Blog Archives

Step Back to Move Forward

Step back growth

Step back, Re-focus, Move on

On the Australian coat of arms is a picture of an emu and a kangaroo. These animals were chosen because they share a characteristic that appealed to our forefathers. Both the emu and kangaroo can move only forward, not back. The emu’s three-toed foot causes it to fall if it tries to go backwards, and the kangaroo is prevented from moving in reverse by its large tail.

I love this illustration; I am all about moving forward, keeping your eyes on the goal, never give up, but I have learned that sometimes you have to take a step to move forward. Everyone, whether it be in business, your personal life, church growth, will hit a slump or get a curve ball. When that happens we get the opportunity to pause and reevaluate. The article below is a great illustration of someone stepping back to move forward.

Efrain Escudero Looking back to move forward
By Jordan Newmark April 08, 2012

When a professional athlete rebounds from a slump or a setback, the easiest conclusion to jump to is that they added something “new”. A change in routine, mindset, workout, technique or anything that has been recently tweaked by the world’s latest and greatest ideas.

For many, this is the case, but for others, like UFC lightweight Efrain Escudero, rediscovering what they did in the past is how they progressed in the future. For “Hecho en Mexico”, the journey back to the Octagon was accomplished by fighting for the reason that originally drew Escudero to the sport: because it was fun. … “I went back and saw my old tapes, my old highlight videos, and what I did in them – I had fun,” states Escudero. “Every time I went to the cage I was having fun. I wasn’t scared, I wasn’t nervous, I was ready to have fun. Getting called back up to the UFC, I had fun having to bust my butt again to get back where I belong.” 

Recently, we had a couple of key staff members move on for very positive, personal reasons. When this happened we knew we would have to make some major changes, so we took this opportunity to step back, not to dwell in a pity party, but in keeping our eyes on our goals, to pause, redirect and move forward again. We are truly excited about our new structure and direction. We are expecting great things to happen!

So while we may at times pause and step back our constant direction over time is forward.

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen


Plan backwards as well as forward. Set objectives and trace back to see how to achieve them. You may find that no path can get you there. Plan forward to see where your steps will take you, which may not be clear or intuitive. – Donald Rumsfeld


Dream Again

Dream again

Your Never Too Young or Too Old

Recently, I have had the opportunity to speak frequently on the topic of  “Dream Again.” In these talks I remind people that no dream is too big or too small. I also tell people that, “you are never too young or too old to pursue your dreams.” I have sighted such people as Joan of Arc, Bill Gates and Mark  Zuckerberg on the “too young” side of the spectrum and Harlan (Colonel) Sanders, Mary Kay and Julia Child on the “too old” side of the spectrum.

A couple weeks ago this concept was brought to life in a very real way. I was a guest speaker a great church, that is about two hours from my home church. After speaking on “Dream Again” many people approached me after each service to tell me about their dreams (either unfulfilled or fulfilled). One particular gentlemen really stood out to me.  This gentleman was in his 60’s and spoke with a profuse stutter.  It took him at least three times as long to tell his story as a non-stuttering person would have. His story was this… He had always wanted to sing in the choir because when he sings he doesn’t stutter. He had, had this dream his whole life. he had hung on to it and not let anyone take it from him.  Well last year he was invited to join the church choir, and recently he had the privilege of singing a solo.

As he told his story his face told the story of profound joy. The joy of a passion realized, and a dream fulfilled. What dreams are laying dormant in you? What dreams are you still chasing?  I encourage you to keep going; keep chasing that thing that God has placed in your heart. I encourage you to DREAM AGAIN!

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen


“For of All Sad Words of Tongue and Pen, the Saddest are These, It Might Have Been…..” – John Greenleaf Whittier

Celera Roundtable 2011

roundtable conferance

Roundtable Conferences are Highly Beneficial to Personal and Organizational Growth

I have had the privilege over the years to attend several Roundtable type events. These events have been among the most impactful training/teaching times in my life.  The opportunity to sit in a room with a small number of other participants and glean knowledge and insight from great leaders is one I will continually take. I always learn so much more in these kinds of settings rather that in a room full of hundreds or thousands of participants, as you are able to look the coaches in the eye and interact with them, asking questions and getting answers.

