Scrappy Innovators

Posted on February 25, 2014 by 

innovationIf anything, my personal blog is a mere journal of my thoughts. Ideas that I know I have and have grabbed from others as a means for not losing my step in the way I sometimes lead as well as follow in the larger church. One of those thoughts of late is this. Innovation happens when we learn the art of being scrappy. 

Innovation is a word that I think is very risky for some. I must admit, when I think of the word innovation I have mixed feelings. It’s a word that excites me to no end. It gives me hope that the local church isn’t done yet, when it comes to the tearing down of walls that continue to hinder the local church from doing real honest to goodness, backbreaking, gut wrenching kingdom work. These walls have been around way too long and honestly, I’m worried that it might mean our churches will continue to live in fear of decline, if we who serve in the trenches, and on the ground in the lives of people, don’t learn how to be a little risky in the ways we love people and be grace to those around us as well as the stranger. I think the church needs to learn how to be more scrappy when it comes to loving people into the kingdom.

Let’s face it. We who are in ministry have become sluggish. We’ve lost our mojo. We’re out of shape and I include myself in that statement. I sat with an Arabic Christian pastor a few days ago and I heard story after story of what life is like serving as a minister in another country. When I left, I wanted to cry as everything seemed to be put into perspective about my life as a pastor. If anything, I need to stop whining about stuff.

What does it mean to be scrappy innovators? It means we for a moment trust those around us to come up with new ways in being grace to those who live around our churches. Our biggest sin as leaders sometimes is when we spew out words like, “approval, committees, budgets, and make statements like, are we sure we want to do that?” Which turns people off. Why not be a little risky especially given the reality that we need to pray about new ways in remaining as viable faith communities, that have God’s heart and mission in mind when it comes to people?

Innovation happens, when we who have been called by God, to sit with others in the midst of their stuff, learn how to sit back and trust that the God who creates and sustains us on a daily basis, will still be the God who walks with us, when we’re willing to risk just a little. When we’re willing to be a little scrappy.

I won’t apologize. I love high tech futuristic movies. I loved watching the movie Real Steel. The story about a scrappy robot, a kid with a huge heart, and an old boxer who finally woke up to what his real purpose was in the world. When I think of what it means to be scrappy innovators in the church, I think it means we don’t give up.

We stay in the ring. We try new things, new ways of loving others, and we put to rest old ways that God had used at one time and that we should give God thanks for. It means when we try and we fail, that it’s not the end of the world. It means we just get up again and give it another shot until we get it right.

More to come.


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The Pulse of the Community

Small churches that want to remain viable in the 21st century will need to become the pulse of their communities. I have no doubt that this has been talked about in the larger world called the church. I write from the context of serving as a pastor in two completely different congregations. One congregation is in an urban setting, the other sits in a rural community. We’ve done anything and everything to let the community know we’re present, available, and ready to welcome them into our space. At times we’ve had some successes and other times we’ve had to dump “the idea” into the, “let’s never try that again,” trash can. One of the things that really needs to change is how we view “space?”

At some point the church needs to change its language when it comes to words like space. Isn’t it more important to learn what it means to enter and how to enter the space of someone else, outside the walls of the church? How does one engage with a stranger, in their own space? How does one dialogue with someone who would never enter “our space,” the place we call church? Part of being the church sometimes means we leave the comfort of our space. It really means being innovative in the way we engage with others outside of our space. We will never be the pulse of our communities until we learn how to engage with the space outside of the walls of our church.

When it comes to being missional, I guess I’ve never really called or labeled myself as someone who is missional. We don’t have anything in our churches that claim we’re a missional community. I guess you can say, “We’re not that cool.” I’ve tried many things to jump start the people of God in regards to God’s mission in the world. I’ve heard a plethora of really smart people talk about missional things. I’ve even occasionally tried to teach about the mission of God and what it means to be a missional community as followers of Jesus. Honestly? I don’t know how many would even remember the day and time I talked about what a missional community or church looked like. I guess it could be my fault that no one knows and maybe it’s not my fault or maybe the problem was , that I wasn’t awake when I first heard a professor I had in seminary lead a whole class on missional theology. What’s my point you ask?

There was a blog this past week that a pastor friend posted that caught my attention and peeled away some stuff for me that I think has changed my whole perspective when it comes to what it means not only to be missional, but what is expected of me when it comes to jumpstarting the local church with a vision that is doable for any small church across America, a vision that involves the entire church.

I’ve been working overtime in trying to nudge God’s people to be missionaries in the world. I’ve coached some on what it means to be in the world, always looking and ready to make a difference in a person’s life. I’ve encouraged persons to live as people of the new commandment and to take ownership of God’s mission in the world. The problem is that I’ve asked those I’ve served to do it alone. I’ve forgotten to tell them that what they need is the church and that doing God’s mission in the world requires the whole family of God.

