Our churches are never fully defined by our biggest Sundays or our smallest.
As a pastor, I love Easter Sunday. I love the large number of guests, those who haven’t been in a long time and the spiritually curious. We had our biggest attendance ever this past Sunday with 2,551 people. It is exciting to preach the message of the gospel to lots of people. There is an energy that comes with the large crowd.
I do know, of course, that not every Sunday has Continue reading →
Posted in Church, Easter, Easter Sunday, pastor, Uncategorized
Tagged Christian, Christianity, church, God, Jesus, local church, Religion and Spirituality, worship attendance
If you want to grow deeper in your Christian faith I recommend the following.
1. Read big chunks of the bible. Read the entire bible for yourself several times. It will take several times through to really begin to put it all together and see the big picture well- but it will be worth it.
2. Memorize some scripture verses. Be strict about it (best said with a German accent- roll the “r” on “strict”). Get it exactly right, word for word. This will force you to really know the verse.
3. Pray all the time. That is, pray every time you think about it. Have an attitude of prayer.
4. Pray systematically. Pray for specific Continue reading →
Posted in bible, Christianity, discipleship, prayer, Uncategorized
Tagged bible, bible study, Christian, Christianity, church, deeper faith, discipleship, Evangelism, faith, God, Jesus, Religion and Spirituality, small groups, spiritual growth, worship, worship attendance
Different people view the church very differently. Our views are affected by our history, our problems, our preferences, our inclinations and- at our best- by our theology.
The church, of course, is not the building. I really appreciate the building God allows my church to use. It is helpful and it has come at great sacrifice. We use it well at FBC O’Fallon where I am pastor. There are large numbers of people using our church building in some way almost every day. I love that.
But I’m not talking about the church building here. I’m talking about the church. You know, that messy conglomeration of believers that gather together to glorify the Lord through our worship and discipleship, our ministry and our fellowship and through our missions and evangelism. I’m talking about the local church of gathered believers and the more general sense of the church- believers all over the world who gather in their own local expressions of the church.
There are at least 5 different views of the church I see.
1. Some hate the church. I don’t believe a Christ-follower can hate the church. After all, Christ is the one who formed it and is the foundation of the church. But many in our world hate the things of God and, therefore, hate the institution God founded.
2. Some dislike the church. They were Continue reading →
Posted in Christianity, Church, faith, Uncategorized
Tagged bible, Christian, Christianity, discipleship, Evangelism, faith, God, Jesus, local church, missions, Religion and Spirituality, worship, worship attendance
I make a big deal out of small groups (we call our Sunday School classes LIFE groups) at FBC O’Fallon, IL. Why would I even care since I’m not preaching in those classes? (Insert your own sermon joke punch line.) Here are 3 important reasons why Christians should be in a small group in their church.
1. For Connection. People are like legos- made for connection. Small groups allow people to get connected on more personal levels. You need that connection- even you computer nerds who are socially awkward! And, more importantly, other people need you. Small groups allow us to know each other’s names and favorite ice cream flavors.
2. For Information. I don’t let people ask questions during the sermon. I probably wouldn’t know the answer anyway! But discussions can happen in small groups. We can sharpen each other and think together. It is a great way to learn and study and grow. Attend a small group bible study long enough and you will probably know much more about the bible than you do now. And that is a good thing.
3. For inspiration. Okay, I can’t relate to the pastor. He’s kind of weird anyway. But I can sure relate to that guy in the class who is struggling to live out his faith in a hostile work environment. I can relate to the lady who wants to shine the light of Christ in her life even though she has a suspicious spot on the x-ray. Those people inspire me- and I hope I can inspire them!
I love small groups enough that Vickie and I are going to teach a LIFE group on Saturday nights for the 7 weeks our church goes through the “Immersed: 40 Days to a Deeper Faith” study beginning this weekend- even though I already preach my sermon 4 times each weekend.
Small groups or bust!
Posted in books, Christianity, Church, discipleship, faith, preaching, small groups, Sunday School, Uncategorized
Tagged bible, christian book, Christianity, church, devotion, discipleship, God, local church, relationship with god, scripture, small groups, Sunday School, worship attendance
“I like Jesus, I just don’t like the church.”
Here is the problem with that thinking. Jesus is the One who formed the church. It is His idea and He is for it. And if Jesus founded the church, He did it for a reason.
Let me encourage you to get involved in a local church. It isn’t perfect and do you know why? Because it is filled with people like you. There are no perfect churches just as there are no perfect people. We connect with others in a church because we need each other, not because any of us are perfect.
Maybe you have had a bad experience with a church. Maybe you got your feelings hurt or you met some unkind people or it just didn’t work out. But don’t give up on finding a church family and connecting.
I’ve had the great privilege of being part of some fantastic churches. The church I’ve served as pastor for the past 18 years is phenomenal and I love those people dearly. But even if that hasn’t been your experience, there is a church and a place for you.
One suggestion about church. Don’t make it just about you. Don’t just think of what you can get from the church. Consider serving instead of just attending. Love others whether they return that love quickly or not. Don’t make it primarily about styles you like but about worshipping the God of the universe.
Connect with a church that teaches and lives the truth. Get active, get involved, be faithful.
If you do, you might change your thinking from “I like Jesus, but not the church” to “I like the church because I love Jesus.”
I love Sunday School. There, I said it out loud.
When I became a pastor 30 years ago (What? 30 years have gone by? But I am so young!) the question was asked differently. You know, the question we asked each other when we pastors got together- “How was your attendance?” We used to ask, 30 years ago, about how many were in Sunday School.
30 years later, when we announce our attendance, we answer with our worship attendance. There is nothing wrong, of course, with tracking our worship attendance. It is worth noting, however, that Sunday School has been de-emphasized in many churches in this generation.
I am an unashamed Sunday School junkie. We emphasize Sunday School in our church-though we have jazzed up the name to “Life Groups”. Never does a week go by that I don’t mention something about Life Groups.
Sunday School, or however small groups are done, is such a vital part of a healthy church. I love worship. It is exciting and important and great. But let’s not lose sight of the importance of the personal, small group aspect of church life. It is a great place to learn and to experience life together. Churches who emphasize small groups in addition to worship are the stronger for it.
The Christian life is best experienced together. I encourage you to get in a Sunday School class or, if you attend FBC O’Fallon, IL, a Life Group.
Sunday School is worth emphasizing again.