On May 12th and 13th Celera hosted our annual Roundtable event. We had approximately thirty pastors and church leaders in attendance and two fantastic coaches. For those of you who were there, you know how amazing it was. Dave Stone and Mark Cole were phenomenal; we all (myself included) took pages of notes. Here are some comments from a few of the participants from this year’s event…

That was one of the best leadership events I have attended. Loved the openness of all three, Dave, Mark, and Chris. The most impactful part was just the atmosphere and genuineness of the time. Loved the stories of family and friends. Loved that there was no sense of “we want to impress you”, but a very genuine humility. I told my staff we are all going next year.   – Brad Grams


I enjoyed the transparency and honesty from both Dave and Mark.  They opened up their personal lives and shared their struggles, which made the sessions very relative.  All the points of topic were great and it moved fast. I was thankful to be there and felt very uplifted when I left.  Thanks again.  – Johnny  Hodges


All of us from our church LOVED it!!  Best part was the small intimate setting with only a handful of leaders in attendance.  It allowed for such incredible depth to the discussions.  The coaches were both unbelievable.  God really spoke to us through them and challenged us.  Celera did a great job of blending the coaches.  This should definitely be repeated.  Mark had more of a pure leadership/organizational leadership edge to him while Dave had the ministry/pastor edge to his leadership.  Great stuff! – Randy Sherwood


Thank you for all you did to put together last week’s (Roundtable) meeting. I found it very helpful.  How often do those happen?  I’m in for the next one! – Mark Oberbeck

I highly encourage you to seek out Roundtable type training events.  Don’t get me, wrong large scale leadership/personal growth events are great, and I attend those as well. There is just something about a Roundtable environment that breads growth. Personal growth, leadership growth, organizational,church growth; all of these things and more are given mega nourishment in Roundtable environments. Continually seek to better yourself through books, audios, and coaching of various kinds, and be sure to add Roundtables to your repertoire of learning tools.

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen


Men are anxious to improve their circumstances, but are unwilling to improve themselves; they therefore remain bound.

James Allen

Handshake excerpt – Sally Kristen Ride

Suttle launch

Sally Kristen Ride achieved her dream through persistence and personal development

Here is an excerpt/preview of Chapter 3 of Handshake. Thanks for the comments. Please, keep them coming!

Sally Kristen Ride and the Choice of Personal Development:

In April of 1982, Sally’s years of personal development had a giant pay off when NASA announced that she was selected to be part of the crew for the STS-7, or seventh shuttle flight, on the Challenger space shuttle.

This announcement made history!  Sally Kristen Ride would become the first woman to ever journey into space.  Her years of hard work, late night studying, and pursuit of personal growth had paid off in a way that maybe she had never imagined.  Dr. Ride’s choice to pursue personal development placed her in the history books and opened the door to a journey that most will never experience.

Her six day, two hour flight into space in June of 1983 was a giant success! All that NASA had hoped to accomplish was completed. Although the journey into space had ended in just six short days, the journey of personal growth and development for Sally had just begun…

… Personal development will open doors for you just as it did for Sally Kristen Ride.  It will open the doors of opportunity and allow you to walk through them.  When you realize that learning and growing is a life long journey you will see that along the way opportunity will knock and you will be prepared for it.


Personal development…

1.    Prepares you for future opportunities
2.    Keeps you ahead of the game
3.    Creates other avenues for success

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen


Every day do something that will inch you closer to a better tomorrow.
– Doug Firebaugh

When it’s scary… don’t look down.

staying on Higher ground

Those on Higher Ground will make courageous decisions

Excerpt from: In search of Higher Ground

There are many lessons to be learned from individuals throughout history who have displayed great Courage. From the forefathers who founded this country as, “One nation under God,” they had Courage. To the many men and women in the armed forces who have given their lives for their country, they have had Courage. For the Firefighters and Police Officers who have given their lives to protect and serve others, they have had Courage. For entrepreneurs, dreamers, and  inventors who have shaped  our country’s free enterprise, they have had Courage. For the great leaders our nation has and have had in the past, they have had Courage.

