized his notion of "the anxious seat." Individuals who understand the gospel begin to occupy the anxious seat; they experience a type of physical agony that mere rest will not take away. The seat becomes a place of torture -- the unmoving agent stuck sitting amidst the stirring of their own conviction.

sin& salvationImage by wheat_in_your_hair via Flickr

For Finney, the altar call delivers people from their anxiety. It takes them out of a passive state to an active one. By inviting attenders to respond to the message, the preacher delivers convicted persons from their anxiety and toward spiritual ease in the elation of obtaining salvation through their active repentance. The preacher and volunteers steer each person out of their anxiety by giving them assurance of their salvation by pointing to their standing and coming forward as a physical mark of their commitment to Jesus.

In the end, while Finney's own conversion was private it emerged from a state of utter distress. Finney hoped to ease people from such emotional pain by directing them to a standardized response that moves them productively -- even efficiently -- toward salvation and emotional comfort.

Yes, altar calls are efficient means toward salvation, allowing more converts to find their way into Christian fellowship than if they pursued it without direction privately. But for Finney the use of alter calls emerges not for the sake of efficiency alone, but rather a pastoral concern to deliver people from spiritual agony toward spiritual elation. In this sense, finding salvation is simultaneously a means to find healing.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

More on Charles Finney and His Innovations

I wrote yesterday about Charles Finney, the American evangelist who carefully considered his methods in the conduct of his astoundingly successful revivals in the still-young United States and in England.

Jesus SavesImage by Terrapin Dawg via Flickr

My thinking more about Finney's ministerial work is motivated by his connection to the continued work of evangelism today - a work that is truly worldwide. Such evangelistic endeavors are considered by many Christians to be both normal and natural.

As simple as his approach to conversion seems today, Finney is notable for his willingness to re-work his approach to preaching because of his conclusions about the state of Christianity in his day back in the early 1800s. His conclusions led him to innovate methods of preaching and evangelism that have become the norm for Christian communities across the globe.

Here are a few thoughts about what makes Finney and his innovations interesting to me.

First, Finney was convinced that the standard theology of the day was flawed. Pointing to what he called the "old school" and to the then-current training of ministers at Princeton College, Finney believed that the prevailing theory of atonement was just wrong. Looking at Finney's reframing of doctrine shows how theology matters and its practical importance for the reshaping of religious traditions.

Image via Wikipedia

According to Finney, most established preachers at the time asked their people to pray that God would change their hearts in order to repent. Finney considered this advice to come from a type of hyper-Calvinism that kept earnestly seeking people from doing what they really needed to do -- simply repent.

Repentance for Finney meant a willful submission of oneself to God. The work of repentance was not prayed for but rather just needed to be done. And people can repent because Finney believed that human nature was not innately depraved (meaning unable to approach godliness) bur rather their sinfulness was "voluntary." Sinners needed only to express their commitment to Jesus and give their life (will, desire, and possessions) over to his use.

All of Finney's innovations in relation to the use of altar calls and all of his recorded revival work stemmed from this important shift in his theological approach, and much of the memoirs is dedicated to its explanation.

Second, Finney adapted his messages to the language and circumstance of the local population. Finney was trained as a lawyer and appreciated how lawyers were trained to make reasonable arguments in order for juries to side with their party. Thus, upon entering the ministry he produced messages that had "points," statements of truth drawn from Scripture that were carefully argued in a straightforward, colloquial manner.

Jesus Saves Jesus Heals MinistryImage via Wikipedia

Finney shunned merely religious language. He especially avoided embellished, dogmatic, and oratorical flourishes. Instead, he sought to speak plainly and directly, believing that other highly educated professionals (e.g., doctors, lawyers, professors) were easily converted once the plain message of Scripture was presented in a systematic, defensible manner.

No hiding behind theological dogma, Finney sought the plain truth of the Bible as he best understood it and readily gave out his own views on salvation, sanctification, and other doctrinal issues for as long as people were willing to sit and listen. He even wrote his own systematic theology which is readily available online.

Third, Finney sought to connect most often with listeners who had been disenfranchised by the established church. More than once, Finney side-stepped arguments with so-called "Christians" in favor of speaking to the curious, the unconverted, and even the antagonistic. Using plain language but still basing himself on Scripture, he argued for the relevance of the Bible, the reasonableness of God's judgment on those who willfully continued in their life against him, and the fallacy of established religious views as taught by other preachers.

