Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ministry Blunders

You've planned hard. You've gone over it at least a dozen times. You've practiced and rehearsed until it hurts. You've got it just right. And then the service starts. It's called, "ministry blunders." Like a tornado that drops out of the sky without the sound of a preceeding siren or warning, so too comes those darn moments in which a blunder comes swiftly upon the pastor.

In our second year of ministry, we wanted to honor our moms during a Mother's Day service. During the week our staff decided to honor three types of mothers. The first mom was the oldest mom. The second mom was the mom with the most children. And the final mom was to be the "newest" mom. We were pumped up about this - and we had some pretty good gifts to hand to these moms as well (spa stuff). So, we sent our associate pastor to deliver the message to the congregation that morning. Dave (our Associate) got off to a great start. He honored the oldest mom first. It went off without a hitch. Next was the mom with the most children. Pow! A woman with eight children won hands down. The cheers were getting louder and momentum was definately on our side. Remember that one little verse in the Bible that reads, "After pride comes the fall?" Well, it's true. As we approached the last gift for our mom, Dave cleared his voice and said,

"We have one more gift to give out to you moms out there. And this gift is for the "youngest mom." Ouch! Ouch! Instead of the "newest mom," Dave said - "the youngest mom."

Seated in the third row was a 14 year old girl who had gone through a terrible relationship with a 17 year old boyfriend and had become pregnant. Her parents encouraged her to give the baby up for adoption. And this was her second time in a church - period. And even more amazing is this fragile young mom raised her hand. By now Dave caught on that something was terribly wrong. Our congregation didn't know if they should clap or cry. But what happens next is the F5 of all tornados. Dave looks out at this young lady and he says, "Wow. You really are young." Can anyone dig a whole big enough for him to escape? It was awful and awkward. We never really did recover that Sunday. You might say it was a pretty good ministry blunder.

OKAY... so what about you? Do you have a ministry blunder or two that you could share with me. Love to hear it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Just feeling Blah?

Do you ever have those moments in life in which you're just half of step off in your walk and you just can't pin-point the reason? It can lead to some real frustration. Everything seems to be going good - but there's just something missing and it is controlling you. You just can't get comfortable in your skin. We all feel this way from time to time.

Let me share with you some simple steps that I find helpful in order to identify the culprit.

1. I first start with the physical. Am I run down? Am I tired? Have I been able to sleep - at the appropriate times, which should be evening. Sometimes when we feel blah, the tendency is to start to analyze our emotions first. But I have found that the physical check up is the best place to start. I often find that if I retire to bed earlier that evening, I get much better results the following day.

2. Next, I go to the spiritual. It's funny what a few good promises from God's word can do for me when I'm feeling blah. I need to be reminded that it is okay in life -not to be okay in life. God is there for me in the good and the bad. Often times my tendency is to try and fix my wrong attitude as fast as I can and move on. But I've learned that God can often do His best work during my blah moments in life. So, what I find true in my life is that I am more prone to get into His Word more frequently on the rainy days of my life - more so than the burst of a beautiful sunrise that greets me in the morning.

3. And finally I go and lean on a friend. Proverbs has some great verses on friendship and how a friend can truly carry our burdens when we can no longer bare the weight. Moses had Aaron and Hur to lift his arms during a very challenging and personal battle in his life, as Joshua fought against the Amalekites. We all get weak from time to time and get into a funk. A true friend stands with you during such times and lifts our arms (spirits) when the tank is empty.

Well, hopefully you'll give these three a try and see what happens the next time you hit the wall. Give me a shout and let me know if it works 4 - YOU.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Signs of a True Friend

1. When you are sad -- I will jump on the person who made you sad like a spidermonkey jacked up on Mountain Dew!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
2. When you are blue -- I will try to dislodge whatever is choking you.
3. When you smile -- I will know you are plotting something that I must be involved in.
4. When you're scared -- we will high tail it out of here.
5. When you are worried -- I will tell you horrible stories about how much worse it could be until you quit whining, ya big baby!!!!
6. When you are confused -- I will use little words.
7. When you are sick -- Stay away from me until you are well again. I don't want whatever you have.
8. When you fall -- I'll pick you up and dust you off--
After I laugh my butt off!!
9. This is my oath...I pledge it to the end.

Confessions of a Church Planter Part II

Last week I posted the first four things I learned in my my first eight years of being a new church planter. I have now listed the remaining four things below.

Year five: Too much sugar isn't good for the body.

My fifth year of leading was, perhaps, the most eye opening for me. Similar to buying that first new car, it didn't take long for that new car smell to start wearing off at our church. Most people in the community now no longer viewed us as a "new" church, but - pre-owned. The new gimmicks that once worked to get people in the doors of our church was far less effective in our fifth year. The new "thang" had worn off. And even more disheartening was this: The people who had been attending our church for sometime were now searching for more substance than sugar. We now started to hear voices insisting that we were a church that was "a mile wide and an inch thick." Unfortunately, I could not argue with them. In our first five years as a church we baptized over 200 new believers - but I soon learned that this was just half the battle. I failed to think through the next important step, discipleship. After each new baptism I starting thinking, "What in the world are we going to do with "them?" The result: We had an expanding church of new believers but no growth hormone. Our church was stuck in infancy. And I was stuck in a state of confusion. The fifth year.

Year six: The definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over with the same results.

Have you ever watched the movie, Groundhog Day, featuring Bill Murray? In a nutshell, Bill Murray's character (who plays a weatherman) wakes up each day to the same day - nothing ever changing. Awake at 6:00 AM, everyday. Same song on the radio, everytime. Same people in the same places, all the time. The best word to describe this movie is, insanity. In my sixth year at Willowbrook I was feeling a touch of insanity coming on. Everything started to be predictable. The stage looked predictable. The message. The music. The drama. The programming. You name it. It was all so predictable. So, the only thing that I thought would shake us from this horrible bout of insanity was - a land and building campaign. We gathered our troops together and we found some land as a church. We did an all church financial campaign that was, for the most part, successful. I could feel the momentum changing. Each Sunday seemed a bit different. And different was good. We all started talking about our future together in this new location and with this new building. ONE PROBLEM: The land and building project had now become our focus, not reaching our community. In one year, we lost our overall mission. I could write a lot more about this - but the bottom line is this: We got less creative and more predictable - and the result was insanity. In our sixth year we just became another church down the road. I had failed to do a good job keeping the vision forefront during a time of important change. Year six.

Year seven: Anyone can take the helm when the sea is calm.

