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What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? – Luke 5:4 (NKJV)

Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it?. . .  – Luke 5:8 (NKJV)

“And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours.  It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’” – Luke 15:31-32 (NKJV)

It’s hard getting people back into church.  It is certainly no easy work. 

You can lose things along the way.  You can lose focus.  You can even lose some degree of faith.  Unfortunately, you can also lose people.
There is a way to get some people back into church.  You can get them back with some effort. 

Recover those who you lostGet men back into church.  Keep youth engaged in service and Sunday school.  Turn those hangers-on into holly rollers.

If you fail to make the effort, you can hardly expect them to return.  Make the effort.  Get people back into church.

 
Here are some simple starting points for getting them back into church:
  • Develop a Hit List:
    • Identify those who signed up and have never shown up
    • Identify those who no longer show up
    • Identify those who show up every now and then
  • Make Contact
    • E-mail the group with an appeal to return to church
    • Phone those who no longer show up or who show up every now and then
    • Schedule a home visit for those who signed up and never showed up
  • Measure Your Progress
    • Measure your contacts
      • Who
      • When
      • What resulted from the contact. . . message, conversation, etc.
    • Make connections
      • See who shows up (measure over a month or two)
      • Follow up with those who said they would but never did
Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence
of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.
– Luke 15:10 (NKJV)

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“More people are coming to Christ now than at any other time in history.” – Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Church

The church has a real responsibility.  It is revealed in the Word of God.  It is real work.  It amounts to the work of people.  People make up the church.  Therefore, the work of the church has plenty to do with the people who come into the church and are touched by the church.

The church has a responsibility to the Lord for how it handles people.  Its ultimate responsibility is to answer to the Lord and His commands of them.  It represents the Lord on this earth.  Its works shed light into the darkness of this world and offers mankind a reason to glorify God the Father in heaven.

The church is called to reach people.  We reach people with people and through people.  We do the work that touches people and impact lives on this side of heaven.

The church is called to receive people.  The Lord adds to the church.  That part is on Him, but we have a responsibility, too.  We are to serve as wise stewards over what He provides for us.  We need to handle what (and who) God gives to us in a manner that blesses God.

“Jesus commanded us to make disciples.” – Ted Haggard

“People need to feel needed.” – Myron Rush

“God has ordained the church as a place of truth.” – Bob Russell

“Ministry is a marathon.” – Rick Warren

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For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her. For John had been telling Herod, ‘It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.’ And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him.
-Mark 6:17-20 (NRSV)

Pastors have a long history of political involvement.  That is in contrast to the popular sentiment in America that tosses out the separation of church and state oftentimes during election years and controversial debates on issues like Planned Parenthood, stem cell research and gay marriage.  Regardless of the platform, pastors have a history of braving the foray of politics through political involvement.

Adam Clayton Powell stands out as a pastor who turned to a life of politics for many years.  Prior to ever campaigning for a political office, Powell spent much of his time outside of the pulpit pressuring New York’s city hall for policy changes. Powell demonstrates one manner by which pastors stood out in the political spectrum.

Jerry Falwell was involved in politics.  Falwell led an evangelical Christian movement to bring morality back into the mainstream of American life.  The Moral Majority pushed and pulled on all sorts of matters in the political arena from indecency and pornography to issues like prayer in schools.

Today’s pastors find themselves under fire when congregants and others share that they only want to hear the gospel message from the pastor.  Many will argue for pastors to stay in the pulpit and stay out of politics.

The case can be made for pastors to go beyond many of their predecessors, though.  Look at the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street.  There is an element of unrest in America today.  Jesus could view a plasma TV screen today or an iPad and look on compassionately, seeing plenty of sheep without a shepherd in this plentiful harvest. 

The fact is that we need more pastors involved in politics through advocacy and activism.  We need them to stand in the midst of the mayhem like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. took a nonviolent stance for civil rights and the poor.  We need them to push the agenda with local and national politicians.  We need them to testify the depths of disparity that exist on the streets and in our communities that extend beyond the homeless to the working poor and shrinking middle class of America.

In essence, we need more pastors who can deliver stirring words outside of the pulpit as much as we need them to handle the Word of God within the pulpit.

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But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.

– Titus 2:1-8 (ESV)

Paul shares some sincere instructions with Titus.  He urges Titus to not simply preach the Good News.  He encourages the man of God to teach what accords with sound doctrine.  In doing so, Paul also urges Titus to engage others to teach others by example.  He shares how the church is an intergenerational conglomerate of men and women of various ages who need to show each other and see each other, even their pastor, as a pattern of good works.

Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us

Let mentoring serve as part of the foundation of your ministry.  People come into the church all sorts of ways.  They accept Christ at special events or during outreach efforts.  They accept Christ as their Lord and Savior on street corners or during worship services.  People come to Jesus by the work of the Holy Spirit, but they come to understand their new life in Christ through the mentoring and discipleship provided by the church’s leadership and laity.

The Lord instructed His disciples to make disciples.  That was the basis of the Great Commission.  He did not say for them to recruit members or stand in judgment of people.  He said for the church, His body, to make disciples by teaching and admonishing new converts in what He had taught them.  That’s what happened after Pentecost.  The people continued in the doctrine of the apostles.  That means that they accepted and applied the teachings of the apostles into their own daily lives.

Let’s mentor more.  Let’s model more.  Let’s make more disciples.
“We do not consider soul winning to be accomplished by hurriedly inscribing more names upon our church-roll, in order to show a good increase at the end of the year.” – C.H. Spurgeon

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It’s Wednesday night.  You can see them coming into the sanctuary.  They have been beaten down and broken down by the business of the day.  The boss didn’t understand.  The kids aren’t listening.  The neighbors don’t care.  You’re the shepherd of the house of God and this worn-out flock.  What do you do?
Offer that lengthy sermon that God laid on your heart late last night? How about that solo that Sister Moore promised to sing once she recovered from tonsillitis? Maybe you can ask Brother Deacon to read the church’s treasury report and just ask for an offering, then send them on their way.
“Short prayers are long enough,” C.H. Spurgeon said.
That sounds right on time.  Inspire them as they sit and listen to you call on God for their sakes.  Lift their spirits with a brief calling upon the Almighty.  Share in prayer.
Don’t drag it out.  Don’t drag it on.  Just say a short prayer.
Lead into it with an anecdote or a summation of what a hectic day may have entailed for some of your congregants.  Start with a story, then say a short prayer.  Send them home lifted up by your prayer and encouraged to know that the man of God is in prayer for them, not just looking for their tithes and offerings or volunteer time.

By the way, that lengthy sermon may have been meant more for you and your own edification than a bunch of busy people who came to church in the middle of week.

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“We cannot expect people to be saved by our messages

unless we really try to instruct them by what we say to them.”

 – C.H. Spurgeon

Let’s do something different in 2012.  Let’s try to become a little more radical, even revolutionary, with how we share the Word of God with others.  I do not mean for us to get people in an uproar or upset.  I dare not mean for us to simply cause people to become rebels.  I simply implore and beseech us to revolutionize how we live out the gospel of the Lord.

Take an example from some of the modern-day revolutionaries out there:

  • John Burke: The Soul Revolution and No Perfect People Allowed are books by Burke that can help us see how to radically alter our approach to church and Christianity.
  • Brennan Manning: Author of The Ragamuffin Gospel, Manning shares that we cannot serve as self-appointed gatekeepers in this timely treasure of a grace-oriented perspective on the Christian faith.
  • Shane Claiborne: His aptly titled The Irresistible Revolution sent shock waves throughout the Christian community as he shared about the Simple Way and his personal reflections on the Word and the ways of the world in war and peace, even what we have come to accept as love.
  • Francis Chan: “Jesus asks for everything,” Chan wrote in Crazy LoveHe gives us a straight talk on what we should be in Christ and where we fall short if we do not submit to the Lord.
“Mother Theresa always said, “Calcuttas are everywhere if only we have eyes to see. Find your Calcutta.”
Shane Claiborne, The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical
 
Let’s revolutionize our ministry in 2012.  Be blessed.

 

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Doing by Being

“We cannot do until we are.”- Chuck Colson

Doing and being are not the same thing, especially when it comes to the body of Christ.  In  The Body, Chuck Colson and Ellen Vaughn share some insights on the state of the church as well as the calling of the church with support from the Scriptures and worldwide headlines.  This book and other similar works by George Barna and other Christian leaders shed light on how we are called to act and told to do as the church.

Imagine being among the believers at Ephesus as the scroll from Paul was unrolled and read for their edification.  One body. . . one faith. . . one Lord. . . one baptism. . .You had already heard the passages about being saved by grace through faith  as a gift of God.  How do you interpret Paul’s words? Imagine that you’re hearing right along with others who may have known Paul in a more personal manner or who might have heard Paul preach and reason from the Scriptures.  You truly would need to depend on each it other to make meaning of the words of the apostle and let them come to life.

As the body of Christ, we are to depend on each other as we collectively depend on the Lord.  We have a faith that unites and holds us together.  We are under the umbrella of His shed blood for us.  We just cannot go it alone in Christ. 

We need to be the body to do as the body.  Just like Colson wrote, we have be who we are called to be so that we can do as we have been called to do.

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