Help support the vision of Woodland Hills Community Church!

Help support the vision of Woodland Hills Community Church!
For those of you who would like to support the vision & ministry of Woodland Hills Community Church (the faith community I serve that continues to encourage me to minister outside the box), please click on the link just above.

Attitude Check

Lots of folks have wondered about my mental state as I prepare this week to finish my three-month sabbatical and head back to "work" this Saturday. I thought I would use this space to help answer that question. If I were to chose one word to describe my mental and spiritual state as I resume my ministry, that would would be "peaceful". I say this because I truly have no angst or anxiety about my return to ministry. This is probably because I'm not returning with lots of new programs in which I feel personally invested. After all, my sabbatical has further grounded me in the realization that our ministries (whether they be individual or collective) are not really about US - they are about GOD. I believe that God has called me to faithful embody and live out my spiritual values and convictions. It's not my job to "sell", "market", or "win folks over" to these things. Instead, I need to give others the space and encouragement to live out their spiritual values and convictions. Then the individual (pastor or parishioner) and faith community can mutually decide if the ministerial relationship is still a good fit and proceed from there. I see this process as a very relational and organic process rather than an artifical or forced process. This is all to say that I strongly believe that the future will take care of itself. I've already started assuming some of my day-to-day duties (i.e. I worked on a draft of Sunday's sermon last week and the bulletin last night). My biggest challenge when it comes to resuming old familiar tasks and routines is to approach them with new eyes. I'm hoping that the people of Mountain View will do the same as on Sunday we strive not to return to the same ministerial relationship we had before my departure last May; rather, my hope is that we'll begin reacquainting ourselves one another as we renew our pledge to establish a vital, dynamic ministry in whatever form the Spirit is calling us to create. We'll see if my hopes are met. Til next time...

Easing Back

Hi there: After a month off, I think it's time to return and begin sharing a new portion of our journey together. As you might now, this blog was originally set up in order to allow me to share my sabbatical learnings. Through the course of the summer I've realized the blog might be a great tool to use to help me regularly refect on my attempts to live as both a Christian and as a pastor. We'll see how it goes. This morning, I'll be worshipping for the last time with the faith community in which I've spent a good portion of the summer worshipping. They are a small church struggling with some of the same issues that we have grappled with together at Mountain View. The pastor of the church asked me to share a few words of encouragement with the community this morning. I thought I would try out those words on you first - as I believe the words fit each and every individual and faith community: no matter what the size or circumstance. Here goes:

As the pastor of a church who five years ago stood exactly where you stand today, I spent some time in prayer and mediation this week thinking about what words of encouragement I might offer you as you begin your journey toward a new North. During this time I realized that there were three questions I might invite you to keep in mind that might help guide you o the journey ahead.


The answer to question one comes to us in this morning's call lesson from the first chapter of Jeremiah: "You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you." Never forget those words! When you feel yourself wanting to assert your agenda or your ego - or when you sit in a session or committee meeting and feel another asserting their agenda or their ego - stop right there and return to God's words to Jeremiah and remind yourselves just who's ministry it is with which you have been entrusted. Then trust the Holy Spirit to get you back on track!


In working with several troubled churches over the years, I’ve noticed that many of them have a favorite phrase they like to use constantly: “If only…” The say things like, “If only we had more money” or “If only we have more volunteers to help with the work”. They like to think that they are totally unequipped for the challenges before them.
But God’s words to Jeremiah paint a different picture for those who have been called by God. In the first chapter of Jeremiah, he – and we – are told: "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; before you were born I set you apart..." As a struggling faith community I want you to take heart this morning knowing that each and every resource you need to move forward with your ministry and claim the unlimited future before you has already been provided. Every dollar that’s needed – every volunteer that’s needed – is in your midst this very morning. Knowing this, you have to realize it’s time to go forward with faith and confidence and put those resources to work and let God take care of the rest!

Well, the answer is provided for us in this morning's letter to the Hebrews. In these words to a faith community struggling to make sense of themselves and their ministry, God offered these words from the twelfth chapter of Hebrews, verse 28. I want to use Eugene Peterson's translation The Message for reasons I hope you'll find obvious afterwards. The verse reads: "Do you see what you've got? An unshakeable kingdom! And do you see how thankful we must be? Not only thankful, but brimming with worship..."
There’s your answer. We are called to go forward with a spirit of thanks... a spirit brimming with worship!

Friends, if we ground ourselves in each of these answers, there is simply no way you can fail. For the goal before you isn’t about changing the color of your budget from red to black. Nor is the goal about putting a certain amount of new names on your membership rolls. No, your goal is to participate in the realization of the Reign of God right here in your midst. May God be with you as you work toward your goal!