Tag Archives: Church

Why Go to Church?

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“Certainly one can be self-centered inside a church gathering, but the church gathering is nevertheless where all the sinners ought to be at the appointed time, smack-dab in the middle of a congregational experience specifically organized against the idolatry of personal preference. Not just because God says to do it—although that’s reason enough—but because it is good for us to have our singular voice lost in the sea of corporate praise and it is good for us to shut our social-media-motor-mouths for a bit and hear ‘Thus saith the Lord.’ We should go to church—not mainly, but nevertheless—because it confronts and stunts our spiritual autonomy and individualism. We should go lest we become Cainites, saying ‘I’m not my brother’s keeper.’ Or reverse Cainites, ‘My brothers aren’t my keepers.’”

Jared Wilson

Worship Together

http://resources.razorplanet.com/510188-2746/510188_280_656928.jpgI was invited to lunch by a man in my church. He had something on his mind concerning our worship services that he wanted to talk to me about. We set a time and place. I could hardly wait to get with him because these lunches are always such fun for worship leaders. (Can you hear my sarcastic tone of voice?)

Anyway, as it turns out, this one went pretty well. I’ve had worse. Plus, he paid. But there was something about our worship services that he was asking me to change. Every week, sometime during the service, I would welcome people and ask them to get acquainted with the people around them. To introduce themselves if there was someone they didn’t know. This item appeared on my service plan as “Meet & Greet.”

Creative, right?

He wanted me to stop doing it.

What I found interesting was his reason. It seems he loved the flow of our worship time. He explained to me how the music would lead him to worship. He could let the world slip away and feel truly intimate with God. But just when he was feeling close to God he would be interrupted by all the people around him meeting and greeting. It was a real distraction to his worship.

This conversation occurred many years ago. Since then we have, for many other reasons, discontinued the “Meet & Greet” time. But there is a part of me that would like to bring it back. I understand that it’s one of the most uncomfortable moments during a service for guests. I’m not excited about infecting everyone during cold and flu season. I recognize that it feels artificial and forced.

But I thought of it as a symbolic ritual of something I believe is very important to the corporate worship experience of the church. Something I believe the man who took me to lunch completely missed.

It’s this: Worship isn’t just vertical. It’s also horizontal.

Corporate worship specifically is about the body of Christ coming together to express our unity in worship. You can have your “just-Jesus-and-me” times any time and place you and he agree on. But something different happens when we worship together.

Last Sunday we were singing one of my favorite new songs. As we were singing, Kathie nudged me and pointed out a man across the aisle. This guy had a stroke just a couple weeks before and had been in pretty bad shape. But he has experienced a remarkable recovery and was standing there in the congregation singing his praises. I made my way over to him, put my arm around him in sort of “man hug” and told him how happy I was to see him here. He agreed. He was happy to be here as well. Really happy! This happened as we were singing, “This is your family, Stretching as far as I can see. I’m right where I’m meant to be once again…”

I love that song!

This small interaction was most assuredly not an interruption to my worship. In fact, it was probably the most worshipful thing I did during the whole service.

What glorifies God more than his followers loving one another?

I’ll answer that one for you: nothing.

We definitely need our private times of worship. Do it daily, hourly, every moment of every day. But not when you’re together with the rest of the church. It’s not private there, it’s corporate.

If your worship is only for your benefit, I have to ask: who are you really worshiping?

I’m not really campaigning to bring back the “Meet & Greet” time. It needed to go away.

But not because it interrupts my worship.

Lloyd

 

 

 

Monday Picks ~ 5-22-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well..

The Beautiful, Necessary Distraction Of Corporate Worship David Santistevan
THE BEAUTIFUL, NECESSARYWe are misfits from many walks of life gathered under ONE NAME. We are sinners who’ve screwed up our lives, gathered under ONE CROSS where there is mercy. We are orphans embraced under ONE FATHER, now called sons and daughters.

We are the large, we are the small. We are the rich, we are the poor. We are the smart, we are the uneducated. We are the talented, we are the glossed over. We are the brilliant, we are the broken. We are the church.

And we need your voice in the corporate gathering. And you need that beautiful distraction in your life. It’s a fairy tale to only listen to Bethel records in the comfort of your home. Whether you like the songs or enjoy your band or not, you need Church. And the Church needs you…

Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with closing your eyes and focusing on Jesus. No one will punish you for such an action. But corporate worship isn’t just about you and Jesus. You and Jesus can have devotions every day. Corporate worship is about being the Church.


