Thursday, July 12, 2018

Why is it important for church leaders to understand the Dones

Earlier this year I attended a men's prayer breakfast at a local church. I had not been to anything like this in quite some time. I was invited by a friend and it is a church that supports Sun Ministries so I went. There were about 60 men in attendance. As the speaker started his presentation I was very interested in what was on his mind. It would indicate to me what the church thought was important.

After a little bit of event promotion and pleading for involvement he got to his main topic. To my surprise it was The “Dones”. He quoted statistics and made his case for why these “lost sheep” must be returned to the flock. I was astounded at the way he derided people for leaving the institution. It became obvious to me that he wouldn't recognize a “Done” if one was right in front of him because there I was – right in front of him.

I don't blame him for presenting slanted information. Most of the information on The “Dones” comes from institutional church leadership sources. They are desperately trying to figure out how to get them “back in the fold”. This is the source of their error. I never left the fold. I am still as much a part of God's church as ever. What this man did was to regurgitate information and propaganda. He then decided to cast these people in a negative light. That is beyond excuse.

He had at his disposal a real life “Done”. This church has connected with Sun Ministries and even supported it. All he had to do was ask and I would have taken the time to give him first hand understanding of the “Dones”. I could have introduced him to dozens of them. I could have helped him understand their motivations for leaving and what they are doing outside his system.

I think every church leader and even those people that remain in the institution should make the effort to understand the “Dones”. We are a part of God's church. We are not likely to come back. We do long to have unity in the body of Christ. So I am making it easy on you. Do you want to understand the “Dones”? It's your move.

I encourage you to participate. Use this link to join the Meetup group and register to attend a Meetup of The “Dones”.

Meet the "Dones" group - Click Here

Would you rather have us come to you? I would be happy to bring a couple of people to meet with your staff and answer any questions you may have. Just email me -

We look forward to having you meet us. 

Monday, July 9, 2018

Why is it important that the Dones Connect

The Bible contains a lot of instruction for the church. There are instructions for structure, leadership, operation, priorities and function. The “Dones” have left an institution that many felt was not found in the Bible. Some search for that more organic and supernatural expression of faith they see displayed in the Bible. This desire has led many of us out of the institution.

Genesis 2:18 - And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone;

From the beginning God has had a design for His children to live together. Jesus clarified this more when He spoke of our love and unity.

[John 13:35 NASB] 35 "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

[John 17:22 NASB] 22 "The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one;

Love and unity are not just important concepts to God. They are indicators of our union with Him. One reason the “Dones” must connect is to display to the world that we are of the father and disciples of Christ. We cannot do it apart from each other. Leaving the institution is just one step on the journey. We must move on to do church the way God designed it to be done. This will require us to connect with each other.

We encourage you to participate. Use this link to join the Meetup group and register to attend a Meetup of the “Dones”.

Meet the "Dones" group - Click Here

We look forward to having you join us.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Who are the Dones

The “Dones” is a label given to one of the fastest growing religious groups in America. The term applies to people that have left the institutional forms of church after years of involvement. The “Dones” are, quite simply, done with church but not with God.

I am a “Done” by that definition. I was raised outside the religious system of America. After accepting Christ at 13, I tried to fit into the church system that was presented to me. I pursued religious education reaching a Ph.D in theology. I was ordained by a mainstream denomination and was selected to a district level leadership position. The more I learned, the more I began to question the practices and systems that I could not find supported in Scripture.

In 2008 I resigned my positions in the denomination, turned over my ordination and moved my family to one of the most devastated areas in North St. Louis. Many thought that when I left the church that I was leaving God. In fact, I met Jesus outside the camp and embarked on a learning journey with Him. I now feel called to help others on that journey by sharing my spiritual gifts and experiences freely with others.

There are Many “Dones” in America today. Some estimates put the number at over 30 million with multiple millions joining them each year. There are some important things to consider about this movement.
  1. God has a design for His church. Just because we left the institution does not mean we don't need each other. The “Dones” need to connect in order to be the church that God designed.
  2. It is important for those that remain in the institution to understand the “Dones”. There are many misconceptions about us.
With these two things in mind we have decided to form a group where “Dones” can connect and those in the institution can meet us and gain understanding. Me and a few others have embarked on this attempt to bridge the gap, foster unity and help to unite God's children. We encourage you to participate. Use this link to join the Meetup group and register to attend a Meetup of the “Dones”.

he "Dones" Group Click Here

We look forward to having you join us. This is a time of great change in American Christianity. God is doing something big and we are all a part of it.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Relationship vs. Collaboration

I am often contacted by people who want to work with us in some way. The buzz in social service circles is “collaboration”. Grant funders go to great lengths to promote collaborations. They design grant opportunities that require it. This has created a great deal of interest in working together. These types of relationships may be beneficial to reduce redundancy of efforts and overlap of services. I have rarely seen collaborations produce long term beneficial results. If anyone cared to examine the number of attempts at collaborating with the number of sustained collaborations they might agree with me.

I believe that my obedience to the Gospel of Jesus places a higher burden on me than just collaborating. I must seek relationship first when anyone wishes to work with us. Those that also seek relationship find us a willing work partner. The difference, in my opinion, is personal. When we start with relationship we put people above everything else. We can then care for each other first and then for our joint efforts. We may laugh together, cry together and pray for each other. We will find ways to benefit each other through sacrifice and service.

As a minister of the Gospel, I recognize that the Good News of Jesus is all about relationships. It repairs our broken relationship with God. The Gospel teaches us to love each other and have relationship with other followers of Christ. God makes this relationship special through the presence of His Spirit. But the Gospel doesn't stop there. It continues teaching us to have relationship with others by showing them love. This is often done in the form of sacrificial living and serving on our part. Then the Gospel compels us to a radical course. We are instructed to love our enemies. This is not only radical but difficult.

Collaboration indicates from the very start that we are coming together to do a task or fix a problem. I am not called to Sun Ministries to fix anything. When we start with relationship, we can focus on the real goal of loving each other. When we all get better at loving each other, those different from us and our enemies I am sure our problems will fix themselves. I consider myself an ambassador of Jesus and an agent of reconciliation. If you want to work with us it must start with relationship. If that interests you then call or email me and we can sit down over a cup of coffee and see what God will do through us - tegether. 636-544-2151

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Planting Churches without Church Planting

The modern approach to church planting is directed at producing an institution or another branch of an existing institution. People plan, organize, hire and fund an effort that, if successful, will result in an institutional church structure that can sustain its own cost of existence. This is not what we do at Sun Ministries. Sun Ministries exists to facilitate the planting of churches we call faith communities. We do not do this by planting churches or creating institutions.