Have you ever questioned your own leadership? Sure. We all do from time to time. But what happens when others start questioning your leadership? I had attended a conference sometime back when John Ortberg shared these words, "There will come a time in everyone's ministry that you can only lead so far. A good leader knows when that time has arrived and helps find another leader who can take the church the next mile." Very powerful - yet humbling words. As a church planter, you are the only pastor that your church has ever known. And yet, to be fair to the church, you should probably not be the only pastor that the church should know. With each stage of the church comes new leadership challenges. And according to John Ortberg, a leader may not be "naturally" qualified to reach the next step. This is where discernment is so important. In my seventh year of leading Willowbrook I started an internal investigation, a true heart investigation, as to my leadership abilities and how it related to helping our church reach the next important steps. I started reading materials on leadership every chance I got. I attended conferences, spoke to men and women that I highly regarded as leaders, and probed as much as possible to see what it takes to lead - with courage. I was a leadership junkie. It was very time consuming. In addition, our land and building campaign had come to a stand still (lack of progress) and leadership was even of greater importance during this time. Anyone can take the helm when the sea of life is calm, but when the waves come crashing, would I have what it takes to lead a church with courage and wisdom? Year seven.

Year eight: What does it profit if a man gains the whole church, but loses his family?

Have you ever seen a crisis? Sure. They're all around us. But if you are a pastor, you are usually on the side of helping someone in their time of crisis. How it works is like this: Your pastor phone rings. You push your family away as you go into a private room in your home and you talk for hours - helping someone in their "crisis." After you hang up, you notice that your home is surprisingly quiet and that everyone has retreated and gone off to bed - not waiting up for Superman. You feel good about what you did. You helped someone in a crisis. You give yourself a gentle pat on the back. But when you role into bed, there is no pat on the back from your spouse. Instead, there is just silence. Now, you repeat this for seven years and if you're like me, you will be able to redefine what a true crisis is. I am in debt to Henry Cloud and John Townsend for some excellent materials on marriage. But most of all, I'm in debt to my wife who put up with this form of false religion for years. Here I stand, Sunday after Sunday, telling other families what steps are needed to have a dynamic home, while all along - here am I, not following the very words I speak. Year eight has been a time of refocusing, reframing, and rethinking what family is all about. In many ways, my kids now have a real dad, my wife has a true husband, and to be very honest with you, the church has a better pastor. I'm just going out on a limb right now - but I'm going to say it anyway: If you're a pastor and you're currently putting in more than 45 hours a week (and you have a family), you're not the brightest bulb on the tree. If you're a pastor and you and your spouse do not have weekly date nights, family nights, and play dates, you're really not doing your family or your "church" any good. It took me eight years to figure this out. I'm not going to lie - I'm afraid for many pastors today who glamorize their travel and speaking schedules on Facebook or Twitter. I use to live for this drug. But, I truly believe that heaven will hold the greatest reward for those dads and moms who emphasize the importance of their home ahead of their church calling. In fact, the Bible on three occassions specifically references the need for fathers to take care of their families before entertaining the thought of shepherding the flock. I can only thank Jesus that he did not allow me to shipwreck my family in the process of fixing my broken compass. Eigth year.

On a lighter note - you have to check out this great little video clip. It goes so well with my final point.


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Practical Atheism

Have you ever met an atheist?

An atheist believes that there is no God. Do you know what God’s response to that is?

“The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Ps. 14:1).

While no Christian would ever be guilty of being an atheist, many Christians are guilty of being practical atheists. Practical atheism does not believe there is no God… practical atheism lives as if there is no God. Could you be a practical atheist?

The Practical Atheism Test

Notice the convicting similarities between atheism and practical atheism:

1. An atheist does not pray. So many Christians do not really pray. They may mumble something with a bowed head before dinner or before bed, but there is no real time to seek God in prayer. The Lord says in the Book of James, “You do not have because you do not ask” (Jas. 4:2).

2. An atheist does not read the Bible. So many Christians do not read the Bible. The average Christian is very susceptible to the devil’s lies because he/she does not take time to read and study God’s Word.

3. An atheist walks by sight, not faith. So many Christians do the same thing. They fail to evaluate their situation in light of God’s miraculous power… so they worry and fear and fail to simply trust God. How quickly we forget, “Without faith it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God” (Heb. 11:6).

4. An atheist does not give to the Lord’s work. So many Christians do not either. Many Christians spend more money on their pets than they do the Kingdom of God. A recent statistic revealed that if all the members in an average-sized church were on welfare… and each one tithed… the giving to that church would double. WOW!

5. An atheist lives only for this life. So many Christians are guilty of the same. They store up their treasure on earth… they live and plan as if this life were the only one that mattered… and they make decisions with only earth in mind, not heaven. The Bible says, “The eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth” (Prov. 17:24).

Change Me, Lord

If some of those similarities are too close for comfort, don’t sink down in guilt and shame… DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! Confess it as sin, and ask God to change your heart. Tell Him that you do not want to live another day as if He were not alive and able to work miracles.

The story is told of Martin Luther, the great Christian reformer of the 1500’s. There was a time in his Christian life when he was very depressed for days on end. His wife, Kate, came into his study all dressed in black as if she were in mourning. Luther asked her what exactly she was mourning.

“Have you not heard? God is dead,” she stated.
Luther responded, “Woman! That is absurd! God is not dead!”
“Well,” she replied, “if God is not dead, then stop living like He is!”

Friday, December 5, 2008

One thousand Hits - But I'm Okay

I awoke this morning to find that my Blog Site just reached 1000 hits. Can you imagine being hit 1000 times? I'm not sure what this means or what's even next. My primary goal in this life of blogging was to simply be real and vulenerable with anyone who stumbled upon the site. As some of my closest friends know, I have always enjoyed privately jotting down my thoughts on paper. It produced some remarkable therapy for a warped mind. Well, I took a big step this past year and accepted the challenge of a close friend to try blogging instead. At first, it was an uncomfortable process for me. So, I looked at what other bloggers were doing and I tried to follow their steps closely. Eventually, I decided to just be real with the content of my life and let the chips land where they land. In many ways, my blog serves more as a place of confession for me than insightful ideas on life. You might say, I'm stumbling through life like the next guy. I guess I just want to record these stumbles in hopes it will build a greater awareness of this amazing God who loves us unconditionally, and with passion.

I would encourage you to read about the confession of a church planter (me) and my first four years/blonders in leading a church. Talk about vulnerability. Ouch.

1000 hits - But I'm okay.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Eight things I Learned in Eight Years as a Church Planter

What are the eight things that I have learned in my eight years as a church planter that I wish I would have known (you guessed it) - eight years ago? Here they are:


Year One: Too much of me was not enough for me.