Gotta Trust SomebodySamuel James
https://blogs.mereorthodoxy.com/samuel/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/2017/05/7731975344_48d9130ce5_b.jpgTo make suspicion and distrust toward established, respected, and accountable sources of information your default orientation is to either put yourself at the mercy of other sources of information–which are probably just as biased and ideological as the sources you eschew, but biased in a direction you’re more OK with–or, even worse, it’s to make intuition and assumption your primary means of knowledge…

You’ve gotta trust somebody. Free market economics are far from perfect, but one thing to admire about the way America works is that even biased, slanted, ideological news outlets have to compete against each other for public trust, have to keep each other accountable, and have to abide by certain norms and incentives. To dismiss an entire arm of intellectual credentialism is to lose a lot of faith in the free market, really quickly. You’ve gotta trust somebody, and it can’t just be you.


This is a two part post from several years ago. It’s worth remembering…

Nobody Cares About Your Church (part one)Danny Franks
…it was in the middle of that discussion that I was hit with the cold, hard reality: nobody cares about our church

It’s not that they don’t care because they want to see the demise of your church.  In all likelihood, they don’t wish you any harm.  They don’t care because it’s just not on their radar.  The typical unchurched person in your community doesn’t scan the religious section on Saturday to see what’s going on at Second Baptist.  (“Look Martha! A Wild Game Dinner!  We gotta get in on that…”)

So what makes somebody care about your church?  That answer’s coming up in the next post.

Nobody Cares About Your Church (part two)Danny Franks
…most people who will attend your church will do so not because of a flyer, a marquee, or a newspaper ad.  They’ll do it because of relationship.  They’ll do it because a member of your church lent a hand, gave some money, bought some groceries, spoke a kind word, or personally shared the gospel.

And because they trust your people, they might try your church.

The people in your church are the best commercial for your church.  …[They] live what they believe in the community.  They serve without expectation of return.  They give generously when they know of a need.  They seek to bless others without an agenda.


Thirst Editions…
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Wrong Hands – Click image for a larger view.

Thursday Picks ~ 5-18-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

These are important reminders for worship leaders…

Eight Of The Most Common Worship Leading Mistakes
Jamie Brown
No worship leader ever stops making mistakes…

So our goal is not to become flawless worship leaders… Our goal is simply to keep being humbled by our awareness of our imperfection, and to keep growing, so we can more effectively point our congregations to Jesus in the power of the Spirit, not the power of our own professionalism.

To that end, here are eight of the most common worship leading mistakes…

But never forget this, worship leader: you have no idea what’s happening in people’s hearts, you can’t possibly know all that God is up to, and you most likely won’t ever know the short-term and/or long-term impact of your faithful leadership in people’s lives over the course of years’ worth of Sundays that help them remember and proclaim the good news of the gospel.


I found this strangely fascinating…

On This Day in 1926: The Scandalous Disappearance of Preacher Aimee Semple McPhersonhttp://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/justintaylor/files/2016/05/reviving-sister-aimee.jpgWhat if I told you that one of the most famous fundamentalist preachers of the 1920s and 30s was not a man but a woman, and not just any woman, but one who went through two divorces and who became something of a sex symbol. So how did something like that happen in that day and age?


Yes! So very yes!

Don’t Pity Parents, Pray for UsAaron Earlsparent pray pity
Once people know I’m a parent, it’s inevitable. I know the words I’ll hear shortly.

Without fail, they are going to say something like, “I don’t envy you. With all the issues out there, I don’t know how you can be a parent these days.”…

…Yes, there are specific challenges to being a parent in 2017. But there were challenges for my parents during the Cold War and the emergence of home computers.

How did my grandparents manage their kids during the turbulent 1960s? How did my great-grandparents shepherd their children through the Great Depression and world wars?

Parenting is challenging no matter the era because parenting is challenging period. But in His wisdom, God has made me a parent today…

Christian parents don’t need your pity. They do, however, desperately need your prayers.


First gig…
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Zits – Click image for a larger view.

Tuesday Picks ~ 5-16-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

Is This What Revolution Looks Like? If So, the Church is Blowing It.Tim Suttle
blog pics.001I’m not saying church should take over the government. I’m just saying our society is ready for a revolution, and we are sitting on the one story that can actually bring true peace. Instead of embodying and sharing that peace, most Christians cling to party loyalty over and above Jesus.

