A Kid Named Mitch

I’ve heard it said so many times (and I’ve been one to say it from time to time as well):  “If this entire event was for just that one person, then it was totally worth it.”  Down deep though I have to admit that I haven’t always felt like that.  When a great deal of energy, time, money, and emotion has been expended and a single person comes to know Christ or a very small group shows up it can be deflating. Pastors and leaders will often put a nice spin on it by saying, “Well, praise the Lord, it was worth it for that one soul!” but then walk away shaking their heads wondering why they gave so much for so little response. 

This last weekend we had so much snow fall and ice covered the roads to such a degree that our church that averages 1300 in 3 services was a like that of a small group Bible Study.  At the 9 am service, I was literally “preaching to the choir”. For one brief moment I wondered why I put so much time into my sermon and if we should just huddle up, sing Kumbaya and go home. But then it happened…

I remembered a youth meeting about 20 years ago

and a kid named Mitch.

I had been cranking for a couple days on a killer teaching, some silly games, worship and a powerful altar call.  Then kids started calling into the church office saying they couldn’t make it that night for youth group (homework, sick, sports, no ride, etc. etc). I was bummed.  When 7 pm hit only one kid walked into the youth room. His name was Mitch. I pasted a smile on my face, made some small talk and waited a bit to see who else would show.  Nobody did. Just Mitch.

The Holy Spirit did something in me that night that shaped my ministry in those early years and continues to govern how I function.  The Spirit spoke inaudibly yet so clearly: “If you don’t value this child of mine with the best of your energy I won’t give you any more.”  I took a breath and started the most important youth meeting of my life. As I wrapped up a passionate message and prayer time with Mitch, I knew I had been obedient and that the heavens were smiling.  As Mitch heading out the door to his parents car, he said to me:  “Thanks Pastor John, this was a really great night. I’m glad I came.”

From that night I on something happened in that youth group. It grew. No actually, it grew a lot.  The lessons learned on that night were amazing. I am so thankful for them.

So, as I stood this last weekend in a huge auditorium before a smattering of brave folks with 4-wheel drive, I thought of Mitch.  At the altar call time, I fully expected no responses to my overt Christmas salvation message. On Saturday evening there was one. One Sunday at 9 am there was one.  And at the 11 am there were three.  Thank you Jesus.  It WAS totally worth it.

Winter “Wonder”land

I’m stuck at home. Roads are slick and snowy. I had lots of stuff to do today but it got modified by the snow. Sometimes I wonder if the Lord makes days like today so his children will just BE and not DO so much. I’m still in my PJ’s, ate breakfast late, writing some and listening to tunes. Let it snow. Thank you Lord.

Signs of a Lukewarm Pastor by Craig Groeschel

Give some consideration to what Craig Groeschel, in his blog calls Signs of a Lukewarm Pastor:

A lukewarm pastor:

• Prays as much, or more, publicly than privately.

• Is almost exclusively dependent on others’ sermons to preach than directly hearing from God.

• Cares more about his church than The Church.

• Preaches about evangelism but doesn’t practice evangelism privately.

• Tolerates and rationalizes unconfessed sin.

• Preaches for the approval of people rather than the approval of God.

• Is overly sensitive to criticism.

• Harbors bitterness and unforgiveness.

• Reads the Bible to prepare sermons but not for personal devotion to God.

• Is jealous or critical of someone else that God is blessing.

What a list. Without question, there are a couple here that will convict even the best of Christians. Yet, it’s important for us as leaders to do inventories such as this in order to determine our “heat level”. Are we lukewarm? The Book of Revelation speaks to that quite clearly. We do not want God to spew us out!! Let’s work to be red hot in our relationship to Jesus and in our effectiveness in ministry.

Any thoughts? Feedback?

DMB & Tribes

I remember the moment so clearly. Years ago I was sitting in a car with a buddy of mine from Canada. We had just come from lunch and he wanted to play me a song on his car CD player.  It felt like I was in the Brady Bunch…just listening to the newest tunes on Greg Brady’s record player. My buddy said, “You’ve got to hear this band.” What proceeded out of the speaker system captured me.  It was a song by an eclectic, self-named group:  Dave Matthews Band. I had never heard of them before and certainly had never heard a rock band use violins and woodwinds. It was magical.  I never forgot the moment. It was the start of my journey in the DMB tribe. 


Years later, my wife and I and two other couples (some of our best friends on the planet) took a long road trip to The Gorge. The Gorge is a premiere concert venue in the middle of Washington State. Each Labor Day weekend thousands of DMB followers flock to The Gorge for a weekend of music and togetherness. It was surreal. Pure devotion unlike anything I’ve ever seen in any church service (and I’ve been in quite a few of them). They didn’t have FANS they had FOLLOWERS. They were a part of the DMB Tribe – perhaps recently or perhaps since the beginning…regardless, they were followers. 


This morning I was sitting in my truck before grabbing some coffee and I began to read the notes on the inside artwork of a Dave Matthews Band greatest hits CD.  In it Steve Morse, a reviewer with The Boston Globe, refers to himself as a “longtime DMB believer”. A believer.  Hmmm.  Believer.  Not just a listener. Not just a fan.  This guy is a follower. And so are many thousands of others.  DMB has a Tribe of Followers.


How can the church learn from this?  How can we have people become interested in the claims of Christ and in His agency on this earth: the church, but then see them move closer and closer to the things of Jesus and become His followers? How do leaders create an environment in which there are seekers and followers? 

Any thoughts?  Let me know.