Church Leadership

Why big churches get bigger

It’s been about a year since our family started attending Journey Community Church in La Mesa.

For the past decade or so we had been small church people. Most of the congregations we’ve been a part of (and worked at) were a couple hundred people. But, for a number of reasons, we started attending at Journey last Spring.

There are some obvious reasons people come to a bigger church… things like:

  • They do worship services really, really well. I can’t think of a time a technical issue has truly disrupted the flow of a service at Journey.
  • The preaching is always for the masses. I’m not sure why, but in smaller contexts the preaching has a tendency to respond to issues within the church a lot more than in a small context.
  • Programs. Programs. Programs. Dear Lord! There are programs for anything and everything at a big church. I’m waiting for Journey to start a class for how to start a class at Journey.
  • The disappearance factor is high. When you attend a church with a couple thousand people you can be as anonymous as you want. Plus, if you ever need anything— anything at all— it’s all right there at your disposal.
  • Big things are possible! When you have a big church with lots of hands available, you can pull off big huge thing after big huge thing. The crazy thing is that since there are so many people… pulling off something huge doesn’t exhaust the congregation in the way it would in a small church.

I’m sure there are more, big obvious reasons why big churches grow. I don’t buy into the idea that God has blessed them more or that their staffs are better or anything like that. I know too many people to think that the case.

But let me clue you in to the big one. One that actually drew us to Journey in the first place.


People who study marketing and specifically those who study the art of sales, know that in order to make an impression on you about they need to triangulate. You need to see a message about that product in 3 different modes. You need to hear about Geico on the radio. Then you need to see a Facebook ad. Then you need to see their gecko on the side of a blimp at a sporting event. When you are looking for car insurance… everywhere you look you see Geico. So you call.

The same factor is super high at a big church. 

One reason people end up at big churches is the triangulation of connection. It’s easy to find other people or have a social connection to people in a bigger church even if you never meet them at the church. You just start bumping into them all over. Even when you meet a person whose sister goes to Journey, that makes an impression.

Think about the social connection you make with any stranger… When you meet someone out in the community we each have an innate desire to seek social connection with them. There is always a little dance that happens when two people are getting to know one another. They shake hands or start chit chatting in line at the store, and they start dancing for a social connection. Sometimes its as simple as watching the same TV show. But you’d be surprised how often a church person will find another church person or a person through their church network will be connected to someone they meet in the community.

Part of what is happening that makes a place like Journey grow is that it’s very easy to find little points of social connections.For us, it felt like all of the people in our lives had a connection at Journey. We joked about it feeling like a gravitational pull was dragging us there because everyone we knew went there.

That’s triangulation in action. When you start to use the church as a place of social connection– that’s a powerful draw and it can overcome almost anything. 

Photo credit: Dave Gray via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Church Leadership

High-trust, low-control

A movement cannot grow in a low-trust, high-control environment. 

But a dictatorship can. (Cuba)

A corporation can. (McDonald’s)

A gang can. (Al Capone)

In a low-trust, high-control environment leadership is supreme. Decisions flow from top to bottom. A high value is placed on replication and copying and perfecting. Efficiency is more important than individualism. And the everyday worker has virtually no voice. In fact, the less voice the worker has the better.


You want to see what church growth looks like? Remove the money. Learn about the Boxer Revolution and how that changed the church in China. All the western missionaries and their hierarchical structures went away. (Or were killed) And the church went underground.

Thus, a low-control and high-trust structure was forced to emerge. When the church went from an Augustinian mindset with paid staff and buildings and budgets and fake-butts-in-seats to an underground movement of unpaid pastors on the run, meeting in house churches, and people risking their life to be a part of it… the church became a movement again. The Gospel spread neighbor to neighbor because it is Good News. People risked their lives to be called a Christian.

And it became an unstoppable force. (I’ve heard estimates in the hundreds of millions of converts during the 20th century in China.)

Jesus designed the church as an insurgency. Looking at church history, the times when the church has been most effective have been in a high-trust, low-control environment. The Roman Empire conquered every people group in its path but was conquered from the inside-out by an insurgency of the heart.

A core problem in America is the rapid embrace of a low-trust, high-control leadership structure. “Church growth experts” (and their books and conferences) encourage church leaders to remove the voice of the people and go to staff-lead models. To generalize, the staff become the local experts on everything from discipleship to sex and the people become relatively voiceless, idea-less, worker bees in support of the vision of the leadership. These high-control, low-trust leaders proudly say things like, “This is the type of church we are. If you don’t like it, you can leave. There are plenty of churches out there.

