Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Small Churches

I was having lunch with a friend today and he pointed out that one of the advantages of having a small church is that you can have an all church retreat. I was sharing with him about our weekend with our Lighthouse Christian Fellowship family at Camp Friedenswald.
It got me thinking again about some of the advantages of small churches. Here are a few in my mind:
  • Church wide get away weekends
  • You can know everyone (not just their name)
  • Accountability
  • Family atmosphere
  • Easier to value people over programs
  • Children and youth know the adults
  • Children and youth can have a real role in church
  • When you miss, you're missed
  • You can know the leaders and they know you
  • Because you are small, you are reminded to reach out

These are just a few of the reasons that I see. I do believe that the church should be missional and growing. I don't think churches should want to stay as they are. God's people should always be looking to reach out to others.


I don't think that it takes a church of 500 to 1,000+ before a church should think about planting churches. I believe that small churches should be planting churches. Church planting shouldn't be complex, because church shouldn't be complex. To often, we have made church something that only "church professionals" can be in charge of.

But maybe I am just too simple minded.

What are advantages that you see to smaller churches? Larger churches? What type of things are essential to a church really being a church?

Monday, April 28, 2008

LCF Church Getaway 2008

The whole group
Speaker Marcus Thorne
At McD's
Boys will be boys

LCF Church Getaway 2008

Cooking Dinner
Hangin Out
Learning a new skill
Playing games

Thursday, April 24, 2008

What if...

  • the church consistently acted like the church?
  • the universal church agreed on doctrine?
  • the church promoted a culture of peace in our world?
  • churches easily worked with other churches?
  • people learned to trust each other?
  • people thought about others so much that they never felt neglected?
  • Christians didn't love the things of the world?
  • God's people consistly cared about the orphan, the alien, and the widow?
  • adults looked to children to learn child-like faith?
  • men consistently lived like the men God expects them to be?
  • the church truly gave sacrificially and cheerfully?
  • the American church realized it could learn a lot from the church in third world countries?
  • Jesus came in the flesh to your church meeting?
  • God's people prayed as if they believed that God was at work?

What if?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Celebration vs. Suffering

Last night was the 5th annual Vision Nehemiah Celebration banquet. It was a wonderful time to share together in what God is doing through Vision Nehemiah. I was given a few minutes to share the progress of the P.U.R.S.U.E. program that I am leading.

The guest speaker for the evening was Soong-Chan Rah. Rah is currently assistant professor of church growth and evangelism at North Park University. In a short time, Rah spoke a very powerful message about developing leaders. He shared with us that it is projected that by the year 2050 all of the US population will be minorities and their will be no one majority group. He talked about the importance of an emerging leadership in the church that truly represents the diversity of the church. I think that he was saying that ethnic minorities need to be allowed a voice in greater evangelicalism. I couldn't agree more.

Another thing that he talked about is two theologies that need each other. One is a theology of celebration that is largely represented in the western church especially by whites. The other is a theology of suffering that is much more global and is also representative of many minority groups in the US. He shared that need for both to hear from each other and to each learn from and complete each other. Unfortunately what happens to often is a theology of celebration tells a theology of suffering that it needs to conform to it.

In a sense, if you don't play by our rules, then we don't let you get a say in the church. That is why most college theology professors are white. Most evangelical books are written by whites. Most evangelical conference speakers are white. Because those in control just don't relate to the voices of these "others".

The church in America as a whole has not seen the value of learning from a theology of suffering and as a result our theology is often lacking.

So I ask you, do you see this too? What can be done to open doors to these leading voices that need to be heard? Will a time come when more ethnic minorities will teach in our seminaries and have their writings published?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Soccer Dad

Today Lisa was at her women's Bible study in the morning so I got to spend the morning with the kids at their soccer games. Joshua and Shayna's teams both lost, but we all had fun. Matthew came home the dirtiest and he didn't even play in a game.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Daddy Day

For the last four months, my wife has been student teaching to finish her undergrad in elementary ed. For those months, Friday has been declared "daddy day" for my three year old Matthew.
Today that meant he had to sit through a meeting that I needed to be at on the south side of Chicago. He fell asleep on the ride back home. Since he had endured the meeting, I decided to let him run around the park for a while before we went home.
I can honestly say that I have gotten a lot less done on Fridays for the last several months as it relates to work and ministry, but the time has not been wasted. I consider it a great privilege and responsibility to be a father. I am thankful that life has dictated to me to take this time with him.
It is a tragedy to me, that some are so involved in serving others and building the kingdom of God that they have totally skipped their responsibility at home. I love my wife and kids and don't want the years to pass without valuing the time with them.
Lisa finishes student teaching next week and Friday will change back to another day with mom, but I will continue to invest my time in the ones I love so dearly.
Anyone else want to share how they balance family, work, and ministry?

Discipleship - doing life together

When I think of discipleship, I am talking about teaching people how to follow God in everyday life and everyday circumstances. A big principal for me in discipling people is spending time with them. I think that this works best in every day life. Not that meetings or Bible studies are bad, but often the best learning takes place in everyday life.

