Tuesday, August 26, 2008


What is a Christ-follower, believer, disciple or whatever label you place on those who call themselves Christians? I consider myself a Christ-follower, but I am not sure I line up well to others who may attach the same to themselves, especially those of the evangelic ilk.

I have actually voted for a democrat...am I a Christ-follower?
I tend to prefer jazz to contemporary Christian music...am I a Christ-follower?
I prefer radio sports talk to radio preaching...am I a Christ-follower?
I don't know many hymns...am I a Christ-follower?
When I am in a crisis my first response is not always to pray...am I a Christ-follower?
I tend to think that many evangelics are a bit reactionary...am I a Christ-follower?
Too often the significance of communion does not grab me like I would like...am I a Christ-follower?
I don't like to argue with Mormons, or Jehovah Witnesses when they come to my door...am I a Christ-follower?
I don't like to put Christian bumper stickers on my car...am I a Christ-follower?
I shy away from Christian sloganed t-shirts...am I a Christ-follower?
If I miss a Sunday in church I don't feel guilty...am I a Christ-follower?
I enjoy the secular side of Christmas...am I a Christ-follower?
I love the Easter story, but also appreciate a chocolate bunny...am I a Christ-follower?

I sense the presence of God in my life every day. God's reality consumes me, but not like others tend to express it in their life. I am very appreciative that God's working in and through me is not dependent on someone else's definition.

Am I a Christ-follower? I know so, because God's word tells me my standing is in the cross. And the cross alone.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


My wife and I attend a church plant called Harvest. We "opened" our doors October of 2007, so we are a not yet one-year-old community of believers. We started with about 35 or so folks. Today we had over 100! It was exciting to see the number of faces that I did not recognize. We are slowly growing. We are reaching people in the communities that surround us. It is a very young congregation. Most of those we are reaching are in there 20's and 30's. It is fun for us as those in their 20's are our kids age. It is like attending church with them, which is nice as our kids are many miles away.

We are a very community minded church. We have fully invested ourselves in serving in the community for the community. As a result of this community involvement the leader of our Chamber of Commerce as begun to attend. We have been birthed as a church that wants to be in the community for the community. We will do all we can to keep this as mission-critical. We are reminded that people do not want to hear what we believe, they want to see what we believe.

What was really cool is that today we commissioned a family to go out to another church. This family was not part of the launch team, but joined us shortly into the adventure. They were active in our children's ministry. It turns out one of the churchs that helped get us going was in need of help in with children. They accepted the call to go out! We believe this will only be the beginning of the investment of people we will make.

I attribute this DNA in our church to the excellent leadership of our Lead Pastor and wife. Brad and Heidi have a tremendous vision for Harvest and the area we are called to serve. It is their vision that keeps us motivated. It is their heart for people that keeps us engaged. It is their passion that reminds us we made the correct choice to participate in what God is doing in this corner of His Kingdom at this time of His history.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


The Monon Trail is a wonderful bike/skate/run/walk path in Indy. It stretches roughly 15 miles beginning in Carmel and ending in downtown. I believe it use to be a portion of a rail line. It runs through portions of quaint areas of Carmel, Fishers, and Broadripple. There also are parks and beautiful wooded areas.

Today I went on a bike ride. I did a turn around. Went about 45 minutes down and turned around and ended where I parked my vehicle. I estimate I traveled about 19 miles. I like to think it was not an evangelistic estimate.

There are many interesting people on this trail. One thing I noted was the number of very "stout" people riding bikes. Their physical stature did not represent bike riding as an effective weight loss method. Well, maybe today was their first day actually fulfilling a New Year's resolution. At least they started.

In line skaters are scary. They weave and move their arms so erratically it seems they are going to swoop from their side of the path right into you. When I saw them heading at me I was a bit nervous.

Slow walkers are the biggest hazard. I was not sure why they even were allowed on the trail. Talking and meandering down the asphalt path. Do they not know leisure walks need to be reserved for nature trails and not BIKE paths!

My favorite sight was the lady running with a dauschaund (you know, a wiener dog). She was keeping a fairly brisk pace, but this little dog with its long torso was doing pretty well. Well good for her and the dog. I can imagine that little pooch will sleep very well tonight.

It was a glorious day. Good exercise and a great deal of interesting folks.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Today was the last day of the Leadership by Design Class. We discussed missional organizations. How they might be defined? How they might be composed.

We defined a missional organization as tool for achieving the incarnational presence of Jesus through helping people live transformed lives in order to transform lives.

We listed the following components as those that may be a part of the make up of such an organization.

Missional leadership (those who understand the missional culture)
Ebb & Flow Leadership (shared leadership dictated by ability)
Empowering systems (people can decide at the nearest point of impact)
Flat organization (few, if any layers)
Flexible organization (speed boat)
Team trust (transparent authenticity)
Clarity of purpose (no misunderstanding)
Accommodate disagreement (safe places for people to speak)
Ease of communication (blogs, social networks, texting)
Agenda harmony (agreement on end results not necessarily path)
Mission intolerance (rudeness regarding the mission)
Ministry tolerance (variety in living out the mission)

These were our thougths. What say you?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Today in the Leadership Class we had a conversation about the relationship with being friends with those we lead, and being a leader. Out of this discussion came this observation: All leaders come to a time when they have to choose between being liked, or being respected. A leader can be respected, but not liked; and a leader can be liked, but not respected.

