All posts filed under: Church & Culture

Little rules that keep churches little


Rule #1: No Coffee in the Sanctuary There are different reasons why churches come up with this kind of rule. Maybe they are concern that the carpet or seats will get ruined by spilled coffee. Maybe it’s the false notion that eating or drinking in God’s house is irreverent. Maybe it’s the excuse that it is distracting to see others drink a cup of coffee in the house of God. Whatever the reason, in my opinion – it is completely ridiculous. Would you feel the same if I brought a bottle of water into the sanctuary? Would you really be distracted if I took a sip of water from my water battle? I don’t really think so. I am sure some of these folks mean well. They don’t want spills, distractions, irreverence etc…  Like the 89-year-old woman in my congregation who consistently asks visitors and church members to take their coffee out of the sanctuary. Unfortunately, well-meaning people always act out of a misinformed, zeal without knowledge, religious spirit with no basis in the gospel. Quite …

From Southwest with Love


I would like to first of all ask you to kindly take some time at end of this post, to share your pleasant or not so pleasant experiences – church hunting or just visiting for the first time. As a pastor, I don’t get the chance to visit other churches. Simply because I have to attend and lead mine every Sunday. But from time to time, when I’m away church traveling, I put it on the top of my list. It is at this time that I feel how uncomfortable it is for people looking for a new church or just visiting one. To say the least, my last two visits were really bad. I was in Nashville,  Tennessee visiting a church and almost felt invisible. It wasn’t that people weren’t talking among themselves,  it seemed like they were too focused on who they knew. I stood alone for about 15 minutes just next to the pastor who briefly looked at me, than turned away and continue talking with this group of five guys. After …

7 Wins for your Ccommunity


Dear Church Family, It is good to come to you today through the love and grace of Jesus our Lord. Allow me to share a few words about what I believe God is doing and wants to do at TAG this fall. The Lord has shown me at least 5 Areas in wish He wants to prosper us this fall I am calling this the 5 Wins of Fall. The church that prays together wins The church that suffers together wins The Church the forgives one another wins The Church that serves together wins The Church that Dreams together wins The church the unites wins The Church loves God and His people believer and unbelievers wins. As your pastor, it is my duty to not only call the Church to action, but to lead the way, through example. So I want to Repent and ask your forgiveness in areas I have failed to show good example and leadership. I want to personally ask for your forgiveness if I have hurt or grieve you in any …

15 Prayers to encourage unity in the Body of Christ


My teenage daughter was at youth camp last week. They had the young and dynamic preacher named Isaiah Saldivar as the speaker every evening. It was really good. At the end of the week when I arrived to pick her up, they were doing a Q&A session and a few people were sharing. A young man got up and began to share about how frustrating it is for him when it comes to denominational differences. He is from a Nazarene church, but is cool with coming to a camp at an Assembly of God Church. I applaud him for speaking his mind about the frustrations too many young people face when it comes to this subject.  His willingness to seek God with friends from other denominations is a good step toward creating a friendly attitude to denominational differences. Having said that, I think too many Christians are mistaking to think that denominational differences are of the devil. I believe that there are denominational differences today because people naturally choose to align themselves with groups that hold or espouse their …

The Culture of Pastoral Notoriety


Part 2 in the series – “The Pulpit and The Pew” The number one thing rocking the pulpit with scandal after scandal in America, is the rock star status of celebrity pastors. From heresy to immorality, worldliness to apostasy, consumerism to greed, the culture of celebrity pastors is bringing the western church to its knees. It doesn’t matter if you pastor a mega church or a small church in your neck of the woods. Nor does it matter if you’ve written a book, air a television program of your own or have a just a few followers and fans. You can fall into the trap of desiring the status of “the next big thing” no matter where and who you are. Who is a celebrity pastor? The common mistake is to select big names, men or women whom God has apparently raised up as voices to this generation and brand them with a negative connotation. Another mistake is to pick on easy targets like those incredibly gifted to speak and lead, or those with a million …

