boyradd

Forgiven…Loved…..Transformed!

Archive for the tag “Evangelical”

Are we Really a Hospital?

Luke 4:18 – The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed

If you run in the evangelical circles for any length of time, you have more than likely heard the phrase that the church is a hospital for sinners, not a hotel for saints.

I realize that is the goal, but are we truly striving for that?

As I write this I am sitting in a hospital setting as my dad is getting a hernia surgery today. Let me explain my experience.

It snowed today in Pennsylvania. About 5” of snow came down overnight. As we drove to the surgical center, we went by a couple of churches and I noticed that their parking lots were not cleared. When we got the surgical center, not only was the parking lot clear, but the majority of the parking surface was dry, which meant no ice.

As we pulled into the parking lot, the signage was amazing. This place has several doors and they are very well marked with signage throughout the parking lot as to which door to use and how to get there. I know in many churches signage is a huge issue. Many people who lead churches are still thinking old-school. You walk up to the front door and have a one-room schoolhouse mentality. Those days in churches are over. The church today is a multi-venue location that has several KidMin locations, Bible studies running concurrently to the service, and, in some cases, several different entrances to the service venue. If you walk through your church and pretend to be a newcomer, do you know where to go?

Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Try bringing someone who has never been to your church before and let them try to navigate it on their own and see what they say. That is how your church looks to the world.

As my dad and I walked into the building we were easily able to figure out where to go as it was all clearly, and cleanly, marked. If we couldn’t figure it out, however, there was an information desk that had a very happy woman with a smile from ear to ear who got up from her desk and walked out to me to ask me if I needed help. And they must have cloned this woman because there was someone just like her on the lower level of the building at the other entrances.

Is that the same in our churches? Can we honestly say that if someone new comes to our church that we are that exuberant to greet them? Do we have someone smiling at the entrance or does the person looked stressed out? Are we simply happy to see newcomers or do we say, “I don’t know who that person is…?”

A side note to entering the building is that, while it was snowing and messy outside, the building had someone there who was putting out wet floor signage and keeping the floors as clean as possible. I don’t expect the main floors to be so clean you can eat off of them when the weather outside is dreadful, but making the effort is important. That same person was going around the building and changing the trash as well as cleaning the windows and sweeping/mopping the floors. A single person who was taking care of a building probably 4-5 times the size of most churches.

Once we got to the check-in area there were smiling people behind the desk ready to take our information. I liken this stage to our KidMin check-in areas. We signed in and my dad’s name went on a screen with a number associated with it that I have access to at all time. I am able to track where my dad is in the surgery and determine when it is time to get ready to go into recovery with him.

What about our churches? When we sign our kids into KidMin, do we even sign them in? I know a lot has changed recently with child safety in churches, but in the past when I would go to different churches when I was on business trips I would go in and see parents just dropping children off at a classroom. No check-in system. No way to track their child.

Even today, many churches minimally give the child and parent a sticker to wear. But what happens if there is problem? It is at this point that most churches and KidMin leaders would say, “But I know which kids are in my class, it rarely changes.”

Right.

So you are creating a system that opposes growth in the ministry.

1 Timothy 1:15 – The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.

I know, ouch. That is painful to hear, but any system we create or put in place needs to be scalable to future growth. If we cannot scale a system upward, then it isn’t worth having as to grow would involve a lot more money, time, and energy to install.

As I dropped my dad off after check-in, he did what all children do at KidMin. He said, “I don’t wanna go.” We hugged and he went off with the KidMin, er, I mean the nurse. I was able to track anything happening with my dad either on my phone via an app or on a screen that was in the waiting room.

If there is a problem, the nurses come and get me based on the number they gave us at the beginning.

Now, what about our services?

I am a big believer that if you are going to be in a ministry in the church, whether paid or volunteer, you need to be putting everything you have into that ministry to make it successful. If we go in with a mind set that we are simply going to “do the job and then go home” then you may as well step down from ministry.

Again, ouch. There will be days that we wake up on the wrong side of the bed or there may be a lot going on in a season of our lives that wear us down, but our ministry should never suffer for it.

Just like Paul, I am going to ask you to imitate me. I am in Pennsylvania today, Friday, for my dad’s surgery. Tomorrow afternoon I will be heading back to Maryland for an event at our church Saturday night and then, unless there is a major issue with my dad, in church on Sunday morning.

Galatians 5:14 – For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Yes, I realize I get paid to do that. But I don’t do ministry for the paycheck. I am making less than I usually have in the past 20 years of my life, so the money is not the motivator. I do it with the hope that the event we are doing will motivate our church to even more excellence and that on Sunday I can introduce myself to someone new that never attended our church before. It is about trying to have a heart that God would want.

So what I am going to say about our services will run counter to what many people in our churches believe.

I’ve never been scared to upset an apple cart, or turn over a table in the temple.

When my dad went back to get his hernia operated on, everything about his experience was to make sure the service was focused on him so that he was comfortable enough to be healed and not have any anxiety or fear.

How often are newcomers to our churches fearful?

It is probably more often than you think.

