Wednesday, June 29, 2011

(9) The only time people lock their cars in the parking lot is during the summer and only so no one leaves them another bag of tomatoes!

(9) The only time people lock their cars in the parking lot is during the summer and only so no one leaves them another bag of tomatoes!

Wouldn’t it be nice if the world were a safer place and we could live like that all the time? I remember growing up when the windows would be raised during the summer so that the breeze could blow in. Doors were rarely locked, and neighbors went in the other neighbors houses while they were away to “keep an eye on things.”
But today’s world is another reality altogether. Doors are locked in our cars the instant we step out of them and in newer cars, alarms are set to warn possible intruders. Houses have locks on the handles, and deadbolts in addition to sometimes chains that are put across the doorway.
But I don’t want to concentrate on just this aspect of #9.
One of my favorite sayings is, “You can’t outgive God.” And you can’t. He owns everything on this earth. You say, “well, man made such and such, God didn’t.” Well, there are two ways to look at it. In the US (I’m not sure of the laws of other countries) if you have something that you leave on someone else’s property, especially if it is attached, it becomes “abandoned” and is then their property. So unless the item you’re talking about is suspended in the air (and since God created that, I don’t think it counts) it belongs to God, as he owns the earth. He made it, He put many things on it, and He allows it to continue to flourish.
So why is it that we sometimes refuse to accept any more blessings, whether from man or God. You may say that you don’t want to be “overwhelmed.” Well I say, “Overwhelm Me.” If I don’t need it, or I’m afraid that it will spoil before I can use it, I’ll find someone who will. If I am blessed and in need of nothing, let me find someone who is in need. Then let me bless them. (Hear that God? I’m ready for more blessings!)
Quit turning down opportunities for betterment because you feel like your plate is full. If you have a chance to obtain something, even if you don’t see how you can use it right then, do it anyway! God is not going to give you something that you’ll never need. He provides each of us with the tools and knowledge to do what we need to. We just need to realize that He uses others sometimes to further His goals. And if you need the strength to go after whatever it is, then pray for strength. But make the first step. Don’t shut out others or God. Welcome them both in and your life will be richer for it.

Monday, June 27, 2011

(8) The church directory doesn’t have last names.

(8) The church directory doesn’t have last names.

I can’t decide if this is good or bad. I think it can be both. If your church is so small that first names are never repeated, either you live in a VERY multicultural neighborhood or you simply have a small church. I know of a church not far from here that basically has all family in it. There are a few others who have known the family members for years and years, but their numbers are few. The church is small, and for many reasons will probably stay small.
But then again, it could be a good thing when people would be known by their actions. I lived in a neighborhood that had a local mom and pop restaurant. There were 4 Keith’s who ate there on a regular basis. I was Motorcycle Keith (always on my Harley). A guy who fished constantly was Fishing Keith. A Sheriff’s Deputy was Cop Keith. And an owner of a concrete business who rarely cooked for himself was known as Eatin’ Keith.
So why can’t we have the same thing happen in church. People should be thankful for their talents, as they truly are a gift from God. I know, you went to a trade school/college for a degree in your field. But God gave you the brain and the smarts to be able to study and learn it. (so take a minute and tell Him thank you if you haven’t already!)
We could have Teaching Susan, Piano Susan and Kitchen Susan in our congregations. It would honor them for their service to God and to the church. Make people feel appreciated. When people feel needed, loved and appreciated, they tend to stick around. Don’t wait until they leave to run and tell them how much they are missed.
It’s like how I feel about dying. Don’t wait until I croak to stand up and tell everyone how much you loved me or enjoyed doing things with me. Tell me now. Then maybe I will want to do more with you. No, I don’t need a big head, and that is not why I’m saying do this. But we’re humans. We have the need to feel loved. Needed. That is what should help to draw us to God. Knowing that He loves us and needs us to further his work here on earth. Then we will be renewed and ready to march on in our lives, even when the going gets tough.

