Lone Ranger Christianity?

Screenshot 2019-06-15 at 2.50.26 PM“I am a Christian. I just don’t go to church anymore.”

“I don’t have to go to church in a building to worship. I am closer to God when I am on the beach, the mountain trails, or in nature.”


“Saul, Saul. why do you persecute me?

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:4-5).


Saul had never met Jesus. How could he have? By the time Saul was persecuting the church Jesus had already ascended to heaven and was no longer even on planet earth!

How could Saul be persecuting Jesus? Jesus wasn’t even around. And, besides, Saul was persecuting Christians and the church, not Jesus.


The church is the body of Christ. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you are a part of the body of Christ – the church.

IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO BE A FOLLOWER OF JESUS AND NOT BE A PART OF HIS BODY, THE CHURCH.

No local expression of the church represents the whole of church. However, every local congregation is a local expression of the whole church.

No. No local congregation is perfect. Every local congregation is flawed because she is made up of flawed people.

But, Christ is present there. The local church is a legitimate and Christ-ordained expression of who we are supposed to be as the body of Christ.

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you are a part of Christ’s body and community. It is impossible to do solo Christianity. There is no such thing.

My Two Cents on Church Membership and Why I Think It Absolutely Matters

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I’ve been ambivalent about church membership for a couple of years. People just are not joining. Not just churches but service groups and other organizations.

We’ve been experiencing a strange phenomenon for the last several years. There are more and more people who are regularly engaged, attending small groups, serving in different ministries, worshiping regularly, and giving and tithing regularly. But they are not members.

On any given Sunday at both the Little Church and Lakewoodgrace the average attendance is 10%-20% greater than our membership.

I used to see this as a positive thing at best, and at worst was ambivalent about it.

But I think I am changing my tune on the membership thing. I am beginning to think that membership really matters. I am thinking I have been misleading people as their pastor about what it means to be church.

You see, most breakthroughs in relationships and in spiritual maturity happens as a result of working through yuckiness, discomfort, and pain. Growth and maturity occur at the back-end of having worked through yuckiness, discomfort, and pain.

And if people quit on each other when yuckiness, discomfort, and pain surface, we will fail to experience growth and maturity.

When things are going really well and people are happy, people continue to come, serve, and give.

But when things go sour and get uncomfortable, people with the least commitment to community bolt.

We, at the Little Church and Lakewoodgrace have been intentional about using the language of “family” to describe how we view our relationships with one another. The thing about family is that families work stuff out. Even when it’s hard and difficult, family don’t desert or quit on one another. We stick it out. We figure out how to work things out together. That’s what families do.

As a result, relational growth and maturity occurs.

Same is true for churches. Because we are sinful human beings, ugly, uncomfortable, yucky situations always come up. And because we are Christ’s body we work it out. We stick together. We don’t desert one another. As a result, we grow and mature spiritually and organizationally.

The temptation to leave, find another place, bolt the uncomfortable is too great when yuckiness happens.

So, I don’t care if we call it membership or mutual covenant or whatever else. The thing is, church is more than a place where we experience “happy.” Church is a place where we commit to grow, love, serve together.

So, if you’ve been regularly attending the Little Church and Lakewoodgrace and haven’t joined the church, join the Little Church and Lakewoodgrace and become a member here. Commit yourself to being family with one another.

If you’re not comfortable with joining a church, then covenant with the folks at the Little Church and Lakewoodgrace that we are going to do life and faith together through the thick and thin.

Without commitment to work with one another through the yuckiness of being sinful human beings, we will fail to grow and mature. Simply, we will fail to be Christ’s church.

The Little Church and Lakewoodgrace exist to grow disciples and mature disciples by sharing the love of Jesus with all people.

I don’t think it’s possible to grow and mature as a disciple of Jesus Christ without being committed to working with other disciples to be the body of Christ, the church.

Someone Has to Break the Cycle of Retaliation – Reflection on MLK Jr

Screen Shot 2017-01-13 at 2.42.50 PM.pngSomeone has to break the cycle of retaliation…

Let that sink in. Read it again.

Someone has to break the cycle of retaliation.

A week doesn’t go by without stories of hatred, bigotry, violence, rape, atrocities committed against humanity. Stories bombard us from abroad and from our own communities.

One way to respond is to build bigger and better walls. Let’s protect what we can. Better alarm systems. Better lighting. More surveillance. Bigger walls. More guns. Keep the evil out.

That’s one way to respond.

And violence and atrocities continue to march on. Nothing changes.

Someone has to break the cycle of retaliation.

The cross of Jesus Christ is the ultimate breaking of the cycle of vengeance and retaliation. The cross is God saying, “I’ll take it all. Bring it! Bring the hatred. Bring the violence. Bring the evil. Bring the violence. Bring the frustration. Bring the pain. Bring it! I’ll take it all!”

On Good Friday, Jesus bore the brunt of sin and evil. Jesus bore it all.

And by rising from the grave on resurrection Sunday, Jesus crushed hatred, violence, frustration, pain, and evil.

What our world needs is not better ways to keep people out and apart. What we need, and what our world needs is a people called and a people who will answer the call the break the cycle of evil and retaliation with the hope and love of God in Jesus Christ.

May we be such people. May this be the generation that turns the cycle of violence and retaliation.