Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Biblical Checklist for Government

This was a letter submitted to the Letter to the Editor of the Elko Daily Free Press that they printed. I thought I would go ahead and also put it out as a blog post. [Note: This was written for an audience that is different from my normal blog audience so biblical references are omitted.  Also, this is not a complete discussion since it is written for both Christians and non-Christians.]
An Open Letter to All of Our Politicians:

There has been a lot of discussion about recent comments made by Mr. Jim Wheeler (R-NV State Assembly) with respect to his 'obligation' to support whatever his constituents may want, regardless of his personal feelings--even if it meant voting for slavery. (See Nov. 4 article in Elko Daily Free Press)   I believe lost among the uproar is an underlying issue that has and continues to influence the increasing dysfunctionality of our governmental system.  It is the issue of dogmatic ideology.

I believe in ideology--just as the framers of our Constitution did.  I also take a "high" view of the Bible, believing it can provide guidance in these particularly turbulent times.  A few of the guiding principles from Scripture that I believe can be useful:

• Government (and public policies) should pursue justice.  This means that the government has responsibility to address evil acts, to protect its citizenry from oppressive acts of government and others,  and to address social/economic conditions that unjustly limit people in their actual opportunities to live lives of freedom and responsible action.

• Government (and public policies) should always seek the common good of society as a whole.  This means that public policies should put the well-being of the whole of society ahead of certain narrow segments of society (whether those segments are regional, ethnic, economic, religious, or racial).  When all individuals are provided justice, then the common good is advanced.

• Government in and of itself is not evil (even though it can be used for evil purposes). In fact, Scripture says that it is God-ordained.  God says it is part of His plan to provide order for society. But in carrying this out, recognition must be made that this role is active yet limited. Social groups and institutions--especially the church and the family--are also part of God's plan for ordering society.

The Bible has many other things to say about government and public policies.  But in reviewing these three principles above, one can see how there has been significant breakdown in the practical outworking of these principles in modern day politics--and the result has been chaos. 

The comments by Mr. Wheeler seem extreme, but they are indicative of an underlying value that a politician will say and do anything for a particular constituency (otherwise, he or she won't get re-elected). We are far down this road--and the future of properly functioning government seems particularly bleak (which, by the way, is not the first time in our country's history).

My urgent appeal to our elected representatives, our political parties and movements, and to the people who are responsible for electing those individuals--Stop! Reassess and adjust your underlying values, political positions, and strategic initiatives.  Be an ideologue--but use the above three principles as a foundation.

John Schmidt
Spring Creek

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Repairing Broken KOINONIA

It's been quite a few weeks since my last post. It's easy for the busyness of life (meetings, activities, responsibilities, out-of-town company, etc.) to melt one week into the next, into the next...

I want to muse a little longer on this subject of koinonia (see my 10/4/13 post). [By the way, in my last post, I defined koinonia as a partnering-sharing-fellowshipping-stewarding-partaking-companionship relationship.]  Understanding koinonia puts a whole new light on commands such as 'love one another deeply, comfort one another, carry one another's burdens.'  It is more than just ministering to another person--it is partaking, companioning, stewarding, etc. life together.  Our koinonia relationship with God lived out in koinonia relationship with other believers.

Cornerstone gathered last week as a church (or at least a portion of it) to discuss protecting, nurturing, and growing koinonia relationships in our body.  Virtually everyone in attendance has had a 'bad' experience with other believers or churches in the past--resulting in some break in the relationship, a koinonia break.  For some, it resulted in strained or estranged relationships; for others, it even resulted in leaving a particular church body.

In my last posting, I spoke about the role of forgiving others--otherwise our koinonia relationship with God is affected.  The challenge in all of our lives is not only learning to forgive but living out what we learn.  How many of us when we think about a past hurt still get a knot in our stomach? or thoughts of vengeance? or feelings of despair or disappointment or anger?  How many of us, when we see 'that person' in the grocery store, try to avoid that person by going down another aisle, or at least pretending to be interested in reading the sodium level on that can of green beans as they pass by?  How many of us have learned to be civil on the outside, guarding our tongues and demeanor, while the inside is cringing?

