The Role of the Homebound

I had short conversations yesterday regarding homebound or shut-in members of congregations. An issue that has not been in the forefront of my work since I participated in writing “Heimsóknarþjónusta kirkjunnar – Fræðsluefni” with Ragnheidur Sverrisdottir and Gudrun Eggertsdottir, either 2002 or 2003.

During the conversations yesterday, I felt I was kind of defensive and I didn’t claim fully my experience and understanding. As I started to think more about the issue of homebound or shut-in members of congregations this morning, I got stuck thinking about how congregations can extend and celebrate the experience and knowledge that our shut-ins have and create a meaningful participation for the homebound and the gathered congregation. How can we look at our shut-ins as an asset to our current congregational life instead of a task that needs to be taken care of. I am throwing out some initial unorganised thoughts that could serve as a starting point.

  • The classical way is to ask homebound members to help us pray, and surely many do.
  • The monthly visit from the pastor is often an important church ministry.
    • In larger congregation it might be a visit from a Stephen Ministry Team.
  • Some churches ask homebound members to write cards.
  • It is important to bring communion to those that are unable to attend.
  • Other churches have Sunday school kids create cards for the homebound as part of Sunday School Curriculum.
  • If there is a decent Children’s choir, they might go for a visit to the homebound and sing a song. Adult choirs could do that as well.
  • I wonder if, in a time of digitalised worship experiences, there are new opportunities.
    • What if our homebound would read one or more texts in the Sunday Worship?
    • What if we would create a regular place for a testimony in our worship from our wise elders.
    • We could also offer up a glimpse of the church’s history, thrown up on a screen for all to see.
  • The operating question in my mind is: How can we help our homebound to participate in a meaningful way, not only for them but the whole congregation, without regard to their ability to be there in person?

Having a talk about the future – Congregational Training

As I was going to Home Depot this morning I was thinking about vision and mission statements for congregation in light of the question “Who owns the church?” Without going into the details of my thought process I ended up thinking about the stakeholders in a congregation and how we can use stakeholder model to enhance conversations about vision and mission. A possible conversation starter would be to use a venn diagram and go through different areas without any biases.

  1. Our Hopes ∩ God’s Will ⊄ Community Needs
  2. Our Hopes ∩ Community Needs ⊄ God’s Will
  3. God’s Will ∩ Community Needs ⊄ Our Hopes
  4. Our Hopes ⊄ God’s Will ⊄ Community Needs
  5. God’s Will ⊄ Community Needs ⊄ Our Hopes
  6. Community Needs ⊄ Our Hopes ⊄ God’s Will
  7. Community Needs ∩ Our Hopes ∩ God’s Will

We could follow up with questions about any of these areas, and perhaps wondered aloud if there is a place on the venn diagram that can be described as a sweet spot which we should try to expand and stay in, and leave all other stakeholder goals behind.

I think this could be a fun exercise, if we remember there are no right answers. If we start out by looking at each category separately. Starting with Our Hopes, moving next to Community Needs, and finally asking what God’s will is for the church. Starting with questions about God, might pollute the rest of the categories. 

Add on: This is a simplified model, and what is missing is f.x. Pastor’s Ambition and the fact that the congregational leadership might not have a unified hope.

Low Budget – High Impact Live Streaming Equipment for Worship

Many churches are hoping to get back to in-person-worship this fall, but are aware of the need for live-streaming worships in the future, for those that are unable to attend any gatherings due to COVID or any future reasons. In other words, all churches need to recognise that live-streaming is unavoidable for most of them.

For the last few weeks I have been working with a congregation assessing the best way to have a decent live-streaming without the need for a complex tech or a commitment from too many volunteers.

Continue reading Low Budget – High Impact Live Streaming Equipment for Worship


The unhealthy and damaging sexual education that is offered to children, youth, and young people in many churches and some religious communities in the US, is being address in Nadia Bolz-Weber’s upcoming book Shameless.

