Blogs/Columns


Latest from the Bishop

Pastoral message following Judicial Council rulings

5/3/2019

Bishop Ough urges Minnesota United Methodists to stay together and strong in this in-between time, and to be the leaders and the church God is calling us to be.


Year of the sums

7/25/2011

At annual conference session, Bishop Sally Dyck drew our attention to the “nones”—people who indicate “none” when asked their religious affiliation. This is the fastest growing “religious” group in America. They may be spiritual, but not religious. They may be emerging adults or mature adults. They may have roots in one or more faith traditions or be severed from any heritage of faith. ...


What’s stopping us?

7/1/2011

Once there was a small church with a large sanctuary. About 30 to 40 people attended worship each Sunday, scattered throughout the sanctuary. When I visited this church, I noticed how uncomfortably empty it seemed. It was too large a space for this small group of people. I wanted to rip out the pews, carpet the floor and put in flexible seating so the environment was more conducive to a ...


A third place

5/6/2011

Last month on a flight from Minneapolis to Portland, I struck up a conversation with a young woman in the adjacent seat. I introduced myself and asked, “Are you coming or going?” Jamey, I’ll call her, explained that she was a researcher for one of the large Minnesota food companies. She was part of a local team headed to the Pacific Northwest to monitor focus group responses to a new ...


Will our children have faith?

5/6/2011

How many baseball games will be you be sitting at this summer? Having a couple of nephews who love and live for baseball, I’ll be attending a few games. I have watched their games from T-ball through high school. Sports have been a huge part of their lives and have given them much joy, and their parents have done everything they could to give their children that experience. How many of ...


We believe in resurrection churches

4/1/2011

We have been closing churches in the Minnesota Annual Conference. When we think of church, we often image a pastor, a building, and a group of people who meet there. In that model, when a church drops below 100 people in average worship attendance, it usually cannot afford a full-time pastor anymore. When attendance drops to 30 or 40, and particularly as the congregants age, they find it...


What should General Conference delegates know about pension and benefits legis

4/1/2011

Delegates to the 2012 General Conference will have hundreds of pages to read and understand as they prepare to vote on items that will have lasting implications for the church and individuals who serve the church. The items relating to pension and benefit changes for United Methodist clergy are among the most complex pieces of legislation that delegates will consider. During March I ...


A new frontier

3/4/2011

Since news came out about my new appointment, I’ve received responses ranging from “How far did they have to twist your arm to take that job?” to “Just as the whole nation cast Tina Fey as Sarah Palin for Saturday Night Live in 2008, so the entire Minnesota Annual Conference was pulling for you to be in this role in 2011!” While the energy for church growth probably falls somewhere ...


Bridging the we/they divide

3/4/2011

A business CEO who is also an active United Methodist presented five leadership pillars at a recent gathering I attended. With these five pillars, he has transformed every company he has led. He claims that they work in every setting. His second pillar really struck a chord with me: 100 percent trust. A key practice to building trust is to ban the word “they” from an organization. Within...


Does my church qualify for a small-business tax credit?

3/4/2011

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the health care reform bill passed in 2010, provides a tax credit to small businesses for health insurance premiums paid. Many Minnesota United Methodist churches may qualify for the tax credit, even though churches are tax-exempt organizations. Each church should make the calculations to see if it qualifies. Documents on the General Board ...


We are here for you

1/31/2011

When Bishop Dyck announced my appointment change from Minnesota Conference’s director of congregational development to its director of ministries, more than one person inferred that preaching and leading workshops in churches would not be a part of my new job; that somehow all my time would be consumed with running the machinery we know as the Minnesota Annual Conference. Yes, I have ...


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