Posts Tagged ‘ministry’

It was twelve years ago that God snatched me out of the business world from a company who didn’t like me and thrust me into ministry from the ground floor. Heck there wasn’t even a ground floor, God used me to design the ground floor. Kristine and I were in the small college town of Winona, MN at a small church of 250 people with five college students. God put us into the position of starting a college ministry we would soon come to know as H2O. Those first few years were quite amazing! God had quite an amazing group of young Christians on the campus and we got to minister with them often and see the ministry grow from five to hundreds.

Ben and Kristy Carlson at Kerry Park

I got the privilege of spending quite a bit of time with one young man named Benjamin Carlson. He, along with several others were very influential in the beginnings of H2O and I got the privilege of mentoring him and ministering with him as he spent four years at WSU. He became a wonderful leader on the campus and much of what God began then, through him and many others, is still happening and thriving now under new leadership.

Now, twelve years later, Kristine and I got to host Ben and Kristy and one of their small children in our home in Seattle while they were on home assignment from South Africa where they work with the Navigators.  This time he was an incredible encouragement to me and we got to speak as peers in ministry as we are once again at the beginning of a new work here in Seattle.

What a blessing it is to see God bring us all the way back around and I am sure there will be more opportunities to see others of those students from Winona and hear their stories. I am confident that even though Ben and Kristy went back to South Africa now, we will be serving together in the near future.

I owe the Catalyst people a short explanation of a negative tweet I post a few days ago. My post, “Loved #catoneday grt teaching. Only I think big church pastors are out of touch with church planters and small churches.”

Like I said the One Day conference was extremely good and I gleaned much from the speakers, Andy Stanley and Craig Groeschel, and I will be applying so much to my ministry and passing it on to the leaders of Epic Life Church. It is great stuff.

The later part of my post was a bit more negative but I couldn’t help, half way through the afternoon, thinking to myself that these two, along with Mark Driscoll and Judah Smith, seemed really out of touch with the small church pastor and church planting pastors.  It seems odd because each of them started the churches they are now involved in, save Judah, and they all are in the process of starting more campuses, which really do not reflect the structure, resources and environment of the small church or church plant.

As I listened to these great men of God and equally great pastors and leaders tell all 1500 of us, sitting with willing ears and attentive souls, their schedule throughout the week I was a bit taken back. None of them said a word about interacting with the lost, or people who are currently located outside the walls of their respective Church Bodies.

Andy hinted about a relationship that he was building with a painter, but it was a very small portion of the entire day. These men shared their weekly schedules with us, divulging when their staff meetings were and when they prepared for the weekend talks and when they took time for themselves and their families, when they vacationed and Sabbathed, but not one word was mentioned, as far as I can remember, hinting towards their own personal involvement in the lives of the Christless world.

Again, I have a lot of respect for these men, as I am sure 99% of the others squished into the “for skinny people only” theater seating of the City Church’s auditorium. But, that means we, most of us who were in attendance, who lead much smaller churches or, like me, am in the first year of the new church Epic Life, we are listening and respecting and then trying hard to replicate the actions of those we look up to. Which means we would spend no time, none, on the streets ministering to the homeless, marginalize, widows and fatherless. And in essence not fulfilling the Gospel Call.

Hmmm. I am sure this is not what they wanted to get across. When I tweeted that statement at the end of the One Day event a friend of mine in Wisconsin dialogued briefly with me the virtues of big church and the need for pastors who are focused on the Flock, because of the size, they can’t be expected to be “on the ground,” and that both are needed.

To a point I agree and if it was presented in that fashion then maybe I wouldn’t be making it such a big deal. But it wasn’t presented like that. I actually began to feel bad for sitting on Aurora Ave. waiting for my pizza to cook from “Good Guys Pizza” while I prayed for the strippers sitting outside the “Dancing Bares” taking their smoke break two doors North and not being home at 5:30 but instead going from there back to a planning meeting as we pursue more ways to reach the, literally, Lost.

These men kept telling us that we need to be home by 5:30 every night, take vacations, Sabbaths, spend two days working on the weekend talks, delegate, keep things edgy and creative, blog continually, making killer videos, writing books and travel around speaking at conferences.  When I am sure at one time they too sat in my shoes and I would think the shoes of hundreds of those in attendance.