The late comedian Richard Prior once said, "I like me too much to stop liking me." How true. Right out of the gate I learned something about myself that I am not very proud of - even to this day: I came into planting eight years ago with way too much pride. Maybe I'll be the next Bill Hybels or Rick Warren. Why not? I've read their books and found some things that even I could approve upon. I was so full of myself that I couldn't get enough of myself. I would later discovered that much of the under current of this pride could be summarized with just one word - I was "insecure." Even today, this continues to be a constant battle for me - and I've learned that I'm not alone. Many of my church planting partners have shared privately with me how this has been one of the many demons in their life as well. Although we all desire to have a successful church from the very beginning, we are extremely fearful of failure. And if truth be known about myself, if the church did thrive, I wanted to make sure my "name" was attached to it. Similar to James and John (really their mother) fighting for "that" special position in heaven (to be next to Jesus), so too, I desired more of me and less of Jesus. The first year.

Year Two: Motive is behind 101% of all decisions.

Check your motives. Why are you writing that book? Why are you lecturing or teaching? Why are you attending the conference? Why are you traveling so much? Why are you gone all the time? I discovered early on that for every decision that I made as a leader of our new church, I had a motive behind it. In fact, all decisions that we make do come with some form of motive. Some of the motives are pure, while others, well - not quite. For example, in just our second year of existence as a new church, we were able to plant another church. This made the "highlight" reel among our conference. Hence, a quick interview with - you guess it - "me." (Remember my year one lesson above? Oh ya). An article about me and our church appeared in a Leadership magazine and you could say that my motives for church planting took an awkward turn. I couldn't wait to share my "expertise" with my fellow friends. I was speaking everywhere - not even aware that during this entire trip down "smart lane," my marriage was eroding along with my parenting. Year two.

Year Three: If you want to turn people off, enforce your authority.

Now that our church was clipping along, most of my time was spent clipping the wings off my volunteers and leaders. In year three, I now sat in the big boy seat, asking for opinions but welcoming few. It seemed like each time there was a problem in our church I was fast to throw out my answer and enforce it. We had our occassional ministry team meetings (creative meetings)during the year to take us to the next level, but I soon noticed that our leaders, while sharing their big ideas to the group, would often glance my way for my reaction to their suggestions. At the time, I viewed this as a good thing. Hey. Why not? I'm the leader. However, I soon discovered that my leaders were sharing fewer and fewer ideas with me. Why? I had muffled their dreams. Hence, much of the time during our third year as a church was, me, keeping the wheels on the bus. I felt that my authority was enough to steer us forward and save the day. You might say, a big adjustment was on the horizon. Year three.

Year Four: When you plateau, find a foe.

When I first planted Willowbrook I would read about these churches that would plateau in their attendance. My thought: "That's too bad. They should have been more creative." But in no way did I ever think it would happen to us. But it did. We could not climb over the 500 mark. Like the little engine that could...we couldn't. Instead of going about it the right way, I jumped to the conclusion that we must have enemies in the church that didn't want to see us grow. And of course, I implemented "operation scarlet letter," finding people in our church who did not like to see our church growing larger - and I tossed them out. This is true. I wish I could say I'm lying - but I'm not. In my fourth year I was so focused on our "problems" that I couldn't even attempt to find a solution. Most of my meetings with our leaders were concentrated on finding enemies, the people who love causing issues in our church. Obviously, every church must deal with this to some extent, but God wired (I call it a gift) me with a "compulsive" disorder and I needed a chill pill - but couldn't find one. The church consumed every minute of my waking time. My cell phone was attached to me but my family wasn't. The fourth year.

(The remainig four lessons will be posted next week)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Great Guy's Christmas Gift

If you're having trouble, ladies, picking out that perfect gift for your man, then look no further. I gave my wife a huge hint last year and she came through. It's the best gift I've ever received.

Take a look...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Church without my Mentor

Willowbrook started a little over eight years ago with a handful of people. One of them being Gordy Sundberg. Gordy and his wife, Betty, joined us after 50 years of ministry experience. What would posses someone, after 50 years of ministry, to join us for the start of a new church plant? Well, according to Gordy - retirement was not Biblical. Gordy's final eight years was spent praying for our staff, assisting in the nursery, and folding tableclothes after each and every service. No matter rain or shine, Gordy and Betty were there - praising God for every opportunity to serve. Gordy went home to be with the Lord this past week and this Sunday (while giving my Life Talk) it seemed very odd for me to realize that my mentor would no longer be by side with encouraging words following the service.

I hope that you have a mentor in your life. Someone who takes you under their wing and breathes hope and nourishment into your journey. I will truly miss Gordy - but I know that I will see him again, in complete wholeness.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Never too Old to Learn New Thangs! has been nearly a whole month since I last blogged. Thanks to a number of close friends who nudged me forward, and one who told me to "snap to it." (Jim?)

Much of my time away has been all about "reframing" (how do you like this new word in my vocabulary?) my life in so many areas. It's like getting a life realignment. And if you notice, realignment has the word "real" built right into it. A pretty big clue. And that's what this is all about. It's about learning new thangs about one's life ~ at an older stage of life (not a grandpa yet). For example, marriage, parenting, shepherding, and relationships all need maintenance. But the biggest mistake we tend to make is to think that each of these are strong enough to maintain their strength on their own. This is a fallacy. So, what I have incorporated into my life are safeguards. I now hold to a weekly date night with my wife, family nights with my girls, and supper around this thing called a kitchen table (didn't even know this table existed). The result of this reframing? Amazing results, which of course, includes a far better quality of life. I have also made so many new friends in this process. My one friend (let's call her my wife), is in love with this new alignment. My other friends (let's call them my daughters), are getting to see their dad on a regular basis. Don't be fooled by the saying, "Quality over quantity." Hey, both are needed. Like wings on an airplane.

So, for the next few weeks I'm going to share (right here on this blog), some real vulnerability issues in my life in hopes that it might encourage other weary pilgrimers that getting a realignment, although challenging - can be all so freeing.

Feedback is always welcomed!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Good Friends keep it Real

Terri (my wife) and I have been blessed with some really strong and solid friendships over the years. And as we have reflected the past few weeks about what makes these relationships so valuable to us we both agree that our friends are all about keeping it real. We've had our friends just show up to our home and pour out their hearts in sincere ways, and in return, we've done the same. In those awkward moments of exposure they are non-judgemental and they speak words of truth into our hearts, or not speak at all. It's hard to describe. There is just "that" connection that happens that is God ordained. We've also learned that you can't let anyone or everyone into your life. There is that sanctuary in which two or three are gathered togther where the presence of the Lord is truly felt. I smile to think that Jesus could have said, "Where two or three hundred are gathered together, there I am..." And although His presence is everywhere, the best of friends are where those two or three walk it together.

