Iloilo City

May 21st, 2015

2015-05-17 11.18.38We arrived here on Sunday from Cebu on a half full flight and miracle of miracles Sherry’s cane got us upgraded to economy plus Smile. The fellow issuing our boarding pass thought it too far for her to walk to row 10, so row 4 it w2015-05-17 11.28.28as! Since the flight was only 35 minutes, it was not a big deal, but the consideration was much appreciated after a long wait in the crowded departure “lounge” where I took advantage of our status to get a little more room. I did get a kick out of the group of young American men doing what comes naturally: checking their phones!

2015-05-17 12.55.37We arrived, greeted by a most inviting advertisement, to find no driver from the hotel waiting for us. That kicks in my travel paranoia big time! But the police officer and the taxi coordinator got involved while I texted Dan, our contact, who was still in Manila. After a 20 minute wait, they found a Mid Town Hotel driver in the parking lot and called him over. He declined their request noting that he was going to be picking up the guy on his sign: Gerry Breshear! We were soon on our way to the center of Iloilo.

I’d seen in Travel Advisor that we should 2015-05-18 07.09.41ask for a room away from the street because of the very noisy girlie bars. Not something I’m interested in dealIMG_6116ing with for sure! Our assigned room looked over the street – but these aren’t quite girlie bars! Click on the pictures and you’ll see why we’ve enjoyed their presence. We met Dan and Dave Kennedy, the other professor who is doing Daniel in the mornings while I do spiritual warfare in the afternoon.

Monday morning class meant meeting the pastors. UnIMG_6102fortunately two of them were not able to come at the last minute but we had Zion join for the week as an auditor before he has to go to other commitments. So I only have six students who are great guys! Seems we are always laughing.

Dan, the coordinator is in the plaid shirt. William, laughing next to him, is a graduate of seminary already – as a Catholic. He’s retooling as a Baptist! Our conversations have become quite wide ranging as questions multiply as the we build trust and openness.

2015-05-20 18.19.26The days have had walks around the streets to get dinner, snacks, and mango smoothies of course!The lemon chicken at Gloria Maris was wonderful. The carrot “flower” would do well on Food Channel Asia – which Sherry is enjoying while I teach class. 2015-05-19 10.31.45

The street has a pedestrian “fly over” so Sherry was able to get her exercise only to be told by a nice lady that seniors could just cross the street. Sure enough when we tried it the next day, a policeman stopped the traffic and waved us across. A smiling lady with a cane gets favors here.

We are always impressed by the friendliness and helpfulness of the people here. The crowds are significant, but everywhere people smile and greet us. The hotel staff can’t do enough to assist us in every way. We saw an interesting but identified dish going to another table, so we asked the server. He told us, but the words weren’t familiar. So he brought a menu and showed us the dish. We tried it today and it was super tasty!

There is no separation of church and state here as these pictures make very clear.

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Two of the local students are helping plant a church not far away, so I asked if we could visit on Sunday. They promised to take us to a really good sea food restaurant after. I asked for the church address so we could get a taxi. I don’t know the area, so going on by jeepney isn’t a good idea. They responded by arranging a car to fetch us, and then bringing an invitation from the pastor to preach. I will “earn” our lunch!

Teaching Pastors in Cebu

May 17th, 2015

The trip to Cebu began early! Sherry woke up about 2:30 to finish our packing and preparations to meet Cesar at 4 am for the trip to the airport. Even at 4 am, the traffic was dense. Loved getting Cesar’s personal travel narration as he told me about growing up in absolute poverty in Masbate, courting Carla for seven years before they had enough to be married, and then going into pastoral ministry with the Teaching pastors 1Baptist General Conference. Now he has been appointed bishop so he can be chairman of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches, a group of 35,000 churches through out the nation. But his heart remains with Baptist churches. Thus my involvement teaching the pastors in the Pathway Church facility in Cebu. I never got a count, but about 50 men (and one wife) gathered and the discussion took off! Cesar took pictures of the men  as we studied.

