Screen shot 2013-12-16 at 6.57.56 AMWorking in a church where most of your students go away to college can be bring some unique aspects to ministry – especially over the holidays. And even if “most” don’t move away, those that leave will likely be coming home over winter break.

So, what do we do to connect with them while they’re in town? Do we put an event together for everyone all at once or do we just try to connect with a few? Well, I’m not sure there’s a correct answer to that because I don’t think it’s an either-or issue. But, I’m assuming that you would at least be connecting with a few one-on-one. So, I want to walk through a few things we should keep in mind as we reconnect with students while they’re home for the holidays.

The biggest thing to keep in mind is the awkwardness they may be feeling in some of their relationships. Some kept their dating relationship going even though they were long distance because they were living in different cities or states. They may be excited to see each other, but it doesn’t mean the relationship isn’t a bit awkward. There is a lot that happened in their lives apart from each other that, well, is simply impossible to share.

And this awkwardness doesn’t stop with dating relationships either. It’s often with best friends, parents, and maybe even you. The fact is the last few months were packed with new experiences, new feelings, confusion, and clarity. To try to articulate everything they went through emotionally, physically and psychologically is daunting, to say the least. I would recommend seeking out some time with those coming home for coffee or lunch, but I would also recommend at least four things to keep in mind as you reconnect with students while they’re back home:

Ask direct/specific questions. Asking an open ended question like, “So, how was your semester?” can be overwhelming and lead to them feeling like they can’t connect with you. To think through and articulate everything in that short of time is too much, and your students can leave feeling like their life is too separated from you. I’ve found it’s much better to ask specifically about their roommate, favorite class, closest friend at school, involvement on campus ministry (or lack of), favorite or most frustrating class, or even if it’s a bit awkward for them to come back home…things like that.  These types of direct and specific questions allows you to really connect, on at least some levels.

Next post will list 3 more ideas…


I just spent the last 20 minutes of my day watching this video.  And, I must say, I don’t regret it one bit.

I don’t think you will either.

What were your reactions to the video? Would love to hear your thoughts!



God is not…

 —  December 5, 2013 — Leave a comment

Screen shot 2013-12-04 at 10.26.49 AMAs Christians we go to God for a lot of things and rely on Him for a ton … as we should.

But, if we are honest with ourselves, I think we would admit that we have a hard time depending on Him when things are going well. He’s more like a fire extinguisher in our lives. When we have an emergency we go over to the wall, break the glass, pull out the fire extinguisher, point it at the problem and then spray … trying to put out the fire.

This is not God. This is not how a true relationship with God works.

In fact, this idea of God is not focused on God at all. It’s actually focused on ourselves. Rather than our purpose being serving Him, we view it as His role to serve us. This is a massive problem – both theologically and practically.

So, here are 2 really quick reminders to keep this straight:

1. Everything starts with God. Yes, He is Creator, but I’m thinking about more of a relational emphasis here. A relationship with God starts with Him, revolves around His strengths and will ultimately always point back to God. Religion revolves around us, our strengths (or weaknesses) and ultimately points back to us.

 2. He, Himself, defines blessing. Blessing is not about avoiding pain or obtaining material comfort. Blessing is the fact that God, Himself, is with us through it all. Having God with us, personally, is what blessing is.




Screen shot 2013-11-12 at 9.33.02 AMAs a pastor I obviously talk with a lot of people.  I usually have 2-3 “meetings” a day where I’m with people from our community.  Now, I’m not the best “counselor” available, to say the least, but I do talk with a lot of people.  Most of them I just consider friends.  And, as friends, we talk about all sorts of things.

When the topic of faith comes up we all have struggles.  We have doubts, that we think of as an enemy to faith rather than a catalyst for it.  We have areas of unbelief, that we let overpower all the areas we can honestly stand firm in.  All of us have these types of struggles when it comes to issues of faith.

But there are 3 things that always seem to haunt people at the core of their being.  3 things that cause people to shrink back from embracing the very things they want to.  Guilt.  Shame.  Fear of what other people think.

You see, these are 3 of the 4 things that religion is founded on.  Whether or not we claim to be a “Christian,” none of us want to be chained by this type of religion.  And, even though we may not recognize it in the moment, these 3 things counsel us to make all sorts of decisions that we later regret.

Religion is not necessarily a bad thing, but the kind that is founded on these three things certainly is.  I believe many people are struggling with this religious system, but don’t realize just how much it effects them.  It changes the way they think about themselves.  It changes, in unhealthy ways, the way they interact with other people.  And, in my opinion, most unfortunately, it changes the way they view God.

To name just a few unhealthy outcomes of this religious system:

We think we need to be a better person and do more or work harder to get there.

We think others will judge us if we’re really honest with them.

We view God as little more than a Santa Claus figure, judging our behavior.

These are the things that led me to write the book, Losing Your Religion.  I want to help bring freedom to these areas in whatever way I can.  I’m certainly not some sort of guru that found a secret to faith and I’m definitely not claiming to have all the answers.  I’m just a guy who has had to work through these three areas in my own life and, because of that, I can now see just how many people are struggling with these same exact things.  I want to help them see it.  But to be free from it, they have to lose their religion.  The good news is, they’ll never miss it.

