Monday, February 8, 2016

Put 'em to Work

Imagine this scene: You’re talking to someone who has moved into area. In the course of the conversation they say, “We’re looking for a good church. Do you know of any?” There it is! An opportunity dropped right in your lap. You say, “You should come to our church. Our pastor preaches great sermon. Our people are super friendly. We have programs for your kids. Let me give you a card. It lists our service times and our website, so you can check us out.” The other person accepts the card and says, “I’ll be sure to do that.” That’s the kind of conversation we would love to have. But maybe we shouldn’t be so excited.

The problem with this conversation is that it involves matching up an ideal church with an ideal person. What if this person doesn’t have kids? What if the church doesn’t have programs for the kids? What if the pastor doesn’t preach very well? What if the church isn’t very friendly? What if the church doesn’t have a website?

When I was a teenager, I was the music director at a church with a high attendance of 25. 10 was more typical, at the time. Our youth group was me. Our children’s ministry was nonexistent. We had one Sunday school class, but we would order children’s literature, just in case someone showed up. The fact is, there are a lot of churches in that same situation. Some have declined to that point. Some are new churches that are just starting out. In any case, these tiny churches can teach us something.

So, let’s look at the scene again, but this time from the perspective of a tiny church: “We’re looking for a good church. Do you know of any?” You say, “You should come to our church. Our pastor does okay, but he’s working a full-time job and then preaching two sermons and teaching a Sunday school lesson. Our pianist has trouble seeing the music. We’d like to children and teens coming, but our people are all too old to do much with them. We could really use your help.”

This second conversation is not the way we normally think we should persuade people to come to church, but it’s closer to what we should be doing. Yes, there are benefits to church attendance that include youth programs and fellowship meals and training programs, but that only comes when people put in the work. We can’t maintain programs if new members don’t do their part. But if everyone does something, we all benefit even more.

What if we took that tiny church attitude and applied it to larger churches? What if, instead of telling people about the great things we already have, we told them about the things they could help us with? Consider this conversation: “Tell me about your Sunday school classes.” “We have classes for all age groups. We have great teachers, but we could really use is someone to go around and empty the trashcans after church, so there isn’t food left sitting in the classrooms.” It might be that the person decides they’ll visit another church instead. But it might also be that they say, “That’s something I could do.” Just imagine if every time we added a church member it meant we had another person doing stuff. We would get a lot more done.

Friday, February 5, 2016

14 Things I Wish People Would Do (but I don't tell them)

Frequently, I find myself having a discussion with someone and picking my words carefully. There are things that I don’t say directly, for fear that doing so would shut down the conversation or harm the friendship. Instead of telling them what I want them to do, I try to swing them around to my way of thinking and hope that they will take the action that I would like. They rarely do. I decided to list these actions that I feel strongly that people should take. The list turned out longer than I expected, but here they are in the order I thought of them:

Accept Jesus Christ

Of course, I tell people that they should accept Jesus, but there are people who claim to be Christians and yet I doubt their salvation. The fruit just isn’t there. Their lifestyle isn’t that of a Christian. They aren’t involved in church other than attending once a week or so.

Attend Church Regularly

With some people, it’s hard to know whether they’ll be at church or not. They often have a reason they don’t show up, such as family being in town, or visiting another church, or being on vacation. Many times, I don’t agree with these being valid reasons, but I don’t tell them that.

Get Involved in a Church Ministry

Some people go to church every week. They may be at church three times a week. But they aren’t actually doing anything. I think this is a bad thing. But I don’t always tell people directly because some people are doing things that I don’t see.

Lose Weight/Adopt a Healthier Lifestyle

I have some fat friends. I’ve been there myself. I wish they would do something about it. Of course, it would do no good for me to tell them that, but it is frustrating because I see how fat they are and they may even mention how fat they are, but then they talk about all the places they go out to eat. They also talk about why they can’t exercise.

Buy My Books

There’s nothing complicated here. When you put in the effort to write books, you want people to buy them. You especially want your friends to buy them, even if they don’t care for them that much. What you don’t want is a friend, with book in hand, to ask “will you sign my book” and then for them to tell you that they’re reading someone else’s copy (true story). So yeah, look me up on and buy my books.

Ride a Bicycle

I love riding a bicycle. I think other people should love riding a bicycle too. It would do them good.

Accept That God Controls the Weather, Not Environmentalists

This global warming stuff is nuts. I wish people would quit putting more trust in the beliefs of environmentalists than they put in the power of God. I have no problem with saying we should be dumping less pollution in the atmosphere, but quit assuming that pollution is the cause of the weather.

Quit Drinking

I have friends who drink. Some of them are Christians. I wish they would quit. Simple as that.

Don’t Be in Such a Hurry When You Drive

People are in a rush to get everywhere. I suspect this is because they hate driving, but put slower traffic in front of them (a bicycle, for example) and they get mad. Some people will swerve in and out of traffic, just because they think they need to get around slow traffic. The few seconds they gain would be gained by leaving earlier. They may not even need to get somewhere in a hurry, they just hate driving so much that they want to get out of traffic as soon as possible. If you’re one of those people, you are the problem. You are one of the people that is making traffic so bad and making your driving experience even worse. You should quit driving. Take the bus. Ride a bicycle. Take a taxi. You’ll feel better.

Obey the Traffic Laws

This is something I can’t say because people are sealed away in metal cages. People cross over double white lines, because they won’t slow down to merge with traffic. People stop in lanes coming off the freeway in which they aren’t supposed to stop. Or worse, they’ll cross the white lines and get in the lanes that are supposed yield, but they don’t like it when the traffic coming off the freeway doesn’t follow them. Then there’s those people who don’t think bicycles should be on the road. Or people who hurry through an intersection when they see a bicycle. You need to obey the law. It will help keep us all safe.

Take an Interest in Church Business Meetings

I see church business meetings as important. I think other people should too.

Take an Interest in the Associations Our Church is In

Most of our church members have never been to an associational meeting, even when it meets at our church. I’m not saying that they should attend every meeting. It is really only the messengers who have to be there, but people should attend at least once before they decide they don’t want to be there.

Attend and/or Join my Parent’s Church

This is a hard one, especially since I don’t attend that church either. For those of you who don’t know, my dad pastors a church in the village of Zalma, Missouri. There are two churches in the village. It is not the largest one, but his church is the oldest. If something doesn’t happen soon, it will be no more. I wish I could do something about that, but I can’t be two places at once. The other church is a General Baptist church. I have friends who are members there, but I have a real problem with General Baptist doctrine, in particular, I do not agree with their belief that it is possible for a person to lose their salvation.

Resolve Disagreement with Spouse

Divorce is an awful thing. Of course, I seldom even realize there are problems until the paperwork is filed or a friend shows up with someone else on their arm. Of course, they all have their reasons and they seem to make sense to them. Me? I don’t see most of them as valid. If it’s just arguing, work it out. Even if you’ve already gotten a divorce, don’t go looking for another spouse, work it out. Even if it doesn’t result in you remarrying your spouse, you need to resolve the disagreement.