Here I Am. Send Someone Else.

I came back from the General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) a week ago.  I got some great ideas about revitalizing First Christian of St. Paul, but there is still this desire to be part of planting a new church. I tend to believe that the Twin Cities and Rochester are poised for new Disciple congregations.  But while I believe this and feel that we need to get on the ball, I also know not everyone feels the same way, which only makes me more anxious to see something new. Whenever I bring this up, everyone to … Continue reading Here I Am. Send Someone Else.

Volunteers Needed: Church Launch/Re-Launch Team

First Christian Church of St. Paul is looking for the curious, the energetic, the adventurous and others who are interested in relaunching this Mainline Protestant congregation as well as launching a preaching point somewhere in the St.Paul area. The Re-Launch/Launch Team is the group of people who are simply saying I want to be a part of what God is doing in and through this church. It’s a group of people willing to walk with those already here and see what God is doing. You don’t need any special gifts or skills but an attitude that says I will do … Continue reading Volunteers Needed: Church Launch/Re-Launch Team

Adventures In Church Planting: 2013 (REPOST)

Originally posted on The Clockwork Pastor:
As most of you know, I’ve been the head of a new church ministry in my Region.  There have been some good and not so good developments in the area of church planting last year, though for the most part it was a down year in many ways.  The good news is that our group got bigger as a few more people expressed interest in being involved.  The so-so news is how I’m leading.  I want to give people the chance to step up and take part, but I have to balance that with… Continue reading Adventures In Church Planting: 2013 (REPOST)

Work with a Church Rising from the Ashes in Minnesota

The following is something I wrote on the First Christian website.  As some of you know, First-St. Paul is down to a few faithful members.  We are starting to venture forth into the community, but it would by helpful if we had a few more people.  Share this with your friends.  To contact me, go to the bottom of this post. First Christian Church of St. Paul is looking for the curious, the energetic, the adventurous and others who are interested in relaunching this congregation. First Christian is a 132-year old congregation. The congregation is affiliated with the Christian Church … Continue reading Work with a Church Rising from the Ashes in Minnesota

Sunday Sermon: “No Do Overs”

This is a sermon I preached in 2007 for the Baptism of Our Lord which is next Sunday.  I happen to be preaching next Sunday.  No, I won’t be using this sermon.

“No Do Overs”
Isaiah 43:1-7, Luke 3:15-22
January 7, 2007 (Baptism of Our Lord)
Community of Grace Christian Church*
Minneapolis, MN

Did you ever have one of those experiences where you are playing a board game and you made some kind of mistake? Someone usually has pity on you and you get what is called a “do-over.”

I live for those moments.

Do overs can be great, I mean you get another chance. I really like them when I was playing some kind of athletic game as a kid. Since I was not blessed with physical prowess, this meant that I had another shot at getting it right.

Getting a do-over in say, kickball, is a good thing, but do-overs don’t work so well in the life of faith. In fact, they might do some damage.

Today is what is commonly called The Baptism of Our Lord. It is on this day, that we read about Jesus, the Son of God, the one who had no sin, coming forth to be baptized. Baptism has always been a touchy subject for me. As many of you know, I come from the Baptist tradition, so people tend to get baptized later in life than someone from a tradition that practices infant baptism. Baptists as well as Disciples believe in something called “believer’s baptism,” which means that the person usually makes a profession of faith before they are baptized. I got baptized in December 1976 at New Jerusalem Baptist Church in my hometown of Flint, Michigan. I was seven years old and didn’t understand everything that was going on. Anyway, I did get baptized and went on to grow up in the church and learn about God and about how God loved me.

As I got older, I started to have doubts. I would hear many preachers talking about making sure we were saved by God and I would fret about this. Did I really believe? It didn’t get any better when I was in college. Back then, I shared my concerns with my campus pastor. His belief was that in my case, I might want to get baptized again since I wasn’t sure. When I shared this with my mother, she looked at me as if I had just turned purple. I never went through with it and over time, I put my fears to rest. That was until about five years later when I was looking to join a Baptist church in Washington, DC. I was chatting with the pastor, and he asked if I had been baptized. I said yes “Was it a believer’s baptism?” he said. I tensed up. All the doubts came back. You see, he believed that the “believer’s baptism” was the only true way to be baptized and had “re-baptized” those who came from traditions where they were baptized as children. Despite my doubts, I told him I had been baptized. Continue reading “Sunday Sermon: “No Do Overs””

Mainline Churches Don’t Give a Rip About Church Planting.

As 2012 draws to a close, I’m taking some time to reflect on the new church ministry in the Christian Church in the Upper Midwest and the hopes for 2013 and church planting in within Mainline Protestantism as a whole. Earlier this year, I kind of fell into leading a ministry team of people interested in planting and sustaining new faith communities in my Region.  In some ways, I don’t know how wise it was to have me leading this, since I’m not a great leader, or at least have some traits that make it difficult to provide visionary leadership.  … Continue reading Mainline Churches Don’t Give a Rip About Church Planting.

Slouching Towards Detroit

Fellow Disciples pastor Steve Knight shared a good post yesterday on the need for more missional communities, which is a fancy way of saying we need more new churches.  Why?  Beside that whole Great Commission thing, it’s also because at least in mainline churches, we are growing smaller and smaller.  Here’s a graph that Steve showed about our denomination, the Disciples of Christ, over the last decade: The picture it shows about the denomination is not pretty.  (It’s even worse for Episcopalians.) It shows at least over the last decade a steady decline.  As Steve notes, it doesn’t show the … Continue reading Slouching Towards Detroit

Called, Gathered and Sent (Or, Why Mainline Protestants Suck at Church Planting)

I’ve been what could be considered a Mainline Protestant for 20 years.  In those 20 years, I’ve learned something about mainliners: We really suck at planting churches. Let me back up a moment. I started attending Calvary Baptist Church in located in the Chinatown area of Washington, DC in the fall of 1992.  It was and is an American Baptist congregation and like many mainline churches was active in the community.  Since I darkened the doors of Calvary, I’ve been part of Mainline Protestantism.  I moved to Minneapolis and joined a Disciples of Christ congregation which became my denominational home.  … Continue reading Called, Gathered and Sent (Or, Why Mainline Protestants Suck at Church Planting)

Repost: Why Church Planting Matters

Jim, left and my partner, Daniel, right. From August 2010. As First Christian plans its future, a constant among the plans is to leave some money aside for to plant new churches. Both the Senior Pastor and I have made this a priority in what ever decisions are made. That has been met with some resistance. One person wondered why we weren’t spending some of the money on mission. Others have thought the same thing. (It’s funny that people all of the sudden care about mission when it comes to using money for church planting.) I’m always a bit angry … Continue reading Repost: Why Church Planting Matters