Latest Thoughts

Happy Father’s Day, Step-Dads!

Posted by on Jun 13, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Father's Day is upon us.  Many of us had step-fathers.  This vid is especially a shout-out to you.  Thank you for being a dad to children not (biologically) your own.  Thank you for making us your own.  Thank you for being the sacrament, the presence of Jesus for your family!


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7 Marks That Say You’re A Sacramental Entrepreneur

Posted by on Jun 12, 2014 in Blog | 3 comments

FiveTwo is looking to launch 10,000 Sacramental Entrepreneurs over the next 30 years.  Which is a big number.  Which means we need to get busy.

But what, pray tell, is a Sacramental Entrepreneur?  Glad you asked.  Let me start back a few pages.

Every now and then, like almost every week, someone asks me, "What’s FiveTwo about?  Why does it exist?"  Well, we exist b/c the mainline, sacramental church in the US is dying.  The stats are atrocious.  And we want to do something about it.  That something is to start new.  We believe that in order to reach new, the Church needs to start new. 

Now I’m not talking just new church plants.  Although that’s part of it.  I’m talking the whole spectrum: new groups, new businesses, new relationships, new community developments, new ways of thinking, new ways of acting, and yes, new churches.

You have to get out and do some new. 

Biblically speaking, the Church needs to regain its apostolic focus. 

So we’re looking for the apostolic folk who want to start sacramental communities of all sizes and shapes, generations and geographies. 

We call that guy a sacramental entrepreneur.  These are men and women who love sacramental theology AND they love Jesus’ lost people AND they like to start new. 

We're looking for 30,000 of them.  Which would be 30,000 of you.

The 7 Marks

To help you know if you're in the Sacramental Entrepreneur club, here are 7 characteristics of SE's.  If you have 3 or more, we've waived the entrance fee.  You can thank me later.

1.  I'm burdened for Jesus’ lost people.  Very simply, I love them; I want to reach them; I think the Church should reach them; and frankly, I enjoy being with them, oftentimes more so than being with followers of Jesus.  They’re refreshing.  I want them in heaven.

2.  I’m tired of the status quo.  I am frustrated by problems that go unresolved and practices that need reforming.  Today is the day to start moving the ball down the field.

3.  I see “beyond” today.  I can see what the future would be like if we move beyond today’s changeable reality.  And while that future might move through pain, it is full of hope.

4.  I multiply growth.  More people, more groups, more impact, more cities, more whatever.  Somehow when God has me touch things, they increase.  Especially disciples.

5.  I see obstacles as opportunities.  Change is a resource.  Rules are made to be rewritten.  Not God’s rules, but man’s rules, of which there are an abundance.

6.  I attract like-minded, new-start people.  People tend to say “yes” to my invitations to follow, and we tend to have a good amount of unanimity in the journey.

7.  I start things without anyone telling me I should.  I'm talking clubs, ministries, groups, businesses….  Everywhere I go, I’m the guy or gal that launches new initiatives.  It just seems natural.  This characteristic is probably the most telling of your SE-ness.  And if this is really strong in you, years later those initiatives are still happening.

You might have noted that none of these 7 marks deal with what we mean by sacramental.  If that’s still a question for you, be sure and check out other blog posts on this site.

Are you an SE?

How many of the marks do you have? 3 or more?  You’re the kind of sacramental entrepreneur we want to pour into.  I'd love to know who you are.  Share some info in the comments below.

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150 Years of Being Jesus’ Sacrament

Posted by on Jun 10, 2014 in Blog | 1 comment

Ok, so you won’t live to be 150.  Unless medicine greatly morphs.  But your congregation might.  St. Paul’s Lutheran in Decatur, IL just celebrated its 150th.  150 years of being Jesus’ sacrament for the community.

Have you ever thought about blessing a community for that many years?  Ever asked your congregational leaders what that would look like?  "150 years from now, the community would look like ____________ because of our blessing."

What about simply blessing it for as long as you live there?

Radical sacramental insight:  Knowing Jesus is present in me AND acting on that knowledge doesn’t just change me; it changes my community.  Jesus-present-in-me should lead to Jesus-present-in-my-neighborhood through me.

