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Ecclesiology and Ethnography – Do They Go Together?

Without the fancy words, that is to say, “What does observing and analyzing ordinary church life – studying congregations – have to do with thinking theologically about what church life means?” About a decade ago, Professor Pete Ward, from Durham University in the UK, and Dr....
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What to do about the building

A recent article in The Atlantic proclaimed ”an epidemic of empty churches.” And the very same week the Washington Post asked, ”Does a religious community need its own building to flourish?” Both authors pointed to the reality that buildings are often a problem, and finding the...
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Finding Resources in Unexpected Places

Mike Mather has spent most of his adult life pastoring churches in neighborhoods most people would call ”deprived.”  Not Mike.  When he greets someone at the food pantry or on the street, he’s more apt to see their gifts than their ”needs.” And he sees those things in part...
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From the Archives: “Taking Time: Understanding Ministry as a Long-Term Process”

The Huffington Post recently published an article about Shobi’s Table. The article discusses a number of aspects of the new Food Truck ministry in St. Paul, Minnesota. It highlights some aspects of Lutheran theology, the changing views of the ELCA denomination, focusing...
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Working Together in Spite of Differences?

Understanding a congregation’s context is complicated these days – but never more important. The communities where congregations reside are a complex mix of changing demographics, shifting economies – and politics. Understanding ourselves and our neighbors is a critical first...
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Before the Disaster Strikes

As disasters strike – all too often, it seems – we often see churches, synagogues and mosques in the news. They may be shelters or food distribution centers or coordinators of volunteers or places to comfort and grieve. As the most ubiquitous form of voluntary organization in the...
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Pop-Up Shabbat: A Dinner Community Case Study

Pop-Up Shabbat  is a pop-up restaurant inspired by Jewish culture and tradition in Brooklyn, NY. Each gathering lasts 3-4 hours and includes “slightly socially engineered mingling, family-style dining, music (yes, sometimes dancing), and a bit of Shabbat tradition.” Numbers are...
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Congregations and Community Involvement: The Impact of Friendships and Congregational Size

Contributor Jennifer McClure shares her recent published research examining the intersection of network connections, congregational size, and community involvement.  A few years ago, I wondered how a congregation’s organizational context shapes whether attenders are involved in...
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Taking Time: Understanding Ministry as a Long-Term Process

The Huffington Post recently published an article about Shobi’s Table. The article discusses a number of aspects of the new Food Truck ministry in St. Paul, Minnesota. It highlights some aspects of Lutheran theology, the changing views of the ELCA denomination, focusing...
Read More →

Gentrification in LA: From the Religion and Civic Culture Blog

Check out the recent post from the Religion and Civic Culture blog on gentrification in the Los Feliz neighborhood of LA: Last week I took a walk on the gentrifying edge of Los Feliz with the pastor of a local church that mainly ministers to the down-and-out. We talked about the...
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