The Most Asked Question: Why did we move from Southern California to Washington State- Part 3

The Church

Hello, the third part of this series has been prolonged as I have tried to process and communicate that background in thinking and prompting us to move. The most asked question we have been asked is, “Why did we move from California to Washington?”

The first post regarding this was regarded as a calling. I do believe God calls Christians to their vocations, cities, and neighborhoods. The Lord calls people into ministry and the Lord called me and the family to move to Washington. You can read the post HERE.

Second, answering the why did we move involved processing and defining what a pastor is. Through seeing what a pastor is and is not I was able to discern more and more the call to be a senior pastor. You can read the post HERE.

There were times I felt like round pegs trying to fit in square holes or square pegs in round holes (however the statement goes). There are many things that had me question is this where God has me?

This led to the third question. It was what is the church? This by no means will be a theological discourse on ecclesiology. God had been growing me and working through the years on my understanding of what is the church and how the church functions.

To be clear, I don’t have any issues with large churches. I came from a very large church. I am thankful for the experience and time. I am thankful to see all that God has done. There are many benefits that come from a large church but there are also many hindrances that come with it too. In fact, 70% of churches in America are 100 people or less. 

I always had pressed upon me that God has called me to a smaller church. I am thankful for the people I had been able to meet, shepherd, and love at Harvest. Now, at a smaller church, have been blessed to be part of a smaller community. I have been able to experience the different struggles and benefits that come with it.

Here are a few areas that I have seen this coming through:

  • Smaller budget yet higher volunteer and ownership. A smaller church will have a smaller budget and is limited on resources to do certain things. What I came to see and appreciate was a church where saints take on the burdens to work on the church, support the church, and do the work of ministry (Eph. 4:12 ). 

Yes, there are things that a higher budget allows a church and ministry to do, but I have learned you don’t need much to do church. In fact, many Christians around the world have a church service with a lot less than even churches with smaller budgets in America. 

  • Wearing multiple hats and learning to embrace weaknesses. A larger church usually will have people in multiple departments such as IT, A/V, HR, Accounting, and so on. This was something for me to learn to adapt. I struggled with this at first because I felt like I needed to do everything. I have learned that I am unable to do everything. I stink at some things and at the end of the day, probably are glad that I did not do them. 

This is humbling but also a reminder that the church is made up of individual Christians coming together to serve and do the work of ministry. The Bible uses the term members of one body (1 Cor 12). This means we are connected and depend on one another. I am thankful for those who are knowledgeable in those areas and give of their time/talents to serve.

  • The church is the bride of Christ. Small church or big church or any church size in between is the bride of Christ. This has helped me to be thoughtful in what I say and how I think about the church. Though not perfect, the church is still the bride. The small church may not have much in terms of resources, but it offers something that large churches struggle to do, the deep impact of the local community of believers knowing one another.  
  • The church is a new community that God is building. The Christian’s identity is in Christ. Their citizenship is in heaven and they are part of a new group of people (Eph 2: ). We strive to know what it means to be in Christ. This unites the Christian with other believers which goes into eternity.

The Church is the trophy case of God’s wisdom of salvation (Eph 3:10). The mystery of the gospel has been revealed through the church which is diverse yet unified in Christ.

How Do you Look at the Church?

Maybe you have been hurt by the church. The rise of church failures and reporting about issues within the church has gained national attention. I grieve knowing that people have been hurt and may not want to go back to a church because of past experiences. I pray and hope that you can see the beauty that comes with the bride of Christ, though not perfect points to Jesus.

Pastor and commentator Richard Coekin writes,

“You are welcomed into the precious family of God, so love those people deeply. You are being built upon the foundation of the Scriptures, so listen to the teaching carefully. You are being constructed as a dwelling of the Spirit of God, so be holy in the way you behave…Your local church is a gathering of a new humanity, the temple of the living God, the only ‘local building’ that will last forever, and a wonder in the heavenly realms. Enjoy it!”

We Are the Church

As a child, I was taught this rhyme. It went like this, “Here is the church. Here is the steeple. Open the doors and see all the people.” This rhyme involved your hands and fingers being used to display the people, steeple, etc. Maybe you remember this one or have taught your children?

That rhyme describes the church as a location or a building. Which is true. We can give a friend directions in finding where our church meets but this is just a location not a definition of the church.

I started a new series called Church Blueprint, my desire is to point out that the church is not a location but a people. Professor Gregg Allison defines the church as, “the people of God who have been saved through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ and have been incorporated into his body through baptism with the Holy Spirit.”

The church is the body of believers (Christians) coming together in a local gathering who are united in Christ. Even today, though we are not gathered together as we are different homes and jobs, we are still the church. 

When you leave your local congregation on Sunday morning, you are still the church.

When you wake up in morning you are still the church.  When you go shopping, you are the church.

We are the church!

I am so thankful for the church. Ultimately the church is the gospel made visible. May we be the visible representation of Jesus to the world, our community, and our neighbor!

Race, Racism, and How the Church Should Respond

I had the privilege of interviewing Pastor Elijah Braggs from Harvest Christian Fellowship on race, racism, and how the church should respond. It was sobering yet encouraging as we discussed what it means to be made in the image of God (Imago Dei) and the importance for us to pause, pray, and respond biblically.

You can listen to the podcast here:

The Church, Technology, and CODIV-19

The ever-changing and improving technology is nothing new to the church. Martin Luther and his 95 theses caught the fire of communication in Europe because of technology. Between 1517 and 1520, his writings sold over 300,000 copies which were something new for differing religious mindsets. Wycliff who was on the cusp of this new technology was unable to use it the same way. (Elizabeth Eisenstein, The Printing Press as an Agent of Change, Kindle Ed., location 7511). Luther was born at the right time as technology advanced. On one hand, this was thrust upon him as others took his writing to be printed and on the other, he saw how it was advantageous of getting the truth out.

