Remedial Christianity



Hey everyone, this fall I celebrate my 20th fall kickoff in campus church ministry!  (I am feeling OLD)  The last 3 weeks have been a whirlwind of preparation, prayer and excitement.  I thought it might be nice to share with you a brief overview of some of the highlights!   (this is for all of you that wonder….what exactly do these people do?)


A little collaboration for our leadership team

Aug 13-14th : Staff Orientation.  As our leadership team has grown, we have realized the importance of pulling together every year to get re-oriented as to our vision, methods, and processes.  We spent two entire days reviewing the big questions (Why are we here?) & small (how do you update this google doc?) in preparation for the coming school year!

Aug 15th : Listening Seminar.  We spent the day learning (relearning?) some VITAL listening skills that we will use every day here on campus. Our friend Rick Keith a pastor from our sister church, New Life Church, graciously came down from Ann Arbor to teach us how to love Buckeyes better.  SUCH a key ministry skill for all of us.


Aug 16: Jon & Gretchen Moore’s wedding. Love these guys.

move in service

Aug 18-20th: Staff Retreat.  Now that all the administrative & management details were covered, the leadership team of h2o took a couple days for spiritual reconnection and refreshment.  It was a fabulous time of bonding , but more importantly, a time of prayer and reflection on God’s Word. Great way to start the new year.


Worst Golfers Ever?


Aug 20th: Sammy and Savita have their first day of school at Metro middle school.

Aug 21st: Prayer and Fasting.  Probably the best work of the whole year.  We just spent the day asking for God to move powerfully on our campus and in our city.

Aug 22nd: MOVE-IN Day. Campus was an absolute zoo.  Our students were everywhere trying to connect with & serve the new arrivals.

Aug 23rd (morning): Move-In Service.  Despite the fact that many students hadn’t moved in yet, and the freshmen had only been around for 24 hours, 500+ folks filled the Great Hall Mtg room at the Union as we kicked off our new sermon series on Galatians — “How the Gospel Redefines Everything”

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Two of our newest staffers, David & Becca, get ready for communion

fired up

Who’s fired up??

standing room only

Worst seats in the house…


Aug 23rd (afternoon): Involvement Fair.  We had a HUGE team of students volunteer to help us at involvement fair, where we met thousands of new students.  We gave away 3000+ bottles of water (which was good because it was HOT), and took hundreds of spiritual interest surveys.

inv fair2inv fair

Aug 23rd (evening): Leadership Community Kickoff. I forgot to get a picture, but there was about 125 of h2o leaders there to worship and dream about what God might do this year in our midst.  We are praying for our theme passage of I Thessalonians 1:4-8….that the Gospel would come with power, that we would become imitators of Christ, and that the Word of God would RING OUT at OSU and in Columbus!


Aug 24th: We tried something new this year, called “The Plunge”. A mtg specifically geared towards freshman. The goal was for them to meet our saints and learn about “how to survive their 1st year at OSU”.  This seemed like a huge success.  We had over 200 freshman there, and it was quite engaging and interactive.  We are praying that many of them decide to jump right into our small group community as a result!


Aug 25th- Aug 29th:  Chalking.  Flyering.  We went to every welcome week event that OSU hosts and made it our goal to CONNECT WITH PEOPLE.  Meet them. Love them. Serve them.  And provide some fun, relational alternatives for new students over that 1st week on campus.

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Is h2o among OSU’s “opportunities in Chemistry”. We decided YES!

Aug 26th- Aug 28th: h2o coffee tent.  In an effort to love and serve students during their first few days of classes, we set up a coffee tent starting at 8am on the Oval.  We just gave out free coffee as people passed by, and struck up conversations.  Nothing to sell.  No huge agenda.  Just wanted to let people know we were there and we cared about them.  As the day wore on and it got hotter, we switched to lemonade and popsicles.  This guy is named Jarrod, and this is his very first time tasting coffee.   A future coffee addict I’m sure.



h2o city core team

Aug 27th: h2o City core team meeting. Our ever growing community of young professionals & couples, called “h2o city”, had their first core team meeting for the fall. There were 50+ folks there to pray and dream about our future. God has great things in store here!

