Senior Pastor at Bayside Auburn
A new and exciting awakening is underway in our nation. Church is learning how to rebuild and reengage lives once again. This awakening is at the heart of our ministry at Bayside Auburn. I sincerely hope you join us on this journey. Get in touch »
"Whenever the method of worship becomes more important than the Person of worship, we have already prostituted our worship. There are entire congregations who worship praise and praise worship but who have not yet learned to praise and worship God in Jesus Christ."
— Cornwall Judson
"A little lifting of the heart suffices; a little remembrance of God, one act of inward worship are prayers which, however short, are nevertheless acceptable to God."
— Brother Lawrence
"Worship is the believer’s response of all that he is—mind, emotions, will, and body—to all that God is and says and does. This response has its mystical side in subjective experience, and its practical side in objective obedience to God’s revealed truth. It is a loving response that is balanced by the fear of the Lord, and it is a deepening response as the believer comes to know God better."
— Warren Wiersbe
First Worship Gathering in 2 hours, 33 minutes!
I slept fitfully last night, waking up in anticipation of our next opportunity to worship Real and Living God as a corporate faith community—this morning. My spirit is coming alive more often and more fully. The words of the Psalmist are starting to become true of me: “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go unto the house of the Lord.’”
This past week it became exceedingly clear to me that it is time for a rebirth of worship in the North American church. I suspect that is true because there is a rebirth of worship occurring in my own soul. There is a rebirth of anticipation about worship emerging in my heart.
There is a leadership lesson here: leaders always go first. By this i don’t mean first in line, or first in preference. I simply mean they go first into the places where they want their community to go. It never, ever works to say to others, “You must experience a rebirth of worship” when in your own heart there is no rebirth of worship.
So, in 2 hours, 33 minutes, we’ll enter boldly into God’s Presence and expect Him to stir our hearts and transform us, because to worship is to be transformed.
"Do not let Sunday be taken from you If your soul has no Sunday, it becomes an orphan."
— Albert Schweitzer
Bayside Auburn Church is pushing into unchartered territory—for us: we are intentionally setting out to create a culture where spiritual formation/discipleship is embedded in all we do. I’m excited about this for a number of reasons:
- It’s why I came to this church five years ago. It turns out there were more organizational challenges to overcome than I originally anticipated. But I’m glad I stayed; I glad our leaders stayed engaged. As the church is approaching organizational health and stability, we are now getting a chance to focus on what i believe is the heart of Jesus’ mission.
- Spiritual formation/discipleship is Jesus’ ministry practice. Jesus didn’t start with the crowd and then figure out later how to disciple his followers. Instead, he started with a few people and turned them into disciples and fully formed followers of Him. He staked everything on the mission of discipleship. (It’s worth noting that American church mojo is very different: our normal objective is to start with the crowd and then work our way to discipleship. Jesus just did things differently.)
- It’s what’s missing in most churches. Every church talks about the Great Commission; in reality it’s the Great Omission in virtually every church. For that reason I’m sure this will be an upstream swim. But I’m really fired up by our church leaders: they are undeterred by what every other church is doing. They are saying, “Let’s follow Jesus’ lead. Let’s make His methods our methods. Let’s create a culture unlike any other church culture around us—one where every person will have the best possible chance to become a fully formed disciple and genuine follower of Jesus.
- It’s how we are transformed. If discipleship is missing in most American churches, it’s no surprise, then, to see that transformation is missing in most American churches. There is a new group of people leaving churches called “church leavers” by a number of studies that has been tracking this growing phenomenon. These people are telling us that they are not leaving because of problems with worship styles, or the message/sermon, or church divisions. They are leaving because they came to church, found Jesus in church, but after several years of doing all the church said, realized their marriages and lives are virtually unchanged. They did find Jesus, which is worth celebrating, but nothing really changed in their lives. So, they are leaving church — not faith in Jesus — in hope of finding something that will transform marriages, families, etc. Discipleship and spiritual formation will lead to transformation.
How are we going to start?
- Deliberately. Disciples are not made accidentally. Discipleship and spiritual formation is intentional action.
- Immediately. G. K. Chesterton once said that if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing poorly. We know discipleship deserves excellence. But we cannot wait to start discipleship and spiritual formation until we have created an excellent strategy. We need to start. The act of starting will mean that over time, we’ll get better and better. But we need to start.
