Saturday, May 29, 2010


Jared Wilson on his blog The Gospel Driven Church makes these observations about what the church can learn from the television show Lost:

1) LOST was robust. It did not partition off "spiritual matters" and "scientific matters" and "romantic matters," etc. It wasn't a romance show. Or an adventure show. It wasn't just science fiction. It wasn't fantasy. It was -- I think -- more along the lines of "myth," but what it managed to do was weave a "philosophy of everything" into its storyline. I think Christians can learn from this that "Christianity," as David Powlison says, "is higher than anything is high, yet walks on the ground." The Incarnation of our Lord itself reminds us that Christian faith and practice has ramifications for and application to everything in the world, including the things it opposes. This helps us steer clear of easy and brittle "faith vs. art" or "faith vs. science" sorts of gnosticism. Christianity is a sturdy, earthy, robust way of life.

2) LOST was multiethnic. Has there ever been a show that was not only this diverse but diverse without relegating minority characters to background, "token" positions? I think part of LOST's appeal was its racial diversity and the strength of characterization within the diversity. This is compelling to lookers-on. So the church can learn from this not just the inclusion of multiple tongues, tribes, and races, but the integral inclusion of them.

3) LOST got narrative. What do people in most modern contexts need from the Church's communication? A story that is comprehensive and compelling. And of course there is no more comprehensive and compelling story than the Christian one, which has the added benefit of being a true one. We can learn from LOST to tell the biblical stories well, to tell them in compelling ways, to show how our stories are part of God's story, to show how Jesus is the hero in every story and the gospel the theme, and to help people see what God is doing in the world over and throughout history. History is going somewhere. (Of course that somewhere is not a purgatorial "now" where sincere believers in x, y, and z all connect. But we are headed for a finale.)

The Church doesn't need LOST. Like all TV shows, this one will drop off our radar in a few years, fondly remembered when retrospectives and nostalgia trips arise. But the creators of the show did some stuff tremendously right; as far as TV goes, they made some stinkin' good art here. I think we can learn something from it, if we care to.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


A great little teaching video posted on the Missional Outreach Network

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Steve: Churches who seek to minister to emerging generations need to be attending to the research that is available so we can exegete our culture as we develop missional strategies. This post was written by Sharalyn Hartwell on a blog site called Generation Y Examiner.

Less than half of Millennials are confident they can reach the “American Dream”, according to research conducted by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, so they are creating a new dream relying less on financial success.

Only 46 percent of Millennials said they expect to be better off financially than their parents when they reach their parents’ age and eleven percent anticipate to be worse off than their parents.

This sense of discouragement supports the growing notion that Millennials are defining success differently and seeking to create a new American Dream.

Their priorities simply aren’t limited to the big home in the suburbs. Experts at the Urban Land Institute predict Generation Y will continue to rent this decade, further compounding the floundering real estate market.

The state of the economy as a whole, not just the real estate market, has certainly played a role in this shift. Despite continual reports of Gen Y sponging off their parents, the economy has still taken a toll on this group. Nearly half (45 percent) are concerned classify their personal financial situation as “bad” and are “very concerned ” or “somewhat concerned” about meeting their bills and obligations, affording a place to live and affording health care 60 percent, 58 percent and 56 percent respectively).

Millennials place a high value on education, but nearly half (45 percent) of current undergrads and nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of community college students question their ability to stay in school because of financial constraints. Add their waning confidence in their ability to find a job after graduation (84 percent say it will be “difficult”) and it is apparent Millennials are becoming disenchanted with the old definition of the American Dream. While they believe it takes hard work to get ahead, Millennials seem to be questioning if it will always pay off.

Is it any wonder Millennials talk so passionately about topics considered taboo by their Boomer predecessors? Millennials openly tell employers about their new American Dream. Work will not be their life, they only work to live because they seek a work/life balance. They want flexible benefits (such as telecommuting) and a work environment that feels like home away from home. They are willing to leave a company when they aren't offered these things.

Their dream includes volunteering and maintaining relationships. The same Harvard study found that 70 percent of Millennials, and 81 percent of those enrolled in a 4-year college or university, think community service is an “honorable” thing to do. A 2009 Participatory Marketing Network study reported that a whopping 99 percent of Gen Y has an active profile on at least one social media site (Facebook is the most common way they maintain relationships).