Aug 30th: Kickoff Sunday.  Labor Day weekend.  Brutal Thunderstorms.  And yet, God still filled up Hitchcock Hall with men and women who were eager to worship Him.  Afterwards our amazing team of volunteers still managed to grill hundreds of burgers and dogs & God even stopped the rain just long enough for all to have our Meat & Meet.  (I have no idea who came up with that name)  It was so good to connect with old friends and meet new ones.


Sept 1st: Labor Day.  I went golfing.  Then I took a nap.

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This is Lego City.  No, not the one from the Lego movie, but the one in the Shah house.  So, it is probably no surprise that we watched the Lego movie the moment it was released in theaters….and re-watched it recently when it came out on video.  But I better stop here & throw in a disclaimer before I continue.   I was once rebuked for ‘revealing’ the ending of the Lord of the Rings.  It was 9 years after the movie was released, and 63 years after the book was published….but somehow the statute of limitations had still not expired.  I share this to let you know that I’m now going to talk about the LEGO Movie, so….***SPOILER ALERT****….. feel free to skip this is if you haven’t watched it yet.

Anyway, my kids are sort of Lego junkies.  We have an eclectic city that includes (among other things), a pirate ship, the tower bridge, a couple castles, various vehicles, Star Wars ships, Lord of the Rings landscapes, Lego friends buildings, approximately 400,000 Minifigs & this incredibly large R2-D2 overlooking the entire town.

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The city even has “laws” and elects a “mayor”.  [I was recently defeated in the latest election, but that’s a story for a different time.]  It has even been used as the set of a major motion picture.

Anyway, we had waited for the movie to come out and we loved it.  But strangely, I have to admit, I connected pretty deeply with Lord Business.  This was somewhat troubling as he is the villain of the story, but I came out of the theater thinking, “that guy was just misunderstood.”  I pondered it for about 5 minutes, and then proceeded to go on with my life.

Well, last week we watched the movie again, and I had a chance to analyze my deep sympathy for the movie’s antagonist.   As I watched I realized that Lord Business is living out some of my biggest leadership temptations as a PARENT and as a PASTOR….

Like this….

I secretly want my kids (and congregation) to blindly believe that “everything is awesome”.

I am not sure if you have had the joy of hearing that song in it’s entirety, but since we downloaded the soundtrack, I have had the privilege of hearing it sung in our home at least 4000 times.  In the movie it was cute.  Maybe even catchy.

Now I can’t stand it.  The lyrics are absolutely inane.

Seriously, it is the worst.

But in my heart, parts of me are strangely attracted to it.  Sometimes I wish my kids and my church would just blindly sing it and merrily go through life.  Grief, and sorrow, and pain, and doubt….those seem so out of control.  I’m not sure how to help.  I’m not sure how to “fix” those things.  So they scare me.  They make me feel inadequate and weak.

Better that we all put our heads in the sand and just keep singing.  We all might be living in denial about the brokenness of the world, but at least I will perpetuate the illusion that I am doing a good job.

Or how about this one….

I secretly love the idea of a manual that they would follow for life.

In the movie, President Business has provided a step-by-step manual for life for all the citizens.  Oh to be the leader that has ALL the ANSWERS!  Wouldn’t that be fabulous?  Just read this book, and this blog, and listen to these 4 podcasts and you’ll be all set.

Learning how to follow this mysterious God…on the mountaintop highs, and in the valley lows.  Learning to hear HIS voice, and follow our unique path.  Discovering the good works that God prepared for US, that we were created in Christ Jesus to walk in.   Learning how to be sensitive and responsive to His Spirit.  Learning the depths of His Word, and the growing in the wisdom to apply it.  Then teaching someone ELSE how to do that?