I guess I’ve forgotten the key ingredient to being a missional community.

I’ve left out the word “together.” Churches won’t be the pulse of their communities until they do God’s mission together.

More to come.

Posted on February 14, 2014 by 

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Get Rid of Your Crappy Pastor!

By Rev. David L. Hansen

I simply cannot count the number of complaints that I get to hear about other pastors. I’ve responded to such complaints many ways over the years. The simply smile and nod, without actually agreeing — or conversely, the serious head shake. I’ve advised the individuals to go and talk to their pastor about their complaint. I’ve even tried to convince the complainer that their pastor really is pretty good.

But enough of that. I know what most of these complainers want … They want to get rid of their crappy pastor. The sooner the better. And so, without further ado, six steps to get rid of your crappy pastor and get a better pastor in your congregation.

1) Pray for your crappy pastor. I know, you really don’t want to pray for your pastor right now, but give it a try. Pray for your pastor’s preaching, for your pastor’s life, even for the pastor’s family. Prayer was one of those things that Jesus was kind of big on, so go ahead and give it a try.

2) Make sure your crappy pastor takes a day off. Really, you don’t want your pastor doing all those things that annoy you any more than absolutely necessary. Make sure everyone knows when the pastor’s day off is, and that doesn’t [sic] call on that day. If there is a congregational event, or an emergency, or a wedding, or a funeral on the normal day off, let it be known that your pastor will be taking another day off to make up the time off.

3) Insist that your crappy pastor take every week of vacation in the contract. Many pastors leave unclaimed vacation days every year. Let’s face it – you don’t really want your pastor around anyway, so….


This is a partial repost of David’s original blog post from March 26, 2012, which contains 6 “foolproof” tips for getting rid of your crappy pastor! You can read the entire blog post at his blog site by clicking here.

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I Don’t Want a Welcoming Church

By Doug Abel

“…Um, what was that Doug? You’re not helping your cause here…”

Allow me to explain. We live in a radically different culture than we did 20, 30, 50 years ago. There was a time when “if you build it, they will come” worked. As long as you had a quality program and quality ministerial staff, you could count on attendance. Note that I’m talking about strictly numbers here, bodies. Whether or not spiritual growth was really happening and the gospel was being truly communicated was just as much a question then as it is today. But at least there were more people coming to churches and being involved in them so as to be (hopefully!) more exposed to that gospel. At that time church was still a cultural norm. There were less restraining forces in the culture discouraging church-going than there were driving forces in the culture encouraging it.


Not so today.

Churches today no longer have the luxury of being welcoming. Welcoming, while it is certainly a desirable quality to have, denotes a passive stance. It means that when people show up, we’re going to make them feel welcomed, at home, wanted. The problem is “when people show up.” While it still happens, it is much less often that people will “just show up” at our churches.

Welcoming isn’t enough. We have to be inviting.

Invitation means….

[Doug is a call-ready Candidate for ministry under PSF’s care. This is a partial repost from Doug’s personal site. The full post can be read on his site by clicking here.]

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Westminster Abbey









Hello my S.F. Peeps,

My wife (Carol) and I are on sabbatical traveling through Europe and Africa and seeing our daughter DJ who is in the Peace Corps in Uganda. I thought that some of you might be interested in my ramblings. This one is from mid-June when we went to Westminster Abbey – Peace Paul

Westminster Abbey is in the downtown of London literally across the street from Parliament and Big Ben. The edifice is astoundingly impressive. The front doors of the sanctuary contain icons many of which are contemporary “saints” Archbishop Romero, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, etc.

Upon entering the nave the church is divided into three sections: the entry, nave, the choir area which separates the nave by the organ screen, and the rest of the church which terminates in an “altar” area most famously viewed in coronations or, most recently, in Prince William and Kate’s wedding.

Behind this “altar” is a ring of small chapels of varying age, the last of which is one dedicated to the memory of the RAF pilots from the Battle of Britain.

Westminster is a living cemetery with many famous people entombed there. whether or not they are actually buried under their particular head stone is less important than the fact that they are mentioned there. The interesting thing is rather than this being like Gettysburg, a memorial cemetery commemorating some great historic event, this place is still very involved in the primary of ministry. While we were there, and apparently this happens twice a day, we were asked to pause in silence while one of the pastors prayed for peace. The sense of all those people stopping, and praying in that holy space surrounded by the memory of people who too have striven for peace is very meaningful.