Friday, June 24, 2011

(7) There’s dried tobacco juice down both sides of the church van.

(7) There’s dried tobacco juice down both sides of the church van.

One thing my wife hates is a dirty car. And one thing I hate is to have to clean them. I’m not messy, but sometimes things get dirty even though it wasn’t intentional. I will tell myself that I’m going to go clean it up when I get home, and I forget when I get there. Or it will rain for a few days. The dirt and grime from the road will splash up on the car, and I will say that I’m going to wash it on the next pretty day. Then they will forecast rain again in a few days, so I will decide to wait until after that has passed. Vicious cycle. Needless to say, it never gets washed, because it usually rains every few days here.
But thank goodness there is never any tobacco juice stains on the outside either. There may be some bird poop, and it may be a little runny if the bird’s tummy wasn’t doing too well that day, but no tobacco juice.
I eventually feel bad about my wife having to ride in a dirty car, and I’ll either wash it myself or give in and spend the money to have someone else do it. To answer your next question, yes, I do have pride in what I own and drive. It’s paid for finally, and that is enough right there to make me happy. So I will say today that I will start to be more diligent about keeping my cars clean from now on. (okay wifey, you can stop applauding now!)
The church van however is another story. People perceive how we are by what they see us doing, and how we take care of ourselves and our belongings. So if any church property is suffering because of our misuse (leave the tobacco at home next time) or failure to maintain it, then who can we blame when the world looks down on us?
If we can’t get off of our rears and take care of our stuff, at least start taking care of God’s stuff. Yes, that is His house. And his van, car, bus or whatever is used by the church. You want God to bless you? Start by taking care of what He has given us to use, but in worship/ministry and at home. Then when He sees you taking care of what you already have, He might be prompted to give you more to take care of. But just like an irresponsible child, if they can’t take care of what they already have, why should we as adults give them anything else to tear up?
Let’s start caring about what we have around us, both at home, work and at church. Volunteer your time and help to get things done. Physical limitations? Give an offering (above what you tithe) to pay someone to do it. Just get it done! Then we won’t be the brunt of jokes or have people misperceive us and our intentions.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

(6) A singing group is known as "The O.K. Chorale."

(6) A singing group is known as "The O.K. Chorale."

Hey, I think I know this group. Not many of them have musical talent, and their voices are a little bit “hickeyfied” (ask, and ye shall receive an explanation) so the music comes out close to what it is supposed to be, but people wince at the wrong notes and sit and listen because they are not going to get up there and be a part of that either.
When they are done, the audience may clap (for whatever reason, maybe not wanting to hurt their feelings), and the singers will sit in their seats feeling that they are the best!
Folks, it’s time we do something about this. Now I don’t mean for you to walk up to them and say, “Your singing sucks!” No, instead of being hurtful, you need to find out what other areas of the ministry that they actually have talents that could be helpful and steer them in that direction. Too many times in churches we do not use people where needed for fear of hurting someone’s feelings. People sit on committees or perform tasks that are not really in their true capability. But because that is what they want to do, that is what we let them do.
And because of it, that ministry suffers. The cleanliness of the church is not up to a reasonable standard. The music of the church feels stunted or not enjoyable. The church lawn has more waves in the grass than at a sports stadium.
Ministers, it’s time to “clean house.” Start with a clean slate. No one goes back into a position unless you can show where they are qualified to do such. Use their performance and the results from it if they do not have professional qualifications. If they are not qualified for the role that they used to fill, find out where they can serve, or give them a “retirement party.” (see earlier blog in “how to have a successful church” series).
Announce that the music program is going to have auditions if you have a large enough congregation. Or start a worship team of your singers that can carry a tune and use them, especially for special music, and the choir for when everyone else is singing so that they won’t stick out.  These are just a few of the suggestions that I can give you. Each situation is different and calls for its own course of action. But start to think outside of the box. Pastors, you wouldn’t put unqualified people in a business, hoping to be successful. So why do you expect success in your church when the wrong people are in the wrong positions? Church is not a business, but many of the same basic principles need to be exchanged between the two. Then the furtherance of His Kingdom can become a reality.

