peers . mentors . sages . redeeming the "M" word . Seattle . October 12 2017

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There's ministry, and there's The Ministry. We always knew that. 

Now we're learning it again....

October 12, 2017—a Thursday—a network of peers, mentors and sages gather to tell stories, ask questions, and connect with others who are redeeming, reclaiming, and reframing the M word.




Will you bless my house?

The request came from a friend who was about to move into her first “owned” home.

I didn’t grow up in a tradition that blessed stuff.  It was seen as trivial.  It also revealed a theological bifurcation of the world into sacred and secular, and thus assigned house blessing to the secular side of things.  Which was interpreted as a cheapening of the Gospel by the unholy attention to such worldly stuff.  Or so we were taught.

Since beginning this church plant I have had the opportunity to bless other things as well – dogs and Christmas trees.  When I read what the Bible had to say about animals and how we treat them, it became apparent to me that I had not understood how important they are to God.

The idea of blessing a house is a delightful idea to me.  Where else do people spend as much time as in their houses?  A house also has some interesting parallels to a person’s interior life:  kitchens and spiritual food, living rooms and hospitality, bedrooms and sexuality, bathrooms and purity.  You get the idea.

House Blessings were not included in my course work in school.  Fellow pastors didn’t talk about it either.  So I went online to look for models.  A copy of the ceremony I created may be found at this URL.  It also has a recipe for anointing oil and some additional notes.

The experience of blessing my friend’s house taught me a few lessons.  The first was that life is best looked at as a whole – not secular and spiritual.  So everything is an opportunity to include God and talk about God.  It also gives an opportunity to find out what folks find to be holy and significant in life.  How good to be able to join them in that conversation.

A second lesson I learned is that joining with folks in these holy moments gets you invitations in other places as well.  My friend will talk to her friends about the experience.  The idea then becomes planted in their minds and their future conversations.  “Hey, you know what Suzy just did?”

I recommend joining rather than separating.  The Good News flourishes when it is taken outdoors into the wide world of human life.




January 2007, I was late.  Our first meeting and I’d gone to the wrong Starbucks.  I called Jim’s cell, “I’m on my way, I’m sorry.  I went to the wrong one.”

“No problem.  I’m here.”

I found Henderson sitting at the back, sipping his habitual tea. I was trying to get him to be my field advisor at Seattle U. He said he’d think about it.  We started talking about “the church”. Both of us had recently exited, but we hadn’t left – not completely. I asked him some mega question about “the future of the church”. He smiled and said, “Jeff, I don’t know about that, but I can save you ten years.”

A decade later, he has saved me 10 years. I’m still in ministry but not very much of it is in church.  Jesus found me at Spring Street International School – a liberal, non-traditional 6-12 grade school that takes trips. I’ve gone from starting a Christian classical school to teaching World Religions and Cultures at Spring Street.  

I’ve flirted with ‘full-time ministry’ over the years, but that dog’s never hunted. Ministry – intentionally partnering with Jesus to influence my world – that still matters. Maybe more than ever.  It’s continued to matter to Jim too.  Since that first Starbucks meeting, he’s shown me what counts and obsessively introduced me to others doing “ministry” themselves. Hack the Ministry is a chance for all of us to be introduced, to share how Jesus influences our worlds – wherever those worlds happen to be.

Most of us haven’t given up on meaning, we still believe that Jesus is a worthy partner.  Some of us still go to church, but balancing meaning and money? Wondering if what we’re doing, where we feel Jesus, if that counts? Many of us are there. Hack the Ministry is a place for the real deal – not optimism, not a pep rally, just mentors, sages and fellow Jesus-partners learning from each other.


bell curve

The Well Curve


In a classic bell curve distribution of congregations by size, there would be  a few large churches, a few small ones, and a lot of medium-sized congregations in the middle. This is not the case.

The vast majority of congregations—more than 80 percent—have fewer than 250 regular participants...60 percent have fewer than a hundred. [1]

The  model looks more like a well curve with some big churches on one end, and a whole lot of tiny congregations on the other, with a hole in the middle where expect to find the medium-sized churches. 

In case you're wondering, among congregations founded from 1990 on:

  • 30 percent involve 50 or fewer participants
  • 27 percent involve 51-100
  • 18 percent involve 101-250
  • 21-and-a-half percent involve 251-1,000
  • 15-and-a-half percent involve more than 1,000 [1]

What does this model predict about finding a path into the ministry as a career? 

How does this affect the practices we think of when we think about ministry and the ministry?