Category Archives: Evangelism

Me . . Left Behind?


I love Sci-Fi movies.  Some of my all time favorites include anything Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, Jaws & Jurassic Park I, II, III, IV, the Matrix, Alien -you get my point. Well when I found a single DVD with 10 Sci-Fi movies on it for only $4.99, I thought I have hit the “Jack Pot!”

One movie I watched really got me thinking.  It was called, “Apocalypse.”  I sat back in my comfy lounge chair with the foot rest up and awaited Bruce Willis and Billy Bob Thornton, but soon remembered that movie was called, “Armageddon.”

Although I did not know these actors; there was a similarity between both movies  in that they both dealt with an  unwelcome guest – an asteroid that threatened the existence of man.

It was an ordinary day.  People were busy doing what they do when a small asteroid hit and destroyed an entire city throwing an entire population in a panic.  The movie centered around a mother and father’s quest to find their teenage daughter who was in another state before the next ‘giant’ asteroid headed to destroy earth.

To my surprise this movie was a film about faith, guilt, courage, rejection and  acceptance.  Honestly, I don’t know how this movie was squeezed in among all the others but to my enjoyment, I was glad it was.

In the midst of coping with the aftermath of the first asteroid decent which set off additional tremors, quakes, tsunamis, tornadoes and the mysterious disappearance of people, while on their adventurous journey, the mother attempts to witness  to her husband about faith and about the rapture.

REJECTION IN SPITE OF EVIDENCE. Like many others, the father vehemently dismisses and rejects her claims and desperately searches for an intellectual and reasonable explanation for the tragic events.

There was a point in the story where some one said, “Well, if you’re a Christian why weren’t you taken up?”  A response went something similar to this ” . . .God had taken up the ‘true’ believers.”

DO I MEASURE UP BY GOD’S STANDARDS? Wow! What a statement, ‘He took up ‘true’ believers.’ It left me thinking.  By man’s judgment, I am thought to be a ‘true’ Christian, but what about ‘God’s’ judgment?  Does He? hmm…..

PERSONALLY PONDERING. I have been reflecting ever since.  How is my relationship with God and His Son Jesus? Am I doing all I can? Is my worship for real? Is God really pleased with me or at this present state – would I be taken up or would I be left behind? hmm…..

PASTORS LEFT BEHIND? This movie was also very similar to the Christian movie, “Left Behind” starring Kirk Cameron.

What sayeth you that in this movie some pastors were originally left behind?

Just Because You Built it, They Won’t Come


For those of us who are into marketing, we know all too well that advertisers use any ‘day’ to draw people into their stores. It is very common to see them offering outstanding products at a discount as a result of a: Mother’s Day sale, Father’s Day sale, Christmas Day Sale, Labor Day Sale, Black Friday Sale, Spring Sale, New Year’s Day sale and so on… Why do they do this? Answer: Because it gets the people in the door. If we can get them through the door, we can get them to buy our stuff. It’s not complicated; it’s simple AND it works!

Everyone is doing it – staying ahead, but the church. The church contends that it doesn’t take all that. We are stuck in the ‘Build it and they will come’ phase. We can look forward to the same ole programs, the same type of music, the same style of preaching even on days we call, the C.M.E.days – Christmas, Mother’s Day and Easter. The same people come back year after year and say to themselves, “Yep, things haven’t changed since the last time I was here.” And away they go until the next year.

This year we did something special for Mother’s Day. We read a beautiful poem, followed by a hilarious job description for mothers; we saw a 2 minute film clip on the sacrifice of Ray Charles’s mother and followed it up with a beautiful gift given to each mother, grandmother, surrogate mother or any motherly types. It was a hit!! This of course was followed by great music and sermon relative to mothers. It was such a hit that the Fathers said to me “I sure hope you have something planned for us.”

We heard them and so we went off to find something for them too. Here’s what we did. We read a piece, “The Top 10 Things You Would Never Hear a Dad Say.” This was hilarious. We followed this up by running a clip entitled, “Dad’s Life.” As far as a gift was concerned, we wrapped up a bottle of Dad’s Root Beer with colorful paper, with decorative cloth ribbon we tied the Top 10 list rolled up and lastly we put each bottle in a see through plastic bag. This was a hit!! To top off things the music was hittin and stickin like Popeye’s chicken and the pastor’s sermon was about Samson’s dad.

