February 2024

Dear Chapel Family and Friends,


Happy Winter!  I used to read words like “snowmaggedon” and “snowpocalypse” and think they were a funny and clever blend of words.  Not anymore.  Thank you to those who helped keep our facility safe and cleared.


A group of leaders and volunteers recently met to debrief our Christmas season worship ministry.  We are so thankful for a great season and the many people who helped with the set-up and breakdown of decorations, next-level hospitality, and leading our worship services.


The Christmas season also highlighted a rekindling of in-person worship music leadership.  This has been something we’ve been working toward for quite a while, and it went great!  Again, we are so thankful for the ministry of these friends.


Moving forward, our desire is to continue in-person worship music leadership.  However, this takes a significant investment of time and energy from our volunteers and staff.  Here is what goes into a typical week of preparing for and leading the music portion of worship:

Pre-planning collaboration meetings with pastors to discern themes, song choices and how they connect to the overall message of the day and season.

Monthly worship team meeting(s).

Recruiting and training team members.  This includes emails, phone-calls and one-on-one meetings.

Coordinating support ministry volunteers like sound, video, and projection.

Coordinating musician’s scheduling and availability.

Choosing music

Which version, verses and arrangement is appropriate for our context and our musician’s abilities?  This also includes adjusting music according to which team members and instrumentation are available on certain weeks.

Creating slides with lyrics and necessary documentation.

Distributing music to the worship team in a timely manner so they can practice at home.  Did you know it is expected that worship music leaders spend time at home practicing the songs before they come to rehearsal?

Rehearsal (Pre-Sunday)

Pre-rehearsal communication with musicians, sound and projection volunteers so they know what is needed for rehearsal and Sunday worship.

Set up equipment and instruments.

This requires our sound system volunteers to be at rehearsal.

Lead devotional and prayer.

Practice songs of the week and any new songs being introduced in the future.  It is rare that the music rehearsed is only the music of the week.  New songs often take several weeks of rehearsal before they are ready to come to the congregation.

Practice projection flow and accuracy.


This means our projection volunteer is often at rehearsal.

Break-down of equipment.

Rehearsals usually require 2 hours on-site.

Sunday morning leadership

Music, sound and projection team usually arrives 2 hours early.

Set-up sound and music equipment.

Practice music, projection and sound adjustments.  On a good week, everything flows like it did in rehearsal.  Sometimes day-of adjustments are required.


Break down instruments and equipment.

Sunday morning requires 3.5 hours.


A typical week requires 5-7 hours of time for the music leaders and sound/projection volunteers.  Every week!  Plus, so much extra during special seasons like Christmas, Lent and Easter!  For the ministry leader, it requires 12-15 hours, which is why Chapel historically has (at least) a part-time staff person to lead this important ministry.  Some have suggested something like “we just need to find someone to play the piano for worship.”  I hope this article gives all of us insight into what in-person worship leadership requires.  In addition, and I mean this from the bottom of my heart, please give grace and patience during this time of rebuilding.


Our desire is to move forward and grow a vibrant, healthy and exciting ministry.  Please pray for this often!


In His Peace,



January 2024

Greetings in Christ Jesus!

We are very excited to offer our next leadership training class.  I am so pleased with the overwhelming response by many of our participants of previous classes.  We had great discussion and a lot of thoughtful and heartfelt processing.

The heart of this journey is defining and affirming Christian Leadership as shepherding.  Included in this is a call to peacemaking.  While this class is a requirement for anyone wishing to serve as an ordained officer, the principles are applicable for anyone in leadership or thinking about leadership opportunities in the future.  Some people are specifically being invited to participate as a way to nurture future leaders.

Over the years, previous participants have retaken the class as a way to be encouraged and refreshed.  The content is really excellent, and the discussions are even better!

We are ready to start a new group and inviting any interested people to join us.  Here are some details:

  • Time: 9-11AM

  • Dates:  Saturday mornings of January 6. 13, 20; February 3, 10, 17; March 2

  • This journey has several pieces that work together:

    • A devotional titled While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Tim Laniak.  The church will purchase copies for every participant because we are investing in leadership training.  The focus of the devotional is leadership and shepherding.  This devotional has been a huge hit!

    • A series of videos on RightNow media titled The Leadership Opportunity.  A direct link will be provided, but the material is currently found on RightNow’s library.  These videos are led by several people, including Tim Laniak.  The focus of the videos is Biblical leadership.

