Empty Chairs

By | Church, Church Planting | No Comments

Most of the time, we like an empty chair — at the movies, in the bleachers, or just a place to rest while shopping at the mall. In many situations, an empty chair is a welcome sight. But not all empty chairs are a welcome sight. An empty chair around the dinner table can be a reminder of a loved one who has passed on. For them, the chair is a reminder that holidays and ordinary times will be missing a familiar face. For others, an empty chair in the bleachers is a painful message that a parent has missed another game. As a pastor, I see empty seats in the sanctuary and think of people. Seats are designed for people. And when a seat is empty, that is a visual reminder that someone is missing. It might be someone we know or someone we’re just getting to know. It’s also those in…

Read More

Revitalizing Declining Churches

By | Church, Church Planting | No Comments

Two things matter the most in real estate: location and timing. We lived in San Diego during the housing bubble of the late 2000’s. Prices went down as fast as they had gone up. If you had bought at the wrong time, the results could have been devastating. As a result of the bubble breaking, a flood of foreclosures came on the market. Real estate agents began organizing “foreclosure” tours, renting buses and driving 10-15 investors around. Criminal minds found ways to scam the system. Entire cul de sacs were left vacant with perhaps one house still occupied. When a house goes into foreclosure, it’s much more than just a financial matter. It’s about memories of dinners and games and birthday parties. It might have been the living room where a child took their first steps. The walls held more than pictures; they held stories. The same is true when…

Read More

problem with problems

By | Church Planting, Leadership | No Comments

I shared the following article by Seth Godin with our staff today. And then I did the exercise below with them. I would encourage you to do the same. The Problem with Problems We have limits. There are challenges, limited resources, people or organizations working against you. Your knee hurts, the boss is a jerk, the systems are down. We have opportunities. There are opportunities, new sources of leverage and ideas just waiting to be embraced. You can share something, give something, make something better. There are always limits, and there are always opportunities. The ones we rehearse and focus on are the ones that shape our attitude and our actions. How many times a day do you think about or announce the limits you face, the people who cannot be trusted, the problems that are weighing you down? The problem with problems is that they always keep us from…

Read More

what church are you a part of

By | Church, Church Planting | No Comments

Words matter because words have meaning. We taught our daughters when they were younger to not say “I hate you” when they were simply displeased about something. Not liking a decision is much different than hating a person. Words matter. That’s why I’m done with asking someone, “Where do you go to church?” Instead, I’m going to ask them, “What church are you a part of?” Now it is possible — you have the option – as a Christ-follower to waste your life. To spend it fiddling around with the mundane. You also have the opportunity to invest yourself in a movement that matters and that movement is the church. But it will require a shift in thinking for many of us. We often get asked, “What church do you go to?” It’s just like asking, “What grocery store do you go to?” or “Which recreation center do you work…

Read More

aliens and ambassadors

By | Church, Church Planting | No Comments

The Bible uses two significant words to describe those of us who follow Jesus: aliens and ambassadors. On the one hand, we are to live as aliens in a world that rebels against God. Our values are not to be determined by opinion polls or who wins the Oscars, but are to be taken from Jesus himself. Morally and ethically, we are to live as foreignors in a land that doesn’t follow Jesus. On the other hand, we are called to be ambassadors — to represent our King to those we live among. The apostle Paul puts it this way: “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” We live in an age when the fastest-growing religious affiliation is “none.” As aliens in a foreign land, we have an obligation to be different. As ambassadors, we have a responsibility to build bridges. Sound easy?

Read More