Monday, October 31, 2005


Churches are like fingerprints. Every church possesses unique characteristics that God intends to use to reach out to the world. CTK is a special combination of elements, that is perhaps made clear through contrast. What makes CTK different.

We are This… Instead of This…

Organism Organization
Forest Tree Farm
Mice Elephant
Jet skis Barge
Fast Vast
Simple Complex
Essentials Extraneous
Network Mainframe
Horizontal Vertical
Porous Resistant
Centered Bounded
Informal Formal
Effectiveness Efficiency
Low-tech High-tech
Cellular Congregational
Outreach Seeker
Messy Careful
Ambiguity Protocol
Non-linear Linear
Improvisational Scripted
Good enough Perfection
Volunteers Professionals
Reality Image
Arrows pointed out Arrows pointed in
Scalable Contained
Transferable Proprietary
Decentralized Centralized
Outstretched hand Clenched fist
Export Import
Distribute Hold
Guerrilla Conventional
Micro Mega
More is better Bigger is better
Them Us
We go to them They come to us
Scattering Gathering
Rescue boat Pleasure cruise
Empowerment Control
Variety Conformity
Spirit Structure
Groups Programs
People are ministers Pastor is minister
More leaders More followers
Relationships Religion
Belong, believe Believe, belong
By 10s By 100s
Movement Ministry
Cooperation Competition
Reach a community Build a church
Be a blessing Be a success
Hospital Showcase
Process Status
Entrepreneurial Institutional
Yes, Sure, You Bet No, Sorry, We Can’t
Pro Anti
People Buildings
Ideas Atoms
Kingdom Church


Educator Roy Blitzer says, "The only person who likes change is a wet baby." Blitzer must not have been a leader.

As a leader you are a change agent. You are the CDO - chief disorganizational officer. It is your job to create a dissatisfaction with the status quo. To stir the pot. It is your task to articulate a preferable future and to inspire others to do what needs to be done to get there. To stem the tide of complacency.

Among other qualities that characterize a great leader is the unflinching belief that people and things can change. Not everyone believes that people can change. You do. You are praying that an entire community will be transformed. You believe God when he says that in Christ old things pass away and things become new. Country singer Kenny Chesney has a song out called "Some People Change." The lyrics are below.....they inspire me.

His old man was a rebel yeller
Bad boy to the bone
He'd say "can't trust a colored feller"
He'd judge them by the tone of their skin
He was raised to think like his dad
Narrowminded, full of hate
On the road to nowhere fast
Til the grace of God got in the way
Then he saw the light and hit his knees and cried and said a
Rose up a brand new man
Left the old one right there

Here's to the strong
Thanks to the brave
Don't give up hope
Some people change
Against all odds
Against the grain
Love finds a way
Some people change

She was born with her mothers habit
Guess you could say it's in her blood
She hates it that she's gotta have it
She fills her glass up
She'd love to kill that bottle
But all she could think about is
A better life, a second chance
And everyone she's lettin down
She throws that bottle down

Here's to the strong
Thanks to the brave
Don't give up hope
Some people change
Against all odds
Against the grain
Love finds a way
Some people change

Thank God for those who make it
Let them be alive

(some people change) Here's to the strong
Thanks to the brave
Don't give up hope
Some people change
Against all odds
Against the grain
Love finds a way
Some people change


Faux: made in imitation of a natural material, for example, leather or fur

Some key words you will hear in the average evangelical church in America today are "relationships," "community" and "authenticity." Upon closer inspection, you find that, like fur, there are two varieties of these words being worn.

Case #1: The leader of a men's ministry that I have encountered speaks often about authenticity. I've actually never been around him except that he has spoken with me about "being authentic." Oddly, I don't think I really know this guy. The more he talks about being authentic, the less he seems authentic to me. Something is not natural here.

Case #2: A friend of mine attends an evangelical church with a large emphasis on community. It seems forced to me. The "relationships" that they emphasize are too rehearsed, too cheesy, too perfect. The people seem plastic to me. They dress the same, talk the same, act the same. It appears manufactured and contrived.

To keep from “faux” relationships, I believe that important corollaries to “community” and “authenticity” are “natural” and “imperfect.” If it’s the real thing, it will often have a most natural feel to it. If it’s the real thing, it will probably be imperfect. A wallet I once purchased held a little slip of paper inside that read:

Your wallet is made of real leather. Unlike artificial or simulated leather, authentic leather may have imperfections and variety in coloration or texture. These are not indications of defect. These are marks of distinction. You are the owner of a genuine leather article.

After a woman visited CTK for the first time, she told the friend who invited her, “This can’t be church. Everyone is so real.” When I heard that, I had mixed emotions: Happy, because that is our mission (to create an authentic Christian community....); Sad because this makes CTK stand out. When many outsiders think of the church they think “artificial” - this in spite of current evangelical rhetoric. The average lost person is not looking for someone to speak to her glibly about “relationships.” She is looking for a friend.

In the 80th year of his life, the famous English sculptor Henry Moore was asked a fascinating question by literary critic Donald Hall. “Now that you are 80, you must know the secret of life. What is it?” Moore paused ever so slightly, with just enough time to smile before answering.

“The secret of life,” he mused, “is to have a task, something you do your entire life, something you bring everything to, every minute of every day for your whole life. And the most important thing is: It must be something you cannot possibly do.”


People often remark that CTK is "different" than other churches they have seen. God is definitely shaping the CTK culture in a unique way. It is certainly a contrast from churches I have experienced in my past, in several ways....

1. Arrows are pointed out, instead of in.

We're not asking everyone to come to us; we're asking us to go to them.

2. People are the ministers, instead of pastors.

We want our pastors to equip the people for the work of the ministry.

3. More is better, instead of bigger.

We want to reach an unlimited number of people by ministering in an unlimited number of places.

4. Less programming, instead of more.

We’re not a program driven church, but there are unlimited ministries that people can engage in.

5. Great movement, instead of a great ministry.

We want to see the spiritual landscape transformed, not just another church established.

"Different" does not necessarily mean "better." Every church has an important part to play in God's plan for reaching the world. We just want to be faithful to what God is calling us to be, and do. We want to become more of who we already are.

If you want 1000 pounds of meat, raise elephants. If you want 1000 tons of meat, raise rabbits.


CTK is approaching church growth as aggressively as the modern church, but in a post-modern manner. This statement from Kennon Calahan gave me some clarity about the difference:

(Here's) what I call the "big bucks" church growth approach to starting new congregations. That approach has four steps: land, minister, members, building.

1. Land: buy land, hopefully an excellent location for a reasonable price
2. Minister: find a full-time, ordained minister who knows how to start a new church, and with help from the denomination, support his or her salary for the coming five years.
3. Members: recruit members to this new congregation
4. Building: build the building, or at least build the first unit of what might be a three- or four-phase building program.

The underlying assumption is that once we achieve the land, the minister, the members, and the building, then we can figure out more fully what we need to do as our mission. Unfortunately, with this approach the mission sometimes becomes getting the land, finding the minister, recruiting the new members, and building the new building.

On the one hand, I want to confirm that this way of beginning new congregations “works.” Land is bought. A competent pastor is found. We recruit new members. We build stage one, stage two, and stage three of our master plan for our buildings. We sponsor many programs and activities for our members. On the other hand, I want to confirm that these four steps seem preoccupied with “us.”

That last statement is one of the reasons I am no longer in a denominational church ministry. I got weary of church growth being about us. It’s not about us.

There is a subtle, but important difference in my mind between having the arrows pointed in and “asking them to come to us,” and having the arrows pointed out and “asking us to go to them.” As Reggie McNeal says, “The shift from “doing” church at the clubhouse to “being” church in the world is a paradigm shift that has apparently eluded many church leaders.” It’s time for God’s people to get out of the barn, and get into the field. It’s time to love the pitcher less, and love the water more.

“I hear addicts talk about the shakes and panic attacks and the highs and lows of resisting their habit, and to some degree I understand them because I have had habits of my own, but no drug is so powerful as the drug of self. No rut in the mind is so deep as the one that says I am the world, the world belongs to me, all people are characters in my play. There is no addiction so powerful as self-addiction.” - Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz

”The goal of a congregation’s leadership development process is to create a core of leaders who are capable of strategizing, launching, and conducting a mission for expanding the kingdom of God. Contrast this to holding a leadership role in an organization that primarily makes demands of the leaders’ time, money, talents, energy and prayer for it’s own survival.” - Reggie McNeal, The Present Future


Is Christianity a commodity? Some think so. If you need food, go to the grocer. If you need electricity, call an electrician. If you need spirituality, go to church. This paradigm, if you choose to accept it, will set you up, as pastor, to become a “dispenser” and “provider” and set people up for disappointment, when you don’t “deliver.” You will be sadly reduced to a “purveyor of religious goods and services,” instead of a shepherd of souls.

