Aaron Summers

Posts Tagged ‘Church’

Numbers and Noses? Is there another way?

In Church, Leadership on October 5, 2017 at 8:53 am

Evaluations.

We all must do them and have them done to us.  In church life, this tends to be tricky…and messy.  We have borrowed so many terms from the business world that we are fuzzy on the real issues before us.  We use terms such as personnel, finance, human resources, etc.  It is no wonder we have easily shifted into a cultural version of evaluative measures.

Every year, churches come to this point and feel they must do an evaluation on those who receive a salary.  I certainly understand and accept accountability.  We SHOULD be holding one another accountable.  However, the criteria of the accountability are shifting toward cultural norms more than spiritual ones.

  • One pastor I know put so much emphasis on numbers that if their ministry area did not double in attendance in 6 months they were going to be let go. While many of us shriek and shirk back from such audacious criteria, most of us are not far from it.
  • Consider EVERY state convention’s reporting system…numbers and stats. The questions “How many?” and “How much?” are asked more than anything else.
  • Consider every time you run into a ministry friend. “How many are you running?”, is a common question.
  • Some states award those who baptize more than anyone else.

Don’t get me wrong.  I know these things are important.  However, we put too much emphasis on them.  When it comes to evaluating the staff in your church, what do you ask?  I have served 5 churches.  In each of them, this was an arduous process for all involved!  I have been asked about goals and vision.  I have been evaluated on preaching style, length, and topic.  I have been evaluated on communication and leadership.  On one occasion, the question was posed to the evaluating group “What is there about the pastor you don’t like?”  That was an interesting discussion!

Consider this:

  • When I was ordained, the biblical qualifications were considered.
  • Every church I have interviewed with has used the biblical qualifications as one point of the review.
  • I have never been asked about the biblical qualifications during an evaluation.

Why?  Once we have a person on staff we shift into management roles.  We look at job descriptions.  We search human resource materials for options.   We talk about vision, mission, and purpose.  We set numerical goals.  We chastise if we don’t reach them and challenge them to do more if they do.

Is there another way?  I believe there is.  Don Cousins, the author of Experiencing Leadershift, suggests 4 questions as we evaluate.  I will share my thoughts with each.

  1. Is <staff member> faithful?

Just as it was discussed in the interview process.  I believe those in ministry positions ought to be examined for their faithfulness to the biblical qualifications. (See 1 Tim 3, Titus 1:7 and Acts 20:28)  If the search team saw it as important, why don’t we later?  Is the staff member faithful to what God has called them to be?  These qualities cover character, family, spouse, scripture, and morality.  If there is a fidelity problem then address it.  If there is not a fidelity issue then move forward.

  1. Is <staff member> fruitful?

Paul wrote to Galatia expressing that the follower of Jesus will have certain qualities naturally expressed.  These include love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  In your evaluation of the staff member in question, do they have these characteristics?  Do they show love?  Do they have patience?  Are they kind and gentle?  Each of us has strengths and weaknesses in this list.  Take the time to share with them how you have seen the strengths.  Help them to see how to support the weaker areas.  These 9 items build character in us as we follow Christ.

  1. Is <staff member> fulfilled?

Here is the moment the staff member can share their heart with you.  It is my prayer that every staff member would have the peace of mind and feeling of safety to openly share if they are fulfilled in ministry here.  I confess, over the years I have not always felt those moments to be a safe space.  I strongly suggest that as we bring on this next generation of ministry staff we are going to have to give constant feedback in a safe environment.  They demand it.  It doesn’t matter if you like it or not, that is where we are going.  Further, every staff member has the right to be respected enough to be given that safe space.  It is the church’s responsibility to honor those who work hard among you.

  1. Is <staff member> making God famous?

Too many ministers build their own little kingdoms.  It is never more evident than when they leave.  You know what happens?  Their people leave too.  That ministry falls apart.  If a minister is seeking to personal honor, trouble soon follows.  In this moment of evaluation, you can provide feedback as to what you have witnessed. (Please do not act on hearsay.)  A minister of God seeks to reflect God’s glory rather than their own.  Help them to see how they are doing this.  Support them through the difficult times of adjustment if this isn’t happening.