Sun Ministries plants “churches” by making disciples and teaching them to make disciples. As these disciples gather together they naturally form a church. Isn't that really the church? The church is a gathering of disciples. It is “Ekklesia” in the Greek. As the disciples gather together they are taught how to function as the church as outlined in Scripture. They are taught biblical teachings on leadership, spiritual gifts, baptism and communion, etc ...

Sun Ministries then uses its resources to help the local church rebuild the inner city. We resource housing, businesses, vehicles and training. We help supply a wide variety of things to the work of caring for the local community. We are not a church. We do not run or oversee the churches we “plant” We offer training, leadership, resources and a connection to other churches. We continue our efforts to make new disciples and gather them into new churches.

We have made much of our basic training available for free at We have established The Church@HydeParkand are empowering it to minister in its local community. If you would like to learn more or connect with our work in any way just email me –

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Tools for Planting Faith Communities – Summary

Imagine with me for a minute. What if the church was operating by God's design? What if we all shared our resources, cared for our communities, served each other in love and lived the supernatural aspects of our faith that God designed for us? Would the world be different if the church focused on making disciples, loving each other and caring for the poor, widows and orphans instead of building a religious organization that divides over doctrine and spends the majority of its resources on buildings and staff?

What we look forward to at Sun Ministries, what we long for, is a unified, organic, unhindered expression of the supernatural God we serve. We don't seek to control but rather to empower and release. We are not the new denomination or clergy class. We offer assistance for free with no strings attached. Our goal is to assist and become less needed. We are a tool for the mission – Plant Faith Communities that live and operate by God's design based on spiritual gifts under biblical leadership structures.

We have successfully planted the first Faith Community – the Church@HydePark.

We have explored, learned and put into practice the biblical design for God's church. Now we want to help others do the same. If you feel the call and are ready to answer it, you should connect with us. The church by God's design must be interdependent with each other. Here some ways you can connect with us:

Don't go it alone. Together we can see the church by God's design flourish in our lifetime.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Tools for Planting Faith Communities – Part 7 of 7

The Resistance Radio Show is the expression of what we believe God is doing in America today. He is calling His people out of a centuries old system. He is stirring discontent in people’s hearts. People are leaving the institutional church at an increasing rate, and statistically, the church is failing in everything from financial giving to theological aptitude. He is setting the stage for reformation.

This show was born out of several experiences. First was the call out of an empty and unbiblical religious system, and into the Kingdom, into a life of faith and relationship. He led us to deny ourselves, make disciples, engage the spiritual battle, and realize our spiritual gifts. Then He led us into the darkest part of our city. He started a missionary work in north St. Louis, MO.

This work is now dedicated to helping others find their way back to God's design for church and life. The Resistance Radio Show was originally a live, 2-hour talk show broadcast on KXEN 1010AM in St. Louis, MO. These shows have been edited into shorter podcast episodes available through iTunes or your favorite podcatcher. The topics explore what we have learned as we walked in the modern day reformation. We use music, satire and plenty of scripture to expose the corruptions of the modern church systems.

This tool is great for those who want to explore the topics on a deeper level but can't connect with us in person. All of the episodes are available on WordPress -

Please subscribe to the PodCast to stay up on new episodes as they release. You can also connect with us on FaceBook - Click Here

Friday, December 22, 2017

Tools for Planting Faith Communities – Part 6 of 7

When God places His Spirit in us, it kindles in us a desire to be fruitful and serve God. This is the natural result of being redeemed. Many today are frustrated in their walk with Christ because they struggle to find their place in the church and the fruitfulness they desire. They seek for service instead of purpose. They look to unbiblical church and leadership structures to define their role in God's kingdom.

God has designed works for you to do (Ephesians 2:10). He has placed His Spirit in you to guide you to those works. Do you think He would have gone to all that trouble if He didn't intend to show you the works He designed for you to do?

Many fail to find their Ephesians 2:10 works because they fail to seek them in the way God designed.They fail to see what is in the way of finding them. Are you ready for some real hard truth? Here it goes. The only thing in the way of you finding your place in the church and your Ephesians 2:10 works is YOU!

Many today are tired of hearing about the wonderful plan God has for our lives but never being shown how to find that plan. We developed this next tool to help people find their Ephesians 2:10 works.

Finding God's wonderful plan for your life comes the same way everything else does. Through your loving surrender to God and your intentional pursuit of His design for our lives and churches. We cannot find God's plan outside His design. Give God another 50 days to show you the path to spiritual fruitfulness.

Download 50 Days to Spiritual Fruitfulness for free by clicking here.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Tools for Planting Faith Communities – Part 5 of 7

[1 Timothy 4:7 NASB] But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness...

This is the first step for a Christian on the path to living by God's design. We must discipline ourselves for the purpose of godliness. I find that some Christians today are still living in bondage. They have never cleaned house and put on the armor of God. Instead they live with fear, bitterness, greed, lust, and pride. All of these rob them of the joy that God promises to us in Christ.

Everything you need to be free from your sin, shame and guilt has been provided for you in Christ. You must do what is necessary to apply His atonement to your life. You can choose to walk in these sinful behaviors and God will allow it. Removal of the effects of this is not automatic. The removal of the eternal punishment is automatic in Christ. Freedom requires us to be consecrated. Consecration requires discipline.

We have assembled a devotional called 50 Days to Spiritual Freedom. This tool was designed to help you put some basic spiritual disciplines into your life. It identifies root sins and behaviors that are hindering your joy and fruitfulness. This is a personal journey tool. It helps you to come before God in an organized way and focus you on breaking free from the harmful effects of sin and your past. I promise that if you give this a try, 50 days from now you will be walking in a new and spiritually invigorated way.

50 Days to Spiritual Freedom is available free by clicking here.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Tools for Planting Faith Communities – Part 4 of 7

The defining task for every Christian is a command given by Jesus to the disciples in Matthew 28:18-20. It is historically considered the primary task of the church. However, this command was not given to a organization. It was given to Christians. They were told to teach it to other Christians. We should have been taught to obey this command. For many Christians, the concept of making disciples is foreign or it is handed over to the clergy as their responsibility. In order to rediscover the church that God designed, we must rediscover how to make disciples and teach them to make disciples.

Do you know how to make disciples? Are you a disciple? Do you have a plan for making disciples and teaching them to make disciples? All of this is necessary to rediscover the church by God's design.

The concept of making disciples scares most Christians today. What a clever scheme by the devil - remove the training and equipping of disciple-making from the people and instead set up an ever increasingly ineffective structure to do the task. It is no wonder the church in America is dying. We have robbed God of His most effective evangelistic tool – YOU! Your testimony of grace and transformation is designed by God to declare His glory and reach others for Jesus. The trouble today is that so few are equipped to make disciples.