Here’s the point if you want more than you getting, you gotta be willing to do more than your doing. Churches that are growing have caught onto more creative planning for that one or two hour Sunday morning service. In fact, they have moved beyond just preparing for C.M.E. days to making every Sunday the ‘best’ it can be.

Evaluate your service honestly next Sunday and ask yourself was this the ‘best’ I could have done.

Doing Church Differently – Don’t Forget to Evangelize!


CREATIVE WORSHIP. This blog is about creative worship.  I had a discussion with my neighbor’s mom about ‘church stuff.’  She belongs to a Lutheran church.  She told me that their church was small and that she couldn’t remember seeing a new member in a long time.  In fact, she admitted mostly the attenders were about her age (60’s) and they were dying off.  Three years ago they introduced drums, guitars and tambourines to their worship and that this was met with extreme opposition.  Their only form of music was their pipe organ. However, some of those who resisted now love it and some sing in the group.

DO CHURCH DIFFERENTLY.   We are in a time where people are leaving the church. With the example above, just how long do you think they have to exist  – – maximum 20 years???  We have got to start introducing some new ways of presenting the Gospel to people.  My thing has always been to start with  “Getting the People Exposed!”  The Message is to remain the same, but the method in presenting can change.

I went with my daughter to a “7-Last Words” Service in Baltimore, MD last evening.  This was NO ordinary service.  No ordinary sermon preached Word. They reenacted Jesus’ last sayings by ministering through movement – dance.   The invocation was spoken behind the scenes while a young very skillful man mimed the spoken Word while  music played in the background.  They also used some secular music to assist congregation with learning about each of the seven last sayings of Jesus.  Another observation was that some of the women were ‘PLUS’ size women.  They moved with grace and power and were as effective if not more effective than some of the slim lined women.  The entire service was absolutely awesome.  All I could say was, “My God!”  Of course some things have to be experienced!

WHAT’S THE POINT? The point is we need more creativity in the church.  I taught dance for years and have sat at countless recitals and services some good and some not so good.  As a teacher my patience wears thin when I see repetitive movements, someone fixing their hair or clothes during a routine, no expressions just going through the motions, no energy and this gets on my nerves the most – seeing someone dance when they don’t know the routine and they have to keep stealing glances at those who do know the routine.

I thought I had seen pretty much all there was to see in terms of dances, but this experience demonstrated for me that God is still birthing creative things through His people.  I cried, I laughed, I rejoiced and when I came out I was exhausted – – not in a bad way.

DON’T FORGET TO EVANGELIZE!  My only concern about the whole service was that it was not really evangelistic in nature.  The attendees were church members of that church or from other churches.  I would like to see it done again and have the church members invite friends and the unchurched in so that they could respond to the call of salvation.

Here were some observations that I believe sets THIS dance ministry a part from ordinary dance ministries:

1. Use of props and appropriate attire

2. Skilled dancers: technically and spiritually.  (Not professional) Some times we have people dancing and it is clearly not their thing. This was their ministry.  They knew their stuff.  No one looking at the other to get movement clues.

3. Dancers were passionate, used facial gesturing: sad, glad, mad, happy, etc.

4. Dancers engaged and ministered to the congregation

5.  Dancers use movement to convey message.  These dancers had technical skills, but did not bore us with displaying their technical ability, but spoke with their movements

Church Visitor Types


Pastor Ron Edmonson, wrote an article entitled, “ Embrace the 5 Types of Church Visitors.”  He made a point to mention that all visitors are NOT the same and they visit our churches with different motivations.

Take a look at the different types of visitors . . .

#1 Testers – These visitors are just looking around…perhaps for a new church…perhaps because they are dissatisfied where they currently attend church. They may feel they are not growing at their current church, or they aren’t completely satisfied with the leadership, the programs, etc.

#2 Pleasers – These visitors are usually coming to appease someone who asked them. They have less interest in attending church than they have in satisfying the request of a spouse or friend.