If any of that applies to you, you still may have a dark corner of unforgiveness in your life.  I write that last sentence with an 'Ouch!' because I thought I had no unforgiveness until I immersed myself in this word.  How subtle it is to accept, and even embrace, unforgiveness, especially when the hurt/sin was completely uncalled for and patently unfair.

The group from church discussing the subject of protecting koinonia made some excellent observations I'd like to share with you:

1.  We must be a people who learn how to not easily take offense at what others say or do. If we learn how to automatically forgive and let go, the seed of bitterness of unforgiveness never is sown.  [This also applies to not taking on someone else's offense.]

2.  For an offense that cannot be let go (either because of the nature of the sin, the effect on the sinning brother/sister, or the lingering effect on you or the Body of Christ), we must practice Matt. 18:15-20 on a timely basis.  Failure to do so, regardless of the reasoning, affects koinonia. And the enemy has a field day!

3.  If we have failed to practice #2 above on a timely basis, then our responsibility is to forgive and let go.  Scripturally, we have no wiggle room for continuing in a state of even passive unforgiveness.  [The appropriateness of going back to practice #2 after an extended period of time has passed should be carefully considered and determined on a case-by-case basis. This is where godly counsel should be sought.]

God takes koinonia seriously, doesn't He?  Wouldn't it be great to be part of a church who could experience ever-increasing koinonia--even in the midst of all of our messy relationships?  Easy to preach about--much harder to live out.  In fact, I would say it is impossible to live out without the Holy Spirit's empowerment.  May our lives be evident of "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col. 1:27)--and then koinonia will naturally happen.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Rethinking KOINONIA

I am currently preaching a series called 'What Church Is' (a Study in 1 Peter).  Last Sunday, I preached on what it meant to be a koinonia people. As part of that study, I came across a fascinating use of the word koinonia in 1 Peter.   I'll get to that in just a minute.

I've shared with you before how the word shalom is a word so rich in meaning that it really can't be translated well without using a hyphenated definition (peace-prosperity-wholeness-completeness-wellness-health).  It's the same with koinonia.

I had always assumed the word koinonia was translated 'fellowship'--a one-for-one translatable word. But in 1 Peter 4:13, I read this:  "Rejoice that you participate (koinonia) in the sufferings of Christ."  Say what? 

I quickly discovered that the word koinonia also needs to be viewed as a hyphenated definition.  Koinonia does define a relationship, but in a much more expansive way than just 'fellowship'.  A good definition would be: a partnering-sharing-fellowshipping-stewarding-partaking-companionship relationship.

The implications of this become mind-boggling. For example, in 2 Peter 1:4, we "participate (koinonia) in the divine nature."  We share in the very nature of God through Christ!  The essence of the Church, the Body of Christ, is found in this word koinonia. We partner with God in His activity, share in His nature, and steward that which He has given us.  The koinonia relationship that we are to have with each other is literally the practical expression of God's agape love (love in action)--the koinonia that He wants to have with us.

John put it this way in 1 John 1:7: "If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship (koinonia) with one another..."  Do you see that?--the evidence that we truly have koinonia with God is demonstrated by our koinonia with one another!  Another way of saying this: If we are not experiencing koinonia with another believer, we are not in koinonia with God (i.e., walking in the light as He is in the light).  It is impossible to have a koinonia relationship with God and not share it with the rest of God's people.

Understanding koinonia puts a whole new light on commands such as 'love one another deeply, comfort one another, carry one another's burdens.'  It is more than just ministering to another person--it is partaking, companioning, stewarding, etc. life together.  Our koinonia relationship with God lived out in koinonia relationship with other believers.

If what Scripture says is true about a break in koinonia relationship between believers causes a break in koinonia with God (see Matthew 6:14-15), how many Christians are sitting in a church today with broken koinonia relationships in their past?  They've left their previous church because they were upset with the music, or the pastor, or the direction of the church, or the change in programs, or the color choice of the new carpet, or...  Whatever the reason (good or bad), there was a break in the koinonia relationship.