Additionally, when Millennials travel, it is more about having an experience that could lead to bragging rights rather than doing nothing in posh surroundings. They will use social media to make connections to find places eat and stay and things to do.

Watching their parents draw the short straw after a lifetime of following the quintessential American Dream equation--saving, investing and dedicating yourself to your employer to buy that big house in the suburbs--has led Millennials to find alternative ways, ways not likely to change even when the economy recovers, to create a high quality of life.

Visit this web site for more useful research on emerging generations.

Monday, May 24, 2010


James Nored has an excellent site called the Missional Outreach Network which I have recently joined. Here is part of a post he wrote a few days ago. You can read the rest of the post and visit the website by following this link MISSIONAL. I would encourage you to do so-Steve

What is our mission? Our "missiology" is determined by our Christology. That is, our mission is based upon the life and ministry of Christ. In his own words, Jesus said that he came to seek and save the lost (Lk. 19:10), serve others (Mk. 10:45), and proclaim the good news (Mk. 1:38).

This mission also forms an excellent "missional outreach" strategy:
  • Seeking the lost
  • Serving the Community
  • Sharing the Good News.
Seeking the Lost - Our strategy is to proactively seek out lost people by going to them, hanging out in their locales, building relationships with them, befriending them online, etc. I am not at all against inviting people to worship, mailing out flyers, etc. In fact, there are many who will only come to check out a church in a public worship setting that allows for more anonymity. But first and foremost, we should seek them out people and not expect most people to come to us. Church attendance in the US is 18-23% and dropping. A purely direct mail approach will not cut it. Besides, there is a transformation that happens in us when we go out on mission. More on this later.

Serving Our Community - This service should be on two levels. First, we should serve those around us in our daily lives by seeking to bless their lives. This can be by encouraging them, building them up, praying for them, babysitting for them, helping them with a work project, mowing their lawn, etc. Second, as a church, we should be providing ministries that bless our community. We can bless people by meeting a felt need and providing healing to their areas of brokenness. In suburbia, there are three major areas of brokenness: isolation/lack of community, materialism/lack of purpose, and busyness/lack of time. There is also brokenness in human relationships such as marriages. Addiction abounds. And many suburbs still have poverty, with people needing food, clothing, and shelter.

By serving people, both on an individual and church level, we do the right thing. It is good to do this regardless. Jesus fed and healed thousands, and yet only a few responded. However, serving people does indeed open doors of opportunity to share the gospel. It breaks down barriers and helps to overcome negative stereotypes that they may believe about Christians.

Sharing the Good News - As Jesus healed and served people, he preached and taught about himself and the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is God's rule or reign over the world and people's lives. It is the kind of world that would exist if everyone acknowledged and followed God. It is a life filled with love, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Thom Rainer writes in his blog ...

For most boomer churches, the community was perceived to be a place where prospects could be found. Entire systems of outreach were devised to find people to increase the membership of the church. In many of these churches, the community was seen to be a source of greater attendance and increased financial gifts.

Millennial Christians (those born between 1980 and 2000) resist this view of the community. For them, community is not a place where we look for prospects to help our church; it is a place where Christians are called to serve and minister. Millennials don’t ask what the community can do for the church; they ask what they can do for the community.

Listening to Millennials

My son Jess Rainer and I are working on a book based on a comprehensive research project on the Millennials. Karen was one of 1,300 Millennials we interviewed. She was 24 years old at the time of our interview with her. She grew up in a more established Southern Baptist church in South Carolina. Though Karen still resides in her home state, she now attends a church with no denominational affiliation.

“I love the town where I live,” she began. “But I’ve learned to love this community from my church. The pastor and other leaders in the church are constantly letting us know how we can have an impact where we live. Our church has been so consistent with caring for and loving our community that leaders from town now turn to us when they have a need. We don’t have to have a formal outreach program,” she said, remembering her former church, “because we are already in the community and because the community comes to us.”

Missional and Incarnational

Two of the buzzwords used by Millennial Christians are missional and incarnational. Missional means that Christians are sent in the community, that they are on mission in the community. The community is not just a place where the church is located; it is a place where Christians are sent to demonstrate the love of Christ. For most Christian Millennials, they do not go to work, to the shopping center, or to the schools merely to carry out transactions. They see themselves as missionaries wherever they are in the community.

The Milllennials also are committed to being incarnational in the community as well. The word literally means “in the flesh” or physically present. But for this younger generation it has the deeper meaning of being present as a representative for Christ. As Karen told our research team, “When I am in my community, I try to see the people I encounter through the eyes of Christ. It makes all the difference in the world.”

