Daily Reflection from Northumbria.11/3/13

The daily meditation from Mprnng Prayer of The Northumbria Community comes from Rowan Williams:

The Cry to God as ‘Father’ in the New Testament is not a calm acknowledgement
of a universal truth about God’s abstract fatherhood. It is the Child’s cry
out of a nightmare.

It is the cry of outrage,fear, shrinking away,when faced with the horror of the ‘world’
– yet not simply or exclusively protest, but trust as well.

‘Abba Father’ all things are possible to Thee …

Let us continue to cry out to God while following God and doing God’s will in the world!

The Best Advice Is Sometimes Ancient

The following quote was part of the daily devotional I use at Common Prayer.Net;

Church father Augustine of Hippo wrote, “‘The times are bad! The times are troublesome!’ This is what humans say. But we are our times. Let us live well and our times will be good. Such as we are, such are our times.”

As we go through hard and “bad” times (government shutdown, wars, poverty, etc.), it is best to remember to “live well” — to do God’s will and share God’s love with others — so God can make our times better through us.

Are You One Of Those “Blessing People”?

One of the speakers at the Wee Kirk Conference at Montreat this year was Reggie McNeal, a noted Church consultant who lives in Columbia, SC. Reggie spoke of the need for us to let our relationship with Christ make a difference in our lives and share the difference Christ makes in our lives with others.

Reggie related how the folks at one church he was working with began making a habit out of asking folks they met every day: “What can I pray for God to bless you with today?” or, if someone shared a problem they were having they might respond by saying “I’m going to pray for God to bless you”. This simple act of letting folks know they were being prayed for made a difference in the community. The church became known as “the blessing church”, and the members as “the blessing people”.

Reggie said that one time he was standing in line at the local Starbucks talking to another member of the church about God’s blessings and someone turned to him and asked: “Are you one of those blessing people?” The person then began to relate to him a deep need they had in the lives. Reggie prayed for them, and promised to continue to do so.

The church made a difference in the community because the people were “blessing people” – people who shared their relationship with Christ with others in ways that made a difference in their lives. As we live out our faith in Christ, we need to always ask ourselves:

“Am I one of those blessing people?”

“Do I do things that show Christ to others?”

Strive to use God’s blessings to you to bless others.

Steering Clear Of The Numbers Trap

“We’ve got to grow!”

These 4 words are the “rallying cry” for many church members — and many pastors fall into the trap of adopting that mantra for themselves. They believe that ministry effectiveness is based on how many attend your services on Sunday morning.

“We’ve got to grow!”

I fall into the trap of believing that the effectiveness of my ministry depends on the growth of the church I serve from time to time myself. My Monday morning mantra from time to time is: “We’ve go to grow!”

The problem is that I am not sure that the number of folks in Church on Sunday is an accurate measure of the effectiveness of a Church’s — or a ministers — ministry. While this may sound like I am trying to justify the trend in many churches of losing instead of gaining members, I believe that God wants us to serve Him in the community instead of simply “packing the pews” to make our ministries look good or successful.

I believe that if members of a Church are doing what they can to reach folks in their community with the love of Christ, they are doing God’s will. Service to the community should be more important than Church growth. Service to others around them may bring folks into a Church — but it may not. Whether it does or doesn’t is not the question — the question is doing God’s work and focusing on being God’s people in that community” instead of just focusing on growth.

Instead of saying “We’ve got to grow!” maybe church members and minsters alike should be saying: “We’ve got to serve!” It seems to me that serving instead of growing is a more faithful focus for Churches and minsters.

All this came to mind this morning as I read the following article at the Ministry Today web site. You can read it here — great food for thought for a Monday morning!

Messing Up The Conversation

Chris Walker at Evangelism Coach has a great post — “6 Ways To Mess Up A Good Conversation” on how to “mess up” a conversation with someone about Christ.

Here are the 6 ways:

1. Interrupt a person’s private thoughts (i.e. — barge in when someone is trying to just have some quiet time
2.Slightly agressinve body language
3. Monologue
4. Pick a moment when your audience is trapped
5. Answer questions that are not being asked
6. Ignore body language that says “I’m not interested”.

