Even with the best of intentions, things have a way of going south.
When we launched our outreach ministry (at Mariners Church in Orange County, Calif.), the first thing we thought to do was meet the basic needs of the people we were serving. Sounds reasonable, right? They need groceries; we’ll give them a bag of food. They need winter coats? Got it. School supplies? Check. Then we’ll teach them about Jesus and they’ll pray the prayer and bam! We’re all good.
If we really believe in an irresistible Savior whose love is the most powerful force on earth, why is it we cling to manipulative tools, gimmicks and cheap material resources to all but bribe someone into the kingdom of heaven?
We can create relevant environments and put our leaders in the best possible position to start relationships, but it’s imperative to remember that for all our children and many of our teenagers, it’s the parent who brings them to church.
Here are 10 ways to affirm parents who attend your church each week:
“When adversity comes, you praise God.”
That was what my friend Terry had always been taught. When those tough times come, you just stand there, stare down the storm, and praise God.
However, on January 8, 2012, praising God was not very high on Terry’s priority list. After experiencing some problems, and noticing a lump that had developed only over a couple of days, and that ran from his chest up toward his shoulder, Terry decided to visit his doctor. His doctor was pretty blunt with the assessment:
“You have extensive small cell carcinoma (a very fast growing and aggressive form of cancer). You probably only have 6 to 12 months to live.”
Here are the four laws of God's blessing:
1. Our blessings should flow to others. The Bible teaches us that we are blessed not just so that we can feel good, not just so we can be happy and comfortable, but so that we will bless others. God told Abraham in Genesis 12:2, “I will bless you ... and you will be a blessing” (NIV). This is the first law of blessing: It must flow outwardly.
How do you bless others? By serving a need, whether it is physical or emotional support, financial help, or practical advice. "Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand" (Philippians 1:4 MSG).
Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with a denominational leader in a different part of the country.
Over the last few years, he’s personally been involved in consulting engagements with about 60 declining churches within his denomination. That grabbed my attention. Honestly, I don’t have a lot of experience working with churches that are in decline.
With that in mind, I was curious to learn if there were any common themes. Within moments, he rattled off these five attributes of churches he’s worked with that are in decline:
“The LORD is my light and my salvation; I will fear no one. The LORD protects me from all danger; I will never be afraid.” (Ps. 27:1, GNT)
The fear of rejection is based on two things. First, we all need to be loved. That’s a fact. We all desperately need massive doses of love in our life to be healthy individuals. God says, “I want to love you.” God is love, and he knows you need to be loved.
But, second, we develop the false idea that our need to be loved is solely dependent upon one person or a group of people. When you expect someone else to meet 100 percent of your need for love, you’re asking for trouble. You’re setting yourself up for hurt and opening the door for the fear of rejection. When you look to any other person besides God to meet all your love needs, he or she can’t. There is no human being alive who can love you as completely and as fully as you need to be loved, and there never will be. Only God can do that.