Courage is a great thing! For anyone who has a personal Higher Ground, courage is not an option, it is a must. Whatever mountain you are climbing, whatever dream you are dreaming, Courage must be something that is placed in your backpack as you journey up to this place we have called Higher Ground. Courage is what causes you to blast through the obstacles and opposition you will face. Courage keeps you going when nothing else will. It is the antidote to your fear and the prescription to your insecurities. Your success in life will be marked by the amount of Courage you have. Without Courage this country does not have freedom. Without Courage this nation does not have peace. Without Courage, electricity would not have been discovered, cars would not be driven, and airplanes would be a word that would only be foreign to you and me. Without Courage television would not have been made, Disneyland would have never existed, companies would have never began, and a man would have never walked on the moon. Courage built our country and it will build your dreams and help you reach Higher Ground.

In my own life, Courage is what has kept me going when facing different obstacles and pressures. Many times fear grips my heart and uncertainty of the future causes me to doubt, but it is Courage that keeps me going. Courage at the very core is always the same. What I mean is that it does not matter who you are or what dream you are attempting to live out, there is a kind of Courage that is necessary for everyone. The kind of Courage I am speaking about is the same kind necessary to be the President of the United States in times of crisis. The same kind of Courage that an owner of a company must have when facing difficulty. The same kind of Courage necessary for you to reach your highest potential or for you to make a dream a reality. Let me break it down for you and show you how Courage is lived out for someone like you who is seeking Higher Ground.

As I have mentioned before, the church where I Pastor is in the middle of a building project. Anyone who has been part of any building project knows that there are several challenges that are faced each day. One of the greatest challenges is finances. A great deal of money is necessary to buy the land and to build. A church is a non-profit organization so raising funds can become very difficult. Finding lenders who will finance your project can become extremely difficult.

There have been many times that we have continued our journey even though we could not see the road in front of us. Hiring architects and engineers before we owned the land, because we knew that for various reasons we needed to move quickly. Moving forward with our permit process without having all the financing in place. The list goes on and on of various times in which the road was unclear, but we needed to move forward. That’s where Courage comes in. Courage to move forward even when things are a little unclear. Most people make the mistake of waiting until there is no risk involved before they proceed. They create the largest safety net possible and wait for all questions to be answered before continuing their journey up the mountain. I agree with President Lincoln when he said, “Good things come to those who wait, but only what’s left over by those who hustle.”

Every great leader, dreamer, inventor, founder or Higher Ground seeker has to have the courage to make the tough decisions. Sometimes we are blessed with the luxury of waiting, contemplating, and seeking advice. Other times the decision must be made immediately and you have to have the courage to make it. That is not an easy thing to do, because no one wants to be wrong. However, the reality in decision making is part of the process for anyone who is on the road to Higher Ground. It has been recorded that former President Eisenhower nearly blew it on D-Day because of his fear to make a tough decision immediately. Before his decision to react he was quoted as saying, “No matter what the weather looks like, we have to go ahead now. Waiting any longer could be even more dangerous. So let’s move it!” He proved himself a great leader when he made the toughest decision in his military career and he made it quickly.

Throughout my life there have been tough decisions that had to be made. Sometimes I was right but often I have been wrong. That’s part of decision making, you gather the information you can, seek the advice that’s available, and you make the decision with courage. I have found that the right decision can become wrong when it is made too late.

Edmund C. Lynch, the founding partner of Merrill Lynch, said, “If I made a decision fast, I was right 60% of the time. If I made a decision carefully, I’d be right 70% of the time, but it was always worth it.” You are not always going to be right. When you are wrong, admit it. Correct it if possible and move forward, but do not be afraid to make the next tough decisions that comes your way. T. Boone Pickens once said, “Be willing to make decisions. That’s the most important quality in a good leader. Don’t fall victim to what I call the ‘ready, aim-aim-aim-aim syndrome.’ You must be willing to fire.”

