Tag Archives: the consumer church

My Ministry Mantras (Part 3)

I’m using this word, “mantras” not in the eastern meditation sense like chants, but more as “mottos” that describe the way I feel called to serve God and people. If I were to boil down the things I think I’m supposed to do in this season of my life, the following things convey my heart’s deepest aspirations.

The ones I talked about in Part 1 and Part 2 are:

  • I’m just trying to make friends with God.
  • I’m trying to simply follow and follow simply.
  • I am trying to be more of a pacesetter than a superstar.
  • I’m trying to impact people without having to impress them, and reach people without having to possess them.

I’m trying to remember that Sunday is practice for the rest of the week.

I’m ashamed to say that dizzying myself and most everyone else in the church on the Monday-to-Sunday cycle was all too common when I was pastoring. Along with all the Sunday teams (the Sunday worship team, the Sunday set up and tear down team, the Sunday School team, the Sunday greeters, ushers, pray-ers, and coffee makers) we worked all week to create an engaging service for whoever was left that wasn’t on one of the teams! And then on Monday the cycle began all over again to as we would prepare for the next Sunday performance. A little overstated you say? Maybe, but what is it we’re trying to do here – make strong disciples or have good services?  Continue reading


My Ministry Mantras (Part 2)

Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight… 1 Timothy 1:18

I heard about a pastor who had a sign on his pulpit facing him that said, “What are you trying to do to these people?” He wasn’t alone in needing regular reminders of what he was assigned by God to do, to say, how he said it, and to whom he was to say it. Without such reminders we tend to veer off course and begin to talk only to and for ourselves.

I inherited a love for swimming from my dad who won a bronze medal in the 1932 Olympics. Not only did he swim in pools, he also swam and won two Golden Gate competitions out in the frigid and fearsome Pacific! That kind of aquatic experience was most definitely not passed down to me. I hate cold water and swimming where there’s no line at the bottom so I can swim straight! In lakes or in the ocean (of the warmer variety) I absolutely cannot swim in a straight line. Without constant navigational checks (i.e. stopping and looking up) I might find myself either back where I started or out to sea. Continue reading

Their need is interrupting our blessing!

As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.

“Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.”

Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him. Matthew 20:29-45

The crowd objected to the two blind men stealing (or at the very least, delaying) their blessing. “Your need is interrupting our blessing!” What worried them so much? Was it that they thought Jesus only had so much to give, so much in his bag of blessings, and if he stopped to give something to these derelicts, it’ll take something away from them? Or was it that the atmosphere was charged with excitement and anticipation of what he was going to do for them, like participants on a TV game show, they were waiting to see if they’d won the daily double? And the game show host was distracted from his job of handing out the prizes to them! Continue reading

“Good Worship”???

In my former post, “Worshippers and Their Leaders,” I talked about how I offended pretty much everyone in a worship leaders seminar with my drastic ideas about worship leading. I escaped with my life at the end of that first talk, mostly because it was lunchtime, and they didn’t have the energy to take me out and stone me. When I got up to speak in the 2nd session called “Good Worship,” lucky for me that they were too sluggish from lunch to throw anything at me with any degree of accuracy. So I just went for it. This is a sort of distillation of that provocative talk. Continue reading


Have you read the book called, Radical, by David Platt? Honestly, it didn’t seem very “radical” to me till about 2/3 of the way through. But when he started talking about a simple lifestyle, the church’s opulence, and living dangerously – he had me! Here are some excerpts from the book and a few of my own thoughts (mostly just “Amens”).


He tells about how he spoke at an Indonesian Bible College graduation. In order to graduate, each student had to plant a church of 30 newly-saved baptized people!

What a colossal idea! Don’t get me started on how we’ve been training spiritual leaders in this country for such a long time. I recently asked a professor of theology at Dallas Theological Seminary (no knock on the school at all) about what percentage of their graduates actually go out to live lives of service. He didn’t have a figure, but he didn’t think it was nearly half!

Anyway, back to Platt. The graduates on this particular day were a bit somber because two of their number had already been martyred for their faith before they had a chance to graduate! (Enough said!)


I like his description of the modern consumer-based church. He says it’s run by Performances, Personalities, Programs, and ProfessionalsThe words I use to describe the same condition are: Buildings, Bureaucracies, and Budgets! (I don’t remember, but I might’ve stolen this from Neil Cole.)

Continue reading