This damaging and narrow education is not bound to the US, and I am guilty of both participating in enforcing an unhealthy sexual understanding and of being on the receiving end of a judgmental narrow minded behavior by a patriarchal leadership.

Anyway, Shameless has been published and a good reason to check it out.

Changes in Religious Landscape

For a while I have been gathering articles and texts I have been planning to read and disect to understand the changes in our religious landscape, mostly wondering about the declining role of the church.

On a regular basis I am confronted with this reality. There are many empty pews on Sundays, not only in Europe but in America. There is also a declining interest in theological education in formal seminaries. So as the church decline continues there is even a more rapid decline in people willing to serve, which might accelarate the church decline.

There are writing about this issue from various perspectives and some of them are listed here below.

Michael Lipka looks at the religious landscape based on a study by The Pew Research Center. He looks at 5 Key Findings about the Changing U.S. Religious Landscape.

Some people try to find an obvious reason that makes all the difference. One of those is to blame some aspect of the multifaceted tasks that pastors have. One aspect that is fun to blame is pastoral care. Carey Nieuwhof writes an article, How Pastoral Care Stunts the Growth of Most Churches. In it, Carey Nieuwhof points to reports by Barna Group that is interesting and helpful.

The Barna group reports the average Protestant church size in America as 89 adults. Sixty percent of Protestant churches have less than 100 adults in attendance. Only 2 percent have over 1,000 adults attending.

He then adds that when churches grow to more than 200, the pastoral care demands become unbearable and unsustainable, leading to a failure.

Dr. Marjorie Royle writes an article, Denominational Identity – A Plus or a Minus?, about church planting and different attitudes towards denominational identity.

Heather Hahn writes: What draws people to church? Poll has insights. In the article she looks to Barna Group, a research done for United Methodist Communications.

Carlos Wilton reminds us that the declining church participation is not a new concept in the article, Are the Pews Half Empty or Half Full? Lessons From 734 A.D.

Here are three articles about what might slow down the decline.

Here are two articles about what might accelarate the church decline.


Forsetakosningar í Bandaríkjunum og hugmyndir um Guð

Hér fyrir neðan er handritið að fræðsluerindi sem ég flutti á Sæludögum í Vatnaskógi sumarið 2016. Það er alltaf nokkrum vandkvæðum bundið að færa erindi sem er flutt munnlega inn á bloggið, viðbótarútskýringar sem ég bætti við í framsögunni og viðbrögð úr salnum vantar en innihaldið er í grunninn óbreytt. Continue reading Forsetakosningar í Bandaríkjunum og hugmyndir um Guð

The National Church in Iceland

Little over a month ago I was asked to write a short overview of the National Church in Iceland and the theological landscape in “a historical light”. Well, this is it.

The National Church in Iceland, or The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Iceland, was a State Church until (at least) 1997. Today it can be argued that it still shows strong signs of a state run religious entity. Salaries for priests are paid by the government as a part of an agreement between the church and state, which involves a complicated land swap deal from 1907. According to a recent supreme court ruling in Iceland, priest are considered government workers with all rights and obligations of such employees. Continue reading The National Church in Iceland

Að mæta til starfa í Tremont

Í þessari viku hef ég störf hjá Pilgrim Congregational UCC sem fræðslufulltrúi (e. Director of Christian Education). Atvinnuleitin hefur tekið langan tíma og ekki alltaf verið auðveld, en Pilgrim UCC er spennandi staður í Tremont hverfinu í Cleveland. Continue reading Að mæta til starfa í Tremont

Hvaðan sprettur United Church of Christ?

Upphaf siðbreytingarinnar í Evrópu er oft tengd við ungan munk að negla mótmælaskjal í 95 liðum á kirkjuhurð í smábænum sínum. Vissulega var mótmælaskjalið merkilegt, en boð um að taka þátt í guðfræðilegum rökræðum um hlutverk náðarinnar og áherslur í kirkjustarfi hefði líklega ekki breytt kristnihaldi á heimsvísu ef aðstæður hefðu ekki verið réttar. Continue reading Hvaðan sprettur United Church of Christ?