So how about you? Do you have those two or three friends in your life that you can keep it real? My prayer for you is that God would enrich your life by such friends and that you never turn back to artificial flavoring.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Those darn Goodbyes

I love hello`s. I struggle with goodbyes. Today is one of those "goodbye" days. Not sure why they put the word, "good," in front of "bye." It never seems to be too good (unless you really despise the person who is leaving). Julia, our Ukrainian friend is leaving today for Ukraine. She has been with us for a whole month - and it will seem strange not having her around. Her love for Christ is so evident and we are already making plans on visiting with her soon. So, we grieve her absence - but it's never really "goodbye."

Monday, October 6, 2008

Up in Your FACE-BOOK I'm a blogger, twitter, and now - booker. The most recent is Facebook. Since I'm terribly new to all of this, I really have not drawn any hard conclusions on this whole cyberspace stuff. It's pretty overwhelming. The only thing that I sense from being a blogger is that there are a lot of us who are either 1) really into ourselves and our activites or; 2) we just love keeping up with our friends - and wanna be friends. Maybe it is both.

So weigh in on it. Are you a blogger? Do you spend your waking hours typing about yourself and your thoughts on life? Is there any theraputic value to this?

In the meantime you can check me out here: Brad's Facebook.

Friday, September 26, 2008

I'm a Twitt (er)

I don't know what to tell you or even how it works, but I'm a Twitter. You can check it out by going to Twitter. Twitter is a site for people like me who are extremely bored and into themselves - and like sharing personal information about themselves with others.

If you want to follow me and my day, click here.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


BOWI stands for ~ Big Outrageous Wild Ideas. When Jesus said that he came to bring us life and for us to have it more abundantly (John 10:10), I wonder if we are truly claiming the power behind such words? I think most humans tend to "under-live." Sure, we might have that occasional moment where we shoot for the stars, but most often we fail to launch the rocket. Sometimes we don't launch because of fear, embarrassment, doubt, and the list goes on. But what if God would grant you that one prayer, that BOWI moment? Would you take it?

During the month of September at Willowbrook I am teaching on "The Bucket List - a 30 Day Adventure." So far, we've created a pretty good atmosphere of dreaming big. Last week I challenged all of us to think about making a difference in a place called, Ukraine. Pastor Sergei and his translator, Julia, did a great job in helping us create a BOWI moment. BOWI moments change lives. To be in a place in which you must trust God for that BOWI moment draws you and God much closer together. In fact, the Bible says that it is impossible to please God without faith. That's the BOWI idea with legs on it.

So, what's your BOWI moment? What is God asking from you to do ~ in BOWI fashion?

Sound off and let's hear/see it.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Ouch & more Ouch

So ~ yesterday I thought I would give it a try. I wanted to run 20 miles. Never done it before. But now that I think I am Superman, I thought that I would give it a try. I had the perfect afternoon (low temps & low humidity). My first 12 miles went fantastic ("I'm the king of the world," moment), but I made one very serious mistake. I failed to drink water along the course. Ooops. On mile 13 the body screamed, "stop." I started cramping up in the legs and I started experiencing cold chills. Yep - I was a mess. They call this being "dehydrated." Some of my running friends told me the day before that every 6 or 7 miles I should be consuming liquids. But did I listen to them? Nope. I felt too good. I was in a groove. Who needs water?

Our spiritual journey can resemble this scenerio as well. We cruising along in life at Mach 6 speed, the RPM's are in the red zone, we're making great time, and ~ pow! Ouch & more ouch. We run right through the pit stop. We fail to see that the fuel light is on.

In the gospels Jesus proclaims, "I am the life giving water." He later goes on to say that if we drink from him "we will no longer thirst." It surprising how many times we think we can go without this life giving water. We get to church once a month (at best), we go another month without a quiet time with our Creator, and then we wonder why we feel empty and dry inside.

I want to encourage you from my poor example of running to stop frequently to be refueld spiritually. Get involved in a small group. Go to church often. Make God your number one priority. Because if he's not your number one - you will experience, like me, ouch and more ouch! Water anyone???

See you on Sunday.

By the way.... I'm stoked about this Sunday. My Pastor friend from Ukraine, Sergei, will be joining us in the service! Don't miss out!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Ragnar -ly :-)

Totally proud! That's how I felt this weekend after completing a great team running event called, RAGNAR. Willowbrook Church featured two Ragnar running teams (twelve on each team) for 30 hours of relay running from LaCrosse Wisconsin to Minneapolis. Our team name was - "Running on a Prayer." Isn't that creative?? We competed against 170 other teams through some of the warmest weather of the year (90 degrees and 72% humidity). We all survived and grew closer to each other throughout the two days together. For me and my wife (Terri), this was our first "big" time race together and we each ran three different legs in the 220 mile relay. Each of our 24 runners, on average, ran approximately 16 miles over a 24 hour period. When we were not running, we spent our time laughing, eating, cheering, and smelling up the vans!

This incredible event reminded me that the Christian life is all about running. Apostle Paul reference running four times in his letter to the churches. He encouraged every Christian to run the race to get the prize. There were many times in my Ragnar race that I wasn't sure if I was going to make it. But somehow and someway, persistence won out. I want to encourage all of my fellow runners in life to not stop training and keep on running - because the prize of life awaits each one of us.

To learn more about RAGNAR, you can go to:

See you on the road!

Friday, August 8, 2008

What is true Worship?

The Bible says that "laughter is good medicine for the soul" (Proverbs). Well, when it comes to worship, I wonder how many of us have a good laugh with the God who loves us? In fact, as it pertains to worshipping God with our giving, the Bible says that God loves a "hilarious giver." There's something about worship and laughter that go together - it does something for the soul. I hope you enjoy Tim Hawkins as much as I do. Check out his other videos on the Youtube link. You'll be glad you did. Laugh you worship.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

An Awesome Community Event

We pulled it off -

Over 1400 people from our community showed up to get a taste of Willowbrook and God granted to us some great weather and tons of people! I was so proud of our many volunteers who totally "tore it up" for over three hours! Take a look at this great little video put together by Tonicia Ferguson (her finger snapped over 200 pictures that day).

