The Kingdom and Your Patch of Grass

I should say patch of sand given I live near the desert…

Maybe it is time for us to see the Kingdom of God as the thing of importance rather than our little patch of it. Instead of our own brand we could build partnerships and gospel unity for the fame of Christ in our cities.

I promise this is where the good stuff is. Outposts of Jesus’ new reality working in unison not to draw a crowd but to see the Kingdom go forth for the glory of God.

Let’s do it.

Worthwhile: July 26, 2019

It has been hot here in San Diego County… and much of the country. So as you find some AC to stay cool why not punch up these worthwhile bits of the internet to get you through?!

Three huge gospel influences in today’s pile. What it means to be a pastor, equipping disciples and why we should follow Jesus. Get some.


Jared Wilson’s post this week on pastoral ministry as a job has been getting a lot of attention and it should, it is a good piece. I know firsthand how well-intentioned people can still be confuse as to the actions (other than preaching) and responsibilities of a pastor, and in turn wonder if they are worth the expense.

Wilson points out some key differences that are worth noting and thinking more about.

But the truth is that good pastors are not able to take the pastor hat off at the end of the day or leave their heart for their flocks in the office when they clock out. It’s just not something you can turn off.

For all these reasons and more, it is fine and proper for us “regular” church members to acknowledge that our pastors are special. They aren’t better Christians because of their ministry. They aren’t more justified. They don’t have a special connection to God that we don’t have. And yet their office is unique and brings with it challenges and burdens that most of us do not share.

Jared Wilson

Read it on The Gospel Coalition.


Still in the realm of pastoral ministry is the biblical requirement of equipping the church for ministry. All of the saints.

Jeff Vanderstelt lists five ways to equip in his post on Saturate. If you are in ministry and thinking about how you are to be equipping, Vanderstelt provides a good starting point.

Give it a read and act on it.


Finally, let this truth from Ray Ortland wash over you. Why should you love Jesus?


That’s it. Have a great weekend and remember who loves you. Jesus and me!

A Visual of Multiplication by Subtraction

Last week I shared a post from Alan Frow on his forthcoming book on church multiplication. I also shared the post on our church site with longer quotes from the book. Because of the drama involved in a church with a multiplication DNA it has stirred up some conversation.

One of my ministry partners that thought it an important call, we shall call him Gopher Benji given his line of work, shared the following visual illustration of church multiplication.

Your post this week about subtraction and its pain reminded me of an analogy of church planting I observed over the past six months in propagating my succulents.  Here it is in a nutshell, with my amateur photographic journal:

1. Plant 1, well-rooted (sorry for the algae…)

2. Plant 1, now under duress, as half of it was broken off to be re-planted.

3. Plant 2 — formerly the top of Plant 1 — growing, putting down roots — notice the roots don’t have to be huge, just need to be present.

4. Plant 2 gets lopped off — now much smaller and under stress.

5. Lopped off plants (one or two from Plant 1 also) to plant… some won’t make it, but some do!

6. Plants 3 and 4 planted — from Plant 2 — now growing!

7. Meanwhile Plant 2 struggles but starts growing again.

8. Meanwhile Plant 1 has also been growing.

9. Now Plant 1 is ready to potentially plant 3 more new plants! Ready for another ouch?

It’s intense! Plant 1 has turned into 4 plants (potentially 7)… each with the potential to keep multiplying. The plants have scars. They’re not symmetrical or textbook anymore. But they are alive and making more life.

Intense indeed, but a great visual to remind us that life goes on in multiplication, especially when the vinedresser is as skilled as our Lord is! Be encouraged friends, keep going.

Pastoring Spiritual Refugees

As I have been praying for the people I pastor this week I was struck by the realization of just how many of them have been harmed or carry scars from difficult church experiences. Now it is to be expected when you replant a church after leadership failure and abandoning of the church but even those new since my arrival have similar stories.

Thankfully we do have a few that are new to the faith and learning “church” as we worship together but the vast majority came seeking something different than their previous experience, a better polity, deeper theology, smaller numbers, quieter music. Even just a place to lay low and heal after a hard church break-up.

Truth be told I am okay with this. Of course I, and the people in our church, would like to have growth with new believers. But when we took this assignment Stacy and I knew we were going to be used by the Lord to help bring people to health. And I think I am learning to see what that health looks like, but there are challenges I didn’t expect pastoring spiritual refugees.

Patterns are hard to unlearn

Repeat “offenders” in church experiences are common. Why some left their last church might very well be why they leave yours or more likely, the way they left will be the way they make the next exit. Personalities are slow to change the things most traumatizing about church (except actual abuse) are quick to have an effect on those personalities prone to it.

Even the way in which people engage and the expectations they have cling tightly. For some, the patterns won’t break (but by prayer and fasting.)

It can be a challenge to understand the hurt

Because stories and experiences are all so varied in nature and you usually only have a narrow view of the reality, it can be hard to be empathetic. On top of that, those still healing can’t always articulate their pain or how to avoid it again.

I suppose if you have had a difficult experience yourself you might have a leg up in understanding the pain. Personally, however, I have never been so close to church difficulty as to be traumatized by it. There have certainly been difficult moments but none that forced me to leave. So I often feel disadvantaged in leading those most hurt from their history.

Even with these challenges, the remedy remains the same.

The gospel is the only remedy

It is grace we are all in need of and honestly if we each recognized that we are still “sick” we can get a long way on. Even when we come out the other side of church difficulty we can think our way is best, but the first inclination should be to see our sin and the greater grace of Jesus. That also goes for those leading the hurting. We have to be so passionate about the gospel that we respond to each challenge with grace and a willingness to listen and learn alongside each other.

Shared vision, direction, and unity are only found in that which brings us together, the good news of Jesus. So we endeavor to know nothing else but Christ and him crucified. He took on the cross to deal not only with my sin but also your bad church experience and by his grace we can get through it.

The gospel must be applied with gentleness

I am just learning this truth. While I have a litany of solutions to any situation and desire to run ahead as I lead, it is the gospel applied with patience and gentleness that is the salve for the burned and broken.

I am sure I will miss the mark on this and need to come back to the well myself and recognize Jesus’ gentleness toward me.

We are all refugees

While I have categorized spiritual refugees here, truth is that in the church we are all refugees in need of renewal and redemption. Far from home and waiting on our ultimate deliverance in Christ. So brothers and sisters, keep going. Preach the gospel to yourself and each other. Mine its depths for resolution and the fuel to keep going. And know that even when it feels like it, you are never alone.

“But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” 2 Timothy 4:17–18 (ESV)