Lebron James and Home Building

Home is still the primary place where we shape and form the future. It’s a great reminder for me to be (and live out) what I want my kids to become in this world (what a tall order!).

And it’s also a reminder that the Church is called to be a social communal reality of God’s presence as family. It’s why there are more and more people who don’t care to show up to a church service on Sunday, but will share a meal during the week, spend time with others in other settings for the sake of having honest, loving, truthful relationships.


“You can have all the support in the world while you’re at school or while you’re at basketball and while you’re playing sports or anything, but if you go home and it’s not stable and you don’t have any stability there, you can resort back to the negative things or the bad habits that you might have.”

Lebron James, https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/28007714/lebron-james-help-build-housing-promise-school-families

Taking the Reality of the Church for Granted

As I’ve been working on church planting, one thing I’ve realized is that the concept of church has to start with God’s heart (mission) for humanity and this world.

If you’ve grown up in church, then sometimes the language of what church is about seems familiar and “known”.

But I’ve noticed that I’ve taken the reality of Church for granted.

What is the purpose of a church?
Why would someone make a decision to be a part of one?
What is God’s heart towards the Church at large and local church?
What is our role in God’s mission for our local city and the world?
What is the work of the church?

I’m not interested in planting another Sunday service in Oceanside. I’d just really like to worship with others, be reminded of who God is and how I might respond in faithfulness.

I’m interested in partnering with others to grow up to be like Christ in life, words, actions, and relationships.

And I’m interested in doing the work of Jesus via the church with others, learning from each other as we submit to the Lordship of Christ.

I don’t have the darnest clue of how to gather folks to figure this out. But I’m praying that the Holy Spirit is at work in the small seed of desire to be an incarnational presence in our city.

CCM Drumming. Lord, Help Me

The other day, I played at a worship night event and had lots of fun. I used the house kit: a Ludwig Keystone. I loved this kit. But this isn’t the point.

The worship set was a mixture of some gospel (not hard core, but some), African, and CCM. In all, it was a multi-genre set that was fun.

Afterwords, a few drummers came up and asked about the cymbals and shared some compliments (always a weird thing cuz I want to hear the compliments but I also don’t want the attention). One dude asked me, “Do you play at church”, and my knee jerk response was, “Well, I’m trying not to”. And then I started laughing!

He then asked me, “Cuz it’s too simple?” And honestly, I wanted to say, “Yeah! It’s too simple, dry, boring, and bland”.

But I didn’t. I said, “Well, I do periodically play at churches but I just don’t have much fun doing it right now.” Most churches are playing all the popular worship songs that churches like Bethel, Hillsong, and other mega churches have written. And the genre is this mesh of rock, folk, ballad which we have simply called CCM (contemporary christian music).

I also told him that I grew up playing and attending a church that did musical styles ranging from gospel, r&b, ballads, and latin jazz. That’s what I grew up playing…and still enjoy to this day.

I don’t have anything against CCM music, or the people who have created the songs, or the musicians. In fact, it takes lots of creativity to do what they’ve done. So I have respect for them.

I’ve been in the studio creating some CCM tracks and when I’m doing the creating, it’s MORE fun but it’s not what I prefer to be doing.

In the words of Marie Kondo (Netflix, Tidying Up), the current church music stuff does not bring me any joy. Whatsoever. I don’t blame the creators of CCM or churches that do this style of music.

But I get zero joy out of playing CCM or listening to it.

I’m sharing all of this because I’m frustrated with musical styles at church. Why is it that most churches only do CCM? I mean, really!? There’s some tom stuff at the beginning. Die out at the bridge. Build it back up with toms. And then go into a full blown rhythm at the end.

At this very moment, I wonder if there’s someone from a gospel music church that’s saying, “I wonder why we ONLY do gospel music and not CCM?” Or at a latin american church that only does samba and salsa! LOL!


I’m not saying anything spectacular right now. I’d have to dig a little deeper. There’s the whole convo of being a multi-ethnic church and about being hospitable to others. There’s a lot happening with music, church, worship, with many different layers that includes theology and anthropology.

I think about how a church will have a particular musical genre value and sometimes it just feels imposed on me. Or the idea that I should like it and respond in exuberant praise. “Well, it’s not about the music Roy! It’s about Jesus. Stop being so difficult and superficial”. I’ve heard comments like this before. I wanna say, “Ok. You’re right! I’m sorry.” But I’m not sorry for sharing that I have zero joy in playing CCM stuff. I try my best at it but it’s not what I prefer.

I guess I’m just trying to figure out how I can play more multi-genre sets that capture different ways of experiencing God through music. I also want to be stretched as a musician and learn different genres that give me joy.

Here’s to hoping for different genres to be played at churches so that we can appreciate different cultures and tastes.

And here’s hoping to get more latin jazz, afro, jazz, experimental jazz, neo soul gigs that will help me grow as a musician.