Many churches starting today arise as a result of these kinds of beginnings--precipitated out of a koinonia break. I'm part of a denomination that starts a lot of churches as a result of church splits/disagreements.  I even got caught up in one of these 'new starts' many years ago.  But I wonder...
  • I wonder...if we can really expect God's fullest blessing if we ignore broken koinonia with each other?
  • I wonder...if so much of the spiritual apathy and complacency we see in the American church is because of us not living out the reality of koinonia?
  • I wonder...if why we see a lack of distinctiveness (holiness) amongst so many of God's people is because it is the natural outgrowth of being out of koinonia with God?
  • I wonder...if churches really understood the koinonia of believers, would there be a greater unity among churches in a community?
  • I wonder...if churches really walked the talk about koinonia and unity, the words of Jesus' prayer would be answered that the world would believe (John 17:21-23) because of our unity and koinonia?
  • I wonder...if our prayers for revival (which always must start with repentance) should be refocused on praying for restored koinonia?
Just wonderin' as I sit here musing...

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

6 Characteristics of a Church on Mission

In my current sermon series out of 1 Peter  on 'What Church Is'--I recently discussed the need to love the city and its culture (while not compromising/conforming to it). Related to this subject, Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, discusses six characteristics of a missional church ("The Missional Church", June 2001).

1.  Its members love and talk positively about the city/neighborhood.

2.  They speak in a language that is not filled with Christianized self-righteous or technical terms and phrases, nor using disdainful or embattled language. [In other words, not creating an 'us vs. them environment'--which is a very difficult place to start when desiring to share the good news of the gospel.]

3.  Preaching and Bible studies are not disconnected from the core concerns and stories of the people of the culture.

4.  The people of the church are obviously interested and engaged with the literature and art and thought of the surrounding culture and can discuss it both appreciatively and yet critically.

5.  The church exhibits deep concern for the poor and generosity with their money, respect with regard to the opposite sex, and shows humility toward people of other races and cultures.

6.  They do not bash other Christians and churches.

Tim Keller says that when these characteristics are present, seekers and non-believers are more likely to explore spiritual issues with that church.  If these marks are not present, then that church will only be able to include believers or traditional, "Christianized" people.

Become a people committed  to blessing our community by celebrating creativity and diversity while recognizing the need for gospel renewal.  "And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:8)

(If you want to be notified of future blog postings, friend me on Facebook 'John Schmidt'.  Also, my recent sermons in both an audio and video format can be found at

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

10 Church Diseases

A friend of mine forwarded this to me and I thought I'd share it with you.  Following is my summarized repost of a repost by Thom Rainer (  Interesting list--does your church exhibit any of these early warning signs?

By Chuck Lawless

In the 1990s, Peter Wagner published The Healthy Church, a book describing several diseases that churches sometimes exhibit. Some of his descriptions are quite helpful (e.g., koinonitis = excessive, inward fellowship), and the list itself challenges readers to come up with their own descriptions. Here are ten diseases I see as I consult with unhealthy churches around the country:

1.       Community Disconnect Disease. Churches with this disease meet within a given community, but they do not know that community. Often, church members drive to the church building, meet as “church,” and then drive home—without ever taking note of a changing community around them. In fact, I’ve seen church members with this disease lock their doors as they drive through the community where their congregation gathers.

2.       Methodological Arthritis. The name says it all: this church is stuck in doing things the way they’ve always done them. Change (that is, movement) is painful, and it’s seemingly easier not to take a step forward. What these churches often don’t recognize is that standing still is also risky. Eventually, they will not move at all.

3.       The “Grass is Greener” Syndrome. This syndrome is a malady of leaders who are always looking for the next church leadership position. They establish no roots, and their current congregation is only a stepping-stone to the next place. Because they are always looking elsewhere, they miss the present tense blessings of their ministry. And, though leaders think otherwise, a church often recognizes when its leader has this syndrome.

4.       Professional Wrestling Sickness.   Professional wrestling is hero vs. villain, right vs. wrong, good vs. evil—but it’s all fake. The church with PWS talks a good game in standing for righteousness, but hypocrisy is everywhere. And, as in professional wrestling, most spectators watching the show know it’s fake, too.

5.       Program Nausea. Churches with Program Nausea try a program, toss it soon, and then quickly try the next one. They never have a settled “organizational stomach” and direction. Members of this kind of diseased church are so accustomed to change that they seldom invest in any program. Why should they invest in what will soon be spit out, too?

6.       Baby Believer Malady. This congregation is doing evangelism well, but they have no strategy to grow new believers. Their unwritten, and wrong, assumption is, “As long as you show up for our small groups and worship service, you’ll grow.”  This church disciples poorly and often elevates leaders on the basis of attendance rather than spiritual maturity.

