“This Inviting People Thing Really Works!”

One of our worship leaders shared a great line in an email to me.  He and his wife met a couple from our area at a marriage retreat recently.  As they got to know the new couple over the weekend they found out the couple didn’t currently have a church.  The worship leader and his wife invited the other couple to attend our church.  Here’s the shocking part of this story.   You might want to sit down for this one.  You aren’t going to believe what happened next. 


THEY SHOWED UP!  They actually came and even better…they liked it and have actually returned.  In Michael’s email to me he wrote, “This inviting people thing really works!”  I love that line.  That line is true.  That is the simple principle which has built Grace into who we are as a church today; no advertising; no fancy brochures or mail outs; simply the art of the personal invitation. 


It reminds me of when I was pastor at another church several years ago and as soon as I arrived they wanted me to start an outreach program.  They had considered and tried all kinds of formal, organized programs and nothing had really worked for them.  I gave them one of my own.  I taught them one Sunday how to grow their church. It is a genius plan. I highly recommend it still.  It’s called the “Wanna Plan”.  It worked great and the church that had been stagnant for years began to grow again (actually very quickly). 


The “Wanna Plan” goes like this.  Read slowly so you don’t miss anything.  You approach someone (could be someone you know or someone you don’t know) and say, “Hey!” Go ahead and practice that part.  You can even try different ways of saying “Hey!” if you want ranging from super-excited to semi-mellow.  Don’t try to tackle the next part, which is much more difficult, until you get the “Hey!”downpat. 

Then, carefully, not too fast and not too slow, in a pleasant sounding voice ask the people, “Wanna come to my church?”  Now try that. Ask it as a question; not a statement.  Say it with enthusiasm!  After you’ve rehearsed each of these rather tricky lines a few times until you’re sure you have them, try putting them together into one phrase.  I know what you’re thinking: This is too much information at once, but you can do it. I promise!  It goes like this: “Hey, wanna come to my church?”  (If you need to you can write this on a cue card in case you get too nervous and forget your line.) 


This complicated system, if you can master it, really does work. Try some of the magic today. 

Back From Vacation

Pretty much today is just a regular day. Of course, regular is a relative term.  Regular this past week was a bit different than what regular regularly is.  Today is already not regular in the sense that I’m sitting outside a little after 7 AM and it is almost too hot to be out here.  (I just left the Northwest.  They claim 15-20% humidity as being high. It didn’t start getting warm until 11 AM.)   It’s not going to be regular in the sense that when people call or email I can’t give the excuse, “I’m sorry, I’m out of town.”  It’s not a regular day because Cheryl isn’t with me right now…(and I miss her).  It’s probably not going to be regular in the sense that I’m more than likely not going to eat every 2 hours today.  Other than those differences, it’s just a regular day.  Whatever regular is….

No Wonder They Call it the Big Sky State

Here’s why: 







Plus another shot from today. 












And the park where I went running this morning: 









Kudos to Cheryl for the pictures.  Tomorrow we drive to Glacier National and Canada.  More to come.  Looking forward to hearing Cheryl say “Wow!” a lot tomorrow.

Pictures of our Vacation to the Northwest USA

These are pictures of our vacation.   Keep in mind, that pictures only tell part of the story. They never capture the true beauty or the emotion in seeing part of God’s handiwork. 

This is Sherman’s Chapel. Supposedly it is really, really old and famous.  Some cool stuff probably happened here. You can research it online (and if you find out anything please comment here.)  There was a sign telling all about it but it looked like it had a bunch of details so I didn’t read it.

This is Flathead Lake.  Yea, I know. 

This is the sweet car we are driving this week. The temperature got in the upper 40’s one night, but we still had the top down.  Cheryl was shivering a little bit, but I reminded her that we paid extra to be cold.


Another view of Flathead Lake.






These is some of the wildlife we are seeing along the way.  I didn’t actually see these, so I can’t guarantee that we saw them, but the picture was on my computer so I’m assuming Cheryl saw them.  Pretty tall deer, huh?


We arrived in Spokane, Wa., spent the night in Couer d’Alene, Idaho, drove to Missoula, MT, then came to Kalispell, MT where we will spend two nights. Tomorrow we leave for Glacier National Park and then into Canada for a couple days.

10 Things Still on my “To Do” List

I’m on vacation. It’s been too long since Cheryl and I got away for some extended time to relax. I’m not good at relaxing, and for me, sometimes relaxing is being free to think about what I want to think about. (So quit responding negatively to my Twitters about my thinking!) Anyway, Cheryl and I are accomplishing a goal. We’ve traveled now to every corner of the great USA together. She and I had both been here previously, but never together. (I’ll blog some pictures later.)

I have other things on my “Still To Be Done List”. Here are the first ones to come to mind:

1. Write a fiction book.

2. Sky dive.

3. Live in a city of over 1,000,000 people.

4. Live in a city with less than 10,000 people.

5. Travel Africa.

6. Do mission work in Africa.

7. Travel Asia.

8. Do mission work in Asia.

9. Develop patience (Notice that’s near the bottom. If I never get there…oh well…)

10. Wrestle a bear. (Okay, I’m just kidding about that one. Sort of.)

What’s in your “Still To Do” list? I’d love to hear from you.

My Humbling Experience Today

Today I had a humbling experience. I’ve learned that humility is an art.  Pride is easier to attain than humility. Throughout God’s Word He tells us how much He hates pride. 


