Programmed for Programs

Flag_crowdPart of the United States culture is excess. If bigger is better than more is best. We are people of extremes. We think moderation is synonymous with the status-quo. What we gain in initiative we lose in balance.

“Go big or go home.”

“If you’re not first your last.”

“If you’re going to be a bear be a grizzly bear.”

“If it’s too loud you’re too old.”

Our tendency towards extremes, at times, hinders our ability to communicate and discuss controversial topics. Continue reading

What’s Up With Millennials?

millennialsThere has been a lot of talk in the church world lately about Millennials and why they are leaving the church. The Millennial Generation refers to those in the United States born between 1980 and 2000. They are the least religious generation in American history and they are leaving the church in droves. According to Barna Research, 43% of millennials drop out of church before age 30; 59% have dropped out temporarily; 50% report not being has committed to church at age 30 then they were at age 15. Some estimate that 6 in 10 millennials who grew up in church will abandon church by the age of  30.

Reasons given for their departure range from differing political ideologies, attitudes about sexual preferences, social justice concerns, intellectual integrity, and a simple lack of commitment.

I think the reason is simple: Millennials are dropping out of church because they never really went to church in the first place. Continue reading

Messy Church

2012-11-30-Sun-Country-524x248First was Purpose Driven Church.

Later came Word and Power Church, and Total Church.

Still later, Simple Church.

More recently there was Church Zero.

I have read them all.

All are worth reading.

But none really apply to my church. Continue reading

10 Commandments for Ministry Survival

The other day I found some old files of some of my old writings on an old computer. I wrote “The 10 Commandments for Ministry Survival” at least 10 years ago. I don’t think I have ever posted it on my blog site. As you read them, which one(s) do you struggle with the most? What would you add to the list?


10 Commandments1. You shall not let other people steal your joy.

Joy is a fruit of the Spirit and is determined by my relationship with Jesus Christ.  Allowing others to steal my joy amounts to saying joy comes from people instead of God.

2. You shall not gripe and complain when people act like people.

Jesus saw people as sheep scattered without a shepherd.  What shepherd would scorn his sheep for acting like sheep?  When people whine and grumble they are acting like people—doing what comes naturally.  The purpose of ministry is to enable people to do what comes supernaturally.  If people acted like Jesus wanted them to act I would be out of a job.  (NOTE: I am a “people” and I hope others will forgive me when I act like one.) Continue reading

An Acts 2 Church

If you have  been following my blog for a while you know God has brought some very wonderful Baghdad Christians into my life. I treasure my relationship with them.

The very first Baghdad Christian I met was Rammiz. Rammiz grew up in Baghdad, Iraq. His family left the country because of religious persecution. Through God’s sovereignty, Rammiz found himself as a student in one of my sociology classes. He is now a student at a local university studying to become a dentist.

Recently, Rammiz had to write a short paper, explaining three different experiences he has had in churches in the United States. He uses my church as one of the examples. I can think of no greater compliment than for a person who has experienced religious persecution, and has witnessed the reality of Acts 2 churches, to say that our church is an Acts 2 church and his “ideal church experience.”

Here is what he writes about FCC: Continue reading


I have a confession to make. But first a story.

Once upon a time there were two men who raised and raced thoroughbred horses. Over the years these two men become bitter rivals, always trying to outdo the other. One day they decided to have a race to end all races. Each was to get their best horse and best jockey and have a winner-take-all steeplechase. The loser would get out of the horse business all together. The entire town showed up to watch the spectacle.

As the horses and riders were coming around the last obstacle, they collided and sent the jockeys sprawling. One jockey, quicker than the other, jumped back on a horse and won the race. The jockey, ecstatic, was surprised when the owner of the horse who had hired him to race, angrily approached him.

“What’s wrong?” asked the jockey, “I won the raise.”

“Yes!’ screamed the owner, “But you rode the wrong horse!”

Now, here is my confession. For most of my ministry career I have been riding the wrong horse. I have been pursuing the wrong thing.