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We covered a wide range of topics: what is the gospel, why are we not sinners if we enjoy roast pork (a local specialty), how do we do baptism if Acts 2:38 is right: “repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins,” what is the role of gifts, what does church leadership look like, finishing up exploring calminianism. Of course there 20150515_105105were tangents along the way. When we finished at 3:00 on Friday, the men agreed quickly “Pastor Gerry, may we be excused? Our heads are full!” There was a lot of pictures as pretty much everyone wanted a picture with me alongside them. It was a little strange being treated like the celebrity!

2015-05-14 15.52.58The top event of the two days of study was when the men broke into groups to pray together. Cesar encouraged them to pray with someone other than their normal partner. I found out later that two pastors who had long standing conflict resulting from one of them going into serious sin while on the other pastor’s team was resolved with real reconciliation coming in the days together in the class and in the Baptist Guest House.

IMG_6062Saturday was our site seeing day with Pastor Jingo and Jenny. Jingo is president of the Conference and our host for the time. He and Jenny picked us up to tour Cebu. We started with Magellan’s Cross, planted on EasterIMG_6065 Sunday 1521. The original cross is said to be inside the contemporary cross. The Basilica Santo Nino, originally built in 1565, burned twice with the current building finished in 1737. The earthquake that shook the town just before Typhoon Hayan destroyed IMG_6074Tacloban, brought down one of the towers. Of course they rebuild.

The inside is magnificent with many people doing devotion before the complex altar. Ceilings are filled with art and the lobbies have IMG_6070images of the Blessed Virgin with people touching the glass, hands encased in a handkerchief, to receive a blessing. Not my style of religion, I have to say.

As we left the Cathedral, a girl selling tourist items begged us to buy her wares. I decided to do that and immediately drew a crowd of young folk wanting to purchase some of their too. But I’d used up my smaller bills and they don’t have change so I smiled and walked ahead. One boy, holding his items up for me to see, kept calling “share the blessing, share the blessing.” The poverty is appalling. Ironically in the very nice malls most of the workers are poor who are far enough along in school to qualify for jobs. But my heart goes out to those who have no money for uniforms, fees and such. The churches sponsor many, including Cesar and Jingo years ago, but there are so many more.

IMG_6082Of course we had to have food after the mid-day’s site seeing. Jenny picked out our fare including Crispy pata (deep fried pork and sago gulaman (she got us the really good drink with gelatin and palm heart balls rather than the normal tapioca pearls). We went to the hotel to rest for a while and then out again to see the lights of the city from The Tops. Beautiful! And of course more feasting after with Pastor James and Sandra and Gloria, their daughter and Jingo/Jenny’s two sons joining.








We finished off with Halo Halo that was so good even  the fish wanted some it!









We finished the evening with tea at the guest house. Lots of good conversation, laughter and sharing God’s goodness.

Last Days in Manila

May 13th, 2015

The days with the Hope Advance youth retreat were so full of energy. I was delighted to hear that 14 young folk followed Jesus in baptism on the last day. Too bad I wasn’t there to enjoy the fun. That would have been much more fun than spending the day working on class schedules and revising syllabi for Western’s On Line campus! I still am Professor Gerry.

2015-05-07 13.56.34Sunday was my opportunity to preach at Union Church Manila ( Pastor Steve Ruetschle is ana amazing man. His story of healing after a motorcycle accident left his C6-C7 near complete separation. He went from total paralysis from neck down to walking and preaching – though with lots of pain and challenge. You can read his blog at

His schedule through the parables in Luke had Luke 13:1-9 for today, the parable of the barren fig tree: “unless you repent, you will likewise perish.” A very difficult parable and especially on Mother’s Day! But I love Scripture and dug into it to find God’s word. You can watch it on the church web site. The three sermons went well though my cold made the exercise more difficult. A snack of fresh mangos after second service helped a lot!

