Monday, September 6, 2010

Holy Discontent...

I obviously do not blog consistently. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn't make it high on the priority list, but sometimes I have to. Bill Hybels shared the Holy Discontent concept as that which births a piping-hot vision. There simply develops a fire in us that causes us to eventually have to do something in response to an angst in our soul. When I first heard his talk from the Willow Creek Summit a few years ago, I was unfamiliar with the concept but as I listened I recognized my Holy Discontent in an instant. My Holy Discontent is churches that talk about wanting to reach people and maybe even regularly invite them to come but then don't do anything to prepare for unchurched people to come. It seems that in spite of what we say, some of us are making it hard for people to enter into the kingdom of God.

I have heard a few criticisms of the "attractional" model or "attractional" services lately. What? Are you kidding? The Spirit of God has indwelled His people and filled them with the joy and peace and hope that this world cannot offer. Have you ever been around someone who lives with the assurance of that? One could easily say their presence is attractional. So what happens when you get dozens and then hundreds and eventually thousands of people who have the Holy Spirit in one building? When you have the presence of God and a group of on-fire followers of Jesus, the result has to be attractional.

It is absolutely natural for us to be attractional if we are walking in the Spirit. We should go beyond seeker-friendly to become seeker-loving. Everyone can be friendly to those not like them. We are to love them with the love of Christ. Isn't the love of Christ attractive? Hebrews 13:2 demands that we show hospitality to strangers. Wouldn't this apply to our services to which we invite them? Or is that only in our homes? Have you ever been to the home of someone who is gifted at hospitality? It is so attractive that it makes you want to come back, huh? So should our services be.

My prayer is that we lay down our lives for the lost as Christ did for us. After all, that is who we once were. We want to make the path straight and smooth so people can hear the gospel. Let's stop building barriers that are making it difficult for people to see God.

"But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in." - Matthew 23:13

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Do you ever wonder why? I'm sure you do, but I've been wondering about a different "why." We started The Pursuit in December of 2003 in our home. We began with a clear picture in my head of what our Sunday service would look like when we were "grown up." I am glad to say that what we are currently doing fits in with what I imagined, but it is way better than I could have dreamed. The team of talented people that God has put around me has been such a blessing.

So the question I've been struggling with thanks to the Drive Conference at Northpoint is, why did I have that picture in my head? More importantly, why have we never really questioned the validity of deviating from it? I'm not saying that we need to, but what bothers me is that we've never really asked the question. Why wouldn't we?

What would happen to our services if we put everything on the table? What if we questioned every assumption about why we do things the way that we do? What would change? What wouldn't? I'm not sure, but I do know that our mission is too important to not rigorously evaluate everything. The people we are trying to reach are too important to not do the hard work to make sure that what we are doing is actually bringing them closer to following Jesus.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Connection...

This past week, three people I know personally at The Pursuit found great jobs and another got a solid promotion. Two Sundays ago, someone stopped me before service and told me that her husband had just found a great job. She thanked us for praying for him to find work. That same day, we received a praise on a communication card praising God from another Pursuiter that had found work. Five Pursuiters finding work within a 10 day span. "What has changed in our local economy that is fueling all these jobs?" you may ask. Nothing. We're in the same spot we've been in. I don't think it's the economy.

On another note, giving at The Pursuit has more momentum than we've ever had. 20 and 10 in 2010 has inspired many people who have never given intentionally or sacrificially the motivation to do so. There are people starting to give who have never faithfully given to God. Others are seeing 10% as a starting point, rather than the finish line. It is allowing us to make a bigger difference in our world.

You may not see a connection between these two trends, but I clearly do. God looks at us as individuals in how He blesses us, but He also looks at us as a body and as a family. Perhaps because more people in the body are being faithful financially, God is blessing other people in their family, not just them. When jobs open up, God is sliding Pursuiters into the spot. Can my faithfulness in being geneous really have an impact on how God blesses a brother or sister of mine? Can yours impact others? Apparently so. There really is no other explanation. We are a family.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


On the way to a meeting this morning, I saw a billboard which read, "Disasters Happen. We take care of them all." I've seen it before, but today it looked different to me. Then, as I sat in Starbuck's and began to work, the song playing over the air sang, "Don't worry about a thing, 'cause every little thing is going to be alright." I guess I'm a little sensitive to the issue. I called my mom earlier today to let her know that our staff is praying for her today. Today marks twelve years since my dad "unexpectedly" died of a massive heart attack. As my mom said to me, "Twelve years ago, I woke up not having any idea what would happen that day."

