Confessions of a recovering church kid

I have a problem. I love the Church, but I’m not the biggest fan of the weekend church service. Don’t get me wrong, I know the importance of the weekend service, but I don’t love how it’s actually done a lot of the time. Growing up I went to a traditional Pentacostal church. Each week had a few songs, then the choir would sing, followed by a prayer for the offering. While the offering was taken up, someone would sing their special song of the week. Then we’d have a sermon finished by the altar call where I rededicated my life to Jesus every other week. After that we’d file out and shake the pastor and his wife’s hand as we left. I went to church every Sunday morning, most Wednesday nights, and the occasional Sunday night. I played trombone in the church band, did puppets for children’s church, and…
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Five shifts I’d love to see the Church make over the next five years

I’m finishing up my first year of not being on staff at a church. This year has given me a different perspective than I’d had before. That new perspective has led me to question how we’re doing things and if we could do them better. As I’ve thought about these things, I’ve been encouraged about where the Church could be a few years from now. Sure, it has some issues, but so does everything else on the planet. With a few tweaks to our approach and strategies, I truly believe we could impact the world around us in ways that have never before been seen. Because of that, here are five shifts I’d love for the Church to make over the next five years. Churches engage culture and speak into issues For decades there has been a tension inside the church: do we engage secular culture or do we create our…
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Giving up to grow up; or how I committed digital suicide

When I was in high school, my friends gave me a nickname: SuperJon. It started as a joke but ended up sticking in a way that weird high school nicknames stick. My high school girlfriend even gave me a Superman t-shirt with “SuperJon” across the back. Over time SuperJon developed into a persona. It was a different part of me that I channeled when needed. It was the loud, outgoing, energetic side that people saw in public. For most, this was the side of me they met first. SuperJon was my way of putting up a barrier and keeping people from knowing the real me. It wasn’t until I was about to graduate college that I started becoming comfortable with Jonathan. I wrestled with trying to be true to who I really was even though that’s not the guy most people knew. Would people like Jonathan? Would they be okay…
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On faith and fandom; or when can I criticize the coach?

I’m in a crisis. It’s not a real crisis or anything terribly important, but it’s something I’m wrestling with in my head and can’t get a grip on. I like sports. A lot. My college degree is in Sport Management with a minor in coaching. I’ve worked for a Division I football team and athletic department for four years. I was lucky enough to get two championship rings while in college and led a student fan group that is still talked about six years after we left school. Sports are a large part of what I care about. Liberty (where I went to college) is especially important to me. The crisis comes in that I don’t think our football coach is that great. For most people, that wouldn’t be a crisis. That’d just be a typical Friday in November as their season is coming to a close. But I wrote earlier this…
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The man with a bucket full of trash; or how hard work still matters

The daycare my daughter goes to is on a really cool piece of property. It used to be a giant farm. Now it’s been turned into an area that includes the daycare, a wedding venue, and a small office complex. There’s even a light house on a small pond. The only downside is the parking. Because of the layout of everything, the daycare entrance is about 75 yards from the closest parking spot. To get to the daycare, you have to walk down a sidewalk between a doctor’s office and a local magazine’s office. Every day, without fail, I pass the same guy while walking into the building. He’s employed by the complex. Each morning he walks around with a five gallon bucket picking up trash. Part of his job is to make sure the sidewalks are clean. If it’s raining: he’s there. If it’s cold: he’s there. No matter what’s going on,…
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The red cup crisis; or how we got worked up over a lie

Red cups. That’s what we are offended by this week. Towards the end of last week, a video of an angry dude with a beard started getting shared on Facebook. In it, he claimed Starbucks hated Jesus and therefore took the word Christmas off their annual holiday cups. On Friday night the video had been seen over six million times. By midday Saturday almost ten million. By Saturday night it was trending nationally. There’s only one problem with the video and its message: It was based on a lie.  Starbucks did not take Christmas off their cups because Starbucks never actually had Christmas on them in the first place. In the past there have been drawings of snowflakes, tree ornaments, reindeer, snowmen, and other winter or holiday symbols on the cups. But never the word “Christmas.” So how can Starbucks show their hate of Jesus by taking Christmas off their…
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What we can learn from Chris Stapleton, or why you shouldn’t give up yet

I’ve admitted on this blog before that I have a not-so-secret love of country music. The town I grew up in was next to a town called “Tobaccoville”. There was always going to be a little inherent redneck in me no matter how hard I tried to fight it. Last night was the highlight of the year for country music: the CMAs. In my judgment, the CMAs are the best award show of the year, including the Grammys. It’s always a good time. At the beginning of the show, there was a guy up for an award I’d never heard of: Chris Stapleton. I didn’t know his music but I knew from looking at him for one second that he was country music in its purest form. When he won new artist of the year, I was happy for him. Then he won Album of the Year. Then he performed with…
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Welcome to the Offended Church of America; or how we’ve forgotten Jesus’ promise

Hashtags! Facebook rants! Angry blog posts! Too often in today’s climate, Christians are known more for these things than we are for anything else. Whatever the current news cycle is, there’s something that has offended us enough for us to tell the world how offended we are. The latest in this cycle of the Offended Church of America (OCA) is a football coach in Washington state getting suspended (with pay!) for disobeying his public school district’s ruling against praying on the field. A Christian man took a stand against secular rules and was forced to pay the consequences. Instead of cheering this coach on for standing up for Jesus in the face of opposition, the OCA responded like we always do: with outrage, hashtags, and viral complaining towards the school district. We, the Offended Church of America, act as if its our right to practice our beliefs in front of…
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The sin we brag about; or how you’re committing murder

If I told you I stole something, your opinion of me would change. If I told you I cheated on my wife, you’d think I was a horrible person. If I told you I’d killed someone, you would want me in jail for the rest of my life. But if I told you I’d worked three straight weeks without a day off, you’d think I was a normal American “hustling” for the American dream. You’d think I had a great work ethic. You might even think I was successful just because I’ve been busy. My friend Dave Adamson said recently that breaking the sabbath is the only commandment we brag about disobeying. And he’s right. For some reason, we’ve forgotten how to rest. We’ve forgotten how to have unhurried time with friends and family. We’ve bought into a myth that “hustling” means working all the time and at all costs.…
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The less than definitive guide to cussing as a Christian

A few years back a comedy duo named Tripp & Tyler put out a video called Shoot Christians Say. The video was making fun of Christianese, or all the terms Christians use on a regular basis. If you haven’t seen the video, I recommend you go watch it now. It’s pretty great. My favorite part is the last segment where they ping pong Christian cuss words back and forth: Shoot. Sheesh. Frip. Darn it. What the h? Son of a bee sting. He’s really tee-ing me off. I’m going to kick his aye. Are you ess-ing me? Having gone to a Christian college, I’d heard every single one of these on a regular basis. When I worked in student ministry,  I heard students say these Christian cuss words around me because they were afraid of saying the real thing. They thought I’d be offended. Or think less of them. Or tell their…
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