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Where I Hope The Church In America Is Headed

  Recently, while working with a personal coach to grow as a leader, I was reminded of something I wrote in 2015 when my wife and I started out on our journey to plant a new life-giving and hope-sharing church in Eastern Virginia. At that time, we had no clue that God would lead us to an established church that would end up partnering with us to revitalize from a death-trending church to a new life-giving and growing church.

In 2015 I was seeking out God’s will for the vision of the church we were going to plant.  As an exercise to help with this, I decided to write down and finish the statement “I see a future with…..”

Over a period of several weeks, I captured the thoughts that I had. At that time, even though I continued to write the word “revitalized”, I kept defending our decision to plant a church over partnering with an established church. I had zero desire to help turn a church around.  I didn’t think I had the leadership qualities that revitalization would require, namely patience.  I echoed what I had heard so many church planting mentors say; “it’s easier to give birth than to raise the dead.”  I now know that’s only true if the dead want to stay dead because they can’t admit that they are dead.  But a dying church still has great hope. Now, two years after writing these statements, I see that several of them are starting to live themselves out in the church plant that God lead us to do.  A church plant that happened because a faithful group of believers voted to change everything about their church and merge with us. It’s only been five months since we launched, and we are just getting started. In fact, here is a recent graphic we shared with the church to show them what God has done through us in only five months.

You need to know, there are problems with these statements.  They are not word-smithed to be easy to read for people who don’t know church lingo.  They aren’t designed to be memorable or poetic.   

These are just statements that came across my mind as I was reflecting.  Some of them could cause people to say “but what about…..” or “that’s just a reaction to….”  Again, these aren’t to be theological statements, and I wouldn’t recommend anyone getting a tattoo of any of them.  They are merely thoughts I had as I worked on putting into a simple statement the totality of the vision we now have. 

Future Church Manifesto:

I see a future with new and revitalized churches full of people surrendered to Jesus and in alignment with their spiritual gifts, passion, and personality working with urgency to reach people far from God.

I see a future with new and revitalized churches working to make Jesus famous over the name of the church or the personality of the pastor.

I see a future with new and revitalized churches with the best of the best growth-minded communicators, musicians, artists, storytellers, dreamers, builders, designers, leaders, administrators, change agents, and creatives all fully committed to Jesus to do whatever it takes, short of sin, to reach people far from God.

I see a future with new and revitalized churches that are debt free, that take action only when resources and opportunity are present, aligned to God’s will and prayerfully and fully surrendered to God. 

I see a future with new and revitalized churches caring and providing for the needy, the orphans and the disadvantaged by connecting them to the hope of Jesus, equipping them with skills and walking the journey with them to self sufficiency where the only one they rely on is God through the Holy Spirit because of who Jesus is.

I see a future with new and revitalized churches teaching a complete Biblical message full of Grace and Truth where people, through the love-filled life-giving convection of the Holy Spirit find their identity in Christ and not the world.   

I see a future where people turn to new and revitalized churches for instruction in studying scripture so people can learn Gods design for healthy finances, marriages, parenting, conflict resolution, emotional intelligence, and everything else we need to know to live an abundant life fully surrendered to Jesus Christ.

I see a future with new and revitalized churches alive with enthusiasm for change for the sake of reaching those far from God.

I see a future with new and revitalized churches where the staff equip the members to do the ministry and staff clear the path.

I see a future with new and revitalized churches radical about connecting people in genuine small group communities where safety, accountability, spiritual growth, new friendships, and fun are experienced by all.

I see a future with new and revitalized churches where people are more excited to move to welcome someone new than stay in a routine of comfort.

I see a future of new and revitalized churches where teens are so highly engaged and experiencing life-giving change in a multi-generational service that they can’t imagine being anywhere else but in the local church at least once a week for corporate Worship and once a week in a small group for the rest of their life.

I see a future with new and revitalized churches that lead a community to such a higher standard of living that property values increase.

I see a future with new and revitalized churches that count people in services to make better operational decisions and count people far from God to make better ministry decisions.

I see a future where people turn to new and revitalized churches from the arenas of; the arts and entertainment, business, education, the family, government, and media for moral direction, best practices, productivity, effectiveness, ethics, and social justice leadership based on doing what Jesus asks of us. 

I see a future with new and revitalized churches that are connecting people to their personal God-ordained purpose that is more appealing to participate in than any attraction of sin on their life.