This is a tension point for most leaders. We all prefer to be liked, but there are times when we have to make "unlikeable" decisions. Decisions made rightly will result in respect for us, but we may have to trade off likability.

It is not easy, but leaders should choose respect over likability. Respect is a result of making the tough calls. It is choosing the difficult over the easy. It is the courage to confront clearly. It is telling the truth in love. It is the willingness to risk friendship in order to say what needs to be said. It is leading forward in the face of people who want us to ease off and pull back. It is defining reality. It is being honest with oneself and others.

It is true, leaders may not always be liked, but they can be respected. They are not the same. They cannot be pursued at the same time. They can co-exist, but if one does need to go...choose respect!

Monday, August 11, 2008


Yesterday I had the opportunity to preach at my home church. I enjoyed it greatly. I spoke on being a church of significance. People responded well.

Today I traveled to Frankfort, Indiana. I am teaching a class on leadership, "Leadership by Design." Six are in the class. Each of them are active in full time ministry. This allows for conversation on real ministry stuff. Each is living in the cauldron of experience. No philosophical discussion. No conversation on inexperienced musings. It is built around talking about applying principles and insights into authentic experience of daily ministry encounters. It makes for fun dialogue.

Saturday, August 9, 2008


There continues to be the assumption that we North Americans all think the same. This impacts our gospel presentation and what we are asking people to accept in our twenty-first century culture. We want people to accept our Lord, instead of THE Lord. In my movement we want people to become excellent Wesleyans, as if that is the hallmark of a Christ-follower.

It is our perspective that a genuine follower of Christ will exhibit the characteristics of a Wesleyan. Any conduct outside those parameters is questionable. I believe other movements encounter the same holy delusion. We do need to honor our chosen denominational heritages, but not at the expense of sequestering Jesus in our limited understanding of Christ followership.

Charles Van Engen in his book, Mission on the Way, states: “…to confess with one’s mouth and believe in one’s heart Jesus is Lord---that is all there is. Nothing else really matters. All else is to be held lightly. Everything else is negotiable. Thus when we call people of other cultures and faith to confess ‘Jesus is Lord,’ it is not our Jesus (exclusivist), nor is it a Jesus (pluralist), nor is it amorphous idea of Jesus Christ (inclusivist). Rather, it is Jesus the Lord, who calls for conversion and transformation of all who confess his name.”

He brings to the fore that the gospel story calls for biblical conversion and transformation apart from any “other” perspective imposed additions, or traditions. The call is to radical Jesus Lordship, not denominational Lordship. A particular movement may help us refine our commitment to Christ, but it must never define it. And therein lies the challenge.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


I have been getting in a running groove the last few weeks. Consistently running 5-8 miles averaging under an eight minute pace. It doesn't get me in the Olympics, but it was excellent for me.

About a month ago I started having some soreness in my left foot. It began as a minor inconvenience. Typically after a mile or so it limbered up and it had no effect on my running distance or time. That was until about ten days ago. I went for a "prior to church" Sunday run. The foot was a little sore, but I continued on with my previous "in about a mile it will loosen up" mantra The problem was it didn't. I, however, continued to run. I got in five miles, but toward the end I had slowed to barely a ten minute pace. It was sore!

I decided to take a week off from running. Instead I focused on elliptical and bicycle. This past Sunday (August 3) I decided to give it another try. I got one-quarter mile down the road. It was evident it would not be happening. I turned and limped home. At the prompting of my wife I called the doctor and set an appointment. In the mean time I set about my own therapy.

I returned to the elliptical to allow my foot to rest. This past Tuesday it was feeling much better. Could be I didn't need that doctor appointment after all. I put in four miles on the treadmill, but when I was done it was evident that it was a baaaadddd idea. Back to elliptical.

Today I visited the doctor. After pushing on my foot, asking questions and taking x-rays the diagnosis was in: I have a stress fracture.

I have to admit I felt a bit honored by this. After all, lots of athletes get these. It is from working out hard and regular. I imagined myself an elite athlete.

Once beyond my world of elite status, I inquired of the treatment. And when he told me I was both happy and sad. Sad, as I am unable to run for the next 4-6 weeks. But I can do other forms of fitness. I will learn to love the elliptical. Happy as he told me that it would be best to wear Birkenstocks as often as possible. Awesome!

I get, I mean have, to wear comfortable sandals. Even to work! I can hardly wait. When my co-workers see this their initial reaction will be, "There is Stevenson trying to push the casual envelop again." And I get to tell them, "Doctor's orders!" I might even wear a suit and tie (which I seldom do), but to offset them with Birkenstocks...now that would be worth it.

This is a reminder to me that all of life has upsides and downsides. Frankly, I would rather be healthy enough to run...but the Birkenstock trade off will be lots of fun.