Like a thumbprint, we are distinct individuals, unlike any other that’s ever been made. Every human being is unique. God created us “in his image,” yet different than one another. Uniqueness is a distinct part of God’s handiwork. From the cosmos to the dirt in your backyard, from ancient relics to raindrops, no wave in the ocean or cloud in the sky is alike. Each element of God’s creation is distinctive, like no other. God’s extraordinary creation is filled with originality… and so are his children.

Every person is a fresh version of God’s creativity. Who we are is tied both to his nature and nurture. Each one of us is an accumulation of genetics, environments, and conditions. Beyond that, we are all infused with diverse cultural experiences. This impacts how we interpret what we see, taste, and hear. Our culture is explicitly learned and consists of beliefs, traditions, and values.

Then there is internal part, which involves unconscious beliefs, thought patterns, values, and myths that affect everything we do and see. It is implicitly learned and is very hard to change. This is why we make distinctions in America between northerners and southerners, and distinctions globally between Easterners and Westerners. Every small pocket of our world, nation, state, county, neighborhood, and household is different. Because of that, no one person is a photocopy. This is evidence that Jesus really enjoys making all things new.

Why would we expect him to act differently with his Church? Well, we shouldn’t.

Every church is part of the Body of Christ. Every church also has a distinct purpose for which God desires to use it in the world. Some churches vigorously endeavor to reach into the city and neighborhoods where they are located, others focus on reaching around the world and partnering with congregations in other countries, others focus on evangelism, and yet others on discipleship. Some churches focus on families, others on college students, and others on the elderly. Some churches reach out to bikers and yet others to cowboys. Many churches have aspects of all of these elements, but they usually do a couple really well and that’s okay.

I am urging my congregation to view itself as a one-of-a-kind creation. As I’ve said, every church is distinct from every other. Each congregation preaches the sermon and plays the music a bit differently. And even if it plays the same song as the congregation down the street, the music is still unique because the musicians are not the same. Smart conductors discover the sound within their band and exploit it. Prudent church leaders do the same.

I want my congregation to steer away from the latest trends in ministry and move toward its inherent strengths. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to a healthy church. However, as a leader if you are ready to get your hands dirty and seek the uniqueness of God’s presence at your church, then seek God’s help in discovering the heart of your congregation. Gather with your leaders, have regular times of prayer, get out a pen and pad, and begin to dream together. Discover the heart of God for the unique body of believers that you’re called to share your life with. Then sit back and watch what God does.

(Sources: “Church Unique” by Will Mancini; “The Wolf Shall Dwell With The Lamb” by   Eric H.F. Law)


Jesus is here. God is present. In all the confusion, in all the messy situations, in all of life’s painful circumstances… God is near. Too often we proceed with business as usual without recognizing the presence of God. The scripture declares that where two or three gather in the name of Jesus, he is there in a special way, working, moving, and changing lives (Matthew 18). As a pastor part of my job is to recognize the leading of the Holy Spirit and help people unite in the direction he is guiding. Will everyone follow? Probably not. Will God’s purpose be established? Yes it will.

Today, we are leading a new generation of Christ-followers. Our purpose is to equip them to rise above mediocrity, apathy, and the dumbing down of discipleship and instead teach them to be tried and true followers of our Lord and Savior. This initiative takes deep commitment; it takes the current leaders rising up and leading the way with passion and boldness. Without the kind of discipleship Jesus originated, we have little to no chance of making a difference for God in the world. Undisciplined disciples will not survive spiritually in today’s society.

So, how do we make better disciples who recognize the presence of God even in the messy parts of life? How do we change our discipling process? We preach, we teach, we go through curriculums, yet we struggle as disciples… We struggle at “obeying everything Jesus commanded.” We are often confused about what it means to “seek first the kingdom of God.” Many even struggle with the first commandment, which is putting God first and having whole-hearted passion for Jesus alone.

The chief goal of ministry today must be the making of true disciples, genuine followers of Christ. In our attempts at making disciples we must do what Jesus did… create small, tight-knit units that meet regularly for prayer, accountability, and fellowship. Jesus was able to accomplish his mission with the first twelve disciples because he created an atmosphere where they were in his immediate presence. They could ask intimate questions and he could give intimate answers. The first disciples literally experienced the presence of God… and we can too!

Remember, God is here. He is present.

Cast off the hindrances. Abandon the snares that have distracted you from full devotion to our Lord. Dedicate to sharing your life with people who you can love, trust, and experience God’s presence with. Follow him. Experience him. Love him. Invite him into the messiness of your life. Learn to trust God with everything and experience the blessing of his presence.  That’s what disciples do.

(Source: Discipled By Jesus by Hal and Debbi Perkins)