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Doing the Vacation Thang

I just realized that I am about half way through our family vacation. If you're keeping score, we started about 14 days ago - and I have about 13 left. It's amazing what a little time of R&R can really do for the soul. And get this - the church is still doing great!! Imagine that. In fact, you know that you have confidence in your staff and volunteers when you actually forget what day it is on your vacation. In other words, I have been soooo comfortable lounging around and getting reconnected with my wife and kids that my mind has not had to drift back to church life but on what I should have for breakfast, lunch, and supper instead.

However, like an astronaut, I am beginning to turn the ship toward earth again, and I'm looking forward to my time back down on this marvelous planet. God has so many amazing things planned for Willowbrook in the next few months ahead and I can't wait to be a part of it!

See everyone really soon!

PS - get to church this Sunday and hear Joel Nelson. This guy is on a HNL (Hole Nudda Level) when it comes to giving a stud-muffin Life Talk Message!

B- Rad

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Hey - Canada

Get a load of this!!! This big girl is a 27" - 8 pound walleye.

I love fishing! Secrets out. And a trip to Canada is exactly what I needed. If there is anything that can get my juices flowing - this is it. God created fish for that reason. I had an amazing few days with a great group of guys from Willowbrook in a place called, Canada (yes - they let me over the border). And get a load of this walleye I caught! And this wasn't the biggest one. My friend, Chad, caught a 31" walley that weighed close to 12 pounds! In fact, we didn't catch a walleye smaller than 4 pounds during the three days we fished. And we caught a lot of walleys. It's a God thing. The weather was amazing. The sunsets were amazing. The fellowship was remarkable. I could get use to this.

I love Willowbrook and I want to thank this amazing church for allowing me the opportunity to get away and to refuel. Jesus said that we are to be "fisher's of men and women." My prayer is that God will allow us to catch a huge "stringer" of new Christ followers in the weeks and months ahead!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

What a Great Day

I must say, I was in my prime today! I had the privilege to hang out for a couple hours with "the man" who has truly inspired me more than any other man in my life (next to my own dad), Pastor Steve Anderson. Pastor Steve was the Pastor who married me and my lovely bride of 21 years. Pastor Steve was the man who led my own parents into a deeper walk with Christ for over 20 years. Pastor Steve was the man who was there when my nephew died at six months of age. He rallied the entire church around my family with prayer. Pastor Steve was the man who made multiple trips up to the cities to encourage my walk with Christ years ago while I was attending Seminary (Bethel). And today, after a number of years, I got the rare privilege to have a meal with "the man." You talk about passion and wisdom. I was in my prime.

Do you have anyone like this in your life? I sure hope you do. A person who does nothing but points the needle of their compass toward their Savior.

It's my hope to have Pastor Steve share the stage with me at Willowbrook in the upcoming months ahead. I can't wait to show him off. He's Da man.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

R&R 4 Reis Fam

It's hard for me to believe but our family is gearing up for an important time of refueling over the next four weeks. After finishing my Sunday's message (June 15th) I will be heading home to plan out a number of little family trips until the middle part of July. The Church Council has been so awesome in allowing our family this important opportunity to spend much-needed quality time together. After eight years of Sundays and over 400 Life Talk Messages, the time has come to gear up for the next important stretch in the life of Willowbrook. This break is just what the doctor ordered! While I'm away we have a terrific line up of speakers who you won't want to miss. In fact, the greatest gift you could give our family while we are away is the support of this great community called, Willowbrook. I'll be returning back to Willowbrook on Sunday, July 20th, to conclude our Fusion Series. I'm loving this series - because it truly hits the target of our pain and what God can do through our brokeness. I hope that you are enjoying it as well.

As always, I'll be doing some writing on my blog while away and sharing some family photos to bore you! :-)

Looking forward to a great Father's Day at the Brook!

See you on Sunday.


Monday, June 9, 2008

The Twilight Zone Returns

Okay - If you're not familiar with the Twilight Zone, you won't get this funny and clever video called, "The Tightwad Zone." If you're a pastor you're probably always looking for creative ways to challenge your church to give to the ministries that truly touch lives. Well, this might be the ticket. The Bible says that when we give we should do it "hilariously." I think this will help. Yes, the young guy in this movie is thee "William Shatner" (Star Trek).

Tell me what you think?

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Give it to me straight up!

It's been sometime since I had the chance to visit my own blog and to narrow in on what God has been teaching me this past week. Well, if you're like me, you have those dry times in life in which the rain just doesn't fall as much on the ole noggin. But, just the other day I was taking a moment to read some awesome and inspiring stuff from Pastor Perry Noble when pow - storm cells developed and the rain came down. Now, I know that it may not reach the depth of your heart like it does mine because Perry's words are intended for pastors and church leaders. But this stuff is what I want to inspire to:

Be who God called you to be…take risks…pray “stupid” prayers…ask people for commitment…believe in those no one else dared to believe in…PREACH JESUS…listen to the Holy Spirit…give everything your best…spend time BEGGING God to change lives…understand that God wants your church to grow more than you do…stop trying to make people happy…take some time for yourself…hire the people God tells you to hire…LEARN DAILY…spend whatever amount of money you need to spend to grow…develop your strengths, delegate your weaknesses…ignore your critics…STOP trying to be someone else…HONOR GOD’S GIFTING AND CALLING ON YOUR LIFE!!!

It's pouring...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Tornado vs. Home

Five minutes from my home. It all happened just five minutes from my home. Many of our friends from Willowbrook were in the path of this deadly tornado on Sunday, May 25th. A large number of homes are completely gone and so is the life of a little two-year old child. What a tremendous loss. One moment life is wonderful with blue skies, and the next minute - well, gone.

I was reading up on tornadoes the other day and I found something quite interesting. Most experts suggest that when a home is crushed by a tornado, most of the damage comes from the pressure that "builds up inside of the home," causing it to implode. Most of us think that strong winds are the primary forces behind the destruction of the homes, but actually it is a combination of wind and pressure inside of the home.

Okay...Brad's putting on the pastor's hat. With this information I started thinking about the church. Often times we measure the health of the church by what comes "into" the church. But the more I thought about it, the church when it is at its healthiest, is actually a church that "implodes" and forces its way out upon the community. It's as if so much spiritual pressure is being built up inside the four walls that it forces its way out - implodes.

I'll bet you never considered a tornado having a spiritual dimension. And yes, like always, I'm probably stretching this metaphor a bit. But there is some truth in this. So, I'm asking God this question: What is the barometer reading in our church (Willowbrook)? Is enough godly pressure building up to that we will be forced out to do damage on evil forces? Or are we more than comfortable to stay within the four walls of the church? Something to think about today?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Heartache - Prayer is Needed

Last night my heart fell to a new level when I learned the news that Steven and Mary Beth Chapman lost their 5 year old daughter, Maria Sue, to a terrible accident at their home in Franklin TN. Steven Curtis Chapman, 45, has won 51 Dove awards from the Gospel Music Association and five Grammys. We have used many of his remarkable songs at Willowbrook. Please keep this family in your prayers as they go through easily one of the most demanding losses anyone can imagine, the loss of a child.

