Earlier in my ministry, I was all about what could pack the most people into the seats. Ministry, to me, was about programs and being one up on every other church in town. I had very heavy influence to do big events that were supposed to draw a ton of people to the church. Ultimately, it was just various forms of entertaining Christians and hardly if ever helped make disciples as Jesus commanded.
Later, I was introduced to a more Christ-exalting model. My music ministry was no longer about cantatas or fancy plays. Musical presentations became worship experiences that drew the attention toward Jesus instead of the performance. Still, I found the overall experience of Church a bit too complicated.
Then, I started a church. We are far from anything I have ever done or experienced. We are very laid back. My preaching and teaching style is very interactive. The crowd is small, and we focus on unity rather than size. We want to make disciples and create an environment as close to what the early church looked like nearly 2,000 years ago rather than what the church growth movement has dictated in all the best sellers.
Am I saying that large or megachurches are wrong? Absolutely not! Many of them are accomplishing God’s purpose in their ministry context. I just happen to know that my calling is to minister to people on a more personal level where they are more than just a number. I want to do my best to invest what God has given me into the life of someone else.
As you are preparing for worshiping with your church family this weekend, don’t get lost in the lights, smoke, music, and all the prep that teams put into the service a few hours before it starts. Don’t lose focus of the One who died and rose again to redeem mankind – the Lord Jesus Christ.
Sugar is so sweet, but do you know what it is doing to your body? Read this and find out.
I have had the chance to visit or be on staff in many churches for over 20 years. My saddest observation is that churches do not either adequately train or understand the ministry of a greeter or usher. I cannot tell you how many churches I have walked into where the men stand around in the foyer and look manly, hand you a bulletin, and tell you “It’s good to see you” if they are “friendly”. What kind of impression will you get if you are a young family with a baby and a few young children?
Honestly, I knew within a few minutes that I did not want to go back. The impression that they give is that they are happy with the people they have and do not want to put forth any extra effort to acquaint you with their ministry.
What should have been done differently?
- They should have engaged the family in real conversation. Introduce yourself. Find out their names and use them. Find out the ages of the children. Find out if they would be interested in utilizing the nursery or children’s ministry. If so, walk them to it. Introduce them to the children’s ministry workers and the workers to them. Once again, use their names. It makes them feel important.
- Try to engage with them after the service. Introduce them to others within the church, especially others in their age bracket or life stage. Don’t let this just be the pastor’s job! They expect this from the pastor, so it just seems like he is “doing what he’s supposed to do”.
- Don’t just put men in as ushers or greeters! There is NOTHING in the Bible that says an usher is supposed to be masculine. In my personal experience, ladies are much better at greeting and engaging people. Anybody can pass a plate. It takes someone who really wants to make people feel welcome to be an usher/greeter.
- Help them find a seat (especially if they’re late). There is nothing more embarrassing than being late and having to hunt down a seat. For our church situation, we have folding chairs we set up and take down. We set up a certain number. If we have more people show up, we have to be ready to set out more chairs on the spot.
- All people should engage a guest in meaningful conversation. Don’t overwhelm them but at least act like a normal human being rather than a “church alien” (the kind whose language changes when they walk into a building with a steeple on top).
- One final word: THE ONLY THING IN CHURCH THAT SHOULD BE SAVED ARE THE SOULS IN THE BUILDINGS NOT THE SEATS!!!!!!!!!!!
I hear people give advice ALL THE TIME! A lot of it is horrible advice. They will give it whether you ask or not. Here is my list of horrible advice that will screw you up every time.
- Do what makes you happy! Sheryl Crow sang, “If it makes you happy, then why the **** are you so sad?” She was no theologian, but she had enough sense to know that happiness is based on circumstances which fluctuate. What makes you happy today probably won’t make you happy tomorrow.
- Follow your heart! Really?!? Your “heart” can be on an emotional roller coaster, and you plan on following your heart? The Bible says the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9).
- Do something for yourself! I am not denying that we should care for ourselves, but most people go overboard and buy themselves a boat or spend money they don’t have. If doing something for yourself will cause World War 3 when you get home or put you in massive debt, do a small kind gesture for someone else and find out how truly fulfilling that is.
If you get your advice from a fool, you’re likely to do something foolish. Get your advice from a wise person, and you are likely to make a wise choice. Whatever you do, don’t go getting advice from someone who will tell you what you want to hear. I speak from experience on this one!
I better go ahead and put out the disclaimer that I have no issues with God calling people to minister in foreign countries. I have friends who are foreign missionaries and are being greatly used of God. However, my thinking about foreign missions changed when a former pastor with whom I worked exposed me to the idea of supporting nationals (people who are from that particular country) training their own people. The church’s missions money began to have a greater return.
When I went to pastor my first church, I began to focus on the need to share the gospel at home. I have seen so many churches parade church members who went out of the country to share the gospel but would not share the gospel with their next door neighbor. There is a serious problem with this picture. Why do churches raise thousands of dollars to send these people to foreign countries and do nothing at home?
Acts 1:8 is clear about a missionary strategy – “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Jerusalem is Home. Begin there! Share the gospel with the meth addict, the homeless man, the prostitute who works the corner down the road from your house. Spread out a little further to “Judea” (whatever is a little further out geographically), “Samaria” (a little further out and a place of racial tension), “and to the end of the earth” (which does not exclude foreign missions).
I have been hearing a lot recently about how people have thought they had great friends and are discovering that the friendship is very one-sided. We all have these types of people who are in and out of our lives. You may be reading this, and you are disheartened. That friend who meant the world to you now acts like you don’t exist. I would like to share with you some things God taught me as people exited my life.
- Some people are toxic and need to go. They are they to drain your energy and pull you down so they can feel better. Let them go while praying that they will see how self-centered they truly are and become selfless.
- Some people are only meant to be in your life for a season. They will serve a purpose in your life for a brief time and move on. You and I have to learn how to understand these seasons and purposes and accept God’s timing for their exodus.
- Some people must go because they are unintentionally keeping you from your purpose. This has been the case with many who have exited my life in the last few years. I cherished some friendships and put people on pedestals. I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with these people, but I would not be on the path I am today had I continue to walk with them. Their exodus from my life ultimately led me to greater compassion and understanding for those who are hurting. I would have never stepped out to start Overcomers Church and would have been sitting safely within a denominational comfort zone feeling like a fish out of water.
I discovered that the ones who stayed love me despite the different path I have taken. I have received such encouragement from them. We may not see eye to eye philosophically, but those who love you will be there through disagreements and all.
The Bible has many great things to say about friends. My favorite is this: “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13 NKJV). When a friend will go through the fire with you and sacrifice anything for you, you know you have a true friend. I am glad to tell you today that the greatest Friend you will ever have is Jesus Christ. Others will betray you; He will never forsake you.