PREACHING IN CABADIANGANImage by who.log.why via Flickr

He argues in his memoirs that his messages were always given in a loving attitude and that no listener would ever believe him to be angry or judgmental. Still, we know that Finney was forceful and direct in style so as to shock and amaze his hearers. The sensation of hearing him preach would fill rooms to overflowing over the decades of his ministry.

Connected with this desire to talk with those outside the common practices and fellowship of established congregations, Finney often used homes, halls, hotels -- even tents, taverns, and theaters -- to speak to crowds.

One revival discussed by Finney admonished his dedicated flock to bring to meetings only those who were curious and open but not yet religiously committed. Once people responded to the altar call (and scores of them did), dedicated volunteers would meet and pray with them to assure them of salvation and eventually lead them toward a regular church fellowship.

These are just a few, interesting aspects of Finney's ministry that comes from my reading his remarkable memoirs. Although you might not be fortunate to find your own used copy at your local bookstore, there is a nicely presented and carefully prepared edition of Finney's memoirs currently available from Zondervan.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Charles Finney and His Calculated Ministry

Finished reading Charles Finney's memoirs published in 1876 last night. Much of the book focuses on his plea for innovation for the sake of evangelism.

On a recent trip to California, I stopped in a religious store that sells a largely unsorted collection of used books. I was looking for treasure, and I found it.

Portrait of an unnamed balding manCharles G. Finney. Image via Wikipedia

On the floor and at the end of a row of "overflow" books that would not fit on an already overstuffed bookshelf I found an unassuming green book, yellowed with age and frayed at the spine. The square-ish little bundle had a simple title: CHARLES G. FINNEY - and that was enough for me.

The 477 page book, complete with a portrait of the famous evangelist, turned out to be a first edition of his autobiography, a book published by Oberlin College (a school built almost entirely on his reputation, fundraising, and booksales) after his death in consideration of the great importance of his life.

The book is a fascinating read. For me, the value of the book is to see Finney's own view of his theological convictions and his methods in his approach to gaining converts. Finney is the original seeker-sensitive preacher.

Toward the end of the book, Finney writes,

laughter curesImage by Nate KS via Flickr

"In religion as in every thing else, good sense and sound discretion will, from time to time, judiciously adapt means to ends.

The measures needed will be naturally suggested to those who witness the state of things, and if prayerfully and cautiously used, let great freedom be given to the influences of the Holy Spirit in all hearts."

[emphasis mine.]
His call for "great freedom" comes as a striking, summary statement after reading the many, many stories of conversion and revival. In short, the book is a plea to earnest Christians for innovation in the service of evangelism.

Finney often uses terms like "calculation," "means," and "measures" throughout the book that indicate his conscious consideration of methods to provoke conviction and move people to make public commitment toward the gospel.

Indeed, for Finney the lack of revival in any place pointed to a lack of consideration of proper methods. On page 155, he writes, "The great failure of the ministry and of the church, in promoting religion, consisted, in great measure, in the want of a suitable adaptation of means to that end." And on page 154 he writes, "There must be an adaptation of means to the end to be secured," namely conversion.

The means-end discussion is constant through the book, both in its successes and in its failures.

JapanSMP_1212Finney "invented" the altar call. Image by openg via Flickr

Here's one of his most important methods -- many of you may remember that Finney essentially invented the "altar call," the practice of preachers summoning attenders to move to the front of the service as a sign of their dedication to Jesus and meeting others there who will talk and pray with them, giving them spiritual assurance.

The book tells stories regarding his first use and continual experimentation with altar calls and the use of "the anxious seat" to provoke people to commitment.

Finney's practice was to arrive in town and spend much time living there, even two or six months at a stretch, getting to know people and speaking to them as directly and as plainly as possible.

Although he was criticized by both members and ministers for the failure to use a more religious oratory style, Finney strenuously argued that he would rather be understood than thought merely eloquent.

On page 94 he writes,

Extreme EvangelismImage by Dave Siberia via Flickr

"My habit has always been to study the Gospel, and the best application of it, all the time. I do not confine myself to hours and days of writing my sermons; but my mind is always pondering the truths of the Gospel, and the best ways of using them. I go among the people and learn their wants. Then, in the light of the Holy Spirit, I take a subject that I think will meet their present necessities. I think intensely on it, and pray much over the subject on Sabbath morning, for example, and get my mind full of it, and then go and pour it out ot the people."
Finney's preaching was more like a conversation. "How completely they were in the dark in regard to the results of that method of addressing people!" he wrote. "The used to complain that I let down the dignity of the pulpit" and "that I talked to the people in a colloquial manner."