Years ago, I was put in one of those situations where I had to make a tough decision. The decision centered around the standards that need to be lived out by my staff and leaders. As I shared these guidelines with my staff and leaders, it was received well by most, however, there were one or two individuals who struggled with the guidelines. They met with me and shared their opinions, but I knew in my heart the decision I made was the right one. Looking back, I would have made the same decision, but I would have approached it differently. Unfortunately, one of the individuals left my leadership and the organization as a whole. I deeply regret this person’s decision because I care for them and enjoyed their contribution to the team. Tough decisions are part of being a leader and part of the journey toward Higher Ground. Bill Marriott Sr. expressed his view of decision making by saying, “Men grow making decisions and assuming the responsibilities for them.” Be willing to admit when you are wrong, but never lack the courage to make the tough decision.

David Mahoney said that the worst mistakes he ever made were because of the decisions he failed to make. In 1966 he was the head of Canada Dry. The stock was selling at a low price of $11 per share and with about 2.5 million shares outstanding, he could have bought the entire company for $30 million. About twenty years later, he would have been worth about $700 million.
The decisions a person seeking Higher Ground has to make will include:
…and the list goes on.

You gather the information possible, seek advice when available, but don’t be afraid to make the decision necessary. Courage to make the tough call will quickly mark you as a leader or follower, it will separate you from being a dreamer to being a doer, from a mountain observer to a mountain climber.

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen


“If you wait to do everything until you’re sure it’s right, you’ll probably never do much of anything.”
– Win Borden

“What are you Learning?”


keep learning

Leaders Keep Learning


I have said it many times, and I will keep saying it… if you want to be a great leader you must be a great learner.  I personally love to be stretched by learning something new. I find it boring to do the same thing over and over, never adding new knew knowledge or setting out on new adventures. Learning and doing new things keeps life fresh interesting, and exciting. It keeps your brain alert, and your body invigorated. Below is an article from Dan Reiland regarding continual learning, and while his focus is on church leaders the principles apply to anyone who wants to grow as an individual or as a leader.

“What Are You Learning?”

A couple days ago, I changed from a PC to a Mac. I didn’t get any younger or cooler, and maybe became a little slower, for now. But I have increased what I’m learning – and discovering a new way to do things. That alone has great value.

Going to a Mac after a PC is not like learning to ride a horse for the first time, it’s more like learning to ride bareback after being very comfortable in your favorite saddle for a long time. It’s a wild ride a first, a lot of slipping and sliding, with potential to fall, but there are some new freedoms that are pretty cool. (Not to mention I haven’t hit a blue screen or had a freeze up of any kind.) I suspect that in time, I may find myself in a comfy “Mac-Saddle” if I don’t continue to learn, so that’s what I intend to do. That’s the secret. It’s not PC or Mac, contrary to the propaganda, it’s whether or not you keep learning.

I think we all like comfortable saddles, and learning takes us out of our comfort zone. After 25 plus years of leadership I could slip into a zone that allows me believe that this is the season of my life to invest what I know in others. Part of that is true and good, but if I don’t continue to learn, I will quickly become of little value to any leaders I pour into.

Three important questions about learning:

1. How you are learning?

I live in a suburb about forty miles northeast of Atlanta and there are several ways to get there from my house. Its difficult to say which route is best because a number of factors affect that choice. Anything from time of day/traffic patterns to special events like a Falcons game can have a huge impact on my ability to get to Atlanta. So I like as many options as possible. The same is true for how you and I learn. The more options the better.

In the context of this article, I’m not referring to your preferred learning style such as visual, auditory or kinesthetic. I’m talking about the ways you approach and experience learning, and the life contexts within which you learn.

Do you resist or embrace learning? Don’t answer too quickly. I talk with church leaders on a frequent basis that say they love to learn, but when I ask them what they are learning new today, they fumble for an answer. I’m won’t say these leaders openly resist learning, but they resist by default. They haven’t created time and space to learn, so therefore, in effect, they have resisted learning.

Here are some ideas to help you learn.

• Get pushed.

Create a reason that forces you to learn. I asked Tony Mimms, our IT Wizard at 12Stone Church, to cut off my life-support to my PC and force me into the deep end of the Mac learning pool. I was trying to tip-toe into the shallow end and learn my new Mac when I had a few minutes here and there, but I never had time. Once all my files were transferred to my Mac, it was show time! I had to learn! In this case I pushed myself, but I also have a couple guys on staff that are eager to teach me the secrets of the dark side – I mean, how to navigate successfully in Mac World!

