Jul 26, 2011

Confessions of a Success Addict

It's been a funky day.

Everything is going well.
  • Had a great lunch and conversation with a friend.
  • Good staff meeting.
  • Normal day of work and preparation in the office.
  • Family is good.
  • Church is good.
  • Health is good.
  • I work with a fantastic staff and are surrounded by wonderful people.
But there's a nagging uneasiness in my soul. 

I have been at the Little Church on the Prairie for the past year and half. We are on a good trajectory, there's lots energy and exciting things happening, the ethos changes and the sense of expectation is all good. 

Jul 23, 2011

A Word to a Church Obsessed with Success

The only way God saw fit to reconcile the world to himself was through the rejection, the suffering, and the death of his Son Jesus Christ. 

I don't know why the cross was the only remedy for sin. I don't know why there couldn't have been another way, an easier way, a way that was less painful and tragic.

Even Jesus cried out at Gethsemane wondering if there was any other way. And after having spent time with God, Jesus was resolved to go through what God had sent him to endure.

This reality should be quite disturbing to a church that is so enamored with success. We love numbers. We love growth. We love bigger building, bigger budgets, and bigger success. 

If the only way that the world could be reconciled to God was through the suffering and death of Jesus Christ, why do we in the church think that God will reconcile the world through any other way?

Could it be that the only way that the world will be reconciled to God is through the same path of suffering and death? 

Could that be what Jesus meant when he said, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up the cross and follow me?" (Mark 8:34).

In the fourth century there lived an Asiatic monk who had spent most of his life in a remote community of prayer and raising vegetables for the cloister kitchen. When he was not tending his garden spot, he was fulfilling his vocation of study and prayer.

Then one day this monk named Telemachus felt that the Lord wanted him to go to Rome, the capital of the world -- the busiest, wealthiest, biggest city in the world. Telemachus was terrified at the thought. But as he prayed, God's directive became clear.

How bewildered the little monk must have been as he set out on the long journey, on foot, over dusty roads westward, everything he owned on his back. 

Why was he going? He didn't know. What would he find there? He had no idea. But obediently, he went.

Telemachus arrived in Rome during the holiday festival. You may know that the Roman rulers kept the ghettos quiet in those days by providing free bread and special entertainment called circuses. At the time Telemachus arrived the city was bustling with excitement over the recent Roman victory over the Goths. In the midst of this jubilant commotion, the monk looked for clues at to why God had brought him there, for he had no other guidance, not even a superior in a religious order to contact.

Perhaps, he thought, it is not sheer coincidence that I have arrived at this festival time. Perhaps God has some special role for me to play.

So Telemachus let the crowds guide him, and the stream of humanity soon led him into the Coliseum where the gladiator contests were to be staged. He could hear the cries of the animals in their cages beneath the floor of the great arena and the clamor of the contestants preparing to do battle.

The gladiators marched into the arena, saluted the emperor, and shouted, "We who are about to die salute thee."

Telemachus shuddered. He had never heard of gladiator games before, but had a premonition of awful violence.

The crowd had come to cheer men who, for no reason other than amusement, would murder each other. Human lives were offered for entertainment. As the monk realized what was going to happen, he could not sit still and watch such savagery. Neither could he leave and forget. 

He jumped to the top of the perimeter wall and cried, "In the name of Christ, forbear!"

The fighting began, of course. No one paid the slightest heed to the puny voice. 

So Telemachus pattered down the stone steps and leapt onto the sandy floor of the arena. 

He made a comic figure -- a scrawny man in a monk's habit dashing back and forth between muscular, armed athletes. One gladiator sent him sprawling with a blow from his shield directing him back to his seat. It was a rough gesture, though almost a kind one. The crowd roared.

But Telemachus refused to stop. He rushed into the way of those trying to fight, shouting again, "In the name of Christ, forbear!" 

The crowd began to laugh and cheer him on, perhaps thinking him part of the entertainment.

Then his movement blocked the vision of one of the contestants; the gladiator saw a blow coming just in time. Furious now, the crowd began to cry for blood.

"Run him through!" they screamed.

The gladiator he had blocked raise his sword and with a flash of steel struck Telemachus, slashing down across his chest and into his stomach. 

The little monk gasped once more, "In the name of Christ, forbear."

