Friday, December 12, 2014

December Worship

Merry Christmas Everyone!!

Darrell and I are snug as a bug in the cabin listening to the bay howl like the seashore. Button down the hatches because it is going to be a loooooooong night. Be careful out there friends.

This coming Sunday, December 14 at 1 PM, Worship at the River is returning to...

**********!!!THE TROUTDALE HOUSE!!!**********

Sing with me, "Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!" 
Very nicely sung.  Thank you.

This will be a special night because:
1)  we return to The Troutdale House.
2)  Laura and Martin Burlus, and a few family members, will be our special guests to          pamper and spoil.
3)  many delicious potluck dishes will be shared, including a turkey, while stories of            appreciation are told as we gather around the tables.
4)  each of you has a psalm to share.
5)  each of you has a teaching to share.
6)  some of you will share a tongue and an interpretation.
7)  many will share a revelation or a prayer as Holy Spirit leads you.
8)  we will eat until we are satisfied and all will go home edified.
9)  our GOD REIGNS SUPREME and we will sing together lifting His name on HIGH.
10) we have much to be thankful for and give thanks for the great praise reports.

Please come join us!!  Bring instruments!!  Banners!!  Percussion!!  Songs!!

Together we will ring in the merry
for the season of celebrating the birth of our

"Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!"

Hope to see you this Sunday at 1 PM at The Troutdale House,

PS My proof reader is asleep so please forgive my mistakes.  And the lights are threatening to go out.
Good night all.

450 Adelma Beach Rd
Port Townsend,  WA  98368

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

We are in a new season and we have a few changes.  We continue to meet in homes instead of The Troutdale House for the time being. Laura and Martin can't keep our time slot open when they have paying customers so we are blessed when they have bookings. (BTW Whenever I say their names I'm reminded of the old comedy show Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In. Sock it to me!  Ha!)  

Worship at the River will start at 1 PM this Sunday September 14, 2014 with the Potluck.  
(Please come on time so we can eat on time.)  
Wayne and Eliza Miller are our hosts for the afternoon.
37501 E Knieriem  
Corbett,  OR     97019
Call Carlene if you have questions.  503-997-4236

Please note the new time 1 PM.  Many of you know Darrell started a new job teaching music for 
K-12 in Quilcene, WA and we sold the condo in Gresham.  We now live in the cabin my grandfather Antonio Danato DeLeo built 60+ years ago overlooking Discovery Bay near Port Townsend, WA and have started building a new place to live.  We long to continue meeting with you all so we will keep WAR on the second Sunday of each month but have changed the time 
to 1 PM because we have a 3 hour plus drive back to the cabin that night.

September 14, 2014
WAR at Wayne and Eliza's home
Potluck at 1PM.  No BBQ grill.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Jim Watt Memorial

