The Shrinking Church: Part Six

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Feb 282013

Over a month ago, I began this blog series about The Shrinking Church. I’ve blogged about the original article that inspired it, the new way of being church that God is creating, how my church is trying to become on of those new churches, and the amazing stories of personal transformation that people in our church have undergone as a result of our shift.The response to this blog series has been overwhelming. It has become clear to me that there is a hunger and a thirst for this new way of being church that extends beyond my denomination. God is definitely up to something!

When I began this series, I wrote that at the end I would be announcing the date of a workshop where you, the reader, could come and find out more about this new way of being church. Unfortunately, the date and time of that workshop have not been set yet. Rather than keep you in suspense, I thought I would share with you where to go to get information about future workshops. And this way you can also find workshops outside Atlanta.

To find out about upcoming workshops, visit the 3DM events page.  They are amazing teachers of this new way of being church. Lots of people are doing this new way, but there are precious few who can teach you and I how to do it. 3DM are the best teachers I’ve found, and if they can teach me how to do this, I have no doubt they can teach you too.

So find a workshop and find out more!


Feb 272013

It’s not every day that a meteor injures a thousand people, but every day it’s something. Every day something happens that distracts our attention from God. Many days it is more than one thing. How we keep our focus on God, even when a meteor is coming, was the topic of the sermon last week. Based on Luke 13:1-9.


I’m A Songwriter. Really.

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Feb 212013

The former president and I are confused about me being a songwriter.

Today, I found out that the song I cowrote with my friend Bill Pasch has been accepted by Augsburg Fortress publishers. It’s a church song inspired by Get Low, and while Bill did most of the work, he felt that I did enough to deserve some of the credit.

The insanity of this is obvious to anyone who has ever heard me sing or play an instrument. I am extremely non-musical. My children cover their ears when I sing. I’m just awful, and yet here I am, a songwriter. Eighteen months from now, after the song is published, some church choir is going to sing this song. They’re going to look down, see my name next to Bill’s, and think “These guys are pretty good.”

If only they knew.

Because Bill did most of the work, part of me feels like a fake. At the same time, though, I feel the same way about this that I feel anytime I’ve ever had anything published. I feel thankful. I’m honored and humbled that someone would pay money for something I helped make. And that’s an awesome feeling.

Also, I think this is an amazing reminder of how God can do things we never imagined. If I can be a songwriter, well, anybody can be anything! Really!  That’s inspiring and wonderful, and makes a teeny bit of fakery a whole lot easier to live with.

Feb 132013

Over a month ago, I began a blog series inspired by an article called The Shrinking Church that appeared in The Lutheran Magazine.  That article is about the decline taking place in my denomination, the ELCA.  In past weeks I have shared  my thoughts on that decline, what I think God’s new way of being church looks like, and how The River is trying to bring that new vision about. Today, I am going to share stories of the transformation we have seen as a result of that new way of being church. That transformation has not taken place in the form of dramatic growth in attendance. I expect that to come, but so far we have not seen that. What we have seen, instead, is transformation in the lives of the people in our congregation.

One such person came to our church as a functioning alcoholic. The call to discipleship inspired this person to turn their drinking over to God. There was no twelve step program, no clinic, not even an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. This person believed that God could free them from their addiction, turned their life over to God, and stopped drinking. Just like that.

Another person came to our church heavily burdened. Life had not been fair, and it weighed on this person to the point that their problems were all they wanted to talk about, and it was difficult to be around them. This person also committed their life to following Jesus, and as a result developed a tremendous capacity to share the burdens of others.  Where previously this person could not see past their own problems, they developed an ability to endlessly share the burdens of others, and became a light to many.

The stories go on and on, and they range from the simple to the astonishing. Someone who wasn’t sure God even existed became a mentor in the faith lives of others. Several  people who lacked self confidence have become leaders. I’ve even seen a couple of miraculous healings. Perhaps most miraculous of all, I’ve seen Lutherans become excited about outreach. They aren’t just evangelizing, they are excited about evangelizing. The earth could stop spinning and it would be no less a miracle.

Those are just some of the stories of what God has done in The River as we’ve become a discipling church. We have so many stories, we have put up a bulletin board where people can share what God has done in their lives. That bulletin board is covered with sticky notes, stacked one on top of the other. It is amazing to see what God is doing in The River through this new way of being church.

Next week, I hope to be able to share about an upcoming workshop where you can get an even greater taste of being a discipling church.


Sermon Podcast: Where Did Tithes Come From?

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Feb 132013

Most churches uphold the “tithe” as the standard of giving. A tithe is a tenth. In this sermon podcast, I share not only where the idea of giving ten percent comes from, but how doing so blesses the life of giver. Based on Genesis 28:10-22.