Friday, September 27, 2013

How to Attract Young People to Church


Sadly most churches think that the above image is the answer to the question of how to attract young people.  Not literally of course, but when they try to modernize a bit or go "contemporary" by putting out some muffins and coffee and maybe sing some newer songs, it is essentially the same thing as trying to put some hip clothes on grandpa and calling it change.  The answer is much more involved and harder.  Yes, many churches would benefit from some updated methodology, but before that happens you need to consider some things and ask some questions.  Read this article to gain some initial insight into what is needed.  (HINT: not just method change, but a whole new DNA of church culture)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I Need Ears To Hear


Every time I have sought the Lord over the last several years concerning some difficult circumstances or needed direction I have heard Him say clearly only one thing.  I confess that every time He says it to me it frustrates me!  He doesn't tell me what I want to hear!!!  I am at times utterly perplexed and despairing (see 2 Cor 1:8).  I rant at Him "Just tell me what to do and I will do it!"  Ever been there?  

So what is it He keeps telling me?  "I am with you."  That's it!  I know, right?!?!  But maybe in my rantings and frustrations I am missing something. Maybe...just maybe, He is whispering to me the greatest thing that He could possibly say.  To know that I am not alone.  To know that I have not taken some wrong turn at some point.  To know that my Jesus Whom I love more than anything or anyone is with me...and He keeps having grace upon me to remind me of that.  After all the ways I have blown it.  All the times I have betrayed Him, disappointed Him...He is with me.  And if He is with me, then He loves me and is leading me whether I feel it or not.  He is holding me in His nail-scarred hands.  Shouldn't that be enough? After all, when I answered His call to "Preach the Gospel" my answer to Him was "Yes, as long as you're with me"  (Actually it was "HAHAHAHA, You're crazy or I am!  But if this is really You, then yes as long as you're with me")  Maybe He is simply reminding me of that moment of beginning over and over again.  How about that...while writing this I just thought of that. Heh. Cool.  He is with me.  It is enough.

  

Monday, August 12, 2013

My Last Conversation With My Grandma

(This was posted a month before my Mimi went home to be with Jesus. I didn't know it would be my last conversation with her)

So I just spent some time talking to my Grandma, Lois Wilson or as we call her, Mimi (Great-Mimi for my kids).  She is 89 yrs old.  She has always been a strong independent woman and follower of Jesus.  About 9 months ago she got sick and almost died.  It led to a chain of events where she now has to live in an assisted care facility after almost 30 years of living on her own. (My Grandpa died back in the 80's)  Anyway, she is thanking God for her new circumstances.  Why?  Because she has clear eyes and a full heart.  Instead of complaining about her loss of independence and all that is associated with that, she is filled with joy over this new leg of her "journey with the Lord," her new missions field.  Through loving relational evangelism she is sharing Jesus with everyone around her.  From those that work at the facility to those that are also living there.  She is also celebrating her increase of personal intimate times with the Lord through meditation, prayer and worship.  

And so it makes me wonder if in the sunset of my days I will still be excited about my journey...If I will still have clear eyes to see the opportunities that the Lord puts in front of me to tell others of Him.  I've had to do some repenting lately.  My eyes weren't so clear.  My heart not so full.  I lost sight of things in this current chapter of my journey.  Thank God for His grace and that my life can be lived "to the praise of His glorious grace."

Clear eyes, Full heart, Can't lose.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Making an Impact One Life at a Time

Today I went and visited a beautiful baby boy named Noe and his very tired momma, Gladia.  Noe was born around 2 am this morning and is an 8 lb. boy with a full head of hair and 2 teeth already!  Gladia called me around 11:30 a.m. to share the happy news with me.  

So why am I blogging about this?  Well, I barely know this family.  You see I am kind of a Chipotle addict.  I am even a member of the invitation-only Farm Team (google it!)  Anyway, wherever I go I talk to people.  If I am a regular somewhere I remember people's stories and ask them about events from their lives. As a result people can sense that I see them as more than an employee in a service industry.  They can sense when value is being added to them in a genuine way.  So at Chipotle I have gotten to know a few of the employees as well as the General Manager.  There are two sweet ladies there that always shout out an "hola!" to me.  Now my Spanish is pretty much limited to ordering my favorite foods and what not to put on it (lettuce, tomato, sour cream...yuk!)  But I try to use this limited Spanish when they are there knowing they appreciate hearing their own language. (Always thought they were Mexicans, but just learn one is from Honduras and the other from El Salvador)  

A few months ago when Gladia told me she was pregnant I asked in the process of a conversation if she knew the sex and name of the baby yet.  She told me about her boy named Noe (No-ee), and I told her I was going to start praying for her and for Noe.  She gave me a hug and told me she loved me.  ...I was caught totally off guard and uttered an awkward, "love you too" while wondering what my wife would think of this story.  A few weeks later while strapping on the Chipotle feed bag and reading my book, Gladia walked up and handing an invitation to her upcoming baby shower. Now, I hate those things.  They are usually way girly and I the very few that I have been to, I have wanted to be anywhere but there. But I knew I would be going.  I got to meet her husband and family as well as a lot of friends and family as well as other Chipotle employees outside of the restaurant setting.

So what is the "why" behind all this?  Very simple. As a Christian we are called to be salt and light...everywhere.  In the workplace, in the marketplace and even in Chipotle.  We are to be not only pointing people to Jesus, but also bringing the Kingdom of God with us and establishing it wherever we are.  We are to be agents of the Kingdom of God.  It is the way that the Church has spread across the globe for 2000 years.  

