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The Church of Pope Francis: The Dialogue I’ve Being Waiting to See and Hear

With all the views of Pope Francis coming from right-left-and in-between I have wanted to see a god dialogue about the man, his view of important issues and his leadership style. Finally, the Jesuit magazine America has given me what I was searching for online. What is remarkable about this program is who is speaking here. The moderator is Nancy Gibbs, managing editor of TIME. Michael Gerson, next to Nancy in the panel, was a policy advisor to President George W. Bush. He is an evangelical non-Catholic. He is also a Wheaton College graduate. (He makes a joke about Wheaton College which is old but still funny). Michael was a TA to one of my favorite theology professors, Dr. Alan Johnson. Then there is the highly regarded progressive Catholic, retired Northwestern University professor and Pulitzer Prize winning author, Dr. Gary Wills. Wills has written some of the most critical contemporary commentary on the Catholic Church of anyone in American academia. At the end of this panel, on your right, is the editor of America, Fr. Matt Malone, SJ. I would describe this group, if

Lessons from Pope Francis for All Christian Leaders (5)

Unknown-1Several years ago Pope Benedict XVI tasked three trusted cardinals to investigate as deeply as necessary the Vatican’s internal culture. He wanted to know what prompted a Vatican butler to steal incriminating documents and then leak them to a journalist. Only two men know what is in the final report that came from this investigation: Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis. So on December 22 Pope Francis responded to this internal investigation by addressing the Vatican Curia in a message that was direct, sharply stinging and very bold. In it he gave 15 Ailments of the Curia.

Over the last four days I have counted down each one of these “ailments” from number fifteen to number five. Today I share the last four.

No. 4 Planning too much

The pope said, “Preparing things well is necessary, but don’t fall into the temptation of trying to close or direct the freedom of the Holy Spirit.”

This charismatic Jesuit pope is a man who walks in the Spirit. He loves deeply and especially loves the gospel of forgiveness and joy. He knows the joy

The Reformation of the Vatican – The Sad Case of Józef Wesołowski

JOSEF WESOLOWSKIVatican watchers, especially non-Catholics who love the Roman Catholic Church as I do, watch and pray for further reforms that are needed inside the Church. I was pleased to read this week of the Vatican putting Józef Wesołowski, its former nuncio (ambassador) to the Dominican Republic under house arrest on Tuesday, September 23.

Archbishop Józef Wesołowski was born in Nowy Targ, Poland, on 15 July 1948. He was ordained a priest in Kraków on 21 May 1972 by Cardinal Karol Wojtyła, the future Pope John Paul II. He was appointed as nuncio to Bolivia on 3 November 1999. On 6 January 2000 he was consecrated Titular Archbishop of Sléibhte by John Paul II. During the course of 2002 he was appointed as nuncio to the Central Asian countries of KazakhstanTajikistanKyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. On 24 January 2008 he was appointed nuncio to the Dominican Republic. In 2013 he was identified by a 13-year-old boy as the man who took sexual lurid photographs of him on his cell phone. He was removed

Let’s Talk with Mark Elfstrand – August 15, 2014

I mentioned in my September 3 blog post that I would appear on Mark Elfstrand’s Chicago program (4:00 to 6:00 p.m.) on WYLL as a “Resident Theologian.” Here is a short appearance I made with Mark taken from a live broadcast on Friday, August 15. It includes my response to his question about the pastoral ministry of Mark Driscoll in Seattle. I had declined to provide a public response to Mark’s very public issues until I was asked a straightforward question on this particular program. Listen if you would like to hear how I responded to the concerns that surround Rev. Driscoll.


Let’s Talk with Mark Elfstrand – August 1, 2014

On Friday, August 1, Fr. George Koch (Resurrection Anglican Church, West Chicago), and Rev. Ian Simkins (Poplar Creek Church, Bartlett), both members of the ACT3 board, joined me for a lively in-studio “Pastors’ Roundtable” dialogue on WYLL in Chicago.  Mark Eflstrand, the show’s host, is a long time friend. I met Mark when he hosted a program on WORD in Pittsburgh many years ago. He then spent many years as the anchor for the morning show on WMBI in Chicago. Now he has moved over to WYLL. This allows us even more freedom to work together in the media. This was my first live program with Mark. I hope there will be many others. I will also join him as a “resident theologian” for some  shorter segments (by telephone) which I will also post for you to hear online.

Please let me know if you find this helpful.

