Every church gives off a vibe…a certain “feel” that is very real though hard to measure in objective terms.It involves the health of the environment. The vibe we desire to give off as a church involves these 5 environmental values:??• Fun??• Warm??• Authentic??• Creative??• Participatory
Last week I jotted down a few thoughts about fun. Today lets focus on our desire to be WARM!
It goes by other names: a family feel – friendly – accepting – caring – open – We?ve labeled it warmth. It?s what gives people a good first impression of ACC – it?s what will get them to come back a 2nd time. It?s what gives regular attenders the confidence to invite their unchurched neighbors and co-workers. Warmth helps people feel comfortable – they lower their defenses and open up to the worship and the teaching of God?s word. It?s seen in all the animated conversations before and after the Sunday service in the lobby, auditorium, hallway and parking lot.
What can you do to actively contribute to the warmth of ACC? I?m glad you asked! Here are 10 ideas:
1. Initiate conversations – be the first one to say “Good morning!”.
2. Get out of your comfort zone – introduce yourself to people you don?t know.
3. Purposefully sit next to people who are sitting by themselves.??Arrive to church earlier than normal – for the purpose of just hanging out and talking with folks. So many rush in after the service has already started – that does NOT contribute to our warmth!
5. Remember names – a very powerful tool! Once you learn a new name, jot it down in your bulletin – your retention rate will improve dramatically. Pull that bulletin out of your bible just before you enter church the next Sunday to do a quick name review – then look for that person and call them by name. It will blow them away!??6. Strategically float through the building looking for those standing by themselves – maybe looking lost, lonely or awkward – go up and engage them in conversation.
7. Don?t rush out immediately after the service – be intentional about sticking around and developing some relationships.
9. Grab a cup of coffee (or water or lemonade) and hand it to someone who looks like they can use it!
10. Pray as you arrive each Sunday that God would use you to make others feel valued and loved. If each of us showed up on Sunday mornings with the mindset of desiring to bless rather than be blessed – that would be revolutionary to the body life of our church.
We want to be a warm church.
Can you help us further develop this value
I have a confession to make. I am not a prayer warrior. As a matter of fact, I am a pretty lousy pray-er. I do a fairly good job of talking to God throughout the day, but when it comes to dedicated prayer time, I’m seriously lacking. My mind wanders. I think about things that happened during the day or make plans for the next day. Most embarrassing, I fall asleep. I guess in that respect, I have good company in the disciples, who fell asleep while Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Prayer is one of the best ways to strengthen and grow our relationship with God. Jesus even taught us how to pray in the Lord’s Prayer. The Bible speaks of so many of the benefits and promises of prayer:
“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart”, (Psalm 37:4); “For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened”, (Luke 11:10); “Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective”, (James 5: 13-16); “Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him”, (1 John 3: 21-22).
But should we only pray in order to ask things of God? In his book, “How to Pray”, R.A. Torrey gives us 10 reasons to pray: there is a devil, prayer is God’s appointed way for obtaining things, the apostles considered prayer to be the most important business in their lives, prayer played an important part in the earthly life of Christ, praying is the most important part of the current ministry of the risen Christ, prayer is the way to receive mercy and grace from God, prayer allows us to receive fullness of joy, prayer is God’s appointed way for us to receive freedom from anxiety and obtain peace, prayer readies our hearts for Christ’s return, and prayer accomplishes things.
So why is prayer so hard? God hears and responds to our prayers. He may not give us the answers that we want, but He is faithful and answers our prayers in His perfect wisdom and timing. Here are some ideas I have learned over the years, and will pray to implement in order to make my prayer life pleasing to God:
•?When Roy Patterson, of New Life Community Church, spoke at ACC a couple years ago, he taught a pattern for prayer that has stuck with me: Praise God, Repent of your sins, Ask what is in your heart, Yield to God’s answer – whether it is yes or no.
•?Write down your prayers. You can’t fall asleep when your mind is engaged. Another benefit of this is that you can go back in your prayer journal to see all that God has done in your life. How cool is that!??•?Find a prayer space. Maybe you like the outdoors; maybe you have a comfy chair in your house.
•?Make prayer a non-negotiable. We make time for our favorite T.V. shows – how much more important is God in our lives
?•?Don’t wait until bedtime….if you are like me, you are asking for trouble
•?Pray before getting out of bed in the morning
•?Be honest – God can take it!
My prayer for all of us is that we will honor our Lord with prayer and thanksgiving at all times.
Guest blogger: Kris Milashus??
Recently the leadership of ACC unveiled our new environmental values – the vibe we desire to give off as a church. Our 5 values are:??•?Fun??•?Warm??•?Authentic??•?Creative??•?Participatory
I plan to take each of the next five weeks to briefly blog a few thoughts on each of these values. So now let’s begin by taking a quick minute to think about fun!
In yesterday’s worship service Rick Dobrowski was talking about his past involvement in our Upward basketball ministry. His family was first introduced to ACC though Upward and eventually they visited us on a Sunday morning and now they all are an integral part of our church family. I LOVE the way Rick wrapped up his story – he said, “We came for the fun – we stayed for the grace.”
Awesome! I propose that God uses fun to attract people, to soften people, to get people to let down their barriers and get past their preconceived false notions about the church and God.
One of my good friends and spiritual mentor always said that laughter is a sign of a healthy church.
God’s people should enjoy being together. Humor is a gift from God. Laughter is good for the soul.
Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.” Psalm 126:2
I’d be so bold as to say laughter can be a form of worship – a pleasing way to praise Him and bring glory to Him!
We want to be a fun church.
