My Approach to Giving

Our church is in budget review season and today is pay day for me so as I was scheduling payments for the month I was thinking about giving and thought I would share my approach to it.

Now it should be said that I am discussing giving, charitable giving, as a Christian. I do believe that as believers we are invited into a life of reordered priorities and most often this will mean financially partnering with others to see the gospel go forth.

While I don’t think there is a rigid guide in the New Testament on giving specifics, I do think there is an expectation of a sacrificial life as we live from the gift of grace we have in Christ. There is also meant to be a mentality that even the money in my bank account is not my own, it all belongs to the Lord and he has given me stewardship of it as he determines.

With those thoughts out of the way here is how my family approaches giving.

To start we prioritize giving to the local church. While that seems like common sense because I work for the church it has been a priority for us since before I was in vocational ministry. It is usually the first payment that goes out after I receive my monthly income. We do this as an act of obedience to what we feel God has directed us in.

The amount we give to the church is more than ten percent of my income but not by much. I don’t think a tithe (or tenth) is mandatory but it has always been a good rule for us. We make the church the first and most significant receiver of our giving because just as Scripture has the church as the conduit of mission and care of the local community we think it should be in our day.

Beyond that initial tithe we also have individuals and couples that we support each month along with a child sponsorship. While the tithe to the church is non-negotiable for us, in deciding on these other places to support we evaluate our budget with prayer to determine what we can give. We are currently doing just that as we are praying about how to support dear friends set to take the gospel to a really hard place.

Stacy and I have had a few conversations about giving in our nearly 13 years of marriage but mostly we established a rhythm of it and have kept going. In each season of life, with large salaries and with small, the Lord has provided for us and we have never gone without. Sometimes it has felt like we need more faith for it but we have always preferred being desperate for Jesus to work than not. Because he does!

So that is my approach to giving. Feel free to ask questions if you have any and I hope this encourages you to trust in the Lord.

What I Miss Most (and Least) About Working in Political & Nonprofit Communications

Today For the Church published a post from Jared Wilson on what he misses about pastoral ministry. It is a good look into some of the realities of being a pastor if you are looking for insights into that… which so few people are unless of course you desire to be a pastor.

But the post also had me thinking about about my previous work and what I miss about it. I am always fascinated that so few pastors have had paid work outside of Christendom and am so grateful that I had the opportunity to earn a paycheck outside of the spiritual industrial complex! I think it gives me healthy perspective as I now pastor people working in all sorts of fields.

It has been nine years since I left DC and the career I was building in communications. These are the things I miss most (and least) about working in political and nonprofit communications.

What I miss about working communications

1. Non-believing Colleagues

My big reason for sending my children to public school is that I don’t want the only sinners they know to be the people in our church. This is also something I miss about working professionally outside of the church. Often times I would be the only or one of a few Christians in the office and in my personal following of Jesus it was helpful to challenge the way I was choosing to live as distinguishable or not.

It was also the helpful to share my faith giving me increased perspective on where people were coming from or how they had formed their thoughts of faith and God. My Jewish boss asking what the big deal was about Jesus (oh how I wish I could go back to this conversation today!) The deputy that asked me to be his “life coach” or the other coworker who accepted my challenge over beers after work to stop running from God and reengage with the church (he is training to be a pastor now).

The church can be a bubble, and even with actively working to invest in “non spiritual” spaces there is something different to daily interaction that vocation provides.

2. Earning My Keep

Now I don’t mean to say that I don’t earn my wages as pastor but that I just am not given the same freedom to talk about how good I am at what I do!

In communications you not only promoted or built brands, you were capable of being your own. Your resume mattered, the work you did was valued and you could get paid really well if you excelled. If you did the work you were rewarded. I never once was asked what I did all day (like I do as a pastor). And only other communications professions thought or expressed they could do my job better than me, not everyone and their uncle…

As a pastor though any whiff of confidence is met with accusations of pride and the types of thing most people do to “get ahead” are oddly viewed with disdain in the church.

