Friday, April 17, 2009


Hey interested readers,

I wanted to write to you to give some updates on the transition at The River and what we're up to. Since last fall, we have seen some pretty incredible changes happening at the church. I stepped down as the senior pastor and was rehired as the associate pastor through the redevelopment transition. During this time, we changed locations and began holding our church services at our local movie theater. This has been a great opportunity as we have seen a number of new families discover our church through the downtown presence at a more visible location.

Additionally, in October a local businessman donated us the use of an empty store on the major highway through town for us to use as a ministry center/office building. We've been working on fixing it up over the past few months and have already seen numerous opportunities to minister to people who simply stop by the office needing someone to talk to. In March, our pastoral search process came to a close and we hired a man named Joe Arwood to be the next senior pastor at The River. Joe has hit the ground running and is working hard to continue the momentum as we minister to those who are hurting in our community. We are well on our way to seeing The River Alliance Church become a viable and significant ministry in Chaska.

As part of the transition, Corey is now the part-time associate pastor. His main roles include evangelism to those on the fringes of our community, continual operation of the youth ministry (which continues to have amazing stories through our outreach concerts, etc.), some worship leading, and leading of small groups. In the process of transitioning, we began to seek out where God was directing us for the rest of Corey's income. As we have prayed and talked with other area churches and ministries, God has placed on our hearts a new ministry opportunity that we fits perfectly with the experiences and passions that we have developed over the last 8 years.

We have spent much of our time working with post-high school young adults that have come from at-risk backgrounds. We have watched as teen-focused ministries have done amazing work with them, but after they graduate from high school, they are on their own. We believe that many young adults desperately need assistance launching into successful adulthood.

We have decided to start a new organization, called Launch Ministry, which will meet a significant need in this demographic. The mission of the organization is to promote holistic life transformation as youth transition into adulthood by providing them with tools to develop life skills, opportunities to lead and serve, and by promoting spiritual and character formation. We will do this through mentoring, leadership training, life skills classes, volunteer service opportunities, discipleship houses (where people would live and learn in community), counseling, and spiritual development opportunities.

Over the past two months, we have been developing partnerships with area youth ministries and have seen amazing results. Everyone sees a desperate need for a young adult ministry that can help students to discover their God-given potential while assisting them with the practical things that they need to make that a reality. Since this idea was hatched a few months ago, we have started an initial Bible study to connect with people in this age group. It has been tremendously successful with 15-25 young adults attending weekly. We have held several community events that have also been well attended. Once we are in position to more fully launch the organization (programming, etc. in place), we will have no trouble finding interested students who desperately need the kind of mentoring and assistance that we can offer. On the organizational side, we have put together our board of directors and have begun our strategic planning and partnerships. We have begun the application to receive our 501(c)3 nonprofit status, but until that is approved, we will function under the banner of The River.

This is a scary and exciting journey for us as we seek to follow God's leading in our lives. Thank you for your willingness to participate with us and may God bless you as you serve Him.

In Christ,

Corey and Lori

p.s. - Check out the Launch Ministry Blog frequently for updates, stories, and more!

Monday, January 12, 2009

New Church Website

Our new church website is up and running. For the time being, any blogging I do will be there.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Jesus taught us, saying: ‘Sell your possessions and give to those in need. Get yourselves purses that do not wear out, treasure that will not fail you, in heaven where no thief can reach it and no moth destroy it. For where your treasure is, there is where your heart will be too.’
Luke 12:33–34

Yesterday, I was thinking about the 'places' where Jesus isn't and the state of our hearts. This morning's Scripture reading above describes the places that we allow our hearts to go that we value above the presence of Jesus.

When reading this, my first thought was that I'm not terribly concerned about treasures in heaven, jewels in my crown, rewards that I will someday get when my soul floats off into heaven to be with Jesus for all eternity. That doesn't really inspire me to action. It's so distant and intangible. My own treasures, the things that I value above Jesus, are often a lot more real than these ethereal heavenly ideals.

But then I reread the passage in terms of heaven breaking into our present reality. The passage takes on an entirely different tone at that point. Instead of treasures being stored up in heaven somewhere, the treasures are genuine reality as the kingdom becomes more present in our midst. Instead of storing up treasures as rewards, the treasures are resources that are used in the inbreaking kingdom to further the mission that God has invited us to be a part of.

When I love someone unlovable, the kingdom of heaven becomes more real in our midst. When I forgive the unforgivable, bring hope to someone who has none, when I reflect the presence of Jesus into places that desperately need him, heaven becomes more real.

Even better, what happens if I can somehow view this passage in less individualistic terms? It's not ME storing up treasures for MYSELF...rather it's each of us storing up treasures that benefit all of us and the world as God's kingdom invades.

I guess that the essence of what I'm saying is that the things that we do as part of Jesus' kingdom advance matter NOW as well as for eternity to come.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Looking Where He Isn't

Every year his parents used to go to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up for the feast as usual. When the days of the feast were over and they set off home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem without his parents knowing it. They assumed he was somewhere in the party, and it was only after a day’s journey that they went to look for him among their relations and acquaintances. When they failed to find him they went back to Jerusalem, looking for him everywhere. It happened that, three days later, they found him in the Temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them, and asking them questions; and all those who heard him were astounded at his intelligence and his replies. They were overcome when they saw him, and his mother said to him, ‘My child, why have you done this to us? See how worried your father and I have been, looking for you.’ ‘Why were you looking for me?’ he replied. ‘Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?’ But they did not understand what he meant. He went down with them and came to Nazareth and lived under their authority. His mother stored up all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom, in stature, and in favor with God and with people.

