Thursday, February 23, 2017

Shutting Down

One of the hardest things for me to do personally is to shut down from the daily grind of work and to try to relax and enjoy time for my family, others, and myself.  There's just too much to get done and so little time to get it done.  I feel a strong sense of commitment towards others at the expense of taking care of my family and myself.  Taking personal time to refresh can create a sense of  guilt.  How well do you do this?  I understand that we can boast about our hard work ethic but I'm not so sure God intended for us not to rest since He created the Sabbath. 

The Sabbath was created for physical rest and for God's people to worship and focus on Him.  Some people feel compelled to work seven days a week believing it is necessary to make ends meet.  Some never take personal time or vacation time even when an employer provides it.   Most jobs will take all the time that you give them and the work never goes away.  It becomes necessary to learn to say no towards things we really don't have any more time for.  Shutting down is necessary for personal renewal.  Time alone to reflect, to pray, to read God's Word, and just to listen to what God wants us to hear is needed. The psalmist said it well, "Be still and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10)

This past vacation I was blessed to read three books--and I didn't finish any of them (I plan to finish them) but they refreshed my soul.  They were the Bible, Understanding Biblical Theology, and a book called Deep Preaching.  I allowed God's Spirit to breath life into me and to refresh me through His Word and the writings of others.  My wife truly enjoyed being the focus of my time as well.  Over the past four years I've truly enjoyed riding my motorcycle with my wife and even alone as a way to enjoy what God has created around me and to hear from Him.  It gives me time to ponder and consider what God is teaching me in life.  It also gives me time to reprioritize what the most important things are in this short life for God's glory.

When was the last time that you decided to shut down for a day or for a week?

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Retaining the Guests that Visit Your Church

I truly don't know of a church that doesn't believe that they are not the friendliest church around.  I recall the first time that I heard someone say that they did not think Maywood was a friendly place at first but then they decided to give the church another chance and they eventually got connected.  I have several feelings when I hear this comment and unfortunately I have heard it more than once.  First, I think that perhaps their expectations were perhaps too high--after all, we are not a small church that can identify every one when they visit.  Second, if they would have only told me that they were a guests then I would have made sure to have rolled out the red carpet.  Third, more than anything else I am angered that we as a church missed an opportunity to reach out to a guest who stepped forward with boldness to visit a foreign place to them.  Guests are a privilege to have each week at our church and many churches would love to have guests.  We will never get a second chance to make a first impression again or to reach out and welcome them like we truly desired.  Visiting a church is a big task and families lay it all out there when they come to your church--hoping to be welcomed and cared for.  I know that I could be a better host and that I must be the best host in order to have guests want to return.

Here are some good ideas that I have rewritten in my own words (I heard them shared before from Tom Rainer).  I believe that it would radically change the way that our guests return to our church.

  1. We need to get Uncomfortable.  Most of us have our routines, our friends, and even our seats picked out each week.  Please think about reaching out to faces you don't know for the sake of  God's greater work.  Most guests will not reach out to us and will leave quickly after the service.
  2. Choose to Sit by Guests.  As much as we like to gravitate towards those we know and the comfortable--think about our guests who boldly came to our church this morning.  They are alone and will remain alone unless someone chooses to sit by them.  Lets be intentional.
  3. Reach Out to them While There.  In other words, as a host take the next step and invite them to a Life Group following the service or invite them to the cafe and purchase them a drink and get to know them.  This is truly taking the next step and it speaks volumes.  You may not get a second chance.
  4. Invite them to the Welcome Center.  As a church, we truly have valuable information for them about the ministries and a very nice gift that says we value your presence.  This allows them to meet a pastor and other members of the church.  This is significant.
  5. The Kid's experience means Everything.  It is a bold move to take your family to a new church.  It has been studied and proven true that when the kids love their time at church that it radically increases the chance that families return and become involved.  We have much to celebrate about our kid's ministries (Safe area, Bible based curriculum, Exciting learning).  One bad visit for a child or student and the likelihood of their return is slim to none.
  6. Standing and Greeting.  As much as the church family enjoys one another, this is the most awkward 60 seconds in a guest's visit.  To guests, this is very mechanical and artificial--especially if nobody has reached out to them before the service.  Our guests need to be reached out to naturally each week without prompting the congregation to be friendly. 
  7. Incredible Greeting Ministry.  I cannot stress enough the powerful impact that a great greeting ministry can make.  Layers of greeting upon a guests is powerful.  It is more than saying hello but asking how we can help them or direct them when they arrive.  This shouts, "we want you here" to our guests.  
It truly is everyone's responsibility to reach out to our guests each week.  We may think we are friendly and welcoming but we usually have to go over the top in order for our welcoming spirit to really be noticed.  PLEASE, let's make God's church at Maywood the most welcoming church in the community!