My knowledge of Florida’s geography didn’t improve on my flight to West Palm Beach. But I know I am north of Miami, on the Atlantic side of Florida, palms trees are everywhere, and it is hot – and about to rain. More to the point, I am excited about spending three days with the clergy of the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida.

The topic is near and dear to my heart: “Ministry in the 21st Century: Outside the Walls.” I’ll be sharing thoughts on how to turn around our churches and move forward with confidence. I am convinced that these are days of great opportunity for mainline churches.

The way forward, it seems to me, will require some rethinking of roles and structures, but mainly requires applying best practices to the basics of what we do.

In my introduction this evening, I will give my honest assessment of the past several decades and explain why I think this is such a promising moment.


Q: How do you live into faith? My intentions are there, but get thrown off track by daily frustrations of living, an inconsiderate co-worker, a demanding client, etc. What is your technique or suggestion to live more completely into faith?

A: No single action, no magic pill, no one path. But here are some suggestions:

First, start and end the day in prayer. Let it be natural, not formulaic. Pray for what is actually on your heart and mind. Invite God to join you in your day.

Second, pause at midday to be thankful. Acknowledge that all that you are and do matters to God.

Third, say grace before meals, especially in the evening, when you are home, either alone or with family.

There is more you can do, of course, such as reading Bible verses during the day, saying a Psalm, listening to spiritual music (I recommend Taize chants), and meditation. But these four times of prayer are a foundational spiritual discipline.

"Turnaround Strategies" will be the focus of eight webinars I will offer in 2011-2012 in collaboration with Presbyterian Outlook. They start in three weeks. Click here for details.