How To Talk About Your Church

  • “Well, I walked into church, and no one spoke to me!” 
  • “Every Sunday, my heart is stirred, and I leave knowing I have met with my Lord!” 
  • “Our preacher (fill-in-the-blank)!” 
  • “All our church knows to do is ask for money!” 
  • “Our kids’ ministry is awesome!”

These and a whole host of other statements, both positive and negative, true and false, have been and continue to be said about the local church. In connection with yesterday’s post, Covid’s Speech Lesson, I want us to consider what is said to others about the local gathering we attend. Let’s look at one of them.

“Our church (or, That church) is so unfriendly!”

There’s a quick remedy for that one. Proverbs 18:24 reminds us, He that has friends must himself be friendly.  Next Sunday, before you get out of your car, pray by yourself or with your spouse or your family, “Lord, I surrender to You, Who dwells in me, to be friendly, compassionate, listening, and caring to all we meet. And, lead us to the seats in the auditorium where You want us to sit today that we may help move folks around one step toward Christ.”

Think about it. If we are given to say that our church is not friendly, then perhaps we are not friendly because we are the church. We as born again believers are the body of Christ. Therefore, when we gather, we are more than just friendly on “the outside.” We desire to go deeper by showing mercy to those around us. We greet others with a firm handshake or a fist-bump or with raised eyebrows (for mask-wearers) and a word of greeting. Try to refrain from the norm, “How you doing?” and move on.

If you are greeting a visitor/guest, stop, speak to them, give your name, listen for their name(s) and use their name(s) immediately so you can begin to remember it. Put yourself in their shoes. Consider how you can make them feel at home; as if they were entering your living room. As you chat with them, don’t be in hurry. Introduce them to those serving at the Welcome Center. Ask questions and give guidance to the auditorium or nursery or fellowship area. Pray with them.

Sometime during the week, send a thank you note or a text or give them a call to let them know you have prayed for them. Make sure they know you genuinely care.

True friendliness is grounded in the person of Christ. He spent time with His disciples and others (John 3:22). He initiated conversations (John 4:7-42). He came to serve others (Mark 10:45). He prayed for others (John 17). He visited in homes (Luke 19:1-10). He reached out to sinners (John 8:1-11).

Since we can do all things through Christ as He lives His life through us, we can ignite a culture of biblical friendliness in our local congregation that will be contagious for Christ and to others!!

“That congregation is so friendly! They are genuine; they really care!”

A Husband’s Assignment

We men are extremely task-oriented. We love to accomplish, conquer, and fix things. Over the years, I have jumped too quick to take care of my wife’s needs and find out that the task would have been simpler if I’d just waited a moment, listen to her further, or best of all, prayed about it. But, I was the man on the job!

When it comes to tasks, projects, and accomplishments, husbands, do know about the assignment God has given you in Ephesians 5:25-28?

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.

This passage is a beautiful word picture of the relationship between Christ, the Bridegroom, and His Church, the Bride. Because Christ is the Savior of the Body (Ephesians 5:23) and gave Himself up for the Church (5:25), He will present her to Himself in awesome, holy splendor as a bride adorned for her husband (Revelation 19:7-9).

Since this word picture uses marriage as its example, I believe there is something very telling in this passage for husbands. Christ has given Himself for us, sanctified us, and will present us to Himself. Husbands, in the word picture, are you discipling your wife in such a way that you could present her to the Lord as a woman of God because you intentionally invested in her spiritual growth? Could you look at Christ and say, “I’ve done my best to help my wife know You, love You, serve You, and walk with You.”?

How can that happen? Here’s some suggestions:

  1. Pray with her every day; before you go to work, during the day from work, at meal times and when you go to bed. Hold hands and meet at the greatest place in the universe—the Throne of Grace (Hebrews 4:14-16).
  2. Make sure she has time to study God’s Word. If you have young children and her time is maxed taking care of them, when you come home from work, spend time with the kids and give your wife the opportunity to get alone with God.
  3. Give your wife spiritual growth opportunities such as sending her to the Ladies Retreat @ the Wilds or Ladies Prayer Advance (christlifemin.org), and/or making sure she participates in a ladies Bible study at church, and be faithful to attend your local church.
  4. Pray specifically for her to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18).
  5. Share with each other every day what you have learned from your time in the Word and prayer.
  6. Share how you have seen God at work in your lives.
  7. Read a book together on a date, before you go to bed, after supper, etc. (i.e. Marriage, Christian growth)
  8. Rejoice with her with she sees answers to prayer, and weep with her when her heart is burdened (Romans 12:15).