Monday, June 20, 2011

(5) Never in its entire 100-year history has one of its pastors had to buy any meat or vegetables.

(5) Never in its entire 100-year history has one of its pastors had
to buy any meat or vegetables.

I can remember growing up when the pastor would come to our house to visit. It was guaranteed to be one of the times when meat appeared at the table. The pastor was always served first, grownups next, then the kids last if any was left over. Usually fried chicken, pork chops, ham or roast beef was the entrée with vegetables that were freshly picked that day or had been canned the past summer. You always knew you would eat good when the pastor showed up.
I can also remember my grandmother telling about a kid up the street when my mom was young. His father was very abusive and he often times threw him out of the house, even in the winter. Nana, my name for my grandmother, would see him and call for him to come to the house. There he would sit with the others and have a hot meal in a safe warm house, and a lot of times he slept on the couch until time to go to school the next day, or try to go to his house and see if his father would let him in.
My mom and her parents were good people and I think this is just one example of many that I was taught that showed their true Christian heart.
Too bad we don’t have more people like this. We hear about a family losing their home (foreclosure rates here in the United States are at an all time high right now) and we go, “Oh too bad, I’ll pray for them that they will be alright.” Or, “God will take care of them, so they will be alright.”
“I have a spare room(s) that they can stay in instead of having to live in their car or a shelter. The pantry is full and the freezer needs to be emptied, so tell me how I can get in touch with them.”
Yes, God is capable of taking care of them. But don’t you think that He can use you to accomplish that task? He could make a house “magically” appear if He wanted to for them to step right into, or He can use you to learn how to give and give joyfully. Life is always going to be about helping others. If we don’t help others, why should someone help you?
And how about let’s start helping at home. Like I’ve said before, I’m not against helping others in other places. But let’s start making sure our own people are taken care of too. Quit worrying about some child that may or may not be starving in some other country and make sure the kid in the street has some clothes and food to eat. Once we take care of our own and our people are blessed, blessings will be overflowing and can be given as needed to far away places.
Notice that Jesus always fed those around Him. He never sent someone with monies or food to another land or place to be taken care of. If He is going to be our example, shouldn’t we follow in His footsteps. Take care of those around us first, then let the blessings flow from there.

Friday, June 17, 2011

(4) A member requests to be buried in his truck because ...

(4) A member requests to be buried in his truck
because, "I ain’t never been in a hole it couldn’t get me out of."

I used to have several trucks, and I had one that could pull anything out of a hole. It was a 1974 El Camino that had a Straight 6 with a Posi-Trac rear end, and Gabriel Hi-Jackers with very oversized tires (I forget the exact size 30 something inch I think). I would go “mud-bogging” with other friends, some who had 4x4’s and a few of them would become stuck in a mud hole. I would back my truck down in the mud, hook up the chains, and it would pull them and me out of the hole where I could unhook from their truck and drive away. I miss that truck. I was rear-ended and it cracked the frame in half, otherwise I would still be driving that truck today!
Okay, back to the subject, (pardon my reminiscing.)
I have met some people who believe in reincarnation. I haven't found anything to actually support this theory. And even if I were not a Christian and looking forward to where I will spend eternity, I certainly would not want to have to live this life over again, whether it be as a human or a critter!
Consider this:
John 20:1-10 (NIV)
The Empty Tomb
 1 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2 So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
 3 So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. 8 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9 (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) 10 Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.

