Posts belonging to Category Church

Church Invitations at Easter (George Barna)

A recent Barna poll indicates that less than half of all churchgoing adults plan to invite a non-churchgoing friend to church for Easter.

The Barna research … examined whether churchgoing adults perceive Easter weekend to be a good time to invite people to attend worship services with them. While most active churchgoers said they would be open to doing this, a minority said they would be likely to do so. Overall, 31% of active churchgoers said they would definitely invite someone they know who does not usually attend a church to accompany them to a church service on Easter weekend this year.

That’s too bad. According to research by the North American Mission Board, most Americans say they would visit a church if invited by a family member, neighbor or a friend. Easter is a great time to invite someone to attend church with you. So what are you waiting for? Easter is only a few weeks away. Who will you invite this year to hear the good news that Jesus rose from the dead?

Related posts:
    • Church Holiday Two-Timers
    • Most Americans Open to Church Invitations

Online Church

A friend sent me a link to this article about online church and asked what I thought. I think online church can be great for evangelism and as a supplement to the local church, but not as a substitute for the local church. Probably the closest thing we find to online church in the Bible is in 1 Corinthians where Paul writes:

“Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present. When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 5:3-5)

Here Paul sees himself as with the church in spirit even though he is not physically present. However, this would seem to be the exception rather than the rule. Notice also that Paul is joining in spirit with a church that is actually gathering together physically.

The apostle John certainly felt that physical presence with each other was important for true fellowship:

I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete. (1 John 12)

Pastor/author John Stott wrote these rather prophetic words back in 1982:

It is difficult to imagine the world in the year A.D. 2000, by which time versatile micro-processors are likely to be as common as simple calculators are today. We should certaily welcome the fact that the silicon chip will transcend human brain-power, as the machine has transcended human muscle-power. Much less welcome will be the probable reduction of human contact as the new electronic network renders personal relationships ever less necessary. In such a dehumanized society the fellowship of the local church will become increasingly important, whose members meet one another, and talk and listen to one another in person rather than on screen. In this human context of mutual love the speaking and hearing of the Word of God is also likely to become more necessary for the preservation of our humanness, not less.
    — John Stott, I Believe in Preaching, p. 69. (HT: Luke)

Back to the article, here are a couple things that bugged me in it:

    “On one site, viewers can click on a tab during worship to accept Christ as their savior.” I don’t know that asking someone simply to raise his or her hand to accept Christ is much better, but I think we are moving in the wrong direction here.

    “[One church] buys Google ad words so that a person searching for ‘sex’ or ‘naked ladies’ sees an ad inviting them to a live worship service instead.” I’m all for reaching people for Christ, but I’m not sure how this squares with 2 Corinthians 4:2 (“We have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception”) or 1 Thessalonians 2:3 (“The appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you.”) Different contexts, but the principle of no deception still applies.

So, I don’t like the idea of virtual church replacing actual church. And I am a little leery of some of the methods being used. But I don’t want to nitpick either. “The important thing is that … Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.” (Philippians 1:18) What do you think about online church?

Further reading:
    • Is Online Church Really Church? (Mark Roberts)
    • Churches Reaching Less Than One Percent of Virtual World (MMI)

Matt Carter on Missional Small Groups

In this video Pastor Matt Carter from Austin Stone Community Church in Texas shares what they learned as a church about how to form authentic, Biblical, missional small groups. Matt planted Austin Stone Community several years back along with Christian artist Chris Tomlin, and he talks frankly about some of the mistakes they made in their first years as a church. Here is the money quote on small groups:

What we found is when we aimed simply for community, we got neither community nor mission. But when we aimed for mission, we got mission and community almost every single time.

(Video length: 16:09)


Equipping the Church (PTOM 2)

(This week and next I am sharing my Personal Theology of Ministry. Click here for more posts from the Personal Theology of Ministry series.)

The pastor is called to equip the church for ministry:

Therefore I will equip those under my care for ministry through relevant preaching, teaching and discipleship. The church is the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-31) and a loving family of believers (1 Peter 1:22). I will prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up, and so that we may all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of Christ and become mature (Ephesians 4:11-13). I will help people to discover and use their gifts for ministry. As pastor I will guard the purity and the unity of the church through Biblical teaching and loving discipline (Matthew 18:15-17; Ephesians 4:1-16).

Back to Table of Contents | Next section: Serving the Church in Love (PTOM 3)

Related post: Church Search

Atheist Sunday School

Here is another great cartoon from Dave Walker:

Atheist Sunday School | Cartoon | Dave Walker

In case you were wondering, there really is such a thing as Atheist Sunday School — see News and Notes 11/29/2007

Related posts:
    • The Dullest Blog in the World
    • After-Service Coffee

Questions and Answers about Our Upcoming Move

I know people may have some questions about our upcoming move, so I thought I would answer them here.

1. Why are you leaving your present church?

    We are moving for family reasons and to be closer to family back south.

    Are you leaving because of conflict in the church? No. Agawam Church is a wonderful, peaceable church family with little to no conflict. I would not want the news of my moving to reflect badly on the church in any way.

    Are you leaving because you were caught in some sin? Ooh, the juicy stuff. No. Although I confess sin daily, I am not being asked to step down because of some disqualifying sin in my life.

    Are you leaving because of financial reasons? No. Agawam Church of the Bible has always provided well for me and my family.

2. Where are you going?

    I wish I knew! We are focusing on Florida, Georgia and Texas, but we want to remain open to wherever God might lead us.

