The Inorganic Church

00I have to be honest, I’m totally late and groggy when it comes to organic food. My wife’s is adamantly organic in our food choices and for the most part I haven’t really cared. Often times when it comes to food for me, ignorance is bliss. The other night we cuddled up and watched a short documentary on PBS called the “Botany of Desire.” The show highlighted the practices of genetically engineered potatoes that are created to meet the demands of french fry suppliers in America. It attempted to explain the unintended consequences of speeding up the process of growing potatoes. After thinking about the documentary a bit I realized I’m adamantly organic but in a very different arena. When it comes to the building and growing of a church community I get a bit bothered by the “genetic engineering” taking place on a large scale. 1.To launch a church “Big” many try to engineer numerical growth by appealing to immediate gratification. This is done using overstatements about what God’s doing. I just received marketing material for a church plant that hasn’t even launched yet and their marketing already says a “significant movement of God” is happening. I find this […]

The Pursuit of Humility

00A few years ago on personal retreat at a cabin I set out to catch some moles in the garden of my heart. I was not at rest going into that beautiful cabin with a warm and raging fireplace. I was anxious and unsure what God was doing in me and through me. After a couple days of digging I sensed the Holy Spirit setting a new agenda for me to live into. This new agenda was concerning my own humility or lack of. Inspired by Peter Scazzaro and Henri Nowen’s writing’s the following was what I wrote down in my journal. New tracks were being layed down for my character; humility does not come naturally so it must be an intentional pursuit. I revisit this journal entry quite often to refresh my focus on pursuing humility. The Pursuit of Humility 1 – Recalibrate under God’s acceptance more than seeking acceptance from others – I’ve often felt the pull to be measured and valued by my skill level, my charm, the strength of my knowledge, my accomplishments and whether people agree with me. My Application: In response I will massage into my life a rhythm of solitude and space where […]

Am I Going Crazy?

00I hear the voices and I hear the questions. Is this guy crazy? Has he gone over the edge? Some background; my family and a team of other crazies have gone for broke to plant a missional church in the heart of the city of Syracuse. We see the world through unique eyes – seeing visions of a community that could be, when most people look and see nothing. Church planters, in my experience, straddle that fine line between being legitimately crazy and unequivocally called by God. Craziness and calledness often times look remarkably similar. Whenever I meet or hear of a new church planter, my first response is to question whether or not they are crazy or called. And as I continue to follow Jesus down this road, I am beginning to realize that people now must be thinking the same thing of me, “Is this guy crazy? Or is God actually up to something out there in Syracuse? I don’t know if it will make anyone feel any better, but I’m asking the same question of myself pretty regularly. I know that church plants are failing at an alarming rate – over 80%. For every success story, there […]

Easily Offended

00The greatest leaders I know are not easily offended. Instead, they practice the habit of overlooking offenses. They purpose not to brew on how they’ve been wronged or treated unfairly. There is something that clicks inside our heart when we let the feeling of offense take over. It clouds our judgment and causes us to lead out of frustration. I know from experience the world of conversations we can create in our head. We begin mulling over our possible responses, comebacks, and ways in which we will reclaim our reputation. About 3 years ago I was convicted that I had not been practicing the spiritual discipline of taking the high road. Being offended is a choice. Every leader should own this verse: “The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression.” (Proverbs 19:11) There are certainly times when it is legitimate to be angry. The Apostle Paul says, “Be angry, and do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26). Anger can be a valid response to something that is wrong. But it can quickly become toxic—not only for those to whom we direct it but also for ourselves. This is why the Apostle James […]

Book Review #1: Launching Missional Communities

00About 3 weeks ago I stumbled upon a resource that couldn’t have dropped out of the sky at a better time. In our church plant in Syracuse we have been forging a new model of church in the heart of the city. Our growing launch team has been training under the radar for the last few months, diligently deconstructing and then reassembling a fresh biblical take on the Story of God. I’ve been committed to this tedious, sometimes painful and sometimes awkward process. I’ve felt for a long time the epic truths about why God launched the “human project” on this earth, how we participate in it daily and where everything is going is lost on most people who call themselves Christians. This overarching narrative should dominate our church life and conversations as followers of Jesus. Instead, for most Christians being a Christian is about avoiding sin, doing your quiet time, raising safe Christians kids and serving the programs of the church; which somehow all adds up to glorifying God. At Axiom we challenge that quite a bit. A piece of reassembling what God is about and has always been about is seeing the thread of community throughout the scriptures. […]

Sometimes God Pushes Pause.

