The Church I Dream About

I often tell people that I share a similar story to that of Samuel. I was only a few weeks old the first time I came to church. If the doors were open… my family was there. Much like Samuel, I was raised in the church. It’s impossible for me to think back on my childhood and not be bombarded with memories of sitting in the second row of pews on the left had side of the sanctuary. I remember Pastor Greening, preaching all the stories of the “Saints of old”. He had a rule of thumb he followed, “preach in a way that 10-year-old would understand and you’ll catch everyone else older as well.” I loved listening to his messages. They were always a balanced mixture of stories of Biblical heroes of the faith and modern day heroes we called missionaries.

The first Bible verse I learned was John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” The second verse was Matthew 28:19-20 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” From a very young age I learned how simple it all was; God loved us so much he sent us Jesus and now we’re supposed to take him to the ends of the earth. I knew Satan was real and this message we carried was the most powerful message on this planet and with it we could defeat Him. We (the church) were God’s army behind enemy lines. We were to never forget that our enemy roamed this earth and controlled just about everything we could see.

In the seventh grade, I read the book Through the Gates of Splendor by Elizabeth Elliot and knew from that day on my goal in life was to be one of those missionaries tromping through the Amazon basin delivering this message of hope to a broken world. This goal led me to stay in the best possible shape. I played three sports all through school. I enlisted in the Army National Guard at age seventeen. I went to Bible college and traveled on mission trips to nine countries including the jungles of Papua New Guinea. Through God’s sovereign hand he led me out of the jungles and into the local church. I’ve served in churches with a weekly attendances of about eighty as well as in churches with several thousand on any given Sunday.

I have to be honest though, after 20 years of ministry, I now find myself wishing it was all as simple as when I was a kid, “God loves us so much he sent us Jesus and now we’re going to take him to the ends of the earth.” I’m not really sure how I ended up where I am, but I’ve seem to have found myself where most pastors my age have found themselves; spending a lot more time “doing church” than “doing the work of the church.” The pastors I grew up with led the charge up each hill. They were front and center as we stormed the gates of Hell. Most pastors today seem to be more of referees for the righteous than they are leaders on a battlefield. Too many churches seem to be sitting in the rear, no longer waiting to be called to the front. If there’s one thing I’ve learn in the Army it’s that an Army sitting idle gets into trouble. They become self-centered. They fight and bicker with each other. They snipe at one another and find ways to discourage instead of locking arms and moving as one.

I find myself thinking like when I was kid… daydreaming about an “Army of God” behind enemy lines. I think up stories in my head about men and women carrying this powerful message of hope with them everywhere they go in their backpacks, briefcases, and suitcases. What would that church look like? What would it look like today to have a church, the whole church, focused on making disciples of all the nations? What if everyone was sold out to the mission given to us by God Himself. The church I dream about is an army sold out to this mission. They’re selflessly abandoned to the the task of making disciples of all the nations. They teach these things diligently to their children and are committed to raising up a younger generation of Spiritual champions. They care for one another, love one another, and sacrifice for one another. This church is known for locking arms and storming the gates of Hell. They’ve committed all they have to this mission. A 10% tithe is the floor to their giving not the ceiling. Their worship is uninhibited and unbridled. They’re the movers and the shakers of their community and their immense compassion for the broken is noticed by all. Their leaders, lead from the front and everyone carries his or her share of the load. They love mercy and seek justice.

This is the kind of church I dream about.

Thorns in my life and the Power of God

…“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” -2 Cor. 12:9

I love this verse. I’ve loved this verse ever since the first time I heard it as a young child. I’ve always loved it because, even as a young child, I understood that I was broken and weak. You don’t have to live life very long before this realization becomes evident. What a great reminder that in the middle of our weaknesses, God’s Power can be made known in a real and tangible way.

A few nights ago, I was meeting with the Elders of my church for our usual time of prayer and accountability and this passage came up. Again, very timely as our church has been through many transitions over the past few years. There have been more times than one that we’ve felt weak and needed God’s Power to show up. One thing that hit me as we were studying this passage was verse 7. It’s kind of an important, and often time left out, part of this passage. It’s actually the explanation as to why “this verse is there”.

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.”

This verse is comforting, because we’re all broken. It’s comforting, because we all know that we’re weak. It’s comforting, because it reminds us that God is always with us and that His power is shown even more powerfully in our weakness, but it’s hardly comforting to be reminded how easily we can become conceited and feel like we can fix all of our problems.

