Lessons about church from 'pasgetti' sauce

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*I know I spelled the word spaghetti wrong in the title. And I do it again further along in this blog post (This is so all you Grammar Nazis can continue reading).

I am not completely sure where I'm going with this, but here it is anyways—maybe this is written so you can add your two cents worth.

In Malcolm Gladwell's 2044 TED Talk on "Choice, happiness, and spaghetti sauce," he talks about the power of choice and the importance of understanding universals and variables when making choices. He talks about the cooking/food industry search for cooking universals—one way to treat all of our food desires and taste for food. What they discovered was there wasn't really any universal food desires or tastes.

As I watched Gladwell's TED Talk, I kept thinking about what my buddy Mike Packer has told me,

"It takes all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people."

In a way Gladwell's TED Talk sort of spoke to this point. The researcher in his story proved while it seems on the outside everyone wants or desires the same thing, in reality many don't. So food manufactures, in their effort to be on top of the food industry, needed to broaden their choices they offer to consumers.


Now I know watch your thinking! Is Joe advocating for consumeristic churches—ones that offer everything under the sun or what i like to call Buffet Churches. The answer to this is NO, NO no and no (See I stopped my yelling)... I think a consumeristic bent on Christianity has been the devil's tool to weaken the church. Enough on that, I've blogged about this several times.

I've been there and done that. I am sure it works for some people, but I've been hard-pressed to see costly discipleship. From my experience, people who have latched onto what Bonhoeffer calls "Costly Grace" and are living out a costly discipleship, don't take advantage of the Buffet menu.

I am simple making an observation. Much like what my buddy Mike has shared with me, there is a need for churches of different flavors, worship styles, of different sizes, and etc... It takes all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people.

Much like pasgetti sauce... There is not one right way to be the church.

News flash for you! Not everyone in your city will go to your church. And not everyone will like the way your church does church. So let's stop telling each other how each of our churches should be functioning. Allow the Holy Spirit to shape you, your people, and your church.

God has big plans for you and your church. Stop trying to be like everyone else. Quit being a schizophrenic church.

No more competition. No more Jealousy. Just BE the church the Holy Spirit has called you, shaped you, and allowed you to be.

Do me a favor and read the words of the image to below to yourself three times out loud.


Image found via loswhit


Yeah. Jealousy is a lie.


Let the conversation begin...

Being a faithful and generous church

ascentcc-old-logo I am pretty excited about something! So I'm sharing with you what happened to our Ascent family recently—God used us to be generous church!

Read the story below:

At our All-church meeting a few weeks ago, we expressed our desire and the necessity for us as a church family to expand our generosity with missions partnerships. We shared with all of you a couple of different ministry organizations that we would like to be generous towards—one of these partnerships was with YoungLife Prineville.

We had an opportunity to be generous toward YoungLife Prineville last week! What an incredible story we have to share with you! Last weekend, YoungLife Prineville was having a garage sale to help raise money for teens to attend summer camp. The Ascent had some old stuff from our yard sale from a few years back, which we didn’t sell, so we donated it to YoungLife for their garage sale. And we also made the decision to donate the old rickety trailer for them to sell. Well, they were able to sell the trailer for $500!

It gets even better.

Someone from the community said they would match whatever it was YoungLife Prineville made from the garage sale—so the $500 they made from our donation, ended up becoming $1000! Believe me that will send several teens to YoungLife camp, teens who need to know Jesus.

Thank you Ascent family for your heart of generosity and your desire to share the love of Jesus in any and every way possible! THIS is only the beginning of things to come.


I am so excited about this! Can you tell I'm excited?!?

One of our desires for The Ascent is to be a generous church. We are a small church with a big heart, but limited resources. Nevertheless, we hope to be a faithful church with everything God has given us to be stewards over.

We are still in need of prayers and financial support, as we seek to bring the gospel to Central Oregon and the pacific northwest.

Ways to Partner With Us…

We’d love it if you partnered with us prayerfully and financially. If you want to know more about our new adventure—please read the full story here: We are moving to Oregon

We always need and appreciate your prayers! But we also have financial needs. Fina and I have to raise a portion of our salary. Our commitment to the church is to raise support for two years (That’s $1800 a month for two years—a total of $43,200).

You can help by…

Send financial contributions to:

Ascent Christian Church P O Box 2117 Prineville, OR 97754 Make checks payable to Ascent Christian Church… Please indicate on the check “Puentes Missions” so we can apply it to the correct account. (Your contribution is a tax deductible donation).


Online giving is available: (Be sure to check the box – “I would like to designate this donation to a specific fund” AND select: “Help Pastor Joe Puentes & Family”).

What's on my mind this morning.

What's on my mind this morning:

- I'm so thankful that I get to be the pastor of Ascent Christian Church - I really love preaching. - And I really love preaching through our current series--I believe it will have a huge impact on our church. - We have some amazing people leading ministries in our church. - I'm very excited about who God has placed at our church and the gifts they have. - I am very excited about this coming year. - And the ministry that will be happening at Ascent!