IMG_6038Monday was with long time friends, Rene and Carla Chanco. They took us up to Faith Academy where I got to see the next round of changes. They say the Cadd Auditorium has the best acoustics in the Philippines and it may well be so. The Manila Symphony comes to do recordings here. IMG_6036They were just starting to build it when we were here in 2007. Now it is absolutely beautiful. They bless the whole neighborhood as well as the city by allowing groups to use the facility. The arts program is fourishing now that they added an arts period where students can do arts or nothing. With the the shift of the missionary cadre from North American to Asian, there are fewer anglo students, even higher academic achievement and (sadly) lesser sports involvement. Tine Hardemann, IMG_6043the 50 year basketball coach and now sports chaplain just shook his head. Ken Kiehlbauch and I came to Faith the same year (1969) but he stayed and built an amazing science program. Now the wing is named for him. And the Arts students crafted quite a portrait of him.IMG_6039 Dave French, the 27 year art teacher was proud to show us his first floor workroom where students hang out creatively. The IMG_6047entrance to the main classroom building hasn’t changed though all the interior has. I am very glad to see the school improving, but a bit sad that “my classroom” isn’t even a part of the math area any more!

IMG_6052We went to the CB guest house and saw the improvements there and then on to Asian Theological Seminary, where Rene uses a good part of his time. As we waited to close the gate at the seminary, I took some street pictures and pondered theIMG_6042 contrast with the erupting sky scraper behind the older buildings and tricycles. Wonder how long it will be before the area here looks like nearby Cubao or Ortigas Center (as viewed from Faith)?

The evangelical explosion here in the past generation has transformed the country with many churches including world class mega-churches like Christ Commission Fellowship with a 24,000 member base gathering, 30+ other CCF gatherings but has also planted hundreds of churches all over the Philippines and China. Peter Tan-Chi, who was in my D.Min. class at International Graduate School of Leadership, began the church as a home Bible study in a living room near Faith Academy and the rest is history.

Tuesday was our “off day.” We took it easier and went out to a nice supper in a local restaurant before Wednesday’s trip to Cebu.

Teaching in Manila

May 9th, 2015

SEATS Teaching 1How much can one enjoy a week of teaching in Manila? I don’t know what the possible is, but I surely enjoyed it immensely! The dozen pastors were from many different parts of the Manila area as I mentioned below ranging from seminary to lay educated but all eager to interact with Jonah and Ruth as we worked from text to sermon. I love teaching as we look at the Bible together wrestling with what it says and means.

HOPE Advance 2015 at Febias College Of Bible 2The all day classes were followed by rest as the cold I picked had it’s impact. Coughing, blowing, head packed, ears plugged, voice failing: it’s not good. It was a special challenge as my role switched to Bible teacher at the Hope Advance 2015 youth rally. I had almost no voice at all, so I sucked Ricola, spoke right against the microphone, and tried not to breathe deeply which set off a coughing attack! The teaching actually went well once the failed microphone and video projector were replaced.

IMG_6010Merienda with Bishop Efriam Tendero, the new Secretary General of The World Evangelical Alliance was a great privilege. He and Cesar (who is also a Bishop) are great friends so I got to join their time. Just too quick to do anything more than pleasantries before Bishop F (as he is known) headed off to South Africa. Quite a responsibility he is undertaking as he steps into a great heritage.

The second evening of the Hope Advance was so much fun. It began with dinner served for the youth in traditional style on banana leaves. They faced off and went at it with gusto, leaving little to mop up.








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I had a great time watching especially since I had my meal served in a style more befitting my advanced years!

Going back to FEBIAS College of the Bible was retreating in the the Philippines I remembered from 1970: old style buildings nestled in spreading trees , open windows, fans blowing, people open to Jesus.








IMG_6034The students were so excited about worship and sopping up the teaching, repeating back the principles of the gospel and for living God’s will. Part of their small group work was to make personal mission statements in English and Tagalog based on what they learned. MyIMG_6031 voice was much better which made it a lot more comfortable for me. But it was also really warm which meant creative ways to prepare!

It was wonderful to hear that where three students had committed to baptism, as the actually service began, that number swelled to 14. The Gospel is alive!

