Monthly Archives: June 2011

Following God May End Badly

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Posted by on June 29, 2011 in Uncategorized


Wisdom from Tony Campolo

Agree? Disagree? Thoughts?

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Posted by on June 28, 2011 in Uncategorized


Christianity as a Brand

Would love to hear your thoughts…

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Posted by on June 27, 2011 in Uncategorized


Believe or Behave?


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Posted by on June 24, 2011 in Uncategorized


Jay Bakker’s Speech On Gay Marriage


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Posted by on June 24, 2011 in Uncategorized


Coming Out "Illegal"

The former Washington Post reporter Jose Antonio Vargas comes out as an undocumented immigrant, stunning media and immigration policy circles this morning.

As a Christian, I don’t believe that any person is “illegal”. I also know that God commands us to love and extend hospitality to strangers and aliens, because “we were once aliens in a strange land…” So while I think the political issues are a bit complicated to work out, there is no doubt as a Christian where I stand on the issue. This story from Jose Antonio Vargas is powerful and worth watching.

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Posted by on June 22, 2011 in Uncategorized


Summer Speaking Schedule

I will be preaching four times during the month of July, all at Riverfront Family Church.  During the summer, RFC actually meets at Wickham Park in Manchester for its services (10:30 AM).

Here are the dates and topics, if you are interested:

JULY 3 – “Integrating Faith & Politics: A Roundtable Discussion” 

JULY 17 – @Table with Jesus: Lessons in Grace, #1: Banquet (Lk 14:15-24)

JULY 24 – @Table with Jesus: Lessons in Grace, #2: Block Party (Lk 15:11-31)

JULY 31 – @Table with Jesus: Lessons in Grace, #3: Brunch (Jn 21:15-19)

For the July 3rd message, I will be interviewing both Evelyn Mantilla and Bill Cortese. Both are part of the RFC community and are very involved with politics. Evelyn served as a CT State Representative for ten years and Bill works as a political consultant, including on the recent Tom Foley gubernatorial campaign here in Connecticut.  I am going to be asking them about how faith and politics are integrated for them, what some of the dangers/pitfalls might be, etc.  I think this will be a really interesting and hopefully helpful conversation/message for people.

I’m also really excited about the @Table series… hope to see some of you there.

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Posted by on June 22, 2011 in Uncategorized



The Sanctity & Societal Importance of Marriage

I had the privilege of attending my cousin’s wedding this past weekend.  It was a great weekend, fun celebration and beautiful service — I love both Ethan and Katie and think they are great together.

Both of them wanted a secular/civil wedding — no religion.  They asked a close friend to officiate.  To be honest with you, most secular/civil weddings I attend I find lack any sense of gravitas, sanctity or beauty.  It is a challenge to bring language with depth to a secular event like a marriage.  But this was one of the most beautiful, deep and significant wedding ceremonies — religious or otherwise — that I have seen.  It was really quite beautiful.

The officiant, during his opening remarks, quoted this:

Marriage is a vital social institution. The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support; it brings stability to our society. For those who choose to marry, and for their children, marriage provides an abundance of legal, financial, and social benefits. In return it imposes weighty legal, financial, and social obligations.” (link)

I think that is quite a powerful statement.  

Any thoughts?  
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Posted by on June 20, 2011 in Uncategorized


From SHAPE to S3

I am a big fan of SHAPE.

SHAPE is a way of understanding your unique make-up and how given your unique you, you can best serve, minister or pursue your life purpose. ?I have been leading and teaching SHAPE seminars for over ten years for churches and ministries. ?I have probably led a couple of hundred people through the seminar over the years, and it is often a life-changing experience for people.

SHAPE stands for:

Spiritual Gifts
Heart (Passion)

I think that churches that use SHAPE — or something like it — are really doing a great job in helping their members be fully mobilized and engaged. ?For me personally — in my own discernment process — I often think in terms of how am I using my SHAPE in my life right now.

Towards the end of my time at my previous church, I started working on a major revision of the course material we were using to teach SHAPE. ?I like SHAPE and it is based on material developed at Saddleback Church by Rick Warren and his team. ?Really great stuff!