Is there a better idea? Thad Williamson, writing about college athletics, offers the "logic of friendship.” He’s responding to frustration that often arises on the part of fans, when their favored athletes and teams don’t perform well:

I strongly believe that the relationship between fans and college athletes should proceed not according to a logic of commodification, in which the fan “buys” a product and is entitled to a return, but rather a logic of friendship. Both logics allow for the legitimate expression of disappointment and dismay in the wake of losses and other setbacks. But whereas according to the logic of commodification, this often takes the form of being angry at the players or coaches who “owed me” more in the way of vicarious satisfaction, in the logic of friendship this takes the form of sharing the pain coaches and players themselves feel when they do not meet their own goals and dreams or live up to their own expectations. To subscribe to this latter logic of friendship, of course, runs against the grain of American sports culture.

In both sports and church there is an attempt on the part of leaders to get groups of people heading in a common direction to accomplish high and lofty goals. When things are going well (“the thrill of victory”), it can be hard to tell which logic is in play (commodification or friendship) because everyone’s happy. When things are not going well (“the agony of defeat”) the underlying logic is often revealed. Are we “all in this together” (logic of friendship), or does someone “owe me” something (logic of commodification)?

Pastors can “coach their team” toward the logic of friendship by regularly saying things like “We need every one of you to get on board” or “We’re fellow strugglers here.” Over the years I have stressed that “CTK will not be a better church than the people who comprise it. If CTK is a loving church, it will be because you and I are loving. If we are a serving church, it will be because you and I are serving. If we are an outreach church, it will be because you and I reach out.” Every time I say this I nudge the culture a little further away from the logic of commodification, and closer to the logic of friendship.

“We are above all things loved – that is the good news of the gospel....To come together as people who believe that just maybe this gospel is actually true should be to come together like people who have just won the Irish sweepstakes.” Frederick Buechner


Are you feeling the pain? Growth is painful.

An adage by which CTK has lived is: There is no growth without change, no change without loss, no loss without pain. When you chart a course for growth, you are asking for it.

Through the years, as we have given away our ministries and multiplied, we have had some tear-filled moments. We have "pushed" some of our favorite birds out of the nest. Sometimes we have been the birds who have flown the coop. In any case, its hard to leave relationships behind, to pursue new ones. But its also rewarding to see "his kingdom come, and his will be done."

A man told me Sunday that he is "trying to find his place again." This is a man who has served in worship ministry in one of our centers for awhile, but with a new CTK Center now in his area, he is experiencing change, loss and pain. He's leaving behind the comfort zone of established friends and responsibilities to embrace a new setting and role. In the end he is going to grow up even more in his faith in this new setting. But its not going to be easy. There is a part of me that wants to "solve" his pain, because I know how he feels. But there's another part of me that knows "there's no way around it, you have to go through it."

I remember well a tear-filled drive back from Anacortes following the last Saturday night service I held there. I was glad to "hand off the baton." I was sad to "hand off the baton." I was hoping it would be the last time I felt that. It wasn't.

Churches cease to grow when they no longer are willing to pay the price for growth. Part of the price to be paid is emotional. Along the path of growth you have to let go of certain things. Ministries in which you were once "hands-on" cannot grow if you continue to be that way. You have to give it away. People cannot grow if you "hold onto them." You have to let them go.

Just recently I went through another "Gethsemane" - "Father, if it's possible, take this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done." I'm now ready to go to the cross, again. Jesus told us that the only way we'd find our lives, is if we lose them for His sake. I'm finding my life again. New buds are starting to form.


Someone asked me recently if CTK is a “seeker” church (they had heard we were). I replied, “You heard wrong.” I went on to say, “We call ourselves an ‘Outreach Church’ rather than a ‘Seeker Church.’” Let me explain the difference.

Both the “seeker” church and “outreach” church believe that a bridge needs to be built between God and the lost. They just start building that bridge at different sides of the chasm.

God Lost

“Outreach” “Seeker”
Starts Here Starts Here

The “seeker” model begins by thinking about the unchurched person: Who are they? What music do they like? What TV programs do they watch? What don’t they like about church? Both Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago and Saddleback Valley Community Church in California, when they began, conducted extensive surveys in their community to find out the answers. Then they structured their ministry accordingly and popularized a model of bridge-building ministry called “seeker-sensitive.” The “seeker” model ends up looking quite different than a traditional church, and quite a bit more effective. Many other churches have followed suit with good results as either a “seeker sensitive” or “seeker-targeted” model.

While we respect the “seeker” model, at CTK we’ve taken a slightly different approach. In the “outreach approach” we begin by thinking about God: Who is He? What does He want us to know? How much does He love this world? What price is He willing to pay to reach the lost? Then we “clear the path to the cross” by removing every obstacle that gets in the way of God’s love. When you structure your ministry around outreach, it also ends up looking quite different from a traditional church, and quite a bit more effective, at times resembling the “seeker” church.

Does the starting point matter? Some would say “As long as you build the bridge, who cares on which side you start.” Truly, the difference is subtle. But it shows up. Two areas where it shows up are truth-telling, and worship.

Truth-telling. Because we start from a slightly different place we have less of a temptation to “tinker with” or “water down” the message to make it more palatable for the ears of the non-believer. Our mandate is “What does God want to say?” instead of “What do people want to hear?”

Worship. In “seeker” services worship is minimized (“seekers don’t know the words to our songs,” etc.). In the “outreach” model we view true Christian worship as a powerful tool of evangelism (explored in more detail in the book Worship Evangelism, by Sally Morganthaler).

“Seekers” and “Outreachers” should not be confused with the Hatfields and McCoys. There is no animosity between them. Both the “seeker” and “outreach” models of ministry fall into a larger class of “relevant” ministry. Both are driven by a desire to reach as many people as possible as quickly as possible. Both want to honor God by building a bridge to the lost. We just start building in different places.

Warren Bennis: “All great groups believe they are on a mission from God.”


There are three sizes of groups in a church: large, medium and small. These different conventions of people are often referred to as Celebration, Congregation and Cell. While at CTK we tend to focus on the Celebration (weekend worship) and Cell (weekday small group) gatherings (“house to house, and in the temple courts”), we should not underestimate the importance of the middle-sized group. The middle-sized group – bigger than a small group, but smaller than a weekend worship service – can be a “Fishing Pool” for identifying new leaders, and developing new groups.

One of the earliest “Fishing Pool” strategies I employed at CTK was the “under the Elks head” meeting following the weekend worship service. I would ask those who were new to CTK, and were not yet connected in a small group, to meet me under the Elks head (we were meeting in an Elks Lodge at the time). I would often have 20 to 30 people respond to the invitation. On the spot, I would have people go around and give their names. I would then ask if any of them would be interested in opening their home for a small group meeting that week, or facilitating a small group at someone else’s home (usually several would volunteer). I would then group those who were interested, exchange phone numbers, and write down directions. In the first year of CTK’s existence we started 38 small groups, and probably half of those we started in this deliberately simple way.

Another “Fishing Pool” I used with good results was a monthly “Welcome Dessert” that I held at my home for new people. My wife and I would invite newcomers from the previous three months to our home, and I would ask people to go around tell a little bit of their story. I would then tell mine. We would show a brief video about CTK, while serving dessert. After the video we would open the time up for questions and discussion. I would steer the conversation to the importance of small groups, and usually have one or two groups emerge from this “Fishing Pool.”

When I was pastoring at CTK in Bellingham, I developed a number of fishing pools of 30-50 people. For instance I held monthly “town gatherings” in various communities. These were held at restaurants. I would provide dessert for those who attended, have people meet each other at tables, play a simple game together, hear about small groups, and have the opportunity to start a new group with others they met that night. We often had a half dozen new small groups begin following such “fishing pool” events.

“Fishing Pools” are useful for transitioning people from “outside” the church to “inside” the church. It is sometimes too big a step for new people to move directly from Celebration to Cell. A “Congregation” provides an intermediate step whereby people can get to know some other people in a non-threatening environment, and “test the waters” before they ease themselves into a deeper relationship.

As a leader, if you are asking “How do I get people into small groups?” or “Where do I find new small group leaders?” consider developing some Fishing Pools. If you don’t know where to begin, consider gathering people based on affinity - people sharing the same: Locale, Stage of Life, Experiences, or Spiritual journey. For instance, a meeting of parents who currently have teenagers, or a gathering of folks who have been Christians less than 5 years, or a convention of “bikers.” Let your mind run wild with ideas. Oh, and one other thing. Happy fishing!


1. How could you use a fishing pool to start small groups?

2. How could you use a fishing pool to find volunteers?

3. What fishing pools have you created in your ministry?

4. What fishing pools need to be created?


I'm not real big on the phrase "church growth." I used to like it more, before it was hijacked by the "bigger is better" mega-crowd. In the United States church growth has been sadly reduced to counting “nickels and noses.” But outside of the United States, church growth still means more than numbers.

Sunday Adelaja is a young, visionary Nigerian-born pastor who ministers in Eastern Europe. His church has a membership of over 20,000 people and they have planted over 300 churches in the former Soviet Union. He spoke recently of the “10 Dimensions of Church Growth” - beyond the numbers.