Let’s have some fun together as we impact our world for Christ!
??Well, I thought you?d never ask!
This week I was reading a book for one of my classes – According to Plan: the Unfolding Revelation of God In the Bible by Graeme Goldsworthy (cool name, eh?) – and came across a quote that jumped out at me:
“Worship of God is typically a recalling of the mighty saving deeds of God within the history of Israel.”
The author was referring here to the Psalms as an example of how the Israelites worshipped God. Over and over again in the Psalms we see references to how God came through for His people Israel. Below are a few examples:
“I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.” -Psalm 9:1
“Oh sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. The Lord has made known his salvation; he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations. He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel.” –Psalm 98:1-3
“If it had not been the Lord who was on our side when people rose up against us, then they would have swallowed us up alive… our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” –Psalm 124:2, 8
“Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; sing to his name, for it is pleasant! For the Lord has chosen Jacob for himself, Israel as his own possession.” –Psalm 135:3-4
One of the best ways we can worship God, both individually and corporately, is to remember and recall what God has done for us. As we prepare to worship God together as a church this weekend, take some time to reflect on how God has provided for you. Think about the many ways He has blessed you. Maybe God has protected you from danger in some way, or has provided for you financially somehow in the past week. Maybe you saw God at work in a friend or family member, or saw His power manifested in creation. Or maybe you think back to when God saved and rescued you, and praise Him for the salvation that is found in Christ alone.
Reflecting on these things is a great way to prepare ourselves for corporate worship tomorrow at ACC.
So don’t tell me not to cry. Don’t tell me to not be angry.
Death is the enemy. It is cold and devastating. It is merciless and cruel. It produces fear and dread and heartache.
Jesus cried when his friend Lazarus died. Even though he knew that he was about to raise him from the dead. Why, then, did Jesus cry? Because death stinks.
Death claimed my dad this past week.
I do not want to be reunited with my dad “someday” – I want to be with him NOW.
I know he is in heaven with Christ – but I want him here with me.
I know he is no longer suffering but why couldn’t he be healed and stay here
?I hate death. It is the relentless enemy of each of us.
The Apostle Paul knew this. That is why, under the inspiration of God’s Spirit, he wrote:
“Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” I Corinthians 15:24-26
Now read that again – please.
The truth be told – death had dominion, authority and power over dad and our family. It took him from us- no matter how much we wished otherwise. Death stinks. But look at the mission of Christ – to destroy all the dominion, authority and power that death now currently wields. Christ will one day settle all accounts. He will make right all the wrongs. There will be a reckoning day when all that causes us to miss out on God’s perfect plan for us will be eliminated. Jesus will methodically destroy all that has destroyed us – hatred, racism, idolatry, sexual abuse, disease, betrayal, etc. Saving our worst enemy for last – he will kill death.
Now I like that. A lot. His own resurrection proved he can do it. And he will do it. His own death was reversed – and that power will be flexed on our behalf one day; for all of us who have trusted in the death and resurrection of Christ.
Current score: Death – 1, Dad – 0. But the game isn’t over with yet.
1 Thessalonians 5: 12-13 “And now, friends, we ask you to honor those leaders who work so hard for you, who have been given the responsibility of urging and guiding you along in your obedience. Overwhelm them with appreciation and love”. (The Message)
October is National Clergy Appreciation month; a time that we can honor and show gratitude to the pastoral staff of ACC. How often do we get caught up in our own hardships, our own successes, our own challenges? I know I do. It’s hard to imagine that Dave, Chris and Scott are human too, with their own families, their own challenges, their own heartaches and their own joys. If you haven’t taken the opportunity to let them know how much their dedication and hard work is appreciated, now is your chance!
Why say thank you? Well, we all like to hear that we are doing a good job, but there are other reasons to encourage our pastors. First, as we see from the above scripture, it is a Biblical concept. Also, these men have been called to serve God, so showing gratitude to our pastors is showing gratitude to God for sending them to us. By showing love to our pastors, we demonstrate to the community around us that we truly are a church filled with love and grace.
Has a message that Dave preached really hit home and caused you to make God-honoring changes in your life? Has his council helped you with personal concerns? Or maybe he has been a good friend and it is time to tell him! Has the music played on Sunday morning given you goose bumps? Brought a tear to your eye? Brought joy to your heart? Say thank you to Scott. Is your child growing spiritually? Can’t wait to come to youth events? Developing a servant’s heart? Chris does an amazing job of inspiring our kids for Christ. Why not tell him so!
Let’s take this month as our opportunity to extend thanks to our pastors. Better yet – let’s make every day Clergy Appreciation Day! Thank you Dave, Chris and Scott – you are a blessing to ACC!
Guest blogger: Kris Milashus??
??We all should hate it. It is a lie and is incredibly damaging to people?s faith and to the cause of Christ. We need to reject the prosperity gospel and learn to hate it.
6I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! 9As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! Galatians 1:6-9
ACC’s Upward Basketball and Cheerleading practices begin in January, but plans have been underway since the summer. This will our seventh year hosting the Upward league, and it is exciting to anticipate its growth. Upward is a self-esteem building, Christ-centered sports program for children in grades 1-6.
On Sunday, October 17, you will hear more about how you can get involved. The challenge is for every person at ACC to be part of Upward in some way- whether coaching, serving as a referee, attending games, advertising, working at the concession stand, or praying. To have a successful season, there are many roles that the church body needs to fill. Will you consider how you can be part of Upward? We welcome your help with small and large jobs!
- In order to recruit players, we need to get the word out. Will you hang a yard sign, invite neighborhood