Conclusion

Annual reviews do not have to be dreaded.  They can be fulfilling and encouraging.  This year, take a different approach.  If your staff member is found to be faithful, fruitful, fulfilled, and making God famous then what more would you want?  God will work out everything else.  I would suggest to you that you will prefer this method over what you might be doing now.

 

 

Is Your Church At-Risk?

In Leadership on September 26, 2017 at 1:01 pm

Nominating Committees everywhere are starting to work hard to fill church positions.  I have worked on both the local and state level in trying to uncover and discover and recover people to serve on various boards, agencies, team, committees, and teaching slots.  I have seen the good and bad side of filling positions.  Often, we cherry pick the best people for certain positions and scramble to just fill the page.

Tragic.

Somewhere in the deep recesses, we know there should be more involved but who has the time?  In most cases in church, there are 2 positions for every committee plus trustees, clerks, moderators, and more.  Whatever your policies are, here are a few reminders as you go about the work of ministry.

Saved

Is Joe a believer?  You might think this is a no-brainer, but it isn’t.  I have seen good and God-fearing people bring to the table names of those who have yet to decide for Christ but have the vocational skill in the area of need.  Until a person has placed faith in Jesus and received the forgiveness of sin, they are not prepared to make spiritual decisions in the church.  I realize that which paper towel holders are needed in the bathroom, or what color the toilets need to be, seem to be irrelevant to this moment.  I tell you it is relevant!  There will come a time that, even though they can add and read a P&L sheet, spiritual direction will be necessary.  In those moments, we need faith not just facts!

Settled

No matter where your church stands on membership or fellowship or covenants, the person being suggested needs to be settled in their attendance in your church.  Your church needs to decide what the requirements are going to be.  For example, how can someone really advise and guide personnel who attends 25% of the time?  How can someone really give input to practices and policies if they are not around often enough to speak well on these matters?  How can they lead a group when they are in other churches because of family, invites, events, and such?

Supportive

This has to do with their mouth and their money.  You want people in leadership to be vocally supportive of the staff and the church mission and vision.  Naysayers create problems.  Gossips create integrity issues.  Those who refuse to follow Matthew 18 will create hazards and splits.  Those in leadership have a higher accountability and must be held to it.

Only the treasurer/bookkeeper will know how much someone gives.  In our situation, we have set a low limit of $200/month in giving.  If someone is giving more than that they are considered available to serve.  If someone is not meeting that need, but I am aware of low-income status in their home, I will seek to discover if their giving is regular.

We all need to row in the same direction otherwise we go in circles.

Secure

Background checks are difficult for our older generations to grasp.  Having grown up in radically different social times it is often a church hurdle.  However, we MUST be doing these.  The obvious areas are in youth and

Background checks are difficult for our older generations to grasp.  Having grown up in radically different social times it is often a church hurdle.  However, we MUST be doing these.  The obvious areas are in youth and childhood ministries.  However, I would encourage committee members too.  Another option would be that committee members sign an agreement of confidentiality.  While much of what is done in committee life is open for membership to hear, there are those times when sensitive items need to be discussed.  Our church family is not always prepared to hear all that is discussed.

For example, My wife and I discuss a LOT at the dinner table with our kids.  However, when we moved to Texas 3 years ago they were not at an age to handle that information until they HAD to handle it.  They didn’t know about the interviews and discussions of housing and schools.  Our church members are at all levels of maturity.  We must have the mature lead and, at times, do so confidentially.

Spiritual

God has equipped your church with people. Within them lies the spirit of God.  Do you see the fruit of the Spirit revealed in their actions and speech?  Do you sense they are being led by the Spirit or by other causes?  Sometimes, everything can seem right and the pressure is on to finish the task.  However, we must pause and ensure the Spirit’s guidance and gifting.  Someone who is gifted with mercy or helps will have a difficult time serving in an administrative role.  Also, if the finance/stewardship committee is filled with those who are strong in faith run the risk of presenting a budget too large for the congregation.  There needs to be a balance.

