How I almost made our church be one of the churches slamming the door on Jen Hatmaker (and why slamming doors reminded me to keep ours open).

Friends, we’re minutes away from Jen Hatmaker and Nichole Nordeman’s sold-out evening show, Moxie Matters, at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church where I serve as Associate Pastor. The matinee was a blast and I’m excited for tonight. What a pleasure it was to meet Jen, Nichole, and their team. The 600-person matinee audience shared laughter, tears, stories, and songs. The evening audience will do the same, and with just as much moxie! I’m always amazed at the vulnerability, hope, and community that is shared in that magnificent sanctuary.
I also want to share this article I wrote for our church’s newsletter this month. It shares a little about how I almost said “No” what’s clearly an amazing event. I’m going to offer you my vulnerability and tell you this story. May my teachable moment be a teachable moment for how we all stop divisiveness, practice inclusion, and build God’s kingdom of love. Thanks for stopping by, Dear Reader. If you’re new, thanks for subscribing and sharing.
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Originally published the in Inspire magazine for Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church:
Moxie Matters Tour
I’m proud of this church for walking with people on their faith journeys. Each of us has our own unique spiritual path to find and to follow. No one’s journey is without obstacles, nor is anyone’s better than another’s, and dare I say I don’t think we’ll ever be “done” seeking God. Here’s a vulnerable moment I recently had on my
journey as one of your pastors.
On February 20, Hennepin will host the “Moxie Matters” tour featuring bestselling Christian author Jen Hatmaker and singer/songwriter Nichole Nordeman. It’s going
to be a big one, friends—the evening show in the Sanctuary sold out in less than two days, and the matinee is on its way to a sell-out, too. I’m proud we’re hosting this tour. However, that’s not where I started. When Jen’s tour team reached out to Hennepin to ask if we would serve as a tour stop venue, I admit I was hesitant. True, I knew Jen’s message more by reputation than by my own reading, but

Read moreHow I almost made our church be one of the churches slamming the door on Jen Hatmaker (and why slamming doors reminded me to keep ours open).

A Song for My Ordination.


Someone wrote me a song as a gift for my ordination.
Two songs.
Best. Gift. Ever.
You can hear the songs and the sermon / call story that inspired them via the Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church podcast ministry.
On Sunday morning at Hennepin Avenue, in anticipation of being ordained a full elder in the United Methodist Church this Wednesday evening (livestream link), I preached about my call story. I offered highlights of my life from childhood to adulthood when I was open to God and when I was closed to God. If you didn’t know, I have had times in my life when I was a strong atheist, wanting nothing to do with God and definitely not the church. I am not ashamed of that, nor do I condemn atheists because while there are many reasons people are atheist I have certainly been there. It was a sermon of vulnerability and I knew I could trust my congregation with my story.

Ken Medema

Ken Medema is a superb musical artist. He’s written many inspiring pieces and even a children’s musical based on the Book of Jonah (my first sermon at Hennepin Avenue – filled with a metaphor of vomit! – was in response to the children performing Medema’s The Big Fish in worship, so we have come full circle). His live concerts often consist of him asking someone from the audience to tell him a brief story from their life and he responds with an original song, writing the music and lyrics on the spot. One of the first things Ken will tell you about himself is he is blind, so he’s taking notes in his mind as he listens to you. It is truly amazing.
Before worship, he and I spoke and I knew that everything he’d offer today would be in response to what came before, including my sermon. In that sense, I knew the song he crafted would be about servanthood and walking the journey. What I didn’t understand is he would truly put my life to music.
Ken made my life a song. There’s no other way to put it.
First, I was moved to tears as I listened to my life as a song. It was unexpected and such a gift. I sat in the preacher’s chair, up on the chancel and behind Ken while he was at the grand piano on the floor. After worship, the only comment I received more about the song’s beautiful content was

Read moreA Song for My Ordination.

Mission 2016: Stockton Day 4 – 104 Ain't Nothin' But a Number

It was a hot one, Dear Reader, I won’t lie. It wasn’t quite hot enough to call off work, but it sure felt close. For our team, I can tell you we were very grateful we got some shade today, even though standing in the shade was hot, too. We had cookies, primer, and poetry, oh my! Here’s the scoop:
A Variety of Mornings, a Variety of Delays
Our first update is with Morghan and my work team, The Wildcats, working on repainting Jenny’s house (Sam, Erica, and Kemi are on the other side of the house in their work team, too). We’d reached the point where scraping was done and now we needed the power washer. Thing is, we didn’t have a hose. The hose the work team at the front of the house used wouldn’t come off the spigot and we had to wait for a longer hose to arrive. Before then, SSP staff Natalie and CIT Sam stopped by with homemade cookies and a discussion topic. Later, Tony showed up with the hose and

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Mission 2016: Stockton Day 2 – Bridge the Gap and Drive the Distance

Sunday has arrived, Dear Reader, and it’s our first day with SSP and in Stockton. But first, a little time in the Bay Area and a stop at an old Civil War fort to toss around the football. Here’s the scoop: That’s Pretty Red for a “Golden” Gate Miracle upon miracle, we left our hotel … Read more Mission 2016: Stockton Day 2 – Bridge the Gap and Drive the Distance

Mission 2016: Stockton Day 1 – Planes, Vans, and Bridges

Our mission trip is off to a good start! Much of our day was spent traveling, then waiting, traveling, then waiting, over and over again. I’m glad to say, Dear Reader, spirits are high and attitudes are out of this world as we begin our journey. Here’s the scoop: Accompanied Minors and Lots of Baggage … Read more Mission 2016: Stockton Day 1 – Planes, Vans, and Bridges

Mission 2016: Stockton Countdown!

Hello, Dear Reader!
This week, I’m with Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church out in Stockton, California for our mission trip experience this year. I hope to sneak away here and there to write up blog posts to share about our service to God throughout the week. For new readers, welcome! For regular readers, enjoy / endure as the week goes on.
If you’re new to this blog, I recommend you either subscribe via RSS, subscribe via email, or look for posts tagged “ssp.” This way, you’ll always know exactly when the latest news and photos are available. You can also follow the @SSPStockton Twitter feed.
Here’s a little HAUMC, Stockton, and SSP context…
We’ve returned to Sierra Service Project (SSP), our first experience with them since 2014, to do service in a new setting, Stockton, California. When the housing market crash hit in 2007-2008, Stockton had the highest foreclosure rate per capita in the nation (housing values dropped a full 44%) and the city has been in recovery ever since. In 2012, it was the largest US city to declare bankruptcy until Detroit did so, too, in 2013. It’s a community that can use a

Read moreMission 2016: Stockton Countdown!