- The realization that we are all made in the image of God is having an impact on how I view and treat people. - #LoveYourNeighbor - We are all broken people. Just some recognize it. Get healing. and become better for it. - I love the fact our church family is willing to acknowledge our messy spirituality.

- The state of Oregon just passed legislature on Marriage. - It was an emotional moment in Oregon history. - #OregonMarriageEqualityRuling. - I don't agree with everything Rep. Mike McLane said. - But he had some wise words to say to the people of Oregon:

20140519-214147-78107394.jpg - Regardless your view of this legislation, we are all made in the image of God and need Jesus. - Now is the time for the church to live out Jesus commandment to love your neighbor. - Luke 10:25-37 - #LoveYourNeighbor

- Humbled that I get to be a part of the Sisters, OR church plant management team: Mountain Range Christian Church - This makes me look forward to our next partnership church plant in Oregon with the OCEF.

- There are a lot of exciting things happening at Boise Bible College in Boise, ID.

- Jeff Walling is one of the best story tellers I've ever heard.

- You're never to old to get a lecture from your dad... - I did yesterday. Yes I deserved it. And no I'm not ready to talk about it :) - I have the best wife a man could ever hope for. - I don't deserve my kids--they are most amazing people I've ever met! - My kids have made some really cool friends--they are a blessing from The Lord.

- I'm fortunate to have friends like Mike, Tony, and Gavin--I love those guys from Warrenton and Astoria, OR.

- Prineville, OR is a beautiful place.20140519-212815-77295210.jpg - I went to The Kilns coffee house yesterday--it's in Bend, OR. - It has a very cool vibe. - And it houses Kilns College. They have a Master of Arts in Social Justice, which I find a bit intriguing.

- The movie 12 Years A Slave, makes me angry (I watched it last night for the first time). - I prefer Smallville over 24. - I like beards. - And probably will grow mine back in the next couple of weeks.


Just let it soak in...

This week I am at a Pastors/Ministry Spring Conference at a small Bible College in Boise, ID.

Aside from missing my family and Central Oregon, I am having a great time hanging out with a couple of my best friends, gathering some fresh and important insight for ministry.

I've also learned how to play Disc golf—I have no idea why I didn't play this before...


Yesterday I sat through a workshop taught by one of my former coworkers during our days at an amazing church in Longmont, CO.

I heard this quote at the workshop that I want to share with you:


"We will not be effective in influencing our culture, if we are focused on ourselves." - Derek Voorhees


Now I understand most of you will want to look more deeply into the "influencing culture" and dissect it, but my contention is not so much the influencing culture part of the quote, but our focus should be on "focused on ourselves."

Many of you won't disagree with me saying the biggest hinderance to the gospel is selfishness.

But maybe you won't like this—many of us design, craft, and operate our churches to cater to selfishness. Not just for the people who attend our churches, but probably mostly for our own selfish desires.

Don't react.

Just let my statement soak in and think about it...

Then repent.

I did.



*If your interested in learning about flattening the church and moving the church toward the art of neighboring, I suggest you take a look at LifeBridge Christian Church in Longmont, CO.



Are we doing things backwards in the church?

Photo Credit: Pixabay I just saw an advertisement on Twitter that struck me kind of funny. This advertisement was a promoted tweet, where a Christian resource company—they sell curriculum, books, and other stuff was having a huge sale on all their stuff...

"How generous of them" was my initial thought. Then I said to myself, we (the church) don't have a lot of money so I won't even look and see what they have... Then I remembered that for the last six and a half years I have been on staff in some large churches, and now at a small church where the cash-flow was or is not flowing. We really were not able to buy curriculum and other stuff that we deemed necessary to run effective ministry/programs—we wanted to spend what little dollars we had directly on people, meeting their tangible needs or just pay the bills.

We learned to do ministry with almost a zero dollar budget or on a shoestring. It's funny, because during this time, Lars Rood wrote a book entitled "Youth Ministry On A Shoestring: How to do more with less, but we couldn't afford to buy his book...Haha.

We experienced frustrating and difficult times, but we also saw the generosity of the church engage in ground level ministry—when we needed doughnuts, people brought doughnuts or alternatives, instead of the paid staff buying them with ministry budget dollars. And the examples could go on and on... People became more invested in the ministry and the mission of the church, instead of being just consumers.

We also saw creativity expressed in ways we hadn't seen before. We couldn't buy curriculum, so we were forced to write our own. Paid and non-paid people all contributed to the edification of the body.

People stepped up—they worked and lived through the gifts of the Holy Spirit. People grew and matured in ways that money can't buy or fabricate.

Not having a lot of money can actually be a good thing. It causes us to really dig deep down and find out what really matters, especially when it comes to the church. Having a ton of kick-butt programs with all the bells and whistles that go with them, and having paid ministry specialists for every ministry program can be necessary to some degree. But when all of this get's in the way of the church being the church—it should cause us to pause and reflect on what really matters to mission of Jesus.

I am not against Christian resource companies and I am sure I will buy some stuff from them, once I have some cash flow to do so—it's just that I am beginning to wonder, out-loud, if you will allow me to do so—what would discipleship look like if we didn't have all these resources at our fingertips...

Are we doing things backwards in the church?