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There is “fun” in dysfunctional

Reposting:   Hope you find it encouraging….  C.Hahlen   10/2016

A while back I interviewed a young man concerning the work we are doing just outside the inner city.

This isn’t a criticism of him – but since he came from a very upper end suburban church and had only very successful mid to large size churches on his resume I was skeptical about his ability to work in our settimg.

Average family income in the low 30 k range

Most kids in school on public assistance.

Multi-generational families.

Mixed race marriages.

Mostly blended families.

Almost non existent church budget.
He could learn to work here.  I know – it was a learning curve for me.

However he asked a telling question during the interview.   “Why would anyone want to work there or live there? ”


Same reason a Samaritan stopped to help and injured Jew.

Same reason Paul went to Corinth and Rome.

Same reason God.emptied himself and came to live in our neighborhood.

Those cool churches do a lot of cool things I would love to do.  But we cannot.

We can however hug a 2 year old who constantly calls me Papa (I am a PaPa just not his).

We can however offer free lunches for kids and have spiritual conversations with their Dad.

We can offer the parking lot as a safe place to learn how to ride a bike.

I didn’t hire him.  I wanted to.   Mainly since he needed to learn the fun side of dysfunctional communities.

Maybe he will see these people with God’s eyes as he matures.

I pray he does.

Sight Unseen 

I had over 20 years experience in full time ministry plus a fairly good stint in part time ministry under my belt and the idea of full time church planter seemed “doable”.   It still does.  But now I see how much I didn’t see.   I know now what I don’t know.   

You could easily put in 80 hour weeks.   I have already. 

You can easily lose track of family and your own well being.   I have been close.   

Faith means moving ahead without knowing where it is going.   It isn’t a blind walk.   It is a walk firmly rooted in what is known.  God loves me.   My family loves me.  Success is giving it the best effort with all priorities in order.   

Not buildings or budgets or butts in the pew.   Staying right with God means success.    

How do you define success?  


What scares you?    I am not talking ghost stories, insects and minor phobias. 

I mean soul wrenching and paralyzing things.   Failure.  Divorce. Health.  Rejection.  Your past.   

One of the most common commands in scripture is “fear not”.   Why is that?   Why do we suffer from all these fears?   

God designed mankind to live in a relationship with Him.   Outside that relationship we encounter all the thing listed above and then some.  

In relationship we face scary things – but with a hope, a confidence.  A knowledge that the one living in and through us is greater than the one who rules this world.   

Fear not…..   as my buddy Dennis always says ” God’s got this.”   

Skip Church 

Based on my upbringing this was a hard concept for me to grasp.   Our family was pretty much at the building anytime it was open.   Sometimes even before it opened.  (Dad loved being early)   

Missing a church service was almost an unforgivable sin.  Not complaining.  This devotion to our local congregation is a vital part of life and something every believer should nurture.   

At the same time I really think part of what Jesus was saying in the Good Samaritan parable was that the priest and temple worker were so organizationally oriented they totally missed ministry.

Indeed Jesus taught that it was better to abandon the sacrifice and temple proceedings than to allow them to delay an opportunity for growth through mending broken relationships.   

Should we skip church?  Probably not habitually.   But the occasional Sunday morning praying in the mountains or having brunch with a potential disciple is just a pleasing to our Father.   

Be at church whenever possible.  But also don’t by pass a ministry moment that may not occur again. 

(By the way — Happy 41 st wedding anniversary to my bride.)  

Protesting with Love 

Last week the spotlight was on NE Ohio and specifically Cleveland.  With the RNC in town and protesters booking flight to come fill the streets  –  tensions were high and expectations for trouble rampant.   

A friend who lives in Cleveland called me to joke that his old army unit had invaded the lake front.  Apache helicopters in full assault mode were circling downtown. 

The week ended with about 2 dozen arrests and very little trouble.  

I was asked one day about the group who tried starting trouble who claimed to be Christians from a well known Baptist protest church.  Sad to say they give all of us disciples a bad name.  

That day our church in Akron Ohio feed a bunch of kids for free and offered an opportunity to beat the heat with a water balloon fight.   

Wonder what community service Westboro was doing that day in its neighborhood?   

I too actively protest sin and evil.  I try to do so with light driving out darkness.   You know,  kinda of a Jesus thing…

God gift of music. 

This past Sunday night I sat in the front row to hear a Big Band concert at Lakewood Park in Lakewood Ohio. 

As the music played there were various times those jogging on the trail which runs near the band stand would stop – perhaps run in place a bit – and listen.  Bicyclists. Same thing.   

Several times children of toddler age would be seen making a break for the stage.  They would stop a few feet before the band stand and listen.  They’d also dance.  They instinctive know….

Music is a gift.  

No theory of evolution or happen stance development can explain it.  

Music was given to mankind’s heart by God. 

No doubt about it.  

That time near Lake Erie with the breeze blowing and horns speaking was one of the best “church services”  I have been to recently.  

Nothing religious.  Just God’s gift filling the soul. 

Thanks to Dennis Bradley Reynolds and Aaron Thornberry for inviting me to worship!   🙂