Disclaimer: Before you read this blog, please know this is not a slam on the traditional church or traditional churches. This blog is meant to help others understand and see the real need(s) in our county and society in general in a very volatile time in history.
“Come as you are!” How many times have you heard or seen that phrase in a church setting? I think we would all say PLENTY. Now…how many times have you felt the church you are attending or were visiting really meant it? If you’re like me you would have to say very little or maybe even none. In many cases I am sad to say you could probably see if the “come as you are” mentality is true within 5 minutes of being in the building and looking around. If some were truly honest their sign would read, “Come as you are as long as you leave like the rest of us and if not, come back next week and try again.” Ouch, right? Don’t get me wrong on this; obviously if folks need salvation or life change, we want them to leave changed…that not what I am referring to.
I’m referring to manmade assessments people feel they should unleash on people, for example: Come as you are as long as next Sunday you:
If you are trying to reach the unchurched and prescribing to the above list… I got news for you, you’re pushing them out the door and back into the world faster than you can say “traditionalism.” We wonder why the church is shrinking in America and we love to blame the liberal universities, the media, the government, etc. When in fact the main people we have to blame is ourselves! It is us that have devised manmade requirements for attending church. Manmade mandates on Christian music and Bible translations and traditions. At what point around the 1950s and 60s did we as Christians say…”Well… this is how the church is going to be ran and for the rest of our days we’re never going to change.” Commonly people will take Bible verses out of the context and refer to it as the “old way” or “old path.” I’m sorry but the old way in the Bible is not God’s way of saying; in order to keep my word you have to put on your suit, sing from your Baptist hymnal, use only your preferred translation Bible, while only using a set list of approved instruments when singing said hymnals. In fact, if we wanted to use that analogy we should all come to church wearing robes & sandals, beating on drums, and reading from scrolls. Just saying…it doesn’t make sense.
If any church strays from those manmade boundaries they are ridiculed and referred to as “that church.” Quite often myself and some church friends chuckle at the fact that Peace Haven has and forever (pretty much) been known as “that church.” As you know most mean that term in a negative connotation but as a Deacon of this church body I carry that term as a badge of honor. Why? Because I will proudly be a part of “that church” that God is using to:
I could go on and on with that list. That list is not to brag, it is to show that God uses Peace Haven just as much as any other church. Is a traditional church bad? No! Is a non-traditional church bad? No! AS LONG as we each prescribe to true Biblical preaching and teaching! In a world with so many unique people with different tastes in clothes, cars, music, food, etc. Why are we now choosing to limit God’s own people with only one “approved” way of doing church? If you like traditional church, go to a traditional church! If you like non-traditional church, go to a non-traditional church! It is really that simple and whether you want to believe or not, God uses BOTH!
If we (the American church) can’t come together for the greater and true cause. We ALL in the end will fail because a house divided will never stand. What I do know with 100% certainty, when the sign in front of Peace Haven Baptist Church says… “Come as you are.” We mean it!
The title throws you off, doesn’t it? It sounds a little crazy but in some circles, it is very true. We have always heard the statement, “Respect you elders!” I know that personally I have always tried to do so whether in church, the grocery checkout line, etc. I was always told by my former youth Sunday school teacher and now close friend, when you see an older member of the church stop and talk to them, shake their hand, and make them feel like a big deal. I tried to live by that advice several years and I must say it went a long way as far as building relationships with elderly church family members.
While I still live by those words we also must remember who will be running the church when others are long gone. We must use some forward thinking to determine what kind of church we will leave them. That’s where this whole concept of “Respect you…. Youngers” comes into play. We currently live in a very strange culture, so much so that I find myself now longing for the “old days” and I am only 36! We live in a culture where younger people are called by several names and are sometimes grouped together (mistakenly) into the termed “Snowflakes.” While I could type a whole other blog on true Snowflakes, I will stay far away from that. The reason I say some are mistakenly placed in to that category is because there are many young people that have a good head on their shoulders and have great ideas, passions, and talents. We should always take the knowledge young people can share and strive to use it as a tool to push the church forward! Who knows the culture better than young people, we cannot ignore this!