I’ve heard leaders say that at leadership events. And people in leadership write that down. And underline it. As if asking people to leave who disagree with you is a sign of a powerful leader. (Hint: Surrounding yourself with people who agree with you makes you a wimp of a leader.)

So many people have left the church. Sure, there are examples of big churches you can look to and hope for growth in that model. But I can schedule a tour of a 25,000 square foot church for sale 500 yards from my house that says there is no hope in that model.

You can’t create an insurgency of the heart with a low-trust, high-control model. People will die for Jesus but they won’t die for you. 

La Raza

The church will grow when we give power back to the people. Not just the power to serve leaders vision, but real— actual power over their day-to-day church life. We give lip service to the Priesthood of all Believers but we don’t live it out. In 1520, Martin Luther wrote On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church:

How then if they are forced to admit that we are all equally priests, as many of us as are baptized, and by this way we truly are; while to them is committed only the Ministry (ministerium Predigtamt) and consented to by us (nostro consensu)? If they recognize this they would know that they have no right to exercise power over us (ius imperii, in what has not been committed to them) except insofar as we may have granted it to them, for thus it says in 1 Peter 2, “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a priestly kingdom.” In this way we are all priests, as many of us as are Christians. There are indeed priests whom we call ministers. They are chosen from among us, and who do everything in our name. That is a priesthood which is nothing else than the Ministry. Thus 1 Corinthians 4:1: “No one should regard us as anything else than ministers of Christ and dispensers of the mysteries of God.” Source

Friends, our lips say we believe in the Protestant doctrine of the Priesthood of all Believers but we fund a priesthood among us.

Are you saying we have to fire people?

Listen. I’m not saying that we need to eliminate church staff. I’m saying that if we want to see the church grow again, in a post-Christian America, we need leaders to lead towards decentralization of power. We need paid staff to see their job as expert equippers and not expert speakers. We need to measure leaders on their ability to replicate Jesus and not themselves. We need leaders to unleash an insurgency and not continue an occupation.

So indeed, we probably need to fire some people who won’t embrace the present reality we live in. But new leaders will emerge. The Holy Spirit has always provided. Indeed, there are leaders in your pews today who could do this if only you allowed it.

And which people should we pay? Probably the ones who don’t want to be paid. 

youth ministry

Youth Ministry is Flatlining

If I were to plot out the average youth ministry attendance in a local church this is probably what it would look like.

So when I say, “The way you are doing ministry is failing to reach students. It’s not you, it’s your strategy.” Youth workers look at me and say, “No, that’s not true. We are actually reaching more students than we were 10 years ago with less budget.

And from their vantage point, looking at that one view of the population of adolescents in their community, they could be right. They are reaching 10-15% more students than they were 10 years ago.

Flatlined growth

However, when you compare students engaged in youth ministry to the overall student population in your school district it looks a lot like this.

This is what I mean by “you are failing to reach students with the programs you currently offer.

Statistically speaking you are flatlined. (As in– no heart beat!) You’re reaching just about the same percentage of people you’ve always reached. That may be OK from a church politics situation but I’m not sure I’m OK with that from a theological position.

And I’m positive that this flatlining has lead to the following problems in youth ministry over the last decade:

  • A general cynicism about youth ministry internally and externally.
  • A decrease in youth ministry staff and general budget funding.
  • An increase in expectations that new youth ministry staff grow the program immediately.
  • Lots of great youth workers moving on to other ministries or careers.
  • The rise of family ministry models designed to circle the wagons. (Historically, youth ministry existed for evangelism. Popular models today are primarily interested in keeping church families engaged.)

Students are involved… just not in youth ministry

According to this 1995 study, 79.9% of all high school students were involved in an after school activity. I know that this study is 17 years old– but we would all agree that that percentage likely hasn’t changed much in 20 years, correct? (Maybe +/- 10%)

Every youth ministry strategy I know of is trying to wedge their way into this pie graph. They are looking for students, ultimately, to forego involvement in one of the programs at the school and invest in their program.

After nearly 40 years of youth ministry we know that this isn’t going to happen. Even the best youth ministry program model might only wedge their way in there by 2-3% of total student involvement.

A theologically appropriate number of students are not going to stop involvement in other things to get “fully engaged” in a local youth ministry program. And even if they did this it wouldn’t be a good strategy for continued growth, would it?