7.       Theological Self-Deception Ailment. I am cautious here, lest I leave the impression that theology does not matter. No church with an unbiblical theology can be healthy. TSDA, on the other hand, is characterized by a belief that teaching theology is all that is required to be a healthy church. Teaching theology is critical, but a theology that does not lead to intentional evangelism, disciple-making, and global missions is not biblical. Indeed, TSDA congregations tend to be classrooms more than New Testament churches.

8.       “Unrecoverable Void” Syndrome.  Church leaders and laypersons alike suffer from this syndrome, characterized by statements like, “This church will close its doors after I’m gone.” Symptoms include spiritual arrogance and self-righteous anger, though they may also include hyper-spiritual speech  (“This is God’s church, and we’ll see what He does when I shake the dust off my feet”). Church members with UVS fail to realize that God’s church will go on without any of us.

9.       Talking in Your Sleep Disease. You may recognize this church. They go through the motions, but the motions lack energy. They meet for worship, yet the singing is lifeless. Even the preaching is lackluster, as if the speaker is monotonously only meeting his obligation. Here is one way to recognize the church with TIYSD: many of the attenders really ARE sleeping!

10.   Congregational Myopia. The congregation with this condition is nearsighted, focusing on themselves only. They have no vision for the future, and they fail to see that their current direction will likely lead to further disease and decline. Ask the leaders what their hope is for the church five years from now, and their description will sound strangely like the church in its current state.

What other diseases come to mind for you?

(If you want to be notified of future blog postings, friend me on Facebook 'John Schmidt'.  Also, my recent sermons in both an audio and video format can be found at

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Why We Need Rural Churches (and Why They May Need to Change)

One of the advantages to becoming disciplined in writing a regular blog (in my case, this seems to be about weekly) is that you become much more aware of potential subjects and/or are constantly thinking about the next blog posting.  For myself, this is an experience that is similar to what I go through every week in my sermon preparation--except I can ramble more in my blog. [Also, I don't have to look at you as your eyes glaze over reading my blog.]

I just finished reading an article in the current issue of Christianity Today called "Why We Need Small Towns" (by Jake Meador, Christianity Today, September 2013).  In this article, the author writes about how residents of smaller communities can "...remind an American church intent on doing and being more that sometimes, the best life is given to quiet, simplicity, and smallness."   He notes that there is a trend among rural churches that is a reflection of the trend in our society--pastors of rural churches are harder and harder to find because 'pastoral success' is measured more about the size of a ministry/church than about making a Kingdom impact for where you are planted/sent.  He calls the resulting rural effect "ecclesial deserts."

Following are a few of my 'musings' concerning this subject:

1.  Every person needs Jesus. Population density per square mile does not change this basic fact of creation.  Thus, evaluating Kingdom need must factor this in--otherwise large swaths of people will die without Jesus.

2.  The independent nature of rural residents (especially Nevada rural residents!) in a post-Christian culture (see my 9/02 blog for discussion on this topic) only underscores the need to focus on the inherent value of 'community' rather than on the institution of the church. 

3.  The emphasis of a rural church in trying to maintain traditional church approaches/programs in an increasingly relationally disconnected society may actually accelerate the decline of that church's life:

-  An emphasis on preaching as the main focal point of a church service (rather than the experience of relating to God and each other in the transformative power of the Holy Spirit) means that paltry preaching translates into paltry attendance.  Also, difficulty in hiring a 'preacher' who will invest in the lives of the community long-term will have a much greater negative impact on a church with this singular sermon-centric focus.  [Don't misunderstand me--God's written Word must always be central, but it must become the Living Word, not just a spoken word.]

-  An emphasis on 'coming to church' to experience Christian life rather than the Great Commission's command to "go to the community" (Matthew 28:19-20) means that it becomes easier and easier for other 'more important' things to take precedent from a community that doesn't want to come to church--especially as post-Christian values and perspectives increase.

- An emphasis by regular church attenders in protecting the traditions of the church rather than seeking ways to become greater influencers in the life of the community will result in a church's slow but inevitable demise.  An unfortunate side effect is that a church becomes more inward focused, thus, losing its call to be a mission organization beginning in its own 'Jerusalem' (Acts 1:8-9).  Once a church begins marching down this path, the energy and focus of church members naturally becomes directed towards church survival--trying to maintain a semblance of 'once was' rather than 'what could be.'

