Friday, March 29, 2013


(From The Foundations Archives) Celebrate the resurrection of Jesus with us! We've got music, joy, and the fullness of the Gospel in a unique presentation of the events of that fateful Passover almost 2000 years ago.

Check out this episode!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Divide

Once again, the Lord intervenes. After preparing a program for today, the Holy Spirit lead me to change it at the last minute. Reading Facebook posts on the cultural topic of the day as it became heated arguments caused me a grief unlike anything I had felt after reading anything on social media. How do we approach this line in the sand and still fulfill the ultimate law of love? Where is Jesus in all this?

Check out this episode!

Monday, March 25, 2013

You Might Be a Pharisee If...

How do you know if you're dealing with a Pharisee? More importantly, how do we recognize the Pharisee in the mirror? Breaking this stronghold we all must deal with can dramatically change how we approach disagreements and change within the church of Jesus Christ.

Check out this episode!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Alternative Means

There are times when the old, tried and true methods fail us. Actually, it's more often than not that how we've done things for years are not connecting with people anymore. Without tearing down traditions, is there a need to communicate the Gospel differently? A profound experience at church service the weekend served as a reminder of just how important it is to find a way to reach the unchurched and the de-churched who are not able to connect with more conventional styles of "doing church."

Check out this episode!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Free Exercise!

(From the Madman in Crazytown Archives) Free Exercise! No, this isn't about the latest weight loss scheme or a gym membership. Our Constitutional liberties as Christians are under assault. One of the few programs from MiCT that dealt directly with faith, this show is as timely now in the growing oppressive culture as it was when originally broadcast, perhaps more so. Remember what the Constitution actually says and Who we actually serve.

Check out this episode!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Intentional Hospitality

One of the essential ministries of any church is hospitality. Making people feel welcome, whether they've been there for years or are first time visitors, needs to be a focus of every congregation. If people are not feeling as though we want them to be there when they come in, they are much less likely to see Jesus when they come in our doors.

As we prepare for the church to start, a decision to be intentional in our hospitality and creating a warm, inviting atmosphere so that anyone who comes through the door will immediately find something of the love of Jesus to hold on to before the service begins. Some of what we feel lead to do should be obvious to anyone who cares about the mission of the church but not all of it. Our hospitality takes a long term approach to not only welcome visitors but help them build relationships that will help them grow in Christ and remain with us.

Relationships, more than anything else, keeps people attending church or drives them from it. One of the most common complaints I hear from people coming through our doors is that they've been in a church for weeks/months/years and don't feel like they have any friends or relationship connection to the congregation. While some may take the responsibility on themselves to integrate themselves into a congregation, most people do not have the personality or networking skills to do that effectively. It's not comfortable for the majority of people to come into a new social situation and make themselves part of a group. It's our job to recognize that and take deliberate steps to help them make the transition and find relationships.

Hospitality starts the minute people pull into the lot. If parking lot attendants are in use, they need to be the most upbeat, positive people available for the job. A smiling face directing traffic is important. Also, they are the first line of greeters anyone will see on a Sunday morning. Cheerful "Good Mornings" as people walk from their cars to the building can start to break down the walls visitors may have erected before arriving.

In the doors, carefully picked greeters are the front line in the "love offensive" we are going to undertake. Mature Christians who ooze the love of Christ are the best choices. Most churches start new people on the door, but this can be a mistake. Willingness is fantastic, but usher and other behind the scenes ministries are better opportunities for new converts and new members. Greeting is too essential a ministry and needs to be considered a position of honor. Elders, deacons, pastors, and ministry leaders are actually great people to fill these roles. People will feel important if the leaders of the church are the ones to welcome them when they walk in. It also keeps the leaders humble and helps connect them to the congregation they lead.