Men, we have an awesome responsibility to come alongside our wives and grow together in Christ! The eternal things are of far more value than the temporal, earthly things. You take the lead; you encourage; you disciple. Be ready “to present” her to the Lord!

21 Days of Prayer (Day #18)

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

“This is the Great Commission—the making of disciples. The touchstone of a thriving church is that it is making genuine disciple-making disciples of Jesus Christ.” (Trellis & the Vine, p. 152)

“The essence of ‘vine work’ (people ministry as opposed to “trellis” ministry which includes the upkeep of the building and running programs) is the prayerful, Spirit-backed speaking of the message of the Bible by one person to another (or more than one). . . . The goal of all Christian ministry, in all its forms, is disciple-making.” (Trellis & the Vine, p. 153)

The past two days I have asked us to pray for the children and the senior saints. Today, I am asking us to pray again for our children and senior saints and all in between . . . to be involved in the continuation of the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is, making genuine disciple-making disciples of Jesus Christ.

When we make the mission of the church simply reaching the lost or growing church attendance or teaching biblical information—or anything other than making full-fledged disciples of Jesus—we form shallow churches, leave people stuck in immature, un-Christlike patterns of living, and fail to be a city set on a hill.

Our mission is disciple making. And making disciples includes two components: evangelism (implied by the reference to baptism in Matthew 28:19) and teaching people to do everything Jesus commanded.

It’s all aimed at helping people become disciples and live as disciples, which means they have to rearrange their life to become like Jesus.

So, here’s a subtle shift in thinking that makes a massive impact on our ministries: Disciple making isn’t something we do; it’s everything we do.

The purpose of every meeting, every program, and every activity of the church is to either help people become disciples or to help them live as disciples.

If we’re making lots of converts who aren’t learning how to do everything Jesus commanded (i.e., live as disciples of Jesus), we’re failing to carry out the mission Jesus gave us.

If we have lots of active, involved church members who are attending, serving, and giving but not becoming like Jesus in character and life mission, then we’re making church members not disciples. And that means we’re failing in the mission Jesus gave us.

We have one mission: make disciples.

Every pastor is a disciple making pastor.

Every volunteer leader needs to see their role as a disciple maker and understand how they can help the people in their charge live as disciples of Jesus.

For every activity we should ask: How does this help people either become disciples or live as disciples?

As Curtis Erskine demonstrated in his substantive blog entitled “Conversion, Theology, and Discipleship,” discipleship is the key criterion by which everything is evaluated.

And this isn’t just true for the church corporately. This is true for each individual disciple as well—we are to live as disciples and seek to make disciples.

Raising kids? One of the greatest discipleship opportunities for our own discipleship and for helping our kids become—and live as—disciples. Martin Luther called family life the “school for character.”

Career? An incredible training ground for becoming like Jesus, and one of the best places to display and impart the way of Jesus to others.

Friends? They are key relationships for spurring one another on to love and good deeds.

Discipleship to Jesus should shape every facet of our life as individuals and every activity in our churches.

It’s everything we do, and it’s the greatest opportunity any human being could ever have because Jesus is the true source of life. (Disciple Making Is Everything the Church Does; John Whitaker)

Would you join with Pastor Andrew and myself in submitting to the Christ within every one of us as believers in Christ by following His mission to make disciples?