A sacrament brings the presence of Jesus and all of His gifts into the touchable, taste-able realm.  It parts history and imparts grace.  If the presence of Jesus lives in you through your baptism, he desires to live in your community through you. 

City implications?  Global implications?  Perhaps the next great evangelistic movement will explode more through demonstration than proclamation.  Show me (the Jesus) money.  

Sadly most congregations’ blessing has a half-life like the Wicked Witch and water: it dies a quick death outside the brick.

Which leads to a Western Church more known for Word instead of works.  Not talking works-righteousness, here.  Just talking James’ concern about invisible faith.

If Christ is present in you — if you are His sacrament — then what does your sacramental presence look like for your community?  How is Jesus asking you to live out His presence with the young family whose dog keeps digging under your fence?  With the grocery store clerk who obviously expended all of her patience before you arrived?  With the business owner who is trying to start a real estate company near your church?   Do you know her name?  Have you listened to her story?  How are you helping her succeed?

This isn’t about a theological position as much as it’s about a life position.  It’s a stance that reflects God’s transforming love in me, freeing me to be a sacrament of His love to my community.  Freeing my ministry to be a sacrament for the neighborhood.

Where does Jesus want to make a difference in your community through His presence in you?  Think you’ll be in the game 150 years from now?

Share your thoughts below.

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4 Practices I Do To Deepen The Presence of Christ In Me

Posted by on Jun 5, 2014 in Blog | 1 comment

4 Practices I Do to Deepen The Presence of Christ In Me

It’s one of the most difficult Christian tenets for the non-Christian to believe:  Jesus is really present in you and me.  Yet Paul says clearly: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.  The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)  This verse depicts the depth of sacramental faith.  Jesus is really present in the life of the believer.

It shouldn’t be that difficult to grasp, I guess.  You’ve heard the truism – “You become who you hang with.”  When I spend time with you, you rub off on me.  Or as Carl Jung said, “The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.”

Presence changes you.  And the presence of Jesus in you should rub off some corners, smooth some creases, soften some words.  He must increase, I must decrease.

Thus these Four Practices.  Otherwise, I tend to lock Him in a pantry until Sunday…or Christmas.

1.     Read “The Practice of the Presence of God.”  I read this book at least once a year, sometimes twice.  It’s an ancient classic I didn’t discover until the early 1990’s.  Ever since then I annually read it to remind me to live in Jesus in the mundane.  His presence never deserts me, thus His ear never grows deaf nor His voice distant.  His presence never deserts me, thus where I am, He is.  This book has helped me appreciate every moment as holy, every believer as a sacrament.

2.     Use Baillie’s “A Diary of Private Prayer.”  A pastor I respect shared this with me and my wife.  She bought me a hardback used version and wrote all of my staff and families names on the appropriate pages.  If your birthdate is on April 1 or October 1, your name is written on the “First Day” morning page.  Thus when I pray one of Baillie’s stunning prayers, I also remember to pray for you.  You can thank my wife.

3.     Read through the Book of Acts.  While the book is descriptive and not prescriptive, it testifies to what God’s Spirit does when it moves into new peoples and places.  I’ve probably read this book almost 100 times over the last 27 years.  It’s a testimony to the power of the presence of Jesus in His people.  It has become my manifesto.

4.     Read through a Gospel.  I want to get to know Jesus, what He did, how He corrected, how He loved, how He lived.  I don’t read for understanding as much as I just read so the Word of Jesus gets into me.  So that Jesus gets into me.  I read the Gospels to give words to the presence of Christ already in me.  I want to know Jesus more deeply so that I depend on Him more fully.

What about you, how is the presence of Christ in you changing you?  And what do you do to deepen that presence?  I’d love to know.  Share in the comments below so that others can learn from your practices.

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Do You Have Sacramental Flow?

Posted by on Jun 3, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Depending on the Christian denomination you call home, sacramental might invoke images of ancient icons and bishops in miters.  Or, if you’re like me, simply baptism and the Lord’s Supper.  Whichever end of the spectrum you live on, we’ve got you in FiveTwo.  And then some.

Sacramental faith is FiveTwo’s fountainhead.  Everything else flows from this relationship.  (Yes, faith fundamentally is a relationship, not a feeling or possession, not an act or expression.  It’s a relational way of being, established by your Creator God when He gave you His Spirit.)  By sacramental we don’t mean simply the worship definition of baptism and Lord’s Supper.  We include that, yes.  But we’re expanding the footprint, widening the stream. 