First Manila Days

May 6th, 2015

Teaching pastors is always fun! But it is even better when  they are Philipino men working as church planters in Muslim areas, in poor barrios as well as the wealthy Ortigas Center area where we are staying. Hope Christian Fellowship meets in a 100 square meter room and packs in 70 people twice every Sunday. But the key is that men who interned at Hope have gone out and planted 21 churches. This small room has become a prayer central for many leaders since Cesar Punzulan is an ordained bishop, head of the Philipino Council of Evangelical Churches (there are 70,000 churches here) as well as a very strategic leader in the country. On top of that, he is a very fun guy who invests everything in his people. Unfortunately I got so wrapped up in the teaching that I forgot to have someone use my camera to take a picture of the guys! I’ll get some from Cesar.

2015-05-04 14.50.10Manila has changed dramatically even since we were here in 2007. The hotel we are staying in is more than 48 floors, the tallest residential building in Manila when it was built in 2011. But there have been many others since and there are many others going up even now as you can see in this picture taken from our window. 2015-05-04 08.04.54There are many solar cells on top of buildings as well as beautiful PGA level golf courses. And cranes everywhere. Oh, yes. And traffic. There are more than 12 million people in the city they tell me. I have also heard 15 million if you count the people with no address.

2015-05-05 08.44.18America has invaded: Virtually every Western restaurant is here from McDonalds (where you can get rice or spaghetti with you hamburger) to Starbucks to TGI Friday’s. But Donn (my son who lives in Kansas City after spending the first three years of his life here) and I were both astonished with Kansas City Ribs! Our daily routine includes a trip across the street to SM MegaMall to get mango smoothies. The twin towers is our hotel behind this enormous mall. It is an astonishing contrast to the huge poverty in the country, which is so easy to forget here in the super wealthy area. But I also remember that this chain began as in Marikina. When we planted Calvary Baptist Church there in 1970, it was a small shoe market (thus the SM) where a small business man has made super good, raising the lifestyle of many others in the process. Odd contradictions.

2015-05-06 14.55.11I walked by Greenhills Christian Fellowship, a church planted by Dave and Patty Jo Yount who we worked with at Calvary Marikina. It was pastored by Luis Pantoja who went to Denver Seminary with me in 1972. I preached there in 2000. Three years ago Luis dropped dead while on a ministry trip to Singapore. I hear the church is dong well, but is no longer THE place to go. I won’t be there this time as I’ll be preaching at Union Church in Makati. Lunch with Pastor Steve tomorrow.

On a happy note, Sherry’s new computer crashed. We tried to take it to a repair shop, but the dealer is in downtown Manila. That’s not a trip for the faint hearted. So she brought it home. Later in the day, she texted me: “It’s healed!” Well, briefly. But since then she has worked with it, muttered at it, worked some more, and now it appears to be working again. Tomorrow will be the test.

Hong Kong Days

May 3rd, 2015

2015-04-30 09.18.39It kinda caught me by surprise that our four days in Hong Kong were over. Even before we got into a rhythm, the time was gone. The hotel breakfasts were sumptuous and as befits a truly international hotel, quite varied. I have never had watermelon juice as a possibility. Noodle soup is common in many cultures. I will admit that I thought about trying this pastry, but I couldn’t quite work up the courage when there were so many other yummy possibilities.

2015-04-30 15.50.24Kiki showed up at 8 in the morning to take us to the conference session at The Vine Church. She was an amazing host making sure all of our needs were fully satisfied – including my need for coffee in the morning. My first interaction was with a developmentally delayed young man. At first I thought he was cerebral palsy, but as I tried to interact, it became clear that his thinking processes were not doing well. I found myself getting irritated that he was taking one of each of our limited supply of brochures. It was even worse when he showed up the next day and did it again. We really tried to communicate, but alas, it was not possible.

2015-04-30 17.02.02Kiki took us to the Hong Kong Café, a local “hole in the wall” where she said the food was really good. I could not pass up the opportunity to try the “Sichuan saliva chicken.” And it was2015-04-30 16.45.27 good! Dr. Cesar Punzalan was my partner. He is head of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches and a very good guy. We became friends very quickly as he regaled us with stories.

Andrew Gardner, the lead pastor of The Vine, hosted the sessions. He and I had a plenary session together. We played off each other as I argued that justice IS part of the gospel. I took them through Acts 2:22-47 in my question asking style, which was totally different than any other speaker.