We have put together The Disciple-Makers Handbook to help equip you to be a disciple and make disciples. Remember this – we teach what we know but reproduce what we are. You will not be effective at making disciples unless you become a disciple. Jesus always starts with the foundation first and that is you.

You can download the book for free by clicking here.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Tools for Planting Faith Communities – Part 3 of 7

Being the Church – Planting Faith Communities in a Post-Modern World - This book is born out of reformation. The church that Christ started on the Day of Pentecost was a loosely structured organism that operated under the leadership of the Holy Spirit and manifested His power through the spiritual gifts of the disciples. By the time of the Protestant Reformation, the church was a strictly structured and ordered organization with a leadership structure that had little in common with the early church or the instruction of scripture. This present reformation is about returning to God's design. We must stop planting new organizations and return to building the organism. How can it be bad for Christ followers to live by God's design? How can it be bad for the church to order itself under the structure designed for it by God and instructed in scripture?

[John 5:19] Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.

Jesus modelled for us the importance of following God's design. That is how He worked. This book is a big picture work. Consider it a fly over of God's biblical design for His children and His church. The theology I will discuss will likely challenge many of the current practices of the modern church. The theology is plain and simple yet controversial. It would not be controversial except that many who profess Christ are ruled more by the practices and traditions of their church than they are by scripture. It was this way when Christ walked the earth. See what He said about the religious leaders of His day.

[Mark 7:7-9] 'BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME,TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.' "Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men." He was also saying to them, "You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition."

This book can be considered the “What to do” for the church by God's design. It takes you through the basics of understanding your Gospel, baptism, spiritual disciplines and gifts, consecration and gathering together. It is designed to help you get focused and moving together to serve the world in the Love of Jesus. A free Bible study is included in the Appendix to help you and others to explore together.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Tools for Planting Faith Communities – Part 2 of 7

Disciple Driven Church – The Coming Reformation - This was my Phd. Dissertation that is now turned into a book. This was where I began to put into words the journey that had begun with a call from God to plant churches. Not to plant what I saw all around me in America. God called me to plant what I saw in the Bible. This book originally came out in 2009. It has been a long learning process to discover how the church by God's design is meant to operate today in America.

In the beginning of this book I outline how the American church is dying. This fact disturbed me greatly and it still does. The Jesus I know is awesome and I have dedicated my whole life to serving Him. How come others weren't getting what I had found? I looked back through history and pinpointed some moments where major changes took place in the church. Each of these brought us further from God's original design. The church has gone down the slippery slope of compromise and continues its slide.

This book outlines the corrupt practices that permeate American churches and modern American Christian culture. Look at this book as the “What not to do” guidebook for the church. This is the book that put feet to our journey. If you are discontent with the state of the modern church, you may find answers here. Remember as you read it that forsaking corruption is not enough. You must go further and do what is right. Many today in America speak out about the church but continue to partake in it. You cannot remove the yeast from the lump. You must start fresh. We will outline that in our next post.

The Disciple Driven Church – The Coming Reformation Ebook is available free at this link.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Tools for Planting Faith Communities – Part 1 of 7

Sun Ministries now turns its focus to helping others plant faith communities. We sincerely believe that the local church is the hope of the world. In order for it to be that hope, it must be the local church that God designed. This means it must free itself from the harmful practices and structures that have infected the modern church. It must follow God's ways and not man's ways. This is a difficult thing to do in our modern times where most churches around us follow similar unbiblical patterns. Many people have great affection for their church, the people there, and the things that happen there. Our affection for God must overtake all of those things. Jesus said if you love Him you will obey Him. Obeying Him extends to how we operate as a church.

Today in America, nearly every expression of Christianity that surrounds us has adopted many of the same corrupt practices. What appears to be normal is accepted as right. In order for the church to operate by God's design we must go through a process of deconstruction and then rebuild only that which we find in scripture. The Bible contains a sufficient amount of instruction for how the church is to be organized, led and operate. We do not need to make up our own ways.

Over the last ten years we have developed a series of tools that are helpful for people that desire to live their Christian faith according to God's design. These tools will be outlined in this BLOG series. They will be presented in the order we see as necessary for you to engage in the Christian faith as God instructs us to in the Bible. We will start with outlining the history of the practices that have infected the church. We will call this the “What not to do.” We will follow that with instruction on being the church by God's design. Then a lesson in making disciples as instructed in Matthew 28:18-20, commonly called the Great Commission. We will continue with a focus on your own spiritual freedom and then how to become spiritually fruitful. At the end we will introduce you to our Podcast called The Resistance Radio Show. This tool helps you explore these topics more deeply.

All of the tools presented here are available free of charge. There is no denomination or organization to join. We are here to help you and unite you with others that are seeking to experience what they read in the Bible. Enjoy your journey.

Monday, December 4, 2017

How do we plant faith communities?

Sun Ministries plants faith communities by operating in eight core values

Properly structured and functioning church leadership - God has designed the church to function in a certain way. This way is defined in Scripture and must be followed. A return to this design is the fundamental first step of reformation.

Sacrificial attitude towards money – living a moderate lifestyle. Jesus said you couldn’t be His disciple unless you sell all of your own possessions. He also says you can only serve one master.

Building the Sacred assembly – no unbelievers in the worship gathering. The most dominant and unbiblical corruption of the modern church is that unbelievers are allowed in the worship gathering. This practice is not supported in Scripture. Correcting this error is foundational to restoring the sacred assembly.

Believers working in their spiritual gifts. 
The church is designed to function on the basis of spiritual gifting. The only way for the church to function by design is to teach and lead every disciple to operate skillfully in their God given spiritual gifts.

Spiritual Warfare praying  
Prayer is the key to living a victorious life. Spiritual warfare praying is the key to walking in the Spirit and obeying Christ.

Manifest power, presence and leading of the Holy Spirit  
The New Testament emphasizes the spiritual dimension of the Christian life. The disciple of Christ is empowered to walk in the Spirit. Knowing and understanding spiritual gifts, prayer, and spiritual warfare enables the disciple of Christ to follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit.

Discipleship for personal consecration and spiritual freedom. 
This core value highlights the need for spiritual transformation, sanctification, and maturity. As we fulfill the Great Commission we bring people to maturity in Christ. This process frees them from sin and their past and leads them to find their Ephesians 2:10 works.

Without love, everything else is meaningless. Jesus said the world would know we are His disciples by our love for one another.

So how do we live out these core values? We start with disciples making disciples in obedience to the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:18-20. As we gather around this core mission we find that the focus of the congregation stays on serving the world. This is the core of the Christian faith. Be a disciple, make disciples and serve others in love.