A lot of people believe that grave robbers, for whatever reason, stole Jesus’ body from the tomb and stashed it somewhere. The non-Messianic Jews believe that Jesus was a prophet, but not the Messiah, since He is nowhere to be seen now, not even his body (plus some other reasons that I won’t cover right now.) But the idea that someone would steal a body from a grave, leave the linen and cloths in place and carry a naked dead body around is really preposterous. Not to mention some of the other things that happened.
Now if Jesus escaped the grave and now lives in Heaven (if you’re a Christian, you should automatically believe this, otherwise you’re just worshipping some poor dead sap whose body no one can find), don’t you think that you will be taken from the grave and whisked to Heaven too? No truck will be needed. No 4x4’s will be needed. Only your salvation will be needed.
Salvation? What is that? And what from?
Hell. Being kept from living through eternity in some of the most horrid and painful conditions imaginable. (no, I take that back, I don’t think we can really conjure up what it will be like.) That is why Jesus died on the cross. That is why the sacrifice was made, and we no longer have to sacrifice burnt offerings as were required in the B.C. days.
It is so easy to do. To believe. To accept Jesus as your Savior. Why do people make it so hard? I wonder if it’s because of a phrase that we’ve been taught all our lives, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” For a lot of things in life, this holds true. But these things are usually revealed as scams before long when the truth actually comes out. For Christians, we’ve decided that the burial/resurrection is not a scam. For God to be a hoax, Jesus to be a scam, and the Holy Ghost just to be a Halloween nightmare is not a possibility for me. Too many things have happened to me (read the first blogs) that are not explainable by man. Only a being greater than any human could have ever pulled these things off.
No scam, no hoax, and He doesn’t need my help to try to do something that He has already said He would do. I can only pray that more people will see God as I see Him before it is too late.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

(3) Opening day of deer hunting season is recognized as ...

(3) Opening day of deer hunting season is recognized as an
official church holiday.

Having served in a church for years, I’ve noticed that there are occasions where I can always tell that the crowd is going to be thin for that Sunday. Some of them I didn’t mind too much. Fathers Day and Mothers Day, it seemed like a lot of the younger crowd was gone to spend time with their parents, hopefully at church worshipping together first, then maybe a meal and time spent talking after that.
Super Bowl Sunday was another one. The crowd would start to thin for the morning service (they had to stay home and clean/prep the house/food), and then the evening service would only be the “Die Hard’s” that never had an interest in sports or a reason not to come to church. I often times considered having a Big Screen TV put on the pulpit, and then I would preach during commercials and half time. But then they would be more interested in the commercials than the sermon probably.
The mentality of “wanting a reason not to have to come to church” is one that I can understand. (read the beginning blogs if you haven’t already.) People do not understand the reason to come to church. And when we get them there, they don’t understand what they are supposed to do while they are in church. Is it no wonder that people don’t want to come to church? People don’t like being where they feel “lost” or “left out” and they are unsure of why they are even there, except maybe that they are to be there because that is how it has always been done.
We know that as Christians we have to change. As a church we have to change. If what we’re doing isn’t working now, shouldn’t we want something that is? If you are a church leader, start today to educate the congregation and those around you as to the real meaning of Christianity and how the church needs to become Christian again. Then the whole world can see Christians as being united, and all of the same mind and accord. Then as Christians we can make a difference in the world today.

Monday, June 13, 2011

(2) The Preacher says, "I’d like to ask Bubba to pray ...

(2) The Preacher says, "I’d like to ask Bubba to pray for the
offering" - and five guys stand up.

When I lived in my old town, a group of us guys that were friends called ourselves “The Bubba’s,” and even our wives could tell which “Bubba” we were talking about by what the conversation was about. I rode motorcycles, another one constantly fished, another one loved to eat (almost anything) and another one was just crazy as a loon and half blind from an eye disease.
When I read this, I couldn’t help but picture all 4 of us standing up and looking at each other to see who would start off. Thank goodness we were all in different churches, or this could have easily happened! LOL
Consider this though:
What would happen if the pastor were to say, “I’d like to ask the Christians to pray for the offering?” How many would stand up? Would most of your congregation sit in their seats for at least a few moments before they realized that it was they that were being called upon, or would they jump up immediately?
Sadly for some, they may start to stand immediately, but for many reasons they will sit in their seat until they see someone else stand, then they will.
These are the same people who will stand around in a group of people and will not say anything although the language and/or topic may not be appropriate, or the gossip will be mean and cruel (usually is, isn’t it!). When someone finally walks up, hears the conversation, speaks up, then they will jump right in there and criticize too. (and we wonder why people view Christians as hypocrites!)
Christians! Let’s start to be 24/7 Christians. Keep in your minds all of the time that you are to be Christ-Like in your thoughts and your actions. Then when you are called on, either by name or title, you’ll be ready next time!