#3 Seekers– These are people who know they are missing something in life but aren’t sure what it is. Church may simply be another option, or it may be the only option, but these are the true unchurched.

#4 Jumpers – These visitors seldom stay long at one church. They get upset at something the church does or they simply grow bored.

#5 Investors – These visitors may be new to your community or have experienced some major issue.  However these visitors are looking for a new long-term home.

I would like to add that a #6 to this list is the Special Occasioners – Theses are visitors who come on special occasions like: funerals, marriages, confirmations, baptisms, plays, dances and of course, although it might go without having to be said, the C.M.E. visitors – Christmas, Mother’s Day and Easter.

Why is it a value to you as pastors to understand the different types of visitors?  The simple answer is to inform you that not everyone has the same motivation for visiting your church. This gives us some insight to the psyche of people; it also helps us to not take things so personal.  The other point to make here is that most of these visitor types have visited your church on their own account as compared to them responding to your church wide evangelistic effort.

I believe, we pastors need to help make every visit regardless of visitor type a welcoming and memorable experience.  In other words if the visitors remembers and values nothing else, they will value your hospitality in the way you made them feel welcomed.

Other articles of Interest . . .

Hospitality: Making Visitors Feel Welcome (Focus: Gifts)
Hospitality: 7 Ways to Close the Back Door
Hospitality: How to Recognize Your Visitors (Focus: What to Say)
Hospitality: How to Make a GREAT 1st Impression
Hospitality: How to Make the Most Out of Your C.M.E. Visitors (Christmas, Mother’s Day & Easter Visitors)

Atheist Ads: Don’t Need God – Can Still Live Good


 

Can you believe this?  Metropolitan buses with the message you don’t need God.  I must admit I did hear about this in Europe some time ago. I found it disturbing but the truth is I dismissed it – probably because it was over there.  Then a guest pastor who recently came to our church brought the subject up again .  He told us that he had seen an advertisement on one of the MTA buses that highly offended him. He began to set it up. This ad had no reference to sex, no reference to drugs or even alcohol; there also was no profanity or violence. We sat and listened, then what offended you so? Then he let the cat out of the bag and said he saw a photograph of a woman hugging on her child with a caption that read, “You don’t need God – to hope, to care, to love, to live.”  The sentiments of the congregation was utter DISBELIEF. 

The pastor began to tell us that there is a humanist group  that has launched an ad campaign, declaring that atheists and the nonreligious can live good, meaningful lives without God. 

The campaign is sponsored by the Center for Inquiry, an Amherst, N.Y.-based organization whose mission is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values.  I went online only to find out that they are also targeting African Americans and ex-Muslims particularly – GO FIGURE! 

Their Motivation:  The president Ronald A. Lindsay said the ads are aimed at dispelling some myths about the nonreligious. “One common myth is that the nonreligious lead empty, meaningless, selfish, self-centered lives. This is not only false, it’s ridiculous,” he said in a statement. “Unfortunately, all too many people accept this myth because that’s what they hear about nonbelievers.”  He further asserts that  people can find meaning in a life that is human-centered, and that reliance on the supernatural is unnecessary.

Another myth that the group is looking to dispel – that the nonreligious are immoral, or at least that they can’t be relied upon to be as good as those with religious beliefs.

Washington D.C. currently has 15 of their Metro buses promoting these ads.  Indianapolis and Houston are also publicizing these ads.

Okay so here is the question –

What does this tell you about the TIMES we are in?  What is the responsibility of the church?  What role should we be playing in saving the lost?   Any other comments?

Church Easter Ad – BANNED! Too Much Jesus


Here we go again – you can say the ‘F’-word, you can dress like a common street whore, you can promote wild sex orgies, drunkenness and drug binges and violence at any extreme, BUT I Double DOG Dare  you to say, “JESUS.”

I MEAN NO HARM TO YOU REALLY, BUT IF THIS VIDEO OFFENDS YOU – YOU NEED TO BE OFFENDED!

IF THE OFFENSE GETS YOU INTO HEAVEN
THEN EVERYBODY WINS!