( Text of my sharing at tomorrow's memorial)
In the spring of 1961 when I was 6 years old, my parents strong believers had formed a Baptist Church in a small town in northern Illinois, and we had an early morning tradition of inviting other pastors to speak on Easter Sunday service. I  remember holding hands in a large circle of 25 mostly young families that Sunday morning . This kind of community and relationship based Church  forms the basis of my understanding of the kingdom of God.
As I grew up and graduated from high school I had a strong inclination to come to the Pacific Northwest  and graduated from Seattle Pacific and met and married my wife Carlene. We first met 40 years ago and last June celebrated our 38th anniversary. I taught in several public and private Christian colleges and eventually moved to Portland to a large Foursquare churches and for nearly 17 years experienced much growth and blessing.
In the fall of 2001, my wife and I resigned from the position. Not because we had a clear understanding of the future, we knew God was still and will always be faithful. But we stood at the end of our map, and just a little bit like Lewis and Clark we knew we were in for an adventure that was not clearly defined and like Abraham who stepped out of his territory into a place he was not sure of.
I was familiar with a God who was faithful in the clarity of his plan for us. This was indeed a new season. There were times in that first year without  regular paychecks or insurance where we would ask ourselves, Lord, what and where should you have us go?
Sometimes the clarity of his voice was strong and clear whether through a dream, impression, or prophetic word. One of those times was in the spring of 2002 and I heard clearly the Lord say I want you to go to Bothell Washington to a small church conference and I did. I had never heard of the Church and was completely unfamiliar with the conference speakers. One of the speakers was Jim. I sat spellbound as I heard the story of the history of God's faithfulness through his coming to a knowledge of Jesus ;while in the Navy in World War 2. Eventually, he was led to North Battlefield Canada and experienced an outpouring of what is now known as the Latter Rain outpouring. I did not remember nor paid much attention to the others speakers, but I bought the conference audio tapes of Jim, and brought them back to Portland and played them for a small group of friends and my wife. I was encouraged by his testimony of God's faithfulness despite not having a map. I was excited and passionate for them one day to meet this man.
One year later I discovered a group of pastors in Seattle who were familiar with Jim and I arranged for our group of 12 or so to meet with him for an afternoon. As we listened to his testimony together, and asked him questions of every kind his graciousness and passion for God and the kingdom was infectious! He prayed and prophesied over each one of us individually.
During a break, I introduced myself to him and told him I was from a small town northwest of Chicago I was sure he had never heard of. Jim said, "Well in the early sixty's, I pastored a Baptist Church near Round Lake Illinois. I knew your church and I knew your pastor."
I had encountered Jim Watt when I was 6 years old at that is Easter Sunrise Service when the Baptist churches worshiped together. My folks later described Jim as a fiery preacher!
After some 37 years, I met the man who for several of us became a mentor, spiritual advisor, and friend. These past 12 years or so, my wife and I would often visit and experience Marie's cookies and special treats while Jim would sit in his book lined study with his computer and socks and sandals while I asked him questions and we prayed together. I marveled at his capacity to remember dates and times. I still have many of these audio recordings.
God faithful. It is his nature. It is His glory. It is his goodness.
As we concluded our meeting in 2002 with our ministry team, Jim asked a penetrating question that none of us there ever forgot. It is a question I can easily imagine Jesus asked of his disciples before his ascension. Just one question that keeps coming back again and again and, a question that I would ask you even this day. This day of remembrance and celebration of a man who lived in the atmosphere of God's faithfulness.
He asked, do you believe there are enough in this very room to change the world?
I would answer in the same manner as I did 12 years ago. Because of the faithfulness of God and because of men and women who have remained faithful and passionate and examples of upright and righteous elders who do not demand loyalty but remained committed friends. I would say, unequivocally , convincingly, and with conviction because of what I see in you , yes!

Note From Marie:

Dear family and friends,

This is Marie writing, Jim's partner, friend, and wife of 65 years.

Since Jim has been very ill the past year, he has been unable to send out his weekly mailings, plus other messages he felt were important enough to be shared.Unfortunately, I am not a computer person, though I thoroughly enjoyed all the E-Mails and articles Jim printed for me. Now God has provided my 23-year-old grandson, Paul, Peter's oldest son, to do Computer mailings, etc. for me, and live with me. 

God, who knows the end, from the beginning, blessed us with Paul living with us the past month and helping with Jim. However, Keelan is still the webmaster. He is still grandpa's right hand for website.

On May 5, 2013, Jim had his first bladder cancer surgery. About a month later, he suffered a minor stroke, that impaired his memory and speech. However, he managed to keep going for awhile. 

But after his second surgery, Sept. 25th, 2013, he was in much pain, and unable to do much, let alone his computer work. His ability to read was gone, and he didn't talk much.

He was fully bedridden at the first of the year. We were so blessed that hospice came to help. He had a most wonderful Christian man as his nurse's aid coming in three days a week for an hour, to do his grooming and bless him. We are so grateful for James.

Hospice provides a "Respite" Nursing Home time for 5 days, to give caregivers a rest, once a month. 

Last Monday, July 14th, an Ambulance picked Jim up at our home to go to Orchard Park Nursing home in Tacoma for the five day stay. He was supposed to come home Friday.

Because, at almost 91 years of age I didn't have the strength to continue looking after him, we decided to leave him there another week. 

On Friday afternoon, July 18th, I spent about 3 hours with him. Before leaving, I prayed for him, and told him God would provide for all his needs, all he had to do was call - Jer. 33:3 - and Heb. 13:5-6 -- "I will never leave you, nor forsake you, so boldly say, the Lord is my helper, so I will not fear..."

Then, the Lord gave me another verse for him - 2 Tim. 4:6-7 - "I have fought a good fight. I have finished my course, I have kept the faith - Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness...".

I never realized these would be my last words to my husband. As I left him, I was wondering if I was able to continue caring for him at home, little realizing he had a much better home to go to!

The next morning, Sat. July 19th at 11:30am, I received a call from the Nursing Home; he was not responding very well. Do you want to come and see him? Of course; but before we left, at 11:45am, another call from the Nursing home - "He had left us". So, praise God, we know where he is. He is rejoicing in Heaven with Jesus, and the rest of our loved ones whom have already moved on.

