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Ten Tips For Effective Welcoming (via Melissa Brown & Gospel Coalition Of Australia)

Melissa Brown is Connections Coordinator at City On A Hill, Geelong.
In a post published at Gospel Coalition Australia she provides ten tips for effective welcoming:

“Welcoming is about the Gospel. It is about imitating God. But welcoming is also about common sense. Therefore, let’s preach and teach from the Bible about welcoming, but let’s also equip our churches to relax and welcome well.”
10 Tips for Effective Welcoming

  1. Get to know them. Ask questions, but not too many! Questions should produce conversation. Conversing is where real relating happens.
  2. Listen and be attentive. Don’t be looking over your shoulder every five seconds at what’s going on around you. It’s rude!
  3. Remember their name and use it. It’s polite!
  4. Be upfront. Ask, “What brings you to church today?” After all, you know and they know that they are standing inside your church…for the first time! So let’s not be coy. Talk about it. Being up front about this will actually help everyone relax.
  5. Be helpful if you can. People often go to church to seek something. It could be friendship, a spiritual home, connections and networks. For example, a young couple recently came to our church who had just moved to Geelong and I discovered the young man was a new graduate teacher looking for work. So I introduced him to my husband who is a teacher who was able to help him get his CV around local schools. They now attend our church.
  6. Hook them up with others (no I don’t mean in a romantic way). If they’re young adults, introduce them to other young adults. If they’re a family, introduce them to another family. I believe this is critical to good welcoming. Multiplying the links and broadening the community for new people is gold.
  7. Reconnect with them soon afterwards. Try to say good-bye before they leave and that you hope to see them next week. When they return, connect again! Genuine relationships.
  8. Invite them over for a meal. If the conversation is flowing and you feel comfortable about it, invite them to share a meal with you and your family/friends. Newcomers or welcome café nights are also great was to develop a sense of belonging to the church family. After all, families occasionally get together to share food to maintain the bonds of love.
  9. If they give you a phone number, call them! It doesn’t have to be a long conversation, but if you said you’d call, then CALL! Even if you didn’t say you’d call, still CALL!
  10. Pray. Our church welcome team always arrive half an hour before the church service to pray. We ask God to send new people to our church and to help us (and our church family) to love and warmly welcome everyone.

source


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The Creeping Trend Of Church Absenteeism (via Murray Lean)

Helpful article about church absenteeism by Murray Lean at Gospel Coalition Australia.
It’s most pitched toward leaders, but the content is helpful for everyone concerned about personal and corporate spiritual growth and well-being.
Among the accessible content is a list of the downsides that sporadic attendance cultivates:

  • Loss of the “spurring-on effect” of regular interaction with other believers
  • Gaps in the continuity of systematic Bible teaching
  • Inability to commit to serving in Sunday ministries, especially children’s programmes
  • Impact on children who miss the regularity of involvement in their weekly Sunday groups
  • Increase in the workload on the “committed core” who are faithfully there week by week
  • General discouragement of the rest of the church family who miss out on the fellowship of friends
  • Poor example to children and less mature Christians
  • General devaluation of the Lord’s Day
  • Weakening of overall connection with and commitment to the local church family, and enhancing the privatizing of faith

And there’s also a list of suggestions about how to respond pastorally:

  • Remind people from the pulpit of the positives of regular attendance, including its impact on others in the church family
  • Preach relevant passages that reinforce commitment to the local church, and also the harm caused by absenteeism
  • Ask yourself whether there are good reasons why people can’t be in church regularly e.g. Does the time of the service need to be more family friendly? Is the preaching boring?
  • Make a note of people who are irregular attenders and speak personally (and gently) with them about it. Some might have good reasons for their irregularity. (This obviously requires some form of record keeping.)
  • Use elders, small group leaders and pastoral carers in this process
  • Work at building fellowship within the church family e.g. meals, hospitality, creating a space for mingling after services

Read the whole post here.


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Should Every Sermon End With Christ? (via The Gospel Coalition Australia)

Should every sermon end with Christ?
Peter Adam, Andrew Reid and Mike Raiter discuss.


