Archive | September, 2013

Are you frustrated with outreach?

27 Sep

I am VERY frustrated about the topic of outreach. 

Each week at Faith Church we have two sermon discussions groups.  One 10 days before the sermon, with the goal of preparing, and one immediately after the sermon, with the goal of answering questions and making application.

The first one is called sermon roundtable, and I have my seminary professor to thank because it started from a class assignment.  I am deeply grateful for the people who come to sermon roundtable because I always leave with 3-4 pages of notes.  When Monday morning rolls around, the last thing I want to do emotionally is to start studying for another sermon.  Especially when the page on my laptop is blank.  So the roundtable notes are a great motivator, and because they come from a variety of voices, they always enriches my preparation.

Well…almost always.  Last week I came out of sermon roundtable very frustrated.  We were discussing the last sermon in our four part series on the mission of the church, and the topic is outreach.  It goes by many names including, evangelism, witnessing, and sharing our faith.  It sounds straightforward enough, but people have a lot of different ideas about how a church should do outreach.  Don’t get me wrong, people had a lot of great thoughts at roundtable, and I took a bunch of notes.  But there was definitely confusion and disagreement. Times have changed.  What was acceptable 50 years ago might be offensive now.

So let’s hear from you.  Are you frustrated about outreach?  How do you think a church should reach out to its community?  Does the Bible have anything to say about this?

Follow up to “If Jesus had a scorecard…”

23 Sep

We had a great sermon discussion yesterday, with lots of people sharing about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.

So let’s continue the discussion.  One of the things that concerns me is that we can get excited discussion things for an hour or so on Sunday, but then the busyness of the life creeps in and we stop thinking about how we want to grow as disciples.

Here’s a great article that might help you think more about discipleship and common misconceptions.

What do you think?


PS – If you want to view the video from the sermon, you can do so here.

If Jesus had a scorecard, he wouldn’t be counting the believers

20 Sep

Ed Stetzer recently shared the following story:

Last year, Caroline Inglis was on the verge of an historic feat. No high school golfer, male or female, had ever captured the Oregon state title four consecutive years. Inglis won the class 5A state tournament her freshman, sophomore, and junior years. There seemed very little doubt that she would win the title again as a senior.

On the course, Caroline dominated the rest of the field­—finishing with a 3-under 69, nine shots better than any other golfer. On the last hole, with victory assured, she scored her first bogey of the day. That would not have been an issue, except for the fact that her playing partner wrote down she had made a par. Caroline signed her scorecard and turned it in, believing she had just accomplished an Oregon first. In reality, she had just disqualified herself.

In golf, turning in an incorrect scorecard results in a disqualification. Because she had signed and submitted the wrong score, Caroline forfeited the win even though her actual score was still much better than anyone else. Having the wrong scorecard can make all the difference in the world.

I wonder if we, Faith Church, have been using the wrong scorecard?  What would be on Jesus’ scorecard?

If Jesus had a scorecard, he wouldn’t be counting the believers.  Our bishop, Bruce Hill, recently wrote “Jesus doesn’t want believers, he wants disciples.”  How do you feel about that statement?  What is the big deal?  Are believers and disciples really so different?  Wouldn’t Jesus be feeling pretty good about people believing in him?  What is a disciple?

In our 3rd sermon on the mission of the church, we’re going to dig into this a bit.  Feel free to post your thoughts and questions now though!

Follow up to “Instant Fellowship…in only 15 minutes a week!”

18 Sep

So is it possible to have genuine fellowship in only 15 minutes per week???

As we heard from Phil Bartelt’s sermon this past Sunday, the answer is a resounding NO!

This past June we started an 8am traditional worship service.  In the weeks following, I started hearing from people who go to the 8am service, AND from people who go to the 9:30 service, that they missed seeing each other.  This sentiment was one reason we avoided starting the additional service for many years.  We didn’t need the space; everyone could fit comfortably in our sanctuary in one service.  So we questioned, Wouldn’t a second service divide the church?  Create disunity?  Put a damper on fellowship? 

The simple answer is Yes.  You can attend the 8am service and leave the church building before most of the people arrive for the 9:30am service.  And you can come to worship at 9:30am, by which time most of the worshippers from 8am have left or are in their Sunday School class.  The two may never meet.

But does that mean fellowship has been dealt a death blow?

