Let’s consider how to grow your church. If you run your business like we run most churches, it would probably be flat and dying. For the most part, churches count on word of mouth only to increase members. Let’s look at some ideas:
- Why would anyone want to come to your church? What makes it stand out different from neighboring churches? Do you have anything special to offer?
- Who do you want to reach – down and out sinners or easy care already saved Christians? Poor and needy souls or wealthy and giving independents?
- Do you really want more people or do you need more money to meet the budget?
- Young people, old people, children, families, bikers, hippies? Who do you want to attract?
Ok. How’s that going? Do you know who you want to reach?
Let’s look at some tag lines:
- “Brand new pipe organ and choir.”
- “Worship band. We’ll get you moving. Bring your earplugs.”
- “Padded Seats.”
- “Dynamic Children’s Ministry.”
- “Free Coffee.”
- “Hip Cafe.”
- “Mom’s Group and Men’s Ministry.”
- “Air Conditioned.’
- “Free Wi-fi – you can check Facebook if the sermon is boring.”
- “Plenty of off-street Parking.”
- “You can give your tithe on-line.” – you may not want to start with that one.
- “Come as you are. Shorts, ripped jeans, t-shirts are welcome. Our pastor is a slob too.”
- “We care about appearance – Dresses and Suits required.”
Try thinking out of the box. Personally, I like the padded seats and free coffee.
Next, you will need to set a budget.
- Let’s say you want to spend $100,000 a year in advertising. You are hoping to get new members that make an average of $50,000 a year and that tithe faithfully. You will need 20 new members a year to pay for the advertising. You don’t want to hurt your ministry projects so you really need to get that money flowing. It kind of cuts out the down and outers though.
- Will you advertise on TV? Newspaper?
Last of all. Will you hire an agent who builds a campaign or do it in house?
This is a lot to think about. How will you sell your church?
And the gospel must first be preached to all nations.
You live 5,000 years ago. You look around and see a land that is relatively flat. Yes, there are hills and valleys but from your perspective the world is flat. There would be no other reason to think differently.
Someone knocks on your door and says, “My friend, the world is round.” You argue with him and point out the land is flat. It is obvious. No one could live on a ball. He responds, “Stop looking at the land around you. Look at the moon. It is round. Look at the sun. It is round. If they are round then so is our world.” You shut the door in his face and walk away.
Before we had proof that the world was round, you would have had to take a huge step of faith (vision) to imagine that the world was not flat.
If you are trying to see God based on the people sitting in church, you will probably shut the door to anyone who comes knocking. If you try to see God through established religion, you will probably turn up your TV so you don’t hear them knocking.
If you want to see God for the first time, you will need to be willing to accept the idea and then take a HUGE step of faith to understand. Forget the step. You’re looking at a huge leap. When you land, you will still have a million questions. All of us do.
Let’s go back to the world. Do you totally understand gravity? Do you understand why people in the southern hemisphere don’t feel like they are upside down? Do you understand why magma is hot in the core and bubbles up sometimes? Do you want me to go on? Believing that the world is round is only the beginning. But it is the beginning.
Don’t make the mistake of slamming your door to God before you take that leap beyond what you see every day. Don’t filter Him out because you don’t understand everything. If you could fully understand God, He wouldn’t be God.
Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.
Try speaking in tongues to Siri. You won’t get very far. Siri can’t interpret tongues and most of us people can’t either. Wouldn’t it be great if you could ask Siri to translate what God wants us to do? Don’t be surprised if your friends are not any better. Look at Job. He might have been better off talking to Siri than to his friends.
Prayer is not just talking to God. We also need to decipher what He is saying. Don’t be deceived. The Bible is full of examples of deceit and misdirection. It is also full of people who claimed to speak for God when they are only speaking their demands in His name.
Look out when people loudly proclaim, “God told us to……” I may follow that person but there better be substance behind it. In other words, they get one chance. If they are wrong once I will probably not listen again. I will also not listen if it goes off the instruction in the Bible.
Be careful out there. There are no simple answers.
1 Corinthians 14:28
If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and to God.
This is a shocking idea and one that will make you realize that God’s job is above your pay scale. I picked up the idea last week in a news comment online. If you ever want to read putrid hate from people, read the online comments to any news article.
