Archive for March, 2009


Where we are

March 27, 2009

This is a weird time of year in the life of our church. I have been here four years and am just starting to figure out this time of year. We have fall kick off, and things around here are moving and grooving, and almost immediately there begins a ramp up for Christmas. Then we all recover for a week and the focus is how to keep momentum and focus in the New Year, and keep the main things the main things.

Right now there is a ramp up for Easter for sure, but this is also a time where it’s easy to feel disconnected, and wonder what’s going on.

So I thought I’d write a brief “state of the ministry” type of letter. Though some of this will overlap church wide, the intent is to keep it more focused on Worship and Creative Arts. And one more disclaimer, my goal here is not to say a bunch of wonderful things so you will be excited about being a part in some way, my goal is to inform, and give God glory in the process because He is still at work here daily.

Some challenges-

*Well, the obvious ones, dealing with several key losses over the year, and trying to readjust and recalibrate has been not an adventure we would have chosen! From Jocelyn, to Julie, to Tres, to Kent, to Randy things look quite different around the office these days. I’ve learned personally that you don’t “get over” these type of losses. I still to this day walk in here and remember, fondly, the foundation that has been laid here. I still grieve in quiet moments even my friendship with Matt Singley. Yes, life and ministry goes on, but relationships change you, and many of us, many of you, have seen lots of turnover, inside and outside our ministry, and that is hard. And yet it also helps me learn again that this is not our church, or my church, it’s God’s, and He moves and directs and sustains and builds, on His timing, not mine.

*Before we got scaled back hours and people, we scaled back everything else. Money for training, money for food for appreciating people like you, money for upgrades, money for music, just about everywhere that could be trimmed, was trimmed. Does this mean God can’t work? No. Does this mean we can’t do ministry here? No. Does this make us more dependent than ever on God, His Holy Spirit, and us coming together as a community to get things done? YES! That is the silver lining for sure with that one.

Some BRIGHT spots! (please note these are just a few, there are so many things/and names I could mention, but I am attempting to keep this readable)

*The first thing that comes to mind is Jill and the choir. Listening to Jill when she first came, sharing with me her dream of what choir could be, of the source of life it could offer, and the community it could create, and then watching it happen, under her leadership, has been inspiring!! She and Scott together have brought The Nine to a service really without an identity for a while, to a rich worship experience full of excellence, realness, and beauty.

*Dania and the theatre ministry! Dania has slowly but surely folded become family here. Dania and her team’s dedication, skill and creativity have richly blessed our congregation and I can’t wait to see how God continues to develop that ministry!

*Laura Vandergiessen has been doing an outstanding job leading worship at The Five. We believe that a service that uses less people, less instruments, less everything, needs even more quality and skill in the people responsible for creating a community and creating an atmosphere of true worship. Laura is quality.

*Tyler Braun has become or rather shown himself to be just a wonderful leader, and his voice and insight are constantly making us better. I truly believe that right now he could lead a ministry. We are blessed to have him here.

*Prayer team! Consistently, week after week, Melinda, Christina, Nancy and Carolyn come and pray. If you would like to consider joining this VITAL and needed ministry, please connect with Melinda.

*Bob Thomas is an AMAZING elder. So much of what he does, he does behind the scenes, with mostly just me getting a firsthand look. But please know, we have a capable, God honoring, leader who is helping shape our future for the better and who I am proud to serve with.

*One of the greatest impact players I have seen in our ministry is Travis. I don’t have enough time to write how he has changed us for the better with his skill and expertise. He has also raised with Janet an amazing army of team members who work their tail off weekly to keep us seen, heard and supported unbelievably well.

Where are we headed?

Three things I want to highlight here. The first is we are beginning to lay the foundation for using some of our own worship songs. There are several song writers on the team today, and we are in the process of figuring out how to begin collaborating and offering our songs effectively for God’s glory and to the benefit of our community. My goal is over the next couple of years, to come to a point where half of what we sing on a Sunday, comes from Sunset. If you have some lyrics, song ideas etc, please send those to me at I am confident there will be more interest, more songs than I will be actually able to use, but I would rather have too much than not at all. So I humbly ask that if you submit something, that you do so prayerfully, and with a heart that leaves it up to God whether it is used or not. Ideally it has already been used between you and God in true worship, which is what matters most of all.