Millennial Christians will reject those churches that tend to view the community as little more than a population pool from which growth in attendance and budget can come. But they will embrace those churches that teach its members to love the community.

How Churches Understand Community

You can tell the difference in these churches rather easily. In many churches, efforts to reach the community may be limited to distributing flyers telling the residents what church events they can or should attend.

“I don’t criticize those churches,” Karen told us. “But I want to be helping repair homes, caring for merchants who lost loved ones, and cleaning up trash for elderly residents. I know it’s cliché, but I want to ask the question, ‘What would Jesus do?’ I want to be in the churches that view the community that way.”

The Millennials are on mission for the community. Is your church doing likewise?

You can link to and subscribe to this blog by clicking THOM

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Churches that begin focusing on their mission often find communication to be one of their liabilities if not properly focused. Kem Kemmeyer from Grahnger Community Church shares these thoughts:

  • Over communicate. Everybody doesn’t need to be in on everything. When all lines of communication are open to everyone, communication declines.
  • Obsess about content. The organization around your message—emotional, environment, ritual, political—is crucial. It can reinforce your content or kill it.
  • Rob the white space. When we’re eager to fix move too fast. Creating margin for listening, self-awareness and reflection is necessary to discover what really matters to other people.
  • Identify what’s really needed. Each department should develop a list of the kind of need-to-know (versus nice-to-know) information they feel is lacking from other departments.
  • Invest in team time for leaders. Focus on relationships between department heads. Team building between a handful of key people can dramatically improve how well the whole staff works together.
  • Apply the JFK principle. Ask not what other departments can do for you. Ask what you can do for other departments. Lead the way by sharing insight with other teams on a regular basis.
You can read her entire post and other thoughts on this link LESS CLUTTER

Friday, May 21, 2010


As part of our innovation to help underscore our core values, we have started an on-line Bible study called BIBLICAL JOY. This is a small group for people who don't have time for a small group. It is a way to do some serious Bible study and connect people over the internet for an exchange of ideas about the Biblical text. We have some great sharing. This particular reply was to a study in Matthew of Peter walking on the water. Sara, who writes it, actually has a great description of the challenge that people and churches face when they decided to get out of the boat and venture out onto the water, out of the comfort zone into the zone of the unknown, where Bill Hybels says "the Holy Spirit does its best work." - Steve

I have thought about this story quite a lot in the past few months, actually.

What sticks out to me, before we even get to the part about Peter sinking into the water, is this: Peter getting out of that boat is a WAY bigger deal than it first seems to be. And those 11 “failures” that stayed behind? Well, from the worldly point of view, they are the sane ones. Why?

First, the water was choppy, wild, it was crazy windy. I wouldn’t want to be ON the BOAT, let alone getting out of one to walk on the water.

Second, when they first see Jesus, they think He is a GHOST. The other 11 are freaking out in a boat being tossed about by crazy waves, and Peter is like, “Hey, is that you Lord? I’m going to trust it’s you and not a scary ghost about to eat us. Let me get up out of this “safe” boat and come out to you while you walk in the crazy, choppy, scary water.” Peter faces down a possible GHOST to get to Jesus. A lot of times, our fear of the unknown or the uncomfortable can steal away amazing blessings!!!

But Peter, he shows us some crazy faith. If it speaks to us today, it tells us that even as our lives seem chaotic, like we need to hold on to something for dear life- maybe what we really need to do is hear our Lord, trust Him, and let go, even if that seems like a crazy, risky thing to do. God says to trust Him with all our heart and lean NOT ON OUR OWN UNDERSTANDING. That can be very uncomfortable, but like I said- we miss out on fantastic blessings if we let our comfort-zone dictate our acts of faith!"

