An unsung hero (who helps us sing):

Our worship team rehearses each Sunday before the morning service. And it’s become a challenge because our team has started having kids… lots of kids.  So usually at around 8:45am our stage gets full of guitars, keyboards, microphones… toddlers and babies.  (And to be honest – I really thought that once kids started showing up, we’d have musician start backing off) – It’s cute, but it’s a real challenge to have parents practicing music with… it’s like 7 kids running around. 

Instead one of our elders volunteered to come to church early and watch kids so that the team could get ready to lead our church in worship. Every week he comes, with no fanfare  and make it possible for parents to lead our church in worship.  

I’m always grateful for the many hands it takes to accomplish what God has called us to do. And for the many people who usually don’t get enough credit when God blesses that work.

(Not pictured is…  another cluster of kids and a parent or two running around) 

Addiction Recovery

Most churches are famously among the most under-used real estate in the world with rooms used just once a week for Sunday morning worship. Goshen Church is not like most churches.

One of the things we’re able to use the building for is Addiction Recovery groups. – We host five AA/NA meetings each week. Today I was able to drop by one of them for their monthly celebration meeting. It felt a lot like many other meetings I’ve been to in that space. There were about 45 people for what they called fellowship, with a lots of talk about prayer, about God, about life-change and repentance. The meeting ended with everyone in a circle reciting the Lord’s Prayer.  It was amazing and hope-giving to hear and see so many folks who were sober after so many years of loss and destructive behavior. It gave me hope for folks I pray for.

… 90 days ago I was in the ICU with someone who was literally dying from alcohol consumption. A Christian.  I prayed with them, and tried to offer hope. “God is faithful, think about the possibility that you live and can get freedom from alcohol, that God’s not done with you yet.” Then I said, only half serious, “You can even start coming to this AA group that meets at church.”  –  Guys… I didn’t know this – but today I “coincidently” attended that persons 90 day celebration of sobriety… in the Youth Building at Goshen Church… 

God is faithful, He uses lots of us to do his work. And I’m grateful to be able to see Him at work all around us. 

true hope allows sadness

Romans 12:15b “…mourn with those who mourn.”

I spent this afternoon at the bedside of one of our church widows surrounded by pictures of people taken too soon. Today, a grey, rainy day, is the 1 year anniversary of the passing of her daughter who lived with her after her husband passed.

I typically enter into nursing homes trying to change the atmosphere. – I bring jokes, funny stories, news from church family, and a smile…. this was different. She was sad, I was sad. No amount of deflection could bring back what was mourned. I reminded her of promises we both believed – that God is in control, He has a plan, loved ones are in better places, we’ll be united one day. But, the best I could bring was simple presence. Praying with her, watching tears. Sometimes true hope allows sadness rather than pushing it away.

I got invited to a party…

Most church buildings are famously the most under-used real estate spaces in the world – with services on Sunday mornings, seldom in use during the week.

Goshen is not like most church buildings. – One of the groups we’re able to host is a non-profit that serves the special needs community. This team works at providing life enhancing services to individuals challenged by intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well as those who are brain injury survivors. (

If you attend worship here in person on a Sunday, you’ll see some of their vans in the parking lot – during each week day those vans are out picking up folks and taking them to programs and showing them them love and support. It’s not explicitly Christian, but frankly, it seems like many of the employees pick the job because they’re Christian, have a deep love for people, and like working out of a church building.

Pictured is the Staff who are in and off of church campus each week day. (Today they had a 80s themed New Years party today in the youth building). For privacy reasons, I’m not posting images of the many students – but please keep this team in your prayers. They spend their time serving a community that most of society quickly overlooks but God loves. And I’m thankful that we can help make this work happen.

Christmas Is For about Two (3?) Audiences

Late to this party, but I’ll bite.

Most people don’t realize the dual purpose of Christmas public worship. Christmas is for faithful. BUT it’s really for the non-faithful.

In the last decades thoughtful churches have noticed that non-church attenders are more willing to visit churches during the Christmas and Easter than other seasons. – It’s actually really cool – the church I was a part of in high school would welcome 10x their usual attendance. My previous church would go all out – shows, music, drama. And it works. Lots of non-Christians find Christmas to be a wonderful open door to future spiritual growth. Lots of faithful people INVITE their non-believing friends to visit.

But going all out for the show is exhausting. (Plus, sometimes it feels a bit bait and switch. People come back in January all like “What no snow machine this week?”)  The under-reported fact is that if a church is doing worship for non-church-people using volunteers – it’s almost impossible to pull that production off on Christmas day.  And – volunteers for churches (and non-profits in general) are NOT ok in 2022. It’s a burnout, overworked, spread-thin crowd.  Frankly, it’s not just the right call – not over-working a massive group of volunteers for a Christmas day production that non-Church folks won’t come to is the only realistic option.

I do help lead a church. And frankly – I wish I had the energy for productions this year (they’re great). But, this year our team is exhausted from being faithful doing good (but different) things. There’s a chance if healthy, the Sutter family will enjoy another church’s big production this year. (googling “Christmas Eve Church & Show”). As for our church, instead of putting on a show to invite the non-faithful. We’re having a Christmas day service with hardly any volunteers, low production value.  Don’t expect volunteers greeting in Santa costumes in the parking lot. I’ll show up, unlock the doors and turn on everything.  We have an organist playing carols before seeing her grandkids. I’m almost insisting that our worship leader takes off and spends his babies first Christmas with family.  We have a deacon running screens (I think I’m going to run sound/cameras from an ipad). I’m unsure if my family will be able to come along– we’re monitoring fevers as we speak. I’ll welcome any visitors with “usually production and kids programs are cooler”. But it’s Christmas, and it’s ok. We’ll be together as a church family with nothing fancy, simply honoring the Lord and marking his birth.

And (concerns about volunteers overworking aside) – I think both approaches are good in the life of Jesus’ church. And my prayer this week is that in production, or simplicity. Christmas or Christmas Eve – people already too busy will see the light of Christ bringing peace, joy, love and hope to the world and value him and God’s generosity and kindness in fresh ways.


Posting for the memory… of that year when the Flu came uninvited for Thanksgiving. Picture from days later… parents standing strong eating dinner along with the kids passed out on the couch… days before also getting the Flu…

Someday this post will pop up on a “5 years ago” notification… maybe it will be funny by then.

I voted…

I voted… and I think you probably should too.

But I think long lasting cultural revolution only happens if we together work at raising kids with character, ethics and morals. We transform the next generation of leaders and change, by being a current generation of kindness and integrity. And I’m convinced that following the way of Jesus is the best way to start.

a church that looks like the world to come

Some folks wonder what church leaders spend their time talking about: If you could be a fly on the wall you’d hear our elders discussing how to be a community as described in this picture (from a book we’ve been talking through over the last months).

God has called Christians to be about following Christ when it’s so easy to become polarized by the million tribal markers that we apply to ourselves and others. But we’re working, thinking and praying at how to be a “fellowship of the differents”, a “church that looks like the world to come.” And we haven’t perfected it, but we’re working at leading in that direction.

set your hope

You might not be able to tell this from social media, but the fundamental mindset of Christians should be hope. God’s future kindness (e.g. future hope) outshines present darkness. What Jesus will do should shape what we do now.

(And we’re not good at this, so 1 Peter tells Christians to be alert – actively pursue a mindset… on hope – an active command.)

How to Pray for Kids in School

Ashley gives a master class on how to pray for kids in school (with some help from her friends at Moms in Prayer)

Scripture Prayers to Pray for Students, Teachers, School Administrators, and School Support Staff
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. Colossians 4:2 (NIV)