Alt.Worship: Alive & Well 10 Years Later


I haven’t written about it much recently, but over the years, I’ve been involved in creating some alt.worship (alternative worship, emerging worship, interactive worship, etc.) services. It all started with a couple friends in Idaho back in the summer of 2003. I was thinking about that today…it’s been over 10 years since I started putting on these alt.worship services and gatherings.

I did the service in Idaho quite a few times (at the church I worked at, a camp, an Idaho Catholic Youth Convention, and other retreats). I also put on the service at a few other places, including: Princeton Seminary (2005 and again later that year), Princeton University (2006, in the University Chapel no less), Little 5 Points in Atlanta (2007), back at Princeton Seminary (2008), at Asbury UMC (2009), and a smaller variation of it in Ashland.

I put together an alt.worship service this past week at Winnetka Presbyterian Church, and it reminded me just how unique this experiential form of worship still is for so many folks in our churches. I don’t think that what I’m doing is all that original or creative, but people always have such great experiences at these types of services. [Read more...]

Seamless Faith: Simple Practices for Daily Family Life

Traci-SmithOne of my seminary colleagues from Princeton, Traci Smith, has recently come out with a book that I think many folks here may find helpful, and I wanted to give her the chance to share with you a little bit about the book. It’s called Seamless Faith: Simple Practices for Daily Family Life and it is definitely worth checking out if you have kids and are interested in finding ways to engage with them and their faith. I’ve asked Traci to share a bit below.

Thank you, Adam, for allowing me to stop by your internet home to talk about a project that is very near and dear to me, my new book!

Seamless Faith: Simple Practices for Daily Family Life, is based on the simple idea that faith is learned as it’s woven into the fabric of everyday life. The book is divided into three sections: traditions, ceremonies, and spiritual practices. There are about 50 practices in the book for all kinds of situations and families. There are ceremonies for life events like graduations and the birth of a new baby, traditions for holidays and every day, and spiritual practices that range from the very ancient to the very contemporary. Each practice is organized like a recipe in that it is clearly laid out with regard to age and steps to follow

[Read more...]

Progressive Youth Ministry Recap



The David Crowder Band. Free swag. The Skit Guys. Chris Tomlin. Lights. Smoke. That was my first experience of a youth ministry event. I was right out of college, it was 2002, and I was in Sacramento for the National Youth Workers Convention. I went some of these during the first couple years of being involved in youth ministry, but over the years, it always felt like an odd fit for me.

I didn’t really connect theologically with much of what was happening, and I began to wonder what else might be out there.

A couple of years ago, I tried out a new youth ministry event, but found that it was much of the same, even though they promised that it would be “new.”

And then my friend and colleague in Chicago, John Vest, started talking to my friends Tony Jones and Doug Pagitt (JoPa Productions), and good stuff started to happen. It all culminated in the first Progressive Youth Ministry event two weeks ago at Fourth Presbyterian Church in downtown Chicago.

So for me, and I know for many others, this was, hands down, the best youth ministry event I’ve been to. It was a place where folks who self-identify as progressives (and that can mean different things to different people) could have the conversations that we want to have, could think theologically about youth ministry with others in our tribe, and feel like we weren’t constantly having to explain to someone why we weren’t going to do See You At the Pole this year, or take our kids to Acquire the Fire, or debate Romans 1:26-27.

This was an event in which we heard presentations on queer theory, death of God radical theology, sex and others that were asking thoughtful and challenging questions. Below are just a few of the highlights for me of the week:

  • Getting to see and meet so many wonderful folks that I’ve only known online. There were good people there!
  • An open space conversation I hosted on how to create an effective and meaningful youth ministry program and offer it to kids who are absolutely over-programmed (we’ll let you know when we find the answer)
  • Hearing Tripp Fuller PREACH on why process theology doesn’t suck. Seriously good stuff – would love to have a video recording of that.
  • Hearing the amazingly vulnerable and powerful testimony of Jeff Chu, an editor for Fast Company. It was recorded and it’s seriously worth 26 minutes of your time. You can watch it here.
  • Daniel White Hodge gave a really engaging and thought-provoking talk on the theology of hip-hop and how it has caused young black men and women to be portrayed in the media.
  • Also – getting a chance to see Tripp Fuller and the Homebrewed Christianity folks doing their thing, LIVE, was great.

The music was good, meaningful conversations were had, and I just think it was one of the best youth events I’ve been to. I’m glad it will be offered again next year, March 18-20, 2015, also at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago.

If you’d like to read a few other recaps of the event, check these out:

Below are some of the sketchnotes that I drew during the conference. If you want to see and download all of my sketchnotes, you can do so here.