Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Trusting God in Deep Waters

Does our faith in God have borders?  I'm not sure that I know a Christian that would claim that they don't trust God.  However, most of us will trust God when it makes complete sense to ourselves.  We often like it when our experience tells us that we are safe to trust Him--but is that really trusting God or is that living safely within borders that we have established?

Many times God calls us to step out, sacrifice, and trust Him in ways and times that are not convenient for us.  His call upon our lives may not fit our personal, current-life dynamics.  Could we honestly look Christ in the face and tell Him that we would follow Him anywhere, speak of Him to anyone, and do whatever He wants us to do?

I believe that we as Christians fail to understand what complete and immediate obedience truly looks like.  Sometimes we even try to negotiate with God.  We have listened to the lies and voices of doubt way to long.  The greatest blessings and satisfaction in this life come when we walk by faith into the the things that Christ has called us to do.  Pray for the grace to trust God more in order to follow Him into the deep waters of obedience and blessings.  Take the time to read Luke 5:1-11 in preparation for Sunday's message.

I love the following song called~~ Oceans.  Listen to it on You Tube and read  some of the Lyrics carefully.

"You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand
And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine
Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now"

Thursday, May 11, 2017

7 Things Church Members SHOULD SAY to Guests

It is a blessing to have guests each week at our church.  The greatest thing that we can do is to intentionally reach out to them and let them know that their presence means the world to us.  How we interact with them says a great deal about our faith, our church, and it also makes a difference in whether or not they return. 

I'm not talking about the bare minimum that we have to say in order to appear nice, but what would it take for a guest to truly know that we prize them and value them?  What would it take for a guest to understand that their comfort is important to us?

Most churches have a high opinion of themselves and feel that they are friendly.  They could not begin to understand why someone would not feel at home at their church.  I would like to ask, "do we go out of our way (above and beyond) to speak to guests and do our words genuinely welcome them"?  Making a guest feel welcome may mean sacrificing our own time and going the extra mile for them.

Thom Rainer gives suggestions to church members that could really go far in welcoming guests in such a way that would make them want to return and speak of our friendliness to others:
  1. “Thank you for being here.” It’s just that basic. I have heard from numerous church guests who returned because they were simply told “thank you.”
  2. “Let me help you with that.” If you see someone struggling with umbrellas, young children, diaper bags, purses, and other items, a gesture to hold something for them is a huge positive. Of course, this comment is appropriate for member to member as well.
  3. “Please take my seat.” I actually heard that comment twice in a church where I was speaking in the Nashville area. The first comment came from a member to a young family of five who were trying to find a place to sit together.
  4. “Here is my email address. Please let me know if I can help in any way.” Of course, this comment must be used with discretion, but it can be a hugely positive message to a guest.
  5. “Can I show you where you need to go?” Even in smaller churches, guests will not know where to find the nursery, restrooms, and small group meeting areas. You can usually tell when a guest does not know where he or she is to go.
  6. “Let me introduce you to ___________.” The return rate of guests is always higher if they meet other people. A church member may have the opportunity to introduce the guest to the pastor, other church staff, and other members of the church.
  7. “Would you join us for lunch?” I saved this question for last for two reasons. First, the situation must obviously be appropriate before you offer the invitation. Second, I have seen this approach have the highest guest return rate of any one factor. What if your church members sought to invite different guests 6 to 12 times a year? The burden would not be great; but the impact would be huge.