Saturday, the final day turned into an ordeal as my allergies kicked in. I was  pretty miserable as the faucet would NOT turn off. I was really worried about my hour long workshop but fortunately the drips stopped about 5 minutes into the time. My interactive style fit the audience w2015-05-02 18.52.35ell and the end of the time did not end the questions. But I was due as a speaker’s reception so I was dragged out. Turned out it was a stand up, crowded, quick connection time with people I will never see again, the very thing I really don’t like. So we left a bit early and Kiki delivered us to the hotel.

Sunday morning meant checking out, loading our things in a van and making the long trip to the airport. Once again, Sherry’s wheelchair status got us special treatment. We’d never gone through the crew entrance before. The flight was uneventful until the end: my ears did not equalize. , I couldn’t hear people trying to help me which is pretty frustrating. Cesar’s daughter met us and he drove us through streets that used to be familiar – but no more. We recognized nothing. He dropped us at the hotel where we soon got into our 43 floor room. The poor little air conditioner struggled hard over come the 95 degree, 80% humidity weather. It will be nice to live in this “home” for 10 days. Sherry is much intrigued with Asian Food Channel!

Journey to Hong Kong

April 29th, 2015

What a long trip it is! If I am calculating the time changes correctly it was 31 hours in transit door to door. Portland to Vancouver BC to Manila to Hong Kong.

2015-04-27 19.17.08The time in Portland airport was amazingly quiet. Our Air Canada flight was the only one going out of the whole E concourse, I think. I love looking at Mt. Hood any where I am but seeing it from the airport window reminded me once again how beautiful we have it in Portland. As we flew north, I got to watch the other Cascade volcanoes – Adams, St. Helens, Ranier – go by and fade into darkness.

The arrival in Vancouver took us on a long walk. Really long for Sherry who was already tired as we began. Our back row seats meant we were last off the plane so there were no crowds to follow. We did finally end up in the right spot and another long walk to the Philippine Airlines desk to get our Manila and Hong Kong boarding passes. But alas, no one behind the desks. So met new friends as we stood on cement floor hoping for their arrival. Fortunately it was only about 45 minutes – the slowness from the plane meant shorter standing. I realized how tired I was (24 packed hours since I’d gotten up) when I forgot to take my cell phone out of my pocket before going through the metal detector.

Everyone has a bucket list – high on mine and one I thought I’d never 2015-04-28 01.25.02 achieve is traveling across the Pacific in business class. But thanks to Dan Chalmers, a one year Faith Academy student from over 40 years ago, we had a great gift. So instead of going to hard seats in the concourse, we went to a well appointed lounge with complimentary food and drink. One sign said “hot food” down stairs. Weird since the upstairs food bar had hot food available. Of course I checked: “Hot food” was mostly spicy Korean food! When they called our flight, there was no waiting in line for a boarding call – just go ahead. And then I saw the seats: luxury indeed! Leg room – well it was so far to the next seat, it was a bit hard to see the individual TV screen. Even before we sat down, there was drinks in glasses and a server asking our choice 2015-04-28 03.25.48of dinner and breakfast entrée, promising snacks and anything we wanted for the duration of the 13 hour flight. I stared with a large bowl of Lobster Bisque and an entrée of Braised Short Ribs in Porcine Mushroom Demi Glace for me. Sherry stayed with Grilled Chicken with Ratatouille Salad with sun-dried tomato dressing. Breakfast was similar. All was with real forks, glass glasses and endless refills of drinks. But the super luxury was being able to put the seat almost flat and sleep. Of course it is still an airplane with some pretty bumpy times, I actually slept more than 6 hours. We only discovered the 120 power outlet which Sherry could have plugged her CPAP into. She may try it on the return flight.

2015-04-28 13.17.19One distinctive note is that the trip map (which was my clock in the long night) regularly showed this screen. The second reference changed constantly but it always showed Mecca. It allowed Muslims to know which way to face as the did their prayers, a constantly changing reality as the plane circled the globe.