Coaches are needed to push you in areas you need to learn, especially in leadership. Do you have a leadership coach? Is there someone or several people you can, on occasion, have coffee with, call or email, who can “push” you in your leadership so you have to learn? Lot’s of people can simply answer your questions, and that is helpful, but you don’t learn as much that way. Being pushed to learn (required / held accountable, challenged) by someone who knows how to guide you is transformational and truly invaluable.

• Try something new.

Experiment. It can be as simple as taking a new route to drive across town or eating at a restaurant you’ve never eaten at before. You will always learn something new if you have your eyes open. The experiment can also be complex, such as launching a new way to connect new guests to your church or a new approach to small group ministry. Driving new routes and eating at new restaurants can be done randomly and spur of the moment. But obviously something like a new method for doing small groups must be done with strategic attention and planning. But all these things are, essentially, experiments. In other words, you aren’t locked in for life if it doesn’t work. The key outcome is what did you learn? Success is the goal, but whether success or failure, what you learn is what matters most.

• Rub the right shoulders.

This isn’t about giving someone a back massage. Rub shoulders with people who love to learn and continually learn. One of the things I love about John Maxwell is that is he is a voracious learner. When John travels, from current business culture to ancient history, he’s learning all the time. John is always asking questions, reading, absorbing, and processing. I love it when he comes back and asks me, “Did you know” questions, and then of course tells great stories. I enjoy the stories, and love learning from what he’s learning.

You know the difference between leaders who continue to do things the same way year after year after year; and the leaders who are constantly doing research and development, trying new things and learning daily. Rub the right shoulders!

2. What you are learning?

My family has played trivia pursuit for years. It’s fun but after awhile there is a limit to how many useless factoids we can endure. At some point we all want to connect with information that matters. The literal content or substance of what you are learning makes a difference. You have limited amounts of time, and I’m sure that you, like me, want to make it count.

• Strategic focus.

What are you learning that aligns with achieving your goals? What are you learning that helps you become a better leader? What are you doing that is new and improved in such a way that advances your church and helps those around you become more effective leaders?

• Creative energy.

What are you learning that is fun and keeps the creative juices flowing? I’m taking guitar lessons, something I’ve been doing off and on for a long time. One teacher popped off toward the end of a frustrating lesson (I just couldn’t get it) saying: “I sure hope you preach good!” OK, so I’m not a gifted musician, but it allows my creative side to stay fresh and alive. It’s a creative learning outlet that is fun and allows me to think in a very different realm.

• Intentional effort.

What are you learning that requires intentional effort, but it’s not mandatory that you master it? In other words, it’s not a required part of your job. For me, its technology. When the 12Stone staff read this part, they will snicker and make tons of wise cracks. Technology is not my specialty, but I’m going after it! The interesting thing about any learning pursuit is that you quickly demythologize the subject. When you look behind the curtain you realize there is so much that is attainable if you will make the effort. There are, of course, profound and complex levels of technology that I will never understand, but I don’t need to. Guys like our Tony Mimms, Steve Gimbert, Matt Haff, Doug Irvine and Josh Cash can lead the way! These guys, and others, are the wizards behind the curtain, and help the rest of us learn!

3. What you do with what you learn?

This is where the rubber meets the road. Application is everything. If you don’t use it, even by a lateral connection, what’s the point? When you attend a conference, for example, how did you learn, what did you learn and how are you applying it? Let’s be candid, if you are not applying it, why did you go? We live in an age with overwhelming amounts of information, but you don’t need it all. Here’s my suggestion. Try a little less input and a little more application and experience the difference.

Today I found iPhoto and Photo Booth on my Mac – next is Garage Band . . . soon I will be dangerous!

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen


Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.  ~Chinese Proverb

Risking to outreach

community outreach

South Hills Church 2nd Annual Food Drive

This past Saturday we hosted our second annual food drive/day of outreach. Don’t let the name fool you. Community outreach is something we feel very passionately about here at South Hills. This is just one special day where we stretch ourselves to further reach out to our community.

