What makes a successful church?
For years, I admit, my idea of success was very much skewed. To me, success was a church in a nice community (preferably filled with lots of upwardly mobile professionals driving SUV’s) and living a nice life. Then, on Sunday, everyone drives to the church wearing their name-brand clothes and they walk in the beautiful sanctuary or worship center. There, they hear the excellent music (contemporary or traditional, doesn’t matter), hear a nice message and they may meet some of their church friends for lunch as they talk about the college football games the day before. That was it. That was success. The kids all had xboxes… maybe iphones and ipads and families were talking about the trip they were about to take. And, there is absolutely nothing wrong with those things… if you can afford them. And while, for some, that may be church, it’s definitely not the only way of doing church. But it’s one that many have bought into today. I had bought into it.
But in the last year, the Lord has re-shaped my vision of church. The community I live in now is not filled with upwardly mobile professionals and quite honestly, the few families like that in our area, attend other churches. We are a church of just regular folks. We don’t have a millionaire. For that matter, we don’t even have a half-millionaire or even a quarter-millionaire. We just have regular people.
In the last year the Lord has helped me see our community. Our community has lots of poor people. Our community has people who, quite honestly, will come out for an event if there is free food. Why? Because they are hungry. For some, that may be the best meal they will get. I saw this during VBS last summer. On Friday night, Holli and I drove our van into a local trailer park and there were lots of people… adults and children, waiting on us… Why? We were having food after VBS.
Last Sunday afternoon we had our fall fest. We had a good crowd. We had free hot dogs and drinks. As I watched these people come through, I was reminded again, that there are major ministry needs right around us.
First Presbyterian Church in Cartersville has done a meal to hurting people for about eighteen years. This past Tuesday night, I went to observe it. I talked with the man in charge and he explained to me how they do it and the number of volunteers they need.Then, I went into their fellowship hall and saw people standing in line for the meal… these were not people who had a dime to give the church. Their clothes were not name-brand. I spoke with one man and quite honestly… there was body odor that kind of repelled me. But, the Lord reminded me that these are the very people Jesus ministered to. As I left the church Tuesday night, I was reminded of the words of Jesus; “…Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it unto one of these brothers of mine, even the least of them, you did it unto Me” (Matthew 25:40).”
The Lord is re-shaping my definition of success and church. I want our church to do more to help people. Maybe we all need to remember that ministry is not the latest trend, or the hottest fad or the coolest powerpoint in worship or even who has the best band. Ministry is helping people, just like Jesus did.
“Successful people don’t give up and quit when the going gets rough. They don’t look at others and wish they had the same “breaks.”Successful people get back when they fall and try again. They make their own breaks in life.”
People who achieve, in spite of the tough times, merely
1) Want something badly enough to,
2) Persevere through the tough times,
3) Pay the price in order to achieve it.
They face up to their responsibilities and work to change their circumstances for the better.
Through all this, they
4) Maintain a positive attitude that expects to succeed.
5) Learn how to get along with other people.
6) And they surrender to a power beyond themselves, for guidance, strength and support.
(cf. “It’s Always Too Soon Too Quit”) by Lewis Timberlake
Yesterday, I made a post about how a church in Dallas, Texas reached out to a person quarantined because her fiance’ died of ebola. After posting that, it struck me that today, if a person makes a mistake of any type, they are almost treated like an ebola victim. Let me explain.
People make mistakes. It happens. And many times, those people can, in time, get back on their feet and move on. But in the church, it’s different.
If a Minister falls or someone goes through a divorce or makes some kind of mistake, the church is notorious for giving them a stiff-arm. That person is unable to serve in much of any capacity because they made a mistake. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not minimizing the mistake. But, just because a person slips, it shouldn’t disqualify them from ministry.
If a Minister falls… he will have a very hard time finding a church that will use him. And that is sad. Sometimes, that man may be a better Minister because of the experience he has gone through.
If a person goes through a divorce in the church, they are no longer qualified to serve as a Deacon or Minister. Quite honestly, I’ve known some divorced men who are FAR more qualified to serve than some who were elected.
The church needs to act with more compassion toward those who have slipped. Quite honestly, it kind of amazes me that the Church, an organization founded by Jesus, can be as unforgiving as it is at times. The very nature of Jesus’ ministry was to love all people… to forgive all people… lepers, ladies caught in the act of adultery, etc… Yet today, the Lord’s church can, at times, be cold and unforgiving.