You might want to explore this site for ideas of how this might apply to your church's ministry. Go to BIBLICAL JOY

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Will Macini in his blog, The Clarity Coach shares 10 things he has learned from 1o years of visioneering. For more from will go to the CLARITY COACH link on our home page.
  • God still speaks
  • If your vision is not stunningly unique, you probably don’t have one
  • However clear the leader is, a surprising gap exists between the leader’s vision and the team’s clarity
  • Leaders emotionally substitute two things for real vision: 1) simplistic answers (copycat vision) or 2) busyness (more is more)
  • The easiest measure of sustained clarity is the ability to say “no” repeatedly, and feel good about it
  • Followers need vision because the future is not here yet and their activity today lacks meaning
  • The best way to know “what should be” is to do a better job knowing “what was,” “what is,” and “what could be”
  • Vision moves through people not paper
  • With a little training anyone can be an everyday visionary
  • Vision dripping is more important than vision casting (#visiondrip)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


“Somewhere along the way “church” for some people became a once-a-week event, an event with no sense of community.” - Thom and Sam Rainer Essential Church

In my life I have come to understand that there is a difference between being and doing. Often we simply do many things without discerning whether or not they reflect who we truly are. In fact, some forms of doing can keep us from being who God created us to be. Activity alone is more often or not a reflection of expectations others place on us or as an excuse for not having healthy expectations of ourselves. The result can be a shallow or empty life while giving a different impression on the surface.

Churches go through the same dilemma. We speak of going to church or doing ministry. Do showing up (even faithfully) and engaging in a ministry activity constitute being the church that God created us to be?

Recently churches and leaders have been using this challenge: STOP going to church. They are not advocating forsaking of the assembling of ourselves together. They are challenging us to be more concerned with fulfilling/living out our purpose as the scriptures describe it than with showing up for services on Sunday morning.

Rainer and Rainer describe who the church is - it is a community, it is an interdependent Body out of which we do ministry. We encourage one another, discipline one another, equip one another, support one another not because they are godly activities but because it is what it means to be the community of Jesus Christ. If our activities, our schedules, our priorities keep us from being that community - we have stopped truly being the church except in name.


This message in embroidered form is framed and hangs on the wall of my father-in-law's den. A veteran of the corporate world, and the the church world; I am sure that he has been a part of many committees.

A whole lot of people would agree with that sentiment, especially those who have been part of traditional churches. As a friend once observed, "Did you ever notice that you sit on a committee?" Committees with their cumbersome procedures, their love of the 67th book of the Bible, and their belief that their chief job is maintaining the status quo, have developed a well earned reputation for slowing any process to a crawl and stopping any momentum from gaining speed. (I know, you're wondering about that 67th Book of the Bible reference. I am referring to Roberts' Rules of Order, everybody who has been to a formal meeting of a church knows that Roberts has the authority of sacred scripture.--I am being facetious, relax.)

Committees have become synonymous with stultifying bureaucracy. I have watched many a committee and many a bureaucracy kill a mission and drain a vision of its power. The reason is that a church, the Body of Christ to be specific, is not an organization. It is an organism. Organizations have committees, but organisms do not. Organisms have structure but the structure is intended to channel the life that is its many cells into productive and reproductive patterns. Organizations "organize"; organisms "live." An organism is never concerned with simply maintaining. It is concerned with living, reproducing, multiplying--becoming something new over and over.

Jesus said, "I making something new. I have come that they may have life and have it to the full." Organizations say, "We choose the new only if it does cost the old too much."

Thursday, May 13, 2010


In a recent article in OUTREACH MAGAZINE, Dan Kimball shares some excellent insights about teaching/preaching about Hell to emerging generations. In it he writes:

"You’d think that in today’s culture it would be counterintuitive to regularly talk about hell to emerging generations. People both inside and outside the Church are extremely sensitive to associating God or a religion with something as horrifying as hell. While it’s quite comfortable to teach about Jesus having a heart for the marginalized, studying what He said about hell can be intimidating and very uncomfortable. However, in almost 20 years of serving with emerging generations, I’ve found that they are very interested.

Why Should We Talk About Hell?
When you stop to think about it, references and allusions to hell run throughout our culture. Think about the Far Side cartoons with the red devil and pitchfork or how hell is used in our everyday language. It’s even in many rock songs (think AC/DC's "Highway to Hell"). Jesus also talked about hell and used graphic metaphors for the reality of it. When we ignore the fact that He talked about it, we allow pop culture to define it. Or it gets defined by aggressive street preachers carrying signs with “HELL” written in flaming letters and yelling offensive comments to passersby. Talking about hell gives people an understanding of what the Bible actually does or doesn’t say about something they are very much aware of already. We cannot let pop culture define hell as something cartoon- or fable-like and harmless. Or let it get defined and dismissed as something that only fundamentalist street preachers talk (yell) about in a fire-and-brimstone way."

