I moved several times as a boy and, I’ve got to say, it wasn’t much fun. Each time I had to overcome old fears, break down unseen barriers and make new friends. I never liked that feeling of being an outsider. I haven’t forgotten how that felt to my tender young soul. But it taught me some lessons that have been valuable to me in helping to connect with guests at church.
Visiting a church can be awkward for a first time guest. They don’t know the people, the customs or the expectations. They can feel nervous, intimidated or ignored. They might not even yet know the message of the gospel. But having people at church who purposely connect with them can make a real and lasting difference.
Here are some tips to help church members learn to connect with guests who visit your church.
1. Talk to people you don’t know. Church member, this is the Continue reading
The title summarizes much of what passes for discourse and discussion today. We are more likely, it seems, to attack than converse. We tend to disagree so disagreeably. We appear to have lost the ability to have helpful conversations about areas where we may differ. This negatively affects us in our jobs, our families and our friendships.
Perhaps it is partially the result of media and social media. News shows have purveyors of opposing views talk over each other as though the best volume provides the best logic. Social media rewards demeaning attacks with attention and followers as though exclamation points make the point. Is there a better way?
James 1:19 provides some valuable insight for us. “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.” Here, God’s word gives us three ways to improve our Continue reading
Christianity is a team sport.
While those playing individual sports still need a support system (coaches, trainers, moms and dads), those involved in team sports can readily see how much they need other people. No pass can get completed without a receiver and none of it works at all without the anonymous big guys on the offensive line.
Some see Christianity as just something they do alone. No church, no small groups and no accountability. Better to see faith as something individuals practice in connection with lots of other believers.
Here are a few reasons why Christians need each other.
1. Other believers have different gifts and talents and roles. No Christian has it all. Well, we do have all of Jesus and all of his love and all of his forgiveness. But we don’t have Continue reading
Few practices have blessed my life and ministry as greatly as my long time practice of reading the entire bible at least once each year. Of course, as a vocational pastor, I have some obvious advantages in doing so. If I am reading the bible at church, people say, “Don’t bother Pastor Doug!” If you are in bivocational ministry (God bless you and may your tribe increase!) or your ministry is not part of your vocation (How thankful I am for your willingness to serve faithfully as a volunteer!), you probably won’t have that advantage.
One other caveat. If you haven’t read through the New Testament (NT) fully, start there. Read it all the way through several times before going to the more daunting assignment of reading the entire Old Testament. I have sometimes used a reading plan to read the NT in one month (You can find 30 day plans online). After several times through the NT you are ready to read the entire 66 books of the bible.
Here are some reasons I read through the entire bible each year. Continue reading
Posted in bible, bible study, Christianity, devotional life, faith, Uncategorized
Tagged bible, bible reading, bible study, Christianity, devotional life, faith, Prayer
The essence of discipleship is found in Jesus’ words, “Follow me.” Can’t you just picture him calling out to Peter and Andrew and James and John, “Follow me!” He didn’t tell them where they would go or what they would see. He just called them to stay close to him, to walk with him and to be with him.
Discipleship is, of course, more than attending church services. It is more than keeping the rules. At its heart, discipleship is following the Lord. It is staying close to Jesus.
Following Jesus means we live like Continue reading
I’m on my way to becoming an old man. I don’t think I’ve gotten to the “Old Man Stage” yet, but I’ve probably lived a full one-third of my life. (I’m 57. You do the math and see what you think!) Regardless of how long I live, I’m certainly on my way. And it has me thinking about the kind of old man I want to be.
Having known my share of grumpy, contrary and ornery old rascals, I can say with some assurance that their path doesn’t look appealing. In their wake lies a slew of hurt feelings, broken relationships and angry interactions. They don’t like other people. They don’t even like themselves. Their countenance screams, “Get off my lawn!” Unappealing indeed.
On the other hand, I’ve seen some of the sweetest, kindest and most pleasant older men imaginable. I like the looks of their path. They seem to be having a great time despite the difficulties that come with old age. They laugh a lot, have plenty of friends and inspire others. Their countenance beckons, “What can I do for you?”
Posted in attitude, encouragement, faith, men, Uncategorized
Tagged aging, Christianity, faith, forgiveness, kindness, life, love, men
Years ago, I was the guest preacher at a small church in another state. Wanting to set a good example, I decided to attend the only adult small group bible study class they had on that Sunday morning. (It was called Sunday School then, but you might call yours a Life group or some other name.) What an eye-opening experience it was for me!
The class was just beginning as I popped in. No one greeted me in any meaningful way. (They didn’t yet know I was the guest preacher!) The teacher did ask my name, though she didn’t bother to find out anything else about me. Class started with the teacher complaining about how similar the lesson was to the lessons from previous weeks. She seemed bored by the subject and disinterested in her class members. With as little enthusiasm as a teenage boy forced to clean his room on a Saturday morning, she taught our class that day.
Class was boring, lifeless and ineffective. It was all I could do to stay awake myself! Class Continue reading
Posted in faith, servant leadership, Christian leadership, small groups, Sunday School, teaching, Uncategorized
Tagged Christian, Christianity, faith, teaching, truth