Secondly, I am praying about and researching how to offer training opportunities in the absence of resources. Vocal workshops, band workshops, drama workshops, tech etc etc, can happen here if we work together and use our connections. If you have ideas, relationships, suggestions on creative ways to offer some valuable training for our ministry, please contact me.

And finally, God has laid on my heart to find ways to make Sunday more interactive. In a small church setting, this is easier, and more natural. It takes more work, more intention in a larger setting, and can if not done carefully become distracting and chaotic. What type of things am I referring to? Impromptu sharing from the congregation, praises and prayer. Scripture reading from the congregation. More challenge and risk in their demonstration of worship to God. I want to break down the wall from the platform. I want the room together to experience and engage in praising God, and not just us up in front. Again, if you have ideas, thoughts or suggestions on things that would describe what I’m talking about, please connect with me.

Thanks for reading this! Turned out to be not so brief.


new step

March 20, 2009

One of the things I want to start doing at Sunset is to begin bringing in some of our own worship songs.  I believe there are the pieces and hearts in place for that and it would be awesome if there were some songs that were uniquely our expression as a community.  God has given me songs before in different contexts, now I’m asking Him to begin to give me and us some songs in the context of Sunset.

Today I reflected on worship’s theme statement this year, which is “We choose to be real”.

Here is a song that came from that, the next step is bringing it to the band, and then the community of Sunset!

We choose to be real


Vs 1

I, bring You my mess, I hide it no more

Here, for Your eyes to see , open my heart’s door

We, bring You our mess, we hide it no more

Here, for Your eyes to see, open our heart’s door



We choose to be real, before You, For You know the thoughts within

We choose to be real, before You, Real about our sin

We choose to be real, before You, Here is my life for You to see

We choose to be real, before You, Lord this is me



You, You know when I sit, You know when I rise

You, You know every thought, Lord You are All-Wise

God, You fill us with hope, hope outside of ourselves

Make, our lives about You, make our faith real


Chorus again



Here is my mess

Here’s where I fail

Here’s what I don’t want you to know (repeat several times)





Night Strike

March 19, 2009

So in my quest for a better story for my family, I’m looking for opportunities like the one below.  Anyone want to come with me, my wife Allison and Macy and do something exciting on April 10th (good Friday).

I just RSVP’d  and it would sweet to get a ton of us down there.

Read below:




This is your invitation to join others from Sunset for this growing opportunity to demonstrate love and extend dignity to some of the neediest in our extended community. A group of us from the Sunset’s Singles ministry had the opportunity to participate in Night Strike a few weeks back; we felt it was a safe yet growing experience that we wanted to share with you. Will you put this on your calendar for that Friday evening? RSVP requested. ~Bryan

Who:    Sunset ministry leaders, staff and friends/family

What:   Serving the Homeless with Night Strike

When:  Good Friday, 04/10/09, 6:45PM-10:00PM

Orientation 6:50-7:45PM, Serve 8-10PM

Where: Liberation Street Church (storefront)

214 W. Burnside Street, Portland, OR

(Meet up downtown, or carpool/caravan from Sunset)

RSVP: 503-452-6442

Washing feet, cutting hair, hair washing, clothing distribution, serving food, great dialogue, and a whole lot more happen under the Burnside Bridge in the downtown part of Portland every Friday night.  This incarnational approach to reaching some of Portland’s neediest people seeks to build bridges of love and encouragement.  People ask why we do what we do and our answer to them is simple:  “We are just loving on Portland the way we think Christ would have if He were here in person with us today.”  That is what we attempt to do each week at Night Strike.

