Screen shot 2013-10-10 at 9.58.38 AMAs I mentor people there are a few things that, if I can keep them in mind, bring me rest and peace.  However, if I lose sight of these as I mentor I begin to feel stressed.  So, I thought I’d throw these out to you…maybe they would be of help to you today.

(1) I’m not the Messiah.  People are not a problem to be fixed and even where there are issues to be worked on, it’s not my job to fix them.  Philippians 1:6 tells us that God is going to complete the work.  He may use us, but the job of fixing is not ours.

(2) I’m a part of something bigger.  My role is to follow what God is already doing.  So, I don’t try to find areas that need to be worked on, I try to find the areas that God is already working…and then try to encourage further growth in those areas.

(3) I’m a real person too. I have past and present struggles and I cannot, nor should I, deny those.  So, when I can legitimately identify with a struggle that the person I’m mentoring is experiencing, I make sure to share my experiences.

(4) My hindsight can become foresight. I haven’t been around every block, but this isn’t my first rodeo.  Through experiences of embracing what I know to be true about Jesus, God has given me (and you) some wisdom in areas of life.  When we can see someone walking into a trap that we have fallen victim to, we can help them process through whether or not they actually want to walk down the same path.

Thanks for loving students,



Screen shot 2013-10-04 at 9.30.32 AMAs a continuation to my previous post titled, “Considerations for ‘Decision Times’” I will simply offer two quick distinctions/thoughts to possibly consider as you share the gospel with people…

1. Jesus invites, we don’t.  Many times we talk about the gospel as “inviting Jesus into our lives.”  I understand what we are trying to say by inviting him into our lives, but at the gospel’s core, Jesus is inviting us into his life – not vice versa.  This is most easily seen in Jesus’ call to “follow” him.

2. Both benefits and call are crucial.  We can often limit our gospel presentations to how we personally benefit – salvation and being with God for all eternity. But we have to be careful of allowing people to think they can receive the benefits of heaven without accepting the call of Jesus.  They go hand in hand.  2 Corinthians 5:14-15 is clear that Jesus died so that we would no longer live for ourselves…we’re joining into Jesus’ life of selflessness, seeking the benefit of others and the furthering of the gospel.  This is an important part to include in our explanations of why Jesus died on the cross.

Thanks for loving students,



Screen shot 2013-10-04 at 9.30.32 AMOne of the things I love about the Church (big C) is the diversity we have.  In Portland, where I live, there is great diversity and even among the pastors I’m dear friends with.  Our personalities are very different, the way we dress varies greatly, our philosophies of ministry vary, and even some of our theological views would differ.

All this diversity is part of God’s wiring of each of us, but the traditions we’ve been a part of over the years effects who we are and what we do too.  This is true for all of us.  So, it’s no wonder with areas like ‘Decision Times’ that we go about it differently.  Our convictions vary on this issue.  Some think we should not give any sort of ‘altar call’ at any point in time while others think it’s ridiculous to not every time we teach.

Neither are wrong.

But what I thought I’d do is offer some thoughts on this, regardless of where our convictions land on how to go about this in our ministries.

1. Power is in the gospel.  Sometimes we can get worked up about how people go about decision times and even get a bit worried that somehow people won’t understand the gospel if we don’t do certain things in certain ways.  We should think about how we go about things so that we are clear, but we have to remember where the power actually is.  It’s not in what we do or don’t do, but in the truths we are saying.  We depend on God, not our particular methodologies.

2. Protect from purely emotional decisions.  Understanding who Jesus is and confessing that can certainly be emotional, but we ought to be really really really careful to not feed emotions in these times.  The power is in the truth of the gospel and, if we believe that, there is no need to try and make people “feel” the truth.  That’s God’s role.

3. Salvation comes by faith.  This might seem obvious at first, but I think we can unknowingly confuse people if we’re not careful to match what we do with what we believe.  For instance, if we say that to be saved “all you need to do is pray…” we have somehow twisted up works into salvation by faith.  If the way we go about these times is by making the “sinners prayer” a necessity for salvation, we have confused things for people…or at least our practices aren’t matching what we say we believe.  If you struggle with this a bit, you might consider reading Romans 4:1-10 where Paul is making it clear to the Jewish community that Abraham was made righteous before he was circumcised.  In other words, his faith/belief saved him before he DID anything.  For them, they believed they had to be circumcised before they could be a part of God’s family.  Sometimes I think we fall into the same trap with the “sinners prayer.” It’s wonderful for people to pray and thank God and to repent, but we must make sure they understand that it was their faith that saved them… not what they prayed. 

I’ll soon post a few distinctions you might consider including in your gospel presentations.

Thanks for reading and loving students,



Screen shot 2013-09-26 at 9.49.35 AMTeaching people about Jesus through the scriptures is one of my favorite things to do.  But over the years I’ve discovered bad habits that I had to overcome.  If you teach at all, I’d guess that you struggle with things like this too.  So, I thought it might be helpful to list a few things we tend to do that I believe to be outside of our “job description” as teachers.