Arrival in Manila brought back many memories but they were not to be indulged this time. We’ll do that when we return on Sunday. Sherry’s cane caught attention and people clamored for the right to put her in their wheel chair. The winner took us through all sorts of illegal doors and soon we were through all the immigration lines. As we went through security again, I was literally holding the bag – Sherry’s bags. I had to take out all electronics, water, liquids, etc. and I didn’t know where they were. I got all I knew and the bags went through. Later we found an undiscovered bottle of water. Then on to another very nice lounge with lots of good food – but alas, no appetite. Breakfast was still recent.

Dr Cesar Vicente P. Punzalan, III found us there. He is the chairman of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches and my new friend. He will be with us for the next couple of weeks as part of our team at the Justice Conference and then my leader as I do the teaching in Manila and Cebu. We quickly found many points of common interest!

The short Hong Kong trip ended with a smiling lady with a wheel chair for Sherry and again, special ways through immigration. We got to the baggage claim area and waited . . . and waited . . . and waited. I had visions of our bags still in Vancouver. But finally they came and we were shortly greeted by Derek Ma, a recent Western graduate and friend and Andrew Gardener, lead pastor of the Vine Church, the host for the conference. It was great to learn his story and the church’s story as we made the long trek from the Airport to the Excelsior Hotel where we’ll be for the next four days.

Starting Hong Kong–Philippines

April 27th, 2015

Sherry and I are at the Portland airport, waiting for our long trek to Hong Kong (via Vancouver BC and Manila). I’ll be speaking at the Justice Conference Asia while Sherry earns her keep at the Western Table exhibit. We leave here Monday evening, arrive there Wednesday noon (they are 15 hours ahead of Portland) with a day to get connected before the conference begins. It will be a great adventure seeing some alums and friends as well as meeting a lot of new people.

Stay tuned to this station Smile

Gregg Allison at NW ETS

March 7th, 2015

Dr. Gregg Allison was our plenary speaker speaking on “Roman Catholicism Theology and Practice: An Evangelical Assessment” which is also the title of his new book. He is also the author of Sojourners and Strangers: The Doctrine of the Church, and Historical Theology: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine, and How the Bible Was Formed. Dr. Allison worked with Cru at Notre Dame University and in Italy. He is professor of Christian theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, an elder at Sojourn Community Church, and a theological strategist for Sojourn Network.

His paper, power point and a recording are here: 

Lessons from Mars Hill

November 16th, 2014

In twenty years Mars Hill Church (MHCC) went from a new plant out of Antioch Bible Church to a mega church with 15,000 people in 15 locations. Thousands of completely unchurched people received forgiveness and new life from Jesus through the ministry of the church and the leadership of Pastor Mark Driscoll. Many matured amazing leaders both in MHCC and other churches. The Acts 29 church planting network facilitated establishment of many other churches. Then in three months MHCC imploded. In August Paul Tripp announced his resignation from the Board of Advisors and Accountability (BOAA) and Acts 29 delisted MHCC. Twenty one former pastor/elders filed formal charges. They were joined by nine current pastor/elders, all calling for Pastor Mark to step down from all ministry to get help for his self-confessed sins of pride, anger and domineering spirit. Pastor Mark stepped down while the charges were investigated. In September, Pastor Sutton Turner resigned as executive elder. The board of seven elders lead by Pastor Matt Rogers, chair of the BOAA, investigated the charges. In October they presented their findings to Pastor Mark and he resigned. At the end of the month Pastor Dave Bruskas, the remaining Executive Elder, and the BOAA announced that MHCC would dissolve as of the end of the year, leaving assets and operations to the local Mars Hill churches.

What lessons are to be drawn from this astounding saga? What are lessons from the growth and power of MHCC and Pastor Mark?

Early on, Pastor Mark made the choice to distance himself from the emergent church movement, embracing a pulpit philosophy of expositional Bible teaching rather than “relevant” communication. The message of the Word continues to be powerful when taught with Spirit lead authenticity even in a most unchurced city. Those messages found receptive ears far beyond Seattle with astounding numbers of world wide sermon downloads.