I know personally how bad actors have tainted pastoral ministry, and I am not advocating for a lack of accountability or ego-driven pastors. There is just a strange difference that I wonder if we make worse than it needs to be.

3. Being in the Know

This one probably only applies to a small subset of people but there was something about having a security clearance and as one friend put it “knowing what was going on behind the headlines and having an impact on those events.” I remember having a conversation with a good friend and he remarked that I was just repeating my parties’ “talking points” on an issue and I reminded him that I wrote the talking points.

This is probably what makes me nostalgic as I watch shows like Madame Secretary or presidential debates. While a pastor can certainly make a difference in the lives of those he shepherds, there was something about having influence in places to effect change on a different scale.

4. Winging It

I used to think I was quick on my feet and enjoyed the opportunity to wing it in a pinch. I remember a key conversation with a new boss who was prone to make slip ups where I told him to say what he felt like he needed to say and I would clean it up.

Now as a pastor I am careful and prefer precision. People needle me about preaching from a manuscript but if what I say is shaping the way people think of Jesus and Scripture I want to be precise. With a reporter from the Times or a schedule-crunched event I preferred to wing it and it usually worked to my advantage.

What I don’t miss about working in communications

1. Crisis Mode

Maybe this was a D.C. thing but often it was the default mentality in most teams I was a part of. Everything was the biggest deal. Even the smallest concern warranted defcon 1. It was silly.

Personally I threw off the shackle of the crisis mode after a detail to Iraq. It gave me keen perspective on the importance of getting a story out or catching up on the latest press clippings.

Pastoral ministry has its share of crisis but it is not the normal posture and I am okay with that.

2. The Temporary Reality of It

Even the greatest of success was momentary. While working with agencies that actively save lives there was a sense that there had to be something deeper, more meaningful, eternal in nature. This is what I get to wage into every day. Tackling life, impending death, and how to thrive as people that follow Jesus through it all.

Pastoral ministry plays in the eternally significant and we can make an eternal impact and I think that is good.


I am sure I could come up with more, but this I know for sure, I love being a pastor. It is an honor and weighty responsibility to open Scripture and care for people through all of life.

Worthwhile February 1, 2019

Most of the country is freezing and in San Diego, we are bundling up because it was 60 yesterday with rain… What a time to be alive!

This week a few items to check out and be reminded of Christ’s love for you.


GospelThread is a great resource for accessible commentary on Scripture and how it points to Christ. In this post, we see Moses as incomplete as a leader and Jesus as the better prophet, priest, and king.


Jared Wilson, as usual, encourages us to keep our eyes on Jesus as we walk out our faith. We can get so wrapped up in “duty” that we miss the delight of Jesus. Look to him.


And finally a sermon from Terry Virgo on having Transformed Thinking. Just making my way through and so appreciate this humble servant. Oh, and I want more transformed thinking!


Have a great weekend and keep looking to Christ!

Opinion Media

Maybe this post is venting or perhaps a cry for help because I don’t have a solution to the problem just yet. But this week I have been struck by the necessity of shared opinion in our day. In fact, if you don’t have an opinion you are view with suspicion or worse.

Maybe it is social media. The constant demand it seems to present for a form of engagement that is really just sharing your opinion, and done aggressively without care for what others may think. Sure people have always had and shared opinions but the prevalence of it is a soup that we swim in as a culture.

Quick, rate the restaurant and shoe store on Yelp. Hurry and like your cousin’s post about a border wall (or perhaps click the angry emoji). Or take your time and write a blog post about how this is bad or that just doesn’t get it. Everything opinion all the time. And the media we engage with gives us a megaphone to broadcast how we feel and think.

It has even invaded normal conversation, judgment of others, things, and situations… many that we have no real knowledge about. The opinion culture fostering criticism and condemnation of everything.

Surely it is an increasing problem that only stands to divide and separate the lot of us. We should all do something about it. Resist the urge. Change the dialogue.

Of course, that’s just my opinion…