Questions have a way of sticking in our heads. The following question has been hard to delete from my mind. Give it a listen.
"Are you one of those churches that acts like Jesus has not done anything great for you?"
"Are you a Christian who acts like Jesus has not done anything great for you?"
Let the question linger. Don't dismiss it too quickly. See what the Holy Spirit might do in you with it.
It assumes something about me or the church that I invest my life in. It assumes that I and our church are not acting like Jesus has done something great. So, it seems insulting... at first.
Have we let Jesus slip into a place of comfortability in our lives?
Have we put parameters around Jesus?
Have we invited Jesus into our agenda, plans and dreams?
Or do we let Jesus do what He wants?
Do we let Jesus be unleashed in our lives, our agenda, plans and dreams?
Do we ask Jesus to do what we want or do we humbly readjust our daily agenda around what Jesus wants?
Do we need a little reminder...
-Jesus was a blue-collar carpenter – yet He dumbfounded scholars.
-Jesus was a Jew – yet He attracted thousands of Gentiles.
-Jesus was a Rabbi – yet He served prostitutes, drunkards, lepers and the dead.
-Jesus was a Miracle Worker – yet was not a puppet.
-Jesus lived in a Male Dominated Culture – yet He recruited and befriended women.
-Jesus talked like a Royal King – yet lived like a poor pilgrim.
-Jesus was a Revolutionary – yet He paid His taxes.
When the disciples seemed to have gotten a handle on Jesus, He brings some of them to the mountain and God unzips the physical nature of Jesus and unleashes His true nature of God.
When the religious leaders, Roman soldiers and crowds think they have done away with Him by nailing Him to the cross, Jesus rises on the third day from the dead in a fully healed, scarred resurrected body.
How are you relating with Jesus these days?
Are you living too comfortably with Him?
Do you need a wake up call to the reality of who Jesus is?
Is Jesus so large in your life, that fears, worries and problems are melting away?
Is Jesus so large in your life that you cannot help but be passionate about serving others?
Is Jesus so large in your life, that you cannot help but talk about Him and tell stories about Him with anyone and everyone?
Which is more at the forefront of your mind; problems, fears and worries or the massiveness of Jesus?
Seeking a refreshment of the reality of Jesus,
How friendly are we to our guests at Southtown Church? Do visitors feel genuinely welcomed?
The average church worship gathering sees two kinds of guests: those with a church background and those with little-to-none. The first type has some expectation of what the gathering will be like. The second goes by rumors, TV shows, and, often, negative word-of-mouth. How we engage guests—especially first-time guests—can determine not only whether they will return, but also whether they will judge us as genuinely interested in them.
Here are a few dos and don’ts to make sure our attempts to welcome are actually welcoming.
1. Don’t rely on a greeting time to welcome guests.
Regardless of how effusive we are during the mid-service greeting time, it’s probably not the best way to make visitors feel welcome. This time can be viewed by visitors as members tossing a quick hello to those they do not know before turning to catch up with those they do. Guests expecting to meet regular attenders may be surprised to find that the “greet those around you” time is actually a “greet those you know” time. They end up feeling left out, not welcomed. To solve this, don't even worry about greeting those you know. If you are next to a visitor, take the entire greeting time to find out more about them and then introduce them to whoever comes up to you.
2. Do utilize a trained greeter team.
We already place greeters at the entry doors and their primary ministry is to extend a hand and a smile to break down guests’ apprehensiveness. These volunteers are the vanguard of our welcome team, so they need to also brag on kids, admire new babies, and help guests find the friend who invited them. But it is an expectation of guests to be greeted by whoever opens the door and hands them a bulletin. What will truly make the difference is to be approached by someone not in any "greeter role" capacity. Take time before church to find a new face, whether in the lobby or already seated in a pew. People don't go into the sanctuary to sit ten minutes before the service because they want to. They do it because they don't know anyone and they don't want to stand around with no one talking to them.
3. Do teach members how to welcome people.
Much of our society lives in isolation—if not physically, then relationally—and we no longer emphasize “ice breaker” conversation and small talk. Starting purposeful conversations from scratch is a challenge for many people. It isn’t innate; it must be learned. Approach people you do not know before the service starts. Introduce yourself and ask their name. (And remember it!). Then, move beyond “How ‘bout this weather?” to “Tell me about your family?” or “What brought you to this service today?” Then, find someone else to introduce them to. The more people they meet, the more important they will feel. We do not want anyone to leave our church feeling like they didn't matter. Each person is valuable and we need to make sure they feel valued at Southtown.
4. Do implement a strategic follow-up plan for guests.
At Southtown, we have an Impact Ministry team that follows up with visitors. This is done with a combination of cards, text messages, emails, and phone calls. We are in need or more people to help with this important ministry. If you want to be intentional about making visitors feel like they matter, please contact Carla in the office.
“Welcoming” is an attitude we need in our congregation and an atmosphere we need to in our Southtown culture. But “feeling welcomed” is determined in the heart of the recipient. Intentional strategies are important, but unless we truly care about the guests in our midst, the best of plans won’t make a difference.
Adapted from "6 Dos and Don'ts for Welcoming Guests" by Marty Duren, Christianity Today/Pastors
Sometimes I love to let Scripture be unleashed in my life. Let's let God's living, active Word have its way in us. Spend time reading, re-reading, mulling over this living Word.
Who believes what we’ve heard and seen? Who would have thought God’s saving power would look like this?
2-6 The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling, a scrubby plant in a parched field. There was nothing attractive about him, nothing to cause us to take a second look. He was looked down on and passed over, a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand. One look at him and people turned away. We looked down on him, thought he was scum. But the fact is, it was our pains he carried— our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us. We thought he brought it on himself, that God was punishing him for his own failures.
But it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins!
He took the punishment, and that made us whole. Through his bruises we get healed.
We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost. We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way. And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong, on him, on him.
7-9 He was beaten, he was tortured, but he didn’t say a word. Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered and like a sheep being sheared, he took it all in silence. Justice miscarried, and he was led off— and did anyone really know what was happening? He died without a thought for his own welfare, beaten bloody for the sins of my people. They buried him with the wicked, threw him in a grave with a rich man, Even though he’d never hurt a soul or said one word that wasn’t true.
10 Still, it’s what God had in mind all along, to crush him with pain. The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin so that he’d see life come from it—life, life, and more life. And God’s plan will deeply prosper through him.
11-12 Out of that terrible travail of soul, he’ll see that it’s worth it and be glad he did it. Through what he experienced, my righteous one, my servant, will make many “righteous ones,” as he himself carries the burden of their sins. Therefore I’ll reward him extravagantly— the best of everything, the highest honors— Because he looked death in the face and didn’t flinch, because he embraced the company of the lowest. He took on his own shoulders the sin of the many, he took up the cause of all the black sheep. (Message translation)
Pastor Chris Reinertson enjoys all sports, especially those involving a ball. He loves to hang out with people and challenge them to be Jesus REVolutionizers.