The Church@HydePark is the result of the leadership of Sun Ministries making disciples and teaching them to make disciples. We help these disciples rediscover God's design for the operation of the church. As other local churches are planted by Sun Ministries both across North St. Louis and the country, we will unite them in service to each other and the world. We are facilitating the launching of a movement. No denomination, no clergy class, no consumer mentality. Instead, we see a movement of unity based on service led by spiritual gifts making disciples that make disciples.

Sun Ministries' role will decrease as each faith community is established locally. In Hyde Park, you will see Sun Ministries' visibility decrease as the role of the Church@HydePark increases in service to the community. Sun Ministries will continue to work in the background training, resourcing and empowering the local faith community. This frees the leadership to work to establish new faith communities in other areas. This is where we find ourself in 2018. We are ready to work to plant new faith communities in new areas.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Planting Faith Communities

As we've stated in the last few blog entries, Sun Ministries is focusing on what we've always wanted to do: make disciples and plant faith communities.  The Church@HydePark is the first faith community planted by Sun Ministries. We say planted because like a seed we will nurture it and help it grow. Modern Christianity in America is largely an institutional endeavor. The New Testament contains no instructions for establishing an institution over the church. It does contain ample instruction on how the church should be organized, led and operate. We are looking to help people discover the organic and mission oriented nature of the Christian faith as instructed in the Bible.

Sun Ministries supports the leadership and provides resources to stabilize and establish the local church. Then Sun Ministries releases the faith community to pastor the community by sharing the Gospel of Jesus and meeting the needs of those around them. Sun Ministries plays an ongoing leadership role by promoting unity through service among the local faith communities.

For many years we have referred to those supported by Sun Ministries as “Missionaries”. We did this because without a local faith community it was hard to put what we were doing into generally understood terms. We are no longer using this designation. The staff of Sun Ministries is simply spiritually gifted leaders who have dedicated their whole lives to the vision and mission of Sun Ministries. Our goal is to plant faith communities that operate on the basis of spiritual gifts under biblical leadership and function by God's design. In order to facilitate that we must start with spiritually gifted leaders who will equip people for the works of ministry. These leaders are the staff of Sun Ministries.

Monday, November 27, 2017

The New Opportunity Center Expansion

The facility that will replace the Penrose Project is located at the corner of 14th and Salisbury. The first stage will be to finish the garage at 3624 N. 14th. This will house our woodshop, maintenance services, rehab and auto repair shop. Phase two will finish the lower level of 3628 N. 14th where we will relocate The Second Chance Bazaar. Phase 3 will bring the sewing center into the building. Phase four will add the audio and video recording studio.

There is no time frame for completing this project. We are still recovering from the damage that was done to us. We invested two years, hundreds of man hours, a considerable amount of money, and our reputation into a project that was ended outside of our control. We also realized the need to focus on making disciples and developing faith communities. We will spend 2018 rebuilding our relationships with volunteer groups and our supporters. There is a lot to do.

Our goal is to focus our energy on the core businesses that allow us the flexibility in our schedules to do what our mission and name declares. We are first and foremost a ministry.

If a business is not accomplishing our vision and mission then it does not serve its intended purpose. This is the conclusion we have come to regarding Sun Cafe. Sun Cafe has become the most visible expression of our ministry. Some people even refer to us as Sun Cafe and not Sun Ministries. This is not what we want to be known as. We are not a restaurant. We have also concluded that Sun Cafe has not moved the mission of Sun Ministries forward in proportion to the effort, management time, and cash required to operate it. So we have made the decision to permanently close Sun Cafe.

Upon completion of the Opportunity Center Expansion, we will have all of our core businesses operating out of our own facility. We will prioritize adding alternative energy sources to the building to lower our overhead. This will give us the lowest possible operating overhead and allow us to operate with as little management time as possible. It will give us new tools for empowerment and the operation of our core mission. We are ready to plant more faith communities.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Moving Forward

We had embarked on the Penrose Project because it was an incredible opportunity. The building would have been an impressive resource, we could stabilize and expand our businesses and offer all kinds of empowerment for the community. And then, after two years of labor, networking, and promotion, we got the letter from the city that they didn't own the building and were immediately cancelling the lease.

We have suffered greatly due to this error. Our reputation has been damaged. We have alienated financial supporters. Our relationships with volunteer groups were damaged as we had to cancel at the last minute, leaving them no place to serve. We lost revenue from our woodshop. We incurred debt and spent thousands of dollars on obtaining the building. Most importantly, we did not get to add the Art and Technology Center to our community. Instead, the building is used as storage by the City Treasurer's office as it sits and deteriorates. What could have been an incredible community asset will instead sit and continue to be a blight on our neighborhood.

The result of these events over the last two years have caused us to re-examine how we approach our work in the city and the businesses we run. Sun Ministries is going back to basics. We have wandered off track a little. Our good intentions to build the community and form beneficial partnerships did not take into account the greed, corruption and incompetency that has led to the current conditions all around us. We firmly believe that God is doing a great work in the inner city and we are called to facilitate that work.

We know our primary function as Sun Ministries is to plant faith communities that operate by God's design. These faith communities will rebuild the inner cities of America. We cannot do this in partnership with the government, people motivated by greed, or people looking to control our work or control those in our community. We want to see unity in our community and these things can never achieve unity. They are fundamentally divisive. They bring their unholy motivations into everything they do.

Sun Ministries has had a rough year. We are turning the corner as we move into 2018. We are refocused and ready to continue planting faith communities that are united to serve by showing the justice, mercy and love of Christ to the world. We plan to do this by multiplying disciples that live under the power of the Holy Spirit proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ. We have already been doing this through the Church@HydePark.

Today we are announcing that the Opportunity Center expansion will still take place. It will happen in a building we already own. It will take a little longer to accomplish but it will happen. Once it is finished we will have an incredible tool of empowerment in the Hyde Park neighborhood. The goal is to concentrate on our core businesses and the tools we need to fulfill our mission. The complex will house an expanded woodshop and sewing center, an audio and video recording studio, our second hand store, our maintenance services and rehab operations and give us space for the Opportunity Garage.

What will be missing from this version of the project? There will be no space dedicated to community use. This facility will be for our use. It is unfortunate, but the facility is not as large as 1901 Penrose. We really wanted to facilitate that kind of space but we are not able to do that in this building.

Monday, November 20, 2017

What happened to the Penrose Project? Part 2

In order to complete the lease of the property, a law would have to be passed through the Board of Alderman and signed by the mayor. The bill was submitted by our alderman and passed through the board vote. When I got the paperwork, I noticed that the original proposed lease document had been passed and signed. I asked why they changed their minds only to find out they submitted the wrong bill. They quickly submitted a repeal and replace bill (Board Bill 304) which included the correct version of the lease with the shorter term and oversight board requirements. That bill also passed the Board and was signed by the mayor and all required parties.