Later that afternoon, I was able to see him, and again spend some time with him, praying, praising God, and thanking him for the 65 years we had together. Though he had left us earlier, his body was still peacefully waiting for the next part of his journey. 

Truly there is rejoicing in heaven over Jim's admission. "Well done thou good and faithful servant, thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make you enter into the joy of the Lord," Matt. 25 21. 

Jim celebrated his earthly birthday, July 5th as he turned 91 years of age. Then 14 days later he celebrated his real birthday; being with Jesus in his Father's mansion; John 14: 1-2.

There will be a Memorial Service, Sat. Aug. 9th, at 1:00pm at Christ Church, 941 So. Dash Point Road, Federal Way, WA. 98003. Phone 253-941-2711.

We are also celebrating a Memorial Service in our home town, Port Alberni, B.C - on Vancouver Island, at the First Baptist Church, Sat. Aug. 23rd at 1:00pm, where our nephew, Pastor Bert Thomson, will be officiating. His dad, Albert Thomson, was the first one in our (Gaudet) family to come to Christ under Jim's preaching, at the Baptist Church in Port Alberni in July 1951. What a glorious, long life, walking with Jesus, and what a heritage he has left behind. God Bless Albert!

God has done so many miracles for us during Jim's illness. We are most grateful to all who have carried us in prayer. It has made such a wonderful difference for us. Thank you.

His grace has been abundantly poured out over us. Thank you, Jesus. 

We will be releasing a biography of Jim's life in our next e-mail. So, bless you, dear family and friends, and please continue to pray for our family - me, Marie, mama - Daughter Anna and husband Garl, their two sons, Keelan in Houston, Texas and Seth and Jennifer Long and family, as well as son, Jim, and his daughter, Chelsea and son Brody, and his son James. Also, our 2nd son, Peter, and his 3 sons, Paul, Mark, and William. 

We hope to see many of you at the Memorial service in Federal way, WA. and Port Alberni B.C. Aug 23rd.

God bless each of you and thank you for being there enjoying His love, protection and bountiful provision, and His Angels He sends to minister to you. (Heb. 1:14).

Lovingly, in the joy of the Lord, and in His strength... Be blessed. 


P.S An added miracle - I am soon to be 91 (Aug. 17), I got my driver's License renewed, Mon. July 12th, for the next 4 years, passing the eye exam, with NO GLASSES! 
4119 North East 8th St. 
Gresham Oregon 97030

Thursday, August 07, 2014


Oh my!!  I've been long awaiting being together!  And now it is finally time to come together!!

We have another great location to worship and beat the heat.  We will be on the Sandy River!!
Location:   The cabin home of Dean and Shireen Mackeson
Address:     2165 Historic Columbia  Highway Troutdale, OR 97080.   
                  (Look for white sandwich board with balloons)
Time:         4:00 PM
Bring:         Side dish and/or dessert.*  Beach chairs.

*BBQ meats will be provided when you RSVP.  Dean Dean the BBQ machine will be our chef for the evening so please RSVP to this email address with the number of people in your party. Sounds like you are making dinner reservation doesn't it?

Optional:  Sun screen, hat, towel, swim suit and flotation devices if you want to swim/float in the river. WAR will provide ice cold                      lemonade, ice tea and filtered well water but bring your own beverages if you prefer. 

Also optional but strongly encouraged with permission to practice:

His Love
1 John 4:12
No one has ever seen God.
But if we love each other, God lives in us, 
and His love is brought to full expression in us.

Prophetic encouragement
1 Corinthians 14:1
Let Love be your highest goal!
But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives---
especially the ability to prophesy.

Special announcement:
Moriah Threet has asked her family and friends to join her at the Mackeson's riverside to witness her baptism at 3 PM.  Afterwards we will practice the above verses in prayer to celebrate Moriah's choice to be baptized. Come early with beach chairs for the best viewing of the baptism and/or come early because dinner will start at 4 PM.
See you at the Mackeson's

Thursday, July 10, 2014

WAR July 13th

Thank you Connie and Jerry for opening up your beautiful home and hosting WAR July 13th.  Head's up everyone!  We are going to listen to Holy Spirit in how to worship our God and how we can bless their land and home and our families. 