Of course, everyone is greeted exactly the same no matter what. Appearance, clothing style, and even foul language cannot shock or offend the greeters. Love is the rule of the day every service, every time. People in suits need to be treated with the same respect as someone with piercings, tattoos, and outlandish clothes. Avoiding favoritism toward any group is a Scriptural mandate. God is no respecter of persons. Everyone, and that means everyone, is a unique creation of God that He longs to bring into a relationship with His only Son, Christ Jesus. Talk to people on their level, but treat them all with respect and love. Let the Holy Spirit do the changing if you disapprove of their lifestyle. It might be you who He changes.

One important statement that cannot be expressed strongly enough. There will be NO hand sanitizer at the doors. PERIOD. Germiphobes do not need to be at the door. Old fashioned, common sense like washing hands before and after greeting people is enough for anyone. We lived for centuries without trying to kill every germ we might encounter as soon as it might have hit our hands.

The reason that it's banned is very simple: it will offend people if you shake their hands and immediately reach for the sanitizer. It sends a clear message that "I'm telling that we're happy to have you here as long as I don't have to touch you." We might as well be shouting "UNCLEAN!" every time we hit that pump. I get offended when someone does it to me and I'm willing to bet that I'm not alone. It really is offensive and anything that might create a barrier between someone and coming to Jesus needs to be removed. Let's not give the enemy a foothold right at the beginning. If you're a hand sanitizer devotee, remember, Jesus and the early church touched lepers and lived. They didn't even have an antibiotic wipe. Love and common sense trump all. However, if they pull out the sanitizer, we can't be offended. We're there to serve and love them, not the other way around.

I also like the idea of a free coffee bar. Coffee, tea, hot cocoa, and other similar beverages along with lemonade, water, and other cold drinks available when people come in is a great way to help them feel welcome. It is essential that most of what's available is free. There are churches out there that have Starbucks or a similar coffee chain in their foyers or their own in-house version that charge for their drinks. I understand the thinking behind it, but I don't share it. Everyone deserves the opportunity to have a drink whether they can afford it or not. A lot of people, especially as the economy continues to turn south, simply do not have the money for a cup of coffee. There is also something to be said for the smell of fresh brewed coffee in creating an open, welcome atmosphere. Only baking cookies or bacon are better.

Our intent goes beyond that just the welcome at the door.  Building relationships is absolutely essential for the ministry. The book of Acts is full of examples of thriving communities of believers. They were marked by their love for one another and their generosity towards their brethren. The fact that they were able to help those in need meant that they knew who was in need. That meant relationship.

Small group leaders are the best people to accomplish intentional relationships. However, inviting people to a small group is not the first step. For some, that would be a fairly intimidating situation. If the visitors do not know anyone, the leader can invite them to sit with them or, if there are no openings, introduce them to someone they can sit with. Even a brief conversation on the first couple of visits can make someone feel a connection to the congregation. Again, love is the rule of the day.

After service is over, that leader touches base with them again. Don't trap them, but have a conversation. Offer them a phone number. Being willing to share contact information even if they never call shows a level of trust not common in this modern age. Put that first contact in their hands. If they continue to come, the leaders can begin to introduce them to other people and start a relationship with them.

Getting to know new people and visitors and helping them know us is so basic that we should do it automatically. But, just as it can be difficult for a visitor to open up and meet people on their own, it isn't really natural for us to reach out in the ways I intend to do. Most people either pounce and scare visitors off or offer an awkward handshake or head nod. Prayer for wisdom and for the ability to love people not only with the depth of Christ but with His wonderful ability to talk to anyone. The Holy Spirit is there for us if we allow Him to be.

In all of it, love trumps all. We need to remember that Jesus delights in us even when we are in out sin and His delight only grows as He cleanses us from all unrighteousness. When someone enters Hell, He weeps. Hospitality in our churches will help open hearts to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and pave the way for eternal life. It's a seed that we can plant and water. If we are privileged to harvest, then the Lord has once again provided the increase. It's His church and kingdom and He will build it. We just get to be a part of what He is doing.

Feed Me!?

One of the most common reasons people give for changing churches is that they, "didn't feel like we were being fed." The question is; are we eating well, bellying up to the buffet, or snacking? What defines real food?