00I remember about 9 years ago I was counseling a young married couple through some difficult stuff in their marriage. We had been meeting for about 2 months and were coming to the end of our sessions together. There was a significant moment when in closing both the husband and wife said “Dan you saved our marriage, we couldn’t have done this without you.” I recall that statement and the feeling that rushed over me and I liked it… too much. The power of being needed and being the only source of help was intoxicating. Little did I know but that moment kicked off a year of private ego stroking and a pursuit of more opportunities where I could be the spiritual hero. It wasn’t until the end of that year that God graciously pushed the pause button on me. I hate pause. I like to keep moving, keep going to get to the next part. But God is less concerned with getting us to the next sequence. True to His character he is more concerned with the state of our heart. I was tempted to blow past the pause God wanted me to take. I thought I was doing […]

Leading From a Still Soul

00 Leadership is often viewed by the masses as an opportunity to move people in a certain direction or to accomplish a certain task with a group. The end goal is often about being productive. Within the church that productivity translates into equipping people to do the work of the ministry. As a leader inside the organized church for the last decade there is a sly temptation upon my soul. You see, being a visionary and a strategist I want to see us climb mountains, grow stuff, step over blockades and mission new frontiers but the temptation to lead and respond from a dark place in my soul is always there. With people comes opposition, negative feedback, vision confusion, obstinate attitudes, slowness in retention and straight up personal critique. These often feel like arrows at our identity, our mission, our calling and our leadership proficiency. So the natural tendency is to steamroll over people who voice concern or to demonize them in our mind as “against us”. It’s easy to see people who slow us down or call our methods into question as obstacles in the way of the mission. That’s why I’m slightly (emphasis on slightly) uncomfortable with using […]

A Key Issue in the Church of the Future.

00 Check out this short but great little article on Multi Ethnic Churches. The Theology of Multi-Ethnic Church | Out of Ur | Conversations for Ministry Leaders The America we live is quickly becoming and is a mash up country of different cultures. How do we build a kingdom community where ethnic preferences collide. Does one ethnicity have a trump card? This has great implications on worship styles, leadership approaches and family structures. To me the most obvious effect of ethnic diversity is on what kind of hermeneutic we use when reading the scriptures. It’s important to understand that around the globe people read very differently; they interpret, apply and ask different questions than white westerners do. Truth is defined differently around the globe and the globe is at our doorstep. In the West we are Rationalist, asking “can we argue this, then it must be true”, in the North of the globe they are often Pragmatics asking “will this work, then it must be true”, in the East they are Renewalists asking will it bring change, then it must be true” and in the South they are Communalists asking “is it good for all us, then it must be […]

Mr. Insecurity

00 I felt compelled to be a little transparent with my ongoing story in this entry, as I’m hoping God will use it to encourage someone to lean into Jesus Christ with authenticity and lay hold of him to find their stability. I’m 33 and entering another phase of life. I’ve had a few realizations this last week about how radical of a transition I’m in, not just because I’m in the process of planting a church for the first time but more because of the quiet deeper work God is doing in me. When I was 15 I remember the daily struggle and internal wrestling of trying to figure out who I was amidst the sea of teens fighting for their identity in school; jocks, druggies, players, churchy-types, goths, and loners. I remember the constant wonderment “where do I fit, am I any of those things?” Insecurity and identity has been a lifelong theme and a point of spiritual work in my life. I remember buckling under the pressure once as the quarterback in high school during a key game. The overwhelming eyes and expectations to be a star, to lead the team, to wow everybody caused me to […]

Clearing Space for the Gospel: Part 1

00 The gospel needs room, room to breathe. We don’t realize it sometimes but we can gradually suffocate the gospel’s power in our lives and in our church communities. It happens ever so slowly. The centrality of what Jesus Christ did, began, said and accomplished can be scootched to the perimeter of our spiritual life without us being aware of it. In my assessment I don’t think we intentionally take something that is at the center of our lives and move it aggressively to the back corner of our lives. In most cases something else subtly begins to take center stage and whatever was there before finds that it doesn’t have space anymore and so vacates the center. In the next few blogs I want to briefly converse about 3 different agendas (politics, moralism and pragmatism) that end up crowding out the power and life of the Gospel in a church or in an individual life. For this post let’s look at political agendas. There is an interesting back story to Judas the betrayer. Judas was a rich man and an active member of the Zealot Political Party of the Jews. This political party was advocating for the forceful removal […]