The 10 Dimension of Growth are growth of...

1. Christ's Kingdom
2. Christ-likeness
3. Influence
4. Finances
5. Material things (tools)
6. Vision
7. Transformation
8. Leadership
9. Good works
10. International Influence

If our vision is to "get a bunch of people to come to my church" then we have a pretty small vision. Our vision should be to "transform the spiritual landscape." We want the world to look back years from now and say, "Our community is not the same since this Christ the King group showed up."

CTK Vision Statement

Our vision is to see a prevailing, multi-location church emerge that will transform the spiritual landscape. This church will convene in hundreds of small groups, with Worship Centers strategically located in every community.


Proverbs 16:4,9 says, “The Lord works out everything for his own ends….in his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”

There are opportunities that the Lord brings for which you cannot plan. Because of this we spend less time in formal planning and goal setting, and more time trying to be ready.

Our approach to planning at Christ the King is less like a canon ball being fired at a fortress and more like a heat-seeking missile tracking a moving target. When the pillar of cloud and fire moves, we’ll move with it. We are continually looking for the genius of the Holy Spirit as we chart our course.

Instead of predicting what will happen, we try to find things to exploit. Instead of forecasts, we feel we need instant decision making. Instead of trying to hit goals, we try to increase our willingness to take chances. The importance of speed means a shift from prediction, foresight, and planning to building in flexibility, courage, and faster reflexes. Intended results and useful tools are more important than a detailed plan. As General George S. Patton observed, “Successful generals make plans to fit circumstances, but do not try to create circumstances to fit plans.” This distinction may be particularly important in the kingdom of God, where our plans - no matter how big – are too small for God.

We are trying to attempt something so big that it is doomed to failure unless God is in it. The question we want to ask is not, “Can we afford to do it?” but “Is it a great thing for God?” We want to let go of the arrogance of knowing and move toward wonder and reverence. We want to move from the black and white zone of control toward the gray zone of greater openness.

A lot of planning that goes on in churches pushes the present into the future. The better and biblical approach to the future involves prayer and preparation, not prediction.

Long range planning can be an attempt to turn life into a predictable science. Sometimes complicated plans can be a subconscious attempt to avoid doing, to avoid growing, to avoid faith.

At CTK we live with an emotional paradox. We revel in the joys of accidental discovery. On the other hand, being human, we don’t want to feel “out of control.” Yet real control is the ability to respond automatically to altered and unpredictable circumstances.

As Galatians instructs us, we want to “keep in step with the spirit.” Jesus compared the Spirit to the wind – it blows unpredictably. It is critical that we continue to ask, “Where is God at work, and how can we join him in that?”

I have been visiting car dealers recently, in hopes of “trading down” our SUV for something smaller and more economical. Recently I found myself having conversations with a salesman. As we haggled over price, he would occasionally get up and leave the room to “check with the sales manager, to see if we can do that.” It is a familiar ruse, and if you’ve ever purchased a car I’m sure you are familiar with it. In the end, I walked away from the deal, but I had a good feeling about the salesman who was trying to “help” me. I guess if I had to blame anyone for the deal not getting done, I’d have to blame the man behind the curtain - the invisible sales manager. It reminded me of something that I think we have going for us in a multi-location church.

When I launched CTK in Skagit Valley I had some well-meaning “pre-processed Christians” show up who wanted to recreate their past church experience at CTK. At the time I was still under the umbrella of CTK in Bellingham, so I often used Steve Mason (the pastor in Bellingham) as my foil. I would say to people who wanted to start up “arrows in” programming, “Let me check with Steve in Bellingham, and see if we can do that.” Steve would usually say, “You don’t want to do that.” So, I would go back to the people and say, “I checked with Steve, and Steve really doesn’t want us to do that. I’m sorry.” I ended up wearing the white hat in the story, and Steve got the black one.

When bad news has to be delivered, it is sometimes helpful to be able to say, “I checked, and they won’t let me.” Feel free to use me in this way, if you’d like to. I kind of like wearing the black hat.


Question: What do people from the following backgrounds have in common? ....Anglicans, Assembly of God, Baptists, Brethren, Calvary Chapel, Catholics, Christian Reformed, Covenant, Episcopalians, Evangelical Free, Foursquare, Lutherans, Methodists, Mennonites, Presbyterians, Reformed, Vineyard....

Answer: Christ the King

One of the reasons that CTK can be common ground for believers from many different backgrounds is that our degree of dogmatism rises and falls with the degree of clarity in the scripture. Where there is less clarity in the scripture we are less dogmatic.

In essential matters unity, in non-essential matters diversity, in all matters charity. - Augustine

CTK traces its doctrinal roots to the first century church. Because of our commitment to “keep the main thing the main thing” we have become a home to people from every conceivable denominational background.

At CTK we are orthodox in our beliefs and progressive in our methodology. We may have changed the method, but not the message. Like the early church fathers, we “agree to disagree” on non-essentials. We have chosen to center our teaching on truths that are life-changing and life-giving. We are fixated on “first-tier beliefs” as our point of emphasis. We believe that the primary truths that unite us are far more important than the secondary issues that divide us.

There are four truths around which we are united.

• God and His Word are trustworthy.

• Christ is our Savior and King.

• There is hope for the future and forgiveness for the past.

• The church holds the hope of the world in its hands.

God and His Word are trustworthy.

When the Apostle Paul wrote to his understudy Timothy, he reminded him of how important it is to stick with reliable sources for information, especially spiritual information.

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
- 2 Timothy 3:14-17

Everyone needs to find what Stephen Covey calls "true north." At CTK, we believe in the trustworthiness of God and His word. Our trust in God’s Word is based on the presupposition that there is a God, and this God has taken steps to reveal himself to His creatures. We believe the revelation of God is self-authenticating. The Bible itself is the best evidence for what it claims to be.

There’s something about the Bible, that makes it “alive” spiritually. It stands out as God’s revelation to man. It has been formed under God’s influence. The word “inspiration” comes from the King James translation of 2 Timothy 3:16 (“All scripture is given by inspiration of God…”). This is an unfortunate translation. The Greek word is a compound: “God-breathed.” It would be better to say all scripture is given by “expiration of God.” The verse says that the product was created in such a way that it can be called the very breath of God. The Bible was written by 35 authors over the span of 1500 years. Evidently God superintended the writing of the words so that in the end they could also be called the words of God.

For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
- 2 Peter 1:21

Inspiration is God’s superintending of human authors so that using their own individual personalities they composed and recorded without error His revelation to men in the words of the original manuscripts.
- Charles Ryrie

Inspiration is the inexplicable working of the Holy Spirit whereby He guided the human authors of the Bible in choosing the very words they used so that the Bible is truth. In the writing of the original manuscripts two streams came together, God and man, to result in one river: the Word of God.

The scripture is our final authority for what we believe and practice. Because the words are the breath of God, the Bible is useful for teaching (“this is the right path”), rebuking (“you are on the wrong path”), correcting (“this is the way back to the path”), and training (“this is how you stay on the path”).

We interpret the Bible at face value, according to its literary style. As we have studied the scriptures we have come to conclusions on various topics and have compiled the following doctrinal statement:

1. The scripture, both the Old and the New Testaments, are the inspired Word of God, without error in the original writings. It is the complete revelation of His will for the salvation of men and the divine and final authority for Christian faith and life. (2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 1:21)
2. There is one God, Creator of all things, infinitely perfect and eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. (Matthew 3:16-17, 2 Corinthians 13:14, Revelation 1:4-5)
3. Jesus Christ is both the true God and the true man having been conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin, Mary. He died on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins according to the scriptures. Furthermore, he arose bodily from the dead, ascended into heaven, where, at the right hand of the Majesty on High, He is now our High Priest and Advocate. (Luke 1:30-35, Luke 24:39-40, Acts 1:3, 11, Hebrews 4:14-15)
4. The ministry of the Holy Spirit is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ, and during this age to convict men, regenerate the believing sinner, indwell, guide, instruct and empower the believer for godly living and service. (John 14:15-17, John 16:5-15, Galatians 5:22-23)
5. Man was created in the image of God but fell into sin and is, therefore, lost and only through regeneration by the Holy Spirit can salvation and spiritual life be obtained. (Genesis 1:26-27, Romans3:23, Titus 3:5-7)
6. The shed blood of Jesus Christ and His resurrection provide the only ground for justification and salvation for all who believe, and only such as receive Jesus Christ are born of the Holy Spirit and, thus, become children of God. (1 Peter 3:18, Romans 10:9, John 1:12)
7. Water baptism and the Lord’s Supper are ordinances to be observed by the Church during the present age. They are, however, not to be regarded as means of salvation. (Matthew 28:18-20, 1 Corinthians 11:23-29, Ephesians 2:8-9)
8. The Church is composed of all such persons who, through saving faith in Jesus Christ, have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit and are united together in the Body of Christ, of which He is the Head. (Ephesians 1:22, 4:4-6) .
9. The Lord Jesus Christ will return to this earth and this “Blessed Hope” has a vital bearing on the personal life and service of the believer. (Mark 13:26-27, Revelation 1:7)
10. The dead will be raised bodily, the believer to everlasting blessedness and joy with the Lord and the unbeliever to judgment and everlasting conscious separation from God. (Romans 6:5, 1Corinthians 15:42-44, Revelation 20:11-21:4)

When Admiral Byrd went to the south pole he stayed for six months in a hut all alone. Snow after snow and blast after blast buried his small hut. Each day he would dig his way to the surface. One day he stepped away from the hut a little too far. He realized he was lost in “white out” conditions. He didn’t panic. He calmly drove a stake into the ground. He then proceeded to walk a perimeter around the stake until finally he walked right into the tunnel of his hut. Even though the conditions were extreme, and his very life was in peril, he relied on something sure and unchanging to find his way home. And so do we. The word of God is our “stake in the ground.”