Not at all.  The fact that we miss people from the other service has made us realize that we need to be intentional about building relationships.  We should have had that attitude of intentionality in the first place.  We have found that having 15 minutes of fellowship gave us the false impression that we were actually connecting with one another.  It was like a shot of fellowship that inoculated us from the real thing.  Our mission statement says the fellowship is about building authentic, accountable, healthy relationships.  That’s not possible in 15 minutes per week!  Our mission statement describes relationships where people delight in being together.  If we truly miss people from the other service, then we need to be intentional about building a deep relationship with them.  Call them on the phone.  Get together for lunch or coffee.  Visit them.  Encourage them and pray for them.  Then do it again and again.  Turn that 15 minutes into an hour or two each week and watch the relationship blossom!

I urge you to ask yourself how you can apply that teaching to a relationship!

Instant Fellowship…in only 15 minutes a week!

13 Sep

At Faith Church you can get fellowship real easy and quick.  All it takes is 15 minutes a week!  Just walk into the fellowship hall on Sunday mornings after worship, and from 10:45 to 11am, you have fellowship.  There are snacks and beverages too!   Sounds great, right?

Or is there more to fellowship?

Does what happens on Sunday morning in the fellowship hall satisfy the biblical picture of fellowship?

What is fellowship?  What does it look like?

Spend a little time on Google Image search, and you’ll see images like this:

Or church names.  Or people at a meal.  Or scenes from The Fellowship of the Ring!  But what is the picture of fellowship that we should learn and practice?

In our strategic planning process we came up with this description:

Fellowship – We delight in being with one another, building authentic, accountable, healthy relationships. (John 13:34-35; 1 John 3:11-24; James 5:16)

As you get ready for our sermon and discussion on Sunday, would you take time to read these passages and think about whether or not you have fellowship in your life?

Follow up to “Do we need to stop singing in worship?”

10 Sep

This Sunday we did stop singing in worship

While our worship leader, Becka, didn’t lead us in singing songs, she did lead us in worship.

The reason is that when we hired her, we did not hire a piano player.  If all we wanted was a piano player, it would be clear that all we wanted Becka to focus on was music.  But we didn’t hire a piano player, we hired a worship leader.  We want her to focus on leading us in worship.  And there is a lot more to that than playing songs.

With that in mind, on Sunday, after the sermon, which was about worship, she led us in a great time of worship.  Very creative, practical, relational worship of God.  What did we learn from this?

Worship is not defined by music.  But it should often include music.

Worship is not the domain of paid professionals.  But paid professionals can join with the entire congregation in worship.

Worship is not just what happens in a church building for an hour on Sunday.  But that time of gathered, organized worship can launch into a life of worship throughout the rest of the week.

Worship is not a set form.  But it can be experimental, including many forms, practices, and even rituals from a variety of God-glorifying traditions, if done from a heart that says I want love the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind and strength.

Worship is not about getting filled, feeling good, and loving the show.  But it can be inspiring, encouraging, and should be very celebratory, as we come to worship with the foundational attitude of giving, serving, and sacrifice.

So what did you learn about worship?

Do we need to stop singing in worship?

6 Sep

On Sunday we start a new sermon series based on our church mission statement: Loving God, Loving People.  I bet a bajillion churches have that exact same statement, but that doesn’t worry us much.  We had a fairly long strategic planning initiative a few years ago that led us to creating that statement.  Based on Matthew 22:37-39, where Jesus says that the two greatest commands in the Old Testament are to Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and Love your neighbor as yourself, we condensed them to Loving God, Loving People.

But how do we actually do that?

We read in the Bible that there at least four primary actions that we should be involved in as we seek to love God and love people: worship, fellowship, discipleship and outreach.  So our sermon series will look at each one of these, leading up to our second annual Church Has Left The Building Sunday!

On Sunday we start with…Loving God through worship.

Have you heard the story of Matt Redman’s song “Here I Am To Worship”?  Its very interesting.  What would it feel like to stop the songs???

When we come to worship, what is our attitude?  Do we come to worship with the attitude that we are participants, that we have something to offer?  Do we come to worship expecting that what we offer will launch us into a week of worshipping with our lives?

Or is worship a time where we sit and watch the professionals do the job?  Do we feel we need to “get fed”?  And if it wasn’t a good morning, if the sound wasn’t right, if the songs were not our favorites, and the preacher was just not on, then we feel dissatisfied?

Read 1 Corinthians 14:26-33 in preparations for the sermon.  Feel free to discuss any questions you have about worship here.

This sermon will lay the groundwork not only for the rest of the series, but also for a special time of worship that we’re planning to take place in November…more on that to come!