I see a future with new and revitalized churches that are not afraid to speak the truth in love and embrace every word of the Bible, even the uncomfortable ones.

I see a future with new and revitalized churches that are bursting with the love, mercy, grace, happiness, joy and peace of Jesus Christ and moved into action from a broken heart for people still far from God.

Get More From Your Time; Stop Casting Vision As A Leader

Casting vision is a waste of time.001I have decided that casting vision is a big waste of time.  And, I don’t want people on my team doing it anymore.

A couple weeks ago I took my son fishing for the first time.  He’s three and half and was very excited to go.  We got our gear ready, hunted for worms and found a snake first, but eventually got us some worms.  We headed to the lake, found a bench and got down to business.

Not being one who wanted to just watch the bobber, he slowly reeled in after every cast.  Which means I spent a lot of time casting.

Later that night, I was reflecting first on how awesome it was to experience that 5 minutes of fishing with my son.  I mean, he’s three, after five minutes it was more about the turtles and birds that could be seen rather than the hidden fish.  But slowly my mind wondered to what illustrations and lessons I could catalog in Evernote to later retrieve for blog posts, sermons or public speaking events.

My mind landed on casting vision, and slowly I realized that a lot of leaders, including myself, get this all wrong.  I think it’s because of the picture the word “cast” or “casting” creates in their mind.

There are two primary definitions of the word “cast” as a verb.

  1. throw something forcefully in a specified direction.
  2. cause light or shadow to appear on a surface.

I don’t know who first coined the phrase “cast vision”, but I bet they didn’t mean….”toss out a picture of a preferred future and hope someone picks it up.”  I have a feeling they meant, “paint a picture in such a way that those who see it stop in their tracks and consider themselves waking as a character in your painting as they help carry more light into dark places.”

Many leaders today think adding a quick note or statement about the “why” behind an action is vision casting.  Why is not vision.  Why is our purpose for doing.  Vision is the picture of a magnetic future that attracts others to leverage their time, talent, and treasure to turn the painting into reality.

From now on, in my teams, we will no longer cast vision.  Instead, we will share our vision and we will share it all the time.

For today, I want to focus on the language we use.

Here’s some wording to help move from vision casting to vision sharing.  These statements work in one-on-one conversations, print media or public announcements.

  1. Imagine what your life would be like if someone “did this” for you.
  2. If “this thing” happened in your life, how would you describe it to your friends?
  3. Who do you know who would benefit from this?
  4. When I first experienced this, it moved me from “there” to “here”.
  5. The people who contributed to this said they did so because…..

Here’s a concrete example from the church world and announcements.

Vision casting:

If you tithe or give here on a regularly basis, we want to say thanks for being part of what God is doing here by helping support the efforts behind our food pantry.  Last month 50 families got the food they so deperatly needed.  This is a need we are blessed to be able to to fill in our community becasue you are a generous church.

Vision Sharing:

Imagine for moment you have no idea where you are going to get food for your or your family next week?  You haven’t wasted your money, there’s just not enough available to pay the rent, fix the car, and buy food.  Imagine walking into our food pantry were you are treated with respect and dignity, where you find nonjudgemental help with no strings attached.  That’s what happned last month to 50 families in our community because of the work we can do together by the sharing of our time, talent and treasure in providing a food pantry that goes beyond handing out food.  It builds people up.

Beyond announcements and statements, there are numerous other things that must happen to share vision.  I’ll be writing more about those coming up.  Join my email list to be in the know when those resources are available.


7 Reasons I’ve Decided To Be A Bivocational Pastor

Dream Big and Work Hard.001The church planting journey we are on has lead to several major changes in our lives. Moving 10 hours from family, living in a townhouse with a small yard, and tapping into savings to live have been just a few.

It’s also lead to some amazing conversations as husband and wife and some really candid conversations with God.

As I’ve matured in my faith over the years, I’ve had to move from asking God to help me deal with the situations of my life to asking Him what He wants me to learn in each situation.

Currently, I’ve been praying, talking and thinking a lot about financial provision.  While I have the faith God is going to provide for us, I still have a role to play.  The earth will produce our food, but God clearly told Adam mankind would have to work for it.

So, we have decided to change directions a bit.  We had been thinking our financial provision would come through donations.  And, while I see nothing wrong with this approach to ministry it wasn’t right for us.

