Month: September 2011

…day off? What?

I have not done this since becoming a pastor. Yet.

So, I’ve got a bit of a problem. This past week, from Monday to Saturday, I worked 72 hours. I only count those hours that I specifically prusued some activity because of my call to be a pastor here; these hours don’t include things like helping my wife around the house or personal interests. Oh, and then I led worship and Bible study.

Normally, Sunday morning, I’ll come into the sanctuary before anyone else arrives and practice through the sermon one more time, making sure I know it well and that it hasn’t ballooned in length during my time practicing it. During that practice, though, I was hit with a wave of vertigo. After a period of intense dizziness and slight nausea, I was worn out. Exhausted. And church had not even begun. (more…)

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I am Not a Police Officer

Police officers have this inherent ability to make people nervous. It doesn’t matter if you’re following the speed limit, you’re under, or you’re over: Unless you’re in a situation that calls for help, seeing a police cruiser makes you nervous. That’s just the way it is. We know that it’s an officer’s job to catch someone in the act, to give out penalties, to be the law.

I am not a police officer. Yet, when I appear, people get nervous. They know that a pastor has the weight of God behind him, and often that brings up feelings of guilt. People expect to be yelled at. They expect me to point out some sin, some flaw, some portion of their lives they’d prefer to keep hidden.

It’s not fun. Especially when people expect to be yelled at, when they’ve got a guilty conscience, they shy away from me. They don’t return phone calls (or pick up the phone). They find excuses to avoid talking at church, if they show up to worship at all. (more…)

God Laughs

We passed out three thousand invitations, hoping to open our doors to the community. We used an event that media was already pushing as a springboard to bring people in. We prepared a service that used many of God’s people’s gifts, allowing many to praise in many ways. And in the end, did it work? Did visitors come?

Yes and no. (more…)

Spectacular Failure

Sunday is September 11th: the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

The church is excited. Over half of our normal attendance has been directly involved with preparing for this service or in the actual execution of the service. We’ve had so many people handing out invitations, preparing music in an orchestra, adult choir, and teen choir. We have people who designed the invitations, the bulletin, and the movies and slides for the actual service.

The service itself will be powerful. We’re remembering each event at the ten-year mark to the minute. The music that’s been selected is powerful. The remembrance brought on by the film clips will probably evoke all the emotions of that historic day.

We’ve handed out three thousand invitations. Sure, that may be nothing to a megachurch, but for our little congregation, where an attendance of fifty is a great Sunday, this is nothing short of spectacular. The involvement on our level is incredible. We’ve been very blessed.

Yesterday I made a request of the congregation. I asked that they pray. I asked that they pray for two things: (more…)

Stop by once…

Last week a blogger prompted us to think on Evangelism. I confess the rigors of that week put me in a situation where I was unable to respond to his prompting but I thought about it. In my two month (and change) as a pastor I have had two visitors who came to church at my invitation. A simple hallway invitation to a neighbor on two separate occasions brought a visitor into our midst. How do I approach Evangelism? It starts simply. I will speak about my faith when I can. I will invite others when I have the opportunity. A practice I have fallen into is leaving my business card with service times folded in with my tip for coffee, food, or whatever.

As a congregation, I write letters to go with a survey.

“How can we best serve this community? What is on your hearts and minds?”

Then I follow up in person. “Thank you for your help. Please join us if you have no church home… Let me tell you about someone who went through some hard times too…”

Mail, email, advertisements, it all plays a factor in creating an opportunity to speak about Jesus. Will it work? I do not know. With weary and worry-tired limbs I can only kneel at the seat of my Savior and pray, “Bless this as you know best. Help me to see where I should go.”

And as a fellow blogger spoke about inreach as a component of outreach I find myself ruminating on the similar thoughts. Personal preference is important to a lot of people today. It causes some of the most grievous contentions in a congregation. It polarizes and marginalizes. Personal preference is important but in the face of reaching the loss will it bend? Should we be willing to give up a personal preference for the wording of a hymn or prayer or even music style in order to reach the lost and dying? Absolutely.

Outreach can have a component of inreach when we have to remind ourselves and those around us that it is selfish to insist on our own preferences when another alternative more easily understood by the unchurched. Our outreach includes making our message understandable even if we have to sacrifice familiarity, comfort, and preference. The message has not changed, just the way we say it. Our God is still the same. May all we do lead others to him.