Sitting on the Bleachers

We were having a Junior High Youth group on a Monday at the church. As the meeting was about to start, a few 14-15 year old girls came to me and wanted to talk about their role in the Sunday school. Every Sunday those girls showed up, led songs, told stories, did a puppet show, and helped with refreshments at our Sunday school program for 2-6 years old. Continue reading Sitting on the Bleachers

Integrating Youth Ministry

Some time back I observed a congregation dealing with an interesting issue. To strengthen their youth ministry in the past, they had bought a building next to the church for the youth, due to limited space in the main building.

Now the youth building had become a visible and quite established reminder about how the youth ministry was its “own” entity in the congregation. In fact the youth even had their “own” service on Sundays, when they came over to the main building for a contemporary worship experience, before heading back to their fort. Continue reading Integrating Youth Ministry

Understanding Youth Ministry

Few months ago I was asked to articulate my personal understanding of youth and young adult ministry. In an attempt to answer I wrote a comprehensive reply with a specific congregation in mind. This is in no way a final word on the issue, but an attempt to give insight into my current thoughts concerning congregational youth ministry. Parts of this posts are directly from my thesis, Ecclesiology and Evaluation, which I wrote at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in 2010. Continue reading Understanding Youth Ministry

How is the Church?

On the Ezra-Nehemiah scroll, we come across an interesting tension between Ezra 3 and Nehemiah 8. If redaction criticism is used to address the texts, it can be claimed that Nehemiah 7.72b-8.3 is in fact a twist on Ezra 3.1-5.* Both texts describe celebration in the seventh month. The texts start in exactly the same way.

Continue reading How is the Church?

Kristin þjóð og önnur trúarbrögð

Hér fyrir neðan er fræðsluerindi sem ég flutti á Sæludögum í Vatnaskógi sumarið 2014. Það er alltaf nokkrum vandkvæðum bundið að færa erindi sem er flutt munnlega inn á bloggið. Af þeim sökum hef ég lagað það örlítið, m.a. með tilliti til umræðu sem myndaðist að erindi loknu.

Ef við slítum í sundur siðinn, slítum við og í sundur friðinn.

Úrskurður Þorgeirs ljósvetningagoða fyrir 1015 árum hefur mótað íslenskan samfélagsskilning alla tíð síðan, jafnvel eftir að trúfrelsisákvæði kom með skýrum hætti með stjórnarskránni 1874 að tilstuðlan konungsins í Kaupmannahöfn.

Continue reading Kristin þjóð og önnur trúarbrögð

Nokkrar greinar um ráðningarferli

Síðustu vikur hef ég verið að skoða nokkra fleti á ráðningarmálum presta í íslensku þjóðkirkjunni og datt í hug að taka saman vísanir á þá hér.

Framtíðarsýn í starfsmannamálum

Það eru spennandi tímar framundan í starfsmannamálum í kristilega geiranum á Íslandi. Það hefur verið bent á að fleiri prestsembætti hafa verið eða verða auglýst á árinu 2014 en dæmi eru um áður. Þá hafa nokkrir söfnuðir auglýst eftir djáknum (það voru reyndar fleiri djáknaauglýsingar s.l. sumar) og síðan finnst mér vert að nefna framkvæmdastjórastöðu KFUM og KFUK (þó vissulega sé KFUM og KFUK æskulýðshreyfing). Continue reading Framtíðarsýn í starfsmannamálum

Haggaí 1. kafli

Spádómsbók Haggaí er fyrst og fremst ákall um að flýta endurreisn musterisins eftir herleiðinguna til Babýlóníu.

Þið hafið vænst mikils en ykkur áskotnast lítið og ég hef blásið burt því sem þið fluttuð heim. Og hvers vegna? – Segir Drottinn allsherjar. Vegna húss míns sem liggur í rústum meðan sérhver ykkar er á þönum við eigið hús. Continue reading Haggaí 1. kafli