You can read the full article at KIMBALL.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


From Steve: I publish another blog called IMMEASURABLY MORE that focuses on The Church and how churches both traditional and emerging can grow as a people who serve a great God. This is part of a post on the response to a world that despises the church but claims to love Jesus,

One of the most intriguing images found in the Bible is that of the Church as the Bride of Christ. The Church is Christ's partner, His helpmate. The Church is united to Christ by covenant. That covenant is rooted in Christ's giving of Himself for the Church and then the Church giving of itself to Him in return. Spiritually speaking, the two are one.

That oneness is described in another form in 1 Corinthians 12 when the Church is also called the Body of Christ. The Church is the continuing, living embodiment of the Person of Jesus Christ. We are united with Him through our baptism and held to Him as inseparable because of his unconditional love.

Today, a whole lot of people feel free to despise the church. Dan Kimball has written an excellent book called They Like Jesus, But Not the Church. Dan describes an unpleasant, even tragic reality in the 21st century. People want to have Jesus, but they want to have nothing to do with the church.

In 0ne sense, the church has earned such an attitude. Too often the church has forgotten it was the Bride, and acted like it could be Christ's representative without reflecting the nature and character of Christ. But that doesn't change a deeper reality.

God chose the church. Christ made a covenant with the Bride. He did not make that covenant because of who the Bride was but because of Who He (the Groom) is. To chose to hate the church, to try to separate Christ from His Bride is to ask Him to divorce Himself from the Church. This Christ clearly will n0t do.

To read the rest of this post go to IMMEASURABLY MORE

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Where is the mission field for a local church?

In the previous post we explained why it dare not be thought of as basically within the boundaries of the church sanctuary within the further constraints of a Sunday morning worship service (or a Friday evening evangelistic one, for that matter.)

Practically speaking, you only have to look away from the chancel to one of the outside windows and you will lock eyes on a church's primary mission field. It is the community that you enter when you walk out the front door of the church. It is the immediate neighborhood that you drive through "on your way to church."

For too long the world missions referred to something done overseas among people often very different from ourselves. And according to the Great Commission, that is one of the mission fields that every local congregation has a responsibility for. But Jesus also said, "First y0u will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and Judea ...." Our primary mission field is always right outside our front door. No amount of concern for the lost in Bangladesh and Haiti and regions beyond give us an excuse for ignoring the spiritual darkness of our immediate neighbors.

Of course, the former is easier. We can send missionaries but we don't need to be missionaries ourselves. We can invest monies to pay the bills, but we don't need to invest ourselves in transforming lives. The latter is far costlier to us in reality. It generally requires us to give up something we value (like our time) in order to reach the people who we live with day in and day out. It requires us to look at the way we do church and honestly ask the question, "why doesn't our neighbor find this important?" People in faraway places are not like us, and that causes no real emotional upheaval. But people living close to us who are not like us require us to ask, what do we need to change in order for them to finally see Jesus in us?

The mission field next door is more costly in terms of our comfort. Yet it is our primary mission field.

Monday, May 10, 2010


Have you read The Great Commission lately? If not, let me share it with you.

16Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." New International Version

How about this version:
16-17Meanwhile, the eleven disciples were on their way to Galilee, headed for the mountain Jesus had set for their reunion. The moment they saw him they worshiped him. Some, though, held back, not sure about worship, about risking themselves totally.

18-20Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: "God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I'll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age." The Message

Pay special attention to the highlighted portions of each translation. Key word -- GO

What ever made us think that the primary word in the Great Commission was come, as in, "come one, come all?" For too many churches, the model for ministry has been attractional. How do we get people to come to us? Such a model, I believe, grew out of a mindset that ignored an essential part of the nature of God. God is a missionary God.

What do we mean by that?

God expresses His nature in His missionary activity. He is a God who seeks to reconcile Himself to humanity. To have God's nature is to have a mission. The Triune God is a missionary God. Particularly as we encounter Him in the person of the incarnate Christ, His mission is not merely a function of His nature; it is a part of His essential nature. It begins in Creation, continues through the Cross, and continues in us by His resurrection.

We see God's essential nature in the person of Christ who was on a mission. He left the comfort and the position of heaven to do His work in a fallen world, a world as unlike heaven as one could imagine. He did not change the world by pronouncements from above, but by incarnational revelation and a work done in the field that was white unto harvest.

The church to truly reflect the nature of God must be a missionary church that goes into the mission field in order to be the bridge to the God who will save us all.