I pray for our nominating committees as they seek to serve the Lord and His church.  May you be wise, righteous, and godly in your choices this Fall.

I Love My Church

In Church, Gospel Living on January 21, 2017 at 11:11 am

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Here are 5 actions and prayers your church needs to become more like what Jesus has envisaged.

God, place in me the desire to love my church in the way YOU see fit.  Father, help me:

  1. To see her be spiritually fit. What do I need to do to be spiritually fit?
  2. To see her function with excellence. What part do you want me to fulfill?
  3. To see her financially stable. Help me reach my tithe and joyfully give more as you lead me.
  4. To know what Jesus finds in her. Am I where I need to be in relationship to you, O Lord?
  5. To see her be a healthy family. Help me to lead in unity and love for our family.
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. Psalm 139.

A Parent and Pastor

In Gospel Living, Parenting on October 27, 2016 at 8:15 am

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THE PARENT

Another parent and I were meeting with our youth intern to discuss students and what we as parents wanted from a youth ministry.  As I considered this, I began to write what I wanted for my 2 kids as they progressed through youth ministry.  The first flashes had to do with making friends, having fun, and being in safe spaces.  I pushed those out of my mind and began to think deeper.

What kind of follower of Christ do I want my kids to be when they leave home and go to college?

Wow.  College.  Weren’t they just born the other day?  He can’t be in HS already??  #only4yearsleft and #only6years left rang through my mind!  How is that he looks me eye to eye, fits in my clothes and has bigger feet?  Oh my gosh!  How is it that boys are staring at my baby girl?  Isn’t she too young for all of that?

Alas, and sadly, all of this is true!  What did I wish for them as teenagers?

  • I want them to love Jesus.
  • I want them to make decisions from a biblical view.
  • I want them to serve others inside and outside of church family.
  • I want them to go on a mission trip.
  • I want them to have a church family of all ages connected together.

This is probably not an exhaustive list but does encompass much of what I hope my kids achieve through the youth ministry.

THE PASTOR

Then it hit me.  These are the same things I want for my church!  As a pastor, I really want those to whom God has charged me to lead to achieve these same items.

  • I want them to love Jesus.
  • I want them to make decisions from a biblical view.
  • I want them to serve others inside and outside of the church family.
  • I want them to go on a mission trip.
  • I want them to have a church family of all ages connected together.

We get overly focused on so many things that really don’t matter.  We are concerned over who is in charge of whom.  We are concerned over protecting our spaces, ministries, and preferences.  We are concerned that someone is going to take over or not do their job.  We are concerned over why others aren’t doing things the right way.

How I want for us to move back to simplicity; move to the important.

As a parent, and a pastor, Jesus, take the wheel.  Please.

What would you add to this list?

Committee Member Dies; M.E. Sites Boring Meeting as Cause

In Leadership on October 18, 2016 at 7:45 am

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After years of sitting in staff meetings, board meetings, committee meetings, and ministry meetings it dawned on me that it would be great if there were a tool to help these things move along.  Those that carry no agenda are killing the corporate and religious world.  To gather people together with no direction is like drinking from a fire hose!  Many meetings I have attended over the years have an agenda, but it still seems disjointed at times.  Aren’t there a few basic tenets for every meeting that help everyone know what’s going on without getting derailed so easily?

Here are 6 steps to a better staff meeting:

Check-In

Building a sense of friendship among your staff/employees is critical to the health and strength of your organization.  During this time, you as the leader create an atmosphere of checking the pulse of everyone present.  Asking questions about family, life, and leisure activities builds relationships.  One morning I discovered during check-in, that one staff member was having a really rough morning.  While they were not excused from the meeting, I paid attention to not call them out or attempt to draw too much from them during the meeting.  Another time, I realized a great joy had happened in their life and was able to bring that to light for all to enjoy together.  If we rush to our seats and dive right in we miss the social needs we all have.