Sacramental is more of a flow-based experience.

Here’s how it works:  Sacramental faith starts with the Christ that is present in the Word.  That flows into the Christ that is present in the sacraments.  The sacraments embody the Christ that’s in the Scriptures.  As you and I participate in those sacraments, we receive that Christ.  This Christ then fills us to be His presence for the world.

Word to Sacraments to Us to the World.  Sacramental flow.

It all starts in the Word, which reveals Jesus at every turn.  As Luther said, Scripture is “the swaddling clothes and the manger”.  The more we unwrap the swaddling clothes, the more of Jesus we find.  Scripture teaches us about Christ, revealing God’s heart for humanity and humanity’s need for God.

Flowing from that rooting, Christ is present in the sacraments. The sacraments are mysterious, beautiful and powerful.  In them Jesus explodes into our time and space, allowing us to experience the very real presence of Christ. 

I participate in the sacraments:  Christ participates in me.  

Baptism is a physical act, commanded by Jesus, communicating Jesus' forgiveness.  It anchors my daily life in His presence and power, daily drowning and raising me to new life in Him. How does this sacramental reality live out in your daily life?

The Lord’s Supper transports me to the cross where I experience sacramental union with Christ in His death and the covenant of God’s everlasting love (Jer. 31).  Jesus present in me, in you, empowers me for living in grace, desiring to follow, to worship, to be in His presence.  How does this sacramental reality live out in your daily life?

When we participate in the Sacraments, the Christ present in the sacraments becomes the Christ present in you and me.   Word to Sacraments to Us.

But it doesn’t stop there.  Finally, the flow culminates with Christ coming to life in the spiritual community – when the “I’s” join together into “we” the sacramental nature of community comes alive.  As our awareness of His presence in us increases, we live out His presence more and more for the world.  Our hearts follow His heart, loving the people He loves, sacrificing for the people He died for. 

Living out His sacramental presence leads to a life of generosity.  Generosity that flows from the heart of God through the cross of Jesus into the waters of our baptisms and through the bread and wine of the supper, through our hands, feet and dollars into a world that ignorantly ignores its Creator and Redeemer, to it’s eternal detriment.

How is Jesus flowing through you into your community…for your community?  How's your sacramental flow?

Tell us your thoughts below!

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Leaving The Vomit Behind

Posted by on May 29, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Friend and fellow-FiveTwo-er — not to mention great writer — R.J. Grunewald is releasing a fabulous little eBook this am: Addiction: Leaving The Vomit Behind.  It's not only a quick read; it's thoughtful and insightful and perfect for a sermon series on addictions.  So whether you're looking for a resource to give someone or looking for a message series to use this summer, head over to RJ's blog and sign up for your free copy TODAY!

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Organic vs Organized

Posted by on May 27, 2014 in Blog | 3 comments

Gather me a group of sacramental leaders, especially younger ones, and within five minutes I can start a fight.  All I have to do is diss “organic.” 

I’m not talking Whole Foods.  Or Sprouts.  I’m talking organic as in Church.  As in anti-programmatic.  As in “We need to let the Spirit lead and allow discipleship to happen, to just be part of everyday life.  We can’t force it.”  Which I agree with: justification and sanctification are both the work of the Spirit of Jesus, and discipleship should be daily, interwoven into all of life.

But it sometimes appears those fawning over organic have forgotten how organized the world – down to it’s atomic level – is.  Not to mention that organized people-structures, properly done, actually allow for more people to get involved.  The gift of administration contributes involvement to the Body.

Sidebar for a second:  I’ve often wondered if the aversion to “large church” is simply a lack of appreciation for or possession of administrative gifts.  Effective leaders need not possess the ability to organize, but they dare not neglect its value.   Said Paul, "If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?" (1 Corinthians 12:17)

Therefore, organic is organized, or else it tends to peter out; and organized, if it isn’t organic, creates disciple shells that lack substance.  Like a meatless taco.  Any effective, long-term discipleship process will have structure and routine, co-mingled with rhythms and flexibility.  Organic and organized.

Double that for movements, especially the movement FiveTwo is hoping to ignite.

