A View from the Pew: View from the Pulpit

In most churches, there are a limited number of people who have the opportunity to look out on the congregation from the pulpit.

A View from the Pew: A New Kind of Bus Ministry

Bus ministries are few and far between in today’s church culture, but they were once seen as an innovative approach to reaching the community.

A View from the Pew: Manger Scenes

Christmas has a lot of baggage to be sure, but there is something special about worship during this overstuffed season that I appreciate.

A View from the Pew: Who Is the Christmas Program For?

It’s that time of year when the church sanctuary is transformed into downtown Bethlehem circa first century AD, and the parking lot may or may not host some sheep.

A View from the Pew: What Is Your Church’s Website Saying?

By now even the most stubbornly resistant to technology among us have navigated the World Wide Web and have expectations of how it should work.

A View from the Pew: AI Sermons

It should come as no surprise then that overworked ministers tasked with preparing multiple sermons, devotions, Bible studies, and articles each week would find AI a useful tool.

A View from the Pew: Home Bible Studies

I’ve recently been a part of discussions on taking a new approach toward inviting people to and engaging them in our church—Bible study as outreach.

A View from the Pew: Together or Separate?

There are many ways to structure Sunday school, and one of those methodology questions I have been dwelling on lately is this: Should Bible study be co-educational or separated by gender?

A View from the Pew: Outdoor Spaces

I have been reflecting on church’s outdoor spaces more lately because I find myself chairing an ad hoc committee to address our grounds.

A View from the Pew: The Budget

Our church recently approved a budget for the new fiscal year, which for us begins July 1.

A View from the Pew: Church Coffee

At some point in the past 20 to 30 years, we reached the tipping point of churches first allowing, then serving coffee every time the doors are open.

A View from the Pew: Maybe Our Neighbors Would Rather Serve than be Served

In recent weeks I have begun to wrap my head around the possibility that my approach to church outreach has been backward.

A View from the Pew: Imagining Church Without Responsibilities

With Christmas and New Year’s days falling on Sunday this cycle, I had the unique experience of attending church back-to-back weeks where I just participated in worship, caught up with my church family, and went home.

A View from the Pew: Dilemmas of Christmas on Sunday

Every five to 11 years, depending on leap years, Christmas Day falls on a Sunday, and church-going folks, especially those with small children, face tough decisions.

A View from the Pew: Giving Thanks for the Challenges, Too

As my own church continues to navigate challenges since the onset of the COVID pandemic, I am working to embrace a more comprehensive gratitude list, one that includes the problems we are facing.

A View from the Pew: Our Prayer Requests Speak Volumes

From my childhood to today, the churches to which I have belonged have all engaged in the ritual of voicing prayer concerns. This occurred most frequently and meaningfully on Wednesday nights in what we called “prayer meetings.”

A View from the Pew: Shall We Gather at the Picnic

Like everything churches suspended during COVID, our church picnic has grown in value and meaning during its absence.

A View from the Pew: The Blessings of Youth Sunday

This is a season of transitions for young people marked by graduation and awards ceremonies. Churches complement these secular rites of passage with graduate recognition and youth day services.

A View from the Pew: Resetting the Church Habit

We’re a few days removed from Easter, and many formerly faithful church attenders find themselves at a crossroads. Rather than lecture about the importance of showing up to church, I’m moved to offer a few ideas on getting back to church consistently.

A View from the Pew: Breaking Out of a Slump

If we’re honest, we all have slumps. Forgive the overuse of sports metaphors, but no matter the game, slumps are real, observable, and unavoidable.

A View from the Pew: Deconstruction is Only Half of the Job

A friend and mentor I quote often liked to say he was “unencumbered by a theological education.” That joke has always resonated with me.

A View from the Pew: Bible Totin’

In more ways than I care to count, I am old-fashioned. Add to that growing list my habit of carrying my Bible to church.

A View from the Pew: Watch Night Services

We could use a Watch Night service right about now. If ever a New Year’s Eve called for a Watch Night Service, this is it.

A View from the Pew: Lighting the Advent Wreath

With the exception of that time one of the deacons set the church lawn on fire while trying to get rid of fire ants, I don’t remember much fire at church during my formative years.

A View from the Pew: Trunk-or-Treat vs. Trick-or-Treat

Last month I explored the concept of fall festivals as church events and how to think about them in the current context. This month, I’d like to spend a little time unpacking a specific form of the fall festival known as “trunk-or-treat.”

