Our sobering, fascinating, harrowing, hopeful visit to Braddock, PA

On our City-A-Year trip we spent half a day in the town of Braddock, PA – a small town about 20 minutes southeast of Pittsburgh. My brother sent me a link of an hour-long documentary. The email said, “Dude. Watch this. Just trust me.” The documentary is charmingly quirky, deeply saddening, creatively engaging and incredibly…

The 3rd Annual Briggs City-A-Year Trip: Pittsburgh

For the past three years, my dad, brother and I have participated in the Briggs City-A-Year trip. It’s quickly become one of our favorite traditions. Since my parents live in Phoenix, my brother and his family live in Colorado and I live in the Philadelphia area, we don’t get much quality time together in a…

Conduct us

Take a moment and watch this fascinating and heartwarming social experiment of an orchestra in Times Square.  I wonder what might happen if every church waited with the same readiness and anticipation for the Holy Spirit to step up, take the conductor’s wand and lead. Imagine if every church boldly and regularly prayed: “Holy Spirit, conduct…

Lies Pastors Believe

This summer I wrote the following introduction to a piece published by OnFaith: “What lies are you tempted to believe in ministry?” Over the past several months, I’ve asked this question to dozens of pastors and Christian leaders. It’s a question that often goes unasked in religious leadership circles, but the resulting conversations have been…

Why I love (and hate) that God takes our shame

Where is God when we feel ashamed?  Shame is one of the most powerful forces in our lives. It is that deep and severe fear of disconnection. The most painful part of shame are those topics nobody knows about: when you were molested as a child. That DUI. That abortion. That one night stand. That…

Fail: Finding Hope and Grace in the Midst of Ministry Failure

It’s been quite some time since I’ve written new content on the site and there’s one big reason for it: the past year I’ve been working on two book projects with InterVarsity Press. I’m just now coming up for air. I’m proud to announce that the first project has been released: Fail: Finding Hope in the…

A great description of our charmingly eccentric Jesus community

Doug Moister, the pastor I have the privilege of serving alongside of in the context of The Renew Community, recently wrote these thoughts for our church’s weekly email. It was such a great summary of our charmingly eccentric Jesus community I thought I’d pass it along: “How would you describe Renew?” I am asked this…

Seeking to be the Home Depot of the Kingdom of God

Every few months I carve out some time to step back and view the entire landscape of what is going on around me. Recently I stepped away from the daily flow of traffic and spend time in reflection with a specific focus on the efforts we’ve made with Kairos Partnerships, the initiative we created about…

[7] questions speakers should ask before they open their mouths

  As a speaker, teacher, presenter or preacher, it’s important we know two things: our material and our audience. Nancy Duarte in her fabulous book Slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations asks seven poignant questions to know your audience: What are they like? Understand them on a personal level.  Why are they…

Debriefing from the Epic Fail Pastors Roundtable in Chicago

On Friday night and Saturday we held another Epic Fail Roundtable event, this time at Northern Seminary in the Chicago area. It was a rich time but, as to be expected, when you host a space for wounded and discouraged pastors to talk openly about failure you get a lot of weighty stories emerging to the…