    • Discussions about the devotional.

    • Discussions about the videos.  The videos have specific break out points with discussion questions.

    • So, we will read the devotional together, watch the 1st few videos together, and then share our thoughts, experiences and journey.  After a few videos, everyone will watch the next videos on their own (or with a partner) and our group time together will be processing the readings and the videos.

While a few previous participants read the book and watch the videos on their own, hearing other people’s experiences significantly contributed to the impact.  Importantly, leadership is a relational ministry and this class is a great way to build and strengthen relationships.

Next steps?

  1. Pray about joining us.  If you know someone else you’d like to invite, please do!  Several couples have taken the class together.

  2. Sign up. The best way is to stop by the Connections desk after worship.  You may also go to the church calendar on our church website and click on the link on the event.

  3. Have a conversation with Tim if you have questions.

This material is the best I have found and used in my ministry journey.  It is very accessible, Biblical and practical.  It is by no means limited to church or ministry leadership.  It has practical implications for parents and leaders of all kinds.

If you have more questions, please reach out!




December 2023

Dear Chapel Family and Friends,

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!  Thank you to the many volunteers who helped decorate our campus, especially those brave souls who climbed up ladders and operated the lift to hang the Christmas lights.  Thank you to the team who facilitated another successful year with Operation Christmas Child.  Thank you to Matt Dobson for volunteering many(!) hours to rebuild the front porch on the manse.  Thank you to the team who set up and cooked for November’s New Horizons luncheon and our Thanks-gathering service.  Finally, thank you to the people who helped in the front office while Kourtney was away.

Advent is upon us.  For some, celebrating Advent is new, so let me offer a quick picture.  Advent literally means “coming.”  It is a time in the worship life of God’s people when they may focus on Jesus’ coming.  The first two weeks traditionally focus on Jesus’ Second Coming, and the last two weeks focus on Jesus’ First Coming at Christmas.  This year is a little unusual in that the fourth Sunday of Advent is also Christmas Eve.

Advent provides opportunities for special spiritual practices for our journey of discipleship.  I recently heard a podcast by a pastor who read through the Gospel of Luke, one chapter a day, starting on December 1st.  Then, on Christmas Eve the gospel reading finishes so the reader has a complete picture of why Jesus came, what he did, and the promises he secured with His resurrection.  I’m going to try this myself.

For many of us, Christmas can be a bit sad, especially when your family is so far away.  For instance, thanks to a handy-dandy point-to-point distance map, I figured out:

  • Our son is exactly 3034.66 miles away.
  • Karen’s sister (our closest relative) is exactly 2300.88 miles away.

Karen’s birthday is December 26, and this year we are traveling to Bangkok to lead a retreat with our World Race Mission team.  On her birthday, Karen will be 9364.77 miles away from our son.  Can we say “thank you” to the clever people who invented FaceTime?

Over 2000 years ago people felt far away from God.  The prophets had been silent for hundreds of years.  The world looked grim.  Yet God performed the ultimate FaceTime connection by actually putting on, not just a face but a whole body!  As the Gospel of John puts it:

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.

We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son,

who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:14

We really enjoy FaceTiming, calling and texting our son, our relatives and our friends.  We even have weekly leadership meetings with our World Race leadership team, and we’re on different continents.  In fact, most days when we connect with our team in Cambodia, it’s already tomorrow there.  (I still get confused by the whole international dateline thing).

With all the technology and opportunities we have, it pales in comparison to a real, flesh-and blood-let-me-lay-my-eyes-on-you connection.  It just does.  It really does.

How encouraging it is to see that God knows this and became one of us so that real, flesh-and-blood people could get to see, hear and know God-in-the-flesh Jesus of Nazareth.  More importantly, Jesus promised that He will come again.  Here is the prophetic vision the Holy Spirit gave to John (yes, the same John):

God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them.

They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.

‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning

or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”

Revelation 21:3-5a

Jesus came to us in the midst of our sin and sadness and proclaimed the Good News of the Kingdom of God.  He will come again!

Happy Advent and Merry Christmas,



November 2023

Dear Chapel Family and Friends,

I hope this letter finds you full of Jesus’ grace and peace.  Our inheritance as sons and daughters of the Living God far surpasses any honor or privilege the world might offer.  The bond of fellowship we have in the Holy Spirit is a rich gift in a time when too many people struggle with loneliness.