Jesus came to those needing him (including us). He told us to go to the people needing Him. And He promised to be with us until the end of the age.

Since Jesus is going, if the church is not --- we will be the ones left behind.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


We share this video by Tony Stiff as a starting point for a series of posts on the basic understanding of the outward focused Church. God is a missionary God.


Cathy Lynn Grossman writes Faith and Reason, a column for USA Today. Recently she shared some observations from Mark Driscoll that you might find interesting.

"Many Millennials are religiously adrift -- vaguely Christian in belief and barely Christian in practice, a new survey finds. So it's no surprise that those one in six or seven who are active and committed to faith might be feeling a little isolated.

Rebecca McKinsey, a 19-year-old journalism student at Ohio University, is active in an evangelical fellowship on her campus in Athens and in a local church.

Inside those settings, there's love, joy and reinforcement. "We're pretty passionate Christians in my church family," she says. But outside, she often feels alone among her peers."

Read more at USATODAY

Saturday, May 8, 2010


Alan Hirsch shares this video on 6 Key Ingredients for Missional Churches at the Verge Conference in February 2010.

Friday, May 7, 2010


Neue is a journal published by Relevant magazine. Recently they published an article by Scot McKnight on "The Copy Cat Church." Some wise counsel to any church seeking to follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit to become an outward focused church (including commentary by Will Mancini):

Every local congregation should think through their local context and their particular calling from God. And when they do, the articulation of their identity and direction will be stunningly unique! Scot’s emphasis is that even the inspired biblical authors didn’t copy each others words. Therefore, and even though we have the foundational revelation of Scripture, the Holy Spirit still creates new articulation of the Gospel through his people for different places and times. Here are some quotes from the article.
  • Imitation has its place, but one thing imitation doesn’t promise is results. Unfortunately a lot of church leaders don’t get that fact.
  • You can’t imitate Spirit-empowerment. You either have it or you don’t.
  • There is one thing that’s clear: There is no movement of God apart from God’s empowering Spirit.
  • The New Testament suggests that Spirit-empowered movements articulate the Gospel for a particular context for that day.
  • Spirit, context, Gospel, word. Those are the elements of a genuine movement of God.
  • The apostolic witness is the foundation of the Spirit-shaped truth of the Gospel. However, this does not mean that we simply puppet, or imitate the words of Jesus or Paul- for the New Testament does not do that itself.
  • What we need is less imitation and more discernment through God’s Spirit

Sunday, May 2, 2010


Lately I have been very conscious of an exciting, yet sobering truth. God works as we work for God. We take very seriously to be incarnational rather than merely attractional in our ministry. This means that we don't worry so much about putting up a sign "come one come all," we concern ourselves in representing Christ in our lives. In this dynamic, the emphasis is not on drawing people to the church and its ministry by programming or advertising; but on letting the attraction be the Christ at work within us--a work that should be on display while we are beyond the walls of the facility and more than our participation in program.

While we work, God works. He works to multiply the work being done in His name. God often surprises us, revealing His activity beyond our programs, drawing us deeper into ministry where He clearly has set an agenda we have not even imagined.

Two Sundays ago, God did precisely that. In my on-line/email devotional THRIVING IN CHRIST, I recounted our experience. If you'd like to read more of these devotionals, click on the link in this paragraph:


Reading: Ephesians 3:18-20

Sunday morning we had a visitor to our 10.45 service. A young lady came in just before the service and sat down quietly in the back of the A section. Young, Hispanic, well-dressed. At first I thought it was one of the older kids from Burn or the Agape Center or a mother from the Good News Club, except she was alone. Worship began and she appeared to be participating. When it came to the point in the service where we share God Stories, she raised her hand. Irv handed her the microphone. "This is my first time here." She proceeded to share about a problem she was having with her boyfriend. As the problem had escalated she had decided to cal a cab,to get a little space to cool off and reflect.

The cabbie, after a time, said, "Sometimes the best thing to do is wait." Apparently she began talking to the cab driver. The conversation turned to getting connected with a church. "Do you know a good church," she asked. The cab driver directed her to the Church of God of Landisville. She came. She worshiped with us. She experienced the heart of the community. She told me she'd be back.

We have no cab drivers among our membership, nor do we know of any cab driver connected to our church's ministries.

God works in mysterious ways. But when we see where God is working, we always want to go and work with Him.

(c) 2010 by Stephen L. Dunn