- Leaders leading the way. Our elders and there spouses have accepted the challenge that if discipleship/spiritual formation is mission-critical to the success of our church, then they must lead the way. So, we are creating a discipleship incubator in our discipleship meetings. We start this coming Tuesday night when our elders and our spouses meet. Rather than saying, “You had better…” our elders are saying, “Join us…” Personally, I love this. It has all the marks of integrity and authenticity, which are hallmarks of great leadership.
- Set, and maintain, the expectation. I was reading recently where Tony Robbins said, “People’s lives are a direct reflection of the expectation of their peer group.” We see that everywhere. We’re banking on the fact that if the expectation of the church is that we will become disciples, those who choose to be part of the Bayside Auburn Church will, in time, find themselves become formed into the person God created them to be as they come more fully and more often under the influence of Jesus.
What have you learned about discipleship/spiritual formation that we should know?
Making a Case for Silence
The last two years I have been immersing myself in the gospels. As I read, and re-read the gospels, I started seeing repeated examples of Jesus deliberately taking steps to step away from noise and into silence. Here are three examples:
“And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.” Mark 1:35
“And when it was day, he departed and went into a desolate place.” Luke 4:42 (
“Yet the news about him spread all the more, and enormous crowds collected to hear Jesus and to be healed of their diseases. But he slipped quietly away to deserted places for prayer.” Luke 5:15-26 (Phillips Translation)
After watching this repetitive practice, it started to dawn on my that I was seeing Jesus’ ministry praxis lived out on the pages of the gospels. At no real point does he announce a formal theology of ministry. But based on his actions, you can see that at the very center of his spiritual life is a life with Living God.
And that takes silence. A life with God takes repetitive moments of getting away into silence.
Hababbuk 2:20 says this in a really brilliant way: “The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.”
So, how do we do this today? It’s not easy. Noise is the default position of our culture. Maybe it’s the default praxis of our ministry. George Prochnik, author of In Search of Silence, says, “I think we’re seeing noise tied to a host of problems of the age—problems of attention, aggression, insomnia, and general stress. Noise is now the default position as a society. But I believe we have to make an effort to build a passionate case for silence.”
Jesus knew something that we have forgotten. I was speaking to a group of 200 pastors and their spouses last week and I was struck by how exhausted they were. Something is wrong when we push harder, and longer, than our Master. I am more and more convinced that pastors put their ministry, their marriage, their health, their soul in peril by not building a passionate case for silence for being at the very center of their spiritual life.
Here are four ways you can start to place silence more often at the center of your spiritual life and ministry practice.
- Pay attention to the rhythm of Jesus’ life and ministry. A record of it is available in the gospels. You will notice that it involves activity and mission. But it also involves deliberate moves into “desolate” places where there is no noise. Resolve that the “Jesus model” will become your model.
- Pay attention to the spiritual masters of Christian spirituality. From Henri Nouwen to Thomas Kelly to John Woolman to David Brainard to Brother Lawrence to Jeanne Guyon to St. Thomas a Kempis—you will find a common theme of silence as being at the center of their Christian life.
- Make a plan. Every day, spend a few minutes in silence. Once a month, spend a half day in silence. Once a quarter, spend a full day – or two — in silence. Be specific. Where will you go? At what time of the day will you “turn off” the noise? How will you notify those around you so that they won’t interrupt your silence?
- Enjoy an e-fast on occasion. Unplug. You don’t have to always be available through email, twitter, facebook. Turn off your smart phone.
What would you add? What are you learning about freeing yourself from the bondage of noise and activity so that you can enjoy a life with Living God?
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I serve as the senior pastor of Bayside Auburn Church, a transformational and missional faith community. We are located in the foothills, a few miles east of Sacramento. This is my personal blog. After two decades of serving the church of Jesus as a pastor, I find myself more passionate about Jesus and more hopeful about the church than ever before. An awakening within the church and within the human soul is underway as I write. This is a great time to think about spirituality and to draw out the implications of vital Jesus-centered spirituality for church, pastors and culture. I marvel about this development; it’s shattering old paradigms and opening up new possibilities.
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Quotes I Love
"Christians have no monopoly on commitment; they simply have a different object. A Christian is a person who confesses that, amidst the manifold and confusing voices heard in the world, there is one Voice which supremely wins his full assent, uniting all his powers, intellectual and emotional, into a single pattern of self-giving. That Voice is Jesus Christ." - Elton Trueblood
“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probably explanation is that…earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing.” - C.S. Lewis
Get In Touch
We are all about the journey at Bayside Auburn. I would love to hear from you so please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 885-9400.