EFCA West Bivouac 2021 at Hume Lake

From March 1st through 4th I got to spend a few days at Hume Lake with nine pastors from various churches across the EFCA West District for something our superintendent, Tim Jacobs, called Bivouac 2021. It was a great time for these men to share how ministry has been and build friendships that will hopefully better support them in the season to come.

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The Imitation of Christ
by Thomas a’ Kempis









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Tools for Averting Predators
Reflections From a Chief of Police

Reprinted from xpastor.com

In his career in law enforcement in the state of California, John Schaefer has been the Chief of Police for the City of Placentia and the City of San Marino. He also served as the City Manager for San Marino. John now serves on a pastoral team in Fullerton. He brings these thoughts for church leaders on working with the police.

1. Make It Easy for the Cops

Today’s public safety personnel are busy. Given the workload placed on public safety, anything you can do to make their job easier is greatly appreciated.

Collect the 5 W’s and H—Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. Police reports are supposed to include these elements. Assemble this information before the police arrive and it will make things go smoother.

Give just the facts. Like Sergeant Joe Friday in Dragnet, the police are interested in the facts. Do not give conjecture, opinion or who you don’t trust. Tell them what you actually know, saw or heard. If you are not an eyewitness, have those people present for the police to talk with.

Provide pertinent data to be included in police reports. List the names of key people— last name, first name, middle initial, date of birth, address and phone number. Include a detailed description of stolen property. Reporting a stolen electric keyboard is of little help, but Yamaha, P 125 Digital Piano, black, serial number YP-123456, value $600 is of great value.

2. Make It Hard for the Crooks

Ideally your systems and security are so wonderful that the cops never have a reason to visit you. While this ideal is unlikely, you have the ability to control crime with simple things. Lock your doors to vacant areas. Close windows in unused rooms. Do not leave money visible on counters where it is practically screaming to be stolen. This saves you the embarrassment of explaining to a police officer how you were victimized because of your own carelessness or lack of diligence.

3. One Point of Contact

Develop one person, or at the most two people, who are the point of contact for local law enforcement. These individuals build helpful relationships and become familiar with the needs of your local police department. They can effectively collect the needed information before law enforcement arrives on the scene. Again, this makes everyone’s job much easier.

4. The Police are the Public

From about the year 1825, Sir Robert Peel created the modern police force, and in tribute to him officers in London are called “bobbies” and “peelers.” He had nine principles of policing.1 Peel’s Principle #7 says The Police are the Public and the Public are the Police.2 We all have a responsibility to police our communities and churches. Safety begins with each person. Develop the idea that everyone has a responsibility in the process. This is as simple as graciously confronting an unknown person you see walking down a hall. Most people don’t do this and regrettably wind up giving a statement like, “I saw that guy, and he looked out of place, and I can’t believe he stole …” If a stranger is at your church for a legitimate purpose, they will appreciate your question of “Can I help you?”

5. Absence of Crime

The goal is the absence of crime, not to have police deal with crime. Your goal should be to prevent bad things from happening. This is much easier and healthier than having to deal with crime in a reactive manner. Further, it is less expensive to invest in crime prevention than crime reaction.

6. Broken Windows

In criminology there is the Broken Windows Theory.3 It asserts that visible signs of crime, anti-social behavior, and civil disorder create an urban environment that encourages further crime and disorder, including serious crimes. By taking care of little things, like graffiti, litter or disrepair, you communicate a value of watchfulness that prevents worse things from happening.

7. Relationships with Law Enforcement and EMS

Cops are people! Dealings with police go better when you have a relationship that precedes a 911 situation. Your church has the biblical mandate to care for all people. If there is an area officer assigned to your church’s neighborhood, get to know her or him. This is the Power of Loose Connections.4 The interactions we have with law enforcement in emergency or non-emergency situations can develop into secondary dealings that are ultimately much more meaningful.