4.  Rural churches must be open to moving away from the ministry model of creating 'attractive events' to a model of ministry that emphasizes becoming an 'attractive community.'

5.  Change is painful. However, growth (in any area of life) can only happen in the midst of change.  By definition, if we are unwilling to change (because of comfort, fear, disobedience, pride/stubbornness, etc.)--we have automatically told God that we are unwilling to grow spiritually anymore.  Accordingly, we should have no expectations of God's blessing on our church because He always considers partial obedience to be the same as disobedience (see the story of King Saul in 1 Sam. 15).

6.  Finally, I would encourage those who are currently serving as pastors in a rural environment to recalibrate your perspective of 'ministry success.'  It is not about bigger and better--it is about responding in obedience to the call of God in every aspect of your life.  We are to operate with a sense of urgency (as if Jesus could come back tomorrow) and we are to always seek to reach more people (because God's desire is that no one should perish)--but we should always do it from smack dab in the center of God's will.

I can authoritatively state, based on Scripture, that God does not desire our rural communities to become "ecclesial deserts" but desires the Body of Christ in every community to be oases of people leading others to He who is Living Water. 

Enough ramblings for today. Until next time...

(If you want to be notified of future blog postings, friend me on Facebook 'John Schmidt'.  Also, my recent sermons in both an audio and video format can be found at

Monday, September 2, 2013

Defining a Post-Christian Culture

This coming week, I'm going to start a new sermon series at Cornerstone called "What Church Is" (a study in 1 Peter).  Peter addresses the church as foreigners, strangers, and exiles (1:12; 1:17; 2:11).  This is exactly what we are--living in a post-Christian culture.

What is a post-Christian culture?  Stuart Murray in his book After Christendom defines it as a society that is shaped less and less by the story of the Christian faith and characterized by a decline in influence of institutions meant to express Christian convictions. He lists seven transitions from a Christianized culture to a post-Christian culture:

1.  From the center to the margins.  Moving from where the Christian story and churches were central to post-Christian where these are marginal.

2.  From majority to minority.  Moving from Christians comprising the majority to where we are the minority.  [I would add that this is more than those calling themselves Christians, but those who are devoted followers of Christ.]

3.  From settlers to sojourners.  Moving from a place where Christians feel comfortable in society [and I would add, complacent], to where they feel like outsiders in their own culture.

4.  From privilege to plurality.  Moving from a place where Christians enjoyed many privileges to a post-Christian culture where our community is one among many in a pluralistic society.

5.  From control to witness.  Moving from where Christians could exert influence on society to where we must communicate (witness to) the story of God and its implications to influence individuals.

6.  From maintenance to mission.  Moving from a place where our focus is on maintaining a supposedly 'Christian' status quo, to being on mission in a contested (and sometimes) hostile environment.

7. From institution to movement.  Moving from a place where the focus was significantly on operating and growing the institution, to a place where the focus must be on once again becoming a Christian movement. [I would add that this movement is a result of the moving of the Holy Spirit--not new gimmicks, programs, or the latest fads.]

I may be in the minority on this, but I am actually encouraged by reading this list.  We lament the state of the American church and the rapid decline in the culture and values of our society.  But what a great opportunity for those who respond the right way and are willing to make the adjustments in how they share the good news (evangelize) in a post-Christian culture.

We need to be shaken out of our comfort, complacency and apathy.  When we become a member of the family of God, our identity is to be so radically changed that it should always appear to the rest of society that we offer an alternative that cannot ever be fulfilled or adequately explained by the world.  In other words, we are foreigners and strangers and exiles in a post-Christian America--called out by the Holy Spirit to be on God's mission.  What a great place to be!

(If you want to be notified of future blog postings, friend me on Facebook 'John Schmidt'.  Also, my recent sermons in both an audio and video format can be found at

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

What Church Is--'Not'

In two weeks, I'm going to start a new sermon series at Cornerstone called "What Church Is - a study in 1 Peter."  Because there is so much negativity found in the press, on TV,  on the internet, and even from our church pulpits--I'm going to make a concerted effort to build a picture of the church based on the positive and encouraging image presented in the book of 1 Peter.

