This weeks “spew”…

Here are some things from others that I found provocative, inspriring, informative, or otherwise worth checking out.

1 How To Get Hired When Nobody Is Hiring | Vanderbloemen Search Group

not being a vocational minister, but a staff mananger in the corporate world, I found interesting parallels in this post.  Whether you are contemplating a hiring decision or a job change, this is worth the read.

2 What To Do…When You Wake Up in the Future |

If you sit on your assumptions very long, the world around you will invalidate them. 

3 Solving a Problem: A Matter of Perspective | Ron Edmondson

Ron is right…  Think this through.  Think of how your customers (in ministry) “appreciate” the solutions you provide when they bring problems to your attention.

4 11 Things I’ve learned in 11 years… | Bob Franquiz

These are insightful, they all could apply equally to any leadership position. 


I will try to pass along some of what I read every week.  It is good to be inspired by the thoughts of others.


Leaving Las Vegas

Since I have been a believer I have been an active part of 4 churches. That means that I have separated from 3 of them.

The first time I was participating within the leadership community when I realized for one reason or another that unhealthy processes were in place. In all cases, my fellow leaders were diligent, upright, spiritual men. They simply had chosen different patterns of action or inaction that inhibit the production of fruit within that congregation.

The second time was after a long fruitful period of service and leadership, but through a difficult staff transition and the passing of my mentor I became disconnected from the mission of the body, and of differing opinion with others in leadership. Interestingly enough, my wife had become disconnected long before I had, yet she chose to continue to serve in youth ministry there as long as she was allowed to.

A third was a larger faster growing congregation that I found interesting at first, but the control structure of the church placed barriers to service beyond the “hands” type of role, and my family never really plugged in deeply to the community.

Now I find myself in a small (<100) congregation wondering whether or not it is me – that some spiritual problem exists that has caused these separations.

As I pull out my analysis kit, and try to be objective, I ask myself tough questions.


  • did I leave because I was dissatisfied?
  • did I leave because of personal differences with other leaders?
  • did I leave because I was not willing to be accountable?
  • did I give the leadership a chance – were they confronted with my critique?

In the first two cases, my answers are different. I was dissatisfied – I had got to a place where I spent more time and energy complaining about the status quo than working to change it. I did not have personal differences with other leaders, but I did have differences about how leaders should act/lead, and about whether the ministry was healthy or whether significant change was indicated. I did not leave because I was not willing to be accountable – in one case, others were not acting in an accountable way. In the other I believed that the leadership clicque had become unwilling to see unhealthy patterns in ministry. In the first, I did not give leadership a chance – I did not confront them – I was very young (late 20’s) and was in my first leadership role, when the leading “family” decided to fire the pastor publicly on a Sunday morning. I stayed on until the new pastor was installed, then left. The church nearly split. In the second, pastor had announced a vision statement for the church which I had agreed with, but 5 years later nothing had been done to move closer to the vision – and as I challenged, the vision was a paper tiger – leadership believed that only superficial change was necessary to acheive. They were ignoring an aging population, and community demographic, as well as a revolving door syndrome. By the time I decided that the situation was irreparable, other core leaders were leaving as well.

In the last case, it really was one of significance. My wife, son and I had tried repeatedly to plug in to various service ministries in ways that we could use our gifts and talents – but either scheduling requirements, distance (45 minutes travel) or circumstance prevented us from plugging in. We ended up as greeters – which strangely enough was an enjoyable ministry. But in the end it really wasn’t sufficient. The church was growing fast, and was enamored of growth, but the growth vector caused them to emphasize certain gifts and it was clear that there was very tight control over the creative ministries suited to my wife and son. I looked at this analytically, and decided that I wanted to be at a church that had greater needs, where we could serve in more significant roles.

So what is my conclusion – in the first to cases I felt lead by God to separate myself (and my family) from a congregation, because we were not in unity of purpose or direction with the leadership. Rather than stay and potentially cause more division (there was already some) we chose to leave. There were no issues of doctrine or sin involved. I choose to look at it as God pruning us from one tree and grafting us in somewhere else. In this most recent case, I am not sure I fully understand what was going on – good things happened for my son while we were there. There was very little growth for my wife and I and very limiting opportunities for all of us for service. With time comes perspective.

One thing I realize is that each time I separate from a body – I find it a little harder to join in a new place – to commit to building new relationships, to earn the trust that allows us to serve, to understand the working systems in place that allow ministry to be effective. I pray that God allows us to plug in effectively and serve here until we are called to move (physically) or until we go home to be with the Lord.