Calendar

This is a time that we can begin to warm-up.  Whomever is in charge of the calendar requests will present them to the group for approval.  Your structure may delegate this responsibility solely to one person.  However, if time has taught me anything, it is that awareness of events is valuable.  How many times have you seen things double up?  How many times have you witnessed the light bulb moment when a staff member forgot to add an item and now is reminded?  These moments are regular for many.  When attendees discuss the requests it helps maintain focus on the direction.  Having your team warm-up through this will generate better discussion later in the meeting when it really counts.

Communicate

There is a theory of communication called the Rule of Seven.  With all the noise in our lives, it takes several communications before anyone hears what is going on.  This begins with the leadership.  I have said many times that when we are sick of saying it the people are just catching on.  We must continue to communicate in different ways while keeping the basic message the same.  This is a time when we, as a church staff,

  • Go over the publicly addressed announcements because not everything will be heard
  • Decide what is to be prepped for video announcements
  • Share what needs to be on social media
  • Discuss anything that is organization-wide.

I choose not to dive into individual areas during this time because it isolates the one and alienates everyone else.  We all lead busy lives as we lead our teams.  If checking email and catching up on Clash of Clans or Words with Friends is an option during this time then something needs to change.

Consider

There is a vision.  The leader has been charged to set it but not forget it.  Gaining response from your attendees will give priceless breadth to your decision-making.  Every person in the room will have a different background and perspective.  Drawing on the collective nature, the leader can present ideas and thoughts for the next quarter, year, or decade.  Considering these things together provides buy-in and unity.  Too often, leaders believe they have to make every decision without input.  We have been taught, at times modelled, that to ask for help is a sign of weakness, ignorance, and insufficiency.  I completely disagree.  I do not have all the answers.  The Bible speaks of 3 cords are not easily broken.  We can refer to this in relation to group discussion.  While the responsibility rests in the leader, there is no shame in garnering the strength of many.

Collaborate

In our meetings, we are always reviewing what the people are doing together.  I would ask, “What are we doing together?”  Building strength by working together builds longevity. These times of collaboration should, over time, involve the following:

  • Projects related to church vision and organization
  • Projects related to community ministry
  • Book Studies
  • Video Teachings
  • Something fun

The point is that the staff need to work together on projects and learning opportunities for the benefit of the church and themselves.

Close

At the end of the meeting, there should be a time of sharing and prayer.  This is not to spiritualize what just happened, but to pray for one another.  Learning to share our needs, hurts, and joys with each other echoes what Scripture teaches.  Meetings do not have to be “of the devil”.  They can be times of joy, laughter, efficiency, and vision!

4 Dangers From the Inside

In Life and Culture on May 27, 2015 at 7:54 am

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My wife picked up an apple the other day.  It was the green kind that she likes.  She took the sticker off and washed it.  It glistened.  It was one of the prettiest pieces of fruit.  When she bit into it, though, it was a different story.  It had gone bad on the inside even though its appearance was good.  The psalmist writes,

Its walls are patrolled day and night against invaders,but the real danger is wickedness within the city.

— Psalm 55:10

The danger for the church today is not the media attacks or moral groups allegations. The danger for the church today is from within her own fellowship. We are being betrayed by our own brothers.  Those who have chosen to follow Jesus by faith are called to be different.  While this is not always an immediate change there is to be movement toward holiness.  When there is not the church is in trouble.  We see this in 4 dangerous ways.

  1. The people of the church are looking like the world.  In a desperate attempt to “fit in” and “be all things to all people” we have forgotten that we are also called to be set apart.
  2. The people of the church are acting like the world.   20 But that isn’t what you learned about Christ. 21 Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, 22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.  Ephesians 4
  3. The people of the church are deciding like the world.  We base most of our decisions on our finances and feelings when we are supposed to be people of faith.  Why are we ignoring God in our decisions?
  4. The people of the church are responding like the world.  Revenge is the MO of our day.  You talk about me and I will spread stuff about you.  You hurt me and I will hurt you.  Eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth mentality is inappropriate in the covenant of Jesus where forgiveness is to rule.

 

If those who follow Christ are no different from those who do not then where is the urgency to place faith in Christ?Christians have the better life.  Why are we trying to remove all appearance of it?  You have been given new life, not to squander, but the enjoy. Why would those who have been set free once again lock themselves up?