To learn more, please go to:

Psalm 121

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Break Through

Have you ever had one of those moments in life when it all became quite clear to you? I call this - a break through moment. Sometimes a break through moment comes to us when we're not even expecting it. In fact, I would suggest that most of our break through moments happen in life when we least expect it, like through a back door. Maybe you're reading a book and "pow," a statement just grabs you. Or you are talking to a friend at lunch and "zam," their words penetrate your soul. It's a break through moment. A special connection point.

Well, I had a break through moment about a week ago when I heard a pastor share at a conference these amazing words:

In the early church, when the first church started in the New Testament, the entire community was all about "SERVICE." Unfortunately, today most people in the church are about "SERVE US."

"Zap." God kicked the door wide open - and his words penetrated into my heart. It was a break through moment for me.

Because of this, I felt a strong nudge by God to initiate a new Life Talk Series that incorporates this message about serving. I believe it is one that God wants our church to hear. It was a break through moment for me. what about you? Have you had any "break through" moments lately? Something that made you pause to reflect or perhaps even change the course or direction of your life? Let's hear them if you got them.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

I love this TRUE story

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - With two runners on base and a strike against her, Sara Tucholsky of Western Oregon University uncorked her best swing and did something she had never done, in high school or college. Her first home run cleared the center-field fence.

But it appeared to be the shortest of dreams come true when she missed first base, started back to tag it and collapsed with a knee injury.

She crawled back to first but could do no more. The first-base coach said she would be called out if her teammates tried to help her. Or, the umpire said, a pinch runner could be called in, and the homer would count as a single.

Then, members of the Central Washington University softball team stunned spectators by carrying Tucholsky around the bases Saturday so the three-run homer would count - an act that contributed to their own elimination from the playoffs.

Central Washington first baseman Mallory Holtman, the career home run leader in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, asked the umpire if she and her teammates could help Tucholsky.

The umpire said there was no rule against it.

So Holtman and shortstop Liz Wallace put their arms under Tucholsky's legs, and she put her arms over their shoulders. The three headed around the base paths, stopping to let Tucholsky touch each base with her good leg.

"The only thing I remember is that Mallory asked me which leg was the one that hurt," Tucholsky said. "I told her it was my right leg and she said, 'OK, we're going to drop you down gently and you need to touch it with your left leg,' and I said 'OK, thank you very much."

After I finished reading this thing I thought, "Wow...this should be the church." We should look around on Sundays and during the week to locate the injured and give up our own wants and desires to serve their needs. The real home run in this story happened after the hit!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Round Peg in a Square Whole

I think these things only happen to me. Scenerio: I order a part for my laptop computer last week. To make a long story short, this part will allow my laptop to process video and to help assist Willowbrook with our Sunday morning services. The guy on "EBAY" assures me that it will work with my Dell Inspiron computer "operating" system. I shell out the dough! Guess what? The part comes six days later and I place the new mechanism into my computer only to have my computer alert me that "it does not recongize the software and that it will not work with my operating system." Quick email to the owner and, in a Christian way, I share how unhappy I am (boo-hoo...cry baby Brad). He basically says, "tough luck." Now I am in the process of returning it and going through all of that jazz.

So, instead of calling myself a "dork" for trusting this guy on Ebay, I begin to spiritualize it. I begin to think, "How does this situation line up to God's principles in our lives?" What can I learn from this? Bingo! It is all so clear now. God created each of us (He built us - He developed our operating system). And when it comes to our moral life and moral values, God's operating system in our life should "reject" those values that do not represent God's components. Tadda!! Unfortunately, sometimes we get clever and think that we can use parts that are not compatible with God's software. Result: Total frustration and ugly pride on our part.

So, do you have a thought on this? Does your life resemble mine (please, no!)? Where do you find the greatest amount of frustration in your life when it comes to worldly pressures? Weigh in on it.

Monday, April 28, 2008

A very sad day -

My heart is extremely sad today as I reflect on a family that have so much to the ministry at Calvary Church in White Bear Lake. As some of you may have heard, Chaplain Andrew Paulsen and wife, Kristi, were preparing to leave last Thursday afternoon to move to South Dakota to take on a new lead position at a church when their 22 month old daughter, Norah, fell from a two story window. She was pronounced dead on the scene. Can you imagine? How can anyone wrap their mind around this tragedy? Today I will be with the family as we grieve the loss of Norah. Andrew and Kristi also have an 11 month old son, and one on the way. Please keep this family in your prayers.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Good Morning - Ukraine

Our friend, Pastor Sergei from Ukraine, sent me this video of our last visit with them in November of 2007. As you can see, we were a little tired from a lot of late night fun!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Where's the Dog?

The other day my wife and I were sitting on our porch with our goldendoodle, Morgan (half golden retriever & half standard poodle - not really a "mans" dog). We are proud to say that after two years of training her (invisible fencing) she is one obedient dog. However, right before our very eyes, Morgan just got up and walked away from us as though the invisible fencing didn't exist. She was heading out to explore the "outer" world.

What about people? No matter how wide the parameters or broad the boundary markers, there is something that pulls us across the fence.

Pastor Tim Stevens in his book, Pop Goes the Church, describes the pull to go elsewhere like this:

Your marriage is great, but there is a relationship just across the fence that is interesting and exciting.

You have enough money, but you think the amount of money just across the fence would make you happier or give you more freedom.

Your job is good, but the guy across the fence seems happier.

You love your church, but you've heard all about the bells and whistles about that one church, and you wonder if you should check it out.

You're doing great watching your weight, but it stinks to have to count every calorie. That juicy cheeseburger just across the fence surely won't take you too far off track.

In your yard you are single, surely the married yard is better. Or you are married and wish you were single again. Or you don't have kids and wish you did. Or you have kids and can't wait until they are out of the house, like the couple across the fence who has total freedom with their time.

Yes, there is something enticing about the "possibilities" across the fence. You can pray this week that God gives me the wisdom to enjoy my own yard, and the courage to deny the temptations from across another yard. I'll pray the same for you.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

How Do you Know if Your Vision is from God?

As a Pastor I often experience the excitement or thrill of God taking His church (like Willowbrook) to the next level. And yet, the one thing I've truly learned in my many years of ministry about God is this: He's always placing us in a position of faith. So how does a pastor, or any Christian for that matter, know when it is God's vision? Great question. My friend Perry Noble gave me these great landmarks. What do you think?