That’s How I Blog

So I want to talk a bit about this blog and how I have been doing it and something that has changed the way I will blog in the future…

Personal Stuff
Most of the posts on this blog have been born out of my own experience – both good and bad. I share because I care about the family of God, and the Body of Christ in general. I started this blog because I was frustrated and needed to express some things and clarify my own thoughts. I shared a couple of posts on Facebook and a friend got excited about something that I wrote. He said he wanted his church board to read it. That one event kept me going, thinking “if one person somewhere gets something out of a post that helps the ministry of the gospel somewhere, then I should keep going”.

This blog is not widely read. I probably get a couple dozen page views on each post. I don’t actively promote it. I have tried to post at a consistent, sustainable pace. I try to write and refine about 4 weeks in advance, so that I don’t feel pressure to get stuff out.

I really wasn’t involved in the larger ministry community (beyond my church). Sometime around the end of July this year, I re-engaged on twitter. Still not sure why, or what actually prompted me to go there, but I did. Wow – I found that there was a whole bunch of people who write the same kinds of things that I write (and much better). It is always amazing when I find others that think like me.

And so where before, I did not have a source for inspiration (except my experience and the scripture) I now read a couple posts every day from folks that I follow on twitter. So I decided that I will publish links and commentary on the stuff that I read and like on this blog. These posts will likely be much shorter than my “regular” posts, just a link to the other post, and a few thoughts.

You can follow me on twitter if you like, I am @regenerateweb.

Technical Stuff
I use as a blog host. I like it for several reasons:

1) it has an e-mail interface – so I can send an e-mail from anywhere to post – this became a requirement because I wanted to be able to post from my blackberry which does e-mail really well.
2) it automatically connects with my social networks (facebook, twitter) and lets me autopost to them.
3) it lets me schedule posts in advance so that I can get ahead.
4) it supports some custom theming – which I might do when I get 20 free hours. but has enough basic themes so I can pick one that is not too obnoxious.

Most of my posts are written as I ride the train to and from work. I spend about 35 minutes each way, and try to write about 3 posts per week.
I use a note taking tool called ZIM Desktop Wiki. It is extremely simple, but lets me maintain hyperlinked notes – so that I can make a “page” related to a topic, and make links to those pages there, so I can organize my posts. Also, using the wiki metaphor, to make a new page, I just create a link and click it and a new page is created.

Cynic or Prophet – or just blathering on…

Read an interesting series of articles on Scot McNight’s Jesus Creed blog – about a book by Andrew someone called “Faith Without Illusions: Following Jesus as a Cynic-Saint“. It has prompted me to write about why I blog about ministry.

I am not, nor have I ever been a pastor. That is not my calling. I am just a lay person who was saved at the end of college, who has been a disciple of Christ in an evangelical protestant tradition since 1985. By profession, I am a systems analyst, a programmer, a manager, a software architect. As a lay person, I have been a board member of two churches, a leader of two ministries – one support services (technology support) and one event oriented (marriage assistance). I have lead small groups and taught bible studies.

Over the years I have worshipped and served in several churches, the longest for about 16 years. I wish I could say that I had been content to worship or serve in a single church for my entire life as a christian, but it is not true. Each time I have taken the decision to separate myself from a body of believers very seriously – as I have lost or become distant from friends in the process. In each case, however, it has been my decision, not the result of some unrelated circumstance, and a direct result in my losing confidence in the leadership of the church to execute in a way that leads to rational production of spiritual fruit.

So why do I write this blog? To provide insight from my experience and exposure to both healthy and unhealthy ministry patterns. I don’t know who, if anyone, reads this stuff. Half of my purpose is simply to clarify my own thinking.

Continue reading “Cynic or Prophet – or just blathering on…”

Collaboration Media

How do leaders in your ministry collaborate with each other? With their teams? With their directors? phone – text – e-mail – face-toface meetings?

I recently did a consulting gig for a church and was very surprised to find that they used as a collaboration tool. I found that for the team that was working, it was a useful tool – both notifications of change and status, but also maintenance of a plan and schedule for the project. All collaboration was captured and posted in meeting notes, and commentary by participants.

