Small Church Growth

June 18th, 2012 Posted by 248 comments

A really good blog article you might find interesting. Just click here to follow the link:
http://www.joemckeever.com/mt/archives/001351.html

Let me make it clear I am not endorsing (nor not endorsing) the writer and his website. I simply agreed with and liked the points he made. Tell me what you think, I’d love to hear from you.

Tags:

Spiritual Abuse

January 27th, 2012 Posted by 6 comments

I don’t know if I’ve ever heard this phrase applied in this way, but I believe it fits when I say, I was raised in a spiritually-abusive church. It’s been many years since I have attended that church and sat and listened to the condemnation emanating from the pulpit. Thanks to my husband’s kind and wise counsel, I have even healed and grown beyond the legalism under which I was raised. Only in the past decade have I actively begun to identify spiritual lies when they are uttered, whether aloud or within my mind, and found relief by correctly applying God’s word.

The reason I bring this up is to make you aware of the damage done by well-meaning preachers who in their concern for their flocks’ souls, use scriptural manipulation in order to control their parishioners. In my church, because they did not want their teens straying they forbid any normal youthful activities. Dancing, movies, and bowling, just to name a few, were all taboo. They cited scriptures with such words as “lascivious” as proof that these activities would lead us to dance with the devil.

When Paul admonished us to “rightly divide the word of truth” he meant to preach it correctly, straying neither to a liberal nor a legalistic bent. Using scripture to bring people into line is not only wrong; it is too often a failure. Within my church I saw dozens of teens leave, some of them saying, “If I’m going to hell anyway, I’ll go have fun on the way.”

I often wonder how many of them would still be serving God had the Word been applied more truthfully. No doubt, some would still have strayed; however, I wonder how many would have returned like the Prodigal Son when they realized their rebellion was not as fulfilling as they had hoped. I believe if they had understood grace they may have returned.

Something to think about. Have any of you experienced what I’m saying? I sincerely hope not, but I’d like to hear from you.

Tags:

Things I Learned from Watching The Bachelor

August 26th, 2011 Posted by 1 comment

I am always happy to share writings from people I know. This one is from a very favorite person, my daughter. Jana is married to a police officer, they live in northern Washington, and she is the worship leader in her church. She is on the board of Blossom Ministries [http://www.blossomministries.com/] and this is what she wrote in their latest newsletter:

Things I Learned from Watching the Bachelor

Groan.  I know, I know.  Some of you may ask why I would want to watch that show?  Well, call it a guilty pleasure or just spending time with a friend who was watching it but I actually walked away from the final episode with a lot more on my mind than just who ended up getting a ring and a proposal.

The first thing I learned from watching The Bachelor is that everyone desires to be loved.  Why else would an presumably sane person actually chose to subject themselves to the scrutiny and competition of finding love played out on national television?  What some people might call an act of desperation, I call an honest desire to find someone, anyone, to truly love them.  People do crazy things for love!  That being said, how often do I go on autopilot in my world, ignoring the silent cries of people around me to feel loved?  The simplest gesture can be enough to change someone’s day for the sake of feeling loved.  I need to open my eyes and see all my “neighbors” as people in search of love remembering that I know how to introduce them to the ultimate lover of their soul.

Second, I noticed that sometimes people don’t recognize love when it is being shown right to them!  The 2nd runner up this season lost her chance with the Bachelor because she was too self conscious to accept the love he was trying to offer her.  She came to mind when I was in a Bible study going through the book of Romans recently.  The entire book of Romans points out that Jesus is CONSTANTLY showing his love for me and I constantly miss it!  Sometimes the overwhelming awareness of my sin keeps me from accepting the unconditional love offered by my savior.  Ultimately, his love is a free gift that is always available to me but I must accept it.  I must take it.  That might feel that I must risk rejection to get that love.  I think the young woman had been hurt so many times in previous relationships that she had a hard time believing the Bachelor when he said he wanted to be with her.  She was unwilling to risk her heart again for fear that she might be wounded yet again.  But Jesus NEVER wounds.  He ONLY heals.  What feels like possible rejection is always the enemy lying to me and helping convince me that Jesus might not be trustworthy after all.  I cannot make this eternal mistake!  I HAVE to risk my heart in order to receive the love of Christ but in the end it is really never a risk.  It’s a guarantee if I will just believe that Jesus wants ME!

Finally, watching the Bachelor teaches me a lot about how selfless love must be to last.  Between the Bachelor and the Bachelorette there have been something like 17 seasons of match-making and as of today I think only two matchups have actually lasted.  Gosh I wonder why!  You throw a bunch of people together to compete for the attention of one person and what you get is a reality-show competition not unlike the Amazing Race or The Apprentice.  Potential suitors (contestants) are eliminated based on looks, whether or not there is a “spark” of feeling or for no reason at all. Love has nothing to do with a situation like that!

At a marriage conference Ken and I attended last year I heard several times that over the course of a life together you are inevitably going to have moments when you don’t really “like” your spouse but the marriages that last are the ones that simply chose to stick it out no matter what.  Hmm, so feelings don’t always tell us the truth?  Imagine that.  After only two months of the most unusual dating the world has ever known there is no way that those two people who propose to one another on the finale can really selflessly give themselves to one another for a lifetime!  Instead they have merely whittled down a list of 20 potentials to one” winner”.

Romans 5:8 says But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Christ loved us so selflessly that he actually DIED to get our attention!  He says in John 15:13: Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

And finally 1 Corinthians 13 teaches us most about love in verses 4-8: Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.  This does not sound like a reality TV show to me.  This sounds like the spiritual, sacred thing we call love that could only come from a superior being like an Almighty God.

Love is a choice and it is a verb.  It’s not a feeling.  And universally, everyone is looking for it.  It is my goal in writing this little tongue-in-cheek article to get us all to remember to view those around us as individuals looking for the acceptance that only a relationship with God can bring.  And the best part is that he offers it to us freely with no strings attached and THAT is something we can always rely on!