Culture and Counter-Culture Working Together

August 6th, 2017 § 1 comment § permalink

I'm sitting at church. It's break time between worship and teaching. If you are a church-goer, you know the drill. At our fellowship, we start with a kid song (freaks out visitors), follow it up with some interruptions or moment that feels a little forced during the worship time, and you can't start communion or teaching without some form of "I've been thinking about…" in the first sentence. We struggle with sound quality, no stage makes eye contact with worship leaders difficult, and the whole experience lacks polish and aesthetic appeal.

These things drive me nuts. I love the community and the practical aspects of the body of believers we are committed to. I love how needs are met and how the relationships are organic and real.

Most of what annoys me comes from three sources: younger generations that are not empowered to make change, the counter-cultural genesis of the fellowship, and my inability to just accept the things that annoy me and "deal with it."

You can't force elders to delegate. I can change my attitude but there is an issue that will prevent that solution from advancing more than halfway to resolution.

I've blogged many times about being different in how we do church. I've commented much on not being focused on church growth for its own sake and being insiders in our culture. We need nonconventional churches and outreach/evangelism.

We also need traditional Sunday morning church forms that combine excellence with Biblical community values.

My fellowship does the counter-cultural thing well. We do the community thing really well. We do not, however, give people an experience on Sunday mornings that is conducive to them experiencing this long term.

I'm beginning to feel that having all the right things in place to meet our collective needs as a body isn't enough if our style and aesthetic does not allow others the chance to come. We have lots of visitors. They rarely stay. We have tons of children. They grow up to populate other churches. We are the same size we were in 1997 despite having the spiritual foundation so many are craving. We need to eliminate hoakiness and focus on aesthetic excellence.

Focus on production and being an "attractional" and competitive church model is poison. What is critical is marrying Biblical community with aesthetics that make the visitation and transition to a community of believers as compelling and comfortable as possible. This aesthetic effort is imperative if we believe the lost and hurting deserve Christ-centered community and believe in the concept of meeting people where they are at.

Few fellowships have the balance figured out. Although we need to be comfortable with all forms of worship and outreach and be unconventional in our thinking, those of us who "do church" on Sundays need to work doubly hard to balance being different with culturally relevant aesthetics. Eliminate hoakiness, distractions, and give visitors an experience that keeps them coming until they experience true community. This takes time. Spend a little time polishing the presentation. Seem superficial? Maybe. We lose most during the transitional time that involves them seeing little more than whether we care about excellence and doing things well. If we can't get music and style right, how can they trust us to have what matters figured out? I've been praying we figure this out and I hope your fellowship does too.

To be "insiders" in our culture requires Sunday morning services that are desirable and spiritually mature. It is a tough calling but easy was never in the job description of faithful living and loving our neighbors.

Effective Relationships

January 5th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

I have come to firmly believe that it is impossible to be a good family member, friend, partner, or colleague if your default position is to assume or believe the worst in others. If effective leadership eludes you, maybe check your heart.

On the flip side, if you keep assuming the best about someone who consistently injures you or others, you have a different issue altogether. I’m not suggesting self-imposed naïveté or becoming a human doormat.
Can or should anyone truly believe in you if you demonstrate a lack of care for and belief in others?

Our Nation’s Ugly Reproductive Past

October 21st, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Our nation’s ugly reproductive past is almost as bad as its attitude toward reproduction in the present.  The following article was printed in Iowa in the late 60s.  This was the time between Margaret Sanger (PP Founder) saying “The most merciful thing that a family does to one of its infant members is to kill it…” and the Roe v Wade decision that would come in the following decade.  Iowa was not immune to believing that State-sanctioned and paid-for sterilizations of people that might have children with birth defects was the right thing to do.  These people played God for people, many of whom were in their most vulnerable states of mind.

Iowa Eugenics Board: Sterilization of Iowans on the Decline

Iowa Eugenics Board Article




























I wish I had the rest of the story.  It is cut off.  But you get the point.  This article is a litmus test for your moral and spiritual health.  If you read it and aren’t ashamed that our State joined most others in behaving this way; you may have a conscience seared to the point of worthlessness.

A Name Only Means So Much

December 27th, 2012 § 2 comments § permalink

A name only means so much.  As creepy and insightful as numerology and astrology can be, someone’s name can only tell you so much.  For example, take “Eric Goranson.”  No, not me.  This Eric Goranson.  I have interacted with other “Eric Goransons” around the country (there aren’t too many of us) over the years but I do’t know this guy at all.  He came up in a Google Alerts email, though, and I couldn’t resist posting about him.