Then a strange thing occurred. As the gladiators and the crowd focused on the still form on the suddenly crimson sand, the arena great deathly quiet. In the silence, someone on top tier got up and walked out. Another followed. All over the arena, spectators began to leave, until the huge stadium was emptied.

There were other forces at work, of course, but that innocent figure lying in the pool of blood crystallized the opposition, and that was the last gladiatorial contest in the Roman Coliseum.

Never again did men kill each other for the crowd's entertainment in the Roman arena.

"For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it." (Mark 8:35)

Jul 22, 2011


There's a restlessness in my soul. There's a yearning. There's a hunger.....

The year has been a good year thus far. Everything is going smoothly. The church I lead is getting healthier and we are setting into place systems and the staffing that will help us to keep moving people into a deeper intimacy with God, a deeper relationships with one another, and to have go deeper into the community with the influence of Jesus Christ.

There are many good things happening.

But, there's a real yearning for more. I want more of Christ. I want more of God in my life and in the life of our community. I want to see people living with passion and purpose. I want to see lives get change. I want to see marriages get whole, single people loving Jesus and their community with abandon. I want to see the power of the resurrection lived out in a community to bring about a Spirit-filled revival.

Is it possible that we can be a part of something Biblical like that?

Why is it that we only read about such things in the Bible?

What will it take to live the Biblical narrative and have it come alive in our lifetime?

God, grant me and our church the wisdom to know how to move into your Kingdom will and purpose even more.

We love you Jesus!

Jul 19, 2011

Quitting Facebook

Just deactivated my Facebook account.

There's a part of me that will really miss Facebook.

  • I loved it for staying in touch with friends. Facebook really is one of the best tools for doing just that. 
  • I loved seeing the pictures of friends.
  • I loved catching up with old friends that would have been extremely difficult to find, had it not been for Facebook.
Then, why quit Facebook?

Here's the reason why I've ultimately made the decision to quit Facebook. I don't like it when FB, without my permission, keeps changing my settings. 

I've set up my account the way I want it, and then FB changes it with a new update. 
  • I never asked for the annoying ads. And because I was receiving the other benefits of FB for free, I learned to ignore and put up with the annoying ads. 
  • But with the latest update where FB continually turned on the chatting option, that was the last straw. I don't want to chat through FB. So I turned it off on my preference. But the next time I log on, there it is again.
Facebook can be a useful tool to help friends stay connected. However, Facebook can also be a huge waste of time. The problem with the live chat is that I cannot choose when I want to chat. Because it's always on, my day can be interrupted at any time. And that's when Facebook gets annoying rather than being a useful tool.

Instead of having control over what I want to do with Facebook, I found that I was being controlled by Facebook. And I don't want any part of that.

That's why I've made the decision to quit Facebook. 

Jul 16, 2011

Resembling Jesus...

In Joan Gray's recent blog (http://joansgray.wordpress.com/2011/07/15/what-if/) she cites Dallas Willard who says in his book, "Renovation of the Heart," that some Christians seem to think it is more important to be right than to be Christlike.

Right theology, worship, understanding of the Scriptures are all important precisely because right theology, worship, and understanding of Scriptures leads to Christ-like behavior.

To every single person around us, what we know about God, the rightness of our theology, how much of the Bible we have memorized, even how much we love God doesn't make one bit of difference.

To every person around us, what matters is how much we resemble Christ in the way we speak to them, the way we love them, the way we treat them, and particularly how we disagree with them.

What matters to people around us is how much we resemble Christ in how we treat them.

Church...how are we doing in the resembling Jesus department?

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?"

"Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you."

Jesus said, "Feed my lambs."

Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me?"

He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."

Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep."

The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?"

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you."

Jesus said, "Feed my sheep."
John 21:15-17

Jul 15, 2011

G2x from T-mobile a 3 Month Review

I have been the mostly happy owner of a G2x from T-Mobile. The phone is made by LG, a Korean electronics company. LG has been introducing more phones into the American market in the last year or two.

I bought the G2x when it first came out. I have owned several phones as they first come out. For the most part, my recommendation is that folks not get the first models of brand new phones. Almost always, there are bugs that the manufacturer and the mobile carrier hasn't worked out. Not due to lack to due diligence, but because the phones are so new with that particular carrier, they didn't know about the bugs.

