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February 2015
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April 2015

What Day Is April Fools' Day This Year?

April Fools DayAnd, how will people primarily perceive and experience this day?

As it typically is at this point and time in our lives, April Fools' Day is April 1st. This year April 1st is a Wednesday--Holy Wednesday. It happens that the next day, Thursday, is Maundy Thursday. I wonder how the typical person in North America will perceive and experience Wednesday, April 1st this year? Will they primarily see it as April Fools' Day or Holy Wednesday that leads into Maundy Thursday or both? Does it matter?


April Fools' Day is a well recognized day when people play practical jokes, hoaxes, and supposedly harmless pranks on each other. Maundy Thursday, in the Christian tradition, is day of the observance of the Lord's Supper by Jesus and the Apostles, and a day of Maundy. It initiates the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Christ. While there are several traditions around the concept of Maundy, one of Maundy Thursdaysignificance is the washing of one each other's feet--especially the feet of the poor.

No fooling.

In many places in North America this Holy Week, which begins with Palm Sunday commemorating the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, and ends with Easter or Resurrection Sunday, is also Spring Break from schools. That presents a life challenge for many Christians who will likely celebrate and observe Spring Break practices rather than Holy Week practices. But our God gets the last laugh as the tomb could not contain our Lord who rose from the tomb on Resurrection Sunday.

No fooling.

Influenced by Lyle Schaller from Afar in First Half of 1970s #LyleLearnings

Schaller The Change AgentGraduating from Mars Hill University [a Baptist school in the mountains of North Carolina] in 1971, I then went to the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY during a classic and leading edge period of the seminary. There I met two colleagues who together form the second most important mentors of my ministry--G. Willis Bennett and Larry McSwain.

Their courses and the relationship I developed with them continue to have a significant impact on my life. I took basic ministry courses from them, Church and Community courses, Sociology of Religion courses, was the grader for several years for Larry McSwain, and did various projects for Willis Bennett.

Oh yeah, this is about Lyle Schaller! Well, every year when his new book came out it was added to the reading list for one or more courses I was taking. Schaller's books were indeed the most important sources of practical theology. Admittedly there was some debate about the scientific nature of his research and the lack of an overtly stated theology, but those were mainly the criticisms of an academically bound perspective. There was never any doubt of the truths he spoke and the effectiveness of his ideas.

During this season one of the most impactful books he wrote was The Change Agent. That book touch so many aspects of my theological education and my practice ministry experience as associate pastor and then pastor of an inner city church while in seminary.

Following my MDiv degree where I focused on practical theology subjects, I then did a ThM degree in church and community [sociology of religion], followed by a DMin in Denominational Leadership. My "thesis" [called a ministry project] for the DMin was on how to consult with congregations. This brought my first direct encounter with Lyle. Part of my research was to ask practitioners like Lyle to complete a survey on their consulting practice. He gladly responded, and that help me in my mid-20s to see some of the things "behind the curtain" in church consulting.

I continued to be Hooked on Lyle!

Compete or Collaborate: The Dilemma for Christian Ministries

CompeteA Travel Free Learning Article 

By George Bullard

The Dilemma for Christian Ministries

I have encountered several situations recently where it appeared Christian ministries prefer to compete rather than collaborate. They wanted the success of their own ministry or congregation or denomination rather than the significance of kingdom efforts.

One involved a conversation with the pastor of a very large and significant church with multiple campuses. This pastor reached out to another pastor who also leads a very large and significant multiple campus congregation in his same megalopolitan area. The purpose of the conversation was to explore ways the two congregations could collaborate. The two churches had at least one campus within one and one-half miles of each other.

Continue reading "Compete or Collaborate: The Dilemma for Christian Ministries" »

My First Encounter with Lyle Schaller--the 1960s #LyleLearnings

Schaller The Churches' War on PvertyMy first encounter with the genius of Lyle Schaller was during my sophomore or junior year of college in the late 1960s when his book--The Churches' War on Poverty--was a book I picked up as parallel reading in a sociology class. It spoke to my years growing up in Baltimore and Philadelphia, and observing many of the issues he Schaller Community Organizationaddressed in the book.

Then in a class the same year or the next on community development his book--Community Organization: Conflict and Reconciliation--was one of the textbooks. By then I was hooked on Schaller, and I had not even started reading his books that he was beginning to write from the perspective of congregations and their future.

Before I left college I had read Planning for Protestantism in Urban America and The Local Church Looks to the Future and Impact of the Future. By then I was addicted. I saw someone writing the things that were part of my core aspirations! Cool!

7 Ways Lyle Schaller Transformed the North American Church #LyleLearnings

LyleschallerA Travel Free Learning Article 

By George Bullard

In the midst of the urban crisis and social upheaval of the 1960s, an interventionist who is now considered a giant among North American Protestants began to write, speak, and consult with local churches and denominations.

From the foundation of urban planning and ministerial training Lyle E. Schaller focused his ministry on transforming the North American Church. The people his ministry impacted number in the millions. The ministers who called him a mentor or coach are measured in the 100s of thousands. The congregations impacted are in the 10s of thousands. The denominations impacted are likely all of them.

No one in Christian ministry could ignore the power of his words. They may or may not agree, but they could not say no one had told them what was happening.

I began reading Lyle’s books in college in the late 1960s. I began taking training from him in 1978. He was still actively recommending me to churches as recently as three years ago at 88 years of age. We all released him to heaven on Wednesday, March 18th.

I see at least seven ways my friend and mentor for almost 40 years has transformed the North American Church.

Continue reading "7 Ways Lyle Schaller Transformed the North American Church #LyleLearnings" »