The guy shoots himself in the chest with a .40 caliber handgun and gets a positive story about donating blood on the local TV station.  Good for him for taking a bad situation and making some good come out of it…maybe we are more alike than I’d like to admit at this point…

I’m going to have to do some digging on other “Eric Goranson” stories.  If I find any, I’ll update this post.  If Dr. Goranson in Oregon reads this, I’d still love to try that wine you make sometime (I’m over 21 now).  I’m also still waiting for Goranson Farms in Maine to reply to my repeated emails over the years about ordering some maple syrup.  If we are related and you live anywhere in Scandinavia and have a place to stay, let me know.  I’ve been looking for a reason to visit the homeland!   I’ll have to make sure my S.E.O. is good on this post.  Maybe they’ll find it.  The internet makes the world small.  😉

Amusing Church Marketing

November 25th, 2012 § 1 comment § permalink

There is a real lack of amusing church marketing.  This is because churches shouldn’t market – they should tell the Truth, love their neighbors, and take care of practical needs.  That’s church marketing enough.

But once in a while you see a church or a pastor doing something truly unique and downright fascinating.  I just saw such a thing a few minutes ago over at The Daily.

Hilarious.  Concealed weapons training at church to attract local men.  We’ve seen it all.  And I’m very amused.


October 29th, 2012 § 4 comments § permalink

Welcome to the newest iteration of  I started this blog over at MobileMe and had this URL pointing at iWeb site.  It’s the only time Steve Jobs ever really let me down.  I thought the service worked fine after the initial and very painful rollout but they yanked my website away from me and switched to a stripped down (albeit very decent) iCloud service.

From there, my blog went to  I still have it up.  I’m considering making it my work-only blog where I post thoughts about Iowa politics, public policy, and advice on advocacy and civic engagement.

I still had, though, and didn’t want to keep paying for a domain name I was never going to use.  So here it is.  A new home, same boring theme I was using before, but a sweet blend of old skool URL with new-skool WordPress functionality.

Read.  Comment.  Repeat.

Your Tiny Loan Can Go A Long Way

August 28th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Join me in supporting Kiva and its many small business owners from around the world that could use a hand-up in the form of a microloan.  You can click here to join me.  I’ve been making loans for a number of years now and love it.  Great way to put your money where your mouth is on alleviating poverty for people who just need a chance to shine.

Loving Your Enemy

February 6th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

I said something to a colleague a couple of weeks ago and it has been haunting me ever since. It isn’t a new concept but I’ve never articulated it the way I did this time and it has been rattling around my head ever since.

I told this colleague: “…My goal is that those I work with at the Statehouse who are not ‘believers’ would know that I care more about them than any issue I’m working on.”

When you consider Jesus’ call to love God AND love your neighbor (the sum of the law), this seems obvious, doesn’t it? It’s much harder than it sounds.

Most of us who work at the Capitol, on “social issues” especially, are very cause-oriented people who are extremely devoted to the issues we work on. For example, I believe meaningful Ed reform can’t happen without universal school choice and a dramatic diminishing of public school interest groups’ influence. I also believe with my whole heart one of our greatest weaknesses as a nation is our willingness to kill 50+ million babies in the womb in the name of convenience, some fabricated “right,” or pain avoidance. I work for two clients that share my passion for these issues.

What I’ve observed over the years is that it is too easy to get so emotionally engaged on the issues and advocating for them that you forget about the lobbyist, citizen, or legislator that may be opposing you with an equal amount of passion. We frequently either demonize them in our minds or dismiss them as “the opposition.” we allow ourselves to believe the lie that they deserve something other than love. How can we fulfill Jesus’ commandment to love our neighbor and even our enemies if we allow anything – even our passion for a good cause – overshadow our role to love the person who may be advocating against us?

We must be aggressive in our jobs and effective in our advocacy for justice. We must, first and foremost, love our neighbor. If a lobbyist or legislator doesn’t think I care about them, how can I effectively advocate and why would I expect God to bless my efforts? How will they see Him if I don’t reflect Him in my interactions with them? Can I not reflect my anger at injustice and also make it clear I love them?

If those who work in public policy or politics can love their enemies, so can you.