Justice + the Gospel = CAFO

CAFO 2015

Last week, I attended the CAFO 2015 Summit at the invitation of a devoted brother who champions the cause of the fatherless at my church and beyond. I was surprised by his excitement over my attending. I didn’t really think it was that big of a deal until I started to interact with other attenders. At a conference of >2000 attendees, I was definitely in the minority, and I don’t mean just ethnically. Asian-Americans indeed were largely absent, but I was even more surprised, then saddened, that pastors were few and far between. A topic as deeply theological and as clearly practical as orphan care and adoption had relatively little pastoral interest or involvement. I don’t say this to chide anyone, nor do I want to belittle the faithful lay folks who are battling for the cause of the fatherless. While impactful ministry is happening through these folks, churches have been entrusted to church leaders (pastors and otherwise) to prepare God’s people for works of service. How can we prepare the saints for a work we don’t know about? Continue reading

Shepherding people through the Baltimore riots – a letter to our courageous small group leaders

Dear small group leader,

The violence that has hit so close to home is both saddening and unnerving. We all know people directly affected – family and friends who live/work in the city, ministry partners valiantly seeking its welfare, and law enforcement officers seeking to uphold peace and order. Almost as troubling as the riots, has been the variety of perspectives, sentiments, and reactions that our people are expressing and posting. I want to encourage you to lead through these times. All of us have uncertainties and fears. He’s placed you in your group, and placed your group members under your care. The role of a small group leader is to cultivate a community that is becoming like Jesus and living out his mission. Our responses, postures and gestures toward what is happening in Baltimore are opportunities to be instruments of grace as well as recipients. At the risk of oversimplification, I’ve tried to summarize a few ways you can shepherd your people this week and next.  Continue reading

“Who is this guy?”

This past weekend, we celebrated our lead pastor, Mark Norman’s, 25th year at Grace Community Church. It was a weekend filled with surprises, a bit of deception to make those surprises…surprises, lots of tears, and glory to God. The tension we had in thinking about the weekend was to honor Mark as a servant and glorify God as the Provider. Occasions like these can so easily steer into the extreme of glorifying the servant at the expense of the Lord, or glorifying the Lord and belittling the servant. I was blessed to work with a team of servants who achieved that balance well.

As part of my message on faithfulness for the service, I penned a poem for Mark. I’ve had several requests to see it in print, so I’m nervously posting it here.  Continue reading