Orientation starts at 6:50 for Night Strike.  Meet at the Liberation Street Church on the corner of 2nd and Burnside.  After the orientation we go to under the Burnside Bridge from 8pm to 10pm. We’ll be outside under the Burnside Bridge (Saturday Market) or possibly walking nearby streets, so wear warm clothing.

Night Strike video & information, Bridgetown Ministries:

Bryan Miller

Cell: 360.608.5313


Want to help Pregnancy Resource Center?

March 18, 2009

My sister in law Kim who might be one of the world’s best photographers at least in Troutdale is having a fundraiser for them.  (seriously though, she is REALLY good)

the link for the info.

Kimberly Whipps, Barefoot Photography


(other info for Kim)


Visit My Blog



Men’s retreat. Quest for a better story.

March 16, 2009

Last night, I laid in my bed for the first time in four nights.  Just as I was relishing clean sheets and the world’s most comfortable bed, suddenly my entire hamstring shrunk to the size of a tight tennis ball behind my left leg.  I have had leg cramps before, but this one topped them all. 

Apparently walking to the top of this hill at Wildhorse (the one with the path behind the lake, you’re gonna have to click on the pic to see the whole thing) WHC look SW with my friend Luke came back to haunt me.  jayluke I wonder how many other men had a similar experience last night??  Donald Miller told us at the retreat that after we set an ambition in our lives, or any goal outside of the norm to make life a more interesting story, that all hell would break loose.  Well, the hill was my goal, and all hell broke loose in my hamstring. 🙂  On a side note, while writhing in pain, my wife was laughing hysterically because suddenly I had the perfect accent of an African women from the south and sounded like Aunt Jemimah.  (If you know me you know that when I’m not in pain, accents are impossible for me, Apparently, intense pain brings a hidden persona.)

This weekend was the best men’s retreat I have ever been to in my life.  I learned more and was challenged more and have a clearer picture in my head about life than I have had in quite a while.  Not a fix, not the answer to my problems or issues, but a clearer picture of reality, and that is priceless.

One of the first things I was supposed to do when I got home was to ask my wife what she thought my life was about, what my story was telling.  The people around you won’t tell you what you are wishing for, what you hope for, what your dreams are, they will tell you what you do, because what you do is the main story you are broadcasting.   Well, I knew that right now my story at home is more or less petty and boring, and sure enough, the first story my wife said I’m telling is that I want to be thin.


So I’m on a quest, for a better story, a meaningful story for me, for my family, and for my church.  A better story involves wanting something meaningful, pointing toward the horizon and then overcoming conflict to go get it.  And I will embrace the leg cramps that will come with it. 🙂



March 10, 2009

Sunset just went through some incredibly tough cuts.  We lost some dear dear people, competent people, who do amazing things here for this community.  I went from panic, to angry, to numb, to grief, to questioning, to trying to be strong, to looking for God’s hand in this, and everything in between.

My heart is so torn.  What I want, is for whatever we do, whatever decision we make, in light of these cuts, and moving forward,  is to be able to trace it back to decisions made for love for God, love for our church, and love of people.  What will make me lose sleep at night, is if I can’t make connections of decisions to those things. 

Though the last couple of weeks have been tough, we are really at the base of this hill.  The climb now, what we do now, the decisions we make, the direction we go, the way we restructure, the way we communicate through this, is CRUCIAL.

If you are reading this and are from Sunset, you might wonder how in the world that in light of these layoffs and salary reductions, how are we currently having construction being done in our building??  I want to assure you that what is being finished right now at Sunset, are things that have already been paid for and designated by members in our congregation toward the building fund.  The building fund is separate from our operation fund, and Sunset legally cannot move over funds designated toward our building and put it into the operation fund.  There are people on our staff that don’t even fully understand this, so I can’t imagine what some of our congregation might be feeling. 

If you have any questions about this, wonder about the process, or have concerns, please don’t hesitate to ask.  If I don’t know the answer, I will ask people that know and get you the info as quickly as possible.

And please pray for the leadership at Sunset over the next days, weeks, months, as we lead through this and lock arms with the people of this church to seek God’s will for what comes next.