As a teacher your job is not to…

  1. Give a book report.  Many times when we are preparing a message we will read books and commentaries.  We then begin working out a flow of thought by organizing all the information we obtained.  And, if we’re not careful we end up giving little more than a book report to those we are teaching. We must remember that this is not our job.  Studying what God has revealed to other people about about a passage or topic can be good to do in many regards, but I would suggest that great caution should be taken to make sure that our study does not hinder us from prayerfully considering what God wants us to say, personally.  For me, I had to stop beginning my preparation by reading other sources.  Instead, I now begin with prayer and personally walking through the bible study methods I teach others…and then look at resources to support or confront the things I’ve learned from my personal study.
  2. Conform behavior.  If our messages are not applicable to the lives of those we teach we are wasting our time.  But, if we’re not careful our desire to be practical can easily cause us to simply teach proper behavior.  There is a fine line here to watch carefully.  I’d suggest our job isn’t to get people to do things, but rather to help them understand, love and enjoy Jesus.

“Decision Times”…

 —  September 24, 2013 — Leave a comment

Okay, there seems to be growing conversation over this topic.  Some healthy and positive discussion.  Other conversations seem to be negative and destructive.  This will not be the latter.  I will soon post some thoughts that I hope to be beneficial to whichever position you hold to or practice in your ministry.  For now, a simple poll.

Screen shot 2013-09-17 at 11.30.50 AMLooking back over the last 14 years, I’ve realized I got married for the wrong reasons.  Well, not entirely, but let me briefly explain.  I was attracted to my wife and thought she was a good fit for me and thought she’d be a great mom…and I really enjoyed being around her.  Not bad things, of course.  Great things, actually.  But if I’m honest my thoughts were self focused.

I’ve since realized that self-focus doesn’t really work too well in marriage.  My wife and I had to make a decision years ago to not operate from a place of self focus if we really wanted the relationship we longed for in our marriage.  We certainly have not perfected this, but we are constantly working on it.

The same is true in our relationship with God.  If you’re like me you became a Christian because you saw it as a benefit to you.  That it is, by the way, true and beautiful.  But at some point we begin to feel like something just isn’t right in our relationship with God if we continue operating like this.  The love motivated sacrificial aspects of our relationship with God can’t just be one sided.  At some point, like in my marriage, we must work on moving away from self focus to really experience the relationship we want.

Here are 4 things I believe a follower of Jesus eventually comes to understand and because of their love for God inevitably seeks to do:

  1. Believes in the benefits of Jesus’ death (Romans 5:11; 1 Peter 3:18).  It can be boiled down to “relational reconciliation,” both in life and eternity.
  2. Embraces the call of Jesus’ death and God’s mercy (2 Corinthians 5:14-15; Romans 12:1-2).  It can be boiled down to “selflessly living for Jesus and his Kingdom.”
  3. Learns about and obeys Jesus’ commands in community with other disciples (Acts 2:44-47).  It can be boiled down to “evangelistic community.”
  4. Causes others to understand and embrace all three above (Matthew 28:18-20).  This can be boiled down to “discipleship.”

LYR coverThere are some massive distinctions we need to make in ministry.  For instance, we need to make sure we recognize and live out the difference between:

  1. Teaching people about the ways of Jesus versus simply teaching them proper behaviors for Christians.
  2. Personal conviction versus religious legalism.  Those could not be more different, but they are easily confused.

These are the types of fine-lines I try and make clear in my forthcoming book, Losing Your Religion. My goal in writing this was to help readers realize just how much we personally blur lines such as these so that we can move toward freedom from the chains of religious behaviors.  The book is a journey of recognizing how we get off the path Jesus paved and recalibrating our ideas of Christianity so that we can get back on that path.  I wrote it because I’m growing in concern that many people (like me at one point) have embraced a behavior management system much more than they have the life Jesus has invited us into, but they have mistaken the one for the other.  And I think deep down we know something is off.  If we are honest, we tend to be driven by guilt and shame and often by a fear of man.  These are not Christian motivations, they are religious.  But unraveling this in our minds is difficult to do in a way that doesn’t bash the Church, but instead humbly honors God.  So it’s the latter I try to do in the book.

Well, the book doesn’t come out until November, but I thought I would list out a few distinctions that I unpack in the book between negative religion and Christianity.  There are obviously a ton more, but maybe these can be a help to you today in some fashion or form:

  1. Religion is lived for God whereas Christianity is lived because of God.  Religious ideas focus us on our actions, but the gospel is about our reactions to God’s actions. 
  2. Religion is expressed in/through what we do.  Christianity is expressed in/through why we do what we do.
  3. Religion emphasizes what we do whereas Christianity emphasizes what God has done and is doing through Jesus.

It’s one thing to list out these types of distinctions and agree with them.  It’s another to actually sift through it in our own lives on practical and often intimate levels.  This is the process that I hope the book brings people through.

- Chuck

Everyone is ramped up for school to be back in, rhythms to be brought back…and to implement all that we have planned.  We have new volunteers, new roles for veteran volunteers and we’ve cast out new vision.

All that makes it really easy to forget these things:

  1. The head of your ministry is Jesus. We can’t fall into having a Messiah complex where we think everything falls on us.  We have a role – and it’s important – but we are not the answer.  Jesus is.
  2. Your ministry is a part of something bigger - a church or campus ministry.  We must be aligned with the bigger picture and create windows of connection into that.
  3. People just want to feel like they belong.  Whatever age of people you are focused on, the bottom line is they are looking to belong.  And here’s the thing: belonging doesn’t come through programs or events or good sermon messages.  Belonging only comes through relationships.
  4. Ministry is and should be simple.  I have a friend and in many ways a mentor that often says, “only people count.”  He is right and we cannot forget that.  And, we must realize that “people counting” is different than us counting people.