From Connie and Jerry:

Greetings to everyone,

We are so honored to host Worship at the River at our house on Sunday July 13th starting at 4 PM with a potluck dinner.  It is not necessary but if you have sports chairs please bring them. Here is our address and directions to our home:

43547 SE Trout Creek RoadCorbett, OR  97019 

Go East on Stark street to the end (over the Stark Street bridge) Turn right.  Go past Dabney State Park, through Springdale (past the Big Bear market and Historical Springdale Tavern)
Stay right onto Hurlburt Road.  Proceed on Hurlburt Road to the blinking red light at the intersection of Evans Road, Hurlburt Road and Gordon Creek Road.
Stay right at the blinking red light.  Proceed on Gordon Creek Road (you will overlook the Sandy River, go up a steep switchback) until you come to Trout Creek Road on the left.
Turn left onto Trout Creek Road.  Proceed 3 miles.  You will see a green 3 mile marker on the right side of the road.  Our driveway is just past the 3 mile marker on the left side of the road.
I will have a sign and balloons at the driveway.  Proceed down the dusty trail until you come to the first house which is our log house.  You've made it!!!

Another way you can come is to take I-84 East to Exit 22 (Corbett). Drive to the top of Corbett Hill and stay right.  Take a quick left onto Evans road.  Proceed on Evans Road until you come to the blinking red light at the intersection of Evans Road, Hurlburt, and Gordon Creek Road.  Proceed straight across and it becomes Gordon Creek Road.  Proceed until you come to Trout Creek Road. Turn left. Proceed 3 miles and turn into our driveway on the left side of the road.  Either way, if you come to Trout Creek Bible Camp, you have just past Trout Creek Road.

Looking forward to seeing who will venture out this far!!
Connie and Jerry

Thursday, June 05, 2014


Inline image 1

With great joy and anticipation, we invite you to celebrate Jesus. We will worship Him with abandon, joy, expectation, and with hearts that are filled with the Truth who has set us free.
June 8th 4 PM Potluck & Worship  
The Troutdale House  411 E. Historic Columbia River Highway, Troutdale, Oregon 97060

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Why I Don’t Go to Church Very Often, a Follow Up Blog

by Donald Miller
Monday I wrote about why I don’t attend church regularly. I was naive to open such a sensitive conversation without expecting a backlash and was taken aback at the response. Many people thought the blog was saying people shouldn’t go to church or that I had something against church. None of that is true. And yet, most of the influential Christian leaders I know (who are not pastors) do not attend church. Perhaps it’s something we should talk about in an open, safe environment. All I can offer is my perspective, which I do not offer as an answer, only a contribution to a discussion.

On that note, one caveat: I can only give camera angles on the issue because that’s how I think. I tend to see things from multiple angles and am comfortable not choosing “the right opinion” because I’m not convinced the right opinion is even on the table or that there is one in the first place. Many opinions can be right. Binary thinking causes more false dichotomies than true answers or helpful discussions, so I’ll avoid them as best I can.

This blog will likely be misquoted, mischaracterized and parsed in an effort to demonize. This happens when anybody puts their thoughts out there on any subject. It’s expected. But I’m hoping something more happens. I’m hoping, for some, it contributes to unity. We are not that different.

So as you read thoughts that may seem foreign, please understand my intent is not to judge or pose threat. As Ravi Zacharias often prays, let there be more light than heat.

*Photo Credit: Oleh Slobodeniuk, Creative Commons

Camera angles on church, why many people don’t go, pushback to the blog and an increasing cultural inability for nuanced thought:


Reading the comments from Monday’s blog let me know how far my personal spiritual journey has taken me from modern evangelicalism. Theologically, I find myself in the evangelical camp in many ways, but as for the “one way to do life and church” I’ve gone a different path. And I’m hardly alone. While I love the traditional church, I love it like a foundational part of my past, as though it were a University I’ve graduated from to join a much larger church those still in the University program are quite suspicious of. (More on church as school later)

For many, though, the church is where people find spiritual security through communion with both God and a local tribe. People love their churches, their pastors and their community. Some people believe church is the main place we worship God, that it’s superior and more sacred than worshipping with their family or friends or through other outlets such as work or daily life. My faith and intimacy with God has grown as I’ve evolved in my understanding of church, and as I said, many find that threatening. And yet, in the comments, even the heated ones, it was beautiful to see a group of people love something so much. The passion moved me as much as it frustrated me.


A response I kept seeing on twitter and in the comments was that my blog was all about feelings. It wasn’t. It was actually about learning styles. I used the word “feel” a couple times and it was pounced on like a fumbled football. And yet I kept asking myself “why do these people have a problem with feelings or the concept of feelings?”