These are indeed 6 ways to “turn people off” to Christ!

Any other ways anyone wants to add?

Read Chris’ article here.

Evangelism Or Discipleship — Or Both?

Here’s a question for your Monday morning — is evangelism more important than discipleship — or is it the other way around?

There’s an interesting article at The Columbia Partnership’s web sitethat says it’s not a question of either / or — but both / and — that churches need to develop ways to do both.

You can read the article here — although you may need to go to the site and click on the article “The Disciples Journey”.

Makes for great reading on a Monday!

More On Missional

Last Monday I wrote about an interview I found online with Dan Kimball, author of They Like Jesus But Not The Church and co author of The Emerging Church on what his ideas about what it means to be a “missional church”.

Here is more of that interview – which includes an interesting and thought provoking quote:

But I have also experienced churches that are seeing people outside the faith coming to know who Jesus is. These aren’t churches that are watering things down to attract people. They’re not afraid to address issues. The irony of that whole thing is that the churches that are physically visiting and talking to people are doing solid biblical teaching.

Being missional is reaching people for Jesus in any way you can!

What Does It Mean To Be Missional?

“Missional” is a word that tossed around a lot these day by church leaders and those who study churches. To me it means doing the things Christ has commanded us to do — showing God’s love in word and action — but it also means telling others about Jesus and letting them know why we are doing what we do.

The Church is more than a Civic Club that helps folks — it’s God’s people bringing God’s love to others in God’s name. We need to remember that. That needs to have an impact on everything we do.

Here is an interview with Dan Kimball, author of They Like Jesus But Not The Church and co author of The Emerging Church on what he feels Missional means — and how it should touch every aspect of the church.

Makes for good reading / thinking on a Monday morning!

Top 5 Church Growth Principles

I ran across this an article this morning by Charles Arn of Church Growth Incorporated where he gives what he believes to be the top 5 principles of Church growth.

He lists the principles as:

1. Disciple – making is the number one priority. Churches need to focus on making disciples for Christ — not just “folks in the pews”.
2. Social networks a vehicle for disciple – making. Members of a Church have top get involved with folks in the community — get to now them — and show them they care. This will bring them to the Church when they feel the need.
3. Church connects with people where they feel their need to be. Members of the Church have to find ways to show folks that the Church offers answers to the needs they have.
4. Relationships are the glue that hold members together and attract others. Relationships between members of the Church keep them in the Church — and attract others to the Church.
5. Transitions are the windows of opportunity. Transitions in peoples lives are the opportunities the Church needs to minister to them.

I like these 5 points. I know that reaching out to people in their need — showing them God’s love — and teaching them to follow Christ are all important aspects of growth for the Church.

You can read the entire article here.

Church Drop Outs

Todd Rhoades at Monday Morning Insight has some thoughts on why young adults are not coming to Church. Quoting Ed Stetzer, he gives the following reasons:

1. They simply want a break from church (27%);
2. They felt church members are judgmental and/or hypocritical (26%);
3. They moved to college and didn’t find another church (25%);
4. They have work responsibilities that keep them from attending (23%);
5. They moved too far from church (22%);
6. They just got too busy, even though they’d still like to attend (22%);
7. They didn’t feel connected to the church in the first place (20%);
8. They disagreed with the church’s political/social stance (18%);
9. They decided to spend more time with friends (17%);
10. They were just going to church to please their parents (17%).

If you’re like me, you’ve heard all these reasons — or excuses — before, so this is really nothing new. However, young people — and middle age and older folks for that matter — still “drop out” of Church, and sometimes their reasons may seem silly but to them they are legitimate.

Todd ends the article with the idea that — whatever their reason or excuse — if someone drops out of Church they need to be contacted and they need to know the minister and members still care for them. He ends the article by asking:

Is there someone you should call today to say, “Hey, how are you doing? I’ve been missing you?”

For me — the answer is “yes”.

How about for you?

You can read Todd’s post here.