Predators in the Church



Move Toward The MessScreen Shot 2018-07-07 at 10.05.10 AM
by John Hambrick

This book reminded me that being a follower of Jesus doesn’t mean that all we are called to will be easy or fun.  Some of the lines I highlighted included:

  • The people God brings across your path will care much more about your compassion than your theology.
  • Leroy and Janelle, on the other hand, think prostitutes are fundamentally the same as they are because everyone is a sinner.
  • Jesus has the perfect next step for us….He said, “Follow me.” That’s it.
  • Within Young Life we call the persistent going out into the world of kids “contact work.”
  • There’s an old joke about a man shipwrecked for years on a desert island.  Since he was a carpenter, he passed the time by building what looked like a little town.  Finally, he was rescued.  His rescuers were stunned at all the builds the man had created.  He offered to give them a tour.  As they walked down the main street of the little town, they noticed he had built two churches side by side.  They asked him which of these churches he attended.  “The second one,” he said.  “So what’s the story with that first church?”  they asked.  The man replied, “Oh, that’s where I used to go.”  Please don’t be that guy.

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On June 28, 29 and 30th I attended the EFCA West District Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Trinity Encounter


From Sunday till Thursday (May 20-24) I was at Trinity Ranch outside of Missoula,
Montana, for a spiritual retreat, the Trinity Encounter. Trinity Ranch is 2,000 acres and is beautiful!  I went with a couple guys from church, but the entire group for the week was only 20 guys. We met for three sessions a day talking IMG_1090about Spiritual Formation, Spiritual Disciplines and Discipleship. When we weren’t meeting as a group, we had directed time to read, pray, listen and think.  IMG_1070The facilitators, Mike Parkinson, Ken Baugh and Dan Crane did a great job.  Even though I have never done this before, I found it especially helpful and would recommend it.  You can find information about this at Trinity Encounter.

Teaching in Closer Walk

I been invited to speak in Closer Walk on a few occasions (November 14, 2018 on the Lord’s Supper,  on July 18, 2018 on Psalm 23:4 and on May 16, 2018 on John 10:7)  You can hear and watch these messages (as well as other Closer Walk) services by following this link Closer Walk Video and clicking the corresponding date (11-17-18, 7-18-18 or 5-16-18 in the right hand column.)

Forgotten God
by Francis Chan

Got to finish this book before we got home from Mexico.  A good challenge to the whole idea of how much do I do, or try to do on my own and how much to I lean on the Holy Spirit.

Some of the key thoughts:

  • Even our church growth can happen without Him.  Let’s be honest: If you combine a Screen Shot 2018-05-06 at 8.35.13 PMcharismatic speaker, a talented worship band, and some hip, creative events, people will attend your church.  Yet this does not mean that the Holy Spirit of God is actively working and moving in the lives of the people who are coming.
  • Am I even open to the possibility that i could be wrong in my beliefs?
  • Do I want to lead or be led by the Spirit?
  • Do you believe you exist not for your own pleasure but to help people know the love of Jesus and to come alive in Him?
  • I want nothing more than to live in total surrender and abandonment to the Spirit every moment I have left on this earth.
  • I don’t want my life to be explainable without the Holy Spirit.  I want people to look at my life and know that I couldn’t be doing this by my own power.
  • As for me, I am tired of talking about what we are going to do.  I am sick of talking about helping people, of brainstorming and conferencing about ways we can be radical and make sacrifices.  I don’t want to merely talk anymore.  Life is too short.

Return to Mazatlán, Sinaloa, Mexico IMG_0984

Kaetchen and I got to spend five days with our friends Rob and Annette in Mexico.  Great time to relax, enjoy the beach and get some reading done.

A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23
by Philip Keller

Screen Shot 2018-05-04 at 3.21.38 PMFirst published in 1970, but a great resource if you are teaching on Psalm 23.  Some of the highlights:

  • Sheep won’t lie down unless they are free of fear, friction, pests an have food
  • A flock that is restless, discontented, always agitated and disturbed never does well.
  • If one really believes his affairs are in God’s hands, every event, no matter whether joyous or tragic, will be taken as part of God’s plan.
  • The rod speaks of the spoken Word, the expressed intent, the extended activity of God’s mind and will in dealing with men.
  • The Scriptures are His rod.
  • The time when we thing “we have it made,” so to speak, is actually when we are in mortal danger.

Temporary Homeless Shelter

For years EvFree has hosted a temporary homeless shelter in our gym.  Usually 3-5 nights, twice a year.  On April 11th a mentally ill homeless man who was apparently on his way to the shelter broke into a house about a mile from the church.  The fall out has been significant.  As part of our response we, and I do me a lot of us, worked to craft the below letter which we sent to the 125 people who attended our Town Hall Meeting the week after the incident.  This matter continues to unfold.

