Category Archives: Church Leadership

Dreaming of New Possibilities

It was three years ago that I informed the Mountair Christian Church community that I would be transitioning from the Interim Pastor role into full-time leadership of Edgewater Collective. Since then we have been attending Mile High Vineyard and seeking the common good of our city. As I left leadership in the church, I thought I would never return. Honestly, I have loved serving my city outside the walls of the church and rallying folks to create a thriving city regardless of what they believe.

But throughout this process, God has been tugging at my heart and for a few years I ran from his call. A little over two years ago, I had a pretty vivid of dream of baptizing people in Sloan’s Lake at the beach on the northwest corner. That dream made a strong impression on me but I didn’t think I would play a role in that. I waited for others to create a new type of church in our community that would be welcoming to families and those who had never attended church.

After a year of poking and prodding by the Lord, I’ve realized that he might want me to step out in faith and lead a new faith community in our area. The beauty of this new possibility is that I continue my fulfilling work with Edgewater Collective during the week and lead a neighborhood church on the weekends with a great team of folks who live locally.

Our church, Mile High Vineyard, believes strongly in neighborhood churches that love a community and take on the Catholic idea of being committed to a parish. So we are starting to gather folks that live in Edgewater, Wheat Ridge and northeast Lakewood that are drawn to following Jesus and loving a community. On Sundays we are gathering at the Mile High Vineyard churches in the Highlands and Arvada until we have the critical mass to gather on our own in the Edgewater area on Sunday mornings. On Thursday nights we will all come together for a meal and connecting with each other through conversation and prayer.

We are excited for this new season because it builds on our rootedness in the Edgewater community. Our dream is to start gathering on Sunday mornings by Easter of next year. And God willing, one day we will baptize new Jesus followers in Sloan’s Lake.

You can keep track of what we are up to with this Edgewater/Wheat Ridge Neighborhood Church here.

My Year Outside the Church

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2014 was my first full year working outside the church since I was 18 years old. It sounds crazy but for the past 16 years I have held some kind of job within a local church or Christian institution. That streak ended in 2014 when I transitioned to lead Edgewater Collective.

I grew up thinking the only way I could truly serve God was to be working in a church or overseas in missions. Working in a local church was a higher calling, or so I thought.

I went to Taylor University and chose the Christian Education major with dreams of becoming a lifetime youth pastor. After college I continued my education at Denver Seminary for a Master’s Degree in youth ministry to cement this decision to invest in the spiritual development of teenagers.

But after serving in four different churches, I felt God calling me away from the church. Though the nonprofit I started is not a faith-based organization, I knew God had prepared me for this role. I sold all my “church” books and jumped into this new career. I soon realized that many of the skills I learned inside the church prepared me to work in education advocacy and community building.

As I dove into learning about public education and building relationships with various community stakeholders, I soon realized that God has uniquely designed me for this role. I came alive in a way that I never experienced working in a church. I also noticed that though this work was outside the four walls of a church, it could still be a “sacred” role.

Our family has also thrived as “normal” church attenders. For the first time in our marriage, Hillary and I were able to pick where to attend church. We could enter relationships and community life without the expectations that come with being the pastor’s family. Hillary has found a role in prayer ministry that would not have come as the pastor’s wife. Our girls have experienced worship in a more charismatic setting and experienced a different kind of relationship with the Lord.

Now my experience is obviously not normative. There are pastors I know who were created to work in a church. But there are also pastors who continue to suffer away in their church leadership role because they can’t see themselves working outside the church. Sadly, they are missing the role that they were created for.

I’ve definitely found that there is no such thing as a sacred or secular job. Every job can be sacred if we view our work as a way of serving God and others. Each job in my journey was very important in helping me learn the skills I use today as I lead Edgewater Collective.

I’m excited for what 2015 has in store for our work and our family!

Connecting at Church and Wimping Out

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Ever have those moments when you are transported back to your awkward middle school stage? I had one of those tonight. Driving downtown to a brewery, I couldn’t find a parking spot so I just turned around and drove home. I was supposed to meet a group from church that shared my interest in craft beer. But I wimped out.

Connecting into a new church is hard.

For eleven years of marriage, Hillary and I were always part of churches where I worked. Connecting with people took work but is wasn’t that hard because I was on staff. We developed relationships with volunteers or people in that specific ministry area and it happened naturally.

This fall though we started attending a great church just north of us in Arvada called Mile High Vineyard. Walking into church on Sunday mornings for a few weeks we were anonymous which was actually kind of nice. No one had expectations of us. We were just another family at church.

But then Hillary and I realized it was time to be part of the church community not just a place to worship on Sunday mornings. Mile High made it easy to connect and meet staff with a Connect Lunch on the first Sunday of each month. There were only 15 or so of us and we had the opportunity to meet one of the pastors.

We are still trying to figure out how to meet other families. How do you do that? There are so many fears that run through our minds. If we show up to a small group what if they all know each other really well and we don’t fit in? And do we even have time for more relationships when we are trying to connect with our neighbors in meaningful ways?