On that one day the South Hills family fed 409 families that represented 2,300 people.  On that day we also provided clothing, haircuts and connected people to free job skills classes from Smooth Transition. Many families said “thank you so much, we have no food in our home.”  And “Thank you so much, this is a months’ worth of food for our family.”

Also the staff and volunteers had blast!  Here is what one volunteer said:

“My time spent serving the community was one of the most fulfilling experiences in my life.  Several times throughout the day I felt the Lords presence and Him overwhelming me with total joy.  I caught myself having to stop several times so that I could gather my emotions.  God is awesome!”

It was a fantastic day!

So why did we do this?  Because we have made a commitment to “Raise Your Risk for the Disadvantaged” We want to be the flesh of Christ to literally touch people with His love.

Why am I telling you this? To toot our own horn? Well maybe a little. I am very proud of all of our staff, volunteers, and contributors who made this day happen. They worked well and gave big. But equal to that, I want to encourage you to reach out to those in your community who need a loving hand up.

I want to encourage you to be a church that demonstrates a gigantic, God-sized faith. Jesus said, if you love me, you’ll do what I ask. So what did he ask us to do? Seek & save the lost. Serve “the least of these.” Go and make disciples, baptize them. Go farther than your church, farther than your own town, help the church in the next county or another state or even on the other side of the world. These are the radical ideas of our RISK Project.

We raise our risk level when we’re willing to get our hands dirty to meet the needs of the needy. We raise our risk level when we decide to cross the line to have a conversation with a friend to bring them to Christ. We raise our risk level when we say I’ll sacrifice to give more dollars to help other churches grow, to leverage our resources for maximum impact. When you demonstrate a radical risk of faith, incredible things will happen.

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen


“Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Wiling is not enough, we must do.”
– TJohann Wolfgang Von Goethe

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If you speak, you should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If you serve, you should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”     – 1 Peter 4: 10-11

Becoming a Person That Others Want To Follow Part 2

new life umbrella

Leaders nurture those who follow

It has been said that if you are leading but no one is following you are simply taking a walk.  This is a simple but profound statement that every leader must ask themselves, “Is anyone really following me?”   In our previous post we discussed the importance of a leader gaining greater influence and becoming more effective in their leadership.

If you remember we said that leadership is sort of like an “Umbrella.”  The umbrella is in the hand of the leader.  Under the protection of that umbrella are all the departments of the organization.  The success of each department can never, will never, rise any higher than the level at which the leader holds the umbrella.  Leadership sets the standard.  The higher the standard the more effective the leadership.

So how can we “Enlarge our Umbrella?”  How can we gain greater influence and build the kind of characteristics that others would want to follow.  There are some key elements that will help you become the leader that others would want to follow:

1)  Concern – the ability to show you care
Great leaders have the ability to show concern for people’s deepest needs and interests.  This doesn’t mean that you have to be mushy, not everyone is, but you must sense their interest and concerns, show that you care and leave them with the feeling that what they are going through matters to you.  One of the greatest statements I have heard regarding this subject is, “Be more concerned about making others feel good about themselves than you are in making them feel good about you.”

2)  Help – the ability to reach out
To put this simply…Great leaders are Great helpers!  They are out to see others profit; to do better.  They are willing to help when and where needed to make the other person successful.  Zig Ziglar says, “Help enough people achieve success and you will never lack success for yourself.”

3)  Action = the ability to make things happen
Something always seems to be happening around a person with charisma.  The charismatic person has an aversion to being boring.  They have an ability to create action…the kind of action that people want to be around.  They are movers, shakers, history makers and that kind of energy is contagious.  If you want to be a great leader that others want to follow, then be a person of action.

4)  Results – the ability to produce
People want to be on the winning team and great leaders that produce will never lack for people to want to join their squad.  Be a person who executes and who gets results.  Develop a winning tradition in your life and career.  If you develop this kind of characteristic in your life, people will do almost anything to partner with you.

