Weekly e-News Friday, January 23, 2015

Looking Ahead

           Sunday Worship times: 8:45 a.m., 10:00 Sunday School, 11:00 Contemporary Worship

Bible Study Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.

Bible Study Wednesday at 1:30 p.m.

Xtreme Faith youth group meets Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.

Annual Congregational Meeting will be this Sunday, January 25, with a combined worship at 10:30 a.m. that will conclude with the Annual Reports followed by a potluck meal. The suggestions for bringing food are last names beginning with: A-I salads, J-R dessert and S-Z a main dish.

There are still some calendars available to support the youth ministry with the price discounted to just $5.00 each.

            The Sermon Sunday is “E = mc 2” from Psalm 62:5-12- all our hope is in God alone; and Mark 1:14-20- Jesus calls disciples.

“And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.’” Mark 1:17.

The grass isn’t greener on the other side. It’s greener where you water it. ~Don’t neglect to water your spirit!

Around Church this Week:

Peggy Jensen was here on Saturday 10-noon for the 3rd Saturday of each month Craft Club gathering to collect ideas for projects for the months ahead. If you have any ideas, please contact her at

The Game Day on Sunday afternoon was a lot of fun with 12 who came and everyone ended up playing Bunco- even the losers were winners!

Chuckle: “The One whose throne is in heaven sits laughing. . . .” (Psalms 2:4)

One night at an economy motel, I ordered a 6:00 a.m. wake-up call.

The next morning, I awoke before 6:00, but the phone did not ring until 6:30.

“Good morning,” a young man said sheepishly. “This is your wake-up call.”

Annoyed, I let the motel worker have it.

“You were supposed to call me at 6:00 AM!” I complained. “What if I had a million-dollar deal to close this morning, and your oversight made me miss out on it?”

“Well, sir,” the desk clerk quickly replied, “if you had a million-dollar deal to close, you probably wouldn’t be staying in this motel!”

Birthdays this Week:

24 Michelle Kapaun
25 Toni Healy
25 Jessie Hoiland
26 Taylor Auringer
26 Channing Oien

Prayer Thought:

Here are a few principles of prayer that might be a blessing:

  1. The principle of ILLUMINATION. Luke 3:21-22 says, “When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as He was praying, heaven opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are My Son whom I love. With You I am well pleased.”The setting here was Jesus’ baptism and this is the first recorded example of Jesus praying, and we see in the book of Luke three results of His praying. 1) Heaven opened up. 2) The Holy Spirit came down. 3) The Father spoke.

These are three results when we make contact with God in our prayers. Symbolically, heaven opens up and we receive God’s blessing. The Holy Spirit fills our lives afresh. And the Father speaks to us. If you’d like to know the Spirit’s power in your life, if you’d like God to speak to you, you must practice the prayer life of Jesus.

  1. The principle of ISOLATION. Luke 5:16 says, “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”“Often” means it was His habit. He did it in places where He was all by Himself. I believe this is absolutely essential. We need to spend time alone with God every day. Jesus returned again and again to a lonely place. Find that place where you can get alone with God, where you can be isolated and pray aloud and let God speak to you.
  2. The principle of CONCENTRATION. Luke 6:12 says, “In those days Jesus went out on the mountainside to pray and He spent the night praying to God.”Notice it says, “He spent the night.” Some of the greatest lessons of my prayer life have been nights that I have spent in prayer. My decision to marry my wife was made in a prayer meeting all night with one other person. Sometimes when I pray it takes just a few minutes for me to get my thoughts collected. Sometimes it takes a long time for me to even get in the mood. I’ve found that it’s important to spend extended blocks of time with God so that you can concentrate on what He wants you to do and His will for your life.

             Please keep in prayer: Leona Kinsey– heart attack and a growth discovered on her pancreas; Eldora Hayes– stroke; Joyce Gries as she makes the decision for another shoulder surgery; Nicole Stoll asthma, etc.; Gerry Van Holland; Dale Klutman; For Arlene Lewis, Pete and Dolores Van Regenmorter– pray for balance, core strength and protection from falls.

Signals That Say, “You are Not Welcome in This Church” from churchpastor.com

           “You shall love (the stranger) as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Leviticus 19:34).