…to keep me from being conceited,” is a big phrase.




adjective: conceited

You and I live in a place where we’re taught from young children to be self-sufficient. It’s who we are as Americans. It’s who we are as… people. It’s been a struggle from the very beginning. We have always wanted control.

How to be the “Perfect” family

Perfect Family

We’ve got this incredible picture that would hang over our fireplace of when the kids were younger. It’s one of those family photos that you see in magazines. It’s perfect! All of our kids (we had 5 at that time) are sitting perfectly and a row. They all have the most angelic smiles on their faces and if you look real close, you can see just a hint of sparkle in everyone’s eyes. I’m not kidding you… it’s that good! I loved seeing that picture hanging there above the fireplace. It brought a smile to my face every time.

Now, with that being said, you have to know something. The smile on my face had nothing to do with the photo itself. As a matter of fact, I gladly admit that I think “perfect” photos are boring. What makes me smile is fact that not only do I own that one “perfect photo”, but I also own the 7 “imperfect photos” that preceded it. Now these pictures are truly awesome!

They include:

One little boy picking his nose.

A dad lecturing him as to why this is neither the time nor the place for that.

A one-year-old girl making every attempt to exit the scene.

A little boy arguing his point as to why he had no choice but to clear his nasal passageway.

And the same dad threatening the little boy within an inch of his life that if he doesn’t “turn around, sit still, and smile, there will be no need for him to be in the photo.”

Now, those are great shots!



Photo Credit: via Compfight cc


This summer flew by! It seems like every year, our summer break is shorter and shorter. It was just yesterday that we turned off the 6am alarm clock and celebrated freedom from oppression… I mean school. Now, here I sit one week back into the pattern of school bus routes, sports practices, and homework. What happened to my summer? No more swimming. No more afternoon picnics… this stinks!

Now with the ranting over, I do want to say that I love it that we’re about to enter into one of my favorite seasons here in North-East Ohio, the Fall. In just a couple weeks the trees will begin to change color. The air is going to grow colder again and you’ll literally be able to smell Football in the air. I love the Fall! I love the change in season. Summer is great, but to be honest, it can drag out a little too long for my taste.

Guess what? I’ll have a similar rant when the Fall turns into Winter. I hate it and I love it. And then another when Winter turns to Spring. I hate it and I love it.

Seasons. They come and they go… and most of the time, there’s nothing we can do about it. Now if you’re like me, you love the change of seasons. I think I like the change of seasons, because I just like change. I love it when something new or unexpected happens. I love variety. I love newness. I love options.

This is certainly true with the seasons of the year, and it’s just as true with seasons of life.

Preschool, high school, new job, new home… new haircut, doesn’t matter- bring it on.

I understand that you’re probably not like me though. So let’s quickly look at three things that happen when we enter into a new season of life.

When we start a new season we always have the potential of:

Losing Something

You don’t change from something familiar to something new without losing a little. You’re always going to miss something of the past. I’ve even seen this when I moved to ”something better”. It’s amazing how after a little bit of time, I can look back at the past and forget so much of what drove me crazy. All of a sudden, things weren’t that bad.

One Crazy Summer

road trip

This is going to be one crazy summer for the McGinnis family. Last week was the only week all summer without a camp, mission trip, or major activity. So naturally, it became the best week for our annual Summer Vacation. Our family goes to Hilton Head just about every summer. It’s something we look forward to all year. It’s our one time to completely un-plug and just be together as a family.

Now, before you get this beautiful picture in your head of our six angels lined up on the beach standing perfectly still with smiles on their faces, just waiting for the camera to click, you need to get a slight reality check. Please understand that we have 2 teenage daughters, 2 over-active elementary aged students, and 2 preschoolers. Throw them all into a hot van for 12 hours and shake it all up… and that might look a little closer to reality.

With that being said, Aime and I work really hard at having accurate expectations of everyone. We expect our teenagers to act like teenagers and our preschoolers to act like preschoolers. It just goes a lot better when you remember that a 3 year old can’t (and won’t) sit still for longer than 2 minutes and that you’re going to get an attitude from time to time out of your teenager. When you keep a good perspective on the vacation you’re just going to have a lot more fun.

Every year vacation looks and feels a little different. Why? Each of us look and feel a little different than we did the year before. (Except for my wife who somehow has managed to look exactly the same for the last 18 years.) Although every year is a little different, there are a few things that remain the same.


Here are four phrases that we say every year… and mean.

“Stay with Your Beach Buddy”

This is one we picked up a couple years ago- It’s so much easier to keep up with everyone in the family when they’re together… looking out for one another. We want our kids to grow up always looking out for each other. One of our core values is Family First… and we mean it.