We were full speed ahead and very excited. We had hundreds of volunteers lined up. It was spring break time and the weather was cooperating. All we needed were the keys. We insured the building, as was required by the lease terms and asked for the keys. We were told it would only take a few days. We started working on the outside of the building. We were cleaning, landscaping and painting. We asked to get let into the building and started removing the trash and debris. The project was on track and looked like it would soon be open.

As we worked with a large volunteer group one day, we were told to leave the premises. Immediately after this my emails and phone calls were not returned. I still did not have keys but I had a signed copy of the lease and insurance on the building. I couldn't understand what the problem could possibly be. Several influential people agreed to look into it for me. Everyone that did would soon stop returning my phone calls and emails. I knew there was a problem but I never expected what came next.

Approximately three months after the lease was signed, over two years since we started the whole process, I got a letter from the city of St. Louis. Are you ready for this? They didn't actually own the building! They had offered an RFP to sell a building that they did not own. They passed two bills through the Board of Alderman, had both signed by the mayor, signed and executed a lease with us, supplied us with copies of all of these documents and did not own the building.

We were floored. We had invested hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars in the project. We had weathered all the issues and obstacles. We accepted the restrictions and the shorter lease terms. We arranged for and scheduled hundreds of volunteers. The cost to us was staggering. We had taken on debt expecting to have facilities for expansion. We shut down our woodshop in order to prepare it for the move. We invested labor and money over a 2 year period. All we got was a letter saying the city didn't own the building so the deal was over. The Penrose Project was dead. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

What happened to the Penrose Project?

It was our most ambitious project in our ten year history. We proposed to take a long vacant police station and turn it into an asset of empowerment for the community. The property is located at 1901 Penrose in the Hyde Park neighborhood of north St. Louis. It sits across the street from Windsor Park. We proposed a facility that would house our woodshop, sewing center, maintenance services and our main offices. We would add to that a computer lab, an audio and video recording studio, a metal shop, an auto shop and common space for the development of art and technology programming for the community by providing the space at cost for other community groups to use.

The City of St. Louis offered the property through an RFP (Request for Proposal) in the summer of 2015. We answered with our proposal and were selected to purchase the building. Over the course of the next year and a half we put hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars into the Penrose Project. We developed the plans, wrote dozens of grant proposals, lined up hundreds of volunteer hours and spent time and money stabilizing the property. We met with the city building division for the details of the plan. Everyone was helpful and excited for what we were doing.

As the plan came into focus, we took on a couple of private investors to help cover the costs we were incurring through the project. We cleared one hurdle after another. The only hurdle we could not clear was the purchase price of the building. So Plan B was proposed: the city would lease the building to us for 99 years for a dollar a year. We would invest the money needed to improve and repair the building.

Then the obstacles came. The local developer that had written the RFP objected to the lease terms. Then the Alderman changed the terms. Our agreement for a 99 year lease was reduced to a 20 year lease that would have to be renewed every 5 years. Other restrictions were added as people tried to use their influence to take control of the facility. A community oversight board would be required and have say in how we used the building. All of these terms were imposed on the project after we agreed to the 99 year lease.

Our goal was to have a place that would benefit the community. We were taking all the risk. The building was vacant (and still is). We were the ones investing the time and money into repairing the building. There was no guaranty in the new lease that we would retain the building for more than six months. It could be taken away at any time and for any reason with six months notice.

Our Board of Directors considered aborting the whole project. Our desire to empower the residents and rebuild the neighborhood outweighed our concerns over the powers that were souring the deal. We were willing to risk much because we felt the benefit far outweighed the negative possibilities, so we proceeded with the plan.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Origins - Part 4

The first three parts of this series were written in 2006 as I was starting Sun Ministries. Much of what is cited about the condition and operation of the American church is still true today. The decline has increased. Sun Ministries was started in order to facilitate the planting of faith communities (some would call churches). We needed to undergo some training in God's design for the church before we could facilitate others in that work. God was faithful to take us on a great journey that has equipped us to help others find the church that God designed.

The church that God designed has some very unique features. Here are a few.
  1. It is formed, led and operates on the basis of spiritual gifts that God bestows on those who receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
  2. It is led by the operation of spiritual gifts and not offices.
  3. It is unified with other locations through a common bond and dedication to God.
  4. It focuses on making disciples and teaching them to make disciples.
  5. It cares for each other and the community where it is located.
Sun Ministries has planted the first of these faith communities in the Hyde Park neighborhood of North St. Louis. It is called the Church at Hyde Park. It is named simply so that it is easier to interact with future faith communities. It is named by its location because that is the pattern we see in Scripture. This first work is now growing by making disciples and teaching them to make disciples. It is led by spiritually gifted leaders. It shares what it has as we see the early church did in the Book of Acts. 

We now have a functioning model of what God called us to facilitate. We have learned how to make disciples that can make disciples. We understand how spiritual gifts are to operate and leaf the church. We are ready to multiply the movement towards God design for His church.

As we prepare to increase our efforts in the area of our original calling we have discovered that some of our businesses actually hindered our work instead of helping it progress. One example is Sun Cafe. The demands of running the cafe were drawing too much resource and energy away from our ministry goals. It was not facilitating the work we feel is our primary mission. The cafe was also a highly visible expression of our work. We were becoming known by Sun Cafe. So we shut it down. We are looking at ways to make Sun Cafe work for the goals of the ministry. If we can see a way to make that happen we will reopen. If we do not see a way to do that, it will remain closed. All of our businesses are tools to facilitate the spiritual work of Sun Ministries. We cannot invest time and resources into any business that does not support our mission.

So today, after ten years of preparation, we are ready. We are planting faith communities that operate by God's design for His church. These communities are based in spiritual gifts and led by Biblical leadership. They make disciples and teach them how to make disciples. They care for each other and their community. They all work together in unity to support each other and serve the world. I thinks things are just getting started.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Origins - Part 3

Larger suburban churches are seeing their growth as blessing from God when in actuality they are losing ground. According to Barna Research only 1% of American churches are actually growing from anything other than transfer growth from existing churches. In his book titled “Planting Growing Churches”, author Aubrey Malphurs points out some startling facts about the American church. He says 80 – 85% of American churches have stopped growing or in a state of decline. There are approximately 350,000 congregations in America. 30, 000 ceased to exist in the 80’s and it is estimated that another 100,000 have ceased to exist between then and now. Why is the church in America dying at such a pace? The eye has told the hand it has no need of it. What will be the result of this? See what the rest of the 1 Corinthians passage has to say.

1Cr 12:26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if {one} member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
1Cr 12:27 Now you are Christ's body, and individually members of it.
1Cr 12:28 And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, {various} kinds of tongues.
1Cr 12:29 All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not {workers of} miracles, are they?
1Cr 12:30 All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they?
1Cr 12:31 But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way.