One of the "buggiest" phones I ever owned was the HTC HD2. That phone was a disaster. I had to go through three phones and multiple software updates to get the phone working properly. And once it was working, it was a decent phone. But there was a ton of heartache before the phone would work properly.

Having had that as my latest brand new phone experience I was weary about getting the G2x, but the specs won me over.

After three months, I am very happy to report that the G2x has been bug free. It's been working just like it's supposed to work.

So here's my three month take on the T-mobile G2x.


  • Phone is super fast. It just does what it's supposed to and it does it well. Only once in a very long while have I seen the phone lag.
  • The huge internal memory and the micro sd slot. 
  • The call quality is quite good.
  • Android market - awesome! 
  • 8m camera with flash. Been very happy with the quality of photos I have been able to take with this phone.
  • HDMI output
  • Face to Face video capability
  • Plays awesome games
  • Ability to create my own wifi hotspot
  • Battery life. If all you're doing is making phone calls and checking email several times a day, the phone may last you all day without charging. However, if you're browsing the internet, Facebooking, Tweeting, taking pics, checking out videos on the Youtube, or in other words, doing stuff people would be doing with a top end phone, I'm lucky if I can go half a day without draining the battery. Whenever I am around my computer, car charger, or home charger, I am charging the phone.
  • The phone is on the wee bit heavy side. You can notice the difference in weight when you hold it against similar phone from Samsung or the I-Phone. 
  • T-Mobile's 4G. Let's just say, I'm not impressed. when it's available, it's not half bad. But that's the problem...it's not available very much. 
  • The G2x's reception is poor. My wife has the Samsung Galaxy S from T-mobile and we can be in the same place and she gets 4G connection and mine barely has signal with 2G. And when we're inside a building? Forgetaboutit. Unless there is a wifi signal, I am down for the count.
  • The video quality is mediocre.
  • Hate that I can't take off the apps that the phones comes preloaded with. That's lame. I should be able to configure the phone the way I want to.
  • Can't change the signature on email messages. That's lame. I am not sure who's at fault, T-Mobile or LG. But whoever is responsible for both the pre-loaded apps not being able to be taken off, and not being able to change the signature...give me a break, let owners of your product personalize their phones and emails.
So there you have it. For the most part, I am a happy owner. The phone does what I expect it to do. And it just works. 

Jul 14, 2011

Tackling Mountains

It's been an interesting day thus far. I did not mean to cause a ruckus with my previous blog post but it's been generating some interesting discussions thus far. 

Thank you for reading and responding.

Here's the thing - whenever we attempt to regulate or codify graciousness, generosity, or compassion, it becomes none of those things. I guess you can guilt a person to buy a smaller house or an older model car or even give more money to the poor, but it doesn't solve our greed problem, our selfishness problem, our gluttony problem. 

Greed is best dealt with by generosity. And, generosity, humility, or a compassionate heart are things that cannot be codified or regulated.

When we are confronted with the mountain of a problem like world hunger, exploitation of children for the sex trade, the economic injustices, etc. it debilitates us. We look at the enormity of the problem and wonder what difference can we make? And we give up. Not because we don't care, but because we don't see how we can make a difference. 

Lucado writes in Outlive Your Life:

1.75 billion people are desperately poor, 1 billion are hungry, millions are trafficked into slavery, and pandemic diseases are gouging entire nations. Each year nearly 2 million children are exploited in the global commercial sex trade. And in the five minutes it took you to read these pages, almost ninety children died of preventable diseases...A mere 2 percent of the world's grain harvest would be enough, if shared, to erase the problems of hunger and malnutrition in the world. There is enough food on the planet to offer every person twenty-five hundred calories of sustenance a day.

When we look at the issue of poverty, hunger, pandemic diseases, injustices, and suffering around the world, it immobilizes because of its enormity.

And when we try to codify and regulate how much percentage to give, or how big is too big in tv size or car etc., or how many gadgets can one own, I think it misses the point of mercy, graciousness, generosity.

The reality is that every Christian in America can do something and we can all do more. I think that's what needs to be emphasized. What we need to help people consider is how we can individually contribute to making a difference right where we are. How can God use us to alleviate the suffering we see right before our eyes? And together, and as leaders mobilize people and resources, I believe God can feed the multitudes. 