I “answered the call” into ministry (whatever that means) when I was 15 years old. I believe I have been faithful ever sense. By no means have I been perfect, far from it, but I have strived to serve God to the best of my ability. I am riding for the right Owner, I’ve just been jockeying for position on the wrong horse.

For a good 25 years I have equated successful ministry with top-notch programs, big budgets, and numerically growing churches. Along the way I have written books and articles and curriculum, won a couple of awards, and spoken at a few national conferences. I’ve wanted to serve God, but I have also wanted to be recognized for my service…all for His glory, of course.

I have tried to rationalize my pursuit of success…

…God deserves nothing but my very best.

…striving for anything less then perfection is letting Him down.

…I only want to be used by God to change the world.

…if numbers are not important, why did God name a book after them?

…God created everything to grow so if my church is not growing (numerically) it is dying.

…if I remain faithful in the little things God will reward me with greater things.

I still believe that last statement to be true. The problem is my definition of “greater” was different than God’s definition of greater.

…the first shall be last and the last shall be first.

…He must increase and I must decrease.

…serving is greater than being served.

…ministering to the “least of these” is the greatest “target audience.”

…giving a cup of cold water in Jesus’ name is better than being a best-selling author.

…taking care of widows, orphans, immigrants (documented and undocumented), the poor, and the prisoner is God’s definition of greatness.

That’s the horse I should be riding!



In reality, if I truly want to follow Jesus, I should not be riding a horse at all. I should be sitting on a donkey.

A Hero in the Faith

“So the last will be first, and the first will be last” (Matthew 20:16)

We live in a celebrity culture. We value fame and reward people of fame with a certain amount of power, prestige, and possessions. Fame equals success and success equals fame. I don’t agree with that idea, and I bet you don’t either, but it impossible to deny that our culture is infatuated with fame.

The church world is not exempt from this infatuation.

We have our share of celebrities! Tim Tebow, Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Joel Olsteen, Billy Graham, Matt Redmman, Toby Mac, Rob Bell, and John Piper, just to name a few.

Success, in the Christian world, is often based on the size of your church, how many books or cds you have sold, what conferences you are invited to…basically,  how famous you are, how many people know your name. Please understand, I believe most celebrity Christians don’t enjoy celebrity, and most will tell you not to look to them, but to Jesus. But we, the average Christian, celebrate celebrity.

Our attitude of celebrity is the exact opposite of Jesus’ attitude. Continue reading

Was Jesus a Fundamentalist?

Was Jesus a Fundamentalist?

by Aaron Taylor 04-17-2012 | 9:37am
Bible photo, Roberts/

When I was in my early 20’s, a Bible teacher by the name of Dianne Kannady posed a rhetorical question that continues to haunt me to this day: “If Jesus was your only source of information about what Christianity should look like, how would you live your life?”

That question has gotten me into a lot of trouble over the years.

Consider the three things that instantly come to mind.

1.    Jesus preached nonviolence.

2.    Jesus was a faith healer.

3.    Jesus challenged the religious fundamentalists of his day.

Take any of these three statements, declare that followers of Jesus should do the same thing today, and somebody’s going to get pissed. Continue reading

The Good News & Shalom

A few years back, as I was studying and teaching through the Gospel of Mark, I learned that the Greek word for “salvation” (sozo) more literally meant “to be made whole.” That realization was a “light bulb” moment for me; forever changing my view of salvation.

Here is what I mean:

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). God created everything perfect, whole, complete; including man, whom He “created in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27).

At creation everything was perfect, whole and complete.

But then sin entered the world (Genesis 3). Continue reading

The Gospel of Gimmitry

I like a good publicity stunt as much as the next guy. Be it a Kardashian wedding that lasts 72 days, or a guy scuba diving for 100 plus hours straight; there is nothing like a good gimmick to get your point across…or to sell books.

But does the Gospel need a gimmick?

When I was a kid growing up in church, pastors used gimmicks to increase attendance. Many a pastor has swallowed a gold-fish, or had pies thrown in his face if an attendance record was broken. It was all done in fun, but was it really necessary?

Does the Gospel need a gimmick? Continue reading