November is my favorite month, mostly because Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  The transition from fall to winter brings prospects of snow and adventure.  I also love unpacking our Christmas decorations and planning our Christmas celebration.  It also happens to be the month when college football gets very exciting!

This fall has been unusually busy with another favorite ministry for me: pre-marital counseling and weddings.  I will officiate five weddings between now and next summer.  In fact, as I write this letter Karen and I are in Wisconsin officiating at the wedding of a young woman who is like a daughter to us.  She refers to Karen as her second mom.  Needless to say I have done a good bit of thinking, studying and mediating in God’s Word on God’s gift of the covenant of Christian marriage.

One passage that is often mis-understood is 2 Corinthians 6:14.  The New Living Translation reads

“Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers.”  More traditional translations read “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers.”  This is often seen in a negative light, and to be honest that is valid.  However, there is a practical side to this warning.

The image of being yoked refers seeing cattle as work animals.  Often two animals are “yoked.”  This means that are bound to the same harness with the intent that they work together, pulling in the same direction with equal effort and commitment.  If they are “unequally yoked,” it means they pull in different directions, even in opposite directions.  Unequally yoked partners may end up working against one another instead of in partnership with one another.  

There is another dynamic of equal yoking. (I think I just made that term up!). In county fairs across the country there is a common contest where beasts of burden compete to pull the heaviest load.  Animals are harness to a sled, and they must pull the sled a certain distance.  If they are successful more weight is added to the sled until they cannot pull it the required distance.

At one such contest the winning animal pulled a sled weighing 1000 pounds.  The second place animal pulled a sled weighing 950 pounds.  Someone decided to experiment and yoke both animals and see how much they might pull together.  Simple math says they could pull 1950 pounds.  However, they pulled a sled that weighed 2500 pounds!  There is a unique dynamic at work when animals (and people) are equally yoked and pulling in the same direction.

I think this also speaks to our current sermon series on Belonging.  There are times when people think attending church is enough.  However, there is a HUGE difference between attending and belonging.  Belonging means that we covenant together to walk and work in the same direction toward the goal that Jesus sets before us.  And of this we can be sure: God can accomplish more that the simple sum of the commitment, gifts and skills we as individuals bring to the table.

My hope for you and for us is that we fully embrace our call to belong to one another, to “hitch” ourselves to one another and work together toward the goals set before us.  In doing so, we embark on a journey where God can accomplish more than we could even hope or imagine.

In Christ’s Joyful Service,



October 2023

Dear Chapel Family and Friends,

Grace and peace to each of you!  I pray God’s grace and mercy fills you every day.  I pray God’s remind you of His deep and everlasting love for you.

On October 1st we finished our journey through the book of Acts.  Fifty sermons in all. We took a few breaks for Advent, but we’ve been in the Book of Acts since May 2022.  Before Acts, we worked our way through Philippians.

The disciple of preaching through books of the Bible is called Lectio Continua.  It is my preferred practice when it comes to preaching.  Lectio Continua helps us see scripture passages  in context of the larger picture of book of the Bible.  It provides us opportunities to see bigger themes and see how ideas and values are developed and related to the rest of scripture.  It also means you can’t skip over challenging or controversial topics.  I really do like Lectio Continua.

However, there are times when the Holy Spirit places a theme on my heart and mind.  Over the years of my ministry I’ve preached through multiple series and themes.  In addition, this November I am coming to the conclusion of my third year as your Senior pastor.  I continue to learn more about our church and community.  The Holy Spirit has given me a message series that I think speaks to an area where Jesus wants us to grow in our love for one another.

So, on October 15 we are beginning a new sermon series titled Covenant Partnership: You Belong Here.  The series is inspired in part by Paul’s letter to the church in Rome: Romans 12:1-10.  

Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function,

so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.

Romans 12:4-5

So, we will be exploring questions like:

  • What does it mean to belong?
  • What do we believe about belonging to a church and our church in particular?
  • Why do ECO churches, including Chapel by the Lake, no longer have members but Covenant Partners?

I am really excited about this series.

Let me remind you about our Flourishing Fellowship potluck on October 15th.  This a great time to build inter-generational relationships, and we’ve got a special program of teaching and small group discussion.  We’ll watch a brief interview with Thom Rainer on the difference between a friendly church and a welcoming church.

I am excited to see where the Holy Spirit is leading us and sharing that journey with you!