The Church Needs to STOP Lying

In Church on March 10, 2015 at 7:54 am

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Walk into just about any church and you will find people that lie to you!  Your friends, your foes, and those you don’t even know will lie to you.  I don’t think they mean to lie.  In fact, I am not sure they would admit that lying is what they were doing.  Some would say they are putting on a good front.  Others might say that they are just being optimistic.

Most of this is centered in our greetings.  The truth is that people lie outside of the church just as often.  We ask people when we see them in class or in worship, “How are you today?”  Two things are at play: it is a mindless form of greeting, and no one really wants the answer.  The reason for the 2nd is because if your moment is not good trending toward bad, then it becomes awkward as you dump your troubles. Watch someone’s face as you begin to discuss, at length,

  • the diaper issues of your youngest because of the stomach flu going around and how it got in your eye…
  • how you hugged the toilet throughout the day yesterday…
  • how you can’t pay the bills…
  • your latest fight with your spouse…
  • how cranky you are because your favorite manicurist couldn’t fit you in…

I digress.  Here are a few pointers on greeting others so we will stop lying.

Greetings you SHOULD use

  • Hello.
  • Hi.
  • I am so glad you are here.
  • It is good to see you today.

Questions that lead to LIES

  • How are you?
  • How has your week been?
  • Haven’t seen you lately, where have you been? (Also adds guilt and shame)
  • How was Sunday School today?
  • Wasn’t worship wonderful?
  • I am so blessed, aren’t you?

If we would stop asking the wrong questions, people might stop lying at church.  Answers like “Fine”, “Blessed”, “Wonderful” may be true, but often they are not.  Our lives tend to focus on the fights, money issues, sickness, and tragedy. We, who have the hope of Jesus and help of the Spirit, must find a balance.  We have hope.  We have problems today.  Somewhere in the middle is the integrity we need.

Let’s be honest.

5 Signs That Your Church May Be Codependent

In Church, Community on October 29, 2014 at 8:06 am

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Those who lead churches do so because of a call from God, but also because of a desire to serve others planted in their heart by God.  Pastors follow this call and develop this desire to please God.  In the middle of church life, however, things can get bogged down.  What I have noticed in churches is that a codependent conditions can disrupt a pastor and his family.

Codependency sounds like it would be a good thing: both dependent on the other.  Merriam-Webster uses the following definition:

a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition (as an addiction to alcohol or heroine); broadly :  dependence on the needs of or control by another

In essence, what is being said is that one who is codependent depends on being needed or controlled in the relationship.  When we talk about pastors and churches there is a relationship.  Often, I find this relationship can be codependent.  Let’s review a few signs of codependency and refer back to the pastor/church relationship.