Themes of Missional Church by Alan Roxburgh

Quotes from an article written by Alan Roxburgh on Missional Church, along with my own reflections.

“More than anything else, [missional church] is about a people who are continually asking questions about what God is up to in the world about them and experimenting in all kinds of ways with joining God in the mission of the kingdom.”

Roxburgh offers a few themes that characterize Missional Church:

  • Western society as mission field
    • Many people in our N.American society don’t live under a “christian” narrative.  They don’t know the basics of the gospel.  We can’t assume they know what we mean by good news.

“We must fundamentally rethink the frameworks and paradigms that have shaped the come-and-see church over the last half-century. The basic stance of denominations and local churches must be transformed to that of missionaries in their own culture. This requires more than adjustment; it calls for a new kind of church.”

It’s more important that the church be immersed in daily and public life rather than put so much of its emphasis on the Sunday morning program.

  • Mission Is about the Missio Dei
    • God is a missionary and has a certain mission in and for this world
    • there are other “missions” in this world that have certain values and practices that are antithetical to redemption, justice, flourishing.
    • It’s not about God just meeting our personal, individualistic needs.

“The biblical narratives revolve around God’s mission in, through, and for the sake of the world. The focus of attention is toward God not the other way around. The missio dei is about a God-centered rather than a meeting-personal-need centered understanding of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.”

The focus towards God’s mission in this world instead of my personal needs is ironic because of the fact that God desires to renew and redeem the world, which includes personal flourishing.  But the emphasis is for all, not just me.  My personal christian formation and morality will include others’ flourishing when I see that God desires to redeem and renew all of Creation.

  • Missional Church Is about the Church Being a Contrast Society
    • we live in a pluralistic world that is undergoing rapid change
    • the church is no longer the center of morality, ethics, authority

“…the message of Jesus is the breaking-in of God’s reign into the world. Therefore, the church is the called-out community of God in midst of the specificity of a culture…The church is an ecclesia, which means an assembly that has been called out in a public way as a sign, witness, and foretaste of where God is inviting all creation in Jesus Christ.”

We had an escapist mentality.  God has breaking into this world mentality.  I can’t say what Roxburgh says in better or clearer ways.  This is why I believe in a public gathering.  We can’t do away with meeting.  But the gathering is reframed in the context of God’s mission and breaking into our specific culture (and world).

QA Session: Church Struggles and Hopes

Meet my friend Rachel (pseudonym).  She courageously took the time to do a QA with me.  Rachel is someone who loves Jesus in deep ways AND also struggles with church experiences she’s had in the past.

As a minister in the marketplace, I come across employees who have experienced deep pains in church settings and life.  In some ways, we’re not prepared rightly to face the pain of church problems and issues.  We are promised that if we attend church, all will be well.  But that’s not the case.  A healthier spiritual formation will involve suffering and pain IN the church.  Why?  Because we’re humans who are prone to greed, jealousy, and fear when left unchecked.

My hope in doing these QA sessions is to allow folks to share their story and bless us in their journey.


What are some of your favorite memories about being part of a church community?

“Getting involved in serving has given me so many great memories and the relationships I developed through serving – have continued.
Being a part of “Small Groups” has also been some of my most cherished memories. Not only did we meet weekly for a pot luck and bible study, we also did a lot of other things like going on the Horn Blower Cruises, Padre games, etc.
I felt such a sense of “Family” in my church community.”

Is having “practicing” faith something that is important to you? If so, why/why not?

“If I understand this question correctly then “Yes”, having a practicing faith reinforces the core of who I am. I believe in God, I believe that Jesus came to earth and paid the price for our sins, I believe in the words written in the bible and try to live by those words. I constantly have to re-center myself back to my core but because I now know “who” I am, I know where/what my center is. For years, I didn’t know “who” I was so, it was easy to blindly go through life.

I believed in God and tried to live life accordingly but didn’t realize I had the power of the Holy Spirit in me and that is how I could be powerfully guided through life. Instead of following my faith, I eventually learned to live my faith. Practicing my faith is very important to me, I tend to do it more quietly than others, I am very firm in my faith, I don’t feel I have to defend it nor do I push it on others (but will share it with others). I am very protective of my faith.”

What are some of your current struggles with belonging to a church community?

“I had to leave the church community for a number of reasons such as:
Mainly because there was so much going on in my personal life with people dying, suicide, personal struggles, etc., that I went into a depression.
I was serving so often that I rarely got time to nourish myself spiritually and no longer had anything left in me to give.

I started to get very resentful about how so many others never served yet had such high expectations from those of us that did.

I think I was so burnt out, so many things started to bother me, not about my relationship with the Lord but people in general.

We have gone to different churches since then but just didn’t “feel” it there like I did the moment I did when I walked into my past church home from day one.
The church we went to had such a variety of people from different economic backgrounds, ethnicity, tattoos, piercings, etc. I LOVED the diversity of this church!!!

I don’t know how to word it other than, the other churches we have tried since, just seemed so “white” and “middle class”.