Two things are outlined in this section. All the members will suffer when any part of the body suffers and we will miss a more excellent way of fulfilling God’s ministry. It is with all of this in mind that God has brought me to this place today. I see the warning in Acts 20:28 "Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” I look at the church in America today and I do not see the leaders heeding this warning. God did not say be on guard for a portion of the flock or shepherd some of the church.

So I asked myself “what am I to do”? I cannot sit and watch the bride of Christ suffer. This is where Sun Ministries comes in. I must ask you to stop at this point and consider what I have said. If you disagree with me at this point on the condition of, future of, and God’s intention for the church, you may want to stop reading. If God has not convicted you by now that the church needs help and inter-dependency then you will be following the idea for wrong motives. If you have examined the Scripture and your eyes have been opened or your existing convictions have been confirmed, then you should continue.

What is Sun Ministries?

The word Sun here is the Greek word sun {soon}. It means “with”. It denotes union, a companion or to come alongside. The purpose of the ministry is to come along side the local church and help to strengthen it. This will be a challenging and complex undertaking. Remember what I quoted earlier, no one knows how to do this. We are entering uncharted territory. I believe that God will build His church and that He can direct our steps. I have many ideas on how to accomplish this objective but I must remember what 1 Corinthians says.

1Cr 12:31 But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way.

Our basis for ministry will be the unity of the body of Christ around a core of truth. We will outline what we consider to be God's design for the church. Any church that can be dedicated to functioning by God's design can be included in our network of inter-dependent churches. Our goal is to provide all support free of charge. Faith communities we plant can request assistance of the ministry in many forms. We will utilize many different methods to meet the needs of these churches. Some of the support ideas already planned are financial assistance, short term work teams, ministry teams to assist the church in discipleship development, training materials designed with disciple multiplying and biblical church function in mind, and service opportunities with other small churches. 

We will be the organizer and overseer of many short-term mission opportunities. Imagine being able to go to Sun Ministries web page and sign your small group up for a short term mission trip that is within 3 or 4 hour drive from home. You load up the team on Friday night, work all day Saturday, feast with the church on Saturday night and join them in worship on Sunday. Your whole team can be back home by Sunday night. No time off work and the chance to be a blessing to another part of the body of Christ and with very little monetary expense. Now imagine a network of churches using the gifts of the body of Christ in such a manner to organize service events and reach their local area for Christ. When you start to see the picture I am painting here you can only imagine the impact we can have on America for Christ as we utilize the gifts and resources God has given us to reach all parts of America and not just the booming suburbs.

Our ministry will operate through spiritual gifts. At the core of this ministry is prayer. Without prayer we cannot be successful in ministry. It is the power of God. Team building will be an important part of our ministry. The Leadership Center trains and equips our teams and other volunteers for service. They will be responsible for equipping the leaders of our ministry with proper training, materials and opportunity. It will also make and distribute materials made especially for the needs of the small church and our ministry. They will also work with volunteer members to give them opportunity to use their God given gifts to care for the bride of Christ. They will organize short-term mission trips and put into action the priorities of the ministry. It will oversee the daily operations of the ministry

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Origins - Part 2

The model of planting churches today is often to send them out – support them for 2-5 years financially and then break ties with them. Most mother churches do not maintain a long term nurturing and supporting role in the church plant. I do not believe that God intended the church to operate this way. In Romans chapter 12 we find a discussion of how God planned for the church to operate.

Rom 12:4 For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function,
Rom 12:5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
Rom 12:6 Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, {each of us is to exercise them accordingly:} if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith;
Rom 12:7 if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching;
Rom 12:8 or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
Rom 12:9 {Let} love {be} without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Rom 12:10 {Be} devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;
Rom 12:11 not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;
Rom 12:12 rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer,
Rom 12:13 contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.

The picture the Bible gives us is one of an inter-dependent church sharing our gifts, prayers, and resources as God has given them to us. The church was meant to function as an organism that utilizes all the members and all the gifts in an inter-dependent relationship. The modern American church has dissected the body of Christ and turned its focus on itself. Planting new churches will only delay the repeat of the problems we already see. Church planting is not the solution to the problems faced by the American church. If the attitude of the church is not changed then we are still not operating as God designed and our failure will be just as sure to happen in the future.

Can leadership fix the American church? It can help. In order to help it must be Biblical leadership. This leadership is not to be confused with secular leadership. This leadership would examine the Scripture and see the division of the church in America for what it is – sin. This Biblical leadership would step up without fear of consequence and turn the focus outside their walls to the local churches around them. Take for example this passage in 1 Corinthians.

1Cr 12:11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.
1Cr 12:12 For even as the body is one and {yet} has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.
1Cr 12:13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
1Cr 12:14 For the body is not one member, but many.

It is clear here that church walls do not separate the body of Christ. I am not promoting an ecumenical approach or a one church movement. There must always be unity around essential truth. What is clear today is that very little concern is shown from one church to another, even within the same denomination. God says He sees the church as one entity not as individual churches. If we only take care of one part of the body, have we really cared for the bride of Christ? Look further in 1 Corinthians.

1Cr 12:15 If the foot says, "Because I am not a hand, I am not {a part} of the body," it is not for this reason any the less {a part} of the body.
1Cr 12:16 And if the ear says, "Because I am not an eye, I am not {a part} of the body," it is not for this reason any the less {a part} of the body.
1Cr 12:17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?
1Cr 12:18 But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.
1Cr 12:19 If they were all one member, where would the body be?

1Cr 12:20 But now there are many members, but one body. 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Origins - Part 1

What follows is based on the original vision document I wrote in 2006 when starting Sun Ministries. As I look back over the last ten years I have realized that I have gotten sidetracked a bit with the physical realities of ministry. These realities are a necessary part of our ministry but they are not the essence of what we do. Sun Ministries was being defined by these physical expressions of our work. To some we were the Cafe run by a ministry and not the ministry that was planting faith communities by multiplying disciples. Sun Ministries is now  correcting course to be true to the calling that God placed on my life, the calling that started the ministry. God is calling His people to live by His design. Sun Ministries is here to facilitate that work.

Dr. Terry M. Goodwin

Build up the family of God by supporting the local church. Building community among the church with truth at the core.

Twenty years after graduating from high school I returned to my old hometown. It was a town like thousands of other small American towns. In the time since I left, the town had grown a little. Including the surrounding area the population had almost doubled. I had visited several times since I left but this time was different. I was returning there to live. Since my graduation, God had become a central part of my life. As I looked at the local churches in this town I noticed something. None of them looked any different than they did 20 years earlier. One had even closed its doors and the building was now a day care. I had been living in large metropolitan areas and attending large growing churches so I wondered why were these so “dead”?

