Archives For Church

If you’ve known me for any length of time, you know (let’s politely say) I’m on the lower end of the bell curve when it comes to fixing anything. If you’re a car, furnace, leaky roof, broken appliance, you’re out of luck.  I wont’ even attempt a Chris Martin and “try to fix you” (yeah, that’s bad).

(My greatest success story in fighting an “Ice Dam” that formed on our roof last week was simply not adding an additional consonant to the end of that second word).

My name is Erik, and I am constructionally challenged.

And sometimes I think the Church is, too.

We’re broken people. All of us. Some of our brokenness is more socially acceptable, but all of us are cracked. Flawed at the foundation. But our churches are usually more wired to build up, not root up. To look up, not necessarily dig under the surface.

Read another book. Complete another study. Build Christian friendships. Attend another service. Subscribe to more Christian podcasts. Listen to positive and encouraging Christian music. Ingest more God-information. Construct a bigger God-edifice and you’ll effectively swallow up those broken places.

These are all worthy and noble pursuits. Imperative pieces to our Christian journey. But thrown at a shattered foundation, I fear they’re just masking an impending disaster.

I know what some of you are saying. “Hey, our church has a 12 step program. We even have a small group for porn addicts. And a staff counselor for people having marital problems.” Great! Don’t quit.

But I’m not talking about the brokenness that’s easy to see. Compartmentalize. Separate into one of those “dysfunctional boxes” that allow us to express pity with a little side of self-righteousness.

I’m talking about you and me.

Self-reliance. Materialism. Insecurity. Control. Self-protections. Immaturity. Arrogance. Past rejection. Religious abuse. Things we believe about God that just aren’t true. (Do you want to keep brainstorming this list together?)

These are just a few of the “respectable” cracks and fissures we easily overlook, drowned under a deluge of God-knowledge and socially acceptable church-culture behavior. Yet underneath, these godly facades are fueled by depression, anxiety, doubt, and fear. Do any of those words describe you?

Broken foundations.

So what’s the answer?

I think we’ve got to commit to getting our hands dirty. We need each other. The beauty and risk of godly community is where we find the courage to identify and call our broken places. But these aren’t issues we can simply reason, talk, or will our way out of.

The ultimate remedy is repentance.

Repentance begins the Jesus journey. Allows Him to begin miraculously doing what only He can do. What He promised to do. Fix our cracked foundation. I don’ care how long you’ve been a Christian, it’s time for an assessment.

What if the Church became great at repenting? At rooting out as well as building up? What if we stopped ignoring the broken places? What if we found the courage to lovingly take them on? In ourselves? In one another?

We’re not doing this well. Not yet. But this is one area of construction I’m determined to become skilled at.

This Headline Caught My Eye

Erik Cooper —  January 27, 2011 — 8 Comments

As a church planter, this headline caught my eye. As in a right hook. I may need stitches.

Read the full article here.

I suppose in the economic scheme of things, this is nothing but a logical progression. But it’s definitely got my co-pastor Nathan LaGrange and I talking at City Community Church. Is owning a building something we ever want to mess with?

We’ve become hesitant to ever say never, especially since a majority of the things we thought we knew about leading a church have completely shifted in the 22 months since CityCom’s launch. Crisis can force emotional responses (even when it’s a crisis you’re watching others face), but it can also squeeze out some brutal honesty.

So I’m curious. For those of you who are part of a church with no owned facility, do you still aspire to have one? And for those of you who do own a facility, do you ever wish you didn’t?

Top Posts of 2010

Erik Cooper —  December 27, 2010 — 1 Comment

According to Google, these were my most read posts of 2010 (and seriously, who argues with Google and lives?). Since this is the week of top 10’s and best of’s, I thought I’d join the end of year festivities. Hope you enjoy a little stroll down BeyondTheRisk memory lane.