The shoes that haven’t been paid in a year, that can’t afford to record the message in a studio and then go on vacation, that has to work a job and preach, that are on the streets lifting the Lost off the streets, that are actively building relationships in their city with the secular world, that has no staff, that is actively creating a garden space in an empty lot, that frequents businesses to get a chance to share Christ, that is truly going into the world and making disciples, that have served for years and have never gotten a day off, that has no retirement fund or insurance or dental plan or college savings or any savings but gives their meager income away to anyone who comes to the “door.”

Those people are who these pastors were speaking to. Men and women who are giving more than can be written about to see one person come to Christ. There is a passage in the Word that calls us to be willing to leave our families behind for Christ’s sake. Luke 14:26. And although we might not take this literally it still has to be considered, when it is only in this country that as pastors we are taught take care of ourselves and our family first.  Pastors in countries like China actually are giving up their lives and are in hiding yet still preach, pastors in continents like Africa spend countless hours walking from village to village to preach the Word and pastors in countries in the Middle East are getting beheaded along with their family for preaching the Gospel.

But here we are in the Western church glazing over passages that tell us to give all.

Please remember the beginning of this post. I still highly respect each of these men and I have never put down “big” church, because I know they have done great things in this world to advance the Gospel to the multitudes. Far greater things than the small church could and let’s face it, often it is the smaller church that is unwilling to change, that reeks havoc on the perception of Christianity.

But…gentlemen…you are leading Catalyst! Such a great influencer of young minds and young leaders. You now have the opportunity to teach sacrifice and not make us feel that we are doing our family a disservice serving God and following after the vision he has called us to. You all have been in our shoes and those same “big” churches are big because someone sacrificed something and God blessed it and that someone was probably you. But if we allow the next generation to believe that they have to act and exist like a big church when they begin there will be no one lasting long enough to become big.

I confess, I am nothing. Just a church planter with a church that is less than a year old and just now breaking a meager 100 in attendance. What do I know. Maybe I have much to learn and discover. I just pray that when God chooses to expand our walls and we have thousands attending the Epic Life Church movement, that I will be able to remember who I was when I was no one.

Oh…I still like Catalyst and I plan on trying very hard to raise the money so I can attend the Catalyst West conference with my leadership team this coming spring. A team who I am blessed beyond belief to minister with and would benefit greatly from Catalyst, and actually has benefited from the Catalyst Groupzine just a few years ago.

When God Introduces

Posted: November 5, 2008 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

hand-shakeLeft the house this morning to take Kaden out for our Wednesday cup of coffee, decaf for him, many shots for me. After dropping him off at school I started driving south along Greenwood, didn’t quite know where I was going, time to find a coffee shop and write, think, pray.

I stopped at Sunset Park in Ballard, above Golden Gardens Park. As I gazed out over the Olympic mountains, cripsly jumping thousands of feet above the sound some 35 miles away, I prayed, asking God to use me. I want to be used completely by Him, not just now and then or when I have a “good day,” but always.

I realized that my usefulness was in question. Am I usable? Do I live in such a way that my prayers are effective and powerful? Confession of sin was in order.

My prayer, “Father these are your feet, take them where you need them to go.”

The large marina below caught my eyes, so to my car I perambulated, then drove through the million dollar homes overlooking the sound, down to the marina, full of hundreds of not-so-shabby sailing vessels. I thought that maybe I could strike up a conversation with a catamaran proprietor. Had to pick my jaw off the dock several times as I passed huge sailboats decked out with tight wind-jamming paraphernalia.

One conversation: Lucy, a 26 year owner and resident on her sailboat. Yes, she has lived in this harbor on her boat for 26 years. Neat lady, probably in her 70s and very talk-a-tive. I walked some more finally stopping at a bulletin board. One paper caught my attention.

“Agape Boat Refinishing”

Agape? Hmm I wonder if there is a Christian boating association in the marina. So I called him. Nathan.

Turns out, yeah, just turns out, the moment Nathan’s phone rang he closed his computer, after just sending an email to a church in South Seattle that just rejected him as their youth pastor because he isn’t seminary trained. Twenty minutes later he and I were drinking coffee together talking about ministry to the youth on Aurora Ave. Nathan understood a lot, notably so; he came from the streets of Seattle. Involved in gangs, drugs and everything that comes with the life, he now is a Son of the King and wants to minister. He is getting married in a year and they are looking for a church.

God is looking for Nathan and his fiance as he develops the Core Team of Epic Life Church.

We are getting together tomorrow morning to chat more. Pray for that conversation, may it be sweet.

Later, I stopped by the Alcohol Anonymous meeting place at 90th and Aurora, to chat with Stu…