What I Get To Do

One of the weirder parts of our transition to California is that while we had at least three opportunities to share about what we were going to do in a public setting, we never got the chance to actually do it.*

So, I thought I’d take a post to share a little bit about what I/we get to do here in Oakland.


I get to help our new church build a culture of doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly in our neighborhood and city.
I get to pastor and shepherd and teach.
I get to learn and serve alongside a diverse group of people. I mean crazy diverse. In every possible way. Google employees and homeless folks, old and young, parents and kids and single folks, and on and it goes.


Amy and I are facilitating/teaching a class for 8 engaged/recently married couples and we are having a blast preparing for and interacting with this group.
I’ve been able to preach three times already.
I’m getting to build needed systems and structures.
I’m meeting with and coaching small group leaders.
I’m helping coach our Pais interns.
I get to have conversations with people who have serious questions about God.
I get to disciple.
I get to lead.


I get to be home 5 or 6 times a week to help put our kids to bed.
I get to ride my bike to work every day.
I get a sabbath.
I get to live in the most diverse city in the country, wear shorts most of the time, and hug Buster Posey (ok, that last part is a lie, but IT COULD HAPPEN).

I don’t have words to express the gratitude I feel on a daily basis.

Thank you Jesus.

*I’ve written about some personal lesson I’ve learned about transitions, but I hope to write a post soon on the leadership lessons I learned during this season. 

New Years

A new year is upon us and so we begin 2014 with a fresh emphasis on posting here at the ID! I hope to post 2-3 times a week and focus on integration and finding God at work in all kinds of interesting places.

We begin with the Boss. I’m almost done reading Bruce, a biography of Bruce Springsteen, and there are all sorts of gems throughout the book.

If Bruce is known for anything it’s his legendary live performances. Bruce and his band(s) have been known for three-plus hour shows with several encores and lots of surprises.

As Bruce made the transition from clubs and small venues to arenas and stadiums he obsessively worked on making sure that everyone, even the folks in the cheap seats had a great time and felt included in the festivities. During sound checks he’d walk the whole arena listening to the mix and sound, and fixing problems until things sounded great everywhere.

“Such were the dimensions of Bruce’s expectations, and his overwhelming need to fix every problem and right every wrong that might stand between himself and his audience. He owed them his best…especially the fans who came out every night in search of something more perfect than they could find in their daily lives.”

Bruce’s life and band were also relatively free of the excessive rock ‘n roll lifestyle and partying that typically fill the pages of these biographies. Bruce’s legendary saxophone player, the late Clarence Clemons, gives some insight:

 “Man, the other bands back then, they always wanted to get back to the party…but for us, the party was onstage. That was our joy. Not what might happen afterward. We left it all onstage, all the time.”

Two questions: First, whatever you do you have an audience (might be your kids, might be the people you lead, might be the people you work with), do you care enough about your audience to “fix every problem and right every wrong” that might stand between you and your audience?

Second: whatever you do (work, hobbies, parenting, etc), do you leave it all onstage, all the time?

Seek the Peace (Some Thoughts on Small Acts)

Last weekend Hillsong came to Boston University. Many, many college students went to see them sing along. The very next day we took a much smaller group of students to serve and learn alongside one of our neighborhood partnerships.

Quick aside: I don’t have anything against a large worship gathering/concert. I’ve been to see David Crowder several times. It’s a lot of fun to sing really loudly in a crowd of thousands.

But, I couldn’t help be struck by the contrast. Getting up early on Saturday morning is harder than going to a concert on Friday night. Interacting with grade school kids who are hyper and say anything that comes into their minds is more difficult and requires more energy than standing in a room with a thousand of your peers. Listening to people who have lived in Boston’s inner city for 4 decades is not as cool as hipster led worship/rock. Spending an hour and half in a quiet reflection is more unnerving than “Oceans” at 120 decibels.

I’m not trying to bash Hillsong. I am trying to honor the choice made by those students who came along to serve on Saturday.

Jesus said: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed.” Friday was awesome, I’m sure, but Saturday was mustard seed stuff.

What I get concerned about is the chasing of experiences. It’s way easier and cooler to chase experiences, to run after the next big thing, than it is to settle down, make roots, and seek the peace of the city.

Our event on Saturday was not designed to accommodate the numbers that went and saw Hillsong, but what if 1000 students dedicated themselves to seeking the peace of the city? What if 1000 stayed in Boston after they graduated to pursue God’s mission right here in this place?

That seed might become a tree.

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We had a great weekend: our fall DIG (also known as Sojourn’s Service Weekend) was a success. We headed down to Cape Cod on Friday, played some crazy games, built a campfire, watched the sunrise on the beach, and had many great times. Saturday we came back to Boson and served alongside some of our partner ministries in Dorchester, introducing many of our students to our work in the neighborhoods of the city. Check out some of the pics from the weekend:

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