Some places that I have been involved in discipling people:

  • In the car
  • At a restaurant
  • At a Bulls game (other sports events as well)
  • At the laundrymat
  • Walking in the neighborhood
  • Visiting someones house
  • In the hospital
  • At camp
  • At my kitchen table (around the counter, on the couch, in the backyard, etc.)
  • At a conference (usually in the hall, hotel room, or walking outside)
  • On a rode trip
  • On a missions trip
  • Visiting my family (taking people along)
  • Backyard BBQ
  • At a wedding
  • After a big argument
  • At a funeral
  • Breakfast before work or school

The list is endless, but this gives you a sampling.

What are places or situations where you have been involved in discipleship? Add to my list. Tell me what works for you.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Discipleship continued

A few of my tips or practical thoughts on discipleship (in no particular order):
  • It takes time - you must be willing to invest time with people
  • It will cost $ - where your treasure is, there will your heart be
  • It takes discernment - you need to choose wisely who to invest your time in
  • It will hurt - people fail, they sin, they disappoint, they even betray
  • It takes sacrifice - you must be willing to give up things to invest in people
  • It takes patience - discipleship is not a six week class, people take time to grow
  • It takes growth - you need to be growing if you want to keep giving
  • It takes integrity - over time, people will see the real you
  • It takes prayer - you can do all the "right" things, but if God doesn't work then you will accomplish nothing

What things would you add to the list? What are your thoughts or stories about what I have listed?

Monday, April 14, 2008


I am a strong believer in the fact that Christians should be intentional about investing their lives in relationship with others for the purpose of passing on their faith. I love being a part of this. I enjoy learning from others who have gone before me and I enjoy investing in others.

Some passages that I resonate with in this area are:

Matthew 28:18-20 "...All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you."

II Timothy 2:2 "...the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others."

Philippians 3:17 "...Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you."

The list of verses could go on. My favorite book on this matter is Robert Coleman's The master plan of evangelism.

I can be involved in many good things, but if I am not spending time investing in others than I am less than satisfied. In my mind, this is the way to have the greatest impact for the kingdom. This is the way to live on after you die. This is the way to leave a legacy.

I thank God for the people that He has given me the privilege of investing in their lives. I find great joy in seeing them "...grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."
I am excited to now see some of those people beginning to invest their lives in others. To God be the glory.

What thing really gets you excited about serving God? Do you take time to invest time relationally in people? Tell me your stories or lessons learned along the way.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


"If you want peace, work for justice"
Pope John VI

What do you think about this idea? Is peace intimately connected to justice?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

What I've been reading

I just read a couple of good books in the last week. The book GRACISM by David Anderson is pictured above. The author defines gracism as the positive extension of favor on other humans based on color, class or culture. It is a stimulating read for those who feel that the church is called to be a part of the solution to the race problems that still exist in our society. It is a simple read as well.

The book JESUS FOR PRESIDENT by Shane Clairborne and Chris Haw was a bit longer, but with many more challenges. It is a call to US Christians to look at how Jesus should affect our citizenship. In the intro it says "too often the patriotic values of pride and strength triumph over the spiritual virtues of humility, gentleness, and sacrificial love".
This book will have you evaluating your worldview. It is definitely worth reading if only for the fact that it is different than most messages that we hear today. Read this if you want to be challenged in your current belief system. I would encourage you to read it with a discerning eye as well and not just swallow everything as true.

Has anyone else read either of these books and have thoughts to share? What good books have you read lately that you would like to refer?

Monday, April 7, 2008

What would Jesus do?

Today, I was sitting in my van at a stop sign and watched two guys with baseball bats chase after another guy. I have often been a witness or observer to acts of violence against another.

As a Christian, what should someone do in these situations?
  1. Act as if it is none of your business.
  2. Assume that it will work itself out.
  3. Call the police, knowing that by the time they show up it will all be over.
  4. Get involved in peacemaking and protecting human life.

What would you do in a similar situation? Is it right to stay out of it out of personal fear?

Friday, April 4, 2008

40 years

Today marks 40 years since the tragic murder of Dr. Martin Luther King.

How are we doing at achieving Dr. King's dream? What type of things would Dr. King be saying to us today if he were alive? Are there things that he would be encouraged by? What are some things today that would be discouraging to him? Sound off.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

War, what is it good for?

"A nation that continues to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death".

Dr. Martin Luther King

What do you think? Is he prophetic? Is a high priority on military spending the right path for a nation? Or is this a misplaced value of our democracy?

Is he serious?

I heard today about a response given by Pat Buchanan to Barack Obama's speech on race. You can find it here : http://buchanan.org/blog/?p=969

In the article, conservative Pat Buchanan makes many outrageous statements beginning with this:
America has been the best country on earth for black

You'll have to read the article to follow his line of reasoning. It is quite disturbing. And Buchanan would call himself a Christian.

You'll find it interesting to note that Buchanan makes no mention of slavery, lynchings, beatings, rapes, Jim Crow laws, or any of the crimes against black Americans that are a part of our history and our present.

It makes me wonder if Mr. Buchanan has ever had the privilege of knowing people who are not like him. Or maybe that is the problem. Maybe that is the reason he has such extreme views.

Why is it so often conservatives who say such heartless things? Is there anyone who could help us better understand where Pat is coming from? Does anyone feel that this type of dialogue is helpful for dealing with racial attitudes?