Where others were affirming Mike Regele & Mark Schulz or Michael Jinkins in prophesying the death of the church, Pastor Mark and MHCC showed that the church is still the bride of Christ. He and men like Matt Chandler, Tim Keller, and Daniel Montgomery – to mention a few – are leaders of large, high impact multi-site churches. Those who are blogging the end of the mega church need to listen to this lesson. The verdict on multi-site and video venue models of church is still out. Will it prove to be a fad like bus ministries or one effective model of church organization? MHCC theologized that each campus must have its own campus pastors, ministry teams, and community life. Sites cannot be franchises to expand the brand or celebrity speakers or cheap ways to plant churches.

Many asserted that the video venue approach of MHCC replaced preachers and leaders with a video screen. But a more careful look will show that MHCC was exceptional in raising up young leaders, equipping and encouraging them to believe God could use them mightily. Ironically these same men strengthened at MHCC are the ones who refused to tolerate the centralized leadership model, the controversies, and the culture of conflict that brought about the demise of MHCC.

Capitalizing on the resources of the high tech culture of Seattle, MHCC lead the country in effective use of technology both in the church and in the cloud. They explored podcasts, vodcasts, internet resource sites as portals to vast church resources. But one must remember the proper order. Technology is a great servant, but a tyrannical master.

The encouragement of church based bands is a welcome alternative to Contemporary Christian Music and its touring professionals that often are more like Hollywood than Church. MHCC demonstrated that the message of the gospel can be effectively presented in all sorts of musical genre. They led the way in utilizing the evangelistic power of high quality music.

MHCC emphasized the role of a large church as an equipping resource for other churches. Where some built the revenue of the church by charging for downloads, everything on Resurgence was free to the user. As it turned out the donations from the users more than paid for the materials.

There are also lessons from the demise MHCC.

Every leader has a dark side to their character. Regeneration and the new heart imparted by the Spirit of the New Covenant (2 Cor. 5:17-21; Tit. 3:5-8) means that the deepest desires of a Christian are Christlike. Sanctification means that there is a growing Christlikeness and maturity of character necessary for leadership (1 Tim. 3:1-13; Tit. 1:5-9). But Paul teaches that the sarx, the sinful desires or flesh, are a persistent reality (Gal. 5:16-26; Rom. 7:14-25). The brokenness of leaders must never be excused in light of their great strengths. Leaders must know those weaknesses, flaws, and sin things in them and call a team around them to overcome those. Leaders must invite trusted colleagues into the deepest parts of their lives, the slimiest realities, to bring the healing work of the Spirit. Leaders must have people who will listen well to them and invite them to say, "No" to their most cherished ideas and proposals, to alert them to the damage their sarx is threatening.

Power, the capacity to act or get things done, the ability to execute change, is an essential part of leadership. It comes from spiritual, physical, economic, or personal sources. Power, like gasoline, is both advantageous and dangerous. It is beneficial when used biblically, in service of others (Matt. 20:25-28; Acts 20:28 Pet. 5:1-4). But power is also a seductive, addictive, delicious narcotic. The sarx in a leader wants more and more power, resisting checks and balances without which power becomes domineering and abusive in the name of efficiency and results.

That is why ministry and leadership in the New Testament is always a team thing. The charges of favoritism in ministry in Acts 6 went to the Twelve, not to Peter. The huge controversy about the necessity of circumcision for salvation in Acts 15 did not go to Peter or James but to the apostles and elders with the whole church (Acts 15:2, 4, 6, 22, 23). Elder is singular only in 1 Tim. 5:19 when it is about an accusation.

MHCC categorized leaders as Prophet, Priest, or King with a clear ordering of King, Prophet and then Priest. But those are not the biblical categories of leadership qualities for the church and certainly not with this ordering. Prioritizing King, the rightly criticized "Moses model" of leadership, often results in a domineering culture where results take priority over the soul care of the Priest. It tends to define unity as loyalty and agreement with the king. If this happens the danger of "group think" increases as disagreements are not stated lest they be judged as lack of submission or cowardice.

