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Category Archives: Church

Floaters

For several years now, I have seen spots before my eyes. In non-technical terms, they are “eye floaters.” My doctor said it was nothing to be worried about. He said that as we age, the fluid in our eyes can dry or harden and the small pieces begin to clump together and float. Generally, they are transparent, but occasionally they will catch the light and appear as shadows in your vision. Most of the time, I don’t see them, but depending on what type or color of background or wall I’m looking at, I will become aware of them.

As a pastor, I am aware of a different type of floater. These are people who float in and out of the church and never seem to attach or connect. One group of floaters are those who float in and out from week to week. Perhaps they attend once or twice a month and yet consider your place their church home. Another type is even more sporadic in their attendance, floating between your church and their cabin in the woods or camping at the lake. Still others are what are termed as CEOs—Christmas & Easter Only. They show up during the holidays and are gone for several weeks and months before turning up again.

Another group of floaters are those who come into the church excited and enthusiastic. They love the preaching and the music. They gush about the programs. They want to be discipled. They desire to serve. Over time, they may even become members. But then one day, you realize you haven’t seen them for several weeks. Apparently, their roots were too shallow and they drifted away. On very few occasions, they will say “goodbye” and explain why they are leaving. Perhaps it was a perceived slight or offense. Perhaps they didn’t have as much influence as they were hoping for. Maybe the pastor didn’t greet them or the worship leader didn’t incorporate their favorite song into the worship set. More often than not, they simply floated away without saying anything. It’s only later that you begin to notice their absence and wonder, “Whatever happened to so-and-so?”

Floaters in the eyes may be a natural part of aging. On occasion, however, it could be a sign of something more serious that needs to be checked and corrected. Floaters in the church may be a reflection of our culture and our lack of commitment and connection. On occasion, however, it could be a sign of a weakness in the church or the individual that needs to be checked or corrected.

If your eyes have floaters, talk to your doctor. If your church has floaters, ask the people graciously why they stopped attending. If there is something that needs to be corrected and/or healed, do what you can to fix the problem. If you are a floater, get counsel from a trusted friend as to what is holding you back from committing yourself to a church body.

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2019 in Church, Culture

 

Why attend church?

“Why should I attend church?” This question came up at a recent pastor’s gathering. We discussed how we would answer someone if they posed the question. Here’s a few of the reasons we came up with:

  • The church is God’s instrument to reach the world.
  • Hebrews 10:24-25 commands us not to neglect meeting together.
  • The “one another” commands of the New Testament are hard to practice if you are by yourself.
  • As members of the Body of Christ, we have a mutual responsibility to one another.
  • Christianity is meant to be lived corporately, not just individually.

In addition, this article by Peter Adam gives “11 Reasons Why You Need to Belong to a Church.”

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2019 in Church, Scripture

 
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Sign of the times

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2019 in Church, Photos

 

Cell phones and the Call of God

This notice can now be found in French churches:

En entrant dans cette église, il est possible que vous entendiez l’appel de Dieu. Par contre, il n’est pas susceptible de vous contacter par téléphone. Merci d’avoir éteint votre téléphone. Si vous souhaitez parler à Dieu, entrez, choisissez un endroit tranquille et parle lui. Si vous souhaitez le voir, envoyez-lui un SMS en conduisant.

Translation: It is possible that on entering this church, you may hear the Call of God. On the other hand, it is not likely that he will contact you by phone. Thank you for turning off your phone. If you would like to talk to God, come in, choose a quiet place, and talk to him. If you would like to see him, send him a text while driving.

(Thanks to Barb S for posting this on Facebook)

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2019 in Church, Culture

 

Coming this fall to First Central

Below is a letter mailed out to the congregation of First Central Bible Church profiling four events and programs coming this fall to the church.

 

Moscow Conference 2019 – July update

Dear friends,

Thanks for praying for the preparations for the October Moscow conference. Because of your prayers and generosity, the trip is now fully funded. We’ve purchased our tickets and made our hotel reservations.

As on previous trips, Carol and I will be working with John & Naomi Musgrave, missionaries sent out and supported by Crossroads Bible Church in Bellevue, WA. We will also be joined by Marc Fournier. Both John & Marc were elders at Crossroads when I was on staff at the church and we have worked together previously.

The focus of the conference is on identifying and training the next generation of leaders in the church. I am starting to work on the lessons for the conference. The sessions will include: (1) Why? The biblical mandate for mentoring; (2) Who? What do you look for in a trainee? (3) What? What should you develop in this person? and (4) How? How do you go about doing it? I want to combine biblical teaching with creative activities and small group discussions so as to make the conference practical and helpful.