But in teaching it many times, I have found that the 5 categories that SHAPE covers are a bit much and not always clear in the distinctions or actionables that come from each.

I am hoping to produce a revised concept soon, one that could be used in churches or ministries — either as a stand alone curriculum or one that I could come and teach/lead. ?It would take SHAPE and translate it to S3:

Spiritual Gifts

Spiritual gifts will still be taught the same way. ?The Strengths section combines the ideas of Heart/Abilities/Personality into one, drawing heavily from the research and teaching on strength-based developing by Marcus Buckingham and Gallup. ?Finally, the "experience" section (which in the SHAPE material is a bit nebulous and focuses more on resume experience than life experience) would focus more on "Story" — both your story to date (experiences — good, bad and ugly… often God wants us to minister out of our area of greatest pain/redemption… God never wastes a hurt!) and the idea of "what kind of story are you writing with your life". ?In other words, what do you want your IMPACT and LEGACY to be about?

So that is the brief outline of how I would teach those ideas… next week I will blog about how these are playing out in my own life at the moment. (I will be somewhat unplugged from the blog for a few days as I will be away for a family wedding).

In the meantime, I would love to hear your thoughts on SHAPE and S3 — and if you're a church or ministry that would be interested in beta-testing the material this fall, let me know!
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Posted by on June 15, 2011 in Uncategorized


Church Planting, Again

I love the church… the Bride of Christ.  She ain’t perfect, but she is beautiful to behold — in all her brokenness, flaws and weakness. After all these years, I am still a church guy. I believe that Jesus working through His church is the hope of the world.

That is why I believe that there is nothing more exciting, powerful, transformative or cataclysmic than a local church living up to its full redemptive potential.

Likewise, I find few things more tragic than a church that not only fails to live up to its full redemptive potential, but that has become self-satisfied enough to simply be okay with that fact.

So I am a church guy… and passionate about church planting.

Some will say that we already have too many (or enough) churches, so why do we need more?  My answer is simple: we don’t have enough GREAT CHURCHES. And that is what I am passionate about.  I believe that Tim Keller is correct when he says that most of the great innovation in the worldwide church today is coming through church plants and church planting churches.

Church planting is hard. Not everyone can do it.  In fact, I think it is far harder than almost anyone realizes.  It is particularly dificult here in New England. That is why I have such respect for church planters and what they are doing.  They are my heroes.

During my ongoing discernment process, one of the things I realized is that I cannot escape my call to the church and to church planting.  It is part of who I am.

As I discerned and prayed, I also started to dream and envision what a new church plant in the Manchester, CT area would look like.  I started drawing up a plan, a strategy, sharing the vision with some folks.  I am pretty excited about the plan/mission/concept.  It gets me excited.

One of the reasons that I got involved with the team planting a church in Storrs, CT in 2004 was because there were no churches in the area getting it done — especially when it came to college students, young professionals and those outside the church.  

So that is the question I had to ask about Manchester.  The truth is that there are a handful of really good churches in Manchester already, but none that are hittting it out of the park in terms of young professionals, being truly missional, reaching the lost, lonely and least.  But then as I prayed, God reminded me that ten minutes down the road in Hartford are two such church plants — Riverfront Family Church and Redeemer Hill.  

Eventhough they are in a different city, for young professionals that is not as big a deal.

So part of what I realized in this process is that I am called to church planting, called to invest in church planting… and that I am already part of a church plant, since I was attending Riverfront Family Church.  Since then, I have become a member of the church and will be serving on its Board as well as doing some ocassional preaching.  I am excited to fully invest in this exciting work of God in the greater Hartford area!

My heart for church planting has never been based on me being the lead person in charge.  It is about being faithful to the Great Commission and the Great Commandment. I believe that RFC is a church that has a great committment to the great commandment and the great commission!

Does that mean I will never lead a church plant or church planting church again?  No.  In fact, I think that it is likely that I will.  In Manchester?  Certainly possibly.

But for now, I am going to use my gifts and experience in church planting to invest in the work of Riverfront Family Church — and I am excited to be invested there and invested in church planting in New England.

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Posted by on June 14, 2011 in Uncategorized

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