Christ is our Savior and King.

The name of our church makes a statement about where our loyalties lie. “Christ the King” is an inherently propositional and edifying phrase.

At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
- Philippians 2:10,11

Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, described Christ’s kingship with a drawing of a throne placed inside a heart. He contrasted a self-directed life (with “self” enthroned on one’s heart), with a Christ directed life (with “Christ” seated on the throne). When we say that Christ is the King, we're saying that He alone is worthy to be on the throne of our hearts.

Every man gives his life for what he believes in. Some people believe in little or nothing and yet they give their lives for that little or nothing. One life is all we have, we live it and it is gone. But to surrender what you are and to live without belief is more terrible than dying, even more terrible than dying young. But there is a worse fate than dying young and that is to commit yourself to something that at the end of life, at the portals of eternity, turns out to have betrayed you.
- Joan of Arc

There is hope for the future, and forgiveness for the past.

In Luke 15 we read that Jesus was criticized for “welcoming sinners and eating with them.” In response to that criticism Jesus told three great stories all in defense of hanging out with "sinners”; the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son. All have the same punch line; God's heart is toward the lost.

The story of the lost sheep demonstrates that God's love is focused. As God looks across his sheep, his eyes run directly to the one who is lost. 99% of his sheep were accounted for, but His eyes search for the lost one, the broken one. He's concerned for their well-being, safety and recovery.

The story of the lost coin shows us how God's love is persistent. He doesn't give up. He turns the place upside down to get at the object of his affection. He's knows the intrinsic value of that coin.

The story of the lost son makes it clear that God's love is unconditional. The father runs to his son when he is “still a long way off.” Dad doesn't even ask where he's been or what he's done, he's just glad to have him back in the family!

Standing by at the reunion of the prodigal son, is an older brother (a bit part that Christ not-so-subtly assigns to his religious critics). The older son is upset because he's been behaving himself, but the party is being thrown for the prodigal son. The wandering brother is getting the attention. How unfair can that be!?!

Bingo! It's not fair. It's grace. It's's unearned....yet it's given freely. The Bible says: While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Our God is a God of grace.

Grace is the good pleasure of God that inclines Him to bestow benefit upon the undeserving.
- A.W. Tozer

God loves us in spite of who we are, not because of who we are. It is our hope at CTK to treat people better than they deserve to be treated. That is certainly what God has done for us.

The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
- Psalm 103:8-13

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
- Ephesians 4:32-5:2

At CTK we don’t view failures as final. We have a culture of recovery. The sheep can come back into the fold. The coin can come back into the bag. The son can come back into the family. The sinner can be a son. The ruined can be redeemed, recovered, recruited, renewed and reproducing.

I’ve learned how to treat people because of how they’ve treated me.
- An employee at Ritz Carlton

That’s not to say that sin doesn’t bring consequences. But we are not looking to create unnecessary consequences for broken people. We know that sin carries it’s own spanking. Provided that someone is “pointed in the right direction” we want to run to them with forgiveness, even if they are still “a long ways off.”

In the 1929 Rose Bowl, UCLA played Georgia Tech. Toward the end of the first half, Roy Riegels from Georgia Tech picked up a UCLA fumble and ran for the goal line. Unfortunately for him, he had been spun around in the scramble for the ball and was heading for the wrong end zone. A teammate chased him and tackled him from behind just short of scoring a touchdown for the other team. Georgia Tech could not move the ball, and punting from their own end zone, had the punt blocked. UCLA scored to take the lead just before the end of the half. The Georgia Tech locker room was silent at half time. “Wrong way Roy Riegels” say quietly in a corner with a towel over his head. Then Coach Price spoke. All he said was: “The same team that started the first half, will start the second half.” Not a big statement, but an important one for Roy to hear.

We all fall. We all fail. The Bible says in Isaiah 53:6, “We all like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way.” Sin is anything in our lives (thought, word or deed) that is inconsistent with God's character or laws. Some of us have fallen farther than others, and created a bigger dust cloud. But we’re all sinners in need of a savior. There are people at CTK who have lied, cheated, stolen, hated, lusted, gossiped, been self-centered, unkind. You name it, we've done it. And that's why we're here. But our past is an inadequate predictor of our future. There is hope for the future and forgiveness for the past.

The church holds the hope of the world in its hands.

When John Sculley was CEO of Pepsi, he was approached by Apple Computer founder Steve Jobs about coming to Apple. When Sculley resisted, Jobs challenged him, “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water, or do you want a chance to change the world?” The question led Sculley to give the next chapter of his life to the computer industry. Yet, as revolutionary as computers have been, nothing can impact our world for time and eternity like the saving grace of Christ.

The church holds the hope of the world in it’s hands. The church is a conduit for the life-changing power of God.

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.
- Romans 1:16

The power of God is in the gospel. To remain viable, we must stay focused on the life-changing message of Jesus Christ: that God loves us and wants us in His family. We can come home.

We carry this “good news” as a sacred trust. It is our duty to disseminate this truth far and wide. To this end we are intentional and aggressive in our strategies. Time is precious. There is an urgency about our work. God wants as many people as possible to accept His offer of salvation.

The Lord is patient, not wanting anyone to perish, but wants everyone to come to repentance.
- 2 Peter 3:9

Go out into the country...and urge anyone you find to come in, so that my house will be full.
- Luke 14:23

In 2001, the Russian nuclear submarine Kursk had a catastrophic accident 350 feet below the Barents Sea. The enormous vessel – over three football fields long – lay immobilized at the bottom of the ocean. It was five days until the Russian government asked for help for its stranded sailors. When ships finally arrived in the region their sonar picked up the sounds of sailors banging on the inside of the hull of the Kursk. Unfortunately, there was no contingency plan to rescue sailors from a sunken submarine. Slowly the oxygen supplies ran out. The crew was left to die of carbon monoxide poisoning. Their breathing became more rapid, they started gasping for air, started to feel severe pain and then fell unconscious. It was a sad ending. Angry relatives could not understand why the Russian government had not prepared to respond to such an emergency.

What if? What if someone had planned an effective strategy ahead of time? What if they were ready to go? What if they responded quickly? What if, instead of the entire crew being lost, the crew was saved? What if, instead of a funeral filled with mourning, there was a celebration filled with joy?

I don’t know. Church? What if?

What statements can a church make that will communicate that there is a second half? Script a half dozen hope-filled statements that could be made.

Do you hear people “banging on the inside of the hull”? Who?

Newcomers to CTK are sometimes unsure how to categorize us. Theologically we are like a can on the shelf without a label. Are we Pentecostals? No. Are we Charismatics? Not exactly. Are we Evangelicals? In doctrine, yes, but we are open to the ministries associated with the gifts of the Spirit, though not in the emotionally based manner usually associated with Pentecostalism. I would call us “empowered evangelicals.” Empowered evangelicals emphasize both the Word and the Spirit.

If we emphasize the Word without the Spirit, we dry up.
If we emphasize the Spirit without the Word, we blow up.
If we hold the Spirit and the Word together, we grow up.

Church analyst Lyle Schaller classifies churches according to the person of the Godhead that they tend to emphasize. He says there are “First-person” churches who’s emphasis is on the Father (most Main-line churches); “Second-person” churches who emphasize the Son (most Evangelical churches); and “Third-person” church who emphasize the Holy Spirit (most Charismatic churches). Where does CTK fit? We like to keep people guessing by taking a holistic view of God.


The Seattle Seahawks have not lived up to expectations. When they hired Super Bowl Champion Coach Mike Holmgren away from the Green Bay Packers, a lot of people thought that the Seahawks would become an overnight sensation. Not so. At least not yet. What’s gone wrong? Running back Shaun Alexander has an idea:

“When Coach came here, he was called the Genius, and I think he was shocked the team didn’t fall in behind him right away. The thing with this generation of players is that even if you’re the smartest coach in history – and coach H is right there – you have to love us first. Then we’ll follow you.”

There’s an old saying that “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Even rough, tough football players need to know that they are loved.