Feelings are, essentially, thoughts. They don’t come from the heart, they come from the brain. Both thoughts and feeling are chemical and electrical functions of the brain. It’s true they are different, but one is not a lie while the other is true. The reality is, neither is trustworthy without verification and consideration.

The distinction, however, that feelings are lesser trustworthy experiences is a false dichotomy. Certainly you can’t do math with feelings, but you can’t love with math. Is math an invention of God while love a worldly experience? Did God create your mind to be a calculator and Satan stuck some feelings into the mix?

The Bible itself includes a large amount of art and history and comparably few rational essays, so the evangelical tendency to dismiss “feelings” is confusing. Add to this “rational thought” can also be misleading. Both Richard Dawkins and C.S. Lewis arrived at their different positions by taking trails of thought. Both consider themselves rational and grounded in foundational philosophical principals, but they ended up in different intellectual places. Why then do modern evangelicals elevate thought as though it is the only path to truth? And why dismiss feelings as though they are weak or lesser than? Shouldn’t the issue be given a more nuanced treatment?

Add to this yet another conundrum, and that’s the myth any of us are objective thinkers in the first place. Research indicates we are given to tribal thinking and confirmation bias and defend those “feelings” with rational justifications we most often mistake for a linear line of thought, as though we are objective. We are not objective. Mark Driscoll, Tim Keller, Richard Dawkins, Bill Nye and Ken Hamm are not completely objective thinkers. They are given to tribal thinking and confirmation bias. Find me a theological rant of any stripe and I’ll show you a “thinker” using rational thought to defend the presuppositions of a tribe, likely in an effort to gain security or from a fear something is being taken away, in other words, rational thought fueled by feelings.

Before we get too irate and have a trigger reaction against the idea feelings are actually valid if verified and tested, we should consider new revelations in brain science, learning-style revelations and basic psychology. What about intuition, what about the whole brain? What about Daniel Goleman’s work on emotional intelligence? What about Sir Ken Robinson’s work on education reform? What about Jung’s early work on personality theory and motives? And even Malcolm Gladwell’s work on thinking without thinking? When evangelicals attack “feelings” they’re discrediting thinkers and researchers more knowledgeable than they on how the brain actually works.

The attack on feelings works great to sway young seminarians who like to label liberal theologians, but in the end, it’s a limited and narrow perspective.

The point, though, is this: Feelings matter. You can’t build a house on them, but they guide, shape, validate and work with rational thought to shape who we are and how we do life. When Jesus interacted with people, He cared about how they felt. And He was not weak or weird for doing so. He’s the one who made those silly little “feelings” in the first place. How odd, then, His own children would dismiss them as irrelevant.


It’s a nice cliche and has some basis in scripture, but while the thought makes a great tweet, it should be parsed in a more nuanced way. Many people seemed to want me to attend church out of a sense of duty or responsibility. These were the comments I received that were most traced with guilt and shame, interestingly.

Certainly we have a duty and responsibility in many areas of life, including church, but God has no problem with us enjoying Him, each other, nature and for that matter a worship experience. And if we don’t enjoy a specific kind of worship experience, He could care less whether we go choose one we enjoy more. David danced naked, not out of responsibility, but because he went temporarily pleasure-go-nuts with emotion. He liked it. He was wired to like it. His son worshipped God as a philosopher, playwright and architect. Everybody worships differently. The church offers music. And let’s face it, most of them offer the same music. Jesus isn’t crying Himself to sleep at night because somebody wants to worship Him by planting a garden more than singing a song.

But this is a much larger issue. The subtext of these comments seemed to insinuate that God wants us to suffer for Him. But not suffer by reaching the poor or by being outcast, suffer, literally, by standing in a church service singing songs you don’t find catchy. Really?

The subtext of these comments reminded me of an elderly Catholic woman I watched in Mexico City, crawling on her bloody knees to the Metropolitan Cathedral. She’d crawled for nearly twelve miles. She was in her eighties. She wanted to suffer for Jesus. Her family followed her, wiping her brow and offering her water. It was moving to see. But in my opinion, entirely unnecessary and perhaps the stuff of bad theology. I applaud the devotion, but I don’t admire it. I don’t think when Jesus told us to take up our cross, he was talking about self mutilation.

The point is this: God has no problem with you having pleasure enjoying Him, and when we don’t through a specific methodology, He has no problem with us switching things around so we do. He’s not calling us to be sanctified through dutiful boredom.