  • Pray that BCBC would become more and more a disciple making ministry. (Titus 2)
  • Pray for a greater understanding of what it looks like to be a disciple for Christ. (The four gospels; the life of Christ)
  • Pray for courage, conviction, and concern for people. (Matthew 28:18-20)
  • Pray that we will be growing daily in Christ through prayer, scripture, and fellowship with other believers. (2 Peter 3:18)
  • Pray that we will encourage one another, carry each other’s burdens, and work together in order to make known the Gospel of Jesus to the children and families who cross ours paths. (I Thessalonians 5:14)
  • Pray for our discipleship small groups to grow in such a way that it produces more disciple-makers whose desire would be to spend intentional time in conversation with others in the Word of God. (2 Timothy 2:2)

Let’s pray expectantly with surrendered hearts! Who’s all in with me?

Pastor C

And What Will We Do?

On this important day in American history, we (born again believers, John 3:16) will and must do what we are to do everyday, and especially today!

PRAISE THE LORD!

I will extol you, my God and King,
and bless your name forever and ever.
2 Every day I will bless you
and praise your name forever and ever.
3 Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
and his greatness is unsearchable.
(Psalm 145:1-3)

READ GOD’S WORD!

And that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for [c]instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:15-17)

PRAY!

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

MAKE DISCIPLES!

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Matthew 28:19-20)

LIVE THE CHRIST LIFE!

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

You see, friends, the ultimate daily, lifetime step for every believer is wrapped up in one word no matter the circumstances of this world or who’s in authority . . . obedience. The joy of fellowship and the appropriation of blessings in Christ are revealed as we walk in obedience to our righteous, holy, perfect, loving transcendent Heavenly Father by His grace!

Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. (1 John 2:3-6).

They Are Growing Up!

One of the cool features of being a grandparent is watching your twin grandsons grow and change every day! Given that our two bundles of energy have had to overcome great obstacles, those points of development are magnified.

Yesterday, I listened to them sing more words to the choruses that accompany our wagon rides on the farm road. I saw one of the boys take more steps in his struggle to walk. I heard their vocabulary increase as we walked to the back of our property. And, I watched with a full heart their zest for life as they proved again and again, they are “all boys”!!

Indeed, it is fascinating to watch our children and grandchildren grow and learn; to attempt new things; to make progress; to act like little adults; to fall down, get back up, and try again. How often we look at the kids and then the parents and say, “That apple doesn’t fall far from that tree!”

As a follower of Jesus Christ, one commanded to mature in Christ, what would others say about my growth in Christ? Could they give specific points of development? Have I grown from the times when I “fell down” each day?

2 Peter 3:18 says, But grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 4:15-16 exhorts us, Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. And 1 Peter 2:2, Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up.

Can you imagine Sunday morning as we gather to worship, an older believer walks up to you and says, “I have seen great growth in your life this week! I saw you from a distance be confronted with a situation that normally would elicit anger from your heart, but you responded in kindness and wisdom as Christ would. To God be the glory! Stay in the Word, walk on your knees, and be faithful!! Let’s pray together and ask the Lord to help both of us take the next step in wisdom.”

Instead of looking for the faults in others, let’s look for growth points and be encouragers. Let’s rejoice as we mature together in Christlikeness. Let’s help each other when we “fall down.” Let’s walk together to Glory. After all, we are the family of God.

I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:5-7).

What Have You Done With Your Bible?

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This is a question I have been asking my church family and others for the past several weeks.  Usually I add “since last Sunday” or “since last Wednesday,” or “in the past seven days” to the end of the question.

Our daily life in thought, word, and action is a total reflection of our attitude and heart toward the Word of God.

Continue reading “What Have You Done With Your Bible?”

Let’s Carterize!

wp-1463974026394.jpg How would you respond if you heard this statement about your church  “I would never be accepted at __________Church because I could not break through the clique.” 

For years as a pastor, one thing I have pushed for so much is that our church be really friendly.  Without sounding arrogant or haughty, I believe we are an extremely friendly church. When you walk through the front door, you will be warmly greeted and then by many others.

So, why would such a statement be made?

I’ll answer it this way:  We must do a better job of “Carterizing” others!

Rod and Hope Carter have been married for 70 years and charter members of BCBC for 60 years.  Their health has failed them greatly, so they are not able to do as they once did.