We have decided that I will be a bivocational pastor instead.  Now, you either don’t care, think bivocational pastors lack faith or think it’s a great idea. For me and my family, this is the right decision; here’s why.

  1. A bivocational pastor is not reliant on the income from the church; therefore, he tends to speak more freely.  There isn’t a foothold for the devil to lie and say “whoa there fella if you say that people might get made and hold back their tithe.”  In fact, I’ve worked in the past with many pastors who wanted to make a certain decision but were afraid to because of their job security.  For me, I can struggle with what others think of me; so I could easily fall into this.
  2. Being a bivocational pastor will give me contact with unchurched people to witness to that otherwise I wouldn’t have the opportunity.
  3. I’m better positioned to model “every member a minister”.  In other words, being in the marketplace isn’t an excuse to not participate in the work of Kingdom building.
  4. The church will have more of its monies available to do mission work.  Now, for some churches they believe that paying a full-time salary is the best way to allocate their funds.  I support them.  God has entrusted them to handle their funds prayerfully the best way they can.  The same is true for Coastal City Church.  And, as the senior pastor, I believe this is what’s best for our funds.
  5. By necessity, I’ll have to invite and equip more people to do the work of the church….which is what we are called to do in the first place.
  6. I believe this will make me a better communicator of the Gospel.  I’ll stay in touch more with how the world talks, what their fears are, what excuses they have holding them back from accepting Jesus.  There are 5.5 billion people on the planet out of the 7.5 billion people alive that have no relationship with Jesus Christ.  I for one feel urgency to reach these people anywhere and everywhere I can.  I need to be the best communicator I can be.
  7. I’ll have to be hyper aware of my time management and productivity.  I can easily major in the minors if I have margin in my calendar.  By working with my wife to prioritize my time I’ll be a more attentive Christ-follower, husband, father, friend, leader, and pastor. I’ll have to say no to knucklehead stuff and focus on the important.

So, thanks to a good man and a great leader, Kirby Hasseman, I’m hanging out my shingle to put my creative side to work helping people develop promotional programs to achieve business/organizational goals under the Hasseman Marketing umbrella.

In other words, if you want or need a promotional product with your logo on it to help with client acquisition, employee retention, resale, customer appreciation, etc….I’m your new go-to guy.  Together we will answer some key questions in leading us to the perfect product that helps you achieve the goals you have.  From pens to shirts, hats to calendars and teddy bears to signs; I’ve got you covered.

Thanks for reading this update on the Dinglers.

Please pray for:

  • For provision of time, talent and finances in achieving the strategic plan for Coastal City Church
  • The building of new relationships and opportunities for me to invest in the success of other organizations by setting them up with promotional product programs that work for them.
  • Continued blessings and growth in our family’s relationships and health.


Consumed By The Call,


The Five Stages of Parenting

Five Stages of ParentingOne of the questions I’ve been asked most by parents goes something like this.  “Can you help me connect with my 12-year-old daughter?”  or “I just don’t get it, we use to be so close.  What happened?”

The way we approach parenting our children need to change from child to child and as each child get’s older.  This is one of the things that can make positive parenting so challenging.  Just as we think we have it figured out, our kids change.

But isn’t that what you were going for?  A kid who is maturing and changing into the productive adult God desires them to be?

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a road map or some guidelines on “how” we should be parenting our kids as they grow older?  Well, there is.

One of the things I’ve been able to document about kids over my years of working with thousands of youth in summer camp is the developmental and relational changes they go through from one age group to another.  I’ve literally seen an entire generation grow up; one week at a time, once per year, year after year.   And, I’ve seen trends in age gouging that I’m now applying to my own parenting.

Here is a brief overview of the five stages of parenting.  I’ve adopted the wording of each stage that I heard Andy Stanley use.


Birth to approximately 1 year.

Connecting.  It’s important in the first several months for parents and kids to connect.  A baby cries, and get’s comforted.  A baby has every need met by a parent.  A baby cries again and get’s comforted.  This cycle continues and the child realizes that mom and dad are there for them.  Mom and dad will take care of their needs.  Mom and dad love them.  Mom and dad make life safe.  Mom and dad will be there.


Ages 1 to 5.

Discipline.  Laying down a foundation of cause and effect will help your kids believe you when they are older and you tell them; “this relationship is going to hurt.”  or “that behavior is bad for you.”


Ages 6 to 12.