I recognize that one of the more difficult aspects of talking about how and what church is about involves trying to undo centuries of tradition, preconceived notions, and (sometimes) wrong theology.  I read something online recently that was attacking and accusatory towards the church, but many of the points brought up were certainly legitimate.  In an effort to set the stage for this series, I thought I would write my own 'top ten list' as to 'What Church Is Not':

1.  It is not a building.

2.  It is not about 'me.'  (to quote Rick Warren in The Purpose Driven Life).

3.  It is not about adhering to and following a religion.

4.  It is not something that you can do by yourself.

5.  It is not something that man created (it was God's idea!--even though we sometimes do a pretty good job of claiming partial credit).

6.  It is not something that can only happen on Sundays (usually in the morning).

7.  It is not only about the church service.

8.  It is not about the programs, the music, the preaching style, or the pastor.

9.  It is not something the world must attend if they're going to hear about Jesus.

10.  It is not something a follower of Christ can consider optional.

11.  It is not something that is about denominations, constitutions, or organized institutions. (Sorry, I lied about only 10).

I'm sure we all have more items to add to this list (I know I certainly do).  However, you get the point.  We sometimes paint a picture of 'what church is' based upon all we've ever known and experienced.

Someone once said, "If the Holy Spirit left your church, would you even notice--or would your programs and activities continue on as usual?"  Ouch!  I know I want to be a part of a group of people diligently seeking after God and His Kingdom--and when we hear His voice, we respond to it.  I'm looking forward to a fresh look at 'What Church Is.'

(If you want to be notified of future blog postings, friend me on Facebook 'John Schmidt'.  Also, my recent sermons in both an audio and video format can be found at

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Why I Care About Elko, NV

My wife and I moved to Elko, Nevada a year ago.  In that time, we have enjoyed the rugged beauty and pace of life in a rural environment--but that is not why I care about Elko.  We have many friends and are part of a great family at Cornerstone Baptist--but that is not why I care about Elko.  Why I care about Elko is based on something written almost 2,600 years ago.

In 586 BC, Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed by the Babylonian army.  All of the politicians, educators, religious leaders and other persons of note were dragged off to Babylonian exile.  Settling in Babylon, this Jewish remnant was discouraged, frightened and didn't know what their future held.  Their natural tendency was to withdraw into their own 'safe' Jewish community to preserve what little religious and sociological culture they had left. 

But God had a different idea. He sent them some specific instructions that are found in Jeremiah 29. In verse 7, we read this, "Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have sent you [carried you into exile]. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper."

The Hebrew word shalom is a word rich in meaning. We often translate it using the word peace, but it means so much more than the absence of conflict.  It can also be translated (and often is depending on context) to wholeness, completeness, peace, prosperity, health, wellness--that which is a gift from God.  Using shalom in its original context, verse 7 reads as...

"Seek the shalom [wholeness, completeness, prosperity, health, wellness, peace] of the city to which I have sent you. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it has shalom, you too will have shalom."

I care about Elko because God cares about Elko--and He has commanded me (and every other follower of Christ) to care about the shalom of our community.  Shalom involves so much more than just the spiritual--it also includes the physical, psychological, emotional, and relational aspects of our community.

I read in the paper daily about the problems we have in our community--there are many.  But as lovers of God, we are to insert ourselves into the community to be salt and light.  When we become actively involved in being shalom-makers, we not only benefit as members of our community, we have positioned ourselves as a people who can "give a reason for the hope that we have." (1 Pet. 3:15)

For that reason, I was involved in recently chairing a Community Ad-Hoc Homeless Task Force. We issued our report last month (you can request a copy from me at  I organized this group specifically because I saw a need (after God revealed it to me) where I could bring some leadership to bear and be an instrument for bringing shalom.  I do not know how God may use this report--but I do know that the experience was invaluable for the community connections that were made as well as the opportunity for my own personal growth and understanding of this tremendously complex issue.

Being a carrier of God's shalom usually means that one has to go into the community because the community probably won't come to us.  Love God, love others, love Elko.

(If you want to be notified of future blog postings, friend me on Facebook 'John Schmidt'.  Also, my recent sermons in both an audio and video format can be found at