For years, I have watched Rod “campout” in the church foyer just looking for visitors, especially young singles and/or young couples as well as others.  As soon as they entered the building, he was getting acquainted with them.  His greeting was only the beginning of what I am calling here, “Carterizing.”  He would invite them to his house for dinner or out to a restaurant after the morning service and would do the same in the evening.  He made sure some other BCBC folks were invited to join the group.  He wanted folks to go to the next level of relationship and communication.  He wanted those guests to know he cared; that they needed to become a part of the BCBC family of believers.  The bottom line is, he went beyond just a greeting. He was willing to get involved in their lives.  I can call the roll of those who would testify right here!

How do you Carterize?

  1. You come to church expecting to meet visitors, sit with them during the service, and have your meal planned and prepared so you can invite them to your home. If it is not a visitor, it is someone who has been attending for a period of time, yet you haven’t gotten to know them.
  2. When you plan your weekly calendar, you build in an evening to have guests in your home or meet them out for a meal or ice cream or time at the park.
  3. When you get together, you ask questions, you listen, and you share time in the Word and prayer.
  4. Be listening with all your heart as you look for ways to minister and really care.
  5. Invite visitors or repeat guests to your men or ladies’ ministries, small group Adult Bible Fellowship, camp retreats, etc. You have to be intentional.
  6. When at church, do not gravitate to the folks who make you comfortable. You reserve your personal conversations for a later time.  You are there to minister to others like Jesus did.
  7. Make your guests believe they are the most important people on the planet.

You see, getting involved in people’s lives takes planning, preparation, prayer and perspiration.  Instead of coming to church and just being friendly, you must “Carterize!”

Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. 42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.  (Acts 2:41-47)

Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. (1 Peter 4:9)

Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. (Romans 12:13)

A Parent’s Best Gift

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Let’s go back to the Sears Christmas Wish Book I mentioned yesterday.  So many memories..

Here’s a few of them:

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Wow! A banana seat bicycle!  Pop a wheelie!

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Can you taste it?

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This was serious right here!!

How many times I would pour over the pages of the catalog, mark what I wanted, then proceed to my mom and dad and say, “You know what I want for Christmas?”  And how many times did I hear them say, “We can’t afford that.”

What could they afford?  The same thing that every parent can afford—time.

When I survey Scripture, I see God’s instructions to parents taking time not money.

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

  • To train, discipline (which is teaching, instructing, and correcting) and nurturing takes time.

Proverbs 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.

  • Often children get into trouble because they are just crying out for someone to pay them some attention. They want to know where you will draw the line.  It takes time to teach what is right, what is wrong, what to do to stay right, and what will happen if we choose to go our own way.

Proverbs 13:24 Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.

  • Please note again the meaning of discipline and the need to take time to be diligent to fulfill the complete picture of discipline/discipleship. If a child does need a spanking, it should not be a quick strike out of anger, but a time of loving correction and training.

Deuteronomy 6:6-9        And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

  • Once again, you cannot teach, train and disciple on the run. It is your lifestyle.  It takes time.

Parents, your greatest investment on this earth will be your children.  They don’t need you to buy them things to make up for where you have failed.  They need your love, attention, character-training, and fun times.  They need you to teach them the Word of God.  They need to hear how you came to salvation.  They need you to pray with them.  They need you to make spiritual applications of life with them throughout the day.  They need you to teach them how to work, how to eat, how to be hospitable, how to serve others, how to talk, how to be a blessing to others, how to make their beds, how to get up and make the day count, how to cook, how to do life in general by the grace of God.

They need you.  They need you every day.

Parents, this Christmas, rather than spending so much money, spend a lot of your time.  Give your children something that will eclipse that banana-seat bicycle.  Give them the best gift—your time; give them you.

Target, Starbucks and Happy Holidays

 

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Wow!  Now that’s a troubling, profane trio!

Really?

I like shopping at Target. They have spacious aisles, a quiet atmosphere, good product selection, and usually decent prices.

I love Starbucks.  The coffee is outstanding, the conversation around the tables is engaging, the staff is usually friendly, and it’s a genuine coffee shop.

