the third conversion

My latest editorial in Christian Standard:

It was offering time, and the father sitting in front of me handed his 3-year-old son a dollar bill. The boy happily placed the money in the basket as it passed by, and then resumed working on the important task of covering his entire bulletin with green crayon scribbles.

While it was a nice moment, I distinctly remember thinking, “Sure, it’s easy to give someone else’s money.” But the truth is, I find it quite difficult to part with cash from …


sharing your stories

A few weeks ago, I was working on a sermon about the Holy Spirit and asked the Facebook hive mind for help with one of my points. My buddy Chris, a pastor in
, offered to share both a completed sermon he’d recently written as well as his entire Evernote notebook of sermon illustrations. Although I didn’t use any of his sermon (mine ended up going another direction), I have used a few of his illustrations for a different sermon I co-preached with Matt as well as some small group curriculum I wrote.

Slow clap for my awesome friend Chris.

When he shared his …


coming near

My latest editorial in Christian Standard:

One of the most commonly quoted verses from Eugene Peterson’s “The Message” Bible is John 1:14: “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.” This metaphor for the incarnation is referenced so often because, like all good poetic language, it succinctly describes a profound truth: Jesus not only came to earth to be with us, he came to be one of us.

Following Jesus means following his example and “incarnating” the gospel in our own neighborhoods. Sometimes this means tutoring …


a next chapter

My latest editorial in Christian Standard:

Several years ago I wrote a series of case studies for Kairos Legacy Partners that described their work with dying and declining churches across the country. Kairos works with these churches to evaluate their impact, their finances, and overall health and determine whether it makes sense for them to stay open as a congregation. If the decision is no, Kairos also works with those churches to help them “recycle” their facilities and financial resources in ways that can fund another ministry.

I’m a fan of …


I could totally/never do that!

My latest editorial in Christian Standard:

alley-inner-cityTwo mistakes are easy to make when reading B.J. Leonard’s story. The first is to think you could never do what he did—give up your dream house in the suburbs to move into the inner city with your wife and three young kids. The second is to believe you could totally do what he did because you’ve romanticized it as a sequel to “The Blind Side.”

B.J., his wife, Mary, and his daughters aren’t reaching out …


why them?

My latest editorial in Christian Standard:

Red Cleats Safe on BaseIn her memoir Lit, Mary Karr quotes her father speaking about the well-off: “Born on third base . . . and they think they hit a home run.”

I was born on second base, at least, and when I was a kid the game was black and white. People who don’t have jobs should get them, if you’re a responsible and hard-working person you will be able to afford a place to live, and only those with lesser character …


changing my mind (sort of) about millennials

lazy-teenagerI planned to write a blog post complaining about Millennials.

Last week I was one of three adults who accompanied eleven kids from our church on a short-term mission trip to Chesapeake, Virginia, where we spent four days scraping walls, painting porches, trimming bushes, climbing up extension ladders, and — in my group, anyway — killing wasps with a tennis-racket-shaped contraption that fried insects on contact and was subsequently used by the boys on our crew to fry each other.

When you arrive for the experience, the powers that be divide the members of your group among a …


searching for a sign

109592767_47-300x200At dinner the other night, Nina asked, “If a deaf person never hears language spoken, does he still think in words?”

Interestingly, I had just talked to Chad Entinger earlier that week about these very concepts—which had blown my mind. I proceeded to blow hers, explaining that deaf people aren’t just signing everything we’re saying, the order of the ideas may be signed differently than we would say them, and there are many different sign languages just as there are many spoken ones.

“But wait—everybody has trees. Why don’t they all have the same sign for …


for the girls

My latest editorial in Christian Standard:

Our church recently spent a Sunday afternoon distributing fliers to thousands of homes in our area, inviting community members to a cookout, and announcing the launch of our second worship service. I was pleased to see half a dozen teen girls from our youth group show up to join the teams tromping through the suburbs of Levittown. I was less pleased when, just an hour into the experience, several of them wilted onto the curb of the neighborhood with complaints about tiredness and “oh my gosh it’s so hot” and “I have a blister” and “when are we going to be …


16 ways to make your minister happy at Christmas



1. Say the following to him in November: “What’s the biggest need for the Sunday before Christmas? What about Christmas Eve? I’m on it.”

2. Give him a gift card (or just some cash!). Do not give him a plate of cookies, an inspirational wall hanging, or a Bible.

3. Encourage him to take off the weekend after Christmas (or, even better, the entire week), and enthusiastically attend services that Sunday even though he’s not preaching.

4. Give extra money to the church.

5. Do not expect him to be at all three performances …