3. When are you planning to move?

    The “when” depends on a number of things, including the “where” in the list above! We are probably looking at a 3-6 month window before we can move. We need to find a new place of ministry, we need to sell our home, and we need to make sure there is a smooth transition for our church on this end.

4. Does your church know you are leaving?

    Yes. This is something that I have been discussing with the church elders for some time and shared with the church family several weeks ago.

5. What kind of a church are you looking for?

    I have served mostly in Baptist and independent churches. I am committed to expository preaching from God’s Word, teaching and discipleship, missions and evangelism. You can find more information about me at my Pastoral Profile page.

6. Is there anything we can do to help?

    Yes. You can help me network by passing my information on to any churches you know that may be looking for a pastor. If you are a blogger, feel free to mention our move as a point of interest and post a link to my profile. Also, please email me if you know of an open church opportunity.

    And you can pray.

          1) Pray for us as we seek the new place God has for us.
          2) Pray for a smooth transition for Agawam Church of the Bible.
          3) Pray for the new pastor God will be calling ACB’s way.

Thanks! We look forward to seeing where God would have us serve next.

Related posts:
    • Church Search
    • Big Change for the Fowler Family
    • Pastoral Profile

Big Change for the Fowler Family

I would appreciate your prayers for us at this time as we are looking at moving back south to be closer to family. We are now in our fifth year here at Agawam Church of the Bible. I am going to miss this church and all the wonderful people here, but it is time for us to go.

We are still looking for God’s next place for us, so if you know of any churches that are looking for pastors, please pass this information along. We are especially looking at Florida, Georgia, or along the Gulf Coast of Texas, but we want to go where God calls us and are seeking his will in this first.

I have put together a Pastoral Profile Page with materials for prospective churches: resume, ministry statement, statement of faith, theology of ministry, family profile, and sermon links. Click here to access the Pastoral Profile Page.

Once again, please pass this information on to any interested churches you may know. Thank you!

Related posts:
    • Church Search
    • Questions and Answers about Our Upcoming Move
    • Pastoral Profile

5 High Places for the Church Today

Kevin DeYoung just finished up a series on high places in the church today. In the Old Testament the high places represented blind spots for the kings of Israel and Judah. DeYoung writes:

Several times in Kings and Chronicles we are told that so-and-so did what was right, except…except for the high places. This little bit of pagan influence, this little capitulation to the culture was too ingrained in their thinking to be seen. Or if it was seen, it seemed too normal to think of doing anything about it.

DeYoung highlights five areas that may be high places for the church today.

  1. The lack of psalm singing in our churches
  2. Worldliness in entertainment
  3. The idolatry of youth
  4. Our lack of church discipline
  5. Prayerlessness

What do you think? Do these represent blind spots for the modern church? What other areas might be high places for the church today?

Related post: The Sin of Prayerlessness Series

Two-Thirds of Americans Plan to Attend Easter Service

According to a recent poll, nearly two-thirds of all Americans plan to attend an Easter church service this year. Maybe they will attend yours if you invite them!

Most Americans Open to Church Invitations

Most Americans say they would visit a church if invited by a family member, neighbor or a friend.

A recent study by the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and LifeWay Research found that 67 percent of Americans say a personal invitation from a family member would be effective in getting them to visit a church. A personal invitation from a friend or neighbor would effectively reach 63 percent.

Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) are willing to receive information about a local congregation or faith community from a family member, and 56 percent are willing to receive such information from a friend or neighbor.

“The primary lesson North American believers should learn from this research is that many of your unchurched friends are ready for an invitation to conversation,” said Ed Stetzer, director of LifeWay Research. “Unbelievers next door still need a simple, personal invitation to talk, to be in community and to church.”

So, what are you waiting for? Who will you invite to church this week?

After-Service Coffee

After Service Coffee
(From The Cartoon Blog)

We once did a skit at our church very similar to this as a way of reminding our people to reach out to guests on Sunday mornings. Does this cartoon remind you of your church at all? What are some ways your church tries to make guests feel welcome?

Related post: The Dullest Blog in the World

The No-Stats Basketball All-Star

I enjoyed reading this article about Houston Rockets basketball player Shane Battier. Although he doesn’t have the stats to prove it, apparently when Battier is on the court, his own team plays significantly better and the opposing team plays worse.

Here we have a basketball mystery: a player is widely regarded inside the N.B.A. as, at best, a replaceable cog in a machine driven by superstars. And yet every team he has ever played on has acquired some magical ability to win …

Battier’s game is a weird combination of obvious weaknesses and nearly invisible strengths. When he is on the court, his teammates get better, often a lot better, and his opponents get worse — often a lot worse. He may not grab huge numbers of rebounds, but he has an uncanny ability to improve his teammates’ rebounding. He doesn’t shoot much, but when he does, he takes only the most efficient shots. He also has a knack for getting the ball to teammates who are in a position to do the same, and he commits few turnovers. On defense, although he routinely guards the N.B.A.’s most prolific scorers, he significantly ­reduces their shooting percentages. At the same time he somehow improves the defensive efficiency of his teammates — probably, Morey surmises, by helping them out in all sorts of subtle ways.

“I call him Lego,” Morey says. “When he’s on the court, all the pieces start to fit together. And everything that leads to winning that you can get to through intellect instead of innate ability, Shane excels in. I’ll bet he’s in the hundredth percentile of every category.”

Battier reminds me of the many people in church situations who serve quietly behind the scenes. Because they are not up front, you may not notice them a lot; but the whole church runs more smoothly as a result of their service.