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen


“Leadership is the capacity and will to rally men and women to a common purpose and the character which inspires confidence.”
– British Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery

Neglected Church

Neglected church

A neglected church disappears

What happens when we stop actively pursuing the kingdom of God?  What happens when we put blinders on, so that we only see our own small life or only the lives of those already in our church? What happens when we no longer see the needs of the world around us? What happens when we no longer care enough about the billions of people who are waiting to hear about Jesus enough to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT? We are the church. The people who attend our church building each week are only one small part of THE CHURCH! Recently, I came across an article by Craig Brian Larson from It pointedly shows that what is neglected fades away.

Church Disappears One Brick at a Time

Orthodox Church officials in Russia discovered in 2008 that one of their church buildings had disappeared. Poof—gone! The 200-year-old building northeast of Moscow had gone unused for a decade, but the Orthodox Church, which was experiencing growth, was considering reopening the church building, and that’s when they discovered their building wasn’t there.

They had to get to the bottom of this. After investigating the matter, the church officials did not blame aliens from outer space for the missing structure. Rather, they said the perpetrators were villagers from a nearby town, whom they said had taken and sold bricks from the building to a businessman. For each brick, the thieves received one ruble (about 4 cents).

This two-story church facility did not go from being a building to not being a building in one bulldozing stroke. Rather, the bricks were apparently chiseled out one by one by lots of people. In the same way, some churches—built not of bricks but of “living stones,” that is of Christians—are not reduced in one fatal stroke but rather by Christians one by one choosing not to be involved. Each decision means one less living stone. In the end, the church, intended by God to be the display of Christ’s glory, is chiseled away. Conversely, each person who gets involved helps to build a holy temple in the Lord made up of living bricks, where Christ is glorified.

When we choose not to grow we decay. When we do not reach out we shrink in. Choose to care. Choose to grow. The church is not a building; the church is people. People need to hear how much God loves them, and in sharing God’s love God’s church will grow.

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen


“So I rebuked the officials and asked them, ‘”Why is the house of God neglected?”‘ . – Nehemiah 13:11a

“Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.” – Luke 11:42

Overcoming the obstacles that keep you from climbing

Children Racing - overcoming obstacles

She simply tried harder

Excerpt from In Search of Higher Ground – Chapter 2

Whatever your dream or goal is, whatever the road you want to climb, you can be assured there will be opposition.  I heard an inspiring story of a 10-year-old girl named Sarah.  Sarah  was  born  with  a  muscle  missing  in  her  foot.   This unfortunate tragedy caused her to continually be in a brace.  She arrived home one day from her elementary school and told her Dad that she had competed in “Field Day,” a day designed with a variety of competitive events for the kids.  Because  of  her  leg  support,  the  father’s  mind  raced  as he tried to think of some encouraging words to give to his daughter.  Thinking, that with her brace, she probably did not do so well in the competitions.  But before he could get out a word, the daughter said, “Daddy, I won two of  the races!”  The dad couldn’t believe it.  The daughter went on  to  say,  “But  daddy,  I  had  an  advantage.”   The  father thought to himself that the teachers must have given her a  head start because of her brace.  Before he could say anything, the little girl blurted out, “My advantage was that I  had to try harder.”

That  little  10-year-old  girl  figured  out  something  that thousands  of  people  are  still  struggling  with  daily.   She knew that she had obstacles and circumstances that made  her  situation  different.    But  instead of quitting or making  excuses for herself, she simply tried harder.  Each one of us  has  our  own  set  of  circumstances,  obstacles,  and  oppositions.   They  stand  there  like  a  schoolyard  bully  taunting  our dreams and keeping us from moving forward…

As you make your decision to search for Higher Ground, you will run into a variety of obstacles ranging from fear to insecurity to overwhelming circumstances.  However, if you will choose to exchange the lies for the truth and begin to build up your confidence, it will not matter what you face as you climb the mountain to your dreams.  Your momentum will be so strong that any obstacle will seem like a small bump in your personal path of success.

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen


Stand up to your obstacles and do something about them. You will find that they haven’t half the strength you think they have.

– Norman Vincent Peale

David McCarty

I am interested in your audio teaching ““Seven Choices That Will Change Your Life”

Where can I find it?