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Shepherding Discontented Sheep (via Nick Kennicott)

Nick Kennicott considers the delicate pastoral situation of Christians who move from one church to another because of unhappiness with their last church.

Faithful local churches want to grow through the redemption of sinners. Through evangelistic efforts and the consistent administration of the ordinary means of grace, there should be a healthy expectation that there will be new believers joining the church periodically. However, the most significant growth in most local churches is Christians transferring their membership from other local churches. Almost 60% of American churches have an average of 75 members, so it’s refreshing and can be exciting to see new faces with new and different gifts. It is not wrong to want to see the church grow, but it should never be without several important considerations.
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There are certainly cases when the discontentment of sheep is legitimate and they have good reasons to leave their church. Sadly, churches can be abusive and authoritarian, or they can be heretical. Additionally, a Christian should have a general desire to be in their church knowing that there is substantial agreement on doctrine and philosophy of ministry. If things change, there may be very legitimate reasons for a believer to look for a new church family. Likewise, Christians are never obligated to remain in a local church and nobody can insist that they must. Church membership is a vital aspect of the Christian life; but, Christians need to be members of a faithful local church, not necessarily any one church that they may have joined at some particular point in time.

Read the whole post at Reformation 21.


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The Deceit Of Riches (via Mez McConnell)

Mez McConnell reflects on Jesus observation about wealth being an obstruction to entering the kingdom of God and the implications of that for evangelism and church planting:

The Danger of Wealth
Jesus said it’s easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God, right? What he’s saying is this: When you’ve got money, when you’ve got material wealth, when you’ve got comfort, you feel invincible. You feel like you don’t need God. You don’t feel—at least in your outward portrayal—a spiritual need.
And so people become very hard, very bitter, very intellectually opposed to gospel truths. Whereas in less privileged communities, people are not necessarily happy, but they are more likely to admit they’re sinful, to admit that their lives aren’t perfect, to admit there’s a problem.
People in poor or ethically deprived communities are very supernaturalistic, so you meet very few atheists in such communities. These people’s problems aren’t necessarily with God (although they can be), but with the concept of church. People in that community see the church as a middle-class intellectual institution—which it largely is—and so apologetically, that’s the battle we’re fighting.
I think people in rich communities—with two cars on the drive, a nice house, and a full bank balance—in many ways are much harder to reach because all that wealth and comfort makes them think that they’re invincible. It may make them think that they don’t need anything outside of themselves. I often say that in many ways, my friends who work, reach, and plant in these communities are in very, very hard places.

source


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Delegating A Concept, As Well As A Task (via Brian Cosby at The Christward Collective)

In a longer post about leadership Brian Cosby illustrates how delegating tasks simply adds workers; it takes the additional impartation of the concept of how the execution of their task is significant in realising the overall goal or vision of the church to build a team.
Something I need to mull over and implement.

As a leader, it is usually preferable to delegate not only specific tasks, but concepts. By doing this you press home the significance of their work. For example, a janitor doesn’t just clean the church; he provides a welcoming environment for gospel community week in and week out. If you tell him to simply clean “that toilet” or dust “that table,” sure, he will (hopefully) do that and do that well. But if you delegate the concept of Christian hospitality—so that he takes ownership that this is his mission and his church—then he will be on the lookout for other needs that are not specified on your list. Don’t get me wrong, he needs a list—clearly outlined expectations! But if you only provide a list without helping him see the bigger picture of why he’s doing what he’s doing, then you will only get what’s on the list and he won’t be truly a part your team.

Read the whole post at Christward Collective.


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On Stuff And Stinginess (via Jared Wilson)

I knew a lady who hated the word ‘stuff’. When we meet as one of the small groups that she belonged to and one of us uses the word we all fall silent for a second and then, having heard her remonstration about using that word echo in our minds, all laugh and try to think of a better word to describe what it is that we’re referring to.
Jared Wilson wouldn’t know that, of course, so he’s forgiven.
Here he writes about what it is to have a God shaped hole in our hearts, and how futile it is to try and fill that hole with anything less.

…in Ecclesiastes 3:11, God has put eternity into our hearts. This is that God-shaped hole we hear so much about. Because we are made in God’s image, we were made for eternity, to carry the glory of the infinite. Because of sin, we are fallen. The glory is obscured; the hole is a wound. We feel the ache, but we don’t know how to heal ourselves. And yet we try. With pleasure, with achievements, even with religion! But especially with stuff. We throw anything and everything into that God-shaped hole, the eternity inside of us, but none of it will fill the void. You cannot satisfy the infinite with the stuff of earth. No, only eternal glory can fill an eternal space.

Read the whole post at For The Church.


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Christmas Fails

This page at Facts and Trends features ten moments when Christmas related church activities did not go to plan.
Most feature children and animals.
These are meant to be salutary warnings, not ideas, folks.
Here’s one with a Christmas camel, who does not seem to come off worse for wear.


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Church Budget Meeting On Sunday

We’re having our annual budget approval meeting on Sunday at MGPC.
It reminded me of this.


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‘Developing A Good Pause Tolerance’ a.k.a. Leading Quiet Bible Study Groups (via Richard Sweatman at GoThereFor)

Dealing with Bible studies or Growth Group studies where people are reticent about sharing their answers can seem awkward.
This article on GoThereFor provides some encouragement and practical strategies to encourage the sort of participation through which the group will help each other learn from God’s word.
This paragraph is about ‘developing a good pause tolerance’.

As you get into more questions, work hard at developing a good pause tolerance. By this I mean the ability to withstand silence. Ask your question clearly and with confidence and then pause. Count to fifteen slowly in your head and commit to not speaking. Look calm, smile, and make eye contact briefly with people around the room. If it helps, visualize the petals of a flower slowly unfolding, as an illustration of peoples’ thought processes at work. If someone speaks, respond with as much positive affirmation as you can. If your silence count reaches fifteen (or longer), invite one of your more confident members to share what they think. Encourage them that whatever they say will likely be helpful. Your coleader might break the silence once or twice during the study, but doing so more often will signal to group members that if they wait long enough the coleader will provide the correct answer. Both of you need to learn to wait—it will make a huge difference in leading a quiet group.

Read the rest of Richard Sweatman’s article at GoThereFor