Common Slaves

Common Men; Uncommon Master


October 2017

Small Churches; Big Problems

If only leading a church was as easy, trouble-free, and glamorous as it looks on TV! Indeed, it is a high honor, and an inestimable privilege to be called to be a part of the local church. But since the church’s inception, the church has battled scandal, division, ravenous wolves masquerading as sheep, attacks from without, and attacks from within.

A small, rural church is usually just one conflict from major, destructive division or even extinction, and those conflicts can appear from just about anywhere for almost any reason.

Understanding, navigating, surviving, and healing from church conflicts is the subject of the Common Slaves Conference. There are no mega-churches in the Common Slaves network; we are all part of small-town churches that suffer major body-wide trauma every time any division arises. We know how damaging it can be to have even a single person or family at odds with the leadership, or other members of the body. None of us are a part of a church where 25 people can leave unnoticed.

We have recruited some of the great veterans of small-town small church ministry to come present to us the things they have learned about living, dying, surviving, and recovering from destructive church conflicts. All of them share a similar, Reformed philosophy of ministry – Jesus builds His church; programs, models and marketing gimmicks don’t. As such, their approach to all things, including conflict, is God-oriented, not man-centered.

This is a one-day conference for pastors, elders, and “churchmen” (the lay-pillars of the local church). We are also inviting wives – we have learned from our own experience that they often suffer most during times of church upheaval. We have planned out 4 sessions, some good Q&A, some time to meet and get to know other brothers and sisters from the area, and some good food too.

We want to thank Crossway, Ligonier, Whitehorse Inn, and Bethlehem College and Seminary for their participation to make this day of great profit to all!

For the date, time, and location, and speaker info, see the Conference page.

To purchase tickets (brace yourself, it’s almost $20, but if you email me I’m sure we’d take a goat, 2 chickens, or a pound of butter instead) click here


“Lord, give the doctors wisdom,” we instinctively plead in our desperation.

The wise doctors don’t give us the answers we wanted.

We immediately cry out, “Lord, make the doctors fools!”



Alice: Prognosis

I left our saga in “Limbo Land,” the land of unknown between initial diagnosis and confirmation/prognosis. I’ll pick it up there and catch you up…

Last Monday or Tuesday morning, Alice woke up particularly irritable and ornery. I wrapped her up in a blanket, then in my arms, and as we laid on the couch, I figured I’d try to make up a story to tell her. Lewis did that with Narnia, so how hard can it really be?

I didn’t get far, but managed to come up with a frog she named “Ribbit” who went fishing. “Dad, I wanna go fishing.” Continue reading “Alice: Prognosis”

Alice: Thoughts From Limbo-land

At this point, we don’t have much more to say as far as Alice’s condition. Writing helps sort out the scattered thoughts of a beleaguered mind, so what follows is more therapy than journalism.

We’re home, awaiting the pathology results and then the process of working through treatment options. More thoughts on that a little later. I call it “limbo-land” because we’re sort of in our old “normal,” wondering what the new “normal” will be like when treatment starts. In the meantime, we talked with her doctor and reduced her steroids to half of what they were, and that’s having some favorable results.

Alice effortlessly ate 4 boiled eggs for lunch today. To say she’s been really hungry is like saying Spurgeon was an ok preacher. She’s been voracious. Hopefully the reduced steroids help curb some of that. Our biggest challenge is trying to help her not eat constantly, especially when everything in us wants to dote on her every wish. Continue reading “Alice: Thoughts From Limbo-land”

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