I can do something. God expects me to do something. I can do more. And God can change the world.

So I will be as faithful as I can in managing and stewarding my resources and my leadership position to help the people at my church to make a difference.

It may seem idealistic. But I'm okay with that.

Jul 13, 2011

Here I Stand...No Desire to Go From One Dying Denomination to Another One

There are some in the PC(USA) who are choosing to leave the PC(USA) because the church's recent decision over 10-A. (For those of you who are not PC(USA), 10-A effectively allows congregations and presbyteries to begin ordaining homosexuals).

They say that 10-A is the final straw that makes this denomination one which they can no longer be a part of. So they are choosing to go to the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, or some other denominational body.

I can understand the frustration. I share similar concerns. I cannot understand how a church that affirms Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior can say homosexuality is now no longer sin.

But even though the PC(USA) has made this decision that I believe is contrary to scripture, I have no plans to leave the denomination at this point.

Here are my reasons for choosing to remain in the PC(USA) for the time being.

I grieve over the 10-A decision. As long as the Bible is God's word, I cannot say that homosexuality is no longer a sin before God.

Then how can I possibly stay in a denomination that is so impure? so wrong?

Because I am under no illusion that the PC(USA) was a "pure-er" church or a more "right" church prior to the 10-A decision. That somehow, if I can just relocate to a different denomination that isn't debating the homosexuality issue, everything is right and good before God's eyes.

I readily confess that the PC(USA) was a church and a denomination that was wrought with inconsistencies and impurities prior to the 10-A decision just as it is after the 10-A decision. The sexuality issues are not the only sins the Bible cares about.
  • As long as we continue to consume goods at the expense of others
  • As long as we turn a blind eye to rampant consumerism and greed in America
  • As long as we remain purposefully silent over gluttony
  • As long as we ignore the injustices of an economic system that keeps the poor people poor, while rewarding the wealthiest
  • As long as...the list goes on
All these sins are just as grievous and unacceptable before God.

The primary reason why I am choosing to stay for now is because I believe all current denominations are not much different when it comes to these issues. 

If I were to go to the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, I may not be debating homosexuality any more, but I will be fighting over women's ordination. And while arguing over women's ordination, the EPC would remain blissfully ignorant and blind over these other issues. But at the same time thinking, "Thank God we're not like those PC(USA) messed up folk."

What would be the point of that? 

I have no desire to go from one blind, sinful, silent church to another.

I want to be a part of a church that is actually making a difference to the poor, to those suffering injustice, to those who are dying by the thousands unless the church wakes up and gets engaged.

I think there's something wrong when social agencies and humanitarian groups are ahead of the church when it comes to fighting injustice.

And I believe God is doing just that. 

God is at work to bring about a renewal and a revival of his church the likes of which history hasn't seen since the reformation. 

God is doing a new thing where the way we relate with one another and with a world that doesn't know God will be so radically different that those who are in Christendom institutional churches today won't even be able to recognize the new church God is ushering in. 

No one yet knows what this church will look like.

All they can do is to point toward a new compass heading. That new compass heading includes a church that is fighting the war against AIDS, that is making a difference against poverty, that is leading the way in fighting against injustices of all kinds, that is declaring Jesus Christ boldly, that is putting God's resources in areas that actually make a difference to those who don't know Christ. 

All that can be said at this point is that this new church will not look like our current existing denominational, institutional, Christendom churches. 

This is a new compass heading.

I will choose to be right where I am until God makes this new reality and this new church clear. 

I want to be a part of what God is doing.

I have no desire to leave one dying institutional, Christendom denomination for another.

I will be about Jesus Christ right where I am and work and live toward this new reality.

Jul 12, 2011


The last couple of Sundays I've been noticing a trend I don't like.

The 8:45am service goes well with lots of energy and enthusiasm, and then my energy level tanks for the 11:00am service.

I am writing this blog simply to ask for prayer.

Pray that God would minister to our folk and use me to speak his word with energy, passion, and his wisdom.

Pray that the folks who show up would be ministered to and fully inspired and encouraged to engage in the ministry of Jesus Christ.

Pray that God would continue to stir up our hearts for ministry and for his glory.

Pray that God would impact this community through this church.

