How to Fight “Christian”

My pastor has a saying he repeats often. “This isn’t a 10,” he says, meaning that the issue we are discussing might be important but not ultimate. It’s a practice he’s taught me to use in my relationships—with my wife, my children, and my coworkers—in order to reduce friction. I don’t know that this is […]

Embracing My Less than Spectacular Church

For nearly nine years I was on senior staff at one of the largest evangelical churches in the suburbs of Chicago. We were highly organized, and prided ourselves on excellence in all of our ministry outreaches. My drive to work every day was about 30 minutes, a commute that took me past many small churches, […]

Abortion Meets a New Generation

As evangelicals who came of age during the culture wars, we’re part of a generation ready to move past the pitched left-right debates. The critiques of Christian political activism have held some merit: A hyper-focus on elections, voter guides, and strategy has often buried the gospel story. Sometimes following Christ has strangely looked like following […]

The Church That Saved Me

When a church looks for a pastor, in most cases, it is looking for a leader who can revive its witness and vitality in the community. So I supposed Gages Lake Bible Church, a small, struggling church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, was looking for a human savior. And while we had some successes […]

How Did Jesus View the Bible?

When I pastored my small, theologically conservative church, I could safely assume the people sitting in the pews on Sunday morning to hear me preach believed that the Bible they held in their hands was God’s Word. But what exactly does that mean? Enter Pastor Kevin DeYoung. His book, Taking God at His Word: Why the […]

Behold Your Mother

“Yeah, well, we’re leaving tomorrow for vacation.” This was the stunning response I received from the adult daughter of an ill and elderly church member when I called to let them know her father was in the hospital, hanging on to life. I wish I could say this was a rare exception, but I’d be […]

The Worst Ministry Advice I Ever Received

“Son,” the pastor whispered to me as he put his hand on my shoulder, “You need to listen up to what I’m about to tell you, because it will be the key to your ministry success.” I leaned in, eager to hear this crucial insight. “Don’t become friends with anyone in your congregation.” This pastor […]

The Essential Art of Forgiveness in Ministry

I’ll never forget where I was when I nearly quit the ministry: sitting in my office at church, weeping. My wife was out of town with our children, ministering to a friend whose husband had just died from cancer. It was very early in my first pastorate. Being a senior pastor was new, different, and […]

We Should Expect Non-Christians to Share Our Morals

A common reaction among evangelicals to the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage has been deflection from controversy. This laissez-faire approach has been most commonly expressed by closely connected beliefs about Christianity and morality: We should not expect non-Christians to think and live like Christians. So why all the fuss among Christians over the legalization […]

7 Times Your ‘Righteous’ Anger Probably Isn’t

When pastors get angry, things can get complicated. On the one hand, we know that anger is not always an indication of sin. After all, we say to ourselves, Jesus got angry. Paul also counseled the Ephesians on anger, saying, “In your anger do not sin” (Eph. 4:26): implying that anger is inevitable in human […]

Here is the Church, but Where is the Steeple?

Several years ago, a church I pastored went through a massive remodeling effort, updating a tired, ‘90s-era look with more modern, chic, 21st-century décor. Peeling wallpaper was replaced with fresh paint. Hideous brown siding was covered over with a beautiful new stone treatment. A landscaper transformed some tired and unkempt bushes into a beautiful garden […]

Funeral for a Stranger

I sat in my office late on a Thursday afternoon after a week of meetings, study, and a thousand other crises big and small. By that point in the week I was thinking about what I would do on Friday: lock myself in my office, take no phone calls, and crank out the final draft of […]