Twenty-first century leadership theory emphasizes the “vision thing” but God emphasized “the love thing.” Love is the distinctive quality of followers of Jesus Christ: “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love is the primary quality we want to exhibit at Christ the King Community Church. Our mission is “to create an authentic Christian community that effectively reaches out to unchurched people in love, acceptance and forgiveness, so that they may experience the joy of salvation and a purposeful life of discipleship.” CTK leaders should exemplify love. Do the people who are following you know that they are loved by you?

It is common for people to be loved, but not feel loved. So if we love our people, we’ve got to act like it. Ross Campbell wrote a book called “How to Really Love Your Child” in which he outlines three things we can do to help others feel loved.

1. Maintain Eye Contact

When you talk with people before or after a service, do you look at them? I had someone give me this report on a pastor who is no longer in our network (could be cause and effect here): “When you were talking to him, he was always looking over your shoulder, as if he was looking for someone else to talk with.” I know it is not always easy to stay present in a conversation, but when we don’t, people do not feel loved. Be available, and communicate that with your eyes.

2. Physical contact

Touch can almost always be used effectively to communicate love. A pat on the back, a firm handshake, an appropriate hug, or a light, brief touch on the shoulder, back or arm can mean more than words can say. I recommend only a one-armed hug with members of the opposite sex. But don’t be too afraid to literally touch folks for Jesus.

3. Focused Attention

Focused attention often boils down to one word: time. Some pastors never have time for their people. They are “too busy” to counsel, or pray, or visit. If so, they really are too busy. Spend time with your sheep, and call attention to the positive character qualities you see. As Coach John Wooden said, “Catch them doing something right.”

Of course, to love your sheep, you have to actually love your sheep. If you don’t (and occasionally you won’t), you’ll need to talk with God about that. Love comes from God (1 John 4:7). We can’t do it without God helping us. But that’s part of what makes pastoring so much fun. “If God can get it through us, he can get it to us.”

When was the last time that you told those under your care that you love them?

How are you showing them?

Are you special? Personally, I think you are. But it depends on who you listen to.

A recent news story told of humans on exhibit at the London Zoo – “three male and five female homo sapiens.” The article concluded with chemist Tom Mahoney opining “A lot of people think humans are above other animals. When they see humans as animals, here, it kind of reminds us that we’re not that special.”

I would like to appeal to humanists to consider whether or not Mahoney’s point of view (and attendant theoretical framework) values people the way they’d like to. If they really want to value humanity, they should consider a Christian worldview.

The reason I think caging humans is a bad idea is that I believe human life is indeed a very special form of life, distinct from other kind of life – created in the image of God.

Do you feel special? I hope you do. But whether you feel special or not may depend on whether you believe you were created special or not.


When you are in ministry, you get privileged access into the lives of others. Occasionally someone even shares a secret part of their life with you. Perhaps they've committed a crime, or been abused, or are involved in some addictive behavior. Some times I have been the first person with whom they have shared this information. When I’ve asked them why they haven’t told their spouse, or parents, or others close to them, invariably the answer is a variation of this: “I could never tell them. It would be devastating to them.” Often people carrying secrets are convinced (maybe by the enemy) that there are only two options: take the information with them to the grave, or put the information out there and “blow up” everyone around them.

In the interest of seeing them get well (we are as sick as our secrets) I like to unpack a third, middle, option with them: A “controlled detonation” of the information. In a controlled detonation, the information is brought out, but in a structured setting, with resources “standing by.” The information is no less explosive, but the context is structured in a way to absorb the impact.

Here are some ways that controlled detonation could look:

“Set it up” for them. I once went with a man so he could confess to his wife that he had been having an affair. But before he spoke, I did. I told her about how God had done miracles for me and my wife. I talked about how few men are willing to confront their issues directly, and take personal responsibility for them. I cast some vision for the future – for a marriage they had perhaps never experienced. I helped her to know that I was going to be standing with them, no matter what. When the information came out, it was every bit as explosive as it would have been if I had not been there. But by setting the context, the energy was harnessed, and got pointed in the right direction. I remember on another occasion making a phone call on a speaker phone and saying, “Sally, I’m a pastor, and I have Fred here with me. In a second, he is going to share something with you that is very painful for him to share, and will be undoubtedly hard for you to hear, so before he speaks, I would like to lead the three of us in a word of prayer.”

“Coach” them. When people have to disclose something very painful, they are usually at a loss for words. Work with them to write a “script” that they can use in divulging the information. Coach them about setting the right context (kids out of the house, enough time so it’s not rushed, etc.). Prep them for the likely questions they will get. Get them ready for the emotions that will be generated in the discussion. At different times I have role played with them, and let them make the confession to me first. More than once I have worked with someone to actually type up something that they would read out loud in making a confession.

“Resource” them. Once the smoke clears from a controlled detonation, the clean up begins. It is very helpful to have a reconstruction plan in place prior to the detonation. Prior to the plunger being pushed down, I often set up an appointment with a counselor for them. That appointment gives them a short-term focus. I sometimes purchase some books for them to read. When you are in shock, it is hard to think constructively. Laying out the first few steps can be very helpful. One time I actually wrote up a two-year restoration plan for a couple, that laid out goals, objectives, timelines, meeting dates, etc. It was helpful to give them hope for the future.

Coming alongside someone who needs to make a confession balances the two seemingly contradictory statements of Galatians 6: “bear one another’s burdens,” and “each man must bear his own burden.” The burden they must bear is the confession. The burden you can help with is the context.

Short-term: “the truth hurts”

Long-term: “the truth sets you free”


Churches are like fingerprints. Every church possesses unique characteristics that God intends to use to reach out to the world. CTK is a special combination of elements, that is perhaps made clear through contrast.

What makes CTK different:

We are This… Instead of This…

Organism Organization
Forest Tree Farm
Mice Elephant
Jet skis Barge
Fast Vast
Simple Complex
Essentials Extraneous
Network Mainframe
Horizontal Vertical
Porous Resistant
Centered Bounded
Informal Formal
Effectiveness Efficiency
Low-tech High-tech
Cellular Congregational
Outreach Seeker
Messy Careful
Ambiguity Protocol
Non-linear Linear
Improvisational Scripted
Good enough Perfection
Volunteers Professionals
Reality Image
Arrows pointed out Arrows pointed in
Scalable Contained
Transferable Proprietary
Decentralized Centralized
Outstretched hand Clenched fist
Export Import
Distribute Hold
Guerrilla Conventional
Micro Mega
More is better Bigger is better
Them Us
We go to them They come to us
Scattering Gathering
Rescue boat Pleasure cruise
Empowerment Control
Variety Conformity
Spirit Structure
Groups Programs
People are ministers Pastor is minister
More leaders More followers
Relationships Religion
Belong, believe Believe, belong
By 10s By 100s
Movement Ministry
Cooperation Competition
Reach a community Build a church
Be a blessing Be a success
Hospital Showcase
Process Status
Entrepreneurial Institutional
Yes, Sure, You Bet No, Sorry, We Can’t
Pro Anti
People Buildings
Ideas Atoms
Kingdom Church


There are four words with which every pastor in the CTK network needs to become fluent. These four words are "Yes, Sure, You Bet." “Yes,” “Sure,” and “You Bet” need to be spoken frequently to make certain that we are open to God's plans, and not just our own - to guarantee that we are empowering people, instead of controlling them.

When was the last time that you told someone in your ministry “Yes, Sure, You Bet”? Over the years, I have been amazed at how powerful those words have been to the hearer. Evidently, these words are rarely spoken (or heard) in the traditional church anymore. Many church leaders can say “no” but few have the power to say “yes.” Personally, I view this to be a tell-tale sign of bureaucracy. At CTK we value empowerment. That means saying yes to what God wants to do in a person’s life.

Here are some of the people that we love to say “yes” to at CTK.

People who have a heart for ministry. While at CTK we have a limited number of programs that we start, there are an unlimited number of ministries that our people may start. There are a number of people in ministry at CTK who have told me, “I couldn’t do this at my previous church. There was too much red tape.”
People who are less than the best. In modern church circles the key word is “excellence.” What this means to many people is “those who are average need not apply.” At CTK we emphasize “good enough” instead of “perfection.” This opens the door to many people who previously would not have been considered gifted enough to minister.
Pastors who have failed or fallen. We believe that “hope for the future, forgiveness for the past” applies to everyone, even leaders. A church leader from another denomination told me recently that the difference between their group and CTK was that we “actually give a person a second chance.” His denomination talked the language of recovery, but fell short on actually taking a risk.

Faith is belief times action. At CTK we not only want to have faith in God, but in people.

Donnie Deutch (marketing guru) was interviewing Bernard Kerick (former NYC Police Commissioner) about the United States' "war on terror." He said, "If you had 200 billion dollars to spend on terrorist prevention, would you go to war in Iraq, or is there a better way to spend 200 billion dollars?" It was a "highest and best use" question. Both of them had to agree that the war in Iraq has done some good (notably, removing Saddam Hussein from power). But neither of them felt comfortable saying that it was the best use of 200 billion dollars imaginable.