I commit to praying more intentionally about our services.

I confess that I have done more preparation for the sermon and less praying for the sermon. I am recognizing the need for me to pray more for our church.

So, for those of you reading this blog, please join me in praying for God's continued guidance for greater impact and influence for the Kingdom through the Little Church on the Prairie.


Jul 11, 2011

What's with the Cigarettes while Motorcycling?

Who would have thunk it?

The Pacific Northwest is a mecca for bikers.

Well, at least that is, in the summer months.

As soon as the sun peaks its head out, the motorcycles come out of the woodworks...literally.

Why not? This is one of the most beautiful places to ride.

There aren't too many months to ride in good weather so people here make the best of it when the weather is good. Riding in the rain is still riding but it's no where the fun of getting out on the bike on a sunny day.

But here's something that's a puzzlement to me.

I get the motorcycle thing.

And even though I am not a smoker, I can understand the smoking cigarettes thing.

But what is it with smoking cigarettes while riding the motorcycle thing?

First of all, I would think that the rush of air would make the cigarette last half as long. If this assumption is true, than this is a dumb thing to do as far as your pocketbook is concerned.

But more importantly, it's not a very smart thing to do if you care at all about your life. If the ash comes up the face and into the eyes...well, good luck buddy. How cool do you think you look when you're laying face down on the road all messed up?

Riding has enough hazards on its own, you don't need to create your own. This is just plain stupid.

You think you might look cool with the cigarette hanging off your mouth, but I'm thinking...well, better not print what I'm thinking.

Ride smart. Your life is in your hands.

Jul 8, 2011

Gangs and Community

Heard Pastor Francis Chan share a story about a young gang member he met.

This young man started coming to his church and was taken in by the stories of love and acceptance of Jesus Christ. He couldn't get enough of Jesus. He accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior and wanted nothing more than to be baptized and forgo his life as a gang banger.

This young man showed up every Sunday for worship, was at the Bible Studies through the week, and wanted to be around Christians 24/7.

After being baptized, however, the young man began not showing up as much. And then one day, he just stopped.

Francis Chan met up with this young man a few months later and asked why he had stopped coming to church.

What this young man told Francis continues to haunt me.

He said when he became a Christian, he really thought that it would be like being jumped by the gang, that after baptism that Christian folk would be with him 24/7 and the church folks would always have his back. But after baptism, he realized he had it all wrong. And he sheepishly confessed that he misunderstood what this church thing would be like.


That's community! That's the church!

He's not wrong. Somehow, we've got it all wrong!

How is it that the gangs have community down better than the church?

How is that this young man's view of church and community is so dead on, and what we are providing in the church under the guise of fellowship and community is so shallow?

Where have we gone wrong?

How can we become the type of community where we've got each other's back 24/7?

Where's James on Fridays?

So where's James on Fridays? How come he's not in the office?

Don't know when it started, but I find that I get more sermon work done when I am not in the office.

On Fridays, I can normally be found at a Starbucks with my laptop, Bible, a pen and some notes.

The office is great for admin, connecting with folks, and doing other church work, but when I need to read, reflect, and write I typically find a cafe or a Starbucks to do my work.

Now you know where James is on Fridays.

Scotch and Bourbon of Choice

For the longest time, I was strictly a beer guy.

There are few things better than a cold beer on a hot summer day.

The problem with beer is that it is so filling.

For the past five years or so, I have been getting into single malt scotch and bourbons.

So, for what it's worth, here's my take on my favorite single malts and scotch.

My favorite single malt is the 18 year Macallan. There are smoother single malts and tastier single malts, but you're going to have to really pay for those scotches. Even the 18 year Macallan will set you back at least $150. So, I only drink this on special occasions.

For normal sipping, I typically stick with the 12 year Macallan. It's not as smooth nor tasty as the 18 but it will do. Even the 12 year Macallan will set one back about $50.

The scotch that is most wallet friendly but still will give you a whisky worth sipping on is Ballantine. For around $20, you get a blended scotch that's still tasty enough to sip on without adding anything to it.

I typically sip on Ballantine straight without ice.

For bourbons, the bourbon of choice for me is the Pappy Van Winkle. Just writing this makes my mouth water. The problem with Pappy Van Winkle is that it tends to be a bit pricy ($60) and that it's very difficult to find.