  1. Low Self-Esteem. Just because a church is an organization rather than person does not mean that collectively she cannot experience low self-esteem.  Thousands of churches suffer from low self-esteem.  There is a feeling that they are not good enough, savvy enough, or lovely enough.  How many churches do you know that compare themselves to other churches rather than to Scripture?  Your church’s value is not tied to size or technology.  Her value is in Christ.  In this case, the church is codependent upon the pastor that will just give them attention.  This type of church can sap the energy from a pastor quickly.  As a leader in this context, you will need to help them develop esteem and value apart from your presence.  The church is valuable because God has deemed it so.  Value and effectiveness are different.  The church may not be very effective right now because of an esteem issue.  Help them develop value and the effectiveness will return.
  2. People-pleasing. Churches with low esteem want to win the approval of someone.  Because of the transient nature of pastors, churches will look to the community for approval.  In doing so, policies and decisions will be made accordingly.  A people-pleasing church will attempt to have a class for EVERYONE.  For example, a single female moves into the community and attends church.  While she is the only single in the church, there will be an attempt to create an entire ministry to support and please her.  A codependent church cannot handle being left, so she will do anything to please those who will cross her threshold.  These will also have a plethora of ministries trying to catch someone.  In trying to be the church for everyone, she becomes the church for really no one.
  3. Poor boundaries. This symptom will mostly affect the pastor and his family.  Codependent churches don’t get boundaries.  Those who still live in a parsonage next door can appreciate this idea!  There will be an insertion by the church into your life in an unhealthy way.  Thus, the pastor loses family time, quiet time, and down time.  God has called pastors to serve churches, but not to the detriment of his marriage and his kids.  Pastors and churches must understand boundaries.  Not only physical boundaries but emotional also.  Codependent churches have difficulty also opening up to a new pastor.  While they will get into your space, they are not willing to allow you to get into theirs.  The contradiction is obvious but only magnifies the unhealthiness.
  4. Obsessions. What do many churches talk about in their meetings?  Other churches.  Instead of trying to decipher God’s plan for them they are constantly trying to become that other, more glorious, church.  Church A has all the people let’s see what they are doing and do that.  Church B seems to have cool worship so let’s do that.  Often, the obsessions turn into control and communication issues.  When the by-laws are longer than Leviticus we have a problem.  When every imaginable scenario must be  addressed, the church is focused on all the wrong instead of creating procedures to encourage doing the right.  Obsessing over how things used to be is just a sign of fear for the future.  The codependent church will want to always look back to a golden era rather than forge ahead. Because it is in the past, there is a level of control and fantasy that feeds the obsession.
  5. Problem with intimacy. Because of many factors mentioned already, the codependent church has trouble getting close to a pastor.  The relationship between a pastor and the church has been likened to a marriage.  They were introduced (resume). They dated (interview process). They get engaged (set the date for in-view weekend). They get married (positive vote).  Codependent churches have trouble in the marriage because they cannot get close.  They stay reserved.  When this happens:
  • The pastor cannot do what is best because of the good that fills the calendar.
  • The people are robbed of the blessing to serve and do not develop spiritually.
  • The pastor gets burned out.
  • The people soon expect him to do it all.
  • The pastor loses his family.
  • The people lose their pastor.

Pastors, as you are led of God to embrace your church please remember to love her as Christ loves her.  Teach her about her value.  Lead her to prioritize ministry.  Model how to say yes and no.   Focus on God’s plan and setting goals to achieve that plan.  Churches spiral when they change pastors.  This is exponentially worse when that change happens every 2 years.  If your church is exhibiting these symptoms and you’re not the pastor, stem the tide and push back.  Healing will not be overnight, but God is faithful.

Maleficent and the Post-Modern Church

In Life and Culture on September 13, 2014 at 8:28 am

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So, I took the family out for a movie night and watched Maleficent at the cheap theater.  As we watched the movie I could not help but try to figure out where the differences were going to be.  Of course, the largest difference was the back story given concerning the fairy whose wings were stolen.  The story we grew up reading and have read 1000 times to our children is Sleeping Beauty.  The writers of Maleficent provide a redacted version of this beloved story.  In it we see the villain become a hero.  Before you think the narrator is Maleficent, think again.  Before you think you know who the true love is, think again.

Good so far…

Our culture certainly enjoys rewriting that which has been known and beloved.  In an effort to be fresh, hip, and exciting a trend in writing is to change up what we know and create new twists and turns.  In this example, Maleficent is not just an evil witch.  She is a misunderstood and heart-broken girl.  Due to the way Stefan treated her, left her, cut her wings, and did not invite her to the baby celebration it is no wonder that she is fuming by the time she arrives.  At this point, I did not find concern.  The anger we have all seen in Sleeping Beauty is simply explained.  Good so far…

Wait…What?

As Aurora grows Maleficent is involved in her life.  She watches over her.  She saves her.  She loves her.  As she approaches 16, we find Maleficent turning tender, sort of, as she expresses the reality of evil.  She tries to revoke the spell but cannot.  Later, we find that the Prince did not wake her with a kiss.  Maleficent is the true love and her kiss awakens Aurora from the death sleep.  The dragon is not Maleficent but her sidekick slave.  Aurora becomes queen of both worlds and Maleficent is happy once again.

The significance of this twisting movie is that we are being presented with the “real” story.  Beloved for years, Sleeping Beauty, is now being touted as the royal version while the truth is now being released.  Those in charge created a story and propped it up with money and power.  Why would Disney take the chance of tarnishing its name by changing such a beloved story?  Money.  We do anything for money in this culture.