Compass Bible Church in Aliso Viejo, Calif., created a 30-second ad to air for three weeks on 45 movie screens across Orange County starting April 1 to promote their Easter Service.  They paid more than $5,000 for their ad just like any other business would pay for an ad.  When the agency for the national theater learned of this ad, they were worried that their movie goers might get offended.   As a result, they banned the ad as it was and tried to get the church to edit the commercial taking JESUS’ Name out of the ad, stating then they would run it. The church REFUSED!  holding firm that, Easter is our most Holiest time of the year.”

 If that weren’t enough, the agency suggested they run the ad with the event basics: What, Date, Time & Location and throw in some ‘Fun bunny and eggs.’  How patronizing is that!?  And you still want me to give you $5,000+ for the ad? I would like to tell you what you can do with your bunny and your eggs!  Okay, let me calm down for a moment and think this through logically.  The Bible does tell us to be as wise as a serpent and innocent as a dove.  That being said, it’s good to know that negative publicity can be just as effective in promoting programs as positive publicity in some cases – like this one.  The church got free publicity from: the media, newsprint, local and national news, the Internet, my blog, my Facebook AND it did not cost them one copper coin!  Hallelujah!  We still win.

EVANGELISM: Pastors, this church took time to invest into the kingdom.  They reserved $5,000+ to promote heavily their Easter program.  They took the time to come up with a topic that would be sure to get people’s interest – Conspiracy Theory – ‘Just what did happen to Jesus’ Body?’  hmmm…  This whole project was carefully thought out, planned and executed – making sure it wasn’t just another Easter Service.  Even though they couldn’t have predicted that things would have ended up this way; I believe they will enjoy much success and people will be drawn to Jesus making Him the Lord of their lives. 

Isn’t this the Great Commission – and really what it is all about WINNING SOULS?

When was the last time you took time to really invest in an evangelism project?  When were you ever willing to pull out all the stops to ensure a great service?

6 MegaThemes Of Churches in 2010 – Barna Group (Church Trends)


The Barna Research Group did a research project resulting in finding 6 patterns developing in the church in 2010. I think it is important for pastors to keep up on trends that affect our churches. This will help us in our planning efforts to meet the needs of the church.

1. Less theologically literate – this means that we have wandered from the basics of our faith and have become biblically illiterate. The report indicated that our young people, although they recognize that Easter is a Holy holiday, they do not associate it with the resurrection of Jesus. What the ….??? Every Christian should know facts about the Birth, Death & Resurrection. Without the Resurrection, there is no Christianity.

2. Grown more ingrown and less outreach-oriented – People are not impressed with the contributions of the average church. Less people are inviting people to their churches even on high recruitment Sundays like Easter. The report even states that many people are becoming Christians as a result of personal crisis or fear of death; not because people are inviting them. Pastors, if people are not happy with their individual churches, they will not invite others to attend. I know of many churches where the members are very happy and satisfied and as a result they are all about evangelizing.

3. More people less interested in spiritual principles and more interest in learning realistic solutions for life. People are more interested in education, friendship, comfort, success and personal achievement than their faith walk. In fact, many consider survival in the present much more significant than eternal life. This is not surprising to me. I think the church needs to demonstrate realistic solutions for life which can be found in the application of spiritual principles. The church needs to do a better job in illustrating that the Bible is relevant.

4. Increased interest in community service activities. The more that churches and believers can be recognized as people doing good deeds out of genuine love and compassion, the more appealing the Christian life will be to those who are on the sidelines watching.

5. Increased tolerance. Our biblical illiteracy and lack of spiritual confidence has caused Americans to avoid making discerning choices for fear of being labeled judgmental. The result is a Church that has become tolerant of a vast group of immoral behaviors. CHALLENGE: There is a place for tolerance in Christianity; knowing when and where to draw the line appears to perplex a growing proportion of Christians in this age of tolerance.

6. The influence of Christianity on culture and individual lives is largely invisible. Christianity has arguably added more value to American culture than any other religion, philosophy, ideology or community. Yet, contemporary Americans don’t really believe this. Partly due to the nature of today’s media, they have no problem identifying the faults of the churches and Christian people. The most influential aspect of Christianity in America is how believers do–or do not–implement their faith in public and private. Bad news about a thing always spread faster, deeper and wider than good news about a thing.

To read this article in its entirety, click here.