Our kids are having a hard time too because they are so used to being the pastor’s kids and all their teachers having to report to their dad. They have to figure out their own identity at church which is even harder when they are in separate classes.

All of this has a point.

Connecting into a new church is hard and it takes time for it to happen naturally. It takes effort and it doesn’t happen overnight.

I also think it is important for pastors to understand how hard it is for people to connect into a church. Create easy avenues for new people to connect with other new people. Pastors, if you haven’t experienced what it is like to connect into a new church when you aren’t on staff, listen to the stories of people in your church who have experienced it.

We are meant to be in community. Church isn’t really about singing and listening to a lecture. It is about discipleship that happens in the midst of relationships.

But like everything that is good in this world, it takes work.

Failure Isn’t the End of the Story

I’m working with a group of great folks to bring a different kind of leadership conference to Denver called the Epic Fail Pastor’s Roundtable.

It’s a different kind of conference for pastors and leaders. It will be honest, raw and even uncomfortable.

But it’s essential for pastors and leaders.

We need to be better at talking about our own failures, idols and addictions.

Watch this video of one pastor’s Epic Fail and how God rescued him to something much greater.

Find out more about the Epic Fail Pastor’s Roundtable here. Pass it on to other pastors and leaders you know.

The F-Word and Leadership

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Ten years ago a friend and I brought a dream into reality and started a coffee bar at Denver Seminary. We had dreams that Kurios Koffee would someday get bought out by Starbucks and we would get some extra cash. For two years we made just enough money to break even and enjoy free coffee. We even jumped into coffee catering and brought our coffee equipment to weddings and church events.

Then Denver Seminary decided to move to a brand new campus in Littleton and I bought out my business partner as he was moving out of town. I took out business loans to fund new equipment for a bigger space at the new campus and was excited for what could be at the new space. Kurios Koffee incorporated and the business systems went to the next level.  Read the rest of this entry

Here and Now: Loving Our Parish

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Recently our little city of Edgewater just to the west of Denver was hit with a rash of graffiti. I first noticed marks of a night of illegal art on some hanging sculptures in the yard of a house we pass each day on the way to school. In recent months there have been at least 60-70 victims of graffiti. It’s hard to walk around Edgewater and not notice graffiti.

Teenagers in their boredom have left their mark on this city by defacing their neighbors’ homes with graffiti. Older neighbors fear for their safety as they believe graffiti is linked to gang behavior.

How are we leaving our mark?

Edgewater is our neighborhood; our parish. Parish is a seldom used word today but years ago it meant the territory or area assigned to a specific priest. That priest would be responsible for the pastoral care of that geographic area. The word parish was used most in Catholic circles.

Though the church I serve is located in a different neighborhood within a mile of Edgewater, our family is focused on deepening our roots in this neighborhood. Our kids go to school here and a lot of our family life revolves around this city that covers less than a square mile.  Read the rest of this entry

Six Simple Ways to Avoid Burnout

Source: TheSimpleDollar.com

Hugh Halter’s Sacrilege: Book Review

Living in Littleton, Colorado I had the privilege of watching and hearing about the ministry of Hugh Halter, Matt Smay and the Adullam Community. To some in the Denver area, Hugh and his band of renegades were labeled as heretics, but their community was reaching those outside the church like no other church. Having read Hugh and Matt’s earlier books, Tangible Kingdom and And, I was excited to pick up Hugh’s newest book, Sacrilege.

I read most of the book during my monastery experience which made me feel a little sacrilege. In Sacrilege, Hugh explores how Jesus challenged the religious assumptions that people held and how these same assumptions hinder the church’s influence today. Read the rest of this entry

Does Your Church Have a Kid’s Table?

There is a positive wave of conversation right now in youth ministry circles critiquing the youth ministry practices of segregating teens from the adult congregation. The folks at the Fuller Youth Institute have been researching what makes faith continue into adulthood. A big finding is that students who are involved in the adult community of faith have a longer, lasting faith. Here is a video that summarizes some of the questions and findings from their research:

One small change that we have made lately is making every 5th Sunday a Family Sunday. The children don’t go to Sunday School and we reformat our whole service to be family friendly. Our last Family Sunday we designed a Family Feud game show between two families and for the message our pastor interviewed his son. The big unifying message was about the effect that parents have on their child’s faith.

What does your church do to integrate children and youth into the life of the congregation?

Evolutionary Christianity

“Part of the genius of genuine Christianity is that each generation has to think it through afresh. Precisely because (so Christians believe) God wants every single Christian to grow up in understanding as well as trust, the Christian faith has never been something that one generation can sort out in such a way as to leave their successors with no work to do. Like a young man inheriting a vast fortune, such a legacy could just make you lazy.”

– N.T. Wright in the foreword to “The King Jesus Gospel” by Scot McKnight

How can this current generation of church leaders empower and equip my generation to think through Christianity and the Church afresh?