If you feel confident that you can accomplish what is in front of you with no problem at all…then you didn’t hear from God.

If no one is angry at you…then you didn’t hear from God.

If you don’t have to ask anyone to sacrifice to make the vision come true…then you didn’t hear from God.

If religious people are not steaming at you, blogging about you and/or leaving your church…then you didn’t hear from God.

If you have the money in the bank to do what God has asked you church to do…then you didn’t hear from God.

If every step is perfectly designed and nothing happens to totally throw you off along the way…then you didn’t hear from God.

If someone doesn’t try to talk you out of what you are about to attempt…then you didn’t hear from God.

If you don’t stay up at night thinking about the vision…then it probably isn't from God.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

What is with the Elephant?

I'm starting a new series on Sunday that I'm really excited about. I received this message series from a great guy/friend named, Mark Batterson. Mark explains that churches, like Willowbrook, can become much like a family that tend to avoid dealing directly with moral issues that confronts them. Instead, it's like having an elephant in the room which everyone sees, but no one wants to talk about. This can be said of your work place, at your home, in your marriages, and at your church.

So take a moment to give me your feedback on what "gray" areas you think are out there that the church should address - that nobody is talking about?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Trivia: What do these have in common?

What do these have in common?


Who will get it right first? Leave a comment!
Trust me, there is a spiritual purpose behind this question.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Great thoughts for every Pastor

I just received this from my wife (Terri), and I thought it was very profound to those of us involved in ministry - at any level. Enjoy.

Ten Questions: Family

1. Am I closer to my spouse today than I was a year ago?
2. Have I read God’s word with my family this week?
3. Have I prayed with each member of my family this week?
4. Do my children know they come before the people in the church?
5. Are my children joyfully experiencing Christ at church or do they resent the church?
6. Does my spouse feel close to me spiritually?
7. If my spouse could have me change one thing about me, what would it be? (Why haven’t I changed in this way? What am I going to do about it?)
8. Are we honoring the Sabbath as a family?
9. Do my spouse and kids enjoy being around me?
10. Can my family clearly articulate our family values and vision?

Friday, April 4, 2008

Giving Every Day a Chance

It's Friday afternoon and I just returned from having a great time with my two daughters (McKenna and Madi) at the new Kwik Trip store located about a mile from our house. That's right - Kwik Trip. We spent about 20 minutes just hanging out together at a gas station (slash) food store. And catch this -- We made our "very own" smoothies from the smoothy machine - all by ourselves. (It did take me a minute or two to figure out how to dispense the ice into the cup. Weird looking machine. I was intimidated just a bit). Do you remember those days as a kid where you just "hung out?" Nothing really to do. As I look back, those were some of the best days of my life. But here's some great news: Today can be one of your best days too. I'm going to speak on this theme this weekend (Sunday) at Willowbrook. And I must say, this series has really opened my eyes to the reality of seeing each day as a gift from God. Each breath, each heartbeat, each smile - comes from the Father above - and we are the recipients of this gift (James 1:17).

So join me and the others this weekend at Willowbrook if you can. To learn more, go to:

Have a great day! It's your choice.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

"Previet" - Hello from Ukraine

My friends in Ukraine sent me this short video clip of me speaking (they cut the best part out - my altar call was amazing! J/K). I had the chance to speak at their first EVER regional youth conference last year in Chigrin, Ukraine. Over 200 teenagers were present. Notice that my Ukraine language isn't the best - thus my awesome interpreter! We are supporting this exciting ministry in Ukraine and will be returning back again this year. To learn more about Sergei and his wife, Aylona, go to my archive. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Cultural Relevance

One of the challenges that every pastor must confront while preparing his or her message is the methodology of how to appeal to a wide range of people each Sunday? How to do church is undefined in Scripture for one very good reason: it would kill creativity. The church ought to be the most creative place on the planet. That is one of my core convictions at Willowbrook. Unfortunately, it is easy to fall in the trap of routine. It's often safe and convenient. Too often, big companies are scared companies, and they work to minimize any variation--including the good stuff that happens when people who care create something special. As each year passes, I feel an even greater need to think outside of the box and to surround myself with creative people who have new and refreshing ways to illustrate the greatest story on the planet - to a culture that is ever changing.

If you're an out of the box person - there's room for you in this place called, the church. It's what makes Willowbrook - a different kind of church.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Unbelievable :-)

This video was sent to me and I can't help but pass it on to you! This rivals nearly everything I've seen. Amazing. I'll never think of the Lord's Prayer the same way. ENJOY.

Give me your thoughts...

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Rain and Storms

As a pastor it appears to me that, in an odd way, people tend to grow closer to God through trial and tears - even more so than sitting in a stained glass cathedral for years. Do you remember the story of the three little pigs and how each of the pigs built their home out of different materials? As much I love this story and the truths behind it, I have an odd feeling that God probably did his best work with the little pig who lost his entire home with the one puff from the big bad wolf. This is not to say that you shouldn't build a sturdy or strong house. But, I've noticed that God tends to use the storms in life to demonstrate His power in our lives.

Take a look at this great video - along with the song, Jesus bring the Rain, by Mercy Me. Give me your thoughts on this important truth from this video.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Share 'Your' Go God Thing!

I just got a call from a friend of mine who shared a cool story about how God worked in his life during a phone conversation. He said to me, "I'm not sure what happened but all of the sudden it was like God's words were flowing through my mouth and it really made a difference in this person's life. I felt so used by God. It was awesome."

I would consider this a "Go God Thing" (GGT)

The Bible says that we are to share good things with one another and to encourage each other when the days are hard and difficult (Hebrews 3:13). take a shot at it. It won't hurt you at all. And of course, you can do it anonymously.


What Makes for a Mature Church?

As you might guess, much of my time each week is spent researching and reading about the church. I love the church. In fact, I have come to believe that "the church is the hope of the world." Because of this, I have dedicated a large portion of my life to this organism called, the church.

I came across this writing the other day by Pastor Mark Beeson that I found interesting. I'd love to get your thoughts on this below (click on, "comment" and give me your thoughts). Here it is:

Anywhere in the world, whether plant or animal, the clear delineation of maturity is the ability to reproduce. Immature animals can't reproduce. Immature plants can't replicate themselves. The definition of maturity is being fully ripe, fully aged, so the connotation of maturity is obvious. Where you see maturity you'll observe new life, babies and immaturity all over the place.

Maturity desires reproduction. Maturity tolerates juvenile behavior (from juveniles) while training its progeny for success in life. Maturity means little [babies] running all over the place.

