Monthly Archives: March 2016

Welcoming the Irregular Attenders

Tomorrow is a big day as we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is a day when churches will be full. Many of those who attend do not plan to return until Christmas (unless they want to please mom on Mother’s Day), hence the title of CEOs (Christmas and Easter Only).

I have heard of pastors who say such things as “I want to go ahead and say Merry Christmas to you all since I won’t see some of you until next Easter.” Others have announced, “We do have services next Sunday, too.” Active attenders look down on the irregular attenders, convincing themselves that they have it all together because they attend church weekly.

When this is the treatment who give those who attend only on Easter, or other special days, why should we expect them to return? Here are some thoughts to make the guests at church tomorrow feel welcome and want to return. (These apply to any Sunday, too.)

Pray for those who will attend. If this is one of the few times they will attend and hear the Gospel message, pray that they are receptive to work of the Holy Spirit. Rather than condemning them for attending so irregularly, pray that they Lord will do a work while in the service that they will want to return more often.

Pray for your pastor. Pray that you pastor will clearly communicate the Gospel. Pray that his words are laced with grace and love.

Welcome them. Introduce yourself. Communicate how great it is to have them in attendance. Learn something about them. But do not remind them that you have services next week.

Let your worship be genuine. On special days, the trap is set that the worship service will be more for show than genuine worship. There is usually more people wanting to sing a special on days when the attendance is higher than are willing to do so on a “normal” Sunday. Choirs work extra on specific music for the special days. If the irregular attenders think you are putting on a show rather than worship, do not look down on them when they do not return.

Move out of your seat and parking place. Irregular attenders usually do not arrive early; rather, they are the ones that come in as the service has started. They circle the parking lot, then have to create their own place. Then they enter the worship center- and have to sit at the front and/or climb over multiple people to sit in the middle of the pew. It is no wonder they do not return!

Invite them to Sunday School. Irregular attenders often do not return because they do not have a personal connection that makes them want to return. However, research has repeatedly shown that over 80% of those who are in Sunday School return and stay. As you welcome them, tell them about your Sunday School class. Tell them where it meets. Offer to meet them outside. Then follow up on your invitation with the information you received when you welcomed them.

Every Sunday is a chance to move an irregular attender to a regular attender, but much of that depends on YOU! Don’t miss the opportunity.

Impromptu Ministry

Recently for a Wednesday night meal at church, the menu was fried fish with all the fixings. After everyone was fed and the Bible study was about to start, there was a good amount of fish left, so someone suggested we freeze it and cook it sometime soon and take it to some of our older members for lunch. Fast forward about two weeks, and a group met at the church, cooked the meal, and we started delivering. I say “we” because at the point of delivery, the staff and a couple of deacons got involved.

After returning to the church and discussing the many smiles and words of appreciation, someone suggested the same thing be repeated the next week- with a different meal. I use the word “suggested” lightly, because it was actually a comment that this group was going to continue to provide a meal each week.

Yesterday was the third week that meals were delivered, and I discovered that others in the church have heard about it and got involved. Someone concluded that it is one of the best things that we are doing as a church- and I agree.

As I have delivered some of the meals each week, I have thought about how it all started: someone saw an opportunity to meet a need and put a plan in place. It was impromptu ministry- and it continues to grow. Here a few things that stand out to me about this and other opportunities for impromptu ministry:

No one asked for these individuals to be involved. There was never an announcement made, a sign-up avenue developed, nor a ministry team formed. None of the normal things that happen in church regarding ministry occurred. They saw an opportunity to serve and took advantage of it.

An overlooked need is met. The people that receive these meals are either shut-ins or some that rarely get out. Some live alone while others are a  married couple that spend most (if not all) of the day with each other. I have found that people in these situations often do not cook for themselves, choosing to “make do” when meal times come. For some, physical difficulties make getting around in the kitchen nearly impossible. These people can benefit from a warm meal that they did not have to cook.

There is regular contact from the church. I do not enter most of the homes because I have to get to the next place. I hand it off at the door or lay it down on the kitchen counter, but in that short time, I get to ask how they are doing and explore if there is anything I can do further. It has also created an opportunity to pray and encourage those who are struggling.

No one wants the credit. Those who have received the meals do not know who is cooking them, and those cooking do not want anyone to know. It is simply from “the church.” Isn’t that how things are supposed to be? I tire of those who love the limelight and quit when no one gives them the desired attention. When some on staff suggested that maybe we only do this  once a month in order for the cooks not to grow weary, the cooks balked at that notion!

Opportunities for impromptu ministry are all around us — if we will take the time to see them. It may not be something that grows and continues, but if the Lord places it in front of you, take advantage of the opportunity. And do not care who gets the credit.

Hebrews 6:10, “God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them.”

Coming Off a Spiritual High

The church I pastor just ended a great series of revival services. People were challenged and encouraged, some made public decisions, many prayed at the altar for the first time in a long time (if ever), and some had their lives changed by placing their faith in Jesus. As the final service neared on Wednesday, many commented that they wished the services continued. One parent even texted that their child was upset when he realized Thursday afternoon that we were not having services!

When we have a powerful encounter with the Lord like many experienced this week, the following days seem like a let down. When you attend service on Sunday and it is back to the “normal,” it can be a bit disappointing. When I was in youth ministry, I called it the “church camp high,” when students would be fired up for Jesus until they returned home. I have found that this problem crosses all age groups.

We cannot stay on the high place forever. There was a time when Jesus was on the mountain with His disciples and they had this unique spiritual experience. When Jesus was getting ready to descend, they begged, “Could we just please stay here a little longer?”

Just like a drug addict after a night of injecting illegal substances, we want to experience the high forever, but it is not possible. The Bible is a parade of highs and lows, one right after the other. Daniel- very faithful to God, thrown into the lion’s den, but the lions did not eat him. Jonah- runs away from God, swallowed by a fish, the fish spits him out. Jesus- baptism, temptation in desert, began ministry, crucified, rose.

Exodus 32 is an account of when Moses literally (and figuratively) came down from a mountaintop experience. He had been in the presence of God to receive the Law, and when he descended, he discovered the people had built a golden calf to worship. We learn from this experience how to come off a spiritual high.

First, those around us are not affected. If everyone that you are around would have made the same commitment to God that you did, then it would be easy. But spiritual decisions are personal. The whole nation of Israel would have liked to have been with Moses on the mountain in the presence of God. However, it was a personal experience for Moses, their leader. While he was in the presence of God, they were not affected by it. Spiritual decisions are not like the flu or the common cold that is caught for someone blessing you with a sneeze!

Second, the sin around us should upset us. When Moses came down and saw what was happening, he was unhappy, to say the least. The tablets that contained the Law, written by the very hand of God, were thrown to the ground in disgust. Moses called for the people who were “for the Lord” to come to him, then sent them throughout the camp, killing about 3,000 people. While Moses’ response is not a normal response today, we should not put up with sin around us. If we do, we will fall into it before long.

Third, pray for the people around you. God told Moses that He was going to wipe these people off the face of the earth and make Moses into a “great nation.” God was going to give Moses more people to lead. Moses started talking to God about this and eventually God relented. When we see those around us who are still controlled by the sin that we committed to no longer follow, we need to ask God to work in their lives. Moses prayed that God would save all of these people, a whole nation, and we need to pray for those we are around us that are lost and others that are controlled by sin.

Last, continue to show that you have been with God. We must continue to live our life in such a way that it is evident we have been with God. This week, I saw people who were broken, repentant, and committed to change. I heard others speak about ways the Lord challenged them. Are those characteristics still evident?

Unique spiritual experiences end, but the effects of the encounter can continue.