Category Archives: Unchurched

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?


Pastor Outraged over Song “AMEN” Threatens to Boycott!


The Rev. Jomo K. Johnson, a pastor out of Philadelphia is calling for a boycott of one of Philly’s most popular rappers, Meek Mill on his latest hit called, “Amen,” after being offended by what Johnson calls ‘blasphemous’ lyrics.
Mills thanks God for allowing him to indulge with pretty women a.k.a. ‘bitches’, free sex, money, drugs, alcohol and violence all at the same time referring to such ‘spiritual’ terms as “the Holy Ghost, church, praying to God, forgiveness, etc.

MESSAGE CLEAR. Regardless of Mill’s intention, Johnson points out that the message is clear – pray to your god and he will give you the desires of your heart: women, drugs, cars, money, boats, alcohol, etc. all the while rapping using  filthy words including the “F-word, P-word,’ etc.

It’s no wonder why Philly’s Pastor Johnson flew off his handle and wanted to ‘shut Mill down.’

SUBTLE MESSAGE. As I listened to the audio and saw the video I also heard and saw a subtle message in that Mill cares about people, that he shares his fortune and does some type of service to keep people out of jail and since he’s made it to the top, he shows that it’s important to give back.

NO RECONCILING HERE. Johnson and Mill attempted to dialog on a radio station, without success. It went south and it was clear that Mill was enraged with Pastor Johnson accusing him not only judging and singling him out, but being an opportunist in using that platform to make a name for himself.

Clearly, Mill felt justified in his music as it has opened the ‘money’ door for him to provide services to those who are less fortunate as he distributes: coats, tennis shoes, other tangibles to poor neighborhoods. He challenged Rev. Johnson, shouting repetitively “And where were you while I was doing all this?!”

MILL’S RESUME. Mill felt a need to run down his resume on how he is continually on the streets everyday with the people, helping those less fortunate, talking to the young people to help them change their ways and all of this was possible through his music.

YOU WANT SOME MONEY? Mill, during his ranting and raving also told the pastor that had he (Johnson) attempted to talk to him personally rather than on the radio, he might have agreed to come talk to his young people and may have even given his church some money.

YOU NEED JESUS! Johnson attempted (without success) to let Mill know that it was not about the money, but it was about salvation. Mills interrupted him stating that he was not listening nor did he want to hear what he had to say. Again, shouting at Johnson that while he was doing all the hands-on community service, “..where were you?!”

Why am I telling YOU this? Because it is important for US as leaders to know what the young people in church are listening to – to stay abreast to what is being fed to them every day and to know what they are attracted to.

DISPEL THE ILLUSION. In addition, we need all the help we can get raising this generation and as a body, we need to work together in dispelling the illusion that Money is the ‘fix all and is the key to true happiness.” There are a lot of people in graves today to prove that statement is false.

TWO WRONGS – RIGHT? Furthermore, I commend Mill for his outreach efforts. I believe at the core he has a good heart, but he seems convinced that the only way to make money is by way of compromising values and ethics. Two wrongs do not make a right.

I must say that the song has a great beat and potential despite its lyrics. However, the video does promote the fast and reckless lifestyle. It reminds me of the scripture: “There is a way that seems right, but in the end leads to destruction.”

It’s really too bad because Mill has a lot of talent and I do believe that if Mill could have gotten with Kirk Franklin they could have tore it up!

DISCLAIMER: This song (video too) is filled with raunchy and filthy lyrics – repeated uses of the “F-Word, reference to the woman’s anatomy and promotion of drugs for gain. Both the audio and video should be rated  “R” or even “X” just on the “F-word use alone. and both  should be labeled “Parental Discretion.”

Why I Hate Religion

This video is really profound.  It was all over the Christian Network, Christian News, Christian blogs and now I can see why.  Take a look.  It has received well over 15 million views.  I noticed that the author disabled the ‘comment’ feature. Although over 15 million people viewed this video, 260,000 liked it and 39,000 disliked it.  I wondered how many of the 39,000 people are religious…. hmmmm….

Your thoughts???  If Jesus walked the earth in human form what would he really be saying about the church? Would He be proud or disappointed?

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)

Creative Worship – How Far is too Far?

I had an opportunity to hear a pastor’s panel and debate the other day.  The topic dealt with ‘Creative Worship;’ just how far is too far?”  With the use of video, props, illustrations, secular music and the like, how do we know when we have pushed that envelope right off the table?  Beds on the stage, people in beds on the stage, cars on the stage, secular R-rated video clips shown –all to bring a relevant word – but have we gone too far?  hmmm…..