Dear Neighbor:

As we at EvFree seek to follow Jesus, we believe it is our responsibility as disciples to love all of our neighbors well; both those with homes, and those without. Out of that posture, over the last 10 years we have occasionally hosted Mercy House’s short-term cold weather shelter for the homeless in cooperation with the City of Fullerton. But based on a recent incident and input from many in our community, we are reassessing the situation. As such, we do not have any plans to host again in 2018. After that, if and when we host, such hosting will be based on the then-current City requirements and with consideration for the voiced concerns of our neighbors.

For those who may be unfamiliar with recent events, an unfortunate and terrible incident occurred on April 11 related to a mentally ill man who appears to have been headed to sleep in our gym, but instead, invaded the home of local residents and threatened their family. We are horrified by the crime, hurting with the family, and thankful that the Fullerton Police department responded so quickly. In response to their incident, we held a town hall meeting and received much valuable input from our neighbors. We are grateful for each person who has voiced concerns, and this email is our first effort to keep each of you up to date as we proceed.

While there are no currently scheduled plans to have the shelter return here, we have heard clearly from all of you that if the temporary shelter were to return, there should be some changes. We are committed to clearer communication with our neighbors, and improved security in the future should the shelter use our facility again in years to come.

We have been in contact with the city regarding all of this. It is our understanding that they may change the requirements for the operation of temporary shelters in Fullerton. EvFree has consistently operated with transparency and in accordance with city requirements, and will of course continue to do so in the future.

We pray that God will bless you richly, and that He will provide a safe and loving community for everyone who lives in Fullerton and surrounding areas. As this process progresses we will continue to keep you informed of any new directives or decisions by the city or the church in this regard.

God Bless,

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February 21-22, 2018
Dallas, Texas

Started off with a great workshop titled, “Make Your Church Primary Giving Destination of More Givers.”  Some great things to think about, for example, “What is our financial goal?”  “Have we captured the heart and minds of our congregation with our vision?”

Followed that with a workshop on Mentoring Your Staff and then one on Communication Strategies.  The guys who spoke on communication strategies (Ted Vaughn and Mark) are from Historic and they did a great job.  Said, “you don’t have a brand, you are a brand” and that brand is the sum total of how someone perceives you.

Afternoon was Richard Hammer on the 5 Legal Threats Every XP Needs to Know (or the top five things that will really ruin your day.)  He not only gave a lot of great practical advice but he was incredibly funny in a very educational way.  For example, did you know that Robert’s Rules of Order where inspired after a 14 hour congregational meeting in 1880.

This was followed by Trends Impacting Churches (Changing Social Structures, Less Driving, Ethnic Diversity and Ultimate Optionality, or a sharing economy).

David Fletcher finished off day one talking about the Business Brain + Pastor’s Heart of the Executive Pastor.

Day 2 started off with a talk about Having a Security Mindset in Your Church.  I followed this with a workshop by William Vanderbloemen on How to Establish Staff Values (he shared some fascinating information about the value of a prompt response to phone calls and emails, for example, on a sales call, the odds of  of calling to contact a lead decrease by over 10 times in the 1st hour.  The odds of calling to qualify a lead decrease by over 6 times in the 1st hour.  The odds of contacting a lead if called in 5 minutes are 100 times higher versus 30 minutes.  The odds of qualifying a lead if called in 5 minutes are 21 times higher versus 30 minutes.  Forbes Article ) then one on Small Groups and finished the day with a workshop on Internal Controls and Enterprise Risk Management.

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January 31- February 2, 2018
San Antonio, Texas

Had the opportunity to attend my first theological conference.  Sessions included:

Biblical and Theological Foundations and a Gospel Frame for Understanding Compassion and Justice: The Cross and Racial Reconciliation
Dr. Jarvis Williams, Associate Professor of New Testament Interpretations, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Miles to Go Before We Sleep: American Evangelicals and Racial and Ethnic Partiality
Dr. Douglas Sweeney, Distinguished Professor of Church History and History of Christian Thought, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
American Evangelical History:  Miles Walked and A Lived History
Dr. John Perkins, Founder and President Emeritus of the John and Vera Mae Perkins Foundation
The Gospel, Martin Luther King, Jr., Contextual Theology and Evangelicalism
Dr. Carl Ellis, Jr., Assistant to the Chancellor, Senior Fellow of the African American Leadership Initiative and Provost’s Professor of Theology and Culture at Reformed Theological Seminary
A Holistic Ministry of  Compassion and Justice: Biblical Foundation, Sociological Analysis, and Pastor Leadership
Dr. Peter Cha, Professor of Church, Culture and Society, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

A lot to take in and think about, hard but good.