Friday, June 10, 2011

(1) The Call to Worship is, "Y’all come on in!"

You might be in a country church if:

(1) The Call to Worship is, "Y’all come on in!"

One of my favorite shows to watch years ago when I was in a wheelchair and had to stay home all day was “The Price is Right” with Bob Barker as the host. Rob Roddy was the person who did the announcing and his phrase was “(first name, last name), Come On Down, you’re the next contestant on The Price is Right.” That person would jump up from their seat, the camera would swing and follow them as they made their way to the front where the contestants were lined up.
SO, when I read this first part of the joke, I put 2 and 2 together (well, actually, I guess it was 1 and 1, LOL) and had a brainstorm. (yep, smoke is still whishing out of my ears).
Call to Worship. I was raised in a Baptist church and this was generally the first thing that was done when the service started. It entailed standing up and singing a generally rousing hymn to get things going. I’m still not sure who was calling whom to worship (I’ve already covered this subject, so I won’t go into it again) but the service was started and generally proved to be a way to shut everyone up who had been in the sanctuary talking.
I think we should have a “Call to Worship” before we have the “Call to Worship” and combine the two things from above.
Have you ever been walking from your car to the church entrance and seen someone that you know drive by and you knew that they were not on their way to another church? They were possibly on their way to shop or to the lake for a day of fishing and boating. Next time that happens, wave to them enthusiastically and say, "(insert name), Y’all come on in!"
When they look at you strange, probably like you’ve lost your mind, tell them that you want them to come join you that morning. There will be the normal excuses of, “I’m/We’re not dressed for the occasion” or “We’ve got somewhere to go right now,” but tell them it doesn’t matter how they are dressed, (if it does, YOU may have a problem) and you want them to come in and find out how to get to Heaven, the most important destination in their lives.
Some people may look at you strange, some people will drive off in a huff, but you never know when that someone may take you up on your offer, and possibly make a change in their lives.
Then when the Holy Spirit calls them by name and says, “(insert name), Come on down,” then hopefully they will give their heart to God and be saved.
People are not just going to come into a church these days without being asked, especially if they are unsaved. We have to make the effort to get people in the church. If the way seems a little bit different, (as Christians, aren’t we supposed to be different?!?), then find a way to get comfortable with being different and let’s start to reach others for Jesus. Get people into a place where the word of God is taught so that lives can be changed and the world (at least the world around us) can become a better place.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

You might be in a country church if:

I found this on the internet the other day and I'm going to do a series and look at each one of these. A lot of these will ring a bell with you, no matter what church you're in. For this blog, I just want to post this, and then the next one I'll start with number 1 and work from there. God bless and enjoy.

You might be in a country church if:
(1) The Call to Worship is ,"Y’all come on in!"
(2) The Preacher says, "I’d like to ask Bubba to pray for the
offering" - and five guys stand up.
(3) Opening day of deer hunting season is recognized as an
official church holiday.
(4) A member requests to be buried in his truck
because, "I ain’t never been in a hole it couldn’t get me out of".
(5) Never in its entire 100-year history has one of its pastors had
to buy any meat or vegetables.
(6) A singing group is known as "The O.K. Chorale."
(7) There’s dried tobacco juice down both sides of the church van.
(8) The church directory doesn’t have last names.
(9) The only time people lock their cars in the parking lot is during
the summer and only so no one leaves them another bag of tomatoes!
(10) Baptism is referred to as "branding."
(11) There is a special fund-raiser for a new septic tank.
(12) Finding and returning lost sheep is not just a parable.
(13) High notes on the organ set dogs in the parking lot to howling.
(14) People wonder when Jesus fed the 5,000 whether the two
fish were bass or catfish.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Here comes the Judge!

