We’ve got some great articles for you to check out this week in Church Leader Insight’s. Enjoy!
WHAT WORKING IN CHRISTIAN RETAIL TAUGHT ME ABOUT ENGAGING THE INQUISITIVE
For more than 16 years, I served in some capacity as an employee of LifeWay Christian Stores. Because of this, I regularly engaged with people who are dabbling with the idea of church.
These bookstore visitors range from quilting-bee grandmothers to rough-and-tumble bikers.
While each guest may look different on the outside, I find they often ask similar questions. These questions reveal four types of people who may be future guests at your church.
1. The “How-To” Fixers
These individuals sense something in their life is broken. Maybe it’s a marriage on the rocks, kids living in rebellion, or credit-card debt that’s breathing down their neck.
Regardless of the need, these people are often attracted to the church (or a Christian retailer) in search of a quick how-to fix for their problem.
As Christians, we know everyone’s greatest need is the righteousness of God and the forgiveness of sins offered through Jesus’ gospel.
We extend empathy toward the pressing needs that drive guests to our doors. At the same time, we must explain how only Christ can satisfy one’s deepest longings.
We serve these guests by being honest about our own sinfulness. We can do this through public and regular confession of sin, which is especially effective in an intimate small group setting.
Once a church sets the backdrop of humility, the light of the gospel can shine on those who are driven to God’s people by a spirit of brokenness.
2. The Spectacle Seekers
Spectacle seekers peek at the church hungry for a show. These folks might walk into a Christian establishment because they heard of a new “Bible code” for predicting end-time events.
Small church pastors want to hear and use the best ideas, advice, wisdom and counsel we can find.
So we look for it everywhere. From books, blogs, podcasts, conferences, mentors and more.
But many of my fellow small church pastors have stopped looking and asking for help.
It’s not because we don’t want or need the help. It’s that we’ve grown weary of hearing advice that’s offered with the best intentions, but is more hurtful than helpful.
If you’re in a position to speak, write or counsel small church pastors, here are 5 things small church pastors regularly hear that you should reconsider.
1. “Here’s what you’re doing wrong.”
These blog posts are everywhere!
Most of the writers and speakers come from a good place. They truly want to help. And they often have some very good ideas.
But such lists are often based on two faulty assumptions. First, that a small church must be doing something wrong simply because they’re not growing numerically. Second, that the blogger, author or speaker knows the church’s situation well enough to know what’s wrong with it.
It’s not that small church pastors don’t want to know what we’re doing wrong. We do. And blog posts that help us correct our errors have their place. You’re reading one now, after all.
The practice of rest is an elusive one in our culture. We, as a culture, have built in periods of rest like weekends, have unionized and collectively bargained our way into paid vacations and medical leave acts, and have erected monuments in the form of theme parks that pay tribute to the family vacation.
Despite these things, though, most of us are overrun, overstressed, and underrested. Time is a precious commodity; one which we can’t seem to really get a handle on despite our best efforts. You can blame it on all kinds of things:
- Blame it on technology because we can now, at any moment, be connected to work responsibilities that we previously had to leave at the office.
- Blame it on social media because it makes us seem busier than we really are because of the amount of time we spend on it.
- Blame it on societal pressure that tells us that in order to have fully developed and well-rounded children they simply must participate in any and all activities available.
All of these things might be true, but they are only true symptoms of greater obstacles. To get at the heart of what’s keeping us from true rest, we must first understand what true rest is.
In what follows is a bit of a Wright-Bird fusion on the Gospel of John.
John is clearly a unique voice in the New Testament, a distinctive witness to Jesus, rooted in a particular mode of testimony, and the book breathes its own special theological atmosphere. We know how John is different, the question is why, why has John told the Jesus story this way? What did John think he was doing?
First, John was writing a new Genesis. His whole book is about how the world’s Creator has come at last to remake that world: John 20 is about Jesus’s resurrection, but every sentence breathes the life of ‘the first day of the week,’ the start of new creation.
But if John’s Prologue is a new Genesis 1, then the equivalent of the climax of that great chapter, the creation of humans in the divine image, is precisely the Word becoming flesh. Jn 1.14 corresponds to Gen 1.26–28: the one through whom the world was made now becoming the one through whom the world is rescued and remade. This theme runs throughout the Gospel, reaching its own climax in Jn 19.5 when Pilate declares ‘Here’s the man!’
Second, John was also writing a new Exodus. Moses led the people out of Egypt and gave them the Torah, to prepare them for God coming in person to dwell with them, in the Tabernacle, and lead them to their inheritance. Now ‘the Word became flesh and [literally] “tabernacled in our midst”’ (Jn 1.14).