From my personal conversations with church going & non-church going young people I will share with you items I have been told personally as to reasons why they find church unimportant or simply why they do not attend church regularly.
I personally believe you could very easily find a correlation between the items mentioned above and the lack of giving see in church members of the younger generation. While giving is Biblical and should absolutely take place with every member of the church (and I for one could do better, I admit.) We also must understand (not agree with, but understand) that we now see a very material generation. If a young person sees a dead church OR a church that is stuck in the middle of who they want to be with no clear path forward. It is very unlikely you are going to see church growth and growth in giving in my opinion. I have always heard the statement, “It takes money to ride the train!” Okay, sounds good on the surface. One question, if I am buying a ticket for this train which one am I going to board if I want to get somewhere quick? A Tweetsie steam engine or an Amtrak? (You’re welcome Matt Sidden)
Don’t get me wrong. Are things of the past bad? Absolutely not, we must remember where we came from! But we cannot ignore the fact that if we indeed want to stay relevant in an ever changing and technological culture we are going to have to change. If we are wanting to stay relevant we will deal with situations we are not comfortable with. We will have conversations that may be tense. We will seek out the advice of the younger generation. We will empower the younger generation to get active in the life of the church! Otherwise we are only delaying an almost sure death of our churches. God bless!
What is a ministry? Is it standing in front of a big crowd proclaiming Christ? Is it something that helps out a bunch of people and gains traction by the numbers of people it helps? Or is it simply being Christ like and doing something good for people in the ever discouraging time we live? It’s all of that!
My opinion is that in today’s churches, church members simply do not get involved because the word “ministry” scares them. Why? Well, because it used to scare me as well! (If you would like to read more about that, check out my first blog.) However, I found that ministry can easily be taking things/hobbies that you love to do and using them for Christ. Whether it is food service, technology repair, sound & lighting production, web administration, drag racing, the list is almost endless! The main thing is, you can’t be scared. Don’t let your ministry opportunity scare you into not taking action. God can give you the courage to fulfill the potential he already knows you have! Think about it.
If you have a hard drive or motherboard failure just as a couple of examples: By the time a computer shop or retailer looks at your computer, diagnoses it, replaces parts, and “optimizes” your system (basically installing the operating system and drivers) you are in turn looking at a total repair cost of close to $300-$600! So what does the retailer tell you? They will try to talk to into buying a new computer. If your computer is 5 or 6 years old, I understand that…maybe. However, if you have a computer that is newer than that…what is a person to do? Especially in the economic times we see today. I am no rich (monetarily) man and my family has struggles like everyone else. The questions I just asked above concerning technology repair were same questions I asked myself and it was around that time that God basically told me, you can do something about this. You can make a difference in the lives of people in your church doing what you love! That is when I decided it was time to start up my hobby again and help people out, all by using the same mindset I had many years ago. Resolve computer problems, with no labor cost whatsoever! I know what some of you might be thinking…are you crazy!? Won’t that take time away from your family?! Well, no I’m not crazy (at least I don’t think) and actually is hasn’t taken time from my family but instead it has been one of the most rewarding and enjoyable times of my life! It has given me opportunity to answer my kid’s questions about the repairs I am making and also has led to one of the best times I had with my son as we sat down together and completely tore apart a computer and I watched him put it back together with little help from me. (Don’t worry, it was one of my own computers.)
I guess I said all of that to say this, think of things to love to do. Are there ways to use what you love to do as a ministry? If you truly contemplate this, I promise you may be very surprised (and scared at first.) But don’t be scared! You may miss out on an enjoyable moment in your life and most importantly a great opportunity to make a difference in the life of people in the name of Christ! I know that my blogs are not deeply spiritual and don’t dig deep into the Bible. However, my desire is to see individuals using their talents in exciting new ways. Talents and ways that just 5 or 10 years ago would have been never heard of or seen as untraditional. Step up to the plate, you may just drive one out of the park!
I have spent a few weeks trying and trying to decide what the resident church tech guy and media director could possibly blog about. Finally today, with the help of a question posed to me by our Pastor, we both agreed we had finally found my next blog posting. Weird how that works, huh?