I came from a very poor background and even though I am white and now probably considered middle-class, I feel more comfortable around people who grew up with very little.

I don’t want to go to a church where my any of my co-workers or family goes.

When do you most seek direction from God?

More so when I need to make a “big” decision but strive to seek His direction in everything.

edwin-andrade-158050-unsplash

What do you most long for in your current stage of life?

Peace in my heart

What are some reasonable ways one can engage practicing their faith on a daily basis?

I like to have people around me that are more mature in their walk with the Lord so I feel like I’m constantly learning. I like to have friends that will hold me accountable. I like my faith walk to include friends in my journey. Although I have gotten really lax in my behavior, I would like to get back to a place where I walk the walk and let my actions speak for themselves. I want people to just know I’m a Christian by my behavior not me throwing words out there.

Some of the changes I would like to see in todays churches are:

*Different people leading worship (for a variety of reasons).

*I’m not sure if these “mega” churches are healthy for the relationships we should be developing.

*The leaders, especially the pastors, need to be more in touch with the congregation. They need to know our specific struggles, stories, needs, etc.
I don’t like how so many Christians idolize the pastor. Some won’t even come to church if they know the pastor is on vacation (one of the reasons having different people lead is a good idea).

*I would love a church that had smaller groups with different pastors leading (same sermon but delivered differently) rather than one big sanctuary. We all learn differently so there is no “one pastor fits all”. I loved a pastor that was so funky and down to earth. Some felt he was too funny and church wasn’t supposed to be funny. My husband like this one pastor that was extremely detailed, very intelligent, etc., that I couldn’t understand a lot of what he said. It went right over my head. Our main pastor was so anointed, walked the walk, etc., but actually getting “with” the congregation seemed to be less and less (although he was battling some serious health issues in his defense).

Church, It’s not you….it’s me!

I’m a victim.  

I was a victim of some bad church experiences.

I don’t trust [some] leadership or church communities.

I have [some] negative feelings towards church.  

I’m tired of trying to analyze, understand, and “get over it”.  

I’ve known many people with the same experiences.  Many have found peace and are in a thriving church community.  I’m not.

I’ve known many people who overcame their bad church experiences and are now pastors of a church plant.  I’m not.

I’ve heard of people who had bad church experiences and abandoned God and the Church.  I haven’t.

I’ve heard stories where a pastor or priest said an inappropriate, hurtful comment during a trying time.  And the victim wants nothing to do with God or the Church.  I was there.  I’m not anymore.

To be honest, I’m a disgruntled Church person who is lost.  I miss being part of a church community, having a leadership role and finding ways to help people connect with God.  I miss that.  But I’m deathly emotional about being part of a church community.  What if the pastor is an idiot and is teaching a bunch of crap?  What if I disagree with the way the service is being run?  What if I’m not participating and just sitting on the pew?  What if there’s another church split?  What if I disagree with the church’s theology and orthopraxy?  

What if my kids lose out on knowing God through a church community because I can’t figure this out?  What if I do a poor job of passing down my faith to my kids and they grow up with no sense of wonder of God?

I had aspirations to plant a church.  I had aspirations to pastor a congregation.  I had aspirations of providing a caring presence to others where they could share their experiences with God and we could journey with one another.  I think I still have them….but I’m not sure.

Honestly, I’m tired of not having this all resolved and sounding like a record player.  It’s the same story…over and over again.  I’m tired of it.  I want closure.  But more importantly, I want direction and faith that it will all work out somehow.  

There are some things/people/communities I’m very grateful for:

1.  my immediate family.  My wife has been my partner through this hell.  I love her to no ends.  My boys are compelling me to think through my faith.  I’d do anything for them!

2.  http://coastvineyard.org.  They were our previous church community and we enjoyed our time there.  They’re in La Jolla so it doesn’t make sense to be there still (though, if they were local, I’d be there!).

3.  www.northcoastcalvary.org.  I’m so impressed with this mega church!  They’re big AND small!  They’re the most missional mega church I know.  We’re currently attending this community but I feel lost.  I feel useless there, but not because there’s not any opportunities to serve.  It’s more that I want to be leading/pastoring in a community.

4.  The sites I get to serve as a company chaplain.  I LOVE all the employees I get to serve.  They have saved my faith!  I’m so grateful for them and their lives.  They’ve given me a gift I would never have imagined.

I may have shared some of these things here and there with you.  But I feel like, in some way, I’m “coming out of the church closet”.  I love God deeply and the Church.  I’m just struggling with figuring out how to do this within a church community.  Pray that God would come to my aid and help me.  At times, I feel so lost that I’m not sure which way He is guiding.  I do hope that you see this post as more of a cry for prayer and for hope.  This is not a dig at the church or that I hate the church or that I’m leaving the church or that I’m completely lost.  I have a lot of great things happening.  But I’m an external processor and need others to know where I’m at.  

Thank you.

Bless you.

Peace be with you.

Roy