It’s 2012. You have flatlined for the past decade. Are you ready to try a new strategy?

This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

Ephesians 5:14

Stay tuned, subscribe via RSS or get my daily email. This year we are going to look at new youth ministry strategies that are breaking this model and reshaping the way students engage with Jesus. 

youth ministry

High schoolers passing in the night

I volunteer with the high school ministry at my church. Each Wednesday night I help to lead a small group of high school guys. And each Sunday morning I am one of the adults trying to engage our students in some sort of meaningful conversation.

Journey is of the size where you can successfully go for ages without ever actually talking to someone. And the high school group is much the same. I’d estimate weekly attendance to our weekend experience like this:

  • 50% regulars (They come on Sunday and Wednesday nearly every week)
  • 25% irregulars (They come on Sunday 1-3 times per month)
  • 25% who the heck are you? (They come every 6 weeks or are a one-time visitor)

Journey is also the kind of place where you can grow as much or as little as you’d like as a leader. So we have students in many different areas of responsibility in the church. These are amazing young men and women who will make you turn your head 25 degrees to the right and say, “High schoolers can do that?

Sunday morning is a expression of two students passing in the night.

  • Students for whom Christ is at the center, He is changing them and they are growing fast.
  • Students whom are checking out of their relationship with Jesus. As soon as their parents allow them, they’ll not come back.

It’s this sad-hopeful spot in which I sit each Sunday. Both students are on a journey– hopefully towards Christ. One is taking the more direct, obvious and measurable path, while the other is from Missouri, the Show Me State. They may re-engage later in life. But until they have the opportunity to check some things out they aren’t ready to give their lives to this thing.

I can see the unexpressed frustration on both ends of the spectrum. Those who are growing are looking at their peers and thinking, “When are you going to wake up?” And those who are looking to check out are thinking, “Why don’t you just shut up so I can get out of here?” It sometimes gets expressed through passive-aggression but it is most-often unspoken.

But it’s that tension, two students passing in opposite directions, which you can feel in our high school ministry.

Earlier in my ministry career I freaked out about this. I might have thought it was something we could correct. And I certainly would have thought it was something we needed to directly address. But as I’ve gotten a bit older (maybe wiser) I’ve learned that both types of students are on the same spiritual journey. Little I say and do can effect either of the groups. In the end, being loving and supportive and listening and respectful of their story is going to make way more impact.

Question: Do you see this same phenomenon in your ministry? Are you actively addressing it or passively observing it?

youth ministry

Free their minds…

Free their minds… and their hearts will follow. (Sorry En Vogure, I changed it.)

Is the primary task of my ministry to cram as much of what I know into their heads or is it to teach them how to think? Rhetorical, right?

Wrong. My actions say the former while my brain says the latter.

Think about the typical day of your students as it relates to adults.

  • Early morning: An adult tells them to get out of bed and get ready for school. (Either by word or edict)
  • Morning: A parent tells them to get in the car, get out of the car, to have a good day, etc. If they ride the bus they might make a couple words of small talk.
  • School: Adults are largely in charge of the classroom and do most of the talking.
  • Between class time: Students cram a few minutes of conversation with friends as they dash from place to place. (Adults dictate the parameters of this.)
  • After school: Coaches instruct, students listen and obey.
  • Home:Have you done you homework? Your chores? How was your day? Tell me about….

To overgeneralize, most interaction students have with adults is either structured or adults talk at students. They are almost always put in a position of learner or otherwise lack power.

We would all say that they have power to own their faith. But are our interactions with our students validating that or putting them in a powerless position?

It’s relatively rare that a student would have a conversation with an adult.

It’s even more rare that a student would have a conversation with an adult where the adult does the majority of the listening and the student does most of the talking. (The adult in the lesser role while the student is in the power role.)

Shaddup Already!

As this Fall has ramped up and I’m starting to get to know my small group of guys my inner dialogue is, “You don’t need to talk at, just listen. Listen. LISTEN.

The best thing I can pass along isn’t what I know. It’s how I think. I don’t care that the guys in my small group know what I know or have answers for everything we’re talking about. But I desperately want them to know how to find stuff out for themselves, to compare and contrast what people are saying, to not just grab wisdom for the sake of acquiring knowledge but actually discovering the source of wisdom.

Sure, I want them to know what God’s Word says about this and that. But I really want them to know how to wrestle with things in a way that moves/changes them.