Finney usually spoke extemporaneously, speaking from a brief outline, in order to talk to the assembly with the greatest freshness and spontaneity possible. "Indeed, people have often said to me: 'Why, you do not preach. You talk to the people.'" This is one of the ways his "preaching" was set apart from the well-prepared, written-out, and read-aloud sermons of his contemporaries.

He later summarized his ministry, saying,
"Wherever I went, the word of God took immediate effect; and it seemed only necessary to present the law of God, and the claims of Christ, in such relations and proportions as were calculated to secure the conversion of men, and they would be converted by scores."

Holy SpiritFinney practiced and continually called for deep prayer for revival, and always attributed the work to the Holy Spirit. Image by Sacred Destinations via Flickr

Finney "called" people to public affirmation of faith in the context of an understanding of their local cultures and common concerns at home and at work.

But don't think that Finney believed conversion was merely an outcome of human manipulation -- far from it. Finney spends much of the book (and writings in other books) talking about the centrality of prayer for revival. And Finney attributes nothing to his self, rather to the efficacious working of the Gospel when properly presented.

It is the work of the Holy Spirit according to Finney. The difference between himself and most of his contemporaries is that they failed to properly understand the working of the Spirit and failed to call individuals to take responsibilities for their personal, active response to the Gospel.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Revival and Relevance in the Sticks (towns 75k or less...)

Interesting new conference -- "The Sticks" -- takes a southern and mid-western sensibility to initiating contemporary, mission-driven ministry to the small towns of the United States.

With a website complete with videos of t-shirt and wireless-mike wearing pastors, The Sticks conference is designed to inspire smaller town pastors to go for innovative ministry styled on the successful models of larger churches around the country.

The conference is an interesting example of the extent of influence from successful, evangelical megachurches in America, the pervasive use of technology in American religion, and the continued concern for attracting young adults in church ministry. Here you will find a mission-driven form of accommodation, acculturation, and experimentation in response to social change.

Stimulating ambition for churches outside Metro areas, The Sticks makes leadership philosophy and a reflection of contemporary practices accessible to smaller towns. Its stated mission --
Do you live out in the sticks? [small cities and towns of 75K or less]

Divernon IL - First Baptist Church (10 of 14)Image by myoldpostcards via Flickr

Do you want to make a big impact?
Tired of small towns being left out of the conversation?

Have you bought into the lies...
'we can't do that' or 'we don't have the funds to pull that off'?

the sticks is a gathering where revival meets relevance. It is a gathering to inspire and equip pastors in small to medium towns to make a big impact for the Kingdom!

Break out sessions over two days in three different sites work through youth ministry, outrreach, the use of social networking sites, multi-site ministry, and leadership developments.

The speakers are native to each area, successful pastors who have grown vibrant ministries in these areas like Perry Noble, founding and senior pastor of NewSpring Church in Anderson and Greenville, South Carolina.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Billy Graham and the Rise of the Republican South

Quick post: Nice review of a new book on Billy Graham by historian Steven P. Miller.

The New York Times Book Review includes a nice review of Billy Graham and the Rise of the Republican South, described by the publisher as a book that "considers the critical but underappreciated role of the noted evangelist in the creation of the modern American South."

The book wonderfully weaves politics, religion, and racial relations together around the emerging career of evangelist Billy Graham and the important election of Richard Nixon.

According to the article:

{{w|Billy Graham}}, American religious figure.Image via Wikipedia

Graham’s rise to prominence as an evangelist coincided with the turbulent years between Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 and the landmark civil rights legislation of 1964, and throughout that decade he wrote and sermonized in favor of racial harmony, staged desegregated rallies in balkanized cities, and counseled obedience to court rulings and legislation that many of his fellow Southerners were determined to resist. As a voice for both Christian conservatism and racial progress, he served as a bridge between the Old South and the New, and as a model for a region struggling to shed its worst baggage without losing its identity.

That’s one story. But there’s another story as well, one that paints Graham as a coward and an apologist for racial backlash. He supported desegregation but took few risks on its behalf; he cultivated a studied moderation in a time that cried out for moral clarity; he was more interested in flattering the white South’s self-regard than in calling his region to true repentance. As a steadfast supporter of Richard Nixon’s career, from the 1950s down through Watergate, he simultaneously enabled and embodied Nixon’s “Southern strategy,” which shut civil rights liberalism out of power and turned the region Republican for a generation.

