10 Ways to BLESS Your Top 5

At Clear Creek Community Church we talk often about having a Top 5, which is simply a list of five people we are praying would come to faith in Jesus. We like to use the BLESS acronym as we think about how to intentionally engage our Top 5. BLESS stands for Begin with prayer, Listen, Eat, Serve, and Story.

But what are some specific and creative ways to BLESS your Top 5?

It doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are 10 ideas to BLESS the people on your Top 5:

  1. Throw a Spring Break BBQ or block party for neighbors, coworkers, or your kids’ teammates.
  2. Surprise someone with a thoughtful gift.
  3. Volunteer as a coach or team organizer for a kid’s sport team.
  4. Hang out in front of your house and say “hi,” to those who pass by. Pull weeds, water the grass, watch your kids play in the front yard, or just enjoy a beverage on the driveway.
  5. Invite someone to dinner. It can be simple and fun! For example, put some tables in the driveway, order some pizza, and enjoy a nice spring evening.
  6. Invite someone to serve the community with you at one of our Go Local Partners.
  7. Offer to go in on a delivery of mulch with your neighbor and work together on both flowerbeds.
  8. Organize a March Madness Bracket with prizes.
  9. Pass out baked goods (fresh bread, cookies, brownies, etc.).
  10. Host a game night (yard games outside, or board games inside).

God has put people in your life for a reason and sharing your faith with them doesn’t need to be intimidating. It can start as simple as showing someone the love of Christ and looking for opportunities to share with them the hope of the Gospel.

2 Mistakes to Avoid When Reaching Your Top 5

Having a Top 5 is a simple way to identify, pray for, and be intentional with the people in our lives we hope come to know the grace of Jesus.

Thankfully, we aren’t the ones who save. Jesus is. The pressure isn’t on us to transform hearts or to have all the answers. Yet we have a responsibility to take seriously the mission Jesus gave us in Matthew 28:19-20:

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.

Here are two simple mistakes to avoid when reaching your Top 5.


We must be careful not to think of the people on our Top 5 as projects.

They aren’t just names on a list.

They are friends, family members, coworkers, and neighbors.

These are people we love – because they are worth loving, regardless of what they believe.

2 Corinthians 5:17-20 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.”

You have been entrusted with a message, not assigned a project.

When our loved ones celebrate, we celebrate! When they grieve, we grieve. When they need support, we serve. We do this because we love the people in our lives and because that’s the kind of people we are.

We love because he first loved us. And we pray that through our relationships, God will speak grace into hearts.

Another mistake to avoid is…


The passage above from 2 Corinthians says that we’ve been entrusted with a message of reconciliation. At some point you will have an opportunity to talk about Jesus with someone.

What will you say?

You don’t have to know everything about the Bible or have a comprehensive understanding of systematic theology to share the message of Jesus. Although you should be growing in your knowledge of the Bible and understanding of God, you don’t have to have it all worked out before you share the hope that you have in Christ.

1 Peter 3:15 says, “…in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you…”

For starters, all you need to know is why you have hope in Christ.

What has he done in your life?

How have you experienced healing and freedom?

Why have you put your trust in Jesus?

Peter says we should always be prepared to share the hope in us. A little preparation goes a long way. Take a few minutes to write out your story. It could be as simple as looking back at the story from your baptism, or jotting down something God has done in your life recently. Knowing in advance what you want to say will serve you well when the opportunity presents itself.

When it comes to reaching our Top 5, we love the people in our lives like Jesus would, and we rest knowing that he is the one who will transform their heart.

165: 2022 Year In Review

As we end 2022, what are you celebrating?

How have you seen God move in your life, your family, and as a church?

On this special “Year In Review” episode, Aaron Lutz sat down with Ryan Lehtinen and Kyle Mikulan to look back on the year that was and look forward to a new year personally and as a church family.

138: Legalism or Discipline?

What are spiritual disciplines?

What purpose do they serve?

On this episode, Ryan Lehtinen talks with Bruce Wesley about the spiritual disciplines that have been especially helpful in his spiritual life.

They also discuss some of the practices that don’t get mentioned as often, like fasting, meditation, and celebration.


The Aaron Suhre Story

“We’re just this small story in the greater, bigger story of what God is doing. These are some things God has done in this life for his greater good.”   – Aaron Suhre


The Amy Swift Story

Amy Swift and her husband, Chris, moved to Louisiana from Texas, about a year after they were married. It was supposed to be a short-term move, but it turned into five years. And it was a long, lonely five years for Amy.

The Swifts just had their first baby, she was living in a new city where she knew no one and Chris traveled a lot for work. Which meant Amy was home with the baby most days, and she began to feel the crushing weight of isolation, separation and eventually depression.

She was tired, frustrated, anxious, and alone.