Curate vs. Dictate

I can’t do that if I do all the talking. I’m not helping them learn how to think critically if I tell them what I know. They will only grasp hold of their faith, truly own it, if they can articulate it for themselves. That means I am not in their lives to tell them the answers. I am there to teach them how to find the answers themselves. 

My theory is that I need to talk less and less for them to think more and more. That means my job is less to provide answer and more to create questions. Which is good. Because I have lots of questions. And I’m really good at creating doubt.

Church Leadership

5 things gardens teach us about healthy churches

Last year, Kristen and I made a commitment to grow organically or buy organically 25% of our families food. For us, that has meant starting and maintaing a garden.

As they say, inch by inch and row by row– we have watched our garden grow.

A native suburbanite, I’ve discovered many revelations about my perceptions of a healthy church shattered by the realities of staying in tune with more agrarian things in my backyard.

The title of pastor is agrarian by etymology. To manage a flock is different than managing a business. Jesus could have chose to describe church leaders as business owners or organizational leaders… but instead Jesus chose an agrarian term, pastor.

Here are 5 things that gardens teach us about healthy churches:

  1. Healthy organisms replicate. The hallmark of a good plant is its fruit. And the reason a plant creates fruit is simple: To replicate. Conversely, the mission of a church isn’t to grow infinitely, it’s to replicate and make impact on the community it serves. If it isn’t replicating (producing fruit) than it’s just wasting space. (Matthew 3:12)
  2. In order to grow strong you must water & feed regularly. I need to make sure my plants have sun, water, fertilizer, (organic, of course) and good soil. In order for the church to be healthy, you need to do the hard work of making sure you have healthy conditions for your church to grow. Are you teaching good stuff? Are you grounded in your mission? Is your staff team feeding from God’s Word? Are you leading people to be dependent on you… or are you teaching them to feed themselves?
  3. In order to produce good fruit you must weed & prune. Last year, I got enamored with a tomato plant which grew to more than 20 feet tall. It was exciting to see how big that plant would get. But the bad thing was that it choked out the growth of all the plants around it. That taught me a valuable lesson about pruning. The goal isn’t just to have one healthy plant in the garden, to have a healthy garden all of the plants need to be healthy. Which means I need to keep up with weeding and pruning. Likewise, a good pastor weeds & prunes his church regularly. He doesn’t wait for big problems to arise before acting. He nips things in the bud. (A pruning pun for you.)
  4. Everything tastes better when its home grown. We love our CSA. Every two weeks we pick up a great big box of locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables. But, in all honesty, that stuff is no where near as tasty as the stuff we grow in our backyard. And stuff we buy from the supermarket… that’s like ordering a salisbury steak when you can have prime rib. Too many churches go to the supermarket instead of looking at their garden for talent and ideas. There’s nothing wrong with going to the supermarket. But growing your own talent and implementing your own ideas is so much more sweet.
  5. Healthy gardens are a habitat to many species, not just the plants. At any given time I have 5-10 different types of things I’m growing in my garden. But at the same time my garden has a whole ecosystem of other plants, animals, bugs, and crawly things which survive and thrive off of our garden. There are bugs that hang out by our compost heap. There are different little plants supported by the back spillage of our drip watering system. There are good bugs who eat bad bugs. There are bees who pollenate. And there are birds who live in our yard who live off of the bugs. The same is true in a church. When you let go of control and instead chose to create a healthy environment, an entire ecosystem of impact unfolds.

Our title of pastor is describing something agrarian. For most of us, like myself, we grew up completely separated from all things farming. Perhaps more of us need to spend more time in the garden or in the fields tending to flocks to understand the simplicity and complexity of our roles?

What do you think? Should seminaries and conferences offer tracks which send you to the farm?

social media Weblogs

Blog economics of hate

The easiest way to draw traffic to your site all you have to do is hate on people.

My definition of flaming content online: To bad mouth purely for the sake of creating traffic, link baiting, retweeting, Facebooking, and otherwise bad-mouthing a person, organization, company, or news item for a purely selfish reason. (Read here to see what it is like to receive these criticisms)

Why does this work? When someone reads something that you write, they are left with a number of choices. Do nothing, comment, talk about it, share it, tweet it, email it, or bookmark it.

Over time, you learn that people are more likely to link to or forward something that is salacious than they are something that is benign, informative, or encouraging. That’s just the nature of consuming new media. The result is that some people write purely to draw traffic and since “flaming sells” they know that flaming people/organizations will draw more notoriety, traffic, and the hope for… income.