I have worked all week on my message for today, just like every week I’m up to speak. It wasn’t a difficult message.  We have been mirroring our children’s ministry all summer, so the passage was already laid out for me.  Today’s story was the resurrection; a message I’ve preached many times before. I could probably tell you most aspects of the story without my Bible in hand. The challenge is to bring freshness to a story most people think they already know.  I decided to go simple; realizing that because of the newness of our church that there are many who aren’t familiar with the story. 


I put together a scripted, verse-by-verse account from Luke 23.  Yesterday I did my final edit. What normally takes me 3 or 4 hours on Saturday to edit my Sunday message took only about an hour. I left frustrated with myself thinking it was a horrible message, but frankly I didn’t know what else to do with it at that point.  I went out to eat with friends last night complaining to the guy who is also in the ministry that I didn’t want to do this message. It just wasn’t that good.  I woke up at 4 AM this morning ready to scrap the whole thing and start over, because I didn’t feel it had anything to offer people.  I made a few changes, but really walked into church thinking this would be the worst message I’ve ever done at Grace. It’s still summer, I thought, maybe I wouldn’t scare too many people off and we could rebuild next week.  I even shed a few tears of frustration before I went on stage. 


Within five minutes of beginning today I knew I was no longer in control.  I’m not saying I had a great message; it may have still truly stunk, but I left knowing God used it in someone’s life today.  That’s a humbling, incredible, wonderful feeling.


It reminds me of a story told years ago about a young pastor fresh out of seminary who showed up to preach his first sermon at his first church.   He was so confident, but his message simply bombed and he knew it.  He walked off the stage deflated. A senior deacon in the church gave him some great advice, “If you had went up on stage the way you came down, you’d have come down the way you went up.” 

That’s a good principle for me to remember every week. 


Thanks God for allowing me to work for you and thank you for humbling me today!

Where Are You Investing Your Life?

Last fall I was running on a country road in the middle of Kansas and was stopped dead in my tracks with this scene.  Instantly thoughts flooded through my mind.  One day I suppose a man came home from work and said to his wife, “Honey, the house is ready. The place you dreamed of is complete.  It has plenty of room, there is an upstairs like you wanted and wait until you see the rock I found with which to build it.  This house is what we’ve been working so hard to get!   We are going to be so happy in this place.”  Today, this is that same house.


This is where most of what we invest in on this earth ends up someday.  If we buy the nicest car with the best warranty; someday, unless extreme care is taken, it will be in a junk pile.  The greatest house money can buy will one day no longer be the greatest house.  Have you ever acquired the “latest” technology? Is it still the latest?  How soon did the Apple iPhone need to be upgraded to be the “latest”?    In the end, the things in the material world just don’t last. 

What’s the moral here?  Well, Jesus said it best.   (Matthew 6:19-21) “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where they can be eaten by moths and get rusty, and where thieves break in and steal.  Store your treasures in heaven, where they will never become moth-eaten or rusty and where they will be safe from thieves.  Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be. “   


Someone’s dream house sitting abandoned 100 years later was a good reminder to me to make sure I’m investing my life into things that outlast time. 


Here’s a great evaluation question: Are the places where you are investing the best part of your life in the areas you most want to grow and build something that lasts?

I Am Not Black Enough for this Party

Okay, forgive the poor attempt at humor here, but I’m not even sure this is funny. Today I got a letter.  I won’t tell you who from, but I think it’s too good (or too something) not to share.  (My wife says I share too much.)  What would you think if you got this letter? 


Dear Pastor,


You recently received a letter of invitation to the Pastor’s Update held at _________________ September 10th-12th.


Please disregard this invitation – this is a training/informative seminar for Black Pastors and Planters.





Wait a minute!  I already had it on my calendar!  Not really, but I am disappointed I don’t qualify.  Plus, how do they know I’m not black.  I am not aware that I ever indicated that on any documents this organization would have.  I’m sure it was a huge error to send out the original invitation, which I don’t even remember receiving, but the retraction is hilarious.  So much for bridging the barrier lines in our churches. 


Just for that, I’m not going to their little party.  You can take me off the list!

Model T’s are Here to Stay

Today begins a week long 100th anniversary celebration of the Model T Ford in Wayne County, Indiana. Is anyone living that could say today, “That was my first car. I bought it new.”? Probably not; this is a really old car. Affectionately called “Tin Lizzie” it was America’s first “affordable” automobile.

To most of the world, really including me, this celebration will not be a major event in our lives. As an observer of culture, however, and someone who truly loves change, I’m reminded today that “the more things change, the more they remain the same. The author of Ecclesiastes said, “There is nothing new under the sun”.

There is no doubt that the world is changing fast. I saw the phrase “temporary contemporary” recently and that seems very true about our society. Nothing seems to stay the same for long. Cultures and paradigm shifts that used to be measured in decades will soon have to be measured in years. Just to keep up these days it is important for organizations to be continually adapting. We should be changing before the next paradigm shift gets here if we are to be successful. Futurists and others who monitor trends and can predict where society will go next are in high demand and will remain valuable to any organization.

While all that is true, we must never forget that there will always be those who resist change and there will always be elements of society that places a high value on tradition and things of the past. (Keep in mind, things of the past is a very relative term these days.) The balance of celebrating “retro” and adapting to “modern” will continue to be a true art in the days to come.