The Church should be scared…

What this means for the Church is that our culture is being deprogrammed from holding anything as sacred.  I understand both of these stories are fables.  However, what happens when God-fearing people are presented with the arguments of our day that suggest the historic Jesus and the Biblical Jesus are two different people?  This is exactly what Zealot is all about.  Educated folk are challenging the long-held beliefs of Christians.  One argument is that the Gospel writers simply wrote a story about this man Jesus in order to fulfill prophecies and further their needs.  Other arguments include that Paul actually started a cult rather than the Christian church.   James and Peter were the real leaders and Paul was a rebellious type who created a cult of personality and education.  Thus, the Bible cannot really be trusted scholars would say.

Maleficent was a fun movie.  I enjoyed the twists and turns because I knew it was not truth that was being changed.  We simply went from one fable to another.  But the trend of challenge and change will creep into the church and we must be prepared.  We must read, study, and know our Bible.  If we believe it to be truth, then we must also be able to defend the truth.  Sure, it all comes down to whether you have faith or not, but we can, at least, act like we know what we are talking about.

4 Must-Do’s and How We Should Say Hello

In Church on August 26, 2014 at 9:31 am

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My flight left at 630 am en route to Love Field in Dallas for a new pastor’s in Texas meeting.  I arrived early and made my way through the terminal and out to the ground transportation.  There to pick me up a wondeful man by the name of Walter Criss from Brookhaven Baptist in Dallas.  We chatted as we waited for 3 other guys.  He took us all the way to the front door.  As we exited the van there were people at the door with smiles and greetings for us.  We walked in the door and found others there to greet us.

I made my way through the registration process and received my name tag and welcome folder.  I then spent the next hour being greeted by everyone who is a member of the group.  I sat down at a table of those who are new in the Panhandle of Texas.  I watched as the area reps worked the room without regard to whether or not we were in their area of Texas.  I met reps from the nine areas, 8 of whom I may never meet again!  The ministry personnel also were greetin each of us and asking where we live, serve, and expressed genuine interest in our “story”.

From this time I was impressed that if our churches, each Sunday, would welcome like this our churches would overflow before too long.  Here are a few tips for us to consider.

1.  In the parking lot.  I am aware of one church that has volunteers who stand out by the road and smile and wave as folks drive by and/or drive into the lot.  They serve to provide a positive presence as people even drive by!  So often we in the churches feel good if we just shake hands if they make it into the worship service!  What if we took it outside?  Not the lobby.  What if we took our greeting to the parking spaces and greeted people as they drove up and walk them to the door.  Am I out of my mind?  How many volunteers would it take?  A better question would be does God’s love start at the door of the church or the door of the car?  I would agree it starts before they arrive, but in this context should we not greet them as early as possible?

2.  At the door.  I am thankful to serve a church that has wonderful, caring people at the door!  We have representatives at each of our doors and they are absolutely lovely people who are warm and inviting.  We have some who will give assistance to those who need it getting up the walk.  When do your people first feel welcomed in your place?  How long are they on your campus before they are noticed? 

3.  Introductions.  My wife’s father is well-known for two things:  pigs and introductions.  My kids laugh at how he begins each new conversation.  He will ask “What’s your name?” and “Where are you from?”  Every time.  When people enter your facility, are they met with those who are interested in them or just moving them on to the next space?  The generations we all are tring to reach desire a relationship.  If we will engage in conversation and genuinely listen we are well on our way.  As we do so, let us provide opportunities to help them be known by us and know about us.

4.  Where’s the coffee?  This younger generation, which I still hold I am a part of, loves coffee/cokes/water and more.  Providing opportunities for moments of connnection over coffee or snacks in a central location allows for growth of friendships.  During this time, key people engage in conversation.  This is not a time to dump the church calendar to them.  It is a time, however, to relate.  Talk to them.  Show genuine interest.  Love.

God loved the world by coming to us and engaging us.  Are we doing the same with those who pass by our churches?

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