Here’s a formula that I’ve seen play out for the past several years.

  • Normal content = x1
  • Flaming content = x5

That’s pretty much what it looks like. If your Twitter account, Facebook profile, or blog flames someone you’ll get more traffic. Why? People love to read rants.

So are you saying that all blog traffic is drawn to flame speech? Not at all. And here is why:

  • Remarkable content = x10 (or more)

Which leads to my point: Most people write hate/flame based content because they don’t have the time/guts/brains/skills to write something remarkable in the first place. In other words, it is easier for them to draw traffic with flame-worthy content than it is to draw traffic with remarkable content.

Adam’s Law of Traffic: Write something remarkable and everyone will talk about it. Write about something you hate about someone and some people will talk about it. Write about normal stuff and only your mama will talk about it.

Bonus math: Since mountains of people like to copy the thoughts of others… sometimes giving credit and other times not.

Copied content + traffic = x5

Christian Living

Towards Simplicity

Photo by Steve Minor via Flickr (Creative Commons)

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free,

‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,

‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gain’d,

To bow and to bend we shan’t be asham’d,
To turn, turn will be our delight,

Till by turning, turning we come round right.

Simple Gifts – Elder Joseph Brackett, Shaker

This has hardly been our theme song for 2010. Yet, Kristen and I have made some serious moves towards simplicity this year. Ever since I read Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline, I’ve been fascinated by the concept that less is more in my life.

The Simple Things

  • Quantity time with the kids, individually. As the kids are getting older we are making sure to schedule time for mom and dad to spend big chunks of time with each of us 1-on-1.
  • Gardening. I can’t tell you how many deeply simple Biblical principles have been illuminated to us through our garden this year. For me, the biggest one has been– You have to prune daily, you have to weed regularly– Otherwise good things will take over your life and bad things will choke out your growth.
  • Staycation- I suppose not everyone lives in a vacation destination quite like we do. But there was something so beautiful about renting a house 45 minutes away and spending a week with family.
  • Financially sound – I was shocked when I looked at some graphs on the other day. I told Kristen, “We did a really good job this year. We’re ahead in every category and on target or ahead in every goal.” It’s amazing what can happen if you’ll just live within your means. In 2010, we were able to give or save 25.4% of our income.
  • Meaningful roadies- In November, I lamented a lot about being away from home 14 weeks in 2010. (27% of 2010) At the same time, most of those trips were really meaningful. And not all of that was away from family. (Including the mission trip with Kristen, probably the most valuable trips of our marriage.)
  • Friendship – It’s incredible to have a life full of friendships. (Or as a co-worker calls them, “Adam’s bromances and brarriages.”) While having a bunch of great friendships is huge to me… nothing has made me more excited than to see Kristen develop some deep friendships with a few women in our community group.
  • Real food – We’ve far exceeded our desire to buy/grow 25% of our food from organic sources in 2010. While it might not sound immediately like a step towards simplicity: Going to the farmers market (and even visiting the farm where our food comes from) has not only connected us to where our food comes from– we feel a lot better. There’s nothing finer than enjoying a salad or eating fruit that you’ve grown yourself.
  • Acting on convictions – Putting what you believe to action really is a step towards simplicity. That might not sink in at first, but remember that regrets and the conflict caused by sitting idly on your convictions creates stressful complexity. All year long I’ve asked myself, “Am I making the most of this opportunity? Am I acting on my convictions? Will I regret it if I don’t say that?”
  • Towards a small world – No doubt, I have many friendships all around the country and around the world. But taking the step to try to focus some of that energy onto the block we live has been rewarding. We’re looking to allocate more of our time/resources towards that in 2011.
  • Journalling – I’m headed into my seventh year of journalling my life online. This little discipline has transformed my life. It’s really interesting when I interact with people who are thinking about starting a blog. “When will I have the time? What will I say? Will people read it?” I come at it daily with the exact opposite thoughts. The time I spend journalling brings me life. What I write just comes out of my life. And I don’t care if anyone reads it.

It’s funny how simplicity is different for everyone. When I think of my life, filled with a calendar full of meetings, digital gadgets, hours online per day, on and on… I still consider it grounded in simplicity. Perhaps that makes me a digital simpleton?

I don’t have grandiose plans to drive this further in 2011. With baby #3 coming soon I think we’ll just be happy to hold on to the progress we’ve made in 2010. You know, keep it simple.

What steps towards simplicity are you taking? What are things you’d challenge me towards in 2011?