Let’s face it, Christians. This is our big chance and we are blowing it.

The church is perfectly designed to enter into this moment with the revolutionary love of Jesus Christ that seeks the good of neighbor and enemy alike. The gospel calls any Lordship of party or nation into question before the cross. The revolutionary love of Jesus is how enemies become friends, how neighbors get back to neighboring, how old wounds can be healed, and how old sins are forgiven.


Learning for LifePhil Jenkins
https://www.evangelicalmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/sapling-growing-800x400.jpgIt is very rare to encounter someone who would label themselves as ‘un-teachable’. So maybe a little honest self-examination is in order. How teachable are you? When did you last decide to read a book that challenged your assured perspective on an issue? When did you last accept advice from someone younger than you? Do you tend only to respect people who agree with you? Do you ask questions or do you share your opinions? Do you get defensive when other Christians speak into areas of your life like your marriage, your parenting, your priorities, or your walk with God? And if your answer to the last question is, ‘It depends who does it,’ then maybe you are not as teachable as you thought you were!


I don’t agree with the Calvinist theology in his third point but the parenting principles are good…

3 Mistakes Parents MakeJordan Standridge
Recently my family has been blessed with the addition of a wonderful baby girl. After three boys, this has been a most welcome surprise. Being the father of four children is daunting, but it is a privilege that I’d like to make the most of.

It is important to remember that God has entrusted four of His creations in my care and I must make sure that I am pleasing him in my parenting. As I’ve been examining my own parenting over the last few months I’ve noticed some troubling temptations that I am sure all parents face on a daily basis. There are three mistakes that we are tempted to make in our parenting…


I’ve thought this way. Maybe you have, too…

Just Around the Corner SpiritualityMike Emlet
You might call this phenomenon “just-around-the-corner spirituality.” That is, the idea that once you can get beyond present circumstances, your relationship with God will be able to grow deeper. If I can just get around this next corner, then I will be able seek after God in an undistracted and more wholehearted way. The problem is, I rarely (if ever!) round the next corner to this new and blessed world of undistracted communion with Christ! It looks like I’m stuck with today as the context of growth in my relationship with God…

So, are you frustrated today? Overwhelmed? Discouraged? Wrestling with discontent? Don’t wait for things to get better. Run to Jesus today—right now.


Forethought…
Non Sequitur – Click image for a larger view.

Monday Picks ~ 5-8-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

What I’ve Learned about Pastoral MinistryKevin DeYoung
lightstock_9791_medium_tgc…if you live long enough, you’ll find that everyone is hurting. You’ll discover people’s marriages aren’t as good as they seem, or their kids are more troubled than they let on, or there’s a miscarriage or infertility, or there’s a parent who’s sick, or someone whose death is still the source of constant sadness, or there is a strained relationship, or there is an addiction, or there is an invisible illness. There’s just a lot of pain out there.

Everyone you talk to is a sinner and a sufferer. As a young person filled with good theology, it’s easier to know the sinner part. And we can’t forget this, otherwise we will be poor friends, and I’ll be a poor pastor. Compassion without follow through or correction is not real love. But that’s only one part of the equation. You have to remember people are carrying around a lot of hurt, a lot of sadness, a lot of fears. I’ve had to learn that people are not just sinners; they’re sufferers too. And that shapes how you deal with sin and extend mercy. I hope I’ve learned that.


There’s a good way to complain…

The self-healing letter of complaintSeth Godin
Image result for seth godinYou’ve been wronged. The service was terrible. You went unseen, disrespected and abused. You didn’t get your money’s worth. The software is sloppy, the people were rude, the entire experience was lousy.

A letter to the organization is called for. At the very least, you’ll get an apology, some free samples, and maybe, just maybe, they’ll fix the problem for everyone who comes after you. How generous of you to dig in and share the vitriol.

Better put a sharp point on it, personalize it and make it sting…

Here’s a different tack, a selfish one that pays off for everyone involved…


I’ve encountered almost all of these erroneous beliefs at one time or another…

The 12 Mistakes Dead Churches MakeBarry Cameron
The Twelve Mistakes Dead Churches MakeEvery year thousands of churches, unfortunately and unnecessarily, have to close their doors. Why? Because they kept doing the things that did them in. To put it another way, they held some highly defective, very destructive beliefs that determined their demise. Here are the mistakes dead churches make.