I’d say half of the most impactful people I know, who love Jesus and tear up at the mention of His name, who reach out to the poor and lonely and are fundamentally sound in their theology, who create institutions that feed hundreds of thousands, do not attend a traditional church service. Many of them even speak at churches, but they have no home church and don’t long for one. They aren’t wired to be intimate with God by attending a lecture and hearing singing (which there is NOTHING wrong with) they are wired to experience God by working with Him.

That said, they also have no opinion about church, don’t talk about it and are too busy with enjoying the global, non-arguing, non-tribal community that they consider to be the church to worry about what people think.

That said, they wisely keep their mouths closed on the issue where I went and talked about. Serves me right.

The point, though, is this: Jesus engages people inside and outside the church. It’s almost as though He sees the church as one, without walls, denominations or tribes. I’m starting to see the church that way, too.


These comments also surprised me. It was as though people thought because I hadn’t been to church in years, I had no community, that I lived in isolation. This is untrue. My community is rich, deep, spiritually sound, gracious, sacrificial and at times (because I’m an introvert) exhausting.

What I hadn’t realized before I read those comments, though, was that I had worked to create my community.Community is everywhere, and every church you’ve attended was a community that somebody sat down and created. I happen to think a lot of them look exactly the same and have no problem making mine look different, but it’s still a community. Millions of people who do not attend church have rich, meaningful communities that they created or have joined. You could create your own community out of your home in a matter of months.


This was perhaps the most surprising response. Because I said I’d not been to church regularly in years, people supposed I had something against the church. But I didn’t and I don’t. In fact, since I left, any issues I’ve had with the church have gone away. I have nothing but kind feelings for the church and consider myself, in a strange way, part of it. Or at least I believe Jesus sees me as part of the church, part of His Bride.

But again, there’s a subtext here, and I think it involves insecurities. It’s a common human issue: If they aren’t like us, they are threatening. But I promise, Christians who do not attend church are no different than you. They are kind, they struggle, they are gracious, they are judgmental and they are trying to connect with Jesus sometimes and sometimes not. But for the most part, they aren’t against the church.

Tribal thinking often causes a great deal of harm. We think people who don’t agree with us are likely lesser people because what is foreign often feels threatening. But that’s hardly true. People are people. Some of them do bad things both inside and outside the church. I’m convinced the distrust we feel at the foreign is a divisive and deceptive thought pattern meant to cause harm.

Imagine the relationships people lose out on, the incredible life memories, the healing and community they aren’t involved in because they can’t engage or have community with people who do not agree with them theologically. I’ve no interest. People are either kind or mean. I choose kind ones, I don’t care what they believe. This is part of why I feel like my community is so healthy.


Your church likely looks nothing like the church in the book of Acts, which, was not much of a prescription on how to do church anyway. There are some marching orders in the book, but there aren’t many. Mostly those direct instructions are about choosing elders and deacons and dividing up each others money so that it’s shared. But that’s mostly it.

The modern traditional church sticks to the part about the elders, very loosely nods towards the financial stuff, but is basically a large school system. The modern evangelical church is an adaptation of an ancient institution led by scholars after the invention of the printing press. It is also an evolution of a government-run institution dating back centuries. And it continues to evolve today into something else.

Unless you are Shane Claiborne, your church probably doesn’t look anything like the church in the book of Acts, so let’s not get self righteous.

As a side note, many thinkers in America credit the growth of the American church with supply and demand principals. They say the reason the church in England is struggling is because it was so influenced by the government it didn’t adapt with culture, where in America churches had to compete with each other and so adapted, evolved, grew in style, shared best practices at conferences and adopted marketing and branding strategies they learned from business leaders.

The church in America, in other words, is a product of a school-like system mingled with best business practices and is quickly moving toward entertainment-like institutions. And to be honest, that amazing adaptation and evolution has worked fantastically. I think it’s great. These practices reach tons of people who want Jesus, community and wisdom from an ancient trustworthy text. That said, to say traditional church is Biblical is a stretch because of two false presuppositions.

Those two false presuppositions are:

1. The Bible has specific, robust and complete instructions on building and running a church community. It doesn’t. As I said earlier, the book of Acts has a few marching orders, but as a writer I assure you, that’s not the author’s intent in that book. It’s a history of the early church and an encouragement for us.

2. The church you are attending is a Biblical church. If you mean it’s a church that is centered around Jesus and takes the eucharist, perhaps. But, again, your church likely doesn’t look like the church in Acts. And I think that’s fine. God wanted the orthodox theology to stay the same, but the church can, should and has evolved in style, language, customs and so forth.