Join with me today in lifting up and reaching out to someone who has slipped. I believe that is EXACTLY what Jesus would do.
For the past month or so, the Ebola crisis has been in the news. At first, it was limited to Africa. But in recent weeks, people have tested positive for Ebola in the United States.
Louise Troh is a member of Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas, Tx. Louise and her family were quarantined because her fiance’, Thomas Eric Duncan died from Ebola. During this time, she and her family were considered untouchables by many people but not by members of Wilshire Baptist Church. This past Sunday, Louise attended worship for the first time in twenty-one days. As she entered the building and took her seat, the Pastor, George Mason, welcomed her and directed the entire church to stand and face in the direction of where Louise was sitting and give her a special hug that was the only hug they could give her during quarantined.
An Associate Pastor said, the reason the church did not physically hug Louise is because they didn’t wat her to be overwhelmed by the entire church hugging her. So, they gave her a symbolic group hug. The Associate Pastor went on to says, “She may be the most hugged person in Dallas today.’
First, I commend Wiltshire Baptist Church for reaching out to this lady. Many had shunned her but the church didn’t. Second, you probably know someone who needs a hug today. Someone you know needs a hug today. Someone who is going through a divorce… Someone who has lost a job… Someone who is having health problems. Someone who has made a mistake.
Today, look around and ask the Lord to show you someone who needs a hug. Someone who needs a kind word.
If you know someone who is down… someone who is hurting… if they don’t get a hug or a word of encouragement from anyone else today, make sure they get one from you.
The world that we live in is filled with evil & wickedness. At times, the world even brags about it’s sin. But Christians shouldn’t do that. Paul said “We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness and devotion to God” (Titus 2:15).
This world is tough. And, it can be tough to live for Christ which is why we should ask the Lord wisdom & liv in devotion to God.
There is an old song that goes,
“While passing through this world of sin,
And others your life shall view.
Be clean, be pure, without, within,
Let others see Jesus in you.”
Do you struggle with lust… temptation? I can answer for you… YES you do. I do… everyone does. It’s because we are human.
Do you ever see a member of the opposite sex and a thought pops in your head, “That is a good looking man or woman!” Most of us have. Seeing a beautiful woman or handsome man and thinking that is not wrong… it’s wrong if you go farther with your thoughts.
Or, maybe there are certain shows that cause you to lust… or maybe a movie. The apostle Paul told young Timothy years ago, “Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace” (II Tim. 2:2). Think about the words “run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts…”
So, whatever causes you to lust, you need to be careful. If possible, stay away from it. If you can’t stay away from it, recognize that it is a problem for you and put some safeguards up. Billy Graham has been a great evangelist. He said once that throughout his Ministry, he made a decision to never be alone with another woman. Supposedly, he would never ride an elevator with just him and another woman. He did this to protect his reputation and ministry.
John Lahr has said, “Society drives people crazy with lust and calls it advertising.” He’s right so, be careful and don’t let lust cause you to stumble.
Whatever you causes you to lust… be careful.
Have you ever been deserted? No, I’m not talking about on a deserted island. You can be deserted in the middle of a shopping mall… surrounded by people.
Lots of people have been deserted. I’ve been deserted and my guess is, someone reading this has experienced that as well. Being deserted by people means losing a friend. It means someone bailing out on you when you needed them to stand by you. It means a friend… or at least, someone you thought was a friend, not being there for you in a time of need.
Being deserted… well… it drinks through a straw… to borrow a phrase my wife uses at times. But it happens and, it may happen again. I don’t mean to be pessimistic or anything but it’s true. My Dad used to say, “People will be people”… in other words, you can’t always trust people.
The apostle Paul had the same experience. Paul said in II Timothy 1:15 “As you know, everyone from the province of Asia has deserted me.”
So, when you are deserted, what do you do?
Know that even though people will let you down, God never will.
Try, try, try to keep your eyes on the Lord. This will be hard because everything in you wants to focus on the person or people who deserted you. Yes, it hurts. It may stink! You were wronged! But, with the Lord’s help put your focus on Jesus and try to walk away. It’s not going to do any good to dwell on it. It will NOT get any better… so walk away… with your eyes on the Lord.
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