I know we are not alone in suffering loss. Some of you reading this are probably welling up with tears thinking of a loss that you have experienced. For those of you that haven't, unfortunately, it is coming. Life is so fragile and all of us, short of our Lord's return, will end up in the grave. We never know how. We never know when. But we do not need to be afraid. Why? God is God.

The reason "unexpectedly" was in quotes above is because it wasn't unexpected to everyone. God knew. He was already preparing to comfort us and did so in ways that I will never forget. He was also already prepared to use it to further His purposes. I told the staff yesterday that if my dad had not died, "The Pursuit" would have started about ten years ago somewhere in Ohio with a typical church name and would have probably had a typical church planting result. God brought me out to CA as a result of my dad's death and that set everything in motion to get us up here to start The Pursuit. So many lives have been changed.

If I could go back, would I want my dad back? Honestly, that's an irrelevant question. This is God's story, not mine. He is writing History before our very eyes. Sometimes there is happiness; sometimes there is pain. But He is working in all of it. It is when we suffer loss that He can be God to us in a way that we cannot experience any other way. Run toward God and run toward others. Someday, everything is going to be alright. Disasters happen and God does take care of them all.

Monday, October 19, 2009

God Can Handle It...

My wife Angela and I completed a five day cruise on Saturday. It was awesome! We thank God that He supplies the resources and the wisdom to manage those resources to allow us to pay cash for such a great trip. We are so grateful to have the opportunity.

I think what made the trip the most relaxing was not the pampering, the scenery or the time without our kids; it was the absence of a cell phone or internet for nearly five complete days. It took me a little while to stop feeling the phantom "leg vibrate" that occurs when you are so used to your cell going off in your pocket, but eventually, I quite enjoyed being disconnected. Not surprisingly, God was able to handle the world and The Pursuit without me for a week. I didn't even take any leadership books on the boat, just the Bible. It was great to feel like a child of God first and a husband second, without the role of "Lead Pastor of The Pursuit" there to compete with those greater priorities.

So here's my confession. I normally cheat on my days off. I always have my cell phone on (though I reserve the right to not answer it) and check and reply to work emails on my day off every week and every time I am on vacation. I think if God can handle it when I am gone for five days, He can handle it if I am "gone" one day every week. So here's the commitment, I am not going to answer my cell phone or check emails on my day off any more (from Thursday at 5:00 p.m to Friday at 5:00 p.m. to be exact!). I am hoping the staff will follow my lead. Maybe you can try it too. Don't worry. I think God can handle it.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Reaching Christians...

I don't know why any church would try to reach Christians. It amazes me how judgmental and argumentative they can be about what we are doing, even though they've never been to The Pursuit! We get second guessed on our motives and our ideas all the time. We could easily spend all of our time trying to convince Christians that they should come, but it isn't worth the energy.

We're trying to reach non-Christians. If Christians want to join us in that, they are welcome to come, but we refuse to get distracted from our mission which is to reach those far from God. In the midst of Christians who criticize us for taking the Bible too literally (How could we believe every verse?) or question our tactics for reaching the unchurched (even though God seems to be blessing what we are doing), we got an amazing email this morning from someone whose unbelieving family members came this past Sunday and are committed to coming back. That is why we do what we do. So let's just stay on course. It is worth it for sure!

Luke 6:26
"Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way."

Thursday, August 27, 2009


I have read Ephesians 4 on the role of pastors and teachers many times over—in fact I have it memorized. So when I was preparing for last week's sermon and looking at the passage one more time, I got hit with a pretty horrible thought. "We aren't doing this!" Big oops!

We have the iServe ministry that my wife heads up that helps get people connected to their right ministry and it has been very successful. We recently launched a more intentional leadership development plan that is inspiring and equipping current and future leaders. But what about the couple of hundred volunteers that aren't currently interested at leading but just want to do their ministry successfully? We are not doing a good job equipping them. That is about to change.

I had a thought today: what if every volunteer, no matter in what ministry they served, consistently thought, "I can't believe how well my leaders constantly equip me to do my ministry better and better!" I know some feel that way now, but is "some" ever the goal? I think God designed it to be "all." I want all of our volunteers to feel that way which is going to require a massive shift in how we view our ministry.

If we get this right, the sky is the limit for The Pursuit in this valley. Just to make sure we do, got has in the last week been assembling a team of people who just "happen" to be developers and trainers for their occupation. They are passionate about it and are equipped to help people get better at what they do. We're getting them together to get a plan. Look out you volunteers! You are about to feel more loved than ever!