Chris & Amy thought getting back to Texas might fix everything… Texas is awesome, but Amy’s dark season wasn’t over when they moved back.

But I want you to hear how God used HIS PEOPLE to bring peace in Amy’s life. How through his people she experienced the presence of God.

Take a listen.

113: Cigars, Grilling, and Missional Living

When Jesus commissioned his people to “Go and make disciples,” in Matthew 28:19, he was telling us to bring the gospel, not only to the ends of the earth, but also everywhere we go in our normal, everyday lives. On this episode, Ryan Lehtinen talks with campus pastors, Chris Alston and Karl Garcia, about how they intentionally and authenticity engage in relationships with people around them.


Table Talk Series

3 Tips for Having Hard Conversations with Your Kids

We’ve all been there. When our child is exposed to something scandalous for the first time, or a teachable moment presents itself, or we suddenly realize just how old our child is these days and it’s past time for them to learn about some more mature subjects.


Here are three tips for navigating through these moments well.

To learn more about Clear Creek Community Church, visit clearcreek.org

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Who Should I Follow?

As a teenager and young adult, the leaders in my life were always limited and clear: parents, coaches, teachers, and pastors. Today, however, I have access to a plethora and diversity of leaders in every aspect of life.

There is an abundance of riches in leadership. And what a gift it is to be able to hear and learn from so many experienced and skilled people in so many areas!

But, this abundance also entails dangerous possibilities when it comes to whom we follow.

We use the term “follow” frequently in today’s world, especially regarding social media, but we often forget the original implications of the word. To follow means that someone is leading us; we are trusting them to inform us, teach us, and shape us, in some way or another, even if we’ve never met.

I’m not only talking about Instagram feeds (although, this definitely applies to social media), but also the books we read, the podcasts we listen to, and the celebrities we desire to emulate—all the different ways we allow, and even invite, others to influence our lives.

Whether considering leaders in the Christian faith or leaders in any field at all, here are three things to consider when deciding who to follow:

1. Character above Charisma

We live in a time of influencers, and Christians certainly have their fair share.

In this atmosphere, personality sometimes matters more than content. Our culture has trained us to value entertainment, so it helps if someone is attractive, witty, and inspiring. However, the goal of the Christian life is not celebrity but Christ-like character. What should matter most is not how persuasive or articulate someone is, but who they are: the narrative of their lives.

Do they love the least of God’s children? Do they speak the truth when it is unpopular? Do they live, and call you to live, submitted to the lordship of Jesus?

Charismatic leaders are exciting and enticing — and certainly you can be charismatic and also a devoted follower of Jesus — but let us remember that physical attractiveness, persuasive speaking skills, and successful ventures are not the most important things about leaders.

What should truly inspire us is a character that is conformed to Christ.

2. Humility above Hubris

Leadership comes with power. But power can be addictive and destructive.

Often, powerful leaders who are self-promoting and prideful are not only tolerated, but celebrated in our culture. Jesus, however, states clearly to his followers, “It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you, must be your servant” (Matthew 20:26).

The leaders we follow should seek to look like Jesus, who although he was God, humbled himself even unto death on a cross. The king of the universe was also the suffering servant, washing the feet of his followers.

Does the person you follow spend more time seeking fame and influence than seeking God and his kingdom? Do they spend the majority of their influence for their own ambition?

When choosing who to follow, let us find someone who, like Jesus, uses their power and position to glorify God and serve other people.

3. Truth above Trend

The most challenging and important aspect of determining who to follow is understanding what they really believe.

Do you know if they hold to orthodox Christian beliefs? Are they part of a Christian community that holds them accountable?

Our beliefs about God, the Bible, and salvation affect everything.

Please do not hear me saying that you cannot learn from anyone who believes differently than you do — you can, and you should. We all should be willing to engage with those whom we disagree and learn from them. However, engagement is different from discipleship.

The world is constantly shifting its values and beliefs, and often the most popular speakers and leaders are not committed to biblical truth.

Before you follow someone — ingesting their books, appropriating their worldview, sympathizing with their purposes — make sure you understand their foundational beliefs. It matters.


Recently someone asked me for a list: write down the women to avoid and the women worth following.

Unfortunately, it isn’t always that simple.

What we really need is community, discernment, and wisdom. We need a vibrant and committed personal faith, walking with others, as his Spirit and his people speak to our hearts and minds. We need to study and understand Scripture for ourselves so that we can test the truth pronounced by others through the filter of a biblical lens.

Through our church community, through faithfully listening to God’s voice, through study of his Word, and through our own personal relationship with Jesus, we can develop the discernment to wisely choose which leaders to follow.

When you are following someone, consider where they are leading you. Ultimately, whomever we choose to follow should lead us beyond themselves and to our king.

In the end, in all ways, may we be led, and may we lead, others to submit to, proclaim, and look more like Jesus.