It’s a hard thing for some people to get their heads around, but God shares agency with us in creating the church and we get to use our creativity and heart and passion to incorporate these loose instructions. Actually, big business could learn a thing or two from churches. And so could education reformers. Because of the passion pastors have for the gospel, their willingness to share best practices and the economic competition they face with neighboring churches, they often adapt faster than business. When I was a kid, our church looked like a school mixed with an anglican-style high church.

Today, many churches look like night clubs complete with pastors being piped in on video. It’s quite brilliant and I’ve no problem with it, it’s just not my thing. I don’t like night clubs. And I don’t like lectures and I don’t emote to worship music. And I still love Jesus. It’s shocking, but it’s true. That said, let’s stop using the word “Biblical” as some sort of ace card when it comes to how church should be done.


One twitter comment said by leaving the church I was committing spiritual suicide. I read that comment to a friend (a nationally known, strong Christian leader who does not attend church but doesn’t talk about it) and both of us were taken aback.

Do people really believe there’s no spiritual life, no walk with Jesus, no community and no love outside a Sunday morning worship service? For those who’ve never taken a break from church, this will be a hard one. But I assure you, He’s alive and well and happy and working both inside and outside the traditional church. He’s going places many of us are unwilling to go, or perhaps scared to go. He exists outside our worldly tribes, even if those worldly tribes are labeled as a local church.

I’ll tell you a story, and this one may seem crazy to some, but I promise it’s true. A few years ago I was interviewing a prominent world leader. Can’t tell you who, but every person reading this knows who he is. We were two hours into a conversation about leadership and he asked me to turn off my recorder. I did. Then he began describing a kind of knowing he had in his spirit. He knew he was supposed to help people, especially the poor, those who are true victims. I said I thought that was great. But then he asked me, he said Don, I don’t believe in God, I walked away from the Catholic church when I was a young man. But I can’t explain that feeling. It’s like God is talking to me. He’s wanting me to go reach these people. I’m confused a bit.

For me, that was an intense paradigm shift in my faith. I believe he was hearing from Jesus. I just don’t think he knew it or had a category for that kind of reality. And as I continued to interact with traditional evangelicals, I realized they would have no category for that man either. Potentially, he can help millions of people (and since then, has) but evangelicals wouldn’t be able to understand that Jesus was partnering with him unless he agreed with their foundational theological positions and perhaps even attended their kind of church (of which, in the Christian tradition, there are 360,000 different kinds).

So what do we do with a man who is interacting with Jesus and doesn’t know it? Here’s what I did with it: I decided I didn’t fully know what Jesus was doing, that much of His involvement with the world was a mystery, and He was going to reach out to the poor both through, and outside the church. Quite a paradox. And most evangelicals are uncomfortable with paradox.


I do think church can evolve beyond a lecture/worship/performance institution, but the current leadership is unlikely to make that happen. When and if the church evolves, it will evolve from outside the current leadership and that evolution will pose a threat to existing tribal values as well as financial systems that are sustained by the current model. In other words, the church will be reluctant to change because things that are foreign are perceived as bad and we’ve got to keep doing it this way for job security.

The reality is, though, there can be entire avenues of church (within existing institutions) that explore all the ways God has created the brain to work, in other words, all of His children, not just those who best respond to traditional services. There can be art tracks, work tracks, business mentoring programs, community gardens and so on. In other words, the person of Jesus can be brought into every facet of the life He Himself created.

If we are honest, and look at the whole situation objectively, the greatest resistance will come from an unseen but largely inarguable hurdle: job security.

The lecture/worship system is the most efficient program to get the most people through a church experience over a given weekend. It’s an unbelievably smart business model. A staff of 50 or so can reach thousands at once, give them a brief experience, send them off into community groups and so forth and sustain church activity while still collecting offerings. Few consider that church has evolved to look as it does for financial reasons, but this is likely the first thing a truly objective thinker would notice. Current church programs involving a short lecture and worship is an astoundingly efficient financial model, and so it will be reluctant to change.

Please don’t misunderstand me. What I did not say is that pastors are in it for the money. I’ve met very few pastors who didn’t have the skill set to make much more money in the business world. Most of them are in it for the ministry, I’m convinced. The point was to sustain a church budget, the current worship experience is the most efficient model.