The most wallet friendly bourbon for my taste is Elijah Craig. For about $20, you'll get a bourbon that you can sip without going broke.

The main thing is sip responsibly. You can enjoy without being irresponsible.

Jul 6, 2011

What About Greed? What About Gluttony? Why only Sex?

I was a gathering of pastors where the folks around the table were grumbling about the changing of our culture, and in particular about the acceptance of what was labeled as "deviant" behavior - or another way to say homosexuality. Our culture is more an more accepting of homosexuality as a norm, it was claimed, while the Bible clearly calls it sin. Where do we draw the boundary of being open to ministering to all sinners, and not being accepting of the sin itself.

There was quite a bit of energy around this topic.

I really meant to keep my mouth shut. Really. I tried very hard to just sit there. I am by far the youngest guy there, and the other seasoned pastors certainly have much more seniority and wisdom. But I couldn't stand it anymore. 

I find it highly disturbing that the American church is so quick to identify and talk about sexual sins, but is so absolutely blind to the sins of gluttony, greed, and bigotry. 

The last time I checked, my Bible tells me that God abhors all sin. 

What would happen if Presbyterian pastors really preached what the Bible said about greed and gluttony in our churches? Not just saying that gluttony and greed is bad, but really talking about how inappropriate it is for Christians to consume so much food that some are not just out of shape, but obese. That in America, diseases related to overconsumption of food is at an epic proportion - diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, etc., and that Christians are no different than anyone else when it comes to this.

Isn't there something wrong when we can preach about sexuality more readily and easily than we can about gluttony and greed in our churches? 

As I write about this, I confess I eat too much. I like goods too much. I enjoy luxuries too much. I need to steward my body more faithfully. I could do a far better job of stewarding the material resources God has given me. 

But when can we stop talking about sexual sin as if that's the unpardonable sin?

All sin breaks the heart of God.

We are all sinners.

We all need a Savior.

We all need to change.

We all need Jesus.

We all need grace.

Jul 5, 2011

Why I think "Should I Stay or Should I Go" is asking the Wrong Question

The Clash had a hit song in the 80's "Should I Stay or Should I Go".

It seems that this song has become the anthem for many in the PC(USA) these days.

For those who are choosing to leave, they say that staying is not an option for them. That faithfulness to Jesus Christ compels them to depart from a church that is unfaithful and apostate.

For those who are choosing to stay, they say that it is faithfulness to Jesus Christ that compels them to stay.

In all these discussions, perhaps the question that needs to be asked most is, "Does unfaithfulness of some, even the majority, make the church of Jesus Christ unfaithful or apostate?"

Reading through the prophets of the Old Testament again these days reminds me that some of these prophets found themselves in the midst of a culture and a religious system that was entirely bankrupt. The prophets sometimes wonder if they are the only faithful ones left.

But I find it interesting that there was never a question of departure, because they understood that whether the religious system was faithful or unfaithful it was still God's.

Perhaps, it is arrogance to think that the church we find ourselves a part of is "my" church or "our" church that leads us to ask questions of departure.

Calvin, in his Institutes, talking about the cultural and spiritual mileu that the prophets found themselves in says:

There was nothing therefore to prevent their departure from them, but the desire of preserving the unity of the church. But if the holy prophets were restrained by a sense of duty from forsaking the church on account of the numerous and enormous crimes which were practiced, but by a few individuals, but almost by the whole nations - it is extreme arrogance in us, if we presume immediately to withdraw from the communion of a church where the conduct of all members is not compatible either with our judgment, or even with the Christian profession. (Institutes, IV, i.18).

The PC(USA), is just one of the many denominations. However, we know that our obedience and allegiance is never to a denominational institution but to Christ and to his church.

What if we spent more time and more energy in looking at the church in all its multitude of flavors and denominations as Christ's church?

What if instead of looking to start yet another denomination, we spent more time and energy in being faithful in the one Christ put us in?

I don't how to fix denominations. But I honestly believe that God can use me and us to impact our local church. I think God can use individuals to impact the local church to be more faithful.

Is it fantasy and wishful thinking to believe that by impacting one congregation at a time, God can impact the whole?

Well, then I am guilty of fanciful wishful thinking.