Check out this episode!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Booze Cruise

Alcohol and the Scriptures? No, this isn't the Gospel according to Jack Daniels or Anheuser-Busch. We do need to have a very serious discussion about the consumption of alcohol in the church in this country. The debate may have consequences that are more than you expect.

Check out this episode!

Friday, March 8, 2013


(From The Foundations Archive) We're at war and have been for a long time. The lines are clearly drawn. But are we ready to fight? Are we prepared for the battles as the war intensifies?

Check out this episode!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Freaks & Geeks: New Directions

In addition to Jesus coming to me for a reset on my current ministry efforts, He's been talking to me about the character and nature of the church we are planning. Specifically, He's been speaking to me about the people we need to work to reach.

The first and foremost function of any congregation is to fulfill the Great Commission. Nothing else really matters if we fail at that one task. We can have worship that takes us to the very throne of God, preaching that convicts and challenges, and prayer that moves mountains if we are not leading people into a saving relationship with Jesus. If we are not conveying the love of God to the unchurched and dechurched then we are not doing all that Jesus commanded.

The question isn't whether or not to build a church around reaching the unchurched but who amongst the unchurched does the church's makeup give you a unique ability to reach? This is the question Jesus asked me that I'm wrestling with and I confess I don't have a complete answer for yet. I do think I'm on the right track.
In this process, Jesus has asked me several times to evaluate myself not only my relationship with Him but my own strengths, weaknesses, passions, and who I am. Who am I gifted to reach? Outsiders and outcasts have always been my passion, having been one myself most of my life, but which ones?

From the beginning of the planning, I knew we would be a church that will be unique in this area. I'm taking the best from places I've served and attended and pulling them into a blend that's similar to a couple of them but not complete like them either. The church my wife and I have been attending for the last couple of years is one we'll be drawing the most from as we plan since it is one of the most successful at reaching the unchurched that we've been privileged to be a part of. Our focus has always been to reach the lost that the mainstream church often ignores or overlooks.

At first, because of all the years I spent in a church that was very good for regular, blue-collar guys and bikers, that I would be engaged in similar ministry and that may still be a part of it. However, as the Lord has been leading me to assess who we are uniquely gifted to reach and who the people in our circles are, the answer has been changing. The people who were in my notes as secondary are moving to the primary. I admit, it's a more difficult group to reach than my original focus.

I've been feeling like the Lord is shifting my focus to, well, people more like me. That may sound absurd but, believe it or not, reaching people like me is out of my comfort zone. I've spent most of the years I've been in ministry reaching people who are nothing like me. Most of the last seventeen years were spent in inner city ministry. I grew up in an upwardly-mobile, white collar, middle class household. Most of my family on my father's side were farmers including his parents. I enjoy being in the woods. I almost always wear cowboy boots. There's nothing about me or my life that says "inner city pastor." Yet, that's what I spent fifteen years of my life dedicated to doing. That's my comfort zone.

Going in a different direction is a little scary. I'm actually from a couple of the most challenging groups to reach with the Gospel, the geeks, rockers, and creative/artistic people. However, these groups along with their various subcultures, who often overlap, are some of the people the church is poorest at reaching.

When it comes to artists, musicians, and others, they often feel that the church stifles or ignores the fullness of their talents. I can't tell you how many performers of all types have expressed that they felt they the churches they attended didn't really appreciate themselves. Some have even said they held back for fear of be thought to be "showing off" or "trying to be the center of attention." This is a long-standing gripe of mine as I've seen and experienced this first hand. I've done several episodes over the years in almost all of the incarnations of my podcast about the need to remove the restrictions from our musicians, performers, and artists. The creative personalities of all types have always been on my heart as people I need to make sure are not only shown the real love of Jesus but to unleash them to use their talents and gifts to their fullest for the Glory of God.

Another group that has been on our hearts from the beginning has been sex workers. Strippers, prostitutes, call girls, and others in the sex trade need someplace safe to go and hear the love of Jesus preached without condemnation. If we accept people where they are and let the Holy Spirit do His work to lead them to change, we will do more to reflect Christ than we could ever imagine.