So today I got to pray with Claudia and pray the Lord's blessing on Noe's young life.   How did this opportunity come about?  By loving people, by being available.  It's not as hard as people make it out to be and you just might get to eat some yummy food along the way.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Guest Blogger: Josiah Schall (my 10 yr old son)

I found this written on my son's iPod Touch in the 'Notes' app.  He is 10 years old and says he wants to be a pastor when he grows up.  Though that is entirely up to the Lord as to whether or not He will 'call' my son into vocational ministry, he certainly has a great heart and desire!  He says he reads this when he is going through "hard times."  


Perhaps it would be a blessing to you too:


"Jesus. He rules the earth. No matter what you do he still loves you. He is the one and only savior and one and only God. Because he rules the earth. He rules the earth. Jesus saves us and cares for us. Jesus rules everyone and everything and loves everyone and everything. Jesus is the master of everything. Jesus is our savior and power he gives us strength through hard times and heals us when we are ill. Jesus is real and Jesus watches over us. Jesus is just truly amazing and powerful. If you make a mistake ask for forgiveness and Jesus forgives. Jesus created us like a potter makes pots Jesus is the potter we are the clay. Jesus protects us. Since we are Jesus' creations he loves us no matter what."





Friday, June 1, 2012

3 Stages of Growth - Part II

In 1 John 2:12-14 you see John writing to three different types of people, Children, Adolescents, Adults, but it's not about age it's about maturity and experience in Christ.  


Hopefully all of you have wonderful childhood memories to hang onto.  Hopefully these formative years were ones in which you experienced love, affirmation, discipline and all the things necessary to growing into a healthy well-adjusted individual.  


Childhood is wonderful, but it's straight up weird if a teenager still acts like a baby.  Let's take the image to the extreme...


"What is wrong with this guy's parents?!?!" we would all shout.  


In spiritual growth the childhood years are wonderful, but if we read our Bibles (I know...crazy, right!?!) we see that it is the Lord's expectation for us to grow, to mature, to become more and more like Him.  


Teens often think their parents are mean because they make them do things they don't want to do.  Make them engage in situations that make them uncomfortable.  Why do parents do this?  Why does the Lord do this to us?  


Because we are meant for more than we are.  We are meant to be overcomers. (See 1 John 5:4; Romans 8:37)  And the only way we learn to be overcomers is to...wait for it...overcome difficult (and even seemingly impossible) situations.  If we do not learn to live as overcomers in our adolescence, it is much more difficult (but not impossible) to learn this character trait later on.


There are two ways areas in which we must learn to overcome.  Ask the Lord to help you in these two areas.  To live as an overcomer of self (sinful desires) (see 1 Corinthians 9:27), and to live as an overcomer of the World (this present evil age, world system, principalities and powers) (See 1 John 5:4; Ephesians 6:10-19)


To Be Continued...

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Chicken Bones, Tea Leaves and the Spirit of God

Ever been in a situation where you are looking for direction from God?  Perhaps it is a pressing situation where the clock is ticking and decisions must be made...now!  As a Spirit-filled Christian I am continually looking for not only God's direction, but also for Him to break though into my life in very real and tangible ways.  It is a great joy of mine to look back and see how the Lord has led me, provided for me and used me.  However, if I am honest in my looking back, those times were filled with doubt, uncertainty and fear.  You see God never showed up exactly how or when I wanted Him to.  And in those times I was constantly searching for His will so that I might live accordingly.


So here's the thing.  It is so tempting during these times (I am in one of those times again) to get caught up in looking for "signs."  Because of fear, timeline pressures, expectations of others, etc. Christians can drift toward superstition.  Certainly God uses signs to communicate to us, but that is not His main voice.  Signs usually only serve as a CONFIRMATION of what He has already spoken.  BUT, it is difficult during transitions times.  


As my wife and I have been praying about different churches that we have had conversations about regarding me coming to pastor, in each case we saw different "signs."  Although we were never sure what they meant exactly.  As I was talking to one church in Ogden, UT and I saw a man jogging and on the back of his shirt in big orange letters was the word "OGDEN."  I thought...well this must be it!  It wasn't.  If I had been paying attention in my heart I would have known.  Other times there have been similar "signs," but something was always absent internally.  It can be a confusing and frustrating time.


So where do we learn how to discern God's will?  The same way we learn anything about God; we turn to His Word.  In His Word, we see the Holy Spirit taking the lead.


Example:
Ever notice that Judas' replacement was chosen kind of OT style in Acts 1, but after Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit to dwell in believers there is never again any mention of "casting of lots?"


Some people look at times of delay or things not working out smoothly as having missed God.  How ridiculous!   Again we look at God's Word.  Did things always work out "smoothly" in the life and ministry of Jesus?  How about the Disciples and the early church?  Weren't most of them killed in a gruesome way according to Church history?  What about the expansion of the Kingdom of God through the centuries?  Smooth sailing? Hardly.  Fact is that there will be gaps, struggles, flesh issues that are part of the mix in following Jesus where He leads.


So put the chicken bones, tea leaves, and fortune cookies away.
In all seriousness don't be an 'dumb donkey' and start opening up your spirit to the demonic by consulting horoscopes, tarot, or so-called psychics.  


Trust in the Lord.  (Prov. 3:5-6) Walk in His Spirit. (Gal. 5:25) Live in His love and provision for you.  (Matt 6) He will lead you as He has led my family and I so faithfully all these years.