Over the next few years God began to open my eyes to some problems with the church. These problems have now become to me what Bill Hybel’s refers to as “holy discontent”. That is best described as the thing that bothers you that also bothers God. When you meet with God at your Holy discontent your emotions are stirred. You become choked up and overwhelmed. Your passion is stirred to the point that you cannot sit by and watch it go unnoticed. You want to run headlong into the problem yelling to everyone “Can’t you see it? This thing is breaking God’s heart.” That is where I am today with the condition of the American church. I am going to now ask you to open your hearts and minds to the plight of the American church and what is being done about it.

The consensus among large churches and large church movement leaders is that a lack of leadership is what’s wrong with the local church today. George Barna has identified this as the number one problem facing the church. I agree in part. The leaders of large churches have turned their focus internal and overseas neglecting the local church. Since Christ is the head of the church we have the best leadership possible if we do things His way and we have not. The buzz for today is to have an Acts 2 church. This is used to talk about the community that a church should have among believers. No where does the Bible indicate that this community is only within each individual church. Let’s look at a portion of Acts 2.

Act 2:44 And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; Act 2:45 and they {began} selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.
Act 2:46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, Act 2:47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

The word all is used in this passage. As you look through the book of Acts you can see that the churches were very inter-dependent with each other. Inter-dependency is the battle cry of many small group ministries today. The idea of community and inter-dependency has been reformulated and turned to an internal focus in the church. The early church had built inter-dependency between the churches in other locations. The church today has lost that quality. We see churches supporting inner city churches and we see churches supporting churches with other racial make up but nowhere have I found where the church is inter-dependent like the church of Acts.

Take this simple test.
  1. How many churches are there in your own denomination within 100 miles of your church?
  2. How many does your church work with and support in ministry?
  3. How many are struggling under what the church today has deemed poor leadership?
If the only question above that you can answer accurately is number 2 and the answer is none then you can start to see where I am coming from. The modern church in America has answered the plight of the church in two ways. They look to building leadership and reform the church through church planting. Denominations will concede that it is easier to plant new churches than it is to strengthen the ones that remain. The reason they prefer this model is that they believe no one knows how to revive a dead church. I am going to test both of these solutions according to Scripture and see if the Bible tells us how God would have us minister to the church. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Interview with Alex Betts

We love creative expression.  Especially art that is honest and authentic, that connects us to the artist and the world around us.  Many of us at Sun Ministries are musicians, and we have written our own testimonies into songs, poems, and novels.  We have published 4 podcast episodes exploring creative expression.

This year, Sun Cafe has been hosting a lot of music.  One artist has stood out.  Her name is Alex Betts, and she is a resident of Hyde Park, the same neighborhood we work and live in.  She has written incredible songs that tell stories of herself and those around her.  She has a great voice and plays piano.

We want to encourage local artists, especially those we feel are expressing good things in a good way.  We interviewed Alex Betts to get some background to her art.

Where did you grow up?
I grew up here in St. Louis in Hyde Park. I've lived here my entire life.

What was it like growing up?
Growing up was good for me. I got the full experience. I have a big sister and a twin brother that I got to grow up with and I had a mother who taught me well and a father that was there when I needed him. I had lots of friends and I've almost never met a stranger. I loved talking to people and meeting people. I was a little wild but that was just my charm :)

What shaped who you are? Was it your neighborhood, community, education, family, an individual, faith, etc?
I believe all of those things shaped who I am. My neighborhood isn't the best in St. Louis but it's a relatively good neighborhood in my eyes. Church and community always went hand in hand for me because my church is very active in my community. Family was important because no matter what, you always have each other (my mom always tells me that I was born with a best friend). And education was also important. I was never bored in my house because everywhere you look there's a book or a magazine somewhere (my house was like a library). Speaking of libraries, my mom always took the 3 of us to Central Library. So knowledge was never a chore, it was always fun to learn something new. All of those things pretty much shaped who I am.

What is your earliest/clearest music-related memory?
My earliest and clearest memory of music is not really just one memory, it's more like a collection of fragments. I remember singing in the Angel Choir at my church (which was like preschoolers singing), I remember watching my mom sing and play piano nearly everyday, when it was time to wake up for school in the morning, my mom would sing a special song that she came up with herself. Playing music with my family in our living room together in a family jam session, dancing around the kitchen all the time with my sister listening to radio Disney.

When did you start making music?
I started making music at 11. I can't really remember why, but I know before writing songs I was interested in poetry. I liked writing poems that rhymed and had rhythm a lot and I played piano almost everyday. So one day I wrote a song and them I started plunking out notes on the piano to go with it.

Why do you currently make music?
I make music because I love it. It's never a chore to do something you love. I do it because it makes me happy and because it makes others happy. I like seeing smiles on other people's faces and I like when people see what I see (and vice versa)

What inspires your music? What do you most often write about, or what kinds of songs are you drawn to?
I like songs about love. Not the crappy kind, but the real kind you used to hear in songs from before money and sex. I like feeling and sincerity. I like the feeling you get when you've found that song the makes your heart wrench because you know how that feels or because you can feel what the artist feels. I like songs that are fun or crazy but still have a meaning behind it. Like 90s music. I like 90s music. Or anything before 2010 to be honest.

Are you involved in any other forms of creative expression?
I like to dance, but only when I'm by myself or being silly with people, I like to draw. I love to draw, I used to paint, too, but I had to let that go. It gets everywhere. I like making people laugh, and I still like poetry (I need to go back to writing it though), I like acting (but that's once every blue moon). And I love to cook. And read. A lot.

Can you recommend 3 artists or albums?
Listen to Brian McKnight. Just any album. Pick one. Pick all of them. Leslie Odem Jr's Simply Christmas album is wonderful. I love it. La'Porsha Renae's Already All Ready. I've been hooked on that album for weeks.

What do you want to accomplish with music?
I want to open people's eyes and let them see from another perspective. I want people to know that I see them and that other people see them. I want to help people in the way I know best, and that is my gift of music.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Called to Serve God

Are you feeling called to plant churches? Do you feel hindered by the church system from fulfilling your calling? This was me in 2006. I am Dr. Terry M. Goodwin and I answered God's call outside the traditional church system. What I found was eye opening. God took me on a journey and placed me in a position to help others find His design for life, ministry and the church.

I was not raised in the church. I was a thief and a drug dealer as a teen. I met Jesus on the back porch of my grandmother's house after I was released from the hospital for a drug overdoes at age 13. I pursued God in the only way I knew how, through the church system that I saw on every street corner. I became aggressive for the Word of God. I consumed it. I raised my family in the "church". I went to bible college until I got my PhD. in theology. I felt a call deep inside me serve God with all my life. I interpreted this call as a call to plant churches.