Dead churches erroneously believe …


“I Just Want Her To Be Happy”Leonard Sax
https://www.firstthings.com/uploads/article_590361e549076.jpgIt is no use letting kids do whatever they desire unless you have first educated their desire. The first job of the parent is to educate the child’s desire: to instill a longing for something higher and better than video games or pornography or social media, whether that something be found in science, in music, in the arts, in nature, or in religion…

As an American parent, I struggle every day against the culture of “I just want her to be happy.”


Polar opposites…
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Wrong Hands – Click image for a larger view.

Not Getting, But Giving

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“Gathering with God’s people is not first about being blessed but about being a blessing. It’s not first about getting but about giving. As we prepare to worship on Sunday morning, our first consideration should be ‘how to stir up one another to love and good works.’ We should approach Sunday deliberately, eager to do good to others, to be a blessing to them. In those times we feel our zeal waning, when we feel the temptation to skip out on a Sunday or withdraw altogether, we should consider our God-given responsibility to encourage ‘one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.’ This text is not about us, but about them. This text is not for Christian individuals but Christian communities.”

Tim Challies

Thursday Picks ~ 4-20-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

Christian, You Don’t Have to Qualify Your Prayers
Michael Kelley
“…there’s something in me that tells me that this is not the kind of bold approach to the throne of grace that Jesus died for. This is not the intimate kind of communication that Jesus told me to cultivate by starting my prayer with, “Our Father…”

It’s respectful, sure – but it sounds a bit like one who is not sure of the character of the person he’s talking to.

So what is the alternative? Perhaps another way to pray is through exercising faith before, during, and after we pray…”


I appreciate this article a lot…

How I Found My Place (And My People) at a Megachurch
Sarah Short
I used to wonder why people would attend a megachurch.

I mean, THOUSANDS on THOUSANDS of people streaming into a building on any given weekend? Is that ANYONE’S idea of a good time? I actually wondered what people were thinking in CHOOSING a church so large as their place of worship when they could attend a smaller church down the street with easy parking, good ol’ fashioned potlucks, and a small community of people who all know each other…

Well, here’s how it went down for us: My family moved into the area and went searching for a church where the gospel was preached EVERY week and the people loved Jesus and had hearts for the lost people he came to save – not just each other. And, when we found that in a church TWENTY times the size of what we might’ve considered ideal, we stayed.

We’ve been at our church, a church of over 10,000 people, for six years. We have grown in our relationship with Jesus and in our passion to love people well in ways we never could’ve imagined. And as I sat down to think about WHY we’ve stayed and WHAT we love about our church, I wanted to share with you how we found our place and our people here…


Important for church leaders to remember…

The Hottest Thing at Church Is Not Your Pastor or Worship LeaderKate Shellnutt
The Hottest Thing at Church Is Not Your Pastor or Worship LeaderDespite a new wave of contemporary church buzzwords like relational, relevant, and intentional, people who show up on Sundays are looking for the same thing that has long anchored most services: preaching centered on the Bible.

“Sermons that teach about Scripture” are the No. 1 reason Americans go to church, according to a new Gallup poll


A practical application of new technology…
Off the Mark

Monday Picks ~ 4-17-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

Stop Using Your Personality Test as a CrutchMichael Kelley
Are you an otter or a golden retriever? Are you a “D” or an “I”? Are you an “ENTJ” or “INFP”? Are you a green or a red? …

These can be very valuable tools…

Unfortunately, though, personality tests can go very wrong in one simple way:

Your personality test is not a license to be a jerk.

We might tend to think it does. After all, we might reason, God has made me this way. Yes, I know my personality is a bit abrasive, but that’s because I’m this color or that animal or this combination of letters.

And yet if you’re a Christian, knowing your personality is not your end game….

This is because holiness is our goal. Self-knowledge is not.


5 Bad Excuses for Not Giving to Your ChurchArt Rainer
Consistently giving to your church is a big step in your financial health.

It is also the first step…

Often the excuses for not giving are based on a misunderstanding of Scripture or a misunderstanding of their church…

If you are not giving to your local church, take some time and consider how God talks about generosity in the Bible. Talk to your pastor about it. And get involved.

Don’t miss out on financially participating in your local church. Financial health doesn’t end with generosity, it starts with generosity.


