So, here's my story:
I was convinced – then convicted – to follow Christ over 40 years ago at a Messianic Jewish congregation in suburban Washington, DC, attended by many who believed that this indeed was the way that Jesus had worshiped.
While attending seminary in Northern Virginia, I shared my testimony on the 700 Club, with Jim and Tammy Faye Baker’s PTL Club, and with others active in the “electronic”church. My writing appeared in Christianity Today, Today’s Christian Woman, Moody Monthly, Christian Bookstore Journal, and Charisma magazine, where my “Junk Mail for Jesus” cover story was awarded the Evangelical Press Association’s first place award as best feature article in a Christian magazine.
I have worshiped at Episcopal, Methodist, UCC, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Assembly of God, Baptist, nondenominational and inter-denominational churches … and experienced, first-hand, the "charismatic, " "confess-it-and-claim-it, " "discipleship, " "shepherding, " and "prosperity gospel" movements.
As I matured in the faith, my understanding of the grace of God introduced through Christ Jesus moved me away from fundamentalist beliefs and into more progressive ones.
I have served as pastor at an interdenominational church in Jacksonville, Florida. In Door County, Wisconsin, I "planted" and now serve as founding pastor for Door County People of Faith and chaplain for the Door County Humane Society. The author of The Gospel According to Facebook: Social Media and the Good News, I moderates an online (Facebook) spiritual community comprising well over 500 members across the country and around the world.
Among my beliefs are these:
"Church" should be spiritual rather than religious, organic over organizational, and personal beyond institutional.
"Church" should be a community of people coming together to seek and to celebrate God in their lives.
"Church" should be where all can find support in becoming the special, unique, individuals God created us to be ... as well as to be part of a welcoming, caring, and sharing community.
"Church" should teach that God's love is unconditional ... that God's grace is freely given, not earned ... and that each of us is wonderfully created in the likeness of the Sacred.
"Church" should dedicate as much of its resources to caring for others as it does to caring for itself.
"Church" should work for the greater good by being active in service, mission, ministry, compassion, and social justice.
"Church" should encourage us to ask questions as we deal with the challenges of faith, belief, and observance.
"Church" should be eager to learn from other faith traditions ... open to different styles of worship ... and looking forward toward new possibilities for ministry.
"Church" should support the full inclusion of all people in its life and ministry. Our diversity is a reflection of the divine imprint that, together, we share.
My ideal church should would have a mission statement somewhat like this: "To be a bridge (1) of cooperation and understanding among religious groups of all faiths; (2) of acceptance of others regardless of social class, race, gender, or sexual orientation; (3) between all of God's children, mirroring and practicing the love God has for us; (4) of freedom in the study of religion, the interpretation, and the practice of faith; and (5) for God's love in a troubled world, expressing a generosity of spirit to all those in need."
Please visit our church website -- www.doorcountypeopleoffaith.org -- for more information about our beliefs, practices, operations, and orientation. (I tried to attach the Powerpoint slide show presentation we use to introduce our church to new people ... but the file was too big.)
Blessings upon you, friends and colleagues.