If you attend a mature church, be prepared for immaturity. Where you find mature Christians you'll find little babes in Christ running all over the place. In fact, if you have been looking for a church where everyone tithes and everyone serves--you're not looking for a mature church, you are looking for a dying church - aged, impotent and bereft of spiritual newborns because everyone is mature.

Few things are more disturbing than a flock of adult believers standing around complaining that no one has come to Christ while refusing to do something that might result in new life. So when you bump into someone who acts immature at one of our services, don't complain, and don't be surprised. Instead, thank God the mature in Christ are busy delivering newborn babies to the family of God.

Give me your thoughts...

Monday, March 24, 2008

Monday after Easter

To God, who is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine, according to His power that is within us...
Ephesians 3:20


It's Monday morning and I'm crashed out on our living room couch getting ready to gear up for another week ahead. I must admit, my motivation isn't even close to where it was last week - with Easter on the horizon. It's Monday. The Monday after Easter.

Yesterday was amazing! The people kept coming and coming (record attendance - auditorium packed), our worship was off the chain - awesome! Our drama team pulled off one of their best of the best, our special music was just that - incredibly special. I even survived the message - with very few 'boos' from the crowd! It's as close as we could come to getting a "hole in one" in golf. It was simply a God thing. Although Sunday is gone - Easter remains.

So - get this: This Sunday I'm starting a new series based on a great book by Max Lucado called, "Everyday Deserves a Chance." This book is truly a God send. It talks about seeing God in every day life - not just Christmas or Easter. So, this morning I'm jotting some notes for my message and I'm feeling my heart rate going up as we gear up for another great Sunday at Willowbrook! I dont' know about you, but I'm giving this day a chance!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

A Good Laugh

I had a good laugh at the cartoon above. Just the other night I was working on my blog when my wife, Terri, said to me, "Should I start a blog too so that we can better communicate with each other?" Herein lies the danger with blogging. So, if I'm not on my blog 26 hours a day - don't worry, I'll be back. But for now, I'm going to see if I can find my wife -

Today was a great Sunday at the Brook - and I'm really looking forward to our Good Friday and Easter service. I know that God has been working big time on a lot of hearts at our church and this Easter has the potential to be BIG! Go God!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

A Bad Day for Jesus

Leave it to Vintage 21 to come up with another great dubbing from an old Jesus movie. What I find interesting in this video is the partial truth in the way many view Jesus today - strongly judgemental. Turn up your volume and enjoy a few good laughs - and remember: "for I did not come into this world to condemn it, but that the world might be saved..." (Jesus - John 3:17) NLT

Have a Question About Life?

The greatest part of being a pastor at a church where more than half of those attending each week are seekers, is that I receive some of the best questions about God, life, and relationships. This blog was created as a bridge to generate some of the best dialogue imagineable between us. Got a question? Give it a shot.

Defeating Discouragement

We are on a Life Talk Series this March (08) that is all about defeating our giants. David, from the Old Testament, defeated a nine foot Philistine named Goliath. In a short period of time David went from living as a shepherd with his sheep - to living in a palace as a King. However, David suffered a tremendous defeat a few years later when he lost to a giant called, lust. All of us have giants in our lives. A huge internal giant is called, discouragement.

Friday, March 14, 2008

What Drives Me Bananas

What Drives Me Bananas

Every so often I will have those moments in my life that I'll just shake my head and wonder, "What are we thinking?" Let me take a moment just to share with you those things that make me go bananas.

1. Parents who fail to get their teens to Youth Group.

After 14 years of youth ministry, I discovered a powerful truth while working with teens and here it is: If a parent drove their son or daughter to youth group, they arrived. How's that for truth? It's true! ONE HUNDRED percent of the time the kid made it to youth group if their parent was behind the wheel. What makes me go bananas are Christian parents who fail to make youth group just as important (I would argue - more important)than school. Okay...I could go on forever.

2. Failure to protect Sundays for the family.

Every study that I have ever read indicates that a family that worships together on a regular basis develops a healthier lifestyle and spiritual depth than a family that is inconsistent in their worship. While growing up we had a plaque on the kitchen wall that read, "The family that prays together stays together." In many ways, it is true. Again, I go bananas when I see someone struggling with their spiritual walk and yet they fail to meet God in church. Hebrews 10:25 says that we are not to "neglect" meeting together. There's a reason for this. Out of site, out of mind.

3. Busy schedules.

There's a wise saying and it goes like this: If the devil can't make you bad, he will keep you busy. Most of us pride ourselves on being busy. We like that feeling of having our daytimer tell us that we are important - irreplaceable. But the truth is this - the longer our RPMs operate in the red zone, the less effective we are in just about every area of our life. This is especially true in our spirtual life. Rick Warren, author of the Purpose Driven Life, once stated, "If you have to work more than 45 hours a week you are probably less productive as you think." The key is to try to build a safe margin into your life so that you can say "no" to good things in order to say "yes" to far greater things.

Grow Your Jesus

I found this "Grow your Jesus" at a store in Chicago. The directions tell us to place Jesus in a cup of water and watch him grow over 600 percent of his actual size. I thought this might be what John had in mind when he wrote in the Gospel of John, "I must decrease while Christ increases." (John 3:30) Here's a real challenge for you and me: What do you think would happen in our lives if Jesus got just a little bit bigger (3 percent, 5 percent, 10 percent) in us? I wonder if anyone could tell the difference? If you're a Christian (Christ follower), Jesus shares that we are "salt" and "light" to this world. So, let me encourage you to take the challenge with me - to grow our Jesus bigger!

Sergei and Aylona from Ukraine

I have known Sergei and Aylona for over three years. I first met them in 2005 when I went with a team of church planters from Minnesota to Cherkassy, Ukraine. While in Ukraine we shared ideas together on how we can make an impact on the many villages that have yet to hear about Christ. I'm happy to report that Willowbrook has a partnership with Sergei and Aylona and that plans are underway to fly them to Minnesota to be with us in July and August. Sergei and Aylona have never, in their entire life, been on an airplane or out of Ukraine! This is going to be an awesome summer! Go God!

What is Willowbrook?

What is Willowbrook?

It is important to understand that God is God of variety. And what is so magnificent about the body of Christ is the many facets in which people can come to know our true Savior. We believe that each church has a specific purpose in reaching our world for Christ. The key is for each church to find that purpose and commit to it.

Easter is Coming

I'm making some important plans for our Easter Service this year (2008). I hope that you check back soon to learn more about "Defeating the Giant of Death." You can go to our website at to learn more about us!