Training.  In this stage of parenting, you’ll still be responding to and correcting behavior, but you’ll be adding in more training.  Both in regards to skills, but also habits.  Study habits, chores, choosing good friends, work ethic, etc.


Ages 13 to 18.

Coaching.  In this stage of parenting, the name of the game is proactive vs reactive.  With kids at this age, parents really want to focus on upcoming decisions vs how the school day just went.


Ages 18 and up.

Friendship.  God didn’t give you kids to fill your need for companionship and friendship.  That’s one reason you get married.  But, once your kids are 18 or older; they should be living their life.  It cracks me up to no end how many moms call me asking if I’m hiring because their 20 year old “is looking for a job”.  No they aren’t…mom’s looking for a job for them.  (PS.  Moms, I never hire anyone over the age of 18 who’s mom or dad calls me to inquire about a job.  Never.)


How Church Planting Is Like A Rollercoaster

Rollercoaster Church Planting.001Have you ever been on a rollercoaster? If you have, you either hated it or loved it. Psychologists say that regardless if you desire to go on more or stay far clear of the loops and jarring twist and turns, these two very different reactions are in response to the same thing. And that is the feeling of just letting go and being at the sheer mercy of the ride.

For some of us, we love that. For others….not so much. Luckily, I’m one who loves it. Why luckily? Because I’m starting to realize how much church planting is like being on a roller coaster.

1. At Any Moment, This Ride Is Going To Come Apart

I don’t know who first said it, and I’m pretty sure it was an airplane they were talking about. But, every time I’m on a coaster (or a plane) I remember hearing; “you know, the lowest bidder got to build this thing.” Well for me, in regards to church planting….I’m on a ride that has been constructed by the creator of the Universe. In fact, a guy named Matthew recorded Jesus saying; “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” – Matthew 16:18 ESV

I’m not building me a church, I’m not building a legacy to pass on to my children. I’m working to honor God by leveraging the gifts he gave me to do what I’m created to do.

2. Act Like This Anywhere Else And Be Thrown In Jail

I’m writing this article while sitting in a Starbucks. (Here is a picture of my view) I bet, even in a Starbucks, that if I threw my hands above my head and started screaming as loud as I could that I would get the privilege of meeting some of Virginia Beach’s finest men and women in blue. (Actually….I think their uniforms are black, but you knew I meant the police.) But for me, as a church planter….I’ll follow the words of advice of David. Who, after being scolded for dancing for joy for God’s sake replied: “I’ll become even more undignified than this.”

To many of us fear what others will say. I’m sure there are folks who think Marissa and I are mad. Giving up everything we had, going all in with our money, time, talents and all of our possessions to build a church to care for people we’ve never met would, to some, seem crazy. But we do this to honor God. And I’m not even close to being done yet with what I’m willing to do for God. Short of sin….I’ll do whatever it takes.

3. Bumpy

A rollercoaster has the ability to knock you around a bit. I’ve been on some coasters that actually hurt me some. What can I say, I have a sensitive system. Well, church planting isn’t a smooth ride. In fact, it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

There are so many decisions to make, so much money to raise, so much work to do, so many relationships to build, so many leaders to recruit and equip…the list goes on and on. But, like rollercoaster pain, it will be over before I know it. Sure, once the church launches January 22, 2017, the ride will change and be just (if not more) challenging. But then, in time…that ride will change.

I love different. God has gifted me with the ability to dream big. In fact, just yesterday I had an amazing conversation about the future with a couple I’ve met, Bob and Debbie. They have an amazing ministry to the homeless in Virginia Beach. And, I plan to give them as much support as Coastal City Church can….even before we launch. Anyway, Bob was sharing with me his vision for a transitional house they would like to own and run to help homeless people move from the street to self-sufficient living. I shared with him my vision for the future in regards to a church facility.

I don’t want to ever build a church. I want to see us engage the community around the “church” with a life enrichment center. I told him, I want a church that has on its street front a sandwich shop. A place where we hire those that need someone to take a chance on them. For example, what if we hired homeless people and in addition to their hours of work, we paid them an additional 2 to 5 hours per week to take life enrichment classes.

Who knows, maybe one day Coastal City Church will provide the employment and Homeland Disciples will provide the housing.

I may change rollercoasters from time to time, but I’ll never leave this “park” of church planting until God lifts the burden from my soul to reach people far from Him with the hope of the Gospel truth.

Want to join us? Check out our support page.

Consumed By The Call,


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