A little boy was waiting for his mother to come out of the grocery Store.
As he waited, he was approached by a man who asked,
"Son, can you tell me where the Post Office is?"

The little boy replied, "Sure! Just go straight down this street a coupla blocks and turn to your right."

The man thanked the boy kindly and said, “I'm the new pastor in town.  I'd like for you to come to church on Sunday.  I'll show you how to get to Heaven."

The little boy replied with a chuckle. "Awww, come on...
You don't even know the way to the Post Office." 

Have you ever been in that situation? Someone that was new to the town or the area stops and asks directions to a place, and you tell them how to get there. Then when that someone tries to offer you a kindness in return, your kindness goes out the window. On the other hand, you are so "hoity-toity" (if you don’t know that one, email me) that you can’t believe that someone who asked you something had the nerve to offer teach you something else.
People often judge us on our first reactions. Your first reaction would have been one of kindness. You told them how to get to their destination. They automatically become at ease with you since you seemed to be friendly.
Then all of a sudden you say something hurtful to their offer of kindness, either out of ignorance or lack of consideration for how others feel. The avenue that you opened up initially is gone. Chances are the person will just walk away, count their blessings that they escaped and possibly never speak to you again.
You may say, "Well, they shouldn’t wear their feelings on their sleeves."
Yes, maybe they shouldn’t. But we are all human. (Unless there is an alien reading this. Then contact me at my information listed in the profile please. I have a million questions to ask of you, and I won’t be hurtful in my answers. <wink>) And we have to remind ourselves that others are human. Sometimes that person may have had an encounter that upset them for some reason. Maybe it was a spat with their spouse. Maybe the boss is riding them because of a looming deadline. Perhaps the kids would not cooperate this morning, and they ran late, both to school and work. It could be a million things. Doesn’t really matter. What matters is our attitude.
We have to be constantly vigilant that we keep our minds focused on Christ. How would Christ act in this situation?

John 13:34 (New International Version, ©2011)
   A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

Notice what Jesus said. "You MUST love one another." Not maybe. Not possibly try to and hope you’re not having a bad day. You MUST.
Now I will be the first one to admit that I have met some people who it is really hard to love. And a popular saying that I’ve heard for years is, "Love the sinner, Hate the sin." I think I know what they are trying to say. But this is not scriptural. We are to love everyone. But we are to shun the sins that anyone may commit. Although be careful. Jesus warned also:

Matthew 7:1-5 (New International Version, ©2011
"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye."

In other words, Love That Person, no matter what. But get your own house in order. Sure, you do not have to, nor should you want to participate in their wrongdoings. But don’t beat them up over it either, especially if you have anything going on in your life that would cause someone to stumble too.
So let’s become the person that we want others to be. Let’s become Christian again. Sure, it’s hard in this day and age when you are bombarded so many times with temptations and opportunities for wrong doing. When the Christians get right in their lives, the church becomes an example of Christianity again, and Christ is restored to his place of respect in our homes, churches and communities once again. Then we can reach out to others and they will have a reason to want to be Christ-Like too.

Wednesday, a new series entitled: "You Might Be in a Country Church If ... " that looks at 14 things that we do in our churches that can be confusing, misguided or just plain wrong. I hope you enjoy it!

