Worth It All

I love sports. I love to play sports. I love to watch (some) sports. I'm a very competitive person, to a fault. As a child, baseball was my favorite sport. I marveled at players who trained all winter in order to play in 162 regular-season games. Olympians, on the other hand, train for four years to compete for a medal. In some instances, the hopes of four years of preparation are dashed by less than a second. How can an individual devote four years of discipline, sacrifice and pain for one brief moment?

I think I am finally beginning to understand. Our youngest child turned twenty yesterday (we survived the teenage years!). My wife and I had a wonderful afternoon with Trevor and his girlfriend, enjoying great food and conversation. We love our son. He has grown from a little boy through some challenging teen years into a fine young man of whom we are extremely proud. It was not an easy two decades for any of us, but it was worth it all.

This morning I received what is probably the most memorable text message I've ever received. Trevor expressed not only his love for me but also his respect and thanks for who I am in his life. It blew my mind! I can truly say it was worth twenty years of sacrifice and effort to read his profound and powerful words on my phone screen. Thank you, son!

People often say life is short, yet many days seem endless, especially during trials and pain. Nevertheless, compared to eternity our century or so (if we make it to 100) is less than an instant. How are your living your life? I'm convinced we will all someday have to give an account for what we did with it and the afterlife will reflect our choices in this one. Sacrifices made loving God and others will be worth it all.

Compact Discs and the Church

Last week as I was traveling in Hollywood, I stared at the WEA Records (Warner/Electra/Atlantic) building and the legendary Capitol Records building. They were once powerful, dominant entertainment companies when a musician needed a recording studio (I can record a song on my iPhone!), a distribution network (Facebook, Twitter, blogs, websites), and a CD manufacturer (digital files require no discs or packaging). Music is as vital and valuable as ever, but its distribution is in the midst of epic change. In other words, record companies must reinvent themselves or they risk becoming the next Borders. They need to read the classic book "Who Moved My Cheese?"

I sense that the Church is in a similar situation. Jesus and the Word are as vital and valuable as ever, but its distribution is in the midst of epic change. Just as few people rush out to buy CDs (some do, but their numbers are declining) in favor of downloads, so few people rush out to find a church to attend in favor of an array of options (house churches, personal meditation, alternative religions, non-Christian spirituality, etc.). I am hardly the first voice to state that many are searching for God, but the last place they often consider is a church.

The answer is not in making our churches hipper or cooler any more than remodeling the fixtures in the shrinking CD section at Target or Best Buy will be a remedy. Perhaps something will prompt more people to pursue God at a Sunday morning worship gathering, but I suspect that is as likely as watching the sales of compact discs grow. We have to do more than change the packaging. We need to change the entire distribution process—but never the Product, of course. It frustrates me that our USAmerican culture is screaming for help, yet we seem so poorly positioned to connect them with the only One who can provide the hope, peace, love, joy, relationships, and purpose that they are so desperate to find. 

Thanks to all of you who are challenging the status quo and taking the risk of pioneering a different way to re-present Jesus to the world. Don't EVER close your R&D lab! The future of humankind lies in the balance. Literally.

Creating The Future

I spent the past two days at M, a two-day rendezvous of Christ-following “operatives” from around the world. In addition to hearing TED-like 15-minute presentations from Erwin McManus, Dave Gibbons, Lorenzo Della Foresta, Rex Miller, Vince Antonucci, Steve Andrews, Nick Boring, Dave Nelson, and event organizer Alex McManus, it provided interactive experiences, conversational decompression chambers, and a glimpse into the future.

Actually, rather than a glimpse into the future, the gathering was a passionate plea to create the future rather than merely react passively to its unfolding. The essence of leadership is guiding people to a new destination, one often untraveled by even the guide. What will tomorrow bring? I’ll let you know in 24 hours.

Hockey superstar Wayne Gretzky was once asked about his greatness, to which he responded, “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.” I want to live with one foot in today’s world and one in tomorrow’s.

“We are on a journey. It is the story of becoming. What it means to be human is still being written. We are human becomings!” - Alex

“How do I know the Bible is true? If it isn’t, it ought to be!” - Alex

“Speak for people, not to people.” - Erwin

“You don’t have to see the future to create it.” - Erwin

“If you need money to plant a church, then you’re probably not the one to do it.” - Lorenzo

“Scarcity always births creativity and clarity, though for some it breeds confusion.” - Dave Gibbons

“Four eras: oral, print, broadcast, and digital.” - Rex

“How is it possible that I lived for twenty years in the USA and knew nothing about Jesus? - Vince

“Christianity has usually fared better as the minority.” - Erwin

“You can’t embrace values imposed upon you. The need for autonomy is enough to prevent it.” - Erwin

“Fashion is all about the narrative. You pick your clothes based upon your tribe. People like you dress like you.” - Erwin

“Even death cannot stop a great story. The story of martyrs is greater than their life.” - Erwin

“No one would raise their hands on a roller coaster drop if there wasn’t a bar. God is the bar. Be reckless.” - Dave Nelson

“More than ever we need Jesus. He will not do for us what He calls us to do for Him.” - Alex

Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Hope springs eternal. Welcome to the future.

A New Beginning


After several challenging years, we are praying that 2011 would be a year of new beginnings for our family. So far, so good! This Sunday I will be installed as the pastor of
Scio Community Church in Ann Arbor. We are very excited about this unexpected opportunity that God has clearly provided for us.


God relishes surprise. We want lives of simple, predictable ease, smooth, even trails as far as the eye can see, but God likes to go off-road.  He provokes us with twists and turns.  He places us in predicaments that seem to defy our endurance; and comprehension and yet don’t.  By His love and grace, we persevere.  The challenges that make our hearts leap and stomachs churn invariably strengthen our faith and grant measures of wisdom and joy we would not experience otherwise.

- Tony Snow (courtesy of Lewis Winkler)

Last week I joined the ranks of those unemployed during the current recession. Though grateful for a generous severance, I find myself in an unexpected place. Recent years have brought unexpected levels of pain and hardship, yet they have also deepened my faith, enhanced my friendships, and overhauled my character. The process has also allowed me to truly “mourn with those who mourn” as I empathize with those in the midst of life’s storms.

Thanks for all of the prayers and support. I’m very excited about our future!