Nixon gives his trademark Image via Wikipedia

Neither story is the whole truth, but both are true. And it’s a credit to Steven P. Miller that his “Billy Graham and the Rise of the Republican South,” a study of the evangelist’s relationship to the cause of civil rights on the one hand and the cause of conservatism on the other, does justice to the tensions and complexities involved — for Graham, for the South and for the country.

The book is good, just out (I got my own copy this past week), and a textured historical analysis of the recent, American past we are still learning to understand.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Church is All A-Twitter

Easter Services provide atttenders opportunity to pray, worship, and "tweet" during services.

At Next Level Church in Matthews, North Carolina, Pastor Todd Hahn encouraged guests and member to bring laptops and pull out their iPhones and Blackberrys to Twitter through the service.

The picture on the right shows Scarlett Hollingsworth using her Blackberry to Tweet as her daughter Jillian Hollingsworth, 10, texts on her own cell phone during Sunday's Easter service.

An article from the Charlotte Observor titled "The church that tweets together...", tells about a photographer Kristen Hinson -- who is 24 years old -- who "felt liberated by the Easter message – and her ability to pass it along via cell phone. 'I love Next Level Church,' she Twittered. 'The resurrection is like a sales receipt from God, a guarantee of what's to come!!!'”

Other Twitter messages from Next Level Church on Easter:

melissajackson3: Awesome foo fighters song to start the service at nextlevel.

imkay: Nothing u do 4 the lord is in vain.

desimae: I remember the day when Easter meant dressing up against my will and being bored for three hours at church …thanks, nextlevel for change!

psalm46: Resurrection is real; … He is still raising us day by day from this level on to the nextlevel, higher up and further in.

renwicks_lady: Getting ready for Nextlevel church, getting my texting thumbs stretched and ready to go!!!!

charburns: nextlevel had awesome music today and yes i am twittering in church.

Next Level Church is described as "a rock 'n' roll-style church" with a Creative Team of twentysomethings who wanted to do something "special" for Easter.

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase

The article says, "Charlotte native Hahn acknowledged that the church's accent on Twitter is partly a marketing tool. But he said it can also enhance members' religious experience and build community."

"With so many old and new churches competing for young people, some like Next Level are trying to stand out by embracing the latest technology: Web sites, blogs, and now Twitter."

A 44 year old member added, "If you don't jump on the new technology, you're going to lose opportunities.... We use it for work and for life. Why not church?”

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Blog Interview with Gerardo Marti on Hollywood Faith

Quick post: I recently completed a radio-type interview on my recent book now available online.

I got an email a few weeks ago from my friend Alex McManus, creator of Voxtropolis and founder of the International Mentoring Network, along with Sam Radford, leader of Mosaic Sheffield, England, and consultant with Awaken Consultancy about their new venture. As you can see, these guys are busy!

Cover of Cover via Amazon

Alex and Sam were kind enough to invite me for an interview on their "blogtalk" radio program IMN Central about my new book Hollywood Faith. The program, All Things M, features about 30 minutes of conversation between Alex, Sam, and myself, and is now available online.

Alex is author of a brand new book, Making the World Human Again: The Quest to Save the Future from Religion. Sam has his own blog also.

One more thing -- Sam is organizing events for the IMN and Mosaic Alliance through Mosaic Sheffield. In particular, look for The Human Event happening in October of this year. The website gives more information on what will be a provocative, intimate, and international gathering of entrepreneurial-minded church leaders.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

New Conference for New Evangelicals (and Those Who Want to Know Them)

Quick post: Another new conference is available in April in Orlando, Florida. The Exponential Conference -- the 2009 National New Church Conference -- is themed on "The Art of Movement." I try to pay attention to different conferences happening out there as a measure of church activity, and this is certainly one of the more interesting happening this year.

The list of speakers for this conference is another current "who's who" of influential evangelicals from around the country speaking to the current interests and concerns of entrepreneurial-minded church leaders. You can browse and click links to churches, organizations, book titles, and personal websites to enter this interconnected world or relationships. My friend Erwin McManus from Mosaic in Los Angeles opens the conference at the first plenary session.