There is a church with which I am familiar that recently went through an 80 million dollar building program. The church now has an auditorium that seats 7,000. So let me rephrase Deutch's question, "If you had 80 million dollars to spend on reaching lost people, would you spend it on a building, or is there a better way to spend 80 million dollars?"


A cell-based ministry like CTK is leader and labor-intensive. If we wanted to do it easier, we would organize ourselves in groups of hundreds, instead of tens. But we have chosen the effectiveness of community over the efficiency of crowds. This requires a follow-up commitment to organization. Small group ministry requires continual organizational development so that there is reasonable span-of-care, even with growing numbers of small group leaders. If it has been awhile since you are re-organized for growth, you might consider giving fresh leadership to each of the elements that comprise effective organization: people and procedures.


People with leadership and administrative talent must be identified, recruited, deployed, trained and supported to see that the right things are happening in your ministry. As a pastor you should have at least five Directors that you are developing:

Director of Worship
Director of Small Groups
Director of Childrens Ministries
Director of Youth Ministries
Director of Operations.

If any of these positions are unfilled, start by “getting the right people on the bus.” Begin now to pray that the Lord will send forth laborers into the harvest, make a list of prospects that may be God’s answer to that prayer, and take action to begin identifying, deploying, training and support new leaders in your ministry. Remember, as a pastor your job is not to do the ministry, but to see that the ministry gets done. Through much of my ministry I set aside one evening per week (when people would be home to talk) to work the phones and recruit new ministry directors and small group leaders.


It is a leader’s job to not only “get the right people on the bus” but to provide a context in which these people can be successful. We say that every leader’s job at CTK is to “create and sustain an environment whereby the people of CTK can execute their ministries with maximum fulfillment and minimum obstacles.” This usually involves providing some basic structure:

Job descriptions. What am I supposed to do?

Schedules. When am I supposed to be here?

Team rosters. Who else is on the team with me? What are their phone numbers? Is there any room for others to join us?

Organizational charts. How are we organized? Where am I at on the map? Who do I report to if I have a problem?

Procedures. How do we do things around here?

Meetings or contact points. When do we regularly touch base to share and care for each other?

Information loops. How do we keep everyone informed and in the know?

Many pastors prefer to work “in” the ministry, instead of “on” the ministry. Yet, if someone is not working “on” the ministry, over time things disintegrate to such a level that people can no longer express and enjoy their ministries. If it has been awhile since you tended to the organization, be sure to make this a priority soon. Every soldier has a right to competent command.

Every job has meaning when you connect it to the bigger picture. Dish washing can seem like a menial task until you remember how much it matters to the next person who will eat off that plate. Window washing is really about providing clear vision for people to see the world.

A critical role for a leader at CTK is to let people know how their contribution matters. Someone handing out programs is not just passing paper around, they are welcoming people to a new life. A children’s worker is not “taking care of kids” as much as they are facilitating an age-appropriate encounter with God.

When late night talk show host David Letterman returned after quintuple bypass surgery he brought the medical staff from the hospital onto the show. Lined across the stage were anesthesiologists, surgeons, and nurses. Letterman said, “These are the people who saved my life.” With that statement he brought into clear view that it’s not about reading gauges, making incisions, or emptying bed pans. It’s about people. And as long as we remember that, even the smallest task has meaning.

People need to find two things to have a meaningful experience at CTK:

Meaningful relationships

Meaningful responsibilities


CTK is a "grace-based" organization. Interestingly, many of the pastors and key leaders have had previous experience in legalistic church groups. I grew up in a very legalistic group (I was a “pharisee of the pharisees”), but now that I am “free” I could never go back. I know all too well the problems with legalism, and there are at least five....

1. The “whose church is this?” establishing our own rules and regulations for the church and the people in it, we run the risk of forgetting that this is God’s church, not ours.

2. The “big sin, little sin” picking out some sins and saying nothing about others, we send a message that there are big sins we can't tolerate; others are the “little sins” that we can live with.

3. The “enforcement” having a standard that is not strictly Biblical we place ourselves in the predicament of having to enforce something without scriptural authority.

4. The “hypocrisy” problem....since there is usually spotty enforcement we set up an environment of hypocrisy, where we imagine that we have a church full of “saints" when, in fact, we know deep down that we do not.

5. The "growing list" problem....when you begin to make lists of sins, you head down a path of ever increasing list-making, and standard keeping, because there is always one more sin out there that needs to be addressed. In the end, however, spirituality is not attained through the keeping of lists, but by a heart that seeks after God.

Legalists believe that we achieve a standing with God by what we do, or don’t do. It is a great day when you come to realize that our standing with God is not based on what we have done for Him, but based on what He has done for us. God loves us in spite of who we are and what we’ve done, not because of who we are and what we’ve done. There is nothing that we can do that will make God love us more, and there is nothing that we can do that will make God love us less. They don’t call it “amazing grace” for nothing!


Intimacy was what we were made for. What air is to the body, to feel understood is to the heart. Dante defined Hell as “proximity without intimacy.” Dean Ornish reports that solitary people are three to five times likelier to die earlier than people with ties to a loving group of family or friends. Based on the research, a doctor would be just as wise to proscribe relationships as drugs or operations. We do proscribe relationships at CTK. We ask every person at CTK to participate in a weekly small group, because we see the following benefits:

1. Friendship. Sydney Smith put it so well when he said, “Life is to be fortified by many friendships. To love and be loved is the greatest happiness of existence.” The Apostle Paul’s approach to ministry was intensely personal. The last chapter of Romans reflects this.

Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me….Greet my dear friend Epenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in the province of Asia. Greet Mary, who worked very hard for you. Greet Andronicus and Junias, my relatives who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was. Greet Ampliatus, whom I love in the Lord. Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and my dear friend Stachys. Greet Apelles, tested and approved in Christ. Greet those who belong to the household of Aristobulus. Greet Herodion, my relative. Greet those in the household of Narcissus who are in the Lord. Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, those women who work hard in the Lord. Greet my dear friend Persis, another woman who has worked very hard in the Lord. Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too. Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas and the brothers with them. Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas and all the saints with them.
- Romans 16:3-16

This is a list of twenty-seven friends that he had established in Rome. There were a lot more Christians than that in Rome. But while you can be friendly with an unlimited of people, you can be friends with a limited number of people. While many churches work at being friendly, at CTK we want people to find friends to share the journey. There is a difference between experiencing friendliness and having friends.

Research suggests we have limited capacity for friendship. A test was done where people were shown flash cards with a certain number of dots on them. In a limited amount of time the subjects of the trial were to identify the number of dots on the page. The subjects would get the number right up to about seven dots. Beyond that number, people started to guess. There seems to be a built-in intellectual capacity for seven. This is the reason that telephone numbers have seven digits. Alexander Graham Bell wanted to have the longest sequence possible so that there would be more possibilities, but wanted a number small enough to be memorable, to avoid wrong numbers. What the research suggests is there is an intellectual boundary that calls for a small group.

People have a channel capacity for relationships. If you have more than a certain number of emotional channels opened up, you become overwhelmed. When people are asked to list the names of the people who, if they died, would leave them truly devastated, chances are you will not respond with over twelve names. One of the reasons why we are committed to small groups of 3-10 people is that it seems to be the optimum size for friendships.

2. Growth. A key to spiritual growth is to be in community with others who can spur you on toward it.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together.
- Hebrews 10:24,25

In a small group you will experience spiritual growth. A weekly meeting with other people who are growing in their faith helps to keep you on track in your own spiritual journey. It keeps the things that are truly important on the front burner. Without that meeting, we can find ourselves easily distracted by the tyranny of the urgent.

In the 1780s during a 5 year period the number of people meeting in small groups under John Wesley went from 20,000 to 90,000. John Wesley was not a charismatic preacher. His genius was organizational.

Wesley realized that if you wanted to bring about a fundamental change in people’s belief and behavior, a change that would persist and serve as an example to others, you needed to create a community around them, where those new beliefs could be practiced and expressed and nurtured….It’s easier to remember and appreciate something, after all, if you discuss it for two hours with your best friends. It becomes a social experience, and object of conversation.
- Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point

It is through community that truth is built into our lives. That we grow.

3. Encouragement. The number one thing that gets delivered in a small group is encouragement. When people walk away from a group meeting feeling encouraged, they are walking away from a good group meeting. The challenge for most people is not the gap between what they know and what they don’t know. It is the gap between what they know and what they are living. Most people are trafficking in unlived truth. They know more than they are putting into practice.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
- Hebrews 10:25

Sometimes the encouragement you receive in a small group is overt, sometimes more covert. When you are around people who are taking steps, you’re inclined to take some yourself. Have you ever been on a street corner with a group of people, waiting to cross a street, with no traffic coming in either direction? Even though the signal has not changed to “walk” there are probably several people in the group who are secretly wanting to walk across. Then someone decides to go. And almost unconsciously the group follows. Being in a group can carry you in a direction you might not have the courage to go on your own. When you get around people who are taking steps of faith, it becomes contagious, and before you even realize what is happening, you are taking steps too.