In 2006 I found myself facing an unsupportive system of church hierarchy. I began to question everything. God led me through a journey of discovery that opened my eyes to the corruptions of the modern American "church". I left my church of many years and was ordained in a denomination that wanted people to "plant churches" outside the system. That sounded good but the system wouldn't let go so easily. I soon found myself entangled in long standing quarrels that I had no part in. I turned in my ordination and continued on my journey to find the church that God died to start.

In the years since then God has opened my eyes to see His design for His church. It looks very little like the man made religious organizations we see dominating the landscape of America. The church that God designed is led by spiritual gifts not offices. It empowers and releases people to use those gifts and transform broken lives. It starts with people not programs. It is a powerful supernatural force.

Over the last decade God has trained and equipped a small group of dedicate disciples to live by His design. Our calling is to plant faith communities that follow the teaching of the Bible and the leading of the Holy Spirit to live and minister by God's design. We have been placed in a unique position to have the resources and training needed to facilitate this work in America in this generation. We are now placing that call publicly to any that feel that call, as I did, to plant churches, but do not want to answer it in the current church system. The call I received to plant churches was really a call to make disciples that can make disciples. This is how God plants churches. If you feel a call such as this, we need to talk.

The first church has birthed from our disciple making efforts. It is in the Hyde Park neighborhood of North St. Louis. It is simply identified by its location. The Church@HydePark. We believe it will be the first of many as God accelerates His work through us. The foundation has been laid and God is ready to build on it. I invite you on a journey that will ignite your faith and grow you spiritually in ways you have only dreamed about. If you would like to learn more please email me

Friday, March 3, 2017

The Origin of Our Bags

A simple Google search for Coffee Bag Totes will net you over a million results. There are thousands of people making and selling coffee bag totes, purses and messenger bags. So who should get credit for the origin of the idea to make tote bags and messengers? The first tote bag traces its origin back to 1900. This style was popularized in the 1940's. The messenger bag design was used throughout history in such famous ways as by Pony Express riders. It became popular in the US mainstream during the 1950's. All current variations of these styles of bags owe their inspiration to unknown designers that are long dead. They are what is know as public domain. No one can claim ownership or rights to their design.

What was the inspiration for our bag designs? Early in our journey we were approached by a coffee shop that asked us to start making bags for them. We were looking for a product that would help us empower and employ people. My wife is an accomplished seamstress, so she began to research design ideas. She developed a design that was unique in structure and assembly. She made it so that unskilled workers could take part in the production and gain skills as they learned. The new venture was up and running.

Over the last 8 years the design has been modified for improvements and efficiency. The bags we sell today are much different and much better quality than what we started with. We have added products as the venture grew. We now have a small messenger, 2 sizes of journals, wallets, clutches, and have made many custom items over the years.

The reuse of burlap coffee bean bags not only makes for a great unique gift idea but also helps to curb a huge waste problem. Thousands of empty coffee bean bags are thrown into landfills every week. We can only play a small part in the solution to this problem. I am excited to see so many people making bags and other products from old coffee bags and helping to reduce, reuse and recycle these products.

So with over a million search results making totes and messengers from old coffee bags, why should you buy ours? Our bag business has helped numerous single moms get a second chance. All of the proceeds go to our non-profit and are used to rebuild our community. Your purchase helps people in a very real way. With millions of bags hitting the landfills every year we encourage you to pick up some bags from your local roaster, look at what is being sold out there and start sewing.

Thursday, February 9, 2017


In the beginning...God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.

I think God had something big in mind when He created man. Mankind must be some kind of special thing, some unique part of creation. It is the only creature that is made in the image of the Maker. It is the only creature that was told to subdue the earth and rule.

The LORD God formed man of the dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. The LORD God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed...The LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.

Man is the only creature that gets life breathed into it. And in this verse, man is given a job – to work in and guard the garden. We come to see that mankind has a very special relationship with the Creator. They walk together and talk together. They share this special garden. Man gets to name other parts of the creation. God does not relate to the oceans or cattle or mountains the same way He relates to mankind.

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars which You have ordained; what is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, and You crown him with glory and majesty! You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea, whatever passes through the paths of the seas.

King David is rightfully astounded at this realization. This is from Psalm 8, a psalm that follows 7 other psalms that wrestle with the idea of God rewarding righteous men and punishing evil men, and how that doesn't always seem apparent. How can this prized creation be both wicked and righteous? How can God allow for such inconsistent and destructive behavior?

Not only that, but we are told that mankind – this wonderful unique creation – is so important that God clothed Himself as one. He gave up His glorious throne and humbled Himself, to walk in flesh and blood, experience pain, loss, discomfort, and rejection, only to be ultimately abandoned, tortured, and killed – for man. For man who hated Him. So that we could come to know Him fully, truly, as we did in the beginning, when we shared a wonderful garden together.

One day, Jesus, this God-as-man, tells a strange story. It is popularly known as the “Parable of the Talents.”
The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a trip. He called together his servants and gave them money to invest for him while he was gone. He gave five bags of gold to one, two bags of gold to another, and one bag of gold to the last – dividing it in proportion to their abilities – and then left on his trip. The servant who received the five bags of gold began immediately to invest the money and soon doubled it. The servant with two bags of gold also went right to work and doubled the money. But the servant who received the one bag of gold dug a hole in the ground and hid the master's money for safekeeping.

Jesus goes on to describe the master's return and how he responds to the servants. The servant with one bag of gold says, “Sir, I know you are a hard man, harvesting crops you didn't plant and gathering crops you didn't cultivate. I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth and here it is.” Funny that he uses cultivation, mankind's job, to accuse his master of taking things that weren't his, while defending himself of neglecting to cultivate the master's riches that were given to him. I don't think burying the money in the ground like a seed was going to achieve the growth the master was looking for.

Rightfully so, the master turns the insult back around on the lazy servant and then says, “To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who are unfaithful, even what little they have will be taken away.” And the servant is thrown out into the darkness.

God created mankind in a unique way. We were made to resemble our maker, and filled with His breath; Jesus made the way for us to be filled with His very Spirit. We were commanded to rule over this world and the creatures in it. We are to use well what we are given. We are capable of remarkable acts of wickedness and breathtaking acts of righteousness. Mankind has immense power, authority, and responsibility given to them by their Creator. We have the ability to crumble mountains, to wage wars, to create ghettos, to cheat workers, to destroy millions of lives. We have the ability to save lives, to invent medicines, to care for the poor, to comfort the hurting, to build homes. We can create desolation, or go and repair desolation. We can cultivate the garden, or we can poison it and burn it down. We can use well what we've been given, or we can bury it in the dirt and neglect our God-given ability to increase the Master's riches.

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in Me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.