Neither am I arguing the current model should change. Millions are fed weekly through these kinds of programs. What I’m arguing is that nobody should be faulted for creating something different. Those who would argue “we shouldn’t simply create the church in our own image” forget it already has been created in our own image. First the image of the royal government then the image of the university or school and then big business and now moving toward the entertainment industry. The church has always been recreated in the image of the dominant institution in society. For the early church, that was the family. For our culture, it’s business and education and entertainment.

In fact, I’d argue that by making the church smaller, less formal, less organized, less institutionalized and more like the chaos of a family structure, the church would be moving MORE toward the historical church in ACTS and less like a culture-formed institution by deconstructing itself. Though I hardly consider that a God-given decree. Again, I believe we can make it what we want (within God-given parameters) and share agency with God in positively impacting the world.

So that’s about it as for camera angels. For any offense I’ve caused, I ask forgiveness. You are more important to me than this discussion and I’ll likely not talk about it again for a long time.

The final issue for me is control. I can’t control you, you can’t control me, and none of us are going to control Jesus. He’s going to do what He wants, and what He wants is to love the world through us, both inside and outside the church.


I Was A Manipulator (Here’s How I Stopped)

How The End of Poverty Comes With The End of Violence

Donald Miller

Donald Miller is all about story. He helps people live a better story at and grow their business at Follow Don on Twitter (@donaldmiller). To read more of his posts on the Storyline Blog, click here.



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Thursday, May 08, 2014

Worship at the River has been canceled for the month of May

It seemed good to Darrell and I to cancel our meeting this Sunday, May 11th, because it is Mother's Day.  We sought some council over our thoughts and feelings knowing for the past 9 years we have endeavored to remain consistent meeting on the second Sunday of each month to celebrate God's love in our lives.  We prayerfully decided that canceling WAR would be an excellent way to honor and celebrate moms. 

Worship at the River has been canceled for the month of May.

And we encourage you all to seek time together with your families and friends to worship God and find ways to strengthen one another, build each other up in the Lord and love everyone to the best of your abilities not only on Mother's Day but any day.  Pray and listen for Holy Spirit to show you the way.  

We look forward to meeting again in June for Worship at the River at the Troutdale House.  
Josh and Mary's son and his family will be joining us from Cost Rica.  Below is a praise report.

Much love and Happy Mother's Day!!

Darrell and Carlene Dahlman

 To all our Worship at the River Friends! Below is a summary of the Cabecar Indian in Costa Rica event we prayed for and contributed to the last time WAR met in April.  My son and his family are coming here for the month of June for some well deserved rest. We were wondering if anyone has or knows of a car they could use for that month. We could pay something, just not standard car rental rates! Anyway, they will be at Worship at the River on June 8th
Love to all, Josh and Mary

While many in Costa Rica were on vacation during Holy Week, the Cabécar New Testament was being dedicated out on the reservation.  The Jones family began the translation in 1953 with a copy published in the 1990’s, but the Costa Rican government adjusted the Spanish alphabet to work for the Cabécar language, thereby out-dating the previous work the Joneses had done. Timothy Jones, with a background in linguistics, worked on the revision that was recently completed and published.  The dedication included 500 indigenous from multiple tribes and 100 internationals gathering in the community of Ñari, on the banks of the Chirripó River. Some walked 4 days from the remotest parts of the reservation in order to attend.  The first evening began with teaching and videos about how God is moving in the world.  The next day new believers were baptized and everyone enjoyed a time of fellowship.  At the culmination the Cabécar Christians gathered together to celebrate the gift of God’s written word in their very own language."

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Worship at the River Sunday March 9 @ Troutdale House

We will start the evening off with a potluck at 4 PM.  Around 5:30 PM we will continue our time of worship by lifting up Praise and Thanksgiving to God.  The sick will be anointed with oil by those with the gift of healing. One will sing, another will teach.  Another might be led to share some special revelation God has given them.  One will speak in tongues and another will interpret what is said.  But everything that is done must strengthen all of us.  (1 Corinthians 14:26)  
He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy.  He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit.  (1 Corinthians 12:10)  

Please come knowing we cherish the treasure of Christ within you and we take time to follow Holy Spirit who will lead us in sharing His gifts given to help strengthen one another.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Cancelled Worship at the River this Sunday

After escaping most of the weather woes that have left our country winter-weary, Portland is getting a taste of it this weekend! Predicted snow, wind,  cold and ice in the gorge Saturday and Sunday makes us reluctant to invite you to Worship at the River this Sunday Feb. 9. We have decided to cancel and invite you to meet with Jesus in your homes and worship together.