“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” — Hebrews 10:24
Word is out. Facts are in. No one doubts it! We are living in a challenging world.
Hostility lies along every road and shopping lane. People are stressed out and hard pressed. Anxiety rules the day. Suicide rates have increased 30% among middle aged Americans over the past few years (c. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recent poll). People are looking for relief and hope. Where can they find it?
What happens when they give church a try? Pew Forum and Barna Research report dismal findings that people are not finding what they seek from the church, as faith in organized religion is dropping fast around our country.
The church must step up to make the sincerity of God’s heart a feasible reality for a broken people.
And how do people determine the authenticity of a church? Jesus explains what truly draws the attention of our community, what people seek and what they cannot resist.
“A new command I give you: Love one another.
As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples,
if you love one another.”
— John 13:34-35
Prime the Pump
Some carry the mistaken notion that church is all about “Gimme this and Gimme that.” But real fellowship is only gained by first Giving of ourselves, before we ever think about taking.
The following letter was found in a baking-power can wired to the handle of an old pump that offered the only hope of drinking water on a very long and seldom-used trail across Nevada’s Amargosa Desert:
“This pump is all right as of June 1932. I put a new sucker washer into it and it ought to last five years. But the washer dries out and the pump has got to be primed. Under the white rock I buried a bottle of water, out of the sun and cork end up. There’s enough water in it to prime the pump, but not if you drink some first. Pour about one-fourth and let her soak to wet the leather. Then pour in the rest medium fast and pump like crazy. You’ll git water. The well has never run dry. Have faith. When you git watered up, fill the bottle and put it back like you found it for the next feller.
(signed) Desert Pete
P.S. Don’t go drinking the water first. Prime the pump with it and you’ll git all you can hold
God can quench our spiritual thirst in the most unlikely circumstances. But we must first prepare ourselves to humbly participate in the life of his spirit. We can experience rivers of living water and grace for our daily needs.
“I just don’t want to get involved!”
Participating in church is vital for our fellowship and also for you, too.
A big measurement of a church’s health has to do with how well and freely do people get involved.
Take for example this story about a man interested in joining a particular church. He met with the Pastor to assert his conditions for joining this church. He did not have any time to teach help with Worship or serve on any committees. He did not see the need to help other people. Praying for others in the church was just not his “thing.” Financial support would be on an occasional and limited basis. All in all, he would join providing he did not have to be involved with anything.
The Pastor thought this over and replied, “I think you have come to the wrong church. The church you want to join sounds like the one over on the other side of town. That church is exactly what you are looking for. You would fit in very well there.” He gave the man the name and address of the church and sent him upon his way.
The man eagerly drove across town to find his “Dream Church.” He found himself open-mouthed and stunned as he stood before an abandoned building. The doors and windows had been boarded up for years. The steeple was crumbling and about to fall. However, as he stood there before this pathetic sight, a tear came to his eye as he realized why the Pastor had sent him to this particular church. Truly, this was the church that would make no demands of his time, energy or finances. How his heart ached as he realized this was exactly the church he had requested to join.
When we take and never give back we are just like the prodigal son who took his father’s money and lived only for himself. If we only take from the table and never put anything back, only time will bring the table to utter loss.
“Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord,
because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
(1 Corinthians 15:58)
Of all the Christian holidays and holy-days, Easter rises to prime focus. Going beyond chocolate bunnies, hiding and finding decorated eggs and big dinners after church … it’s all great fun.
Unfortunately, as sometimes happens, the main thing may fall aside from too many distractions. That’s when a “Holy Day” becomes no more than a hurried holiday, and we miss the great spiritual experience of what it represents.
For centuries, the church celebrated every Sunday as an Easter experience. 52 Sundays a year express this victory of hope for the ages. And on Easter we move the emphasis into a central focus; the “Big Sunday” calling for complete focus, reverence and worship to our mighty Lord and King.
The meaning of Easter brings all of us into the hope of life and eternal life. As God’s Word teaches,
If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
1 Corinthians 15:17-19
But our hope is assured. Our Savior has indeed won the battle on our behalf. The assurance of salvation is ours to receive.
But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead!
He is risen indeed!
1 Corinthians 15:20
Who Ya’ Gonna Bring? Bring a Friend Sunday
Churches grow by one main principle – the people are positive, believing in God and believing in their church.
This belief is what motivates them to invite and welcome others to be part of the exciting things God is doing in their midst.
So why don’t more Christians reflect such an open heart to others?
Roy Oswald and Speed Leas, “The Inviting Church,” note that visitors come to church by these statistics:
- 2% by Advertisement
- 6% by the Pastoral Invitation
- 6% by organized evangelism campaign
- 86% by friends or relatives
When Church Growth expert Win Arn was asked, “In your research, have you found that there’s one specific reason that visitors come to church?”
He answered as follows:
The friendship factor.
We’ve asked more than 50,000 people over the last 10 years why they came to church,
and between 75 and 90 percent of respondents say, “I began attending because someone invited me.”
What is the most important reason to invite our friends?
Because Jesus to!
“Therefore GO and MAKE DISCIPLES of all nations,
BAPTIZING THEM in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Bring a Friend Sunday – February 12
Church Goals for a New Year ~~ 2017
- Talk about and creatively share plans and hopes
- Share ideas openly, and allow them to be refined
- Over-Communication is still a blessing to a church’s health
- Unity must always hold a primary motivation
- Mt 18:20, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
- We are Building Christ’s Church, not separate fiefdoms
- The distinction of a church from a business corporation
- Personal Power and Control never marks a healthy church
- Our business is all about people, changing lives for God’s kingdom
Believe . . .
- Despair never built anything worthwhile
- We must give people something to believe in
- In a world that has lost its hope, the church must express a better direction
- Are we giving people anything to believe in? A reason to return?
Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you;
and you will be my witnesses.”