Archive for Uncategorized

Growth Brings Its Own Problems

By : March 2, 2015

Our parish is healthy and growing, which is great. We love the energy, the excitement, the sense of strong team ties, good morale, successful efforts. But leading through a season of growth brings its own challenges and problems too. #1. Change That Brought Growth Might Not Sustain It In our church we experienced growth in […]

Lent 2015

By : February 22, 2015

The annual observance of Lent brings a two-fold theme of repentance from sin and selfishness, thereby renewing our baptismal commitment, as well as our annual preparation for the celebration of Easter. Traditionally the Church has taught us to turn with renewed discipline and dedication to the spiritual pillars of prayer, penance, and giving. Prayer The […]

Defying Common Wisdom and Standard Practice

By : February 16, 2015

At Nativity we often find ourselves defying common wisdom and standard practice, much to the ongoing astonishment of many colleagues and friends. We don’t do it just to be different, we do it because so much of what goes on in churchworld no longer works. But church-people keep doing it anyway, because, well, that’s what […]

Be a Leader Who Listens (or how I got talked into a message series on sex)

By : February 7, 2015

Last week we began a new message series, which is new for us in several ways because it is a message about sex. And if anything was clear to me about this series, from the time it was first proposed, probably a year ago, until the moment I stepped into the pulpit last weekend, I […]

Five Ways Churches Discourage Guests

By : February 1, 2015

Recently I came across an interesting poll by Thom Rainer ( regarding the experience of first time guests at church. More often than not their experience turns them off and sends them away, never to return again. Here are some of the standouts (the order is mine, given my level of irritation with each): 1. […]

Creating the Future

By : January 25, 2015

If you have never read any of Jim Collins’ books, you should take a look sometime and start with Good to Great. Collins writes insightfully and effectively about organizational health and leadership development. One of the things that he reflects on is the climate of uncertainty and overwhelming change brought on by technology, politics, and […]

5 Reasons Churches in Decline Don’t Do Anything About It

By : January 16, 2015

When we came to Nativity it was a church with declining numbers. And it was declining in a way that has become quite typical of churches of every style and denomination across the country (and elsewhere in the world). The kind of decline I am referring to is the slow and steady kind. Our parish […]

Smart and Healthy Parishes

By : January 11, 2015

Our senior leadership team just wrapped up two intense days of review and planning for our parish, looking ahead to 2015. We worked with our friend, Patrick Lencioni. Pat is author of more than 10 best selling books all about best practices in business and leadership development. If you haven’t read any of his stuff, […]

5 Things I Absolutely Must Do in 2015

By : January 3, 2015

Here’s what I am thinking about for the coming year, in no particular order: 1. Read the entire Bible I read Scripture every day and I have read every book of the Bible, but I have never read the Bible from cover to cover. My goal this time is actually not to read it cover […]


By : December 31, 2014

Well, we had a beautiful and inspiring celebration this year at the Maryland State Fair for Christmas Eve. Several observations noted in passing, in no particular order: – It was our 10th year there and to mark the occasion we had perhaps about 10,000 people, fairly well distributed between the two Masses. There were 4,484 […]