Archive for the 'Community' Category

Church Planting, Community, Missional

Church Worship Canceled to Watch Football

What do you think about a new church canceling it’s second worship service ever in order to watch an NFL game? Would you cheer if your church did this? Or, would you wonder about the spirituality of the pastor and leadership to make such a decision?

I’m not making this up, but a new church plant in Seattle is going to watch a Seahawks game on TV instead of holding their worship service.

Would you like to learn why? Check-out their reasons at:

In case you’re very curious, here’s one of the reasons they are doing this: “We’re not salesmen, we’re gardeners. Our job is to cultivate the field God has set us in. Something’s already growing. We see it. Our job is to encourage and develop that growth in people who are seeking a heartfelt relationship with Jesus and each other.”

The leader of this church plant, Jim Henderson, has done more than one evangelism training event with Church of the Brethren. Does he have an idea worth considering?


Change!?!, Community, Understanding Context

Guest Post — Ramblings of a Pastor

One of my pleasures, which I wish I had more time for, is reading the writings of pastors in their church newsletter. Sometimes, each pastor comes-up with a real gem that I think needs a larger audience than just their local church. The following comes from Pastor Don Shankster, of the Papago Buttes Church of the Brethren, in Scottsdale, Arizona. Don is a bit closer to retirement than most of us. Yet, his life experiences can teach many of us things that we may not have had time to learn on our own. The following is one good lesson on dealing with “CHANGE”. Jeff

Ramblings of a Pastor

I have become a bit of a snob with my taste buds. After more than eight years of enjoying whole wheat breads, I am on alert in many restaurants that do not offer whole wheat (which is deemed healthier for you). I enjoy buckwheat pancakes on a regular basis, especially loaded with blueberries. Even Denny’s restaurants have upgraded to offering whole wheat pancakes with the extra “texture” that whole grains provide.

Recently I stopped at “The Place” in Flagstaff for breakfast. When I questioned the server on the availability of whole wheat in their menu she said, “Oh no, we don’t have anything ‘healthy’ on our menu here.” Denny’s has made the change, but The Place has not.

I do not like change. But my eating habits have changed as I learn what is better for me and as I begin to appreciate the healthier choices. My body is changing, not able to perform like it did ten years ago let alone twenty or thirty. I can throw all the tantrums I want to about going paperless in my banking, but the world is well on its way in that direction with or without me.

We serve a God we claim to be changeless, but one who looks for change in our hearts and actions. When God created the human body, it was made to go through changes. The earth is constantly changing with wind and water and pressure. Some natural landmarks like arches eventually fall down and change the landscape through freezing and thawing and erosion.

Faith that keeps us looking to God is also in flux. Our faith may be strengthening or weakening depending on our attention to it or the particular situation we find ourselves in. For our church to be relevant in this world, it, too, must change. Culture, media, social connections are all changing rapidly around us. A generation that has grown up with iPods and Facebook does not understand the vocabulary of the typewriter age. This new generation is more comfortable in public places with many options than in “sanctuaries” with limited offerings.

For a church these changes can be daunting. But underneath the façade of different music styles, seating arrangements, or media use are people still needing to belong, still looking for someone to care, still seeking to be loved. Our human form may change on the outside, but our needs remain constant on the inside. As God told Samuel when he went to anoint a new king, “Do not judge by his appearance or height (surface characteristics) … The Lord does not see as mortals see. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (I Samuel 16:7) And, remember, the apostle Paul went to marketplaces to share the Good News.

Yes, I need to change to stay connected in this world. In the midst of this change the core interest to God does not change. Trying to be more diligent in searching the hearts of those around me, while working with the changes around me, Pastor Don

Community, Worship


The other week I was attending the Church of the Brethren Church Planting conference at Bethany Seminary in Richmond, IN. I got the pleasure of hanging out with some friends who I don’t get to see very often. One of these friends lives and ministers in Seattle, WA. Turns out he was doing a workshop the same time that I was doing mine, so unfortunately I wasn’t able to be at his. But he gave me the handout, which was a tour of the churches and ministries happening in Seattle.

One of the ministry he highlighted was Church of the Beloved and he mentioned that they had some free music on their site, so I went and downloaded the music. (You can do that here…

One song is called Peace and as I listened to it, I realized just how much our world, our families, our denominations, and our churches need this type of peace. Read the lyrics and pray that PEACE may start with you (through your relationship with Jesus and through the power of the Holy Spirit)

Broken conversations, broken people, we’re broken Lord.
Terrified illusions, seeking comfort, we’re seeking more.
We need each other more than we need to agree.
Father, Son, Spirit bless us with your love,
with your grace and peace.

Let there be peace.
Let there be peace.
Let there be peace.

Let us see and not destroy. Let us listen. Let us listen.
Let us suspend judgement for the sake of love, for the sake of love.
We need each other more than we need to agree.
Father, Son, Spirit bless us with your love,
with your grace and peace.

Let there be love. (among us)
Let there be love. (among us)
Let there be love.

Church Planting, Community, Ministry Formation

Guest Blog Post

The other week I was asked to be a guest blogger for my friend Lisa Colon Delay, who I went to Kutztown University with. I thought I would repost what I wrote for her blog on my blog. Would love to hear your thoughts on it.


For the last two and half years I’ve been planting Veritas, a missional community in Lancaster, PA. There are various challenges in this.

There’s the challenge of developing a Core Group for Veritas. There’s the struggle of seeking to do church in a whole new way in an area that has a fairly traditional view of what church is. There’s the challenge of balancing 4 part time jobs between my wife and me, a free lance job, two kids and keeping up with everything that comes with running a household. But the biggest challenge that I have been faced with revolves around the issue of identity.

All too often, whether in planting a new faith community, or just in life, we define ourselves by what we do. And we define our self worth from what we do, and whether we are “successful” or not. Maybe men do this more.

If I’m honest with myself, my self worth all too often is tied into how I perceive things are going. If we have a good Sunday, as far as numbers (even though we seek to define success by other metrics) I feel good about myself. If we have a bad Sunday, as far as numbers go, I feel horrible about myself and want to throw in the towel and give up. The biggest challenge I believe, at least for me, in this planting journey has been to remember this phrase, “It’s not what I do, it is about whose I am.”

Scripture says this about me, “he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will” (Ephesians 1:5), and “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”(Romans 8:15). Too often I say to myself (or Satan says) the very opposite of these words. I forget that I am a child of the King and that I am loved, not for anything that I can do, have done, or will do. I am loved period.

One thing that stuck from my years at seminary that has helped me confront this problem of identity is this simple statement, “There is nothing you can do to make God love you any less. There is nothing you can do to make God love you any more.” My identity is not in being a church planter, a father, a husband, or anything else that I try to define my worth in. My struggle is to remember that, and place my identity in the fact that I am a child of the Heavenly Father.

Books / Readings, Community, Leadership

An Intriguing Quote

We all run across quotes by others that get our attention. Here’s one that struck me today:

“the moment you hand power over to other people, you get an explosion of curiosity, innovation, and effort.”

This comes from the book, The Age of the Unthinkable: Why the New World Disorder Constantly Surprises Us And What We Can Do About It, by Joshua Cooper Ramo.

I was taught by my parents that if something is going to be done right, you have to do it yourself. Were any of you taught to think in this way? Yet, in some of the committees I’ve served on, I’m amazed at the creativity that develops when we let go of ego and just focus on creating the best thing possible. The results can be amazing sometimes, and the event/thing can turn out far better than if I had done it by myself.

Can you resonate with this?

What quotes have stimulated you recently?

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