Oh, and the 4th thing that religion is founded on, well, it’s you.  I explain that in the book.  I hope you find the book to be helpful.

Screen shot 2013-11-11 at 5.11.09 PMWell, it’s always a little uncomfortable for me to announce things like this, but my book Losing Your Religion releases today! I’m very excited about it, because I think it really meets a need.  I wrote this book because I’m becoming increasingly concerned that many people are slitting the wrists of their faith, without knowing it.  We so easily fall into religious ruts that we think are normal, but the truth is, many of them are not. And I hope to be a part of bringing freedom in these types of areas!

Here is the description on the back cover:

We’ve all heard that Christianity isn’t a religion—it’s a relationship. But a lot of us practice a Christianity that’s really a behavior management system . . . in other words, a religion—one that nobody longs to be part of! How can we stop confusing behavior management with the life-giving faith into which Jesus invites us? How do we move past having behavioral standards and habits as our only measures of maturity?  Losing Your Religion will help you identify where beliefs meant to give you freedom have become a new set of religious chains. More importantly, you’ll find out how to let your relationship with Christ break those chains and lead you and others to true freedom. You’re not called to be a “better Christian.” (What a relief!) You’re called to let Christ’s very presence transform you into a person who loves God and others wholeheartedly and with deep joy. But to get there, you must lose your religion. The good news is you’ll never miss it.

If you, or someone you know, could use a book that gets to the core of religious issues that hinder us from truly experiencing the life Jesus invites us into, this book could be a tool God uses to bring that freedom.  Well, that’s at least what I’ve been praying would happen.

To check out the inside, read some endorsements or the review done by Publishers Weekly, click here.

I hope you find it helpful!




I am so proud of Tyler, a freshman in high school. He and his family have been coming to our church for about a year and a half.  It’s fun to see a high schooler rallying his friends at school to do something for the gospel.

The news station didn’t mention our church in this video (probably for obvious reasons, we were lumped in under the phrase “other non-profit organizations”), but it’s things like this that our church is seeking to give more and more money towards.  We are coming behind more things like this that those in our church are doing.  Helping our people do things in our community for the furthering of the gospel.  I love this and am very encouraged.

A local news station recently aired this recap on what Tyler is doing. Click the image below:



Proud of these students wanting to bring hope to others,



The Thread Of Your Message

 —  November 8, 2013 — 3 Comments

Screen shot 2013-11-07 at 1.35.00 PMWhen I teach at Colossae, I use something I call a “Thread.”

The thread is the main point of the passage we are teaching, boiled down into a phrase or a very short sentence. On a fantastic week, if we’re honest about it, people will (maybe) embrace 1 thing they heard us say in our message. So, my thought is…why not make the entire message about the one thing you want them to walk away with?

That’s where the “thread” comes in. I really wrestle with the wording with our staff.  It can take up to an hour sometimes. But it’s really important to make sure we are clearly articulating the biblical authors’ point.  We want to word the writers point in a fresh, boiled down and consumable way – but certainly in an accurate way.

Then, as I prepare my notes, I make sure everything I say somehow points people toward understanding and embracing the thread.

  • If I share information about the historical background of the passage, I want to only share that info that would help people wrap their minds around the thread.
  • If I want to unpack the meaning of a specific word or grammar of a sentence, I want to only unpack the that which will be beneficial for people to to better understand the thread.

There is a phrase that people sometimes use that goes something like this: If you can’t say it in a sentence, you can’t say it in 30 minutes.

I believe that. It keeps the message simple, but not shallow. It keeps the message clear, but you can dive into the depth of it.

Do you use a “thread” or something that helps you keep your messages clear and on point?

Tell me your thoughts!



Troubling Stats On Pastors

 —  November 1, 2013 — 7 Comments

Screen shot 2013-10-31 at 9.18.20 AMA friend of mine tweeted out an article that was showing statistics on pastors that, well, shocked me a bit.  You can check out the article yourself if you’d like, but here are a few things that stood out to me:

(1) 57% (over half!) of pastors said they would leave the ministry if they had a better place to go – ministry or not.

Okay, before I go any further with listing out some other stats, this troubles me a bit. I get that we can get tired, burned out or even burned in relationships, but

  • What does this say to us?
  • What might this say about these pastors, on a personal level?
  • What might this say about their calling to ministry?

I’m not pretending like there are actual answers to those questions – answers would certainly be dependent on the individual person and specific circumstances. However, I do think some of these questions can be wrestled with a bit from afar.

Anyway, here are some other stats that stuck out to me:

(2) 81% of pastors said they have no plan or program in place for discipleship.  Um, this is a major – very serious – problem.  But, maybe the next statistic shows a bit why this is the case:

(3) 75% of pastors felt unqualified to be in position.  I think this is much more than people being humble.  There are other issues contributing to this.

(4) 71% said they are burned out and struggle with depression.

(5) 77% said they do not have a good marriage.

(6) 30% said they have been in an ongoing affair or have had a one-time sexual encounter…with a parishioner. 

I don’t know about you, but I’m troubled by these things. Maybe these would be pretty average for any position in any industry…but I’m not sure that matters.