I too love the eclectic people immortalized there. I want to read about how all that came to, and comes to pass. Of particular significance to me is the fact that Charles Darwin is buried there. I love that. How many of us have excluded him, yet someone, at some point decided to plant him in that space. (There is a story there that must be told)

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“Nothing Can Seperate Us”

By K.C. Wahe

The Friday following Mother’s day I got a phone call from a church member saying that the church was vandalized. I happened to be down the street from the church and made my way over to see the damage. For the most part the church suffered some minor damage that day. We still don’t know who broke in and why. The next day I got another phone call saying that the church was vandalized again and that this time it was pretty bad. I made my way back to the church and apparently some vandals decided to turn on a fire hose and the entire church sanctuary as well as a meeting space was flooded with about 2 inches of water as well as some other vandalism that occurred. The building that was flooded is approximately 4000 square feet. There was water every where you walked. The news that a church in Palmdale was vandalized ended up making the local news. Camera crews showed up. People wanted to know how we were doing. For the most part, the different news stations did a great job telling the story which was a good way to alert the community about what had happened.

The day after the vandalism was Pentecost Sunday, the day that Christians celebrate together the birth of the church from Acts 2. It was also the day that the church would move forward and make a statement to the neighborhood that nothing can separate us from the love of God. It was a day we happened to have a guest preacher who shared with the church the importance of being a blessing to others. How do you tell a church that God calls us to be a blessing to others when the church you love has been turned upside down? The pastor did a wonderful job at being an encouragement to those in attendance that morning, a morning which was filled with celebration and gratitude that it isn’t a building that makes up the church, but that it’s the people of God that make up the church and that it is the people of God who are called to love their neighbors, “no matter what.”

What’s happened since the vandalism?

Loving God and loving the neighborhood continues. It hasn’t changed the mission of the church. It definitely hasn’t changed the call to be people of the new commandment and to make disciples (John 13:34-35 and Matthew 28). It hasn’t changed the call to have a heart for the community and to make people the church’s priority. It’s not about programs and it’s most certainly not about the building. It’s about sharing God’s love in a way that draws people to the cross of Jesus Christ. Here’s what I noticed about the community after the vandalism. People stopped by as we were getting ready for the worship service the day after the vandalism and helped us set up chairs. There was a local ambulance company that donated ambulance service because they heard, that we would have to meet outside due to the flooding and in case someone got dehydrated, they would be available to help. Other businesses even offered support. Between the phone calls, the emails, the letters, as well as the kind words of encouragement and the prayers, it told the church that the church still matters.

It’s been a few weeks since the vandalism has occurred. The church is now back in the sanctuary for worship services. The carpets were cleaned and people are moving forward although there is still lots of work to be done repairing and restoring a sacred space of worship that so many people call their church home.

As for the persons who vandalized the church?

You’re always welcome to worship. You will be loved. You will be cared for and you will indeed hear Good News.

“So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one. None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.” Romans 8:31-39 (MSG)

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Jude: Three Brothers

Jude Header Three Brothers

I have three brothers.

I’m not near as close to them as I’d like, but they are mine none the less. One of the many privileges of brothers is that we see through each others stuff. We don’t let each other get away with things. We’re not afraid to say hard things, cause like what are you going to do? Divorce me? Being Family is trickier than being friends for this reason. You can’t escape. You can try and trick, you can try and fool, but brothers see through everything.

Jude Cover ImageThe way that Jude begins his letter is not a mystery to those of us with a sibling. He let two things be known. First, he is the slave of Jesus. Second, he is the brother of James, the most powerful man in the Church (save Peter). That’s a pretty awesome resume. Except it’s not. It’s a list of three brother. When I had been a “Christian” for just a few days, I read this letter and trusted this letter.

See, James, the brother of Jesus, was also the brother of Jude. Therefore, Jesus is the real deal. Jesus is who he says he is. I love my brothers, but I’m not about to say that I’m their slave, or what is worse, that they are my master. I know who they are. They’d make me do embarrassing stuff. I’d have to clean disgusting things and sleep outside occasionally. I’d have to buy a lot of beer and they would call me names the way brothers can.

For Jude to say that he was a slave of his brother, the older brother that used him as a tackling dummy, the older brother that didn’t let him hang out with his older friends, the older brother that left the house first, Jude must have been really clear about who Jesus was. I doubt he simply lost a bet.

Interestingly, Jude doesn’t say he’s Jesus’ brother, though. He leaves that for us to put together. He does tell us that James is his brother, though. James was a celebrity. James was big time.

Jude reminds me of Fred Claus.

Can you imagine Jude in that recovery circle?

Everything that Jude says beyond this point is built upon his knowledge of his brother Jesus. If Jesus was a fake, Jude would know it. If Jesus was a sham, Jude would have broadcast it. Brothers know these things. If he thinks that Jesus is the Messiah, I’m inclined to believe him.

Have you ever read Jude’s Letter? What questions come to mind that you’d like to have answered?

Guest post by Chris Harrison. Chris is the Pastor of Glendale Presbyterian Church and blogs regularly at || Tweets can be found @prophets!

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