Here is the scenario: 1) A man has given his life to Jesus and has followed the guidelines for eternal salvation. 2) Same man has sexual issues (you pick it – there are plenty). 3) Same man rapes a woman. 3) Woman has no relationship with God. Has never given her life to Jesus. She doesn’t forgive the man who raped her. Hates him for the rest of her life. 4) Both man and woman die on the same day and stand at judgment together. They recognize each other. Man asks for forgiveness for what he has done. Woman refuses to forgive and spats hatred at him for what he did.
God walks up to the judgment stand. 1) The man has clearly sinned but he has confessed and repented and has given his life to Jesus. 2) The woman has not confessed or repented to anything and has not given her life to Jesus. She clearly has not forgiven the man for what he did.
Looking at this scenario strictly from Biblical outlines, the man will walk into heaven and the woman will walk into hell. True or false? If you don’t like this scenario, pick another – How about the guards in the concentration camps during WW2? How about the settlers and the Native Americans?
My pay scale of administering justice is very far from even imagining this. How about you?
You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.
The latest attack on Christians (from the media and Hollywood) is Jim Carrey posting an unattractive portrait of Sarah Huckabee Sanders with a tagline “This is the portrait of a so-called Christian whose only purpose in life is to lie for the wicked. Monstrous!” There have been a lot of comments on this from both sides of the aisle so I’ll add my two cents.
I know that Christians will be persecuted and mocked. No argument there. It says it in the Bible. None of us signed up to follow Jesus in order to make friends with the world. I am not offended that believers are mocked or misunderstood. But, our society has moved into this inclusive, love and accept everybody, don’t bully mentality. Everyone is going out of their way to accept everybody and there is no tolerance for exclusion…unless you’re a Christian. If you claim to follow Jesus, you still have a target on your forehead. Mike Pence – he is crazy according to The View. Sarah Huckabee is Monstrous. Christians in the media have always been portrayed as hicks, stupid, and ignorant people. What did Barack Obama say? We cling to our Bibles and guns?
Laugh all you want. Take away my business. Close down my free speech. Throw me in jail.
Just remember that you are not being inclusive when you remove a board member for their beliefs – even when you disagree. You are not accepting when you only accept your side. You are not loving everyone when you alienate one group. You are narrowing down the playing field and you are bullying. You are discriminating and it hurts.
It’s a joke you say. It’s funny. It’s comedy. Look at the rules. It’s not funny anymore. I love a good comedy but not when it’s cloaked in hatred.
“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.
Please read this statement:
“Now, many in Nashville are hoping the controversy will lead country music to re-evaluate. “My hope is that this genre will always be moved to act based on love and inclusion,” says Pastorek, “and although it wasn’t easy, today feels like a big step in a positive direction.”
This is a paragraph from an article (noted below) where artists and record companies forced Mike Huckabee off a charity board. Forced. Because they didn’t approve of his lifestyle and beliefs. Forced. They don’t love him. Forced. They don’t include him. Forced. They aren’t open to his thinking. Forced. They want to be based in love.
If I don’t agree with someone’s lifestyle I am a hater. Evil. Stupid. But if they don’t agree with me they are inclusive, free, loving, open, progressive.
Be careful what you are banning folks. Eat some cake.
9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
Pick up a thriller novel or watch a thriller movie. In most, the hero and villain are developed throughout the first 300 pages and the suspense builds. Around page 300 the hero realizes who the villain is, and alas the villain takes the hero captive. This is where fiction and real life begin to separate.
In real life, the villain pulls a weapon and immediately kills the hero. In fiction the villain takes the hero hostage and develops a ‘mousetrap’ game of slow death – a good one I remember as a kid – the hero hanging upside down over a boiling pot of oil while a candle slowly burns the rope overhead. While the suspense of this is happening, the villain runs off and leaves the hero unattended to fall into the boiling vat. But… just before the last thread of the rope is burned the hero finds escape! The hero is energized by this miraculous rescue, pursues the villain and eliminates him.
The question always comes to my mind: Why? Why would a villain risk all of his plans when he had the hero at his mercy and could have walked away to destroy the earth or steal 500 billion dollars? The short answer is he wouldn’t. But if that happened there would be no book or movie.