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On Forgiveness And Forbearance (via Simone Richardson)

Simone Richardson writes about an unhelpful tendency to mistake situations where forgiveness is extended when what should be properly offered is forbearance.
Forgiveness is what’s needed when God’s standards are breached.
Forbearance has more to do with when it’s our standards that are not being met.
From the article.

Forbearance is what is needed when we are confronted with the frailties of another human being: their annoying mannerisms, their forgetfulness, their inability to say the right thing in a certain situation, their incompetence at tasks we feel they ought to be able to manage, their frustrating messiness, the way that they do not live up to my standards. In these situations, we need to stop forgiving and start forbearing.
For many of the frustrations that we experience with our spouses, friends and colleagues are not directly caused by sin on their part. Often we think that they can do better, or ought to be able to do better if they tried, but forbearance remembers that they, like us, are human. Weakness is built into the core of our being.

Read the whole post at the Gospel Coalition Australia.


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Long Term Ministry In One Context (via Gospel Coalition Australia)

Paul Harrington, Rick Lewers and Peter Adam discuss the pros and cons of long-term ministry in one context.
Long term ministry is about culture.
It also helps people take ongoing change seriously.
Peter Adam’s comments toward the end on preparing to preach texts that he’d previously preached are helpful too.


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God Is The Author Of Your Story (via Jean Williams)

A reflection on life, human expectation, personal growth, and what matters above all from Jean Williams.
An excerpt:

God is the author of my story. And he’s a far better author than I could ever be. I wouldn’t have written so much hardship into the recent pages of our life. But as I look back, I’m surprised to realise that, in some ways, the suffering is the part I’m most grateful for. It’s helped me see just how weak I am, and driven me to rely on God’s strength. It’s chased me into his arms, and deepened my knowledge of him. It compels me to set my hope on eternity rather than this life, and moves me to comfort others with the comfort I’ve received (2 Cor 1:3-7). I don’t fear the future like I used to, because God has been with me in the darkest times. I have tested him, and he has proved true. His faithfulness seems tangible to me now, solid rock under my feet. My faith is more stable, my joy more intense, and Jesus more precious. No one would ask for it – the grief, pain and fear – but in God’s mercy I have gained more than I have lost.
Of course, this perspective is only possible at one of those pauses in the story when you stop and reflect on what is past. On the darker pages that perspective is lost.
Read the whole post at Gospel Coalition Australia.


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Preaching As Corporate Pastoral Care (via Peter Adam)

Peter Adam continues a series of articles, this time identifying preaching as being the natural place where the Bible is corporately opened and applied to God’s people.
If God speaks to his people as a group, why attempt to individualise the focus of applications?
It’s not so much that there’s something in the text for me, as there’s something in the text for us.

It is also significant that Malachi, like most books in the Bible, was addressed to the people of God, the church of that day, and not to individuals. This means that if we read or preach Malachi and apply it to us as individuals only, we will miss an important element of the message.
“Scripture is God preaching”, and part of this sermon is the book Malachi. So we should follow what God has done, and address this book to the church of our day. Our first question should be, “What is God saying to us?” Not, “What is God saying to me?” or “What is God saying to individuals in the congregation?”
So rather than looking for individual application, we should work for corporate application. “Corporate” here does not mean big business, it means “body”, as in “the body of Christ.” We should train ourselves to look for the shared values of our churches, our shared godliness, our shared sins, our shared blind spots, our shared weaknesses, our shared strengths.
Let’s take as examples two issues from Malachi: robbing God, and speaking harsh words against God [3:6–15]. The issue is more than, “How do we as individuals rob God?” The issues are, “How are we as a church robbing God?” and, “How is our church letting individuals rob God and not challenging them?” and, “How is my robbing God setting a bad example to others in the church?”, and, “What am I doing to challenge the church as a whole to stop robbing God?”, and, “What are our church leaders doing to stop individuals and the church as a whole robbing God?”

Read the whole post at Gospel Coalition Australia.