Testimony and Spiritual Growth

eucharistSeveral years ago I was at a family therapy conference, where a therapist was talking about how he dealt with “stuck” people.  In short, he would ask a stuck couple to take another couple under their wing, telling them how therapy is beneficial and how it has changed their lives.

The act of such testimony was that it changed both couples.  The secret sauce in this interaction was the saying out-loud how therapy improved relationships and life.

The family therapy technique, it turns out, has many more applications.  People who talk about what they believe and how it benefits them are also shaped by that testimony.

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How the Theatre Is Like a Church

Playhouse Merced 02At 6:45 on Sunday morning Playhouse Merced doesn’t look like a church home. Lights are off. Air is stale. Dead leaves and cigarette butts from the parking lot collect around the entry door.

Costumes hang limply in the dressing rooms. Red lights on the sound board glow like a zombie’s eyes. A coke machine hums in the background. In the stillness of the morning the sound is inescapable.

It takes a flashlight to get around in dark corners. Sounds come from the shadows. Creaks and bumps like a building that is waking up. Was that a footstep? Continue reading

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Anthropology and Church Planting

Anthropology 02My church planting mentor made a recommendation as we were about to make our move to a new community.  “Make sure you have 10 points of contact in your new town – where you get your hair cut, where you buy coffee, and the organizations to which you belong.”

It seemed like good advice, but I didn’t realize how good it was.  Then I began adding my 10 points.  Each connection was like a stone thrown in a pond, rippling out to the shore – multiplying my effort. Continue reading

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Butterfly-Transformation“I used to be able to put God on a shelf, but I can’t do that anymore.” 

One of the things I’ve learned as a church planter is that personal change cannot be forced, controlled, or hurried. Continue reading

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Small Group 02“Daily,” she said. “I’ve never seen that word in this text before. I always read it, ‘Take up your cross and follow me.’ I like it. It reassures me. Every day I am to pick up the cross. It’s easier to think about it in daily increments.”

She was one of twelve sitting in our Tuesday evening small group. It’s a mishmash of people: a couple of escapees from a large, local evangelical church; some young adults who fled the internal sickness of their home church, and an assortment of other almost middle-aged adults with little previous exposure to God or the Bible. Continue reading

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“Personal Lord and Savior”

door to door salesmanA group of us went to Australia for an “evangelistic campaign” in the early 70’s.  In retrospect, I am sad that I made the decision to do so.

Our group was so passionate about this venture, but little did we know how unsatisfying the trip would be.  If we had fully considered the basic assumptions governing the trip, we may not have taken the invitation.     Continue reading

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The Marriage Renewal that Wasn’t

Marriage Renewal

A while ago a young woman asked me if I would preside at a marriage renewal ceremony on the eve of her and her husband’s 15th anniversary.  Their relationship actually began several years ago when she fled her toxic family for the stability and love of her, now, husband’s family.

I’m a sucker for gooshy, romantic occasions like this so I said yes.  I conducted my usual interviews with the couple and found out about how they met, what they liked about each other, and what they did for enjoyment.  I always look for a metaphor to hang the ideas on.  Continue reading

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