A View from the Pew: Doing More by Doing Less

“Do More in 2024” first started showing up in our church email newsletter in January, and from the first instance, it’s been like fingernails on a chalkboard to my weary spirit.

A View from the Pew: In Defense of Going through the Motions

Church folks are often warned to guard against “just going through the motions” in worship.

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: 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: 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.

9 Tips for Interpreting Scripture

Many of us grew up hearing preachers proclaim, “The Bible says it. I believe it. That settles it.” By now, I hope we realize that the task of biblical interpretation is a tad more complicated.

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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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?”

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: Lessons from Virtual Church

For regular church attenders, the isolation policies and shelter-in-place mandates of the COVID-19 pandemic have been felt most acutely on Sundays.

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: Bivocational Church Staff

The model of local church staff members having other forms of employment is a trending topic in my life these days.

A View from the Pew: Helping Your Kids Avoid Post-Camp Letdown

Preparing to send my two oldest off for a week of church youth camp has me already thinking about their return.

Are Church Weddings Becoming Obsolete?

Remember when June was the time for weddings? Remember when the church was the setting for weddings?

A View from the Pew: What to Say When You Pray in Front of People

Each week at my church we have a “deacon of the week” whose most visible responsibility is to say a prayer before the offering is collected.

A View from the Pew: Signs of True Repentance

At its heart, preparing for Easter during the season of Lent means repenting of our sin. The problem for many of us in the pews today is that repentance has almost completely vanished from our faith practice.

A View from the Pew: 5 Ways to Make Lent More Meaningful

Whether the season of Lent has been part of your tradition or not, it can be a helpful time of spiritual reflection and growth. I didn’t grow up observing it, but when introduced to Lent about 20 years ago, I enjoyed this annual time of intentional focus on my discipleship.

A Church “Meet Cute” for Valentine’s Day

One of the well-established plot devices of the modern romantic comedy is the first meeting of the would-be couple. Known in movie parlance as the “meet cute,” it is the defining moment of the story.

A View from the Pew: Resources for Daily Devotions

If you are doing your best to start 2019 with a renewed focus on your spiritual disciplines, then I would encourage you to consider what resources you use to facilitate a meaningful daily time with God.

A View from the Pew: Remembering MLK at Church

Any day honoring a man, even one who made a lasting impact on society, can be complicated. Dr. King possessed a combination of heroic traits and human frailties, as do we all, that we must by mindful of while planning this Sunday’s service of worship.

A View from the Pew: Hearing the Story

“A Charlie Brown Christmas” aired in 1965, and a generation formed an indelible association with the passage from Luke 2 and the recitation of the Christmas story by the character Linus Van Pelt. Born in 1970, I am definitely of that generation.

A View from the Pew: The Devil is in the Sound System

One of my earliest memories of a sound system glitch dates back to when I was 5 or 6. We were attending another church for a revival, and the audio receiver picked up a nearby CB radio. Right in the middle of the service we heard the crackle of “Breaker 1-9, breaker 1-9, you got your ears on? C’mon.”

A View from the Pew: Security at Church

One incident during a Sunday morning service from my childhood sticks out in my mind. I was young, probably between 5-10 years of age. We were sitting in our regular place on the third row in the middle section of the sanctuary.

Putting the ‘School’ Back in Sunday School

I ask my children weekly during out drive home for church, “What did you learn in Sunday school today?” I know, it sounds really old fashioned when I do it, but the basis of the question is the assumption that Sunday school is an educational activity. It is called “school,” after all.

A View from the Pew: Yard Work Is the Lord’s Work

I came of age in central Florida where lawn maintenance is a year-round chore/opportunity. So when I see someone riding or pushing a mower, particularly in the summer, I can’t help but hold them in high regard. Of all the thankless jobs laypeople do in churches, mowing the church lawn is one of the toughest.

A View from the Pew: Long Courtships

Like the age-old question “How many licks does it take to get the center of a Tootsie Pop?” those seeking a new church home often struggle with how long they should visit a particular congregation before joining. It seems it takes people longer and longer to feel ready to commit to a local church these days, and even the most consistent churchgoers have a hard time settling on a church.

A View from the Pew: What to Look for When Visiting A New Church

Finding a church can be frustrating, especially if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Instead of focusing on the color of the carpet or the wardrobe of the pastor, here are nine clues to help you find your local church home.

A View from the Pew: Counting All the Blessings

Counting the money received in the offering each week is one of the myriad tasks of church life that falls into the “thankless job” category. You may not even know who does it at your church. It’s a behind-the-scenes job well suited for the kind of church member who avoids the spotlight and prefers to do their “good deeds in secret” (Matt 6:4).

A View from the Pew: When Your Kids Don’t Like Church

We make our children do lots of things they don’t want to do. Homework. Brush their teeth. Go to school. Take a bath. Go to bed. Eat their vegetables. Share their toys. The list goes on and on. And many of these activities are non-negotiable for our children.

Putting the ‘Fun’ in ‘Fundraiser’

Both my stomach and heart are filled each year at my church’s annual chili cook-off and dessert bake-off. Always well-attended, the cook-off is a high point for our church. The fellowship and food serve as a backdrop for fundraising for hunger-related causes, or perhaps it’s the other way around.

A View from the Pew: Breakfast of Champions

Breakfast has been labeled by nutritionists and marketers alike as the “most important meal of the day,” but eating breakfast at church can be tricky. Not only do you have to avoid the powdered doughnuts if you’re wearing dark colors, but avoiding a carbohydrate overload can be next to impossible.

A View from the Pew: Rattling the Change in the Offering Plate

My boys have adopted an interesting habit learned from their old man. When they put their offering envelope in the offering plate each week, they turn it upside down so that their name and amount are facedown. I noticed they had taken up this practice recently when my middle son scolded his younger brother.