This past week, I sent in the preseminar assignments. If the participants complete the work, they receive a discount on their registration fee. To get them thinking about the topic, they are to answer the following questions:

  1. Read Exodus 18. What was Moses’ challenge? What was Jethro’s recommendation? What type of people was Moses to look for? What was the result?
  2. Read Exodus 17:8-16; 24:9-18; 33:7-11; Numbers 11:24-29; Numbers 13:1-14:45; Numbers 27:12-23; Deuteronomy 34:1-12. What kind of experiences did God and Moses use to prepare Joshua to lead Israel? What lessons did Joshua learn? What skills did he gain through those experiences?
  3. Read 1 Timothy 2:2. What did Paul instruct Timothy to do? What kind of character qualities was Timothy to look for in the people he was to invest in?
  4. Read Ephesians 4:11-16. What gifts and/or gifted people are given to the church? What is their role? What happens when they do their job well? What happens if they don’t carry out their responsibility?

Here’s some ways that you can pray for us:

  • Praise God that Carol and I have our visas, airline tickets, and hotel reservations. We praise God for his provision.
  • Praise God that the trip is fully funded!
  • Pray that God guides me as I develop the content for the conference and determine how to teach each session. Pray for insight and creativity.
  • Pray that God will bring the right pastors and leaders to the conference and that he begins to prepare their hearts to receive the material.

Thanks so much for your support, encouragement, and prayers.

 

Avoiding the Absalom Syndrome

This article was originally published in the Winter 1999 edition of Leadership Journal. I wrote it while I was serving as an Associate Pastor at Crossroads Bible Church in Bellevue, WA. Since two people have brought it up recently and said how helpful it was, I decided it was time to repost it.

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John was a man with a mission—to oust the pastor. He had a long-standing grudge and refused to let go of it.

John would sidle up to newcomers and say, “Does the pastor strike you as a little cold? Does it bother you that he votes on his own salary? Did you hear about the squabble last year? Let me fill you in on what really happened.”

John rehashed his complaints with each new staffer and board member. If the leader didn’t take his side, John accused him of covering up the issues.

My turn came one hot, summer evening. I had heard about John’s tactic. I refused to be part of any gossip. To each accusation, I said, “John, you need to deal with your bitterness. I won’t listen to any more until you do that.” John has yet to do that, and now he considers me part of the cover-up.

Church staff, board members, and leaders are natural lightning rods for complainers. Afraid of voicing objections publicly or confronting the pastor directly, the disgruntled often come to us. Serving in staff positions over the past 10 years, I’ve learned some hard lessons about loyalty and integrity.

1.               Step away from the gate.
If we are not careful, associates can easily become an Absalom at the gate, stealing away the hearts of Israel (2 Sam. 15:1- 6). Like King David’s son, we begin to think that things would be different if we were in charge, that we are the answer to the problem. We’re tempted to think we’re more “in touch” than the senior pastor. We discover there’s support for our way of thinking, and we can become the catalyst for a power struggle or church split.

2.               The shortest distance between two points does not go through me.
Rather than playing Absalom, we should follow the biblical pattern of confrontation (Matt. 18:15-17). Instead of listening to rumors, we need to ask the complainer, “Have you talked to the pastor yet?”

If he hasn’t, we should politely tell him to follow what Scripture says about confrontation without commenting on the concerns. If he has done that and the matter has not been resolved, we should encourage him to follow Christ’s instruction by taking another person along for a private meeting with the pastor. If there is no resolution, then take it to the official leadership of the church.

3.               “They” will get you into trouble.
At the church I serve, we have adopted the “they” rule. If a critic says “they say” or “several people are upset,” we ask the complainer to identify who “they” are. It’s hard to know how serious a situation is if you don’t know whether “they” are one person or 100.

If the individual bringing the criticism is unwilling to identify “them” or have them speak directly to the party that has offended them, we won’t listen to their accusations. After all, the end of Absalom’s life shows the danger of playing to the crowd.

4.               Loyal David is a better example.
Rather than Absalom’s rebellion, a much better example for us is David’s respect for his superior, Saul. Instead of manipulating the present for my own ends, I need to relax and trust God for my future.

To keep my heart pure and my perspective straight, I’ve had to discipline myself to do two things. One is to pray for my seniors on a daily basis. It’s hard to criticize someone when you are praying for him. Lifting him up before God tends to diffuse any frustration and helps me to see him as God does. And two, I remind myself that, ultimately, I am serving Jesus Christ.

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2019 in Church, Leadership, Scripture