Link to EFCA Theological Conference audio recordings

Messy Spirituality
God’s Annoying Love for Imperfect People
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The Zondervan description of this book says: “What? You’re not perfect? That’s all right God loves you anyway. He even loves the author of this book, and he’s really a mess. There is a spirituality for people who often don’t feel very spiritual and it will bring you closer to God. Find it in this book.

This is a pretty good description. The book is full of nice stories that reinforce how our God works through and uses us despite our “messy” situations. Some of the things I highlighted in the book included:

  • Right now the only consistency in my life is my  inconsistency.
  • One day we decide to become a follower of Christ, to seek his presence in our lives, and we’re doing our best to keep Jesus in our sights when we were shocked to discover our fellow “classmates” calling us names. Ungodly. Uncommitted. Poor example. Unspiritual. Carnal. Unbiblical. In other words, “You’re ‘doing God’ all wrong.”
  • Spiritual growth is not running faster, as in more meetings, more Bible studies, and more prayer meetings. Spiritual growth happens when we slow our activity down.

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Marty Reimer turned me on to some great Spiritual Formation resources including this
message (the photo is linked to the video) by Dallas Willard.  It is packed with a lot of great stuff including this:

The Congregational Objective

  • Imagine word getting out that people attending Rolling Hills Covenant Church or EvFree Fullerton, easily, naturally do what Jesus said!
  • Imagine the sign out front saying:  “We Teach People in Such A Way That They Do Everything Jesus Said To Do” (or even ‘almost’!)

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My wife and I have been blessed to spend the last 10 days with great friends on a Baltic cruise.  Our stops included Copenhagen, Denmark, Berlin, Germany, Tallinn, Estonia, St. Petersburg, Russia, Helsinki, Finland and Stockholm, Sweden.  You can check out some of the pictures on my Instagram page which you can link to on the Links page of this web site.

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While on vacation I finished this book lent to me by Jeff Bradbury.  Heavy, but a lot of good stuff to chew on.  Some of the notes I made included:

  • Spiritual formation simply cannot go forward as it is intended by God unless the individual is incorporated in a body of believers where he or she can receive the benefits of the gifts that others have.
  • Identifying and sustaining the sense or vision of God, self an world that pervaded and animated the originators.
  • Think of the soul as a computer that operates or controls a piece of equipment or a car.  If the computer is defective the whole machine is messed up.
  • A discipline is something within our power, something we can do.
  • The goal of discipline is the transformation of the total state of the soul.
  • Joshua 1:8 -This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
  • You don’t have to do to be.
  • Solitude, silence and fasting.
  • The church of God is present where people gather together in the power of the resurrected life of Jesus Christ.
  • Goal – to teach people to do everything Jesus said.
  • Spiritual formation in Christ is oriented toward explicit obedience to Christ.
  • Grace is opposed to earring by not effort.
  • I desire to be a tree that produces good fruit.

EFCA One Conference in Austin


On Monday, June 19th I will fly to Texas for the Evangelical Free Church of America’s(EFCA) annual conference.  This is my first opportunity to attend our denominations annual conference and I am very excited about the chance to attend.  My intention is to daily post an update of what happened at EFCA One on the 20th, 21st and 22nd.

