Category Archives: Reflections

Parishioner as Consumer: A Slippery Slope

merchandiseI mentioned in my previous post that I’d be writing about the slippery slope of parishioners as consumers. Let me explain why that slope is so slippery.

This past August a study came out that found that when people go in search of a church, the most important factors—much more than the denominational affiliation—are the quality of the preaching and the welcome they receive. This makes a lot of sense. Why would you go somewhere to encounter God if you didn’t feel inspired or welcomed?

But below the surface there is a hint of a larger cultural problem related to church-going that is changing the way we relate to our religious institutions, and, more importantly, to God. Continue reading

What’s in a name? Everything

There is a lot of hand-wringing in the Church these days about what we should be calling our priests (/pastors/ministers). That we have a choice at all is the blessing and curse of the via media. Bottom line, people are going to want to call you something. And hopefully, as we do with many other professions (Dr., Officer, Professor, etc.) that name will denote a certain amount of respect for your position and your role. You have to earn respect for yourself in that role, but the name you choose to be called will be very important because names matter. Father/Mother will hold a certain vestige of Catholicism (well, “mother” won’t but that’s not the point at the moment). Pastor will be more Protestant. Reverend is very formal and hard to say quickly, but a good catch-all. What about just your name? Well it depends on whether you feel that sufficient to the role to which you are called.  It’s a personal choice and I don’t mean to advocate for one above others, but simply to say that it matters. It matters in how people see us and it matters in how we see ourselves. It matters in the boundaries we are constructing that define our professional and personal selves—porous boundaries to say the least in this profession, but necessary ones.

And ultimately it matters because we proclaim that God knows us each by name. To know a name, to say a name is to know and be known. Continue reading