Wednesday, November 30, 2011

How did you Score?

by John Acuff
Growing up as a Pastor’s kid, I didn’t have many opportunities to participate in the Christian sport of Church Hopping. If you don’t go to your father’s church on Sunday morning, you might as well punch him in the face on the way out the door. But what I lacked growing up, I made up for in college, as I became a semi-professional church hopper.
I say semi, because I didn’t know all the rules of the game and didn’t properly focus on doing all the little things that make a world class church hopper. Fortunately, for you, and millions of other people that want temporary church experiences, I have organized them into one easy score card.
The Church Hopping Score Card
1. If you leave without even getting out of your car because you can’t find a good parking spot = +1 point
2. While visiting a new church you park in the pastor’s assigned parking space = +1 point
3. You get a free first time visitor’s gift = +2 points for each gift
4. You only visit once but still have the boldness to say, “I just didn’t feel like I connected with the people at that church” = +1 point
5. You refuse to come back to a church if not enough people said hello to you = +1 point
6. You refuse to come back to a church if too many people said hello to you = +1 point
7. Like the closely guarded secret formula of Coca Cola, you’re the only one that knows the correct number of people that should say hello to you = + 2 points
8. You visit on the Sunday the church is having a first time visitor’s lunch = +1 point
9. You take leftovers home from the first time visitors lunch = +2 points
10. You bring your own cooler to first time visitors lunches in anticipation of the leftovers = +3 points
11. You sit in a seat someone has sat in for 14 years running and they do the awkward stand and pause move right next to you before shuffling away in complete bafflement at who this person is = +3 points
12. You come long enough to benefit from everything the church offers but never actually volunteer for anything = +1 point
13. You have a pre planned little speech you give in case the church asks first time visitors to stand up and introduce themselves = +1 point
14. You have a “Hello My Name” is _______ sticker ball at home that is bigger than a soccer ball. = +2 points
15. You can easily name the three churches in town that have the best coffee = +1 point
16. During the “meet and greet” you use a pseudonym because you’re not sure if this is where God wants you to go to church yet = +1 point
17. You have a secret list of “if this happens at this church I’m outta here” = +1 point
18. You’re more than happy to tell the people around you why you didn’t like your last church = +1 point
19. The amount of traffic in a church parking lot weighs heavily on your decision to attend = +1 point
20. You have a scrapbook made entirely of bulletins to chronicle your travels = +1 point
How’d you score? Hopefully, really, really low, because all of those are pretty ridiculous. But had I measured that in college, I would have scored pretty high.
I hope you find a church you love. I hope if you’re hopping you’ll stop long enough to be real with a few people. And if not, I hope you’ll get some really good first time visitors gifts and send me a photo of your welcome name sticker ball. Who wouldn’t want to see that?
(stuff that christians like)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Church Hopping?