In real life, there are no mysterious mousetraps. We are taken out or we take out. We don’t waste time and risk defeat to come up with a glorious plot to end our nemesis. There are rarely heroes that come to the rescue at the last minute. Look at a different venue, when was the last time you saw a community come to the rescue of someone accused of robbing the savings and loan as they do in “It’s a Wonderful Life”? Nice story but doubtful no matter how nice the banker is. The community would sit at home and talk about switching to another bank.
We hope for heroes. We hope for salvation. We hope for a young David to come out and kill Goliath.
The Hebrews were hoping for that with Jesus. They were hoping for a hero. They were hoping for a miraculous turn of events just as the last thread of rope was about to burn. People bet on it. Judas lost his life betting on the hero saga. Peter cut off a guards ear. Women and men cried. Their hopes were shattered. What went wrong?
I said that in real life the book or movie wouldn’t be written if the hero died. This was one case where the book (and movie) were still written even though the hero died. The Hebrews didn’t get the salvation that they wanted but a few pages after pages 300 we all learn that we received the salvation that we needed. That’s why the book was written and the movie continues. Read the book until the end and see how it all ends!
Matthew 28:5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.
I am working on my novel titled ‘Healing’. The character is faced with the challenge of praying for an amputee to be healed and for his leg to be restored. Just writing the text challenges me. I find it difficult to even write the chapter – in fiction. Why? Do I not have the faith that God can restore a lost limb? I believe in resurrection of the dead. Why do I struggle to believe that a lost limb can grow back? Is it that it is too freakish to imagine?
Consider where you limit God. Can He heal? Can He restore? What part of your life do you lack in faith for God to restore? Lay it out before Him. Remember that little mustard seed.
Matthew 17:20 He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
I listen to music at my desk while I work (I love Spotify!). I have the old fashioned speakers that plug into my computer. They have a separate power button and volume control and since I’m cheap I turn the power off to them each night to save a penny.
There have been several times that I start Spotify and no music comes out. I immediately get angry and I’m tempted to throw the speakers across the room. Seconds before I go ballistic the speakers are saved because I realize that I didn’t turn on the power button. It was not the components fault for not producing sound – it was my fault for not enabling them to do their job.
How often do we do that to God? We get angry because He doesn’t speak to us when it really is our fault that we are not tuning in. Before you get mad at God for being silent, make sure everything is turned on and that you are listening.
Psalm 81:8 Hear me, my people, and I will warn you— if you would only listen to me.
Let’s talk about change. I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s – that’s 1960’s and 1970’s for those of you born after 2000! We had a battle in the church during that time over Rock music. We actually had sermons and books written about it. If you haven’t heard, it’s from the devil himself. Some of the classic reasons were 1) evil lyrics 2) the beat – many called it syncopation 3) lifestyles of the musicians 4) It was bad and loud and it was leading kids to dance, sex and drugs. I clearly remember attending meetings at Youth For Christ which defamed any kind of Rock music and following the meetings we were supposed to go home and burn our vinyl albums.
One of the most popular songs of that era was ‘Stairway to Heaven’ by Led Zeppelin. If you don’t know all the evilness of this song, please google it. There is enough written about it to keep you busy for the weekend. I never bought into all the negative hype on Rock music. Of course there is bad stuff in it but there is bad stuff in everything.
Advance to 2011. Seeker churches are the ‘in thing’: Everyone dresses down in casual clothes, talented musicians play contemporary music, open auditoriums and chairs instead of pews, simple messages of hope and grace. Hey, if it is bringing people into the Kingdom I’m all for it. Don’t tell anyone but one of these churches played the above mentioned songs in church! What would Bob Larson say?!!
There is an irony of course. I’m not sure what those speakers in the 60’s and 70’s would think about playing this music in church. If it is truly Satanic is it still Satanic if Christians are singing it in church? What about that syncopated beat? Drums? I doubt that these performers are old enough to remember those lectures. They probably never burned their vinyl records or played them backwards to hear the hidden messages.
Sins come and go. God stays the same. We all need to get closer to Him. Don’t worry about the irony – just keep walking closer each day. Don’t build idols. Don’t follow anything that leads you astray. God is bigger than Rock music. I’m not sure about Country music but I know He can win the battle over the stairway to heaven.
John 9:16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.”