As I ponder, I think about the basics of our faith.  Jesus told us to go out, make disciples, baptize people in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and told us to teach… Invite Jesus into your heart as your Lord and Savior.

It really gets me when I see pastors who have brought five people into profession of faith in a calendar year, but complain about the ‘movers and shakers’ who are bringing in hundreds per year. 

 Their charge: 

  • They are entertainment based.  It’s like going to a concert every week.
  • Lights, camera, ACTION. 
  • They do not revere the Lord.
  • Nothing’s sacred. 
  • They have a ‘feel good ministry.’ 
  • They don’t talk about SIN. 
  • They are showy and want to be seen. 
  • They exploit their congregations.
  • They are sending their followers to hell.

    One pastor responded this way. “It seems to me that the real issue is to complain about those pastors who seem to have it going on.  At least these pastors are doing SOMETHING.  Shouldn’t we be hearing some complaints about the pastors who are doing NOTHING?”  To make matters worse these pastors are boasting in their NOTHINGNESS.

    Good point.  I personally believe we pastors respond this way because of two motivations:

    1. We are jealous that we are not seeing the results that these other pastors are seeing.
    2. We make these charges to justify us playing it safe, not raising the bar and to maintain our own comfortable way of doing things.

    "Some times to win souls, we need to push the envelope a little"

    Although I do think that there are pastors that may take things too far – especially in their sermons dealing with sexuality, I think a greater charge is to those pastors who are not going far enough.

    Surveys report that ninety (90%) of people learn better by visuals.  So pastors I implore you – Show them something!  Allow your lay ministers (deacons or staff) to help you flush out an idea or two especially if you are suffering from a sort of spiritual constipation. You have got to ‘STEP UP YOUR METAPHORICAL GAME!’

    Challenge: The next time you’re talking about Adam and Eve at least show your congregation a piece of fruit!

    The next time you are tempted to complain about a mover and shaker that seems to be producing results ask yourself first. . .

    “Could I be doing more?”

    Not Everyone Does ‘Church’ the Same

    Go Ahead and Bring it in the Sanctuary!

    Come on… tell the truth and shame the devil.  How many times have you gone to church hungry when your stomach started to growl? My stomach sometimes has  its own ‘built in microphone.’  And yes, I have been laughed at.  Those who felt sorry for me often times will go searching in their Bible bags or purses and hand me a much needed mint or a piece of chewing gum. 

    On occasion, I have been known to duck out of my own church service and I visit other churches.  One day I visited a church a few miles away from where I lived.  It was a mixed congregation.  The people seemed genuinely happy to be at church.  The atmosphere was casual and so was the dress – mostly jeans and   t-shirts.  In fact, even the pastor wore jeans with a plaid collard shirt.  He appeared to be in his 50’s and taught sitting on a stool with no pulpit really. We were handed a program with that day’s lesson highlighting bullet points he would cover along with lines for us to fill in the blanks.  He taught and the scriptures were displayed upon a screen. 

    Take 5. The interesting thing about this church was during the service the

    Coffee Break - "Be Back in 5"

     pastor said, “Why don’t we take a five minute break.  Go on out and refresh yourselves, get a cup of coffee or something else to drink; the women have prepared some tarts and other lite refreshments.  I’ll see you back here in five minutes.”  I couldn’t believe it.  I had never heard of such, but I saw some people get up and exit the back doors so I followed suit.  I got me a cup of coffee and one of those delicious tarts.  I ate the tart really fast and attempted to drink the coffee in the five minutes we were given before having to go back in service, but it was so hot.  A man spotted me and said, “You can take the coffee inside the sanctuary.”  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  I mean wasn’t their some 11th commandment that says, “Thou shall not drink coffee in the sanctuary”?  I did as I was told.  On top of everything else there were cup holders right next to where the Bible and hymnals were located How great was this?

    The Service.  I enjoyed the service.  It was great, full of life and energy.  We looked a two minute film, saw a five minute skit and just like everyone else, as the pastor spoke I filled in my empty lines with the right answers on the program. 

    If I could say there was one thing that my church exceeded in it was in the singing.  We just got it going on in that area.  But the point is – this worked for them — and the truth is it worked for me too for I have been back several times. 

    By the way, did I fail to mention that my first visit resulted in their church hand delivering me a dozen freshly baked – still warm chocolate chip cookies? They had one message, “Thank you for visiting us today, feel free to come back and visit us anytime. God Bless You.  Good bye.”  Is it any wonder that I have been back?  I am on their mailing list and am alerted to all their happenings.

    What do you think about bringing in drinks like bottle water or coffee into the sanctuary during service?  Would you be tarred and feathered?