A Reason to Attend

harter house

I find myself in the Oakland airport waiting for my connecting flight.  This trip to Lake Havasu City was not a vacation nor was it a business trip.  This was a family trip.  My mom was in the hospital and my dad needed on site help with important decisions about her care (as of this writing mom is heading for rehab).

Tomorrow (Sunday 9/27/15) St John’s as a congregation has an opportunity to gather together between the Sunday worship services not for a vacation or for business but for onsite help for important decisions regarding the care of our community.  Carolyn Schoenborn put it this way in an email to the St John’s Google Group:

A Personal Invitation

Early in our ministry when our children were still young and our pastoral salary qualified our children for free lunches, our parents and key members of the congregation – in their own ways – saw to it that we had the resources we needed to keep from falling into unrecoverable poverty.

We now do the same for our adult children and their families. Sometimes the assistance is minor. Sometimes it has been major. But, families especially care for one another. However, if we are victims of generational poverty, how are such life saving resource made available?

St. Johns has a wonderful opportunity to step in and become a potentially significant resource to persons living in severe poverty here in Lewis County.

On behalf of the Social Ministries Committee, I encourage us all to attend the congregational meeting this Sunday and learn how we can make a major difference for persons who are homeless and living in poverty. It’s a ministry opportunity we will not want to miss!

Carolyn Schoenborn

Please accept Carolyn’s invitation and come at 9:45am Sunday morning to learn more about this exciting opportunity and to give your first hand help in important decisions for the care of our community.

Playing music because–music

I’ve spent time off and on in worship bands in ELCA worshipping communities over the last 25 years or so. One of the toughest things for me about playing in an ELCA worship band is that this kind of playing just doesn’t happen very often.

It isn’t so much the skill of these two men–it’s the pure joy they have at just playing their instruments together and exploring what they can do. As a church musician, I’ve found too often we turn music into an utilitarian exercise. Music is a means to an end. Musicians are there to lead the congregation in song. Musicians are there to not draw attention to themselves. Musicians must do whatever it takes to stay out of the way.

But as a musician, music just moves me. It is not a utilitarian exercise. There are rules and rudimentary skills, yes. However, there is so much more to what music has to offer you and me. Music is one of the ways in which we can experience God.

I remember being asked, “Can Christians sing the blues?” The answer is yes. And Christians can sing Hard Rock, Country, Bluegrass, Jazz, Classical, Pop, what ever music comes up–Christians can and I would argue should play the style.

In fact, I think we need to spend as much time gathered together as Christians enjoying where music takes us as we do following the little black notes in the hymn book, sheet music, chord chart, or choir music. Exploring music for the voice of God in big and little ways in the midst of the way the sounds of music move us.

Let’s play music because—music.

Stop Helping Everyone

nonprofit-storytelling-featured-imageNow that I have your attention, one of the hardest things to learn in ministry is discernment.  Discernment is the process of figuring out what Jesus is calling one to do.  You might call discernment “holy decision-making.”  Sometimes discernment calls one to say no to really great ministry in order to say yes to what is really the calling of God.

Christy Wright’s suggestion is to ask:

So what would Jesus do?

Jesus stopped and prayed.

Jesus sometimes said no.

Jesus went away to be alone.

Jesus rested.

Jesus didn’t follow the need. He followed His assignment.

So what does this hard work of discernment give us?

This week, let’s stop trying to be the hero. Instead, let’s pray and lean into what God is asking of us.

We may find that when we stop being busy trying to help everyone everywhere, we will find more energy, joy, fulfillment and success. Then we can focus on the needs we are called to, the situations we are assigned to and the people we are appointed to.

Something to think about

From Discover Your Windows by Kent R. Hunter

A man walked into the pastor’s office and said: “I want to join the church.  But don’t ask me to do anything. I don’t want to be part of any organization.  I don’t want to do any work.  I’ll come to church when I feel like it, but that’s it.”

The pastor replied:  “I see.  Well you’re at the wrong address.  Here, go to this address just down the road.  They have exactly what you want.”

The man left and went down the street until he came to the address which the pastor gave him, and was shocked to find himself at the entrance to a cemetery.

Faith takes action.

Vic Halboth


The Day the Bodybuilders met the Baptists


St John’s is a Lutheran flavored congregation so why in the world am I blogging about bodybuilders and baptists?


Do we reflect the very best of the gospel of Jesus, or are we slipping into the lure of institutionalism and isolationism? Do we actually know our neighbors? Do we love our city as Jesus loved Jerusalem? Do we honestly care about the needs and lives of those outside the church? How do we welcome the stranger, and those very different than us? Are we aware of how unapproachable or otherworldly we appear to others? Do we recognize that, unless we convince them otherwise, our culture identifies us with the grotesque aberrations of Christianity that the media panders to? How have we allowed the political culture, rather than the gospel, to shape us?

These are great questions! We are called to constantly monitor how we are representing Christ to each other and to the world.

Pastor Matt

What Netflix Can Teach Us About Church

nonprofit-storytelling-featured-imageThis blog post by Carey Nieuwhof is nearly a year old but it speaks well to what we are facing as The Church.  Carey shares five shifts in culture embodied in Netflix.  One of the great take-aways for me

Clearly people are looking for a better story. Church leaders need to bring it to them.

I love watching the Netflix original shows because they have great story lines, push the envelope, and are rich and full of life.  Carey calls them the movies of today.  It’s not the bland, one size fits all of TV programming of the 20th century.  It is full, rich story-telling–on demand.

We need to tell the Greatest Story Ever….well.  The entire Gospel in all it’s richness and interesting twists.  No Netflix or TV show can touch the drama and impact of Jesus Christ.  Tell….The…..Story.