Church Leadership

When did ministry become an office job?

Photo by t. magnum via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Somewhere along the way ministry became a desk jockey job.

When I read the book of Acts and even the pastoral epistles I get the idea that being a pastor was action packed.

  • John didn’t kick it in staff meeting for 2-3 hours per week.
  • Peter didn’t make edits to the bulletin.
  • Matthew didn’t work late to attend the facilities team meeting.
  • Phillip didn’t put on a collared shirt and sit in a swivel chair from 8-4.

Even if you go back 50 years the pastoral staff wasn’t all about programs and project managing. They were out in the commnity visiting elderly, the sick, and doing house calls. If the staff had an office it was for study. If the staff met it was for prayer. There was an administrative staff that did admin work and project management. Not pastors. Pastors were out doing, not sitting behind a desk.

But somewhere between there and here all ministry jobs became something else. If we’re honest the ministry job became 75% administrative and 25% ministry on a good day. New people in a church always say the same thing... this isn’t what I thought it would be.

At least once per week someone will ask me if I miss working in the local church. The truth of the matter is that I have the same level of contact with high school students today as I had in nearly a decade of full-time church ministry as a youth pastor. I’m not in a rush to go from actually doing ministry to riding a desk in the office and talking about ministry. If I ever accepted a call to a church again, the role would be radically different… or else I’d go insane.

Life in ministry isn’t meant to be boring

But for many people the jobs that pay are boring.

Too many meetings and not enough ministry. Office hours and office gossip and office meetings and trying to look busy.

The goal is all jacked up. Where does the desk jockey model lead too? More desk jockeys running more complicated programs. We need to rebel against it because we know where this leads. With less than 10% of the population actively engaged in a local church… seriously, we know the current way of doing things doesn’t work!

Stop it.

Radical change is required in the way church staff operates to reverse the trend.

We don’t need a revival. We need full-time ministers to do full-time ministry.

Exceptions: No doubt, there are objectors to my generalization. That’s the nature of hyperbole, isn’t it? But at the same time compare the hours per week that your own church spends in the office vs. the amount of time the New Testament church did. They didn’t even have an office! So it was 0%. The biblical model is 0%. God’s Word is true, right? God is unchanging and unchangeable? Did I miss the memo in my Bible? How can we justify 50%, 75%, or 90% of our hours doing office work?

Church, we have an office problem. (Misappropriation of funds if you ask me.) And if we want to reach more than the 10% we currently reach, we need to change or watch that 10% shrink to 5%. We know where this leads.

Stop what you are doing and think about a new way.

What’s the solution?

Follow the church planters. That’s where the growth happens, right?

Close the church office. Morph your ministry staff into field agents. Tell your team to go out and visit the sick, serve the poor, feed the hungry, teach the Bible “out there,” and minister to the widows and orphans. The pastoral epistles give us a pretty good vision for what to do. The reality is that we don’t want to do the job laid out there.

Remove the office temptation and lease the office space. Pastors who are lazy will just set up offices in coffee shops or their homes. Fire them. If the church is to change, we will need agents of change and not desk jockeys.

Church planters do it every day. It’s funny that they come up with all sorts of fancy statistics as to why they think their new plants stop growing after 12-18 months. Maybe it’s not the movement that slows, missiologically. Maybe it’s the staff that stops trying and starts with office hours?


Best of 2004

Note: I’m on vacation this week. My family has a rule for daddy– It’s not a vacation if daddy brings a computer. Each day this week I’m highlighting my favorite post from the archives. These are oldies but goodies.

Yes, I am Wasting My Life

August 31st 2004

Again this month we are short financially. Grad school came calling. Preschool came calling. Uncle Sam gets his cut in a few days. A combination of expected and unexpected expenses draws a little more money from savings to checking in a constant game of robbing Peter to pay Paul. Life’s expenses are again expensive. Each time this happens to me I start to reminisce about what life could have been like for Kristen and Megan and Paul. Had we stayed on the path of corporate success in Chicago we wouldn’t have this to worry about. The bills always got paid in full. There was always a little extra at the end of the month. We could always surprise someone with a special gift. Vacation? No problem. New tires? How about the best? New clothes? Why not. Yet in the same moments I recall the emptiness I had as I laid in bed at night, longing for my life to be wasted for something more important than getting richer… or more precisely, helping rich people get richer.

Read the rest

It’s 2010. I am still here. I am still wasting my life. And I still love every minute of it.