4 Ways Christians Can Engage Culture

Picture culture as a river. The waters of the river can either be vibrant and life giving or polluted and dangerous to the ecosystem around it. As the waters of the river go, so go its surroundings. As Christians, we are faced with a dilemma. What is our role in culture?

When I was growing up, I had a Christian T-shirt. Come to think of it, I also had a few Christian CD’s, a handful of Christian surf movies, one Christian skateboard, and I think I even had a lone Christian computer game. These “sacred” options were mediums of entertainment and enjoyment for me. I liked them because I felt some type of validation that I could still be “cool” and a Christian. I was seeing and hearing people that believed the same things as me, doing the same things as me, and that felt good.

Are “Christian” T-shirts wrong?

No. In fact, there are a lot of good Gospel conversations that can come from wearing something that proclaims what you believe. However, underneath this so-called subculture that I grew up in, there was a mindset that was forming. A philosophy that I didn’t realize was shaping the way I viewed my involvement in the culture around me.

You see, the more I secluded myself from culture by segregating what was sacred from what was secular, the more I lost my effectiveness as a missionary. I began to combat, criticize, and cower from culture, believing that it would make me a more holy person.

But, in the process, I was becoming less like Jesus.

The Son of God, to everyone’s surprise, had a different approach to engaging the culture in which he lived. Accused of being a drunk, glutton, and “friend of sinners,” Jesus lived in such a way that disgusted the religious elite of his day. These self-righteous members of the community thought they were above the “common people” and decided it was best to keep away from those “less holy” than themselves. This was not at all Jesus’ idea of mission.

Now, for clarity sake, I am not suggesting that Christians should lower their ethical and moral standards to fit it. In fact, that is the farthest thing from what I am saying. I am merely suggesting we take a seat in the school of Jesus and his mission, and think about our roll on this planet. We are here to be on mission with Christ. Our prayer and hope is that we might see his kingdom come and his will be done on earth as it is in heaven, and this may require a different approach.

It might, in fact, require us to contemplate, conversate, and even create culture ourselves, not simply condemn it or cower from it. This type of approach doesn’t embody the humble, reasonable, accessible picture we see in the Son of man who lifted the head of the prostitute and preached on the hillsides to the poor.

The life of Jesus illustrates a beautiful marriage of holiness and lowliness, humility and purity, transcendence and presence. Jesus exemplified being both God and man. This connection of heaven and earth is the same mission to which we are called 2,000 years later.

Which brings me to the question: How should the Gospel shape our engagement in culture?

As Christians, we are called to a citizenship of heaven. This does not mean that we are trapped here waiting for our eutopia to come. Instead, it means that, as faithful followers of Jesus, we have a mission in the here and now. So, here are four suggested ways to engage culture as a follower of Jesus:

1. Create Culture

Missionary artists are challenged with bringing the Kingdom to light through creativity and beauty instead of cheap counterfeits. This means displaying innovative art, playing original songs, and showing captivating films in the same halls and venues as those of different beliefs, side by side with the unchurched. As well, non-artists are called to create healthy, kingdom culture in their homes, workplaces, and communities.

2. Contemplate Culture

Mission-minded parents are called to walk through life with our kids, providing a place for them to ask hard questions and explore faith. This means getting our hands dirty and having awkward conversations instead of sheltering them from the broken things in this world that Jesus came to redeem.

3. Converse with Culture

Missionary neighbors are led to become competent and strategic at uncovering the Gospel in topics in which our unchurched friends have never seen Jesus at work before. This means sitting down to eat at sinners’ tables and listening deeply to the interests of those we are trying to reach. It means meeting people right where they are.

4. Care for Culture

Believers of all ages, backgrounds, and giftedness are empowered to care for this river called culture. As we tend to the waters, the banks of the river come to life and we begin to see the redemptive work of God unfold before our eyes. This means wading into the filthy parts of the river that will one day be a crystal clear torrent flowing right through the city of God, instead of just sitting on the banks.


What about the shirt though? I mean, a shirt that says “Jesus” instead of “Reese’s” isn’t cowering from culture, right? A band that sounds just like Nirvana, with slightly less grunge, and positive, encouraging lyrics isn’t condemning culture, right? Perhaps, but aren’t they counterfeiting it? And for what purpose exactly? To provide an alternative that is “sanctified” and “safe”? To make us feel like, if just for a moment, all the brokenness we experience is gone and heaven is here? Maybe copying culture is just another means of creating our own utopia where we don’t have to engage in the darker places of our world and the murky waters of our culture.

Friends, we must be wise about who or what will influence our formative minds and hearts. We need to guard our hearts well and seek to help others navigate these waters, too. But, you can’t navigate a river by standing on the bank.

We need to wade into the waters with our children, our neighbors, and our friends and family who are new believers, and embark on this mission of engaging culture with a Gospel perspective.