The conference also hosts podcasts, and there are several available online, including:


Image by via Flickr

Sessions from last year's 2008 conference are available also. The sessions from the "Multi-Ethnic Track" were particularly interesting to me; you may find others.

Besides seeing and meeting people 24/7, conferences like this give you an intense exposure to the perspectives and concerns among the newer generation (post-Moral Majority) evangelical leaders in America. Another key bonus is the long list of special sessions available before and during the conference. These are practical sessions that problem-solve issues in chatty, interpersonal contexts.

Take a look at this list from the conference catalog. The "preconference intensives" include:

A Gillmor Gang podcast at Gnomedex 6.0.Image via Wikipedia

Even with a short list like this, click to explore the values, "convictions," and buzz-words currently used around the evangelical table. The "tracks" of the conference highlight the organizational concerns of these largely independent leaders:

Pre Launch - preparing for starting a church

Post Launch - what to do once it's rolling

Reproducing Church Movements - launching other mission-driven churches

Multi-Ethnic - how to address racial and ethnic diversity

Missional Church Planting

Nuts and Bolts - over 30 sessions on hodge-podge leadership concerns

Church Planting Spouses - and how to keep your marriage in the midst of it all...

Overall, here's an interesting gathering that speaks to the current issues and concerns of some of the more interesting and vibrant developments in American Christianity.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Week in Berkeley - Course in Creative Leadership

I've just accepted an invitation to return to the Pacific School of Religion, a seminary affiliated with the Graduate Theological Union which happens to be the largest and most diverse partnership of seminaries and graduate schools in America. I will teach a one-week intensive course on leadership.

Color: Fiber FestivalGothic inspired architecture on PSR's campus - Image by >>>WonderMike<<< via Flickr

I am happily returning to Berkeley the first week of August 2009. The course details are below, and more detail is available on PSR's summer session webpage.

Catalyzing Creative Leadership for the Emerging Church
Instructor: Gerardo Marti, PhD
Date and Time: August 3-7, 2009; 8:30 am -12:30 pm
Course School Ownership: PSR

Units: Audit ($330.00)
2 Continuing Education Units ($355.00)
1.5 Semester Hours (General - $636.00; Current PLTS/PSR Student - $523.00)


This course explores the relationships between culture and the emerging church and the implications of these relationships for effective spiritual leadership.

In addition to references to church history and biblical scriptures, the course continually connects societal arrangements with contemporary innovation and experimentation in congregational beliefs and practices.

By incorporating scholarship rooted in a sociological perspective, the course also looks more generally to the ongoing changes and negotiations that the Christian Church always makes in relation to the broader social world.

Photographed by Doug Dolde along the Big Sur c...Northern Coast of California - Image via Thinkin

Trust me, this will be an enjoyable week together, so if you can make it over to Berkeley -- a wonderful city during a beautiful part of the year in California's fantastic Bay Area -- please join us!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Assistant Professor Gerardo Marti Named King Professor of Sociology

During a busy time with my family, I am pleased to receive the announcement that I have been honored with an endowed professorship at Davidson College.

Davidson, North CarolinaChambers - a prominent building on the Davidson College campus. Image via Wikipedia

As the L. Richardson King Assistant Professor of Sociology, I will return to campus in the fall continuing my research scholarship in addition to continuing to develop new courses at the college.

The donors honored Dr. "Richie" King with this professorship out of appreciation for his thirty-eight year career in mathematics at the college characterized by his devotion to students and his development of sophisticated models for real-world issues in ecology. I had the privilege of meeting Professor King -- energetic, engaging, interested -- early this past week.

You can read more about the endowed professorships awarded this academic year on the Davidson College website.

Monday, April 6, 2009

My Bookshelf Runneth Over

Quick post: The kids are on Spring Break this week, which means my personal plans are delayed by at least that long. Oh well.

The picture here is a portion of one bookshelf -- most of my "currently reading" and "to read" books at the house are mixed in here, with the other large pile at my office. I am desperately trying to keep up with my review commitments (I've done the article manuscripts, and 2 books are currently due) as well as my own general flow of knowledge-intake to keep up with my own interests and the swirl of developments in the world.

For fiction, I am currently enjoying Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh and on religious history I am thrilled with Witnessing Suburbia: Conservatives and Christian Youth Culture by Eileen Luhr. If I get through these by Wednesday, I'll be happy.

Besides more reading, I have a few other projects this week and traveling a bit. I'll post a few thoughts as they come together.

Until then, the kids need some lunch...