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By |September 3rd, 2014|Categories: ACT 3, Pastoral Renewal, Personal|

How and Why ACT3 Began

The ministry of ACT3 Network was legally incorporated in 1991. Four men joined me in our home in Carol Stream for the purpose of founding a non-profit teaching mission that would seek the renewal of the church through impacting the lives of pastors and leaders. At the time this ministry was incorporated it was called Reformation & Revival.

0But the real beginning of this ministry goes all the way back to 1981. A pastor from England had been in my pulpit and home for several days. He asked me about my influence upon area pastors and how I could use this to impact others. He suggested I begin a ministerial fellowship that would stress the intellectual, spiritual and doctrinal aspects of deep faith. The first such group met in 1981 in the basement of my church in Wheaton, Illinois. We called it the Whitefield Fellowship, naming it after the British evangelist of the eighteenth century. I picked this name because I loved George Whitefield for his heart, his incredible zeal for God and needy people, and his deep

The Missional Paradigm and Effective Seminary Education

371Last week I wrote several blogs on the state of theological education in North America. I suggested that seminaries need to adjust their mission to the rapidly changing context of the church in twenty-first century America. I further suggested that we need to teach theology and mission as integrated topics, not as separate or unrelated academic disciplines.

This story, told by Pastor Tim Ackley, demonstrates in a simple, compelling manner the value of getting a solid missional education. As you will readily see Tim received this kind of education at Biblical Theological Seminary in suburban Philadelphia. I have taught as an adjunct at Biblical Seminary and served on the seminary’s board. Biblical’s creative and effective educational experience is one that I wholeheartedly commend to anyone looking for a good missional model. You will get a strong, clear sense of the difference a clear vision of purpose can make on a pastor who is passionate about Christ’s kingdom and mission.

A New Kind of Leader in the Irish Methodist Church

S34736-xlimage-R2265-a-practical-theologianDr. Heather Morris, the first female leader of a major church body in Ireland, was recently installed as the President of the Methodist Church, at a gathering at Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim.

Martin O’Brien, editor of The Irish Catholic, writes that he first heard Dr Morris preach to a huge congregation at Clonard Novena where “she held in rapt attention” a large congregation. The  48-year-old wife of Neil Morris, Heather is a chartered accountant and the mother of two grown children. O’Brien says Heather Morris is “about as far as you can imagine from being a shrinking violet when it comes to presenting the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the charism of her Church.”

He adds:

Radiating a joyous personality she could be said to embody the “heart strangely warmed [by God]” that Wesley famously wrote about in his journal. Morris says Wesley’s vision has not changed in our day but “we are in the process of rediscovery.” And she adds, “It is about being reminded of something we have forgotten. It’s about a warmed heart, and passion for

Why Theological Education Fails the Need of Our Times

My title is big and broad, I understand. I believe, simply put, that contemporary theological education is failing to produce true leaders. We teach to our level of competence and the competence of most of our best schools is to teach courses that are helpful but not necessarily centered on the missional reality of the church. Generally speaking our seminaries fail to clearly grasp the gospel of the kingdom. Even where they do grasp the kingdom message (some teachers get it as evidenced by their academic writing) most have not learned how to put this message into practice. The kind of changes that are needed to produce real change at the congregational level is not being unleashed by our schools.

Please do not misunderstand me. I believe in higher education. I do not believe that it is desirable, in most cases, to put men and women in pastoral leadership who are not intellectually and spiritually prepared to serve well. What I reject is the idea that a 200-year old German model of seminary curriculum is the best model to base a good education upon. I also do

Wes Granberg-Michaelson’s Faithful Missional-Ecumenism and the Reformed Church in America

For seventeen years Wes Granberg-Michaelson has served the Reformed Church of America (RCA) as general secretary. I not only count Wes as my friend but admire his leadership skills and the job he has done to make the RCA one of the few mainline denominations that remains focused on missional-ecumenism in a vital and Christ-centered way. One of the reasons I am a minister of Word and Sacrament in the RCA is because of leaders like Wes. I believe the vision he has pursued is one of the most biblically faithful in North America. It is not perfect. No leader casts a perfect vision for those he or she serves. But Wes has led with incredible faithfulness.

Wes Granberg-Michaelson A few weeks ago Wes gave his last report to the General Synod. He stepped down following this annual gathering to pursue a new phase of mission in his life. When I asked Wes what this new phase would be the answer he offered, in short, was missional-ecumenism. I