Don’t Get it Twisted-The Kingdom and the Church

Too often we think of “kingdom” work as only happening in the Church, probably because too many of us equate the Church with the kingdom.  When Jesus preached, He didn’t say that the Church was near, but the kingdom of God.  Jesus’ work among the sick, poor, and outcast created kingdom outposts, places where God …

Ugly Church Stories: Hope in a Church Basement

Church basements can be places of transformation.  Just think about all the AA/NA meetings, community meals, clothing closets, food pantries, and support groups–not to mention Bible studies and Sunday Schools–that meet in church basements.  Both my own youth group as a teenager and the first youth group I pastored had our rooms in a corner …

Listening, Learning, Lifting Up, and Laying Down

When I took over management of a homeless shelter, I had never stayed in a homeless shelter.  I had never slept on the street.  As a young man I had experienced homelessness, sleeping in my car and surfing couches, but my life was not impacted by addiction, mental illness, or the myriad other contributing factors …

Preserving the Mission

In the wake of coronavirus/COVID-19, there has been a lot of contemplation, concentration, and consternation around preserving our churches in the pandemic.  Anything that could be reproduced digitally has been, regardless of the size or expertise of churches.  Services are streaming from empty sanctuaries, living rooms, and outside spaces.  Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Zoom, Google and …

Staying Ugly in a Pandemic

In the ugly church we talk a lot about physical presence in messy lives, situations, and circumstances, modeling our ministry after that of Jesus.  We want to be about the business of touching “lepers” and breaking bread with “sinners.” With the coronavirus pandemic, our usual modes of connection have been cut off.  Visits to the …

The Funnel of Love (Not a Typo)

I’m naturally a visual person, which means I tend to think in pictures. As I was thinking about the way the Church typically approaches outreach and evangelism, it struck me as, well, backward. And the picture of a funnel came to mind. Based on what I understand about Jesus’ ministry and the way the modern …