by Steve Cornell

Well-churched areas make fertile soil for the proverbial church-hopper. I know this because I’ve been a pastor in such an area for more than 26 years! Lancaster, Pennsylvania is an unusually churched community. This comes with blessings and challenges. The Churches exert great influence and perform countless acts of service to our larger community. But in well-churched areas, the ecclesiastical pattern is often the rotation of the saints. The Church furniture keeps moving. The fish swim from fish bowl to fish bowl. The sheep sample a variety of flocks. Perhaps it’s just human nature to take good things for granted when surrounded by so much blessing. But how should we think about this trend?
Most pastors would be willing to admit that too many people leave churches for superficial reasons. The span covers anything from music styles to carpet colors. Sometimes people leave because of disappointment with the pastoral staff not meeting their expectations. Some leave because they can’t (or won’t) get along with other church members. Community always tests the integrity of one’s walk with Christ. We are not called to walk alone. Yet walking together is a challenge. The little quip is well-heard:
“To dwell above with saints we love will certainly be glory; to live below with saints we know, that’s a different story!”
Before I am misunderstood, I believe there are some good reasons for leaving a Church. And to be completely fair, I acknowledge with sadness that the overall health of local churches is poor. Many Churches find themselves struggling through identity crises under weak leadership. This leaves people with feelings of instability and a desire for confident leadership. Pastors are often to blame for taking Churches through changes without teaching the people why it is necessary or helping them understand the biblical validity of the new direction. Change is never easy but it’s even harder without the instruction to prepare for it.
Over the years, we’ve had many people join us who have left other Churches. When this happens, we (leaders) try to make sure they’re leaving on good terms and for good reasons. We always appreciate it when they don’t treat their departure lightly. For some of these people, leaving their Church has been an agonizing and even heartbreaking trial. We have people come to us from Churches they attended their entire lives. Though strongly convinced they must leave, the process is painful. I see it on their faces when they begin to visit with us. I know that they need time to work things out and adjust. But I encourage them not to linger too long because we all need true biblical community in our walk with Christ (see: Hebrews 3:12-14).
Good reasons for leaving a Church
There are good reasons for leaving a church. False doctrine, unqualified leadership, misguided focus (lack of commitment to evangelism and discipleship), absence of accountability for righteous living,— these are issues to be taken seriously. But leaving a Church should not be taken lightly. Even if a believer has good reasons for leaving a Church, it should be done in a respectful manner. This should involve communication and appropriate expressions of appreciation. When speaking to others about the Church you are leaving, it should be done with honesty but as respectfully as possible. Good decisions are made in response to God not in reaction to man.
A closer look at Church hopping:
The problem of Church hopping is an example of the overall instability of our culture. It often reflects a deeply troubling trend of how easily people slide in and out of commitments. “Commitment” has become a revisable term in almost all spheres of life. With the prevailing discontentment in our culture, people are endlessly looking for something better. But better, often means more exciting, entertaining– more satisfying to the ruling self. I believe that Churches calling for higher levels of commitment should expect to be smaller. Although I pastor a relatively large Church, in 25 years of ministry as a senior pastor, I have often witnessed this disturbing trend. Please don’t take this as a slam against all mega-churches, but I truly believe that our Church would be much larger if we lowered the bar of commitment.
Confessions of a Church hopper:
In an article entitled “Confessions of a (Recovering) Church-hopper”, John Fischer acknowledged that, “In our free-market, commodity-rich society, it’s understandable that we would approach church as we would a shopping mall of spiritual products and services. This is the way our culture operates. In our hymnals we can still find those great hymns of the church like ‘A Mighty Fortress’ and ‘The Church’s One Foundation,’ but in our worship and practice we are probably more consistent with the Motown hit ‘You Better Shop Around.’”
Fischer describes the following scene from a church-hopping family: “‘Where shall we go this morning, dear?’ he says. ‘The music is great at Calvary but I like the teaching at Grace.’ ‘Don’t forget the kids,’ she says. ‘The youth program at Bethany is the best of all.’  ‘I’ve got it.  We’ll drop the kids off at Bethany and go to Grace for teaching, and then we can start going to the Saturday night worship and praise services at Calvary.’”
What’s wrong with this picture? Fischer suggests at least three things:
First, we become critical consumers.
“As consumers we reserve the right to pass judgment on the products and services we use, and the companies that service us begin to cater to our demands. ‘The customer is always right’ may work well at McDonald’s, but in a church it undermines the authority of the Word of God and the leaders God has called to represent Him. We do not go to a particular church to decide whether that church is doing everything right, but to hear from God and humbly find out where we went wrong that week in our own lives and what we need to do to make it right.”
Second, we become invisible spectators.
“Church-hopping turns you into a nondescript pewsitter. A number. A statistic. When you’re shopping around, you never stay in one place long enough to know anybody or be known. We like this because we have gotten into a habit of being anonymous in our culture. Church-hopping helps protect anonymity we already possess, and it keeps us alone.”
Third, we become detached from what we are.
“When you were a child, did you ever make a church with your hands folded together, forefingers pointed up like a steeple and all your fingers interlocked inside? Remember opening your hands to see all the people?  Well, that’s exactly it. We are the church. You and I are the fingers and toes and eyes and ears of the body of Christ. To be only a spectator in church is to detach yourself from who you are — like cutting off your fingers.”
A word of caution to pastors:
Be wise in how you receive those who “hop” your way. Don’t feel obligated to receive all of them and watch out for those who “secretly slip in among you” (Jude 4). Make sure that people leave a Church for good reasons and on as good terms as possible. I am convinced that the leadership and identity crises in Churches force many growing Christians to move on to places where they can flourish for God. But their attitude in leaving is crucial. Never allow someone under appropriate biblical discipline from one assembly to join your Church. Remember this well established rule: Church hoppers who hop your way and gush praise all over you (while criticizing their former church) will soon leave your Church with the same critical attitude. Finally, never advertise your ministry in a way that encourages people to leave their Churches because you have something better to offer them. Jesus said, “I will build my Church.” We dare not work at cross purposes with Him.
Steve Cornell

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Oh come, let us sing to the LORD;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the LORD is a great God,
and a great King above all gods. . . .
Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!
For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

For Single Guys-Driscoll

8 Reasons Why Single Men Should Work in the Church Nursery

by: Pastor Mark Driscoll on Nov 22, 2011 in DiscipleshipMarriageParenting
I think my love for kids started with my grandpa George. He died in 1980 when I was ten years old. I still think of him often. He loved me, and I loved him. He was a retired diesel mechanic and a big guy who wore overalls and taught me how to handle power tools as I worked with him in his garage.