10.  Memorabilia: What Do You Hold Onto?

Our lives are full of memorabilia. Some trigger beautiful memories.  Some conjure up nightmares. [Read more]

9. Should Churches Ever Go Out of Business?

A question I still question if I should have even asked. [Read more]

8.  Should the Church Really Be Promoting Social Justice?

Glenn Beck made some strong statements against churches who talk about social justice. I tried to engage the conversation [Read More]

7.  Saying Goodbye

After 32 years, my parents finally moved from my childhood home. These were my nostalgic thoughts as we closed those doors for one last time. [Read More]

6.  The Problem with the Church

With all the condescending finger pointing and pithy diagnosis, I thought it was time to talk about the real problem with the church. [Read More]

5.  You Can Keep Your Hymnal

How often am I guilty of trying to relive the past? What are the “hymnals” in your life? [Read More]

4.  Embracing Biblical Values and Completely Missing the Point

Is it possible to love Jesus without truly following Him?  [Read More]

3.  Goodbye Maddie

Directly or indirectly, relationships will hurt you (confession: cried again re-reading this one). [Read More]

2.  I Hate When People Tell Me About Their Missions Trips

A trip to Honduras once again messed with our normal. What you hear from these two guys sums it up perfectly. [Read More]

1.  Fifteen Years Ago

My wife and I crossed a major milestone this year. This is my tribute to her (to us). [Read More]

My Early Christmas Gift To You

Erik Cooper —  December 16, 2010 — 1 Comment

Christmas is a time for unbridled merriment and irrational joy, so today I thought I’d throw a little dose of sober in your eggnog.  Perhaps this post will earn me a visit from three spirits? We’ll see.

What does it really mean to be a follower of Jesus?

As a lifelong “churchie,” that’s a question I’ve really wrestled with.  Is Christ truly leading my life, or am I just trying to get him to come along on my journey? (After all, He is a great travel partner. I hear He has status in all the airline lounges). If you’ve followed my blog even sporadically for any length of time, this is a question you know I’m not afraid to pose.

To follow simply means to go after. To willfully submit.  To listen and respond.  Which led me to write the following question in my journal this morning:

“Is there anything God has already said to me that I’m not listening to, obeying, or that I’m rationalizing away?”

I’m spending the day with this one.  Maybe you want to join me?  It’s my early Christmas gift to you.

(If you behave, I may even let you have another lump of coal for the fire, too).

Going Commando

Erik Cooper —  November 3, 2010 — 1 Comment

As you may know, I’m a churchie. I grew up in church.  Built my social networks around church.  Developed my gifts in church.  Now I co-pastor a church. (And for the record, I absolutely love God’s Church).

But even though I’ve heard more sermons than Peyton Manning has passing yards, there are still some things I’ve absorbed into my understanding of God that just aren’t true.

The biggest gaffe most churchies face is allowing Jesus to just become a culture (no offense to Kim Walker).  A philosophy to ascribe to.  An unwritten list of behaviors and thought processes that protect us from a sinful world. Like a supernatural Batman suit repelling evil as I, the dark knight, make my way through the sludge of this disgusting world into the glory of eternity.

Visually, it may look something like this:

But keeping up this facade is futile, frustrating, and exhausting (and not as appealing to non-churchies as the Batman analogy might make it seem).

So I see many of my churchie friends rejecting this “Jesus as just a culture” way of life.  Throwing off many of the ridiculous, behavior-based expectations they often grew up with.  Breaking free.  Going commando (be careful Googling that if you don’t know what it means).

And in so many ways, I love it. I’m right there with you.  Except for one concern.

At the center of this lie many of us grew up believing about God was…me. Cultural protection. Self protection. Self righteousness. MeAnd simply removing the outer layer still leaves the exact same person at the center.


Shedding lies without embracing the truth just leaves you naked.

The truth of the Gospel is that Jesus Christ comes to live inside of me. That me dies.  That Christ becomes the new center.  And out of His life flows my life.  True life.  True freedom.

“Christ lives in me.  The life you see me living is not “mine.” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  I am not going to go back on that.” (Gal. 2:21 MSG)

So lose the lies.  Shed the baggage.  Go commando. Christ came so that you could be free.

Free to put Him at the center.