Shifting the central focus to people that have long been outcasts in society as weird, nerdy, or other reasons fits but is a little scary. Most people of the broad spectrum that the rest of the world calls geeks, weirdos and other names are usually the most wounded but the sting of rejection. I know. I remember my days as a young, science fiction loving, roleplaying gaming, comic book fan were like. Heck, I'm still most of those things just not as young anymore. I have also tempered my tastes a lot over the years but I'm still the same guy. I remember the ridicule and rejection. I was never part of the in-crowd no matter how much I might have wanted to be. My hobbies and interests separated me from most others around me. I was different from them and they barely tolerated me if they tolerated me at all.

There are a lot of times when I go into churches that I feel very out of place. Many of the churches I've visited and even been a part of always felt like they were for the "cool kids" and they were tolerating a socially acceptable outcast. It seemed like almost everyone had been the star quarterback who married the head cheerleader or had been a part of that circle. The one group I knew I could never be a part of when I was younger or even now. I know that the truth is a little different than that, but I cannot deny that's how I felt. Many times, even before the first handshake, I felt ready for rejection. All to often, I wasn't disappointed. I was cast off more than once and left with the other rejects.

If I felt that way, how many people feel the same? The people I now see the church reaching out to are the rejected and cast off not only from most of the mainstream church but society at large. The tattooed, pierced, and freaky along with other freaks and geeks will be welcome. This will require an entirely different way of doing things that the Lord hasn't fully revealed as of yet. I'm seek wise counsel from others either from that background or that are reaching out to them now.

Going after people like me is more challenging than I could ever expect. While creativity is a huge asset for the Kingdom, there are times that a good imagination can get in the way of receiving the Gospel. Paul reminds us that intellectuals often see the Gospel as foolishness. I know I did before I accepted Christ. We may start with those who already follow Jesus, but we need to be able and ready to reach out with the love of Jesus beyond our walls. We must fulfill the Great Commission.

Bottom line: Geeks, rejects, nerds, dweebs, Marvels, DC's, goths,  emos, punks, Whovians, Browncoats, Trekkers, Jedi, and Sith; You will have a home with us. Strippers, hookers, sex addicts, drunks, and others who feel like reprobates; You are welcome with us. Jesus is real for you too and loves you in all your uniqueness.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Willy Wonka Christianity

While watching Willy Wonk and The Chocolate Factory (The original), I was struck by how similar the children are to how Christians behave. Each of them, extreme though they may be, is a fine example of a bad example of how we view church and one another. If we really want to face the truth, there's a little of each of them in all of us.

Check out this episode!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

In Christ, But Out of The Box?

The last several days I've had to face some very challenging realities. I am in a place where the Lord is driving me to reevaluate everything to make sure the I am on His course and not my own. Anyone who is genuinely engaged in the Lord's work understands these times as one of testing, challenging, and growth. No one can call them comfortable or entirely pleasant. The time with Jesus is wonderful but what He says in those times is not always so wonderful. Everything is on the table and up for evaluation.

When the Lord began to challenge me about Jesus' Outsider, I must admit I was more than a little shaken up. Doing a podcast has become such an integral part of my life that if He told me to put it down I don't know if I could without a gut-wrenching struggle. Between Jesus' Outsider, A Madman in CrazyTown, and Foundations, I've been broadcasting almost continuously for nearly five years. The only time off I've taken has been to shift to a new program. I truly enjoy sitting behind the Big Boy Mic and spending time with my audience, striving to proclaim truth to them. As the Lord whispered to me about the program, I finally laid it fully on the table. If He told me the season was over, it was over. I would stop. This is one of the reasons there weren't any new programs for the end of last week (2/27 & 3/1). Until I had a resolution, I would not broadcast.

