This survey was, in part, created and adapted from ideas presented in “Unwelcome: 50 Ways Churches Drive Away First-Time Visitors” by Jonathan Malm, and from conversations with Brian Zehr, Consultant with Intentional Impact. Download the Is My Church Welcoming? survey in PDF format.
We invite submission of papers and talks from members of the Metropolitan Chicago Synod of the ELCA, talks given to members of the Metropolitan Chicago Synod, or articles from other pastors and theologians, not limited to ELCA. Send submissions in Word docx. to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Most of the so-called welcoming churches value diversity and are quick to announce their openness to people of different backgrounds, races, sexual orientations, gender identities, religions, and socio-economic status. To that list my congregation intentionally adds an openness to those questioning and struggling with organized religion. The identities of individual worshippers are less fixed than […]
“All are welcome” is a common sentiment expressed by congregations. Some display rainbow flags or signage as a sign of welcome to members of the LGBTQ community; or, the Reconciling in Christ cross may communicate welcome to Lutherans familiar with the symbol and the congregational process it represents. Asked to reflect on how we welcome […]
When I was growing up in the 1950s I had the impression that everyone in the congregation attended worship. Admittedly, my frame of reference is limited to what I knew my friends did in their churches or synagogues in urban Buffalo, NY. There were a few who went to Sunday School, but not worship. But […]
One of our modern problems with the Devil is the inconsistency of the images of the Devil or Satan in the Bible. Was the serpent that tempted Eve in Genesis 3 the Devil in disguise or just a talking snake? The identification of the serpent with evil is seen in the medieval image of the […]
Try as I might, I can’t find anything to say, or even really believe, about the Devil and the demons as such. Whether they can be said to exist in a way that we say anything else exists, and if so what they are, how they originate, and what their powers–I have no idea. In […]
Richard Beck Reviving Old Scratch: Demons and the Devil for Doubters and the Disenchanted Fortress Press, Minneapolis: 2016 In his contribution to Fortress Press’ “Theology for the People” series, author and professor of psychology Richard Beck makes an argument for Christians of all theological persuasions to reclaim language for the devil and spiritual warfare. Beck […]
“That b**** is gonna haunt us.” The sister coaxed a laugh out from behind her tissue, snorting through tears. The three women in the room gazed down at the youngest of the them and smiled at the inside joke passing just beyond the reach of the chaplain’s ears. The dead woman was covered in homemade […]
As one would expect, the New Testament treats the subject of demons in concert with some of the contemporary thought of the day. Demons were “unclean spirits” believed to have personalities with the ability to inhabit waste places and possess individuals where the afflicted individual’s personality was perverted and sickness could be inflicted (Matt.10:25; Luke.11:15-19).1 […]
What is Baptismal Exorcism? I adjure thee, thou unclean spirit, by the name of the Father † and of the Son † and of the Holy Ghost † that thou come out of and depart from this servant of Jesus Christ, (name), Amen.1 With those words, Martin Luther in his revised baptismal rite of 1526 […]
I write this on the Feast of the Epiphany, which is the celebration of the birth of Christ “epiphanied” –manifested – to the Gentiles. One of the themes of this celebration could be stated as “bringing in the outsiders.” Over the centuries prior to Christ’s birthGod had spoken to the descendants of Sarah and Abraham […]
Though it was one of the last things I really wanted to do, I felt obligated to argue for traditional Christian sexual ethics at two “dialogues” or “debates” sponsored by the Northern Illinois Synod and the Central/Southern Illinois Synod in November 2003. The task was made easier by the presence of Martha Stortz as a […]
“The priesthood of all believers,” “the ministry of the baptized,” “the call of the baptized” All phrases and concepts for ministry that are rightfully the source of much conversation and reflection as we seek to order the ministry of the church for the 21st Century. These phrases and concepts can also be the source of […]
We have been nourished with Word and Sacrament. We have received the benediction. A lone voice cries out, “Go in peace. Serve the Lord.” We respond, “Thanks be to God.” I always shout this response. Sometimes this shout is an affirmation. Moved by proclamation and fortified by the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, I […]
Note: The following excerpts are from an article by the same name in Lutheran Forum,Vol. 29, No.4, November 1995. Used by permission. Over the centuries since the Reformation, Lutherans have proudly laid claim to the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers and that of Christian vocation. Luther, they declared, was the first Reformer to […]