I think people crave to have a family; you aspire to have one, you create one in any way you can.
- Jennifer Elise Cox, The Brady Bunch

Christ died in part to create a new opportunity for you to be born again into a new family, the family of God. This was Jesus’ invitation to us at the last supper, the eve of his crucifixion.

It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.
- John 13:1

Jesus did not have this final meal in order to model a religious ceremony. He did this to show his disciples how much He loved them. He showed it in washing their feet. In what he shared with them. In giving them the bread and the cup. We refer to this event in two ways: as the Lord’s Supper (which speaks to the vertical aspect of it) and as Communion (which speaks to the horizontal aspect of it). Jesus said keep doing this, even after I’m gone. Jesus was saying: This type of community you have experienced with me, continue to celebrate it in the future.

James Patterson wrote Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas about a mother who keeps a diary for her baby about to be born. Her words of advice are instructive for us.

Imagine life is a game in which you are juggling five balls. The balls are called work, family, health, friends, and integrity. And you’re keeping them all in the air. But one day you finally come to understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls are made of glass. If you drop one of these , it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered. And once you truly understand the lesson of the five balls, you will have the beginnings of balance in your life.

I like that analogy. And I guess I would say, when it comes to finding intimacy with others, don’t drop the ball.

Kriss Leadbetter (who with her husband Dean are praying and working towards establishing CTK in Allyn, WA) made a presentation at CTK in Oak Harbor called “Practical Ways to Fulfill the Mission of CTK in Regards to Small Groups.” I thought it was an excellent piece of work. Here were her points.....

Pray for the empty chair.
Seek out people attending CTK (regular and new) – ask if they are in a small group and if not….
Give them a list of the groups, times and places, etc.
Make note of their names and pray for them to get connected.
Don’t assume that workers or long time attendees are connected with a group.
Be open to leading and multiplying as the Lord leads.*
Pray for all the small groups.

1 Peter 4:8 – Above all keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.

Colossians 1:1-12

Hebrews 10:23-25

*Remember there are many others out there that would like to experience the warmth and love you have in your group. That’s why we need to multiply. We don’t lose those that we already know and love but we gain more. Love will increase as we give it away.


The difference between a community and a crowd is connection. If you get a bunch of people in the same room who have no connection to each other, you have a crowd. If you get a bunch of people in the same room, who are connected to each other, you have a community. It is through community that we have our needs met and are able to meet the needs of others. It is through community that the church can be the church.

Building a community that effectively reaches out is a delicate balancing act between familiar and new relationships . There are chasms on either side of a narrow path. On one side, there is the danger of becoming a club; on the other the danger of becoming a crowd.

Danger: Club. Ministries that do not engage in making more disciples of Jesus Christ can become inward focused, resembling a club more than a church. If a church is not intentional about reaching out, a Christian community can easily become an end in itself, instead of a means to an end.

Danger: Crowd. When a ministry reaches out to lost people, but does not maintain an authentic Christian core, it can become a crowd instead of a church. It’s possible to be effective in reaching out to large numbers of unchurched people, but without a sufficient Christian community to assimilate them into, in effect, you’ve just gathered together a greater concentration of darkness, instead of drawing people out of darkness and into the light.

At CTK our mission is to create an authentic Christian community that effectively reaches out. This involves maintaining a healthy balance between “community” and “reaches.” An “authentic Christian community” is what we want to be. “Effectively reaching out” is what we want to do.

A young adult group at one of our Worship Centers had a campout recently that didn’t turn out as planned. As we would hope, these CTKers wanted to make this campout an outreach opportunity (an event with “that”), so they invited unsaved, unchurched friends to join them. One night, several of the invited guests on the trip began drinking alcohol that they had brought with them. Much to the consternation of the retreat organizers, shortly thereafter the tone of the event shifted away from the spiritual conversations that they had planned. The leaders came back very disappointed, but I believe that they learned a couple valuable lessons about outreach events:

• The need for overwhelming force. This is extremely politically incorrect to say, but effectively reaching out requires that there be more cowboys than Indians. The goal is to get “them” on “our” turf, not the other way around. As an example, it may be wiser for a youth group of 5 kids, to try to reach out to a couple unchurched kids, instead of ten. If the group of 5 becomes 15, and now two-thirds of the group are unbelievers, you run the risk of no longer being an authentic Christian community, but instead becoming an unchristian crowd. The time to reach out to ten kids at a time is when you have twenty kids already on board. I personally like at least a 2:1 ratio. Unfortunately for the young adults on this camping trip, they had more like a 1:1 ratio, and things tipped backwards on them. The greater the concentration of darkness, the brighter the light needs to be to dispell it.

• The need for clear boundaries. Effectively reaching out to lost people requires anticipating challenges that can arise “lostness.” Lost people swear, drink, smoke, sleep around, etc. Lost people cannot be expected to behave in a Christian manner. Good leadership anticipates these possibilities and their potential adverse impact on the Christian community. Clear boundaries and expectations for the event (not for their lives necessarily) is one way in which we can continue to maintain an authentic Christian community while reaching out. We don’t keep from reaching out, but we reach out in a “boundaried” way. For instance, when I did youth work in the inner city, we had some very cool events for teenagers to attend (some drew as many at 500 kids at a time). But because of the gang lives that many of them knew we had very clear rules regarding language, dress, weapons, drugs, alcohol and physical contact. While they were on our “turf” they were expected to behave in a way that would not be detrimental to what we were trying to accomplish.


Readers are leaders. This is because reading gives you the benefit of "organized thought." Someone can speak without thinking, but they cannot write without thinking.

I try to read at least two good books per week. (I wish I could read one a day, but that doesn't seem to fit my schedule.) Over the years, I have read some really awesome stuff. Here are some of the books and authors that have proven the most insightful.

Orthodoxy G.K. Chesterton Brilliant mind explains, defends Christianity.

The Fifth Discipline Peter Senge Systems, and how they work.

The Coming Church Revolution Carl F. George Church architecture by groups – fundamental to the CTK story.

Leadership is an Art Max DePree Leadership primer from a corporate guy with soul.

Future Edge Joel Barker Futurist talks about paradigms.

The Living Company Arie de Geus Organizations are alive, and should be treated like people.

Seven Habits of Highly Effective Stephen Covey How to live well, from the inside out.

Rediscovering Church Bill Hybels The church is the hope of the world.

The Leadership Engine Noel Tichy What we really need to produce: leaders.

The Jesus Style Gayle Erwin The way up is down.

The Tipping Point Malcolm Gladwell How little things can make a big difference.

Execution Larry Bossidy The art of getting things done.

Primal Leadership Daniel Goleman Leading with emotional intelligence.

The Careless Society John McKnight Professionals can’t deliver what communities can.

You might notice from my list that secular books outnumber religious. I believe that “all truth is God’s truth.” While I read the typical Christians books and authors (I think I’ve read everything Lucado’s ever written), I have found fresher thoughts reading in adjacent disciplines (leadership, personal growth, organizational development, etc.) than in religious categories (pastoral, church, etc.). This may be because there is a lot of “group think” in the evangelical community. I used to say that “all evangelicals are children of Dallas Seminary.” Then I started saying, “All evangelicals are children of Dallas Seminary and Willow Creek.” Now I say, “All evangelicals are children of Dallas Seminary, Willow Creek and Saddleback.” There’s a little more diversity of thought now than there used to be, but not much. For now, anyway, the “fresher” ideas are coming from business and science.

Another book I am enjoying all over again is (drum roll please) the Bible. Best leadership book ever written. Best book on personal and organizational growth, too. I’ve been delving into Paul’s travels in Acts, and seeing his ministry through new eyes. I’ve come to realize that Paul was a church planter (singular) instead of a church planter (plural). I believe now that Paul was only involved with one church – Christ’s. It was just convening in many places and at many times.

When do I read? I have several places and times. First, I keep a book and a couple magazines by my bed. Before I go to sleep I typically read for an hour. I read first thing in the morning – the Bible and then something else. I keep a book in the bathroom (‘nuff said). I keep a book in my back pack. I keep a book in my truck. So that if I ever have “spare” time, I can redeem it by stimulating my heart, mind and soul.

Here’s what’s on my night stand currently.....

Think Big, Act Small Jason Jennings How to keep the start-up spirit alive.

The World is Flat Thomas L. Friedman Overview of the sweeping changes in the past 15 years.

How to Speak Like a CEO Suzanne Bates A consultant talks about the communication process.

Blink Malcolm Gladwell Intuition as a legitimate source of information.

The Joy of Work Dennis Bakke Bringing Christian principles into the workplace.

What are you currently reading? Anything good? If so, email me with your recommendations.


Charles Haddon Spurgeon, in his devotional Morning and Evening, writes about how vital it is for us to move in step with the Holy Spirit.