Luke 2:41–52

I was reading this passage this morning and the thought struck me that for three days, Mary and Joseph looked for Jesus in many places where we wasn't to be found. Eventually, however, they looked for him in the place that they should have looked all his Father's house. They didn't understand that Jesus would always be about his Father's business.

It got me thinking...Do I 'look for Jesus' in places where he won't be found? Like Mary and Joseph at first, do I forget to look for him at all? Would I even notice if he wasn't there? What kind of 'places' does Jesus avoid?

I think that the 'places' that Jesus is not to be found today probably has to do more with states of heart than location. People experiencing brokenness, hopelessness, and frustration are places where Jesus spends his time. People living out their faith in love, bringing hope to the hopeless, bringing peace in the midst of conflict...these are places where Jesus spends his time.

Places that Jesus avoids are those who are filled with pride, self-justification, confidence in their own holiness, people who are more concerned with looking spiritual than being spiritual, people who reject the lost and broken, those who hate justice and mercy. It's unfortunate that I probable spend too much time here and much less time where Jesus is.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Complaint Letter About The River Church

[Note...Make sure you read all the way to the end!!]

The only thing worse than being ignorant is not knowing how ignorant you are. That's The River Church's problem. The first thing I want to bring up is that The River Church can't possibly believe that the rigors that its victims have been called upon to undergo have been amply justified in the sphere of concrete achievement. It's conscienceless but it's not that conscienceless. In The River Church's quest to engender ill will it has left no destructive scheme unutilized. The River Church wants nothing less than to convince impressionable young people that every word that leaves its mouth is teeming with useful information. Its deputies then wonder, "What's wrong with that?" Well, there's not much to be done with tasteless riffraff who can't figure out what's wrong with that, but the rest of us can plainly see that I've repeatedly pointed out to The River Church that it is at least partially right in that I pledge -- in my daily life, in my family, my work, my community, my country, and my region -- to counteract the subtle, but pervasive, social message that says that human life is expendable. That apparently didn't register with it, though. Oh, well; I guess The River Church should think about how its adages lead nasty wheeler-dealers to welsh on all kinds of agreements. If The River Church doesn't want to think that hard, perhaps it should just keep quiet.

According to The River Church's distortions, distractions, and outright deceptions, The River Church has been robbed of all it does not possess. Fortunately, most of the people who are seriously interested in preserving our civilization know that the reality is that when it comes to The River Church's machinations, I definitely aver that we have drifted along for too long in a state of blissful denial and outright complacency. It's time to improve the lot of humankind. The sooner we do that the better because we can never return to the past. And if we are ever to move forward to the future, we certainly have to supply the missing ingredient that could stop the worldwide slide into fetishism.

In spite of all The River Church has done, I must admit I really like the organization. No, just kidding. The River Church says that it could do a gentler and fairer job of running the world than anyone else. What balderdash! What impudence! What treachery! If The River Church were to get its hands on the levers of power it'd immediately displace meaningful discussion of an issue's merit or demerit with hunch and emotion. If you don't believe me then consider that we must explain a few facets of this confusing world around us. Only then can a society free of its ruthless rodomontades blossom forth from the roots of the past. And only then will people come to understand that its methods are much subtler now than ever before. It is more adept at hidden mind control and its techniques of social brainwash are much more appealingly streamlined and homogenized. Lastly, the dynamics of the situation are such that The River Church's apothegms bespeak a spiritual crassness, a materialistic and short-sighted stupidity that will test another formula for silencing serious opposition sooner or later.

Wow...I knew we were questionable, but I didn't know we were THAT bad!

Actually, that was an automatic complaint letter generated from this site. Fun stuff.

HT - Mark Bjorlo

Thursday, May 29, 2008


The finish line is in sight...light at the end of the tunnel...pick your own metaphor. On Saturday I graduate with my Master of Divinity from Bethel Seminary!! I'll still have a few details to finish up this summer, but after 4 years, I'm definitely ready to be done. It should be a fun weekend with family coming into town and some surprise that my wife has cooked up for us.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

You Be the (Youth) Pastor

I'm reviving the "You Be the Pastor" posts to address a situation that happened at youth group last night.

During our teaching time, one 16 year old student (we'll call him Tom) raised his hand and said "I've been reading the Daoist scriptures and one thing it said was that if you want to be great, you must make yourself low. The ocean is the greatest body of water because it is the lowest." It was actually a perfect segue into our discussion on discipleship, so we talked about how that statement was relevant and how Jesus said similar things.

After youth group, Tom came up to me privately and said, "I'm thinking about becoming a Daoist. Is it a problem to be Daoist and a Christian?"

You be the (youth) pastor: What would you say?

Don't Break the Cross!!

Since our church building was just purchased by another church, we've been doing some selling, giving away, sorting, and throwing away seven years of assorted junk. My friend Jeremy was helping one afternoon when he came across a homemade wooden cross which had been in the closet for several years. I wish I would have been there to hear the conversation. The three people were trying to figure out what to do with the cross. Their Catholic upbringing kicked in. None of them wanted to throw the cross in the dumpster. It somehow seemed wrong to put the cross in the garbage with the other junk.

After arguing back and forth, Jeremy finally suggested that if they took the cross apart, it wouldn't be a cross anymore which would make it okay to throw away. So he decided to try and break the cross in half. As he broke it, the end of the cross snapped back and hit him in his man-parts, leaving him rolling in pain.

That ought to put the fear of God in you, Jeremy!