Friday, June 3, 2011

How to "retire" a church worker

One last blog in this series for now about how to have a successful church. Suppose you have been reading this and you agree that it is time to restart your church on the path to success in being a Godly Ministry.
But you face one LARGE hurdle in accomplishing your task. We’ll call him Elder Smith.
Elder Smith grew up on your church, raised there by his family that still attends, even his grandkids and maybe great grandkids, just as he did when he was a great grandchild of one of the founders. Elder has become one of your oldest members and his ability to be an active part of your congregation is very limited. Everyone feels sorry for him, and no one wants to hurt his feelings, so he is put on committees so that he will still feel a part of the congregation. You as a pastor in particular do not want to upset him, as his family might retaliate, (Christians retaliate? Well, church members at least!) and cause discord or leave the church. (sometimes that is a blessing too.)
How about giving Elder Smith a retirement party? We give employees who have served a company for many years retirement parties. So why not do the same for someone who has served the church for so many years. This gives them the dignity to leave the post, their family can celebrate the occasion, and quite often the person who was in that position is grateful to finally be off the committee.
It happened to me one time. He wound up in the hospital a few weeks after his “retirement”, and he told me when we were alone that he was so glad that he finally didn’t have to serve actively anymore. His health wasn’t the best and he had a hard time making the meetings. He counted it a blessing. We gave him a small party after service one Sunday. We had everyone bring a “covered dish” to the social hall before church, and we purchased a specially decorated cake from a local bakery and decorated with some balloons and décor from the dollar store. The cost was fairly low to the church, but the results were rather high.
No one was hurt. People who needed to serve on the committees were now in place. And the church continued to function.
Solutions can always be found, if you are willing to look at the problem in a new light. What can you do with your ministry to make it a success? I would love to have some comments from others who have implemented some ideas that turned their ministry around.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Well, what do you know?

From a Previous Post:
Have the church membership split up between the elders/deacons of the church. Have each one responsible for keeping in touch with the families that are assigned to them. If a family misses 2 or more weeks of services, have them contact the family to make sure that everything is alright. Send out anniversary and birthday cards as appropriate to their families. If a family has a need, they are to contact the elder first, then the elder will contact the pastor if they are not able to meet the need or if they determine that the pastor would be the appropriate one to handle the situation. This frees the pastor to focus on the most important needs of the church, and it also has someone besides the pastor responsible for the congregation and their needs. 
Too many churches think that the only one who should keep up with the members and their needs are the pastor. The elders look upon themselves as the group that tells the pastor what to do. They don’t have to do anything themselves, except maybe pray over someone occasionally.

When a church is new and just starting out, the pastor is the one who does most of the work. But once a solid congregation begins to form, positions in the church are filled and ministries are put into place, then it is time for others to really step up and take on their share of the responsibility. One way to do this is for the elders/deacons of the church to share in the ministry of the congregation.
These are the people who are supposed to be above reproach in your church, and should be comfortable ministering to anyone, whether in the church or the community. So split the congregation up among them. You can use the alphabet, geographic location or any sensible way of dividing the membership. Let each elder/deacon have a copy of the people who they are being given charge over. Share as much information as possible. Then the elders/deacons should make sure that they gather all pertinent information that may be missing. If the elder/deacon is unfamiliar with this particular family, have them contact the family and make an appointment to visit them. If a family that is assigned to them misses church for 2 or more weeks, have them contact the family to ensure that everything is alright. Birthday, Anniversary, Sympathy cards should be sent as appropriate. Have the elder/deacon deliver the card to the person in charge of mailing all church matters so that the church can pay for the cost of postage, unless the elder/deacon chooses to provide that themselves as an offering to God, not their tithe.
Issue a list to each family showing who is assigned to which elder/deacon, and make sure that all contact information is provided, especially cell phones if available in case of an emergency.
It is hard for a pastor to visit each and every family regularly, and this takes some of the load off of the pastor so that they can dedicate their time to the most needy at the moment.
Everyone wins with the effort. The church tends to be alerted easier if there are any needs of a family, the members know that someone cares about them, and the Pastor can minister to the most needy of all.
Of course, the pastor should always have an open door policy for anyone who would like to speak with him. This is not a replacement for the pastor’s role in counseling. It just allows more time for any counseling that is needed.