Here we are five centuries later and we see how technology has advanced. We have digital books, not just the printed book! We are now able to communicate with more people faster than ever. Many churches use technology to communicate but COVID-19 has forced the church to communicate in these different ways more than ever.

Some churches have wrestled more with this over their convictions of streaming their service compromises on what it means to be the church and some churches already stream their services online. I understand both sides and am thankful for both views. A church that is strong in its convictions and one that utilizes the tools on hand. A couple of thoughts regarding this:


Costi W. Hinn responded to the recent debate of church’s moving to do church “online” on Instagram and said, “Friends, let us spend time this week whether traditionalists think of our online efforts and spend more time proclaiming truth through whatever medium we can: Pound the airwaves, Post to IGTV, go ‘Live’, Light up phone lines, and fill up mailboxes. Unleash the hope in Christ.”

Costi showed the bigger picture. We have an opportunity to get the gospel out so as a church let’s do just that. If we write a letter (old school way with a pen, paper, and a stamp) you are using a form of technology. If you call someone you are using technology. When you use a microphone to make it so people can hear you at church is a form of technology. Using a camera and the internet to share God’s Word with your church is a form of technology. So, let us use the current tool of technology to share the gospel message.

There may be some churches that are unable to stream as it is work upon pastors and staff that probably are already stretched. One must not judge them based on conviction or abilities. I think all Christians would agree that we must live with a sense of urgency (Eph. 5:15-16). I know some pastors, though are not streaming a Sunday service, are busier than ever reaching out to the congregation through texts, phone calls, and video meetings. They are doing what they can!

The Church:

There should be a clarification of what is the church? Does doing church this way constitute “doing church?” No, the church is the gathering of God’s people together living within a community with each other. But, here is a time that people are more open to listening to the gospel. This is the time that this world has many questions and fears and the church can point them to the Savior, Jesus Christ who conquered sin and death. The one who made it possible for us to have peace with God so we can have the peace of God.

This is a tool to get the message out and we are longing to be able to meet in person one day again. This is a longing that is a good longing to have. This is something that should be on the heart of every believer, to gather with other believers, to give hugs, handshakes, and high fives as the local congregation assemble together. There is longing to sit next to other believers singing to God out loud through the poor pitch and deaf tone singers along with those that sing elegantly. I long for that day to come again to be able to place my hand on the shoulder of the brother in Christ as I pray for him. This is the church which is more than just listening to a sermon, it is the living out of God’s word. We have been given the gospel doctrine which lived out which makes a gospel culture.

Though we are called to keep distant from one another, we know that because of Christ we are one and united together. Though we have social distancing for protection and to help curb this invisible enemy, we look to Jesus who defeated the invisible enemy sin, death, and the devil through life sinless life, sacrificial death, and his glorious resurrection.

Can You Do Church the Wrong Way?

Photo by Chris Liverani on Unsplash

Is there a right way or a wrong way to do church? The church has been defined as not a building but the assembly or gathering of believers. The location and building of a church do not matter as much as what goes on in the church. You can argue that just because a group of people gather together, does that make a church? No, it is the gathering of saints (faithful and holy, believers) who come together in the name of Jesus Christ to worship him and be unified together in faith.

I am not wanting to define what is the church as I am more so wanting to say the service and goal of the church can be done the wrong way. I do believe Scripture gives some guidelines in how a church should function (Acts 2:42-47). With that, we also have some flexibility within those guidelines as Scripture may not be specific. For example, the building, music style, and the frequency of the Lord’s Supper is not in specified in the Bible. The Bible does not tell one how to adjust to contemporary culture yet is relevant for one to live in context to ones culture. On the other side, there is a danger of being innovative while missing these guidelines that are presented to the bride of Christ, the church. Granted, I would be amiss to assume that my approach to church is the best way or right way.

I think there is a great responsibility for the pastor to study the Word of God, seeking to apply Biblically what Scripture gives as those guidelines with the desire to proclaim the whole counsel of God. Continue reading “Can You Do Church the Wrong Way?”

Dear Pastors

A Letter to Pastors
Photo by Da Kraplak on Unsplash

Brothers, co-laborers in the Lord. News just hit that a fellow pastor who was somewhat local to us took his own life. My heart grieves for his family, the church, and how the world takes this information. I will be praying for them for God’s great comfort to come upon them (2 Corinthians 1:3). Earlier this year The Christian Post had an article about the isolation of pastors and how depression hits hard for them. They gave staggering statistics on how depression and other areas of mental health effects those in pastoral positions. It is a hard position.
The Christian life is called a race (Hebrews 12). This race is not a sprint but a marathon. The marathon is more just a long distance run, it is like combing that with a spartan race. The Christian life is also called a battle (Ephesians 6). We are told these things not to have us grow weary but to finish strong to endure! Continue reading “Dear Pastors”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906–1945)

By Andy Gutierrez

The Gate is Narrow and the Road is Hard

Pastor and spy. One who walked by faith and was part of a conspiracy. A theologian and a martyr. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who lived during one of the darkest periods in history, was influential to many and is a world changer.
I first was introduced to Bonhoeffer in my “Jesus and the Gospels” class. One of the books used in that class was The Cost of Discipleship, written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. A quote that I remember from that book still is, “Christianity without the living Christ is inevitably Christianity without discipleship, and Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ.”[1]
Continue reading “Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906–1945)”