We know that unless the Spirit of Jesus blesses our work and focuses our steps, ours will be a short-lived flash in the pan.  So we remain flexible before Him, sensing the doors He’s opening and praying for discernment and courage.  We have a dream for what we hope He brings about through our efforts, but we know ultimately He will dictate the future.  His sovereignty brings us great comfort even as we toil.

But we also know that for the organic to take off, to grow into something larger than just the nine original planters, larger than the 40 Locals in existence, larger than the 800+ sacramental leaders we’re expecting in September…for something larger to happen, purposeful structure is also needed.

That’s where the Locals – and especially the Catalysts – come in.

Every FiveTwo Local has at least one Local Catalyst.  He or she is like some fire starter that helps the kindling turn into a blaze.

Here’s what the job description says: The Local Catalyst is FiveTwo’s “man on the ground,” encouraging and equipping replication-minded sacramental leaders (staff & lay) to multiply the Church in their metropolitan area.  The critical role of the catalyst dictates we pay attention to how she is selected and supported in the movement.  We have to balance both the organic and the organized.

When I re-read the above description of the Local Catalyst, a couple things jump out.  

First, Catalysts encourage.

Seriously: If you could depict the emotions you encounter while leading a ministry, “isolated” and “discouraging” would be your Rorschach answers.  Too often we have no on we can turn to who brings that much-needed encouragement and hope. 

That’s why we created the role of catalyst.  Capital E Encourager.  Which leads to Capital C Courage. 

Second, Catalysts equip. How are you going to accomplish the three goals that FiveTwo is chasing?  What skills do you wish you had as you lead in your vocation?  Which ones need sharpening?  Your Local Catalyst wants to help you find the knowledge and people you need, AND, he wants to help share your knowledge and skill with others in the network.

The Catalyst encourages and equips.  He’s a giant people connector.

Third, Catalysts pour into leaders.  She’s leader of leaders or developer of leaders. Not as a supervisor but rather as someone who truly cares and desires your growth and development for the sake of more people knowing Jesus.  He knows that the more he helps you make a difference, the more he’s going to grow himself.  But the heart of these relationships is that there would be someone on the ground, in a community, who is investing noticeable time and energy into making the people around him more effective in their ministry to lost people.

If a catalyst is effective, every person connected to the local will be more effective.

That sounds out of balance – If the catalyst is pouring into the people in his local, who pours into the catalyst? Ah, structure and organization rear their beautiful heads. FiveTwo relies heavily on a small group of highly developed sacramental entrepreneurs that we call the national catalysts.  Every single local catalyst is connected to a national catalyst.

These national catalysts do the very same things for the local catalysts that the local catalysts do in their local. Think about it like this: The national catalysts pour into the local catalysts. The local catalysts pour into the members of their community, their local. It’s organic, and it’s built on relationship.

Relationship is the bond that holds those different people together for the sake of advancing the movement we are calling FiveTwo. It’s organic life on life. And it’s organized and structured. This gives us the best chance for effectiveness across the board, in managing this Holy Spirit wind.

Want to be a Local Catalyst?  Click on this link and we’ll lead you through the process to discern if God is calling you to this apostolic role.

The FiveTwo Local is where FiveTwo will make the maximum impact.  We’re pumped about what’s already happened, but we know there’s still more to come.  Are you in?

We’d love to hear your comments below!

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If You Want To Change The World, Make Your Bed

Posted by on May 26, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Fantastic speech from Naval Admiral William H. McRaven. McRaven is the commander of U.S. Special Operations and oversaw the mission that killed Osama bin Laden.  He gave this speech at the University of Texas commencement.  But it's still good. :>)

Actually, it's amazing.


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A Fantastic Memorial Day Collage

Posted by on May 25, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

This Memorial Day picto-story from Huffington Post is worth your view. Soul-stirring pictures and a few vids remind us Memorial Day is about more than a day off.


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A Must-Read on Gay Marriage

Posted by on May 24, 2014 in Blog | 2 comments

One of the best written pieces on the cosmological shift that is gay marriage.  It's more than a relationship issue: it's an order-of-creation, how-the-world-works issue.

What does this say to you and how you will approach this issue…in your family…in your relationships…in your congregation?

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