Essay Excerpts 

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Make Space for Questions | COMMUNITY

Adam CopelandBy Adam J. Copeland

A significant part of my job consists of taking young adults to lunch, to cafés, or perhaps to enjoy a happy-hour special at the bar. Usually these 20/30-somethings are not members of a particular faith community, so I listen very carefully to what they say about their values, faith, and views of the church.

Nearly all the young adults I meet tell me they wish they had a place to consider the questions they have about faith and life. Contrary to popular opinion, the young adults I encounter would love to find a supportive community in which to ask faith-related questions. But, from their perspective, many churches aren’t actually open to their questions. With this in mind, my idea for the church is that congregations make space for open and welcoming consideration of all people’s faith-related questions.

[This is an excerpt from Renew 52. Download the e-book for free »]

Lose the Pews to Make Space for People to Be Themselves | WORSHIP

Nadia Bolz-WeberBy Nadia Bolz-Weber

For the first 1,300-plus years of the church there was no seating in churches (except for stone benches along the back wall for the elderly or infirm). The Protestant Reformation saw to it that the sermon would now be the primary focus of Christian worship and, well, folks are gonna need to sit for that kind of thing.

So starting in the sixteenth century and really revving up in the seventeenth and eighteenth we saw fixed pews become a norm in Christian churches.

[This is an excerpt from Renew 52. Download the e-book for free »]

Reinvigorate Youth Ministry by Learning from Eli and Samuel | Children, Youth, and Family

Kathy and Nick ReedBy Kathy Wolf Reed and Nick Reed 

Among the multitudes of models for youth ministry practiced today, one favorite is based on the story of Samuel and Eli (1 Samuel 3:1-18). One of its best attributes is that this model can be adapted to a congregation of almost any size, location, and composition.

The story is one of mentorship that grows into friendship through the partners’ mutual pursuit of God. Eli is neither flashy nor up to date on the latest trends in youth ministry models, but we do see evidence of a strong bond with his young friend Samuel (3:2-5) as well as a desire to empower Samuel in his own ministry (3:8-9).

[This is an excerpt from Renew 52. Download the e-book for free »]

Try Open-source Preaching by Adding Voices to the Conversation | Preaching

By Bruce Reyes-Chow 

There is something really comforting about a pulpit. After a while it feels like that old comfy chair that you’ve had since college.  

When you curl up into that pulpit space on Sunday morning, you know where you can lean, you know every nook and cranny and there is protection from all that might ail you in the world. For preachers it is the place that is “ours,” a place where no one else can tell us what to say -- it’s all between me, the text, and the Holy Spirit. With fear and trembling we get up there each week and pray that the Holy Spirit shows up.

[This is an excerpt from Renew 52. Download the e-book for free »]

Learn from Facebook: Implement Constant, Incremental Change | LEadership

Tony JonesBy Tony Jones

Facebook was in the news this week.

The fact is, I could have written that sentence just about any week over the past several years. Actually, it’s rather shocking that when this company makes a minor adjustment to the user interface, not only do people complain about it on their Facebook walls, but the New York Times prints a front-page story on it.

By Google’s count, there were 3,000 news stories in the week following the transition from the personal profile to the timeline. Some decry this as the end of civilization as we know it, and others revel in the change. When Facebook makes an even minor change, users respond.

[This is an excerpt from Renew 52. Download the e-book for free »]

Get Over the Fear of Public Speaking and Testify | Discipleship & Spiritual Practices

Lillian DanielBy Lillian Daniel

My college Spanish instructor’s theory seemed to have merit for me: “In the pressure of the moment, in the pressure of having someone look at you and speak to you in another language, you freeze.”

I was a struggling undergrad trying to get by with a passing grade in a language I couldn’t for the life of me speak or understand.

[This is an excerpt from Renew 52. Download the e-book for free »]

Reach Beyond Charity to Seek Social Justice | Service & Mission

Christian PiattBy Christian Piatt

My mom is a Southern Baptist; my dad is an atheist. So I like to say I split the difference and became a progressive mainline Christian.

For ten years I had nothing to do with church, after being invited to leave in my teenage years over some heated discussions about the scope of salvation. But I found my way back, though not exactly on the same path I had traveled before.

[This is an excerpt from Renew 52. Download the e-book for free »]