The Pulpit and the Pew Mini Series


Allow me to introduce a six part mini series entitled, “The Pulpit and the Pew: 6 Cultures bringing the American Church to its knees.” Here is an outline of the 6 parts. I am going to devote three parts to the pulpit and three parts to the pew. Here is and idea: The Pulpit: 1. The Culture of Swagger without Substance 2. The Culture of Pastoral Notoriety 3. The Culture of pastoral Isolation The Pew: 1. The Culture of Hooking up 2. The Culture of Shacking up 3. The Culture of Cozying up Part 1: The Culture of Swagger without Substance Today, all around America, there is a lot of swag going on in pulpits of every denomination and every church. We even have what some call – “hipsters and celebrity pastors.”  There is a culture of swagger in the pulpit but there is not enough substance to back it up. Every preacher has a style and it’s okay to have style. Unfortunately, style doesn’t change lives, never has never will. Seth Godin, the one …

11 things I tell Seniors in my Church


At one time in my church, there was no one under 50 years old. Last January, I told a couple of women in my church that my mother just turned 75 and they were  like – “oh my word, she’s very young.” I love seniors, they are fun to hang out with. You learn a lot from them. Their wisdom, and strength rub off just by hanging with them. But other times they can come across as being too set in their ways. Here are 11 things I usually tell them: The internet/ technology/ social media is not of the devil Yes! The internet is sometimes used for great evil but it can also be used for great good. It all depends who’s using it and for what purpose. So, learn how to use it and use it for uplifting and educational purposes. The world has always been evil Sometimes when seniors talk about the evil in the world, it almost sounds like things were not that bad back in the day. There has always been wars and …

So long Selfie…


The word “Selfie” first popped up in an Australian chat room on September 13, 2002, to describe an undignified scene.  For years after its birth, “selfie” crept through the web largely unnoticed. But in 2012, the word of the year began its ascent to digital fame. By August 2013, Oxford proclaimed it a real English-language word and gave it a place in the dictionary — but that was merely a stepping stone to lingual infamy. “Selfie” beat out seven competitors, including “twerk,” “schmeat” (synthetically produced meat) and “bitcoin” for the Word of the Year crown. What is the meaning of “Selfie?” Selfie is: “A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smart phone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.” I often thought it was something that kids did until I saw Presidents and Heads of state do it at a funeral. Sorry, I did not mean to sound too self-righteous. I have taken selfies of myself – innocent snapshots hanging with my family, celebrating and creating digital memories to enjoy …

The Danger of a Single Story


I recently listened to a TED Talk that left a very good impression on me. You know, one of those things you’ve always felt and wanted to say but you could not find the exact word to communicate it until somebody else voices out the exact thing you’ve thought or writes so eloquently the contents of your thoughts and imagination. That is exactly what Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie did for me in this brilliant talk she entitled – “The danger of a single story.” She said, Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories. If we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding. What did she mean by that and how important is her story? I think you will find her story very compelling. If you would like to watch her speak on the subject you can watch it here. If not you can read the transcript of her talk provided below – you won’t regret it. ______________________________________ I’m a storyteller. And I would like to …

100 Years of Fire


Four days ago I had the privilege of revisiting a very historic Church right in the heart of San Francisco. They kicked off a three month celebration of 100 years of fruitful ministry to the city. The senior pastors of Glad Tidings San Francisco, Forrest & Christina Beiser are my spiritual parents. With them I served the Church and the city for about four years. So I was very glad to be back. We had a special time celebrating and looking back on all the great things God had done and all the pastors and their families The Lord used in the process. Robert and Mary Craig, founders of Glad Tidings Temple and Bible Institute, were part of a religious movement that since the early 1900′s has become the largest branch of contemporary Protestantism. The history of this part of Christianity is remarkable, and so is the history of the development of Glad Tidings Church. This movement emphasized that GOD could be a part of every area of life, that GOD could be experienced, and …