Riding in his car was always great because he kept in his glove box a bag of Tootsie Roll Pops with their fudgetastic center. When we went out to breakfast, the waitresses always dropped by our table to hear him tell a story—and he was hilarious. And when I stayed the night at his house, we’d sneak up while Grandma was asleep to eat caramel apples and watch wrestling on TV—“Rowdy” Roddy Piper, The Sheik, Andre the Giant, and my favorite, Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka.
The kids in my grandpa’s neighborhood loved him too. They often dropped by to see what he was working on in his shop. And when the ice cream truck drove by, they would stop, get whatever they wanted, and he would always come out and pay for it all.
I loved my grandpa. And I miss him.
One thing he left with me was a deep love for children. I just picked it up from him, as did his daughter, my mom. Growing up at the oldest of five children, I looked forward to one day being a dad.
As a new Christian and college freshman, my first ministry was taking care of a bunch of young kids during a daytime women’s Bible study. It was the best. The kids were super fun, and on any given week I had anywhere from maybe 10 to 20 kids under the age of five for a few hours without any help. Those hours included crackers, juice, Bible stories, wrestling for the boys, and tea parties for the girls. The moms were surprised that a 19-year-old single guy would volunteer for the nursery, but I’m glad I did. And I’d encourage the same for other single men. In fact, I have nine reasons why single men should work in the church nursery:

It helps you learn what Jesus meant by child-like faith

When you tell a kid that Jesus walked on water, they don’t defer to Hume and enlightenment presuppositions about the miraculous. They say, “Yeah!” and their eyes get big because they believe what the Bible says.

It helps you learn about God as Father

When you interact with kids, you are reminded that to God you are just a kid and that you really need your Father. Every guy, including the one in a suit making more money than he can ever spend, is just a Fudgsicle-faced kid to the Father.

It opens up your heart to children

This causes you to view such things as sex and women differently, less selfishly, and more biblically.

It helps you pick a wife who will be a good mom 

When you hang out with kids, you realize you need to marry a woman who is more interested in building a good legacy than just having a good time.

It helps you learn how to be a good father

Some guys are afraid, repelled, or ignorant of kids. Get over your fears and prejudices by hanging out with someone else’s kids a few hours a week, and learn how to interact with kids well.

It’s important for kids without a dad to have godly, male investment in their life

Young boys without a dad need the godly investment of a man. Young girls without a dad need a godly man’s loving encouragement. And the single moms really appreciate godly men investing in their kids.

It’s a good place to meet a nice gal

Single guys may not know this, but nice, single gals who love Jesus and want to marry and become a mom someday are working in the nursery. That’s like fishing in a trout pond if you’re a single guy. And the single moms dropping off their kids should be considered for marriage too. After all, Jesus’ mother was a single mom until Joseph married her and adopted Jesus.

Jesus did

Our God came to earth as a single guy and hung out with kids. They loved him. They didn’t crucify him like the religious folks. If you want to learn about Jesus and become more like him, spend more time with kids like he did.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Friday, November 18, 2011


The Broncos were 1-4 before Tim Tebow took over five weeks ago. Since Tebow has been starting, they have gone 4-1 to improve to 5-5 on the season.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Death by Comparison: Justin and Trisha

I want to talk about a deeper part of our heart and mind that we probably don’t allow others to know about too often. This type of comparison is subtle and it is often illusive and justified. If the death of our heart begins as we compare ourselves to others, the death of our marriage begins when we compare our spouse with someone else.
This isn’t a conversation we have out loud all too often, but these thoughts can flood our heart and mind. The conversation goes something like this:
  • I wish my husband was as romantic as her husband
  • I wish my wife complimented me like she compliments her husband
  • I wish my husband spent as much time with our kids as her husband does
  • I wish my wife worked out and took care of herself like his wife does
  • I wish my husband was as good of a listener as her husband
  • I wish my wife could cook like she cooks
  • I wish my husband was handy and could fix things like he can
This is the first stage of comparison. But if left alone and unidentified, these feelings can quickly move to the next stage.
  • I wish my wife respected me like my secretary does
  • I wish my husband complimented me like my co-worker does
  • I wish my wife was as in shape as the lady in my spin class
  • I wish my husband was as good of a listener as my boss
The moment we start comparing what our spouse isn’t to what someone else is, we open the door for disconnection and fractured intimacy. Even if our comparison isn’t followed by romantic feelings, there is an aspect of our heart that is withheld from our spouse.
The reality is when we wish our spouse was more like anyone other than Christ, we place an expectation on them to be something that they were never designed to be.
One of the practical things that Trish and I have done over the past five years is to tell each other what we love about the other. Rather than to compare what we aren’t we compliment what we are. It has drastically changed our relationship. Instead of resenting what we don’t bring to our relationship we celebrate all that we do bring to our relationship.

Maybe the best thing you could do for your marriage today is to tell your spouse all that you love about them rather than all that disappoints you about them.