As a retired pastor who preaches in a different church almost every Sunday, a fun thing I get to do is study the church bulletins (or handouts or worship guides) which everyone receives on entering the building. You can learn a great deal about a church’s priorities and personality in five minutes of perusing that sheet.

As an outsider–that is, not a member or regular here–I get to see how first-timers read that material and feel something of the same thing they feel. I become the ultimate mystery shopper for churches. That is not to say that I pass along all my (ahem) insights and conclusions to pastors. Truth be told, most leaders do not welcome judgments from visitors on what they are doing and how they can do it better. So, unless asked, I keep it to myself. And put it in my blog. (smiley face goes here)

           Now, in all fairness, most churches are eager to receive newcomers and want them to feel at home and even consider joining. And the worship bulletins reflect that with announcements of after-benediction receptions to meet the pastors, the occasional luncheon for newcomers to learn about the church and get their questions answered, and free materials in the foyer. No church willingly turns its nose up at newcomers, at least none that I know of. But that is the effect of our misbehavior.

Here are some ways churches signal newcomers they are not wanted.

  1. The church bulletin gives inadequate information.

The announcement reads: “The youth will have their next meeting this week at Stacy’s house. See Shawn for directions. Team B is in charge of refreshments.”

Good luck to the young person visiting that day and hoping to break into the clique. He has no idea who Shawn is, how to get to Stacy’s house or what’s going on if he dares to attend.

So, the youth does not return. Next Sunday, he tries that church across town that is drawing in great crowds of teens. For good reason, I imagine. They act like they actually want them to come.

  1. The congregation sends its own signals.

Is visitors parking clearly marked? And when you park there, does someone greet you with a warm welcome and helpful information? Or, do you find a parking place wherever you can and receive only stares as you approach the entrance?

Did you get the impression that you were sitting in someone else’s pew today?

Did anyone make an effort to learn your name and see if you have a question? Or, was the only handshake you received given during the in-service time as announced in the bulletin? (Those, incidentally, do not count when assessing the friendliness of a congregation. Only spontaneous acts of kindness count.)

This week, a pastor and I had lunch at a diner in New Orleans which I’ve visited only once and he not at all. We were amused at some of the signs posted around the eatery. One said rather prominently, “Guests are not to stay beyond one hour.” My friend Jim laughed, “I guess they’re saying we shouldn’t dawdle.”

Churches have their own signs, although not as clear or blatant as that. Usually, they are read in the faces, smiles (or lack of one), and tone of voice of members.

  1. The insider language keeps outsiders away.

Now, I’m not one who believes we should strip all our worship service prayers and hymns and sermons of all references to sanctification, the blood, justification, atonement, and such. This is who we are.

However, when we use the terms without a word of explanation–particularly, if we do it again and again–first-timers unaccustomed to the terms feel the same way you would if you dropped in on a foreign language class mid-semester: lost.

We signal visitors that they are welcome in our services when we give occasional explanations to our terms and customs which they might find strange.

  1. No attempt is made to get information on visitors.

Now, most church bulletins which I see from week to week have the perforated tear-off which asks for all kinds of information and even gives people ways to sign up for courses or dinners. But I’ve been amazed at how many do not ask for that information.

So, a visitor comes and goes. The church had one opportunity to reach out to him or her and blew it.

A church which is successful in reaching people for Christ will use redundancy. That is, they will have multiple methods for engaging newcomers, everything from greeters in the parking lot to friendly ushers to attractive bulletins and after-service receptions.

  1. No one follows up on first-timers.

One of the ministers of my church helped me with this. He said, “Asking people to fill out a guest card implies that there will be some kind of contact with them afterwards.”

The first-timer who visits a church and does everything right has a right to expect some kind of follow-up from a leader of that congregation.

We’re frequently told that people today cherish their privacy and do not want to give their name and contact information until they decide this church is trustworthy. My response to that is: it’s true, but not universally true. Many people still want to be enthusiastically welcomed and will respond to invitations to give given the grand tour and taken to lunch afterwards.

