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.


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

Screenshot 2019-04-02 at 3.06.44 PM

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.

Faith and the Idolization of Individualism

Screen Shot 2017-01-05 at 4.26.15 PM.png

As Americans, there are fewer things we value more than our individualism.

This idolization of individualism has lead to a myriad of issues. One of the serious consequences of this individualism is putting the self at the center of what is and what is not true. In this highly individualistic culture, the self has become the ultimate determinant for what is true and what is not.

  • No longer do we accept a higher authority – God – as the determiner of what is right or wrong. If what God says doesn’t jive with me and my  experience, my personal experience trumps God’s standards.
  • No longer do we accept a shared-cultural understanding of social and moral norms.
  • What works for you doesn’t work for me. As long as what I believe and what I do doesn’t hurt you, who are you to tell me that what I’m doing is wrong?

One of the problems of this heightened individualism is that the individual experience is never sufficient for properly understanding the world around us.

We need the voice and the experiences of others. We need the wisdom and the value of others to help us to get a proper perspective of the world. Our understanding and our perspective will always be limited and incomplete without the voice of others.

I write all this because, it seems to me, the idolization of individualism has worked its way in how American Christians view our faith. We place our individualistic experience, our personal understanding of what God says above all other authorities. We have a hard time submitting to the understanding, teaching, and the authority of the church.

What we seek – the connection between who God is and who we are on a personal level – is not a bad thing. This is, in fact, a good thing. Who God is must make a difference at a personal level.

However, how we pursue this as individuals in a culture that has made an idol of individualism is the problem.

Faith, by its very nature is communal. Faith is never the possession of one. Faith belongs to the community. Faith is birthed in community. Faith is nurtured in community.

And it’s in community our communal sharing of life and faith that faith begins to make sense to the individual person. You take the individual outside of faith, and a faith experience apart from community is a mutation. Such faith is not what God ever intended.

Faith is birthed, shaped, formed, and lived out in community.