The Bible speaks of five types of leadership gifts: apostle, prophet, evangelist, shepherd, and teacher to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ (Eph. 4:12-14). This APEST model is five dimensions of a team of leaders not the common misinterpretation of five offices. As I understand it, all five dimensions are equally crucial and must be mutually submissive coming together in a true team where disagreement is stated first hand, respectfully, and constructively as in Acts 15 with the whole team or even the whole church coming to unity around the decision. That doesn’t mean there is no disagreement. Real unity comes on in the context of frank constructive disagreement. The few who still disagree submit to the decision of the team, supporting it fully.

Leaders must be deeply involved in the pastoral life of the church no matter how large the church. The temptation of sarx in powerful leaders of large churches is to isolate from day to day stuff in order to focus on preaching and vision. While leaders cannot be distracted from their personal responsibilities by the pile of details, isolation is deadly. If leaders cannot be pastors to every member of a large church, they must compassionately invest in pastoral realities lest they lose touch with the church Jesus calls them to shepherd. This pastoral work will be with "report to" people but also with some old and new members. Otherwise leadership becomes abstract, policy driven, and in danger of becoming fear based and abusive as decisions become for the good of the organization instead of for the good of the people.

The elder board of a large church must keep close touch with staff morale. This often gets lost in defined channels of communication where top leaders never hear the hearts of lower level staff. Because staff are closest to the life of the church, they are most sensitive to the life of the church. While outsiders see the leader ‘s greatness, the staff often see a darker, more dysfunctional side of things. Leaders must not write off their discouragement or frustrations to Satan’s attack, or simply condemn unhappiness as bad attitudes. The board must remember that the staff/infra-structure is as important as the charismatic leader for the health and effectiveness of the organization, for effective sustainable ministry. To illustrate, isn’t the server at a fine restaurant at least as important as the executive chef and the CEO? When organizational culture begins to go sour, the staff become interchangeable tools for carrying out organizational goals. But especially in a church, staff must be always be valuable persons, whom leaders bless and serve, as well as being employees serving with performance metrics.

Sound theology, effective ministry, good teaching, evangelism do not guarantee Christlike church life. They can never replace love and service, mutual submission and support. Leader must always promote a climate of trust which can only occur in personal vulnerability and compassionate care. Trust is the willingness to risk being vulnerable based upon positive expectations of the intentions or behavior of another. In a climate of distrust communication lines are sewer lines where comments are tainted by the sickness of the culture. But in a climate of trust, communication lines are power lines where even a harsh comment comes in the context of commitment. So instead of retaliating or isolating, the recipient goes graciously to the speaker to see what’s happening.

I think the temptation to virtue is much more dangerous than the temptation to vice. The Devil’s temptations of Jesus were temptations to strengths, not sinful passions. We think of leaders falling to temptation around money, sex, power, and information which are temptations to vice, to lustful passions, to sarx. Wise leaders build accountability provisions around these vices. But the temptations to misuse of virtues often go completely unrecognized and therefore without protections of accountability. I think of many stories of leaders who ended up in sinful relationships – not because they were tempted to indulge sexual lusts but because virtues of pastoral helping were used beyond boundaries of godliness. Caring is expressed in a touch, then in touches, in holding . . . and misused virtue becomes devastating sin.

There are other lessons: Even the most dynamic leader does not build a dysfunctional culture alone. Subordinates cooperate in building the culture which turns on them later. People often make the dynamic leader to BE the church rather than the servant of the church. When leaders buy into the lie, their identity becomes so intertwined with the church that all charges become personal attacks. They become an idol and the worship becomes idolatrous. A church culture based in anger and fear cannot produce life of the Spirit.

A final lesson is being written as I write. Even as MHCC will discontinue operations in a few weeks, the Mars Hill churches are in process of replanting, many with a lot of continuity of their leadership teams and congregations. Many of those leaders have privately pondered and publicly repented. In a context of vulnerability, trust can be rebuilt and the work of the gospel go on. While bloggers continue to build their income with disparaging gossip, the people hope in the power of gospel centered transformation, hoping in the sense of the confident expectation of good based in the character of the God of Exodus 34:6-7.