As I prayed this week, the Lord did give me clarification on what He was trying to tell me. He asked me some very powerful questions. The first thing He asked me was, "Are you drawing your self worth and measuring success from how many listeners and followers you have or from Me?" Ouch. I was forced to admit I put huge stock in the number of listeners, followers, and Facebook fans and measure more by those numbers than I should. What's really sad is that I've been here before and laid it on the altar before. It hit me very hard that I had fallen back into a trap I had been in before. I measured the success or failure of the program on these numbers more than obedience to His will and His message. If an episode had below average listeners I felt a sting of rejection.

Jesus' next question built upon the first, "How has this affected the program?" Double ouch. He struck me to the core with that one. I prayed more and asked the question back to Him, begging Him to reveal the answer. When He did open my heart to my folly, I almost gave up the program. He revealed that I had begun to change the content of the episode and even make topic choices based on not offending listeners or on what they would find interesting to catch their eye. I was drawing on my experience as a broadcaster more than going to Jesus' in prayer when making programming decisions. Years of studying media and how to build an audience was working against me. The desire to have a popular program with the associated rush of acceptance that comes with it had become an overpowering part of my life. I looked back over the last six months of episodes and saw fewer and fewer topics that would be considered controversial, challenging, or possibly offensive to potential and existing listeners.

The final question Jesus asked was the kicker, "What did I give you as the purpose and vision for Jesus' Outsider? Are you still 'In Christ, but out of the box?'" I was hit with how I was missing what the Lord had called me to do. In the beginning, when I only had a handful of listeners to each episode, it was so easy to follow the Lord's guidance for the program. Topics were unusual and frequently very edgy. the content of each episode was full of straight forward truth and humor. I was joyful sitting behind the mic. I had to admit to myself that doing the show wasn't as easy to do as it was in the early days. Even though I still enjoyed doing the program, it was becoming a chore. The quality had really slipped from the first several months. I was preparing less for each episode than I used to and was thinking more about the numbers. I had lost focus. If I can't overcome this now, I will never be able to pastor a church that challenges the status quo as Jesus' Outsider is supposed to do.

A couple of weeks ago as I sat in the services where we are attending, the Lord spoke to me very clearly that the program's tagline/motto was to be the same for the church we are preparing to start. To do that, I had to remember what it means to be "in Christ but out of the box." If the last several months of Jesus' Outsider is any indication, I had lost a lot of that in my life and in my message and the Lord is convicting of that loss.

When Jesus' walked the earth, He embodied that principle. At every turn, Jesus challenged people's preconceived notions on religion, faith, and, most importantly, who the Messiah really was. The religious authorities that strove to put man-made restrictions on God's people felt the brunt of His correction and challenges. Many of the people who followed their teachings without question were presented the opportunity to accept the words of Jesus or continue with the Pharisees and Sadducees. While we know about all the ones who followed Jesus, we often forget how many chose to reject Him and remain in their traditions, regulations, and the other religious instruction of the day. They chose to stay in the box.

To be 'in Christ but out of the box' means to be faithful to the Word of God without compromise. The truth of scripture must always be paramount in the minds and hearts of all who seek to follow Christ. The Gospel hasn't changed since the beginning and we have no right to change it now. Sin is still sin and must be addressed even when the sin is popular with the masses and will offend people. "The Cross is an offence to those who are perishing." (I Cor 1:18) We cannot forget that. If we do, there are people who will find themselves in Hell that we might have been able to share the Good News of Jesus with and give them the opportunity to choose eternal life.

The other side of that however is to be willing to challenge any tradition, method, or model that can get in the way of people coming to Jesus. There are no sacred cows in following Jesus. It's too easy to fall into old patterns and methods because that's how things have always been done or it worked in the past. It is possible to be fully obedient to the Word and still culturally relevant. There will be criticism and people will be resistant to the idea of change. It has always been the case. We cannot be afraid of being opposed, ridiculed, or unpopular.

Jesus had to remind me of that. I'm still learning to walk in this lesson. The course correction needed for the program and me personally will take some time but I know I don't walk in it alone. I will continue to produce programs through the journey and work to restore the Lord's original intent for the program. I hope you'll walk with me.