That all sounds way too scary.  And dangerous.

Let’s just write a manual.  Or build a program instead.  Or create a one-hour “worship experience”.   Way easier.  And it’ll keep my schedule relatively free.


Whenever something is the way I like it, I secretly have an intense desire to spray ‘the Kragle’ on it.

I speak the words of faith and creativity and freedom…..but deep down I like things neat and orderly.  I like to know exactly what is going on.  I like it being manageable.  

I’m the guy who will use the same post move on you in basketball over and over again until you do something to stop it.   Boring, but effective.

I’ll the guy who will validate using the same strategy forever , with cliches like, “you gotta dance with who brung ya”

I’m the guy who couldn’t handle taking my kids to water parks….because of the noise and chaos and the constant fear that one of my kids was drowning somewhere.

What will happen if things get out of control?

I don’t know for sure, but the last line of the movie sums up my fears pretty well….

“we are from the planet Duplo, and we’ve come to destroy you!”

Let’s not find out what that looks like.

I’m sure I could go on and on.  Granted, over the years  I have grown in many of these areas, but when life gets messy and chaotic I still feel the urge to minimize brokenness, hand out manuals and grab that kragle.  

I am fascinated by a walk of faith.  

I know it is the only way to truly live.  

But part of me still secretly loves control…

Control makes my world seem safer.  More manageable.  It helps me continue the illusion that I know all the answers and what the future holds.  It helps me manage fear.

But then I read scripture.

I read chapters like Hebrews 11…. story after story of faith.  And I can tell you, that none of them are stories about control & safety.  But they are stories of creativity, and adventure, and redemption….all powered by the creator of the universe.

And I realize that although I sympathize with Lord Business….

I don’t want to be him.


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“So I saw this Jimmy Fallon clip and thought it would be a great activity for us”  When my sister-in-law said this, I had a sense that this would take us down an interesting road, but I was game.  Next thing you know the family is laughing hysterically and engaged in an epic game of Egg Russian Roulette.  Yes, another exciting weekend with my in-laws had begun…


Last weekend my dear wife turned 40 and some of her family descended upon Columbus to properly celebrate.  We had four fun-filled days with her parents (Allen and Sharon), her sister (Sarah), and her boyfriend (Scott).  Now, one of the realities of life is that when two people get married, their two families become connected….whether they like it or not.

It is inescapable.

And that new family has a dynamic and culture all of its own.  One that the new member has to LEARN.  How well you do that can determine whether you view this new family as a tremendous blessing or a lifelong burden.

Luckily for me, in my 18+ years as an honorary ‘Tans’ it has been an adventure.  A fabulous one.  I couldn’t possibly articulate all the blessings that this family has been to my life, but this last weekend I realized one part of the culture that I love.

The Tans Family is committed to living life to the FULL.

In a world where most of us spend our days sitting in front of a box….or staring at our device…. the Tans family likes to actually DO things.  Leave the house.  Enjoy God’s creation.  Learn new things.  Share meals and conversation.

Over the span of four days we filled our days with activity.  We rode our bikes.  We played badminton and other games. The kids learned string figures.  We explored a cemetery.  Scott and Sarah made videos…check this one out….


We watched a film of Kirk (Heather’s brother) singing & playing the ukulele.  We smashed eggs on our faces.  (To our shame we even included our dog Daisy May in the roulette game.  She lost)

We talked and we ate. We ate a lot.  We ate entirely too much.  We tried to burn some of the calories off, but it was too little too late….


But it was worth it.  Because we had 4 days of fun, refreshment and encouragement.  Not because we were busy, but because we were enjoying life with a bunch of people who love the Lord, love adventure and love one another.   It even made me forget the World Cup was on.

Well, except the US game….I did make them all watch 20 minutes of that one…

I love the Tans family.