In most cases leaders can tell from guest cards whether a visit will be welcomed. If not, at the very least a phone call should be made. If the caller receives an answering machine, he/she leaves the message and may decide this is sufficient for the first time. (Every situation is different. There are few hard and fast rules. Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you.)

  1. Intangibles often send the signals loud and clear.

In one church I served, a couple roamed before and after services in search of anyone they did not know. Lee and Dottie Andrews greeted the newcomers, engaged them in conversation, and quickly determined if an invitation to lunch would be in order. Almost every Sunday, they hosted a visiting family at the local cafeteria. At least half of these joined our church.

In another church, a husband and wife who sold real estate brought their clients to church with them. Some of the most active and faithful members who joined during my years in that church were introduced by Bob and Beth Keys.

Often, it’s nothing more than a great smile that seals the deal. Or a warm, genuinely friendly handshake.

A friendly, “Hey, have you found everything you need here?” may be all that’s needed. Individuals gifted with great smiles and servant spirits and infinite patience are ideal.

  1. What happens following the service can make the difference.

You the newcomer have enjoyed the service, you were blessed by the sermon, and you would like to greet the pastor and begin an acquaintance with this church. Most churches are set up for you to do just this. But not all.

I’ve been in churches where within 5 minutes after the benediction, the place was deserted. People were so eager to leave, they hardly spoke to one another, much less guests. The signal they send the visitor is clear: “We don’t care for our church and you wouldn’t either.”

Healthy church congregations love each other and welcome newcomers and their people are reluctant to leave following the end of services.

           One wonders if pastors and other leaders realize just how scary it can be for a person new in the city to venture into an unfamiliar church. It is an act of courage of the first dimension.

           The Lord told Israel to reach out to newcomers and welcome them. After all, they themselves knew what it was to live in a strange country where the language and customs were foreign and they were missing home. God wanted Israel to remember always how that felt so they would welcome the stranger within their gates.

How much more should a church of the Lord Jesus Christ.

           Joe McKeever says he has written dozens of books, but has published none. That refers to the 1,000+ articles on various subjects (prayer, leadership, church, pastors) that can be found on his website — joemckeever.com

 

True Story: The Guinness Record for the World’s Longest Sermon

by Michael Duduit at http://www.sermoncentral.com

A 31-year-old pastor in Mount Dora, Fla., recently set the record for the longest sermon ever preached.

Pastor Zach Zehnder of Cross Church began his quest on Fri., Nov. 7, and by Sunday had preached for 53 hours and 18 minutes. I have to assume he has no deacons at Cross Church, or they would have pulled the plug after an hour.

During the two-and-a-half day homiletical marathon, Zehnder preached through 45 of his own sermons and displayed more than 600 PowerPoint slides as he moved from Genesis to Revelation, highlighting the theme of divine faithfulness. Personally, I’d say having a church put up with a 53-hour message is a sparkling example of congregational faithfulness.

According to the Broward New Times, “To comply with Guinness World Record rules, Zehnder had to speak before a minimum of 10 people the entire time, and there had to be two independent witnesses to sign off on its validity and monitor his break times. To ensure these rules were met, church members formed groups to help out and rotated shifts, moving in and out in groups of 10. Some spectators stayed nearly as long as Pastor Zehnder. Toward the end of the event, hundreds of community members came to see him complete his speech marathon.”

The sermonic display was done as a fund-raising event to raise money for a local recovery ministry. (In my past churches, I suspect the folks would have given money to have me preach shorter, not longer.) In addition to whatever spiritual benefit may have come from the lengthy message, the record-breaking sermon raised more than $100,000 for the local charity and drew national news attention. This got me thinking: What other record-breaking attempts could be made by preachers?

The most fried chicken consumed at a church supper.

The most irrelevant stories packed into a single sermon.

The most “And finally” references included in a message before actually stopping.

The most deacons packed into a church courtyard to catch a last-minute smoke before the service begins.

The longest sermon introduction before actually beginning the body of the message.

The most points packed into a single sermon outline. (The record I’ve heard so far is 27. Trust me, you’re just as happy not having heard it yourself.)

So get ready, Guinness Book of World Records people. We preachers are just getting started.

Eternally Blessed,    

Pastor Dave Ullom <*}}}<.

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