In the day of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. So many opportunities have been opened for churches to get their name, events, and mission out to the local community and in the right circumstances maybe even further. Printed advertisement is always great, sometimes nothing beats the opportunity to place a flyer, business card, or post card in someone’s hand or business as a mean of being more personal. However, I personally believe any church that is truly seeking people outside of their own four walls must have both a social and printed presence!
About six months ago I guest blogged on Craig Clayton’s blog, one of the items I spoke about concerned the importance of social media incorporation in churches. I personally feel in order to get folks inside your church, you have to use all means necessary to get them in the door. That is of course unless you don’t want them there to begin with because you are afraid of “who you might get.” I hope that is not the case. We should NOT worry about “who we might get” from social advertising…if we worry about that then we are not truly doing what we are supposed to be doing in the first place. If you are truly proud of your church, DON’T be afraid to put yourself out there and let the community know who you are! Church family (members) if you are proud of what your church is doing for the Lord then “like” it, “share” it, “retweet” it! In turn, I will tell you why you should share it and like it.
After deciding to blog on this subject, I did some research on Facebook only. Did you know on average each Facebook user has 338 friends? Did you also know when you post, like, or share something on Facebook 15-35% of your friends see it depending on the time of day? Think about that, I personally have close to 900 friends on Facebook…that means anything I like, share, or post has the possibility of being seen by 315 of my friends. So what am saying by all these figures? I AM SO GLAD YOU ASKED! For the church family of PHBC I will explain how this cool!
Peace Haven currently has 480 likes on Facebook.
Looking at the title of this blog you're probably thinking, "Oh no, another random blog from someone complaining about the lack of people willing to work in the church." Actually no, it's actually far from that! I think for some that are active in the church it's really tough to remember when we all took that first step in being an active part of the church family, whether teaching a class, helping to make an important decision, or being a part of something new the church is taking part in.
Too many times a stigma has been placed on working in the church. People have a mindset of thinking you have to be a singer, teacher, a instrument player, or of course a Pastor to properly serve in the church! BUT! What if I told you God uses everyone in the church body in some way. Even if you don't feel you have a specialty, I guarantee you God knows right where you are needed. He just needs you to see it! I know this because I was there...
Most people that know me today, including our Elders and Pastor wouldn't believe it, but I used to be very shy! I can remember hiding behind my Mom and Dad's legs when strangers were around in order to avoid being talked to. This carried on into school, I didn't like having pictures taken (which I still struggle with some), and the thought of standing in front of a class would make me totally sick to my stomach! SO? How could God use a person like me? A person whose shyness was so debilitating through my whole childhood and teenage life! Well...you see...God has ways of preparing you and you will never know he's doing it! All while my shyness was keeping me from the "public eye", my Mom and Dad purchased my Brother and I our first computer when I was in 9th grade. I WAS HOOKED! The more my Brother and I fiddled and played with that PC the more we both fell in love with technology and we both realized we wanted it to be our careers.
While that was going on PHBC had began a puppet and clown ministry which I had became a part of as a puppeteer. I had became a part of it because; well, to be honest my friends were and I could hide behind a curtain and still be a part of something! Not to long after that it was determined that Peace Haven was going to implement what a lot of churches where implementing during that time. We added media into services via announcement slide shows before services, and of course Bible verses on screen during sermons. Myself and one of our Elders stepped up to the plate to handle this responsibility. Not to mention all during this time I was already handling the church's website design! Do you see a the trend here? It's all "behind the scenes" activity!
So what are you trying to say Jeremy?! Get to the point! Well first let me mention the picture above is probably how the Elders perceive me while I am working on FindPeace.today. Ha! Ha! Anyway! What I am trying to say is my story is a proof that God can take someone who thought they would never find a place working in the church and put them exactly right where they needed to be and use them to support the church body for his GLORY! I can't sing and you don't want me to try! I can't teach that great! I certainly can't play an instrument. But, I can make sure that those who sing, teach, and that our wonderful Pastor has everything they & he needs to be successful in what God is trying to accomplish in us as a FAMILY! I can also make sure that you as a part of our family or as a visitor to this site have all the information needed to know everything possible about our wonderful church! For those of you who are on the fence about what God wants you to do or be a part of...don't be afraid! Take that first step, it will be a great adventure...if YOU let it!