Why Church?

Why Church?

Sundays are a really hard day for many people. Particularly people who have been hurt by the “church.” It’s a day where Christians gather for corporate worship and community. It is supposed to be a day of celebration. Yet, for many it is a day of shame, guilt, anger, self-protection, and anger. Not long ago there were many people who were writing about their stories of leaving church. They simply stopped going. Some of these folks are high profile Christians. Sunday gatherings were vapid and empty, the community was shallow, and it all “felt inauthentic.” So, they simply stopped. Church, they said, could be experienced anywhere. In nature, alone, in a coffee shop, or the pub. What these people wrote resonated with me in a significant way. I thought, “I could easily walk away. There is more authenticity at the ball field than in the ‘church’ on any given Sunday.” I stand by that thought. The ease with which I could walk away and never again...
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The Necessary Darkness

The Necessary Darkness

Have you ever been through a dark night of the soul? A time when there seems to be no voice from God? A time where you feel a bit rudderless and your soul is downcast? Dark nights of the soul are well attested to in the history of the Church. Many folks have experienced them. They can either destroy us or they can take us deeper in our relationship with God and his people. In today’s parlance we might call this, “deconstruction.” We question everything and doubt much. Our faith seems to be coming apart and we cannot wrap our minds or hearts around it. With so many having this experience it makes me wonder if this is something that is a necessary part of our spiritual formation. Could it be that we need our dark nights of the soul? What if these seasons of doubt and questioning are seasons that help us become more like Jesus? (more…)...
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Jesus is Not A Sales Pitch

…or all of life is sacred. Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash Last night I spoke at an event called, “The Merge: Where faith, culture, and art meets.” For just a few minutes I spoke about the reality that all of life for the person of faith is sacred. This was in the context of being a person of faith in the public forum. As the conversation after the talk developed it ceased to be a discussion about living life as a sacred whole and became a discussion about how Christians have conversations with non-Christians. It almost felt like a sales seminar. I have been thinking about this response to the talk (and my attempted questions after) trying to discern why this is what happened. I think it is because people of faith in America, particularly evangelicals, have lost their sense of identity. We struggle to understand that living as a Christ-follower is to live this way, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it...
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Don’t Be Crusty

…how to get out of your spiritual rut. Photo by Amador Loureiro on Unsplash Part of being on mission with God is our continued growth as a follower of Jesus. It is realizing that we have not arrived nor will we fully arrive with God. As we are on mission with him we must continually hear from him, change, and draw ever closer to him. How do we do it? When you first start following Jesus it seems like everything is exciting and new. Your spiritual life feels fresh and real. The Bible “comes alive.” You’re reading it and praying. You and God feel super close. It is almost like you can audibly hear his voice. Then something happens. Those books in the Bible like Ephesians and Philippians feel stale. You try to read some Old Testament and it’s just confusing and hard. So you read a Gospel and it seems really long. All of a sudden your prayers feel like they are bouncing off...
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How Do You Do It?

…10 Things We Do As Parents I’m not an expert. I’m not even close to being an expert. I have a son who is 16 and a daughter who is 14. Both of them are excelling as human beings (in my all too biased opinion). They each have passions that they are pursuing with zeal. I think both of them are becoming good people. They have friends, they respect adults, they are both people that my wife and I enjoy being around. Any time I ask people what they think I should I write about, one of the most requested topics is, “How do I raise my kids?” I don’t think people ask me this because they think my kids are angels and they want to know how we did it. I think anyone who is raising a child wants help in making sure that they don’t screw up. In our culture we get more training to drive a car than we do...
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The Rev

L to R: Amy, Libby, EthanWhen you write a blog some people typically want to know about your credentials. Credentials are pretty big deal and people who care about such things, really care (and those who don’t, really, really don’t). I am a graduate of Central Michigan University with a B.S. in Psychology and a Minor in Religion. I also hold a Masters of Divinity from Michigan Theological Seminary. I am an ordained Teaching Elder (a fancy term for pastor) in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. I am the lead pastor with the Antioch Movement and I am a part-time teaching pastor at Cornerstone Evangelical Presbyterian Church. The Antioch Movement is a church planting movement that is focused on “sending the sent.” I am hopeful that the kingdom of God can expand in an organic and missional way in the local church. Before launching the Antioch Movement, I served as Assistant Pastor at Grace Chapel in Farmington Hills, MI and before that I spent...
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Flex and Obey, There Is No Other Way

…or when things don’t go as planned. Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash You’ve worked hard all week on an amazing message. The illustrations are poignant and powerful. People will get teary eyed when you drop your perfect tweetable line in the conclusion. You can’t wait to preach. You know this will be one of the most life changing messages you have ever communicated. Then it happens. It. Whatever “it” is. It happens. You have to zig instead of zag. The entire night has to be changed because your pastoral heart knows that the people need something else. They don’t need your life changing sermon. They need a different message. Maybe they don’t need a message at all, just time and space to be together. Who knows? But what is evident, is that you have to flex. Many of us pastors create strategic plans. We have plans for three, five, ten, and fifteen years out. We know exactly how we want everything to work out in our ministry. The strategies, we believe...
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Here Is What I Know

Two young black men were riding home from football practice in my car. The four of us were laughing, cutting up, and making fun of each other. We came up on multiple police cars and officers investigating something. These two young men immediately folded their hands in their lap, became quiet, stared straight ahead, and were silent. After we passed the officers there was a moment and then the teasing, laughing, and cutting up began again. My brother and many of my closest friends are police officers. I love police officers. I am grateful for them and the service they provide. We could not live the lives we do without them. But, in that moment it, there was fear, a raw fear that sucked the air out of my car. This fear demanded two young men to immediately become silent upon seeing officers even while being in the car of a white man. We can love and respect and support our police officers and...
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Let’s Teach Them To Be Men

When I was on staff with a large college ministry we spent a lot of talking about how to help college guys become men. We did men’s retreats every year. There was a very specific model that we thought these men had to fit in; tough, rugged, and macho. We also spent a lot of time trying to teach college girls to be women. This focused a lot on their outward appearance teaching them to dress modestly so they didn’t cause the “men” to “stumble.” Summer mission trips had female dress codes. No bikinis. No tankinis. No “cheek leak” in your one piece. No spaghetti straps. No “shorts that were too short.” No. No. No. No. I’m now the father of a teenage son and a teenage daughter. My perspective has radically changed as my wife and I are trying to raise a good man and a good woman. As I look back at that time with college students I need to ask these...
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