The Cross vs NostalgiaSamuel James
To make the Passion an object of our nostalgia—to see in it only the value of our grandfather’s generation, the benefit of a “Christian nation”—is to spit upon the cross itself. It is said that in the United States are millions of “Easter and Christmas” churchgoers, those who make time in their secular existence for two hours of hymnody a year. Oh, if only these Americans could see in their holidays the blood and the gore and the evil! If only they could see the gospel in its visceral reality, and not in its Thomas Kinkadian counterfeit.

If they could–if we could–we would not look at Good Friday with nostalgia. But we would look at it, and, if God is merciful, we might never look away.


An ethical question from the near future…

Will Editing Your Baby’s Genes Be Mandatory?
Conor Friedersdorf
Designing a baby, or editing the genes of an unborn child, strikes many as risky, unseemly, unnatural, unethical, or likely to lead to a dystopian future of one sort or another. Still, I predict that within my lifetime, the United States will arrest, try, and convict some parents for refusing to edit the genes of their child before he or she is born…

…it seems likely that gene editors will gain the ability to safely prevent some awful diseases, and that the holdouts who fear or morally object to their methods will dwindle more and more with every passing year.

Once they’re no more numerous or influential than, say, today’s Christian Scientists, the relevant politics will be quite changed. Holdouts who fear that gene editing is putting humanity on a slippery slope to disaster or who have religious objections…will conceive a child. If he or she is healthy all will be fine. But some holdouts will give birth to a child with a painful or fatal condition that could have been prevented.

People will get angry at those parents and seek to punish them.

Or at least that is the course I foresee.


TV Aerobics…
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Zits – Click image for a larger view.

Tuesday Picks ~ 4-11-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

For the Christian PerfectionistFaith Chang
https://reformedmargins.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/pexels-photo-362749-1.jpegI’m not writing here about people who are Christians and happen to be perfectionists in other areas in life. I’m referring to those of you who love the gospel, live in the church without hidden sin, but struggle, maybe even to the point of despair, with the feeling of never being good enough before God.

You know and love Jesus, and you glory that your sins are no longer yours to carry. You know that your position before God is by grace alone, and have experienced the joy of his forgiveness. You desire to do God’s will and to walk in obedience to him. And you live under the constant fear of making a mistake before God.

Christian perfectionist, this piece is for you…


10 Ugly Numbers Describing Pornography Use in 2017
Tim Challies
As technology changes and as new generations grow up, the pornographic landscape inevitably changes. I went looking for updated numbers and want to present some of them to you today. All of these are based on credible studies carried out in 2016 or 2017…

In 2016, people watched 4.6 billion hours of pornography at just one website (the biggest porn site in the world). That’s 524,000 years of porn or, if you will, around 17,000 complete lifetimes. In that same time people watched 92 billion videos (or an average of 12.5 for every person on earth). Significance: So many people are using so much porn today that it is really impossible to tabulate.


Are We Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing?
Kevin DeYoung
large_make-the-most-of-holy-week-l503ynhwThis is not the week for being savvy and sophisticated. This is the week for being simple. Sin and salvation. Death and resurrection. Let every preacher preach this gospel and every congregation hold fast to this word (1 Cor. 15:1-2).

Holy Week is a check-up for the Church. To use a tag line that’s already overused, if your core message for this week is something other than “Christ died for our sins,” you’re doing Christianity wrong. If you want to preach about gender equality or social justice or progressive dispensationalism or the extra Calvinisticum, do it a different week. This week is about a substitute for our sin and an empty tomb for our justification.


Why our churches need more gray hairDenny Burk
In sum, Paul says that older men must be those who do not panic in the face of a challenge. They do not get angry when provoked. They do not fear in the face of a threat. The older men are to be as solid as an oak. They are to be the kind of men to whom people look when something is broken and no one knows how to fix it. They are the kind of men who are sought out for their wisdom and ability to speak truth into very difficult situations.

They are exemplary in faith and in love for wife and children and church and neighbor. They face trials with perseverance and courage. They are the kind of men that you want your son to grow up and be like.

Churches desperately need their older men to exemplify being sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Churches need an army of laymen who believe well, love well, and suffer well. And churches need them because these older men are the pace-setters for the rest of the church.


Take eight minutes and be inspired and encouraged…

“When I look at the story, I realize who Barabbas really is. That’s me. That’s you. That’s us.”

“We can pretend like some people are better than others and that’s why they’re blessed, or we can all come to the honest conclusion that it’s God, and it’s God alone.”


And those people are right. It’s unnatural…
Off the Mark