I love the holidays.  Thanksgiving and Christmas are tops in my book right under Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday.  And they are holidays filled with happiness and joy.

Now, I realize that my troubling, profane trio is a concern to thousands.  Then I read about Jesus in the following passages:

Matt. 9:10           And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house (Matthew’s), behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.

Luke 14:1             One Sabbath, when he went to dine at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees, they were watching him carefully.

Jesus mixed and mingled among sinners, and as you read on in Luke 14, you see it was for the purpose of calling men and women to be His disciples.  His last command before ascending into Heaven was, Go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20).  Indeed, Jesus renounced sin, but He called sinners to repentance (Luke 5:32).

I am greatly disturbed by some of the decisions of Target, Starbucks, and the general pushing of Christ out of Christmas.  I must say something and stand against unrighteousness. Nevertheless, there is a divine call that supersedes all of this—Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10).  I have that same divine command upon me as do all disciples of Jesus Christ.  We have what the people in Target, Starbucks, and the whole world need (John 3:16-17; 2 Corinthians 4:7).

Bottom line.  The greatest way to curtail sin, unrighteousness, and unholy living is the gospel.  As I say to our congregation so often, you do not go to the grocery story just to buy a gallon of milk.  You go with a heart for people, looking for the Lord to connect you with some precious soul that needs Him.

It is so wrong to condemn the world for living what they are, and then not sharing what they can be in Christ.

So, if your conscience does not condemn you, go ahead on over to Starbucks.  Get a cup of coffee, and don’t grumble about the price. Then, engage in conversation with someone to build a relationship that will lead to sharing the gospel that day or in the future.

As I have heard and repeated many times, the gospel changes everything.

Oh, and you’ll have a happy holidays, too.

 

“In other words what frees you to live radically for others in this world is the confidence that this world is not the main world.”

Your Doorbell is Ringing!

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It happens almost every Thursday at 4:00 in the afternoon!  Our doorbell rings and standing there are our two precious neighbor children.  If the weather is warm, they are peering in through the glass to see if anyone is coming to let them in.  Their anticipation for Bible Club is infectious!  For almost two years, these two have made their trek across our yard to learn God’s Word!  They have become like grandchildren to us!

I wish you could have seen them yesterday helping my wife bake cookies which served as their object lesson.  Each of them had their own bowl to mix their ingredients as well as their own set of gooey chocolate chip cookies on their own cooking sheet.  As I watched this process, here’s what I saw:

  • Cam loves to eat and who doesn’t like to indulge in a dollop of cookie dough!! So there he was, hanging over the mixing bowl, eagerly looking back-and-forth at my wife, and asking several times, “Can I lick that?!?!”  What a sight!  And, when he had his first opportunity to eat a baked cookie, he didn’t even wait to see if my wife had the milk poured.  With gusto he asked, “Can I have some milk, please?  I wanna dunk my cookie!”  And dunk he did!
  • Cal is of a different personality, of course, but in her polite way, she too was eager to partake of those warm morsels. She also dunked her cookie in her milk but in such a girlie fashion.  How precious to listen to her pray and thank the Lord for their snack.

What makes all of this so wonderfully joyful?  Without a doubt, the pure act of discipleship that takes place in our living room, kitchen, backyard, porch and/or dining room every Thursday.  Yesterday, I watched Denise, with great patience, instruct with great detail how to proceed through each step of baking cookies.  And when all was said and done, the “disciples” absolutely enjoyed what they had learned, and the “discipler’s” heart was filled with great satisfaction, contentment and joy!  The “disciples” even ran home with great joy to show and share with their parents what they had learned!

When you are involved in discipleship, what a rich blessing to teach a hungry soul the ingredients of God’s Word.  When they taste and see that the LORD is good (Psalm 34:8), they are excited to go share their joy and what they have learned with others (John 4:29).

We have a commission, not a suggestion (Matthew 28:18-20).  God’s way is always perfect (Psalm 18:30).  His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 9:8).  Are their children in your neighborhood who need “cookie lessons” during their summer break?

I sure hope your “doorbell” is ringing this summer!

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.  (Matthew 28:18-20)