A View from the Pew: 5 Questions to Help Plan Your Fall Festival

In the “before times,” when pandemics were far-fetched movie plots, churches looked for ways to gather for fellowship outside of Sunday worship. It was an added bonus if it could involve people outside of the church because then you could call it “outreach.”

A View from the Pew: How Long Should the Sermon Last?

I’m a preacher’s kid with two preacher brothers. I’ve grown up around preachers and spent 10 years of my professional career working in close proximity to preachers at the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

A View from the Pew: Adventures in Live Streaming

If your church began live streaming worship during the pandemic, chances are someone in your church made the joke on social media, “Look! The pastor is a televangelist now!”

A View from the Pew: What Did You Learn at Children’s Church?

What a church does with children says a lot about its focus and its future. I’ve seen a variety of approaches to the faith formation of children. All methods have their strong and weak points, defenders and detractors.

A View from the Pew: Is the Children’s Sermon for or by Children?

I miss children’s sermon. Our church hasn’t had one since March 2020.

A View from the Pew: Resurrecting Churches after the Pandemic

The strains of “He Lives!” still echo in my mind as the joy of my church’s outdoor Easter worship brought home the reality of the Resurrection and the work ahead for our church in a post-pandemic future.

A View from the Pew: Upsetting the Congregation: What to do Next

Last month I laid out six circumstances when it’s okay to upset your congregation. This month, we’ll look at what to do at such a time.

A View from the Pew: Upsetting the Congregation

I grew up in a pastor’s home, so I deeply understand the need to keep the peace in a church. Most of the time, it’s counterproductive for folks to be riled up over this or that.

Putting on Layers

Since October, my church has been meeting for socially distanced, fully masked, outdoor worship at 10 a.m. each Sunday.

A View from the Pew: Pancho and the Christmas Play

If you’ve ever performed in a Christmas drama you know the truth of the old show business maxim attributed to W.C. Fields: “Never work with children or animals.”

A View from the Pew: Hugs and Kisses

Church in the time of COVID-19 is such a different experience that seminary students will be writing dissertations unraveling its impact on people of faith for years to come.

A View from the Pew: Looking at Your Phone During Church

A question that has surfaced in my mind during these strange times is “When is it okay to look at your phone during church?”

Lockdown Sunday School: How to be Together When You’re Apart

Very little feels normal about church these past six months, but one of the most consistently meaningful weekly meetings we have maintained is the Bible study my wife and I lead for young adults.

A View from the Pew: Which Part of the Service Do You Skip?

You don’t need me to tell you these are weird times, especially for church. A recent message from my pastor highlighted the weirdness for me.

A View from the Pew: “Hollywood Squares” Prayer Meeting

I can’t help but think of “Hollywood Squares” every Wednesday night when my wife and I log onto our church’s midweek prayer time and devotion via Zoom.

A View from the Pew: When is it Okay to Go Back to Church?

You may already be back in your traditional place at church on Sundays, or you may be wringing your hands and wondering when it is safe to rejoin your church family in person.

A View from the Pew: Worshiping During Baptism

Baptism is a powerful symbol in my faith tradition, and I cherish it with greater intensity as I age. Whether it’s the strength of my memories or the decreasing frequency with which baptisms occur, baptism is an important time of worship for me.

A View from the Pew: Preserving the ‘Tie that Binds’ when Politics Divides

The church of my childhood left many indelible impressions, but none more than unifying act of baptism. To reinforce the communal nature of this sacred ritual, we traditionally closed the service with the singing of “Blest Be the Tie that Binds.”

A View from the Pew: Taking a Personal Spiritual Retreat

I’ve never hiked the Appalachian Trail, but I know people who have. It sounds like something I would want to do, but then again, maybe not.

A View from the Pew: Saving Seats

Confession: I hate saving seats. Anywhere. School concerts, sporting events, the movie theater, anywhere that has general admission, first-come first-served seating.

A View from the Pew: Family vs. Faith Traditions on Christmas Eve

There are two kinds of families in this world: those who open gifts on Christmas Eve and those who wait until Christmas morning. I have been blessed to have been a part of both.

A View from the Pew: ‘Tis the Season for Missionary Speakers

Missionary speakers at church are as much a Christmas tradition as Christmas trees, Advent wreaths, and Nativity scenes.

A View from the Pew: 5 Ways to Prepare for the Season of Preparation

A household project this weekend prompted the inevitable trip to the hardware store where I was greeted with an overwhelming array of Christmas decorations and supplies. It’s still November.