Common, too common is the sin of forgetting the Holy Spirit. This is folly and ingratitude. There is no spiritual good in all the world of which He is not the author and sustainer. They who yield to his influence become good. They who obey His impulses do good. They who live under His power receive good. Let us revere His person, and adore Him as God over all, blessed for ever. Let us own His power, and our need of Him by waiting upon Him in all our holy enterprises. Let us hourly seek His aid, and never grieve Him. And let us speak to His praise whenever occasions occur. The church will never prosper until more reverently it believes in the Holy Ghost.

Our relationship to God can resemble a moth being drawn to a flame. We are intrigued and attracted by the warmth and light. Our desire is to come closer, to draw nearer, to know God more fully and intimately, to enter into new and stimulating dimensions of His work. But we’re afraid of getting burned.

Some people are worried about going out on a limb, and they haven’t been up the tree yet.

- Vance Havner

We are like a ship at anchor, tugging at its cable, quivering to be away. The pull is downward. The sails are set, but the wind is ineffective while the anchor holds. Suddenly someone slashes the cable, and with a bound, the ship springs forward, driven by a mighty wind, sails all full. A sense of freedom is felt on every side. The wind now has control. The downward pull is no more. It is free. The cable has been snapped. Another power, the wind, has it in hand.

- Oswald J. Smith

Some of us really need to getting farther out on the limb, to slash the ropes, and let Him control, move, direct, and use us. But we are often more interested in using Him, than in Him using us. Left to ourselves we tend immediately to reduce God to manageable terms. We want to get Him where we can use Him, or at least know where He is when we need Him. We want a God we can in some measure control. But until He controls us we will not be spiritually and emotionally free.

Once it was my working, His it now will be;
Once I tried to use Him, now He uses me.

- A.B. Simpson

How do we cross that line, from us controlling Him, to Him controlling us? We have to admit that we are inadequate of ourselves. We have to admit that life – much less ministry - is not difficult, it’s impossible. We cannot make it on our own. Jesus said, “Without me, you can do nothing.” In his book Waiting: Finding Hope When God Seems Silent, Ben Patterson tells a story from his personal life that illustrates our utter dependence on God:

In the summer of 1988, three friends and I climbed Mount Lyell, the highest peak in Yosemite National Park. Two of us were experienced mountaineers; two of us were not. I was not one of the experienced two....The climb to the top and back was to take the better part of a day due, in large part, to the difficulty of the glacier that one must cross to get to the top....As the hours passed, and we trudged up the glacier, the two mountaineers opened up a wide gap between me and my less-experienced companion. Being competitive by nature, I began to look for short-cuts I might be able to take to beat them to the top. I thought I saw one to the right of an outcropping of rock - so I went up, deaf to the protests of my companions.

Thirty minutes later I was trapped in a cul-de-sac of rock atop the Lyell Glacier, looking down several hundred feet of a sheer slope of ice, pitched at a forty-five degree angle.....I was only ten feet from the safety of a rock. But one little slip and I wouldn’t stop sliding until I had landed in the valley floor about fifty miles away! I was stuck and I was scared.

Patterson’s words are a non-religious way of describing the predicament that a few of us fall into in “following” God. We refuse to admit our need of Him, and we get stuck. We get stuck because we’re competitive. We get stuck because we want our way. We get stuck because we want to make an impression. We think we have life under control so we take short-cuts. We take the right hand turn around an outcropping of rock - and we’re stuck. We have to, as Paul says in Galatians 5, “live by the Spirit….walk by the Spirit….keep in step with the Spirit.” Which takes us back to Ben Patterson, who was stuck and scared. He writes:

It took an hour for my experienced climbing friends to find me. Standing on the rock I wanted to reach, one of them leaned out and used an ice axe to chip two little footsteps in the glacier. Then he gave me the following instructions: “Ben, you must step out from where you are and put your foot where the first foothold is....Without a moment’s hesitation swing your other foot across and land it in the next step. Then reach out and I will take your hand, and I will pull you to safety...But listen carefully: As you step across, don’t lean into the mountain! If anything lean out a little bit. Otherwise your feet could fly out from under you, and you will start sliding down.

When I’m on the edge of a cliff, my instinct is to lie down and hug the mountain, to become one with it, not lean away from it! But that was what my good friend was telling me to do as I stood trembling on that glacier. I looked at him real hard....For a moment, based solely on what I believed to be true about the good will and good sense of my friend, I decided to say no to what I lean out, step out, and traverse the ice to safety. It took less than two seconds to find out if my faith was well founded. It was.

God reaches out to each of us and asks us to take two very little, very big, steps of faith. One is a step of admission. The other is a step of submission. And he asks us to take those steps every day.

In a recent dMail, I sent out a list of books that I’ve enjoyed. Mike Unruh, CTK’s Director of Leader Development, was kind enough to share some of his favorite books over the past few years. There’s some stuff on this list that I definitely want to read, and you might want to as well. Thanks, Mike, for sharing!

The Brothers Karmazov Fyodor Dostoyevsky I think Dostoyevsky's best work, story about intense desire to grasp meaning of life and explore the depth of our struggles and sins.

Synchronicity, The Inner Path of Leadership Joseph Jaworski His journey to an understanding of the deep issues of leadership

Hopeful Imagination Walter Bruggeman Literature for handling both brokenness and surprise in ministry today.

The Gospel in Brief Leo Tolstoy His integration of the four bilbical Gospels into a single account of the life of Jesus. His goal is a solution to "the problem of life". A work that emphasizes the necessity of maintaining your spiritual condition in a chaotic and indifferent world.

In the Name of Jesus Henri J.M. Nouwen Reflections on Christian Leadership

The Adult Years Frederic Hudson Mastering the Art of Self Renewal Don't let the boring cover fool you...this is a primer on continual revitalization, reorientation, and positive change.

The Call of Stories Robert Coles Teaching and the Moral Imagination. His proposal that we can move directly from stories to our lives.

The Ethics of Martin Luther Paul Althaus All of the major ethical issues whtich concerned Luther. Not for the faint of heat.

Intimate Allies Allender and Longman God destroys the whore, and then he marries the bride...Whew...

Encouraging the Heart Kouzes and Posner The art of encouragement that exceptional leaders use to inspire extraordinary performance in others.

Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini Great fiction with powerful word pictures of darkness and redemption

Out of the Question and Into the Mystery Leonard Sweet A good read from a good thinker.


At CTK we have chosen to be interdependent for the sake of our mission, rather than dependent or independent. Most of us have very little previous experience working interdependently, as part of a network. Our modern culture (churches included) has reinforced the Darwinian belief that the central fact of life is competition, rather than cooperation. Modernity’s motto is “I’ve got mine” instead of “All for one, one for all.”

Christians resist deeper levels of interdependence, not because interdependence isn’t preferable, but because it is more difficult (I have found American Christians to be a lazy breed). Human nature tends to default to “stovepipes” and “silos.” Indeed we are finding that interdependence requires some things that independence does not. In specific it requires higher doses of trust, others-orientation, communication and wide-angle point of view:


Quote: “The new dependence on productive assets located within someone else’s state represents an unprecedented trust in the integrity and peacefulness of strangers.” (Richard Rosecrance, The Rise of the Virtual State)

Takeaway: You can not be distrusting, or fearful, and function in an interdependent way.


Quote: “One of the most exciting sports experiences anyone can have is watching a team catch fire. Perhaps as a basketball game begins, the players on one team seem to be operating independently of one another, mechanically going through their routines, in effect competing among themselves. Then they suddenly undergo a transformation. One of them makes an inspired play that leads to a basket: At this instant a bifurcation point becomes amplified. Now the moves the players make seem coupled together, all five team members working like a single organism.” (John Briggs, The Seven Life Lessons of Chaos)

Takeaway: You cannot be self-seeking and function in an interdependent way.


Quote: “What’s the biggest problem in the world of security today? Simple. The CIA won’t talk to the FBI.…who won’t talk to Customs….who won’t talk to the INS…who won’t talk to the Air Force….who won’t talk to the Army….who won’t talk to the Navy. (And the few who do choose to talk across walls are seen as ‘disloyal’ to, say, ‘200 proud years’ of Army or Navy tradition). And so on. Fighting ‘virtual states’ like Al Qaeda, demands seamless (Big, Big Word) integration of our domestic and international security forces. In fact, integration of the civilized world’s domestic and international security assets.” (Tom Peters, Re-Imagine)

Takeaway: You cannot be isolated and function in an interdependent way.

Wide-angle POV

Quote: “Reactive learning is governed by ‘downloading’ habitual ways of thinking, of continuing to see the world within the familiar categories we’re comfortable with. We discount interpretations and options for action that are different from those we know and trust. We act to defend our interests. In reactive learning, our actions are actually reenacted habits, and we invariably end up reinforcing pre-established mental models. Regardless of the outcome, we end up being ‘right.’ At best, we get better at what we have always done. We remain secure in the cocoon of our own worldview, isolated from a larger world. But different types of learning are possible.” (Peter Senge, Presence)

Takeaway: You cannot be narrow-minded and function in an interdependent way.