When I ran a tech ministry (office pc’s, networks, servers, and web – not worship tech) a few years ago, we used open source web based tools for collaboration – we hosted them on our domain, and had some simple security around them. As the leader of this ministry team, I loved it. We used a CMS with an articles repository for knowledgebase, forums for different threads of communication, and a calendar to post events and updates. Continue reading “Collaboration Media”

Uncool Church

What would it be like to go to a church where all the whack jobs go? A church where prostitutes and homeless people feel COMFORTABLE. A church full of salesmen, lawyers and golf professionals. A church where everyone is recovering from something. Me, I am a recovering butthole and pottymouth. You might be a recovering snob, or a recovering heroin addict – but we are all recovering from something.

The suburban church has a problem: suburbanites! Most of us live in the suburbs to get away from exactly those people who wouldn’t feel comfortable at church. For many of us, church tends to be a place where we pretend to be someone that we are not. We mask as many of our sins as we can, and try to appear pious and spiritual. We avoid deep relationships at church, where people can rub up against us and possibly see those things we are masking.

Whether we admit it or not, we are much more like the pharisee than the tax collector from Luke 18:

18:9 Jesus also told this parable to some who were confident that they were righteous and looked down on everyone else. 18:10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 18:11 The Pharisee stood and prayed about himself like this: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: extortionists, unrighteous people, adulterers – or even like this tax collector. 18:12 I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of everything I get.’ 18:13 The tax collector, however, stood far off and would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, be merciful to me, sinner that I am!’ 18:14 I tell you that this man went down to his home justified rather than the Pharisee. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

The truth is, people in our suburban communities desparately need Jesus. In this regard, they are not different than the urban people that they avoid. They may be more affluent, but not more righteous. They may be more conformant to societal norms, but they are not less judged.

Suburbanites have tended to buy into the American Dream – self-sufficiency. We are wealthy. We think that because we have much, that we have earned it; that we somehow “deserve” it; that it somehow reflects God’s blessing toward us. We judge people who are less successful. We collectively tend to look down on pathetic people. We forget how pathetic we are.

We sit in small groups and ask prayers for our family, neighbors, and friends; for everyone but ourselves. We fool ourselves into thinking that we are being spiritual because we do not express our needs. We praise others in our small group who appear knowledgable about spiritual matters, or who pray with spiritual words, but even those mask the depth of our depravity.

We all have issues – conflict with family members, issues with lust or greed or coveteousness, idols, hobbies or passions that have displaced God in our lives.

We need the cleansing of the word – but how can we “get clean” if we are not ready to “come clean”. When we take off our mask, we are just as uncool as those we judge and despise. We need to learn to be uncool at church.

Disciples, Apostles and Missionaries

When Jesus was alive, his followers were called disciples. Disciples are followers. Disciples are learning, growing, developing based on their proximity and relationship to whom they are following. In the evangelical church, we talk about discipleship. We talk about following Christ. To be a disciple of Christ, one must therefore have a relationship with Him. Jesus as part of His incarnation, left us His words. The scripture, especially the gospels, are filled with knowledge of Jesus as recorded by those who were physically with Him on this earth. Jesus also left us the Holy Spirit, so that we would have a comforter, and a counselor. We know Jesus through His Word, and we experience Him through the Spirit. We have relationship with Him in this way, because He lives.

After Jesus died, twelve of his disciples were called Apostles. Apostles are “sent out”. Apostles are sent out, emissaries with a message for the world. Apostles are evangelists, spreading good news. Jesus choses as his emissaries, ordinary men who had been disciples. They were not wealthy, particularly well educated, politically powerful. They were fiercely loyal, utterly dependent (on Him), and willing to suffer and die. Jesus gave the apostles tremenous power (through the Holy Spirit) to do good works on his behalf. He gave them a mission – to make disciples – in all the world. A mission that we are still carrying out to this day. Jesus did not tell his apostles – go therefore and kill anyone who doesn’t convert – he did say go therefore and make disciples. Our church leaders today are apostles. This includes pastors, elders, teachers – those who provide a message.

In modern times, the church sends out missionaries. They are, in fact, apostles. They are evangelists. Most of them are, like the first apostles, not wealthy, particularly well educated, or politically powerful. Many of them are bivocational – they travel to a far land, work in some vocation, while spreading the good news in their spare time. They are often persecuted, intimidated, unappreciated, and disregarded by those they come to serve, yet they keep on. The apostle Paul was perhaps the first missionary. The model that he defined, lives on today: He was funded by churches, bivocational (a tent maker), he traveled from place to place starting churches (a church planter). He worked with indigenous people helped them form a congregation, established disciples, established local leadership and then moved on to a new place – continuing to correspond with and assist the churches he founded. When those churches become self-sustaining, they then can send their own missionaries.

So where are you on this continuum? Disciple? Apostle? Missionary? Well?