June 20th, 2017
Heard two messages, one by EFCA President Kevin Kompelien and one by D.A. Carson.  Also attended two workshops presented by Larry Osborne on “The Truth About Discipleship & Church Growth.”  Some of the pearls (in John Schaefer paraphrase):

  • What does a Disciple look like? S/He is a follower
  • We have confused discipleship and leadership development
  • Not everyone is a Navy Seal disciple
  • The goal in discipleship is to help them take the next step of obedience
  • The measure of a disciple is not where they are in line, but rather, how far they have come
  • Leadership is a choice, not a requirement
  • A good shepherd adapts for sheep
  • Shepherd the flock God has given you

June 21st 2017
Heard a message in the morning by Jared Alcantara (Will you let Jesus restore you? Will you let Jesus recommission you?) and in the evening by Drew Leaver (Some things we cannot forget.)  Attended final workshop with Osborne and attended the EFCA Business Meeting.  Some additional L.O. pearls:

  • Be transparent, make information available for people to pull (versus pushing out info people don’t want.
  • Ponies are more important than the mail
  • Empowerment and Excellence will always be at odds
  • Leaders who got you here might not be able to get you there
  • Never confuse a helper with a leader
  • Invest in people to leverage ministry versus to lighten the load

June 22nd 2017

Spent some time in a couple sessions.  Two were Forums on Expositor Preaching by Dr. Constantine Campbell, a little bit on The Gospel, Culture and Human Sexuality and a little bit on Personal Revival.  Some of the pearls from these included:

  • PowerPoint may not be all that helpful for a great message
  • The value of not using notes or a script
  • C.S. Lewis wrote some profound thoughts on homosexuality:
    • “our speculations on the cause of the abnormality are not what matters and we must be content with ignorance.”
  • If I want to pray for revival, I should start by asking for a personal revival

The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning

Screen Shot 2017-06-23 at 4.53.42 PMBetween time recently spent in the gym, time walking in Austin and time on the plane, I was able to finish listening to my audio version of the Ragamuffin Gospel.  A compelling reminder that the grace undeservedly granted to me should influence the grace I grant to others.

  • Define yourself radically as one beloved by God.
  • I have been seized by the power of a great affection.
  • Christianity happens when men and women accept with unwavering trust that their sins have been not only forgiven, but forgotten, washed away in the blood of the Lamb. Thus, my friend archbishop Joe Reia says, “A sad Christian is a phony Christian, and a guilty Christian is no Christian at all.

Prodigal God by Tim Keller

The Prodigal God

This is also a great book. He makes a great point that the Luke 15 story we typically know as the parable of the lost son is really the parable of the lost sons.  Keller points out why the second born son is lost, but then makes a compelling case for the first born son also being lost by virtue of his belief that he has done everything he was supposed to do.  A couple of the good thoughts from the book include:  “The gospel is…everyone is wrong, everyone is loved, and everyone is called to recognize this and change.”  And, “Christians commonly say they want a relationship with Jesus, that they want to ‘get to know Jesus better.’  You will never be able to do that by yourself.  You must be deeply involved in the church, in Christian community, with strong relationships of love and accountability.  Only if you are part of a community of believers seeking to resemble, serve, and love Jesus will you ever get to know him and grow into his likeness.”

Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald SandersSpiritual Leadership

I asked Pastor John Coulombe to recommend a good book on discipleship.  He gave me Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders.  What a great book!  22 easy to read chapters each with a profound leadership concept: 5- Can you
Become a Leader?  11- Prayer and Leadership  13- The Leader and Reading  15- The Cost of Leadership.  I am sure the principles in this book will make their way into my thinking and teaching over the next months.


Building A & B Renovation

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Current A&B Buildings

One of my current projects at EvFree is the renovation of two of the original buildings on our 15 acre campus.  These two story buildings contain offices and classrooms.  The renovation is slated to update the exterior of the buildings, including windows, railings and second story decks.  Approximate total cost of this project will be between $750,000 and $1,000,000.

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Rendering by R. Pacheco

Part 2 – In April of 2018 our Elder Board approved moving ahead on this project.  I signed the contract for one-million dollars of renovation and handed the project off to another pastor to oversee the renovation.  It should be done in 4-6 months.   R.C. Smith Design & Build is doing the work.



Fullerton Employee Appreciation LuncheonCityofFullerton_Logo-500x493

On Thursday, May 25th, 2017, EvFree will host the annual employee luncheon for all Fullerton employees.  This is our chance to show the men and women who work for our great city how much we appreciate all they do.

On Friday May 25th, 2018, EvFree along with Fullerton Act, Sojourners, O.C. United, Calvary Chapel Fullerton, In the Vine, First Presbyterian of Fullerton, Solidarity and Antioch Community Church will hosting the 2018 Fullerton Employee Luncheon.