Fear of church comes from various places. They are fearful that church environment will be too different than their normal lives. They are fearful of being judged if they wear the wrong clothing, don’t shave, let an f-word slip, have to step outside to smoke, or something else. They are fearful that they will not be accepted because they aren’t part of the clique.

Philippians 3:7-9 – But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith

How can we alleviate fear in our churches so that we can reach more people in our communities?

We need to look like our communities.

Now this is where purists will maintain that we need to be in the world but not of the world and if we are doing things that make us look like our communities then we are too much of the world.

I disagree.

If your community is used to watching TV, making sure you have a significant video presence on the screens will keep the community members engaged.

If your community is listening to rock music, then why does your worship sound like folk music? If your community is listening to country music, why does your worship sound like rock music?

If your community is military, then why do we not have more events for military families?

If your community is a lot of blue-collar workers, why does the church have a distinct white-collar feel?

If the community has a lot of African-American people in it, why is congregation mostly white? If the community is mostly white, why is the congregation mostly Africa-American?

You see what I am getting at?

If our churches look more like our communities that we serve then we don’t need to jump through hoops to attract them.

The problems come when the people currently in the church don’t want to see change.

But, Fred, that is how we have always done things and we will upset this family over here if we start changing.

I understand that.

And I understand that Jesus left the 99 to go save the one.

We are not Jesus.

Paul became all things to all people so that he might save some.

We are more closely like Paul.

Don’t be scared to change the worship. Don’t be scared to change the demographic. Don’t be scared to change the focus of the church to reach the people in your community.

My church was given the vision by my Senior Pastor to reach at least 10% of the 60,000 in a ten-mile radius of our church. If we stay the same way we are right now, 5 years down the line we will look the exact same as we do today with about the same number of people in our congregation.

How can we get there?

I want to echo something I heard from Thom Rainer a couple weeks ago:

  • Spend 5 hours a week working outside your church. Don’t work from home, but work from a local restaurant or coffee shop.
  • Go to a restaurant in between services on Sunday and look at the people sitting in the restaurant, those are the people that are skipping your, or most likely any, church on Sunday.

We need to become the hospital for sinners that we so emphatically like to claim we are.

Unfortunately we have way too many similarities to a resort that caters only to paying members than a hospital that takes and heals those who can’t heal themselves.

The service aspect is the exact same between a resort and a hospital, the difference, however, is what means the growth or decline of the church.

Galatians 5:13 – For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Writer’s Block

Hebrews 3:13 – But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

I’ve been blogging for almost exactly 6 years.

6.

That is longer than a lot of jobs I have held in my life. It is longer than I have been married to Mimi.

The majority of my posts are theological or apologetic in nature. Ever since I started this blog I wanted to take modern day issues and show that the issue is not modern only and then how the Bible informs us to handle the issue.

I never thought I would have six years of source material, but here we are.

Lately, my brain has been unfocused when it comes to my blog. I am spending a lot of time reading the Bible (currently working to memorize the kings of Israel and Judah and what they did so I can apply it in my life). I am spending a lot of time reading books by others, mostly dealing with being a good husband and what that looks like. I’ve been spending a lot of time in prayer, trying to figure out just what God’s call is on my life (I believe I am called to vocational ministry, but every door I try to open gets closed).

I’ve been learning patience.

A lot has come up recently in current world events to give me enough to write about. Unfortunately, as I begin to write about them, I get a few sentences in and my brain shuts down.

Like right now. I am sitting here, in Panera, staring at my computer screen chanting under my breath, “God, give me the words.”

There are so many topics I could write about.

But I’ve got a serious case of writer’s block.

Psalm 138:3 – On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.

You have to respect pastors. They write about 40-50 sermons a year.

Want to know the secret about sermons, though?

They aren’t writing them from scratch.

Sure, the jokes might be new, the anecdotes might be personal and fresh, and the application might be relevant but the source material is thousands of years old.

A few years back when I went to a church planting conference in Nashville I heard Louie Giglio share a story about a parishioner who went up to him after a few years of being in the church and said that his message spoke to him that one particular day he was preaching. Louie went on to say thank you. The parishioner said that he was amazed at how his source material is always new and fresh. Louie said, with a small smirk on his face, “Want to know a secret? The message hasn’t changed in all the years I’ve been preaching. The only difference is that today you chose to hear it.”

The same is true for blogging.

Over my six years I have received emails and comments from people at one time or another saying that the message I shared really affected them. Honestly, while my stories are personal and truly only lived by myself, the gospel message that is attached to those stories has never changed.

Colossians 2:2-3 – My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

My hope is that if someone who doesn’t believe in Christ reads my messages that they will want to make the choice to seek Christ. My other hope is that for those who already have a relationship with Christ that we can learn how to live as Christ would have us live.

I used to love being considered a “evangelical Christian.”

And that is what I am.

My blog, and consequently my life, is meant to be lived evangelically. And I am a Chrsitian.

But I am not the title “evangelical Christian.”

That term brings up notes of Republican, hypocritical, and focused on power and money.

I am not Republican. I am not Democrat either. I refuse to vote. I am truly non-partisan.

Am I a hypocrite? Of course. So is everyone else in this world. At some point in everyone’s life we have done something hypocritical.

Am I focused on power and money? Sometimes. But back in 2014 I left a 6-figure+ job to focus on both God and future family. God has blessed me and my family enough that we aren’t going hungry and we have been able to live a lifestyle of moderate comfort. But I had one year where I made less than $20,000 and have at times had to work a couple jobs just to make ends meet. So money and power only in the respect that I just want to be able to pay my bills.

Proverbs 30:7-9 – I ask two things from you, Lord. Don’t refuse me before I die. Keep me from lying and being dishonest. And don’t make me either rich or poor; just give me enough food for each day. If I have too much, I might reject you and say, ‘I don’t know the Lord.’ If I am poor, I might steal and disgrace the name of my God.

Simply put, I am a Christian. This is a blog about my journey as a Christian. Will it always be what you expect to hear? Of course not. There are many aspects of God that I wrestle with, even to this day. I may not always seem like I have it all together. But I feel that puts me in good company. Look at a lot of different people in the Bible. A lot of people whose hearts are God’s struggled with everything God said or did. Habakkuk, Elijah, Moses, Ananias, Peter or really any of the disciples are examples of that.

The Christian journey is never one of saying you have confidence in anything…except Christ.

My ways are not His ways. When I think I have it all figured out, God steps in and says, “No, Fred, why do have so much pride in you so as to accept everything people say versus what My Word says?”

It seems like my Christian walk is 2 steps forward and 1 step backward.

But that is still forward momentum.

So, I want to give you some hope, Christian.

This is coming from one Christian whose life looks nice and clean on the outside but on the inside is filled with question. This is coming from someone whose goal in life is not be a mouthpiece for a government party but to be a mouthpiece for Christ alone. This is coming from someone who is just as screwed up and messed up as you are.

Take it from me that if this man can find the hope that comes in Christ and be transformed daily by it, then you can too.

That is my hope.

That this blog will be an example of sanctification. It is a slow process, but it is forward momentum.

So, take hope that even if you have questions about how the Scriptures and God will affect your life, know that you are not alone in your struggle. There are many of us out there trying to figure it out with Christ at the forefront.

And never give up.

Stay the course.

Taking two steps forward and one step back.

Each day.

Until God calls you home and says, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Galatians 6:9 – And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

Post Navigation

boyradd

Forgiven...Loved.....Transformed!

EXPOSED

"Sometimes the story we're telling the world isn't half as endearing as the one that lives inside us." -Donald Miller

The Minstrel's Wife

A worship leader's missus and her views from the pew

Praises & Grace

My life, My walk, My missions

Godinterest Magazine

Godinterest Magazine covering faith, culture, life and all that other stuff

Sillyloquies

We write to remember. To see our thoughts in sentences. So we can hopefully one day figure out what all those words really mean.

this is... The Neighborhood

the Story within the Story

The Awakening

An Ordinary Man Being Awakened By An Extraordinary God

Limbiley's Blog

Life&Love Trials&Tribulations Faith&Fortitude Redemption&Restoration.

Mind's Seat

Set your mind on the things above

J.S. Park: Hospital Chaplain, Skeptical Christian

From Devout Atheist to Skeptical Pastor: A Blog For Busted-Up, Beat-Down People (Like Me)

116 Boyz

Born Again Christian Male Gamers

Jayne Surrena

Fictional Memoirs

juleseddy1

A topnotch WordPress.com site

THE RIVER WALK

Daily Thoughts and Meditations as we journey together with our Lord.

missjordanlee

twentysomething thoughts on grace, life, and health

soma

positive thinking

One Salty Dawg

Recent College Grad's Quest For Meaning

Blonde and Fabulous

some girls were born with glitter in their veins.

Book Hub, Inc.

The Total Book Experience

Morgan Mitchell

• Dreamer, Thinker, Blogger • |Loves Jesus| • College Student • |Living proof of a loving God to a watching World.| • #fivecollective

valeriu dg barbu

©valeriu barbu

Moving at the Speed of God

Sharing the Thoughts and Adventures of David Jackson, Church Multiplication Missionary with the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware

philliphowell

Tasting and seeing that the Lord is very good!

My Blog

4 out of 5 dentists recommend this WordPress.com site

Morning Story and Dilbert

Inspiring, Encouraging, Healthy / Why waste the best stories of the World, pour a cup of your favorite beverage and let your worries drift away…

Tea Cups and Grace

Life, faith and cups of tea.

True Warriors of God

Put on the full armour of God ~ Ephesians 6:13

Write For A Cause

The Spiritually Inclined Deductions by Jenine Silos

newlifer1

http://newlifer1.wordpress.com/

By His Spirit

Reflections of a Female Seminary Graduate

Threshing Floor

Forgiven...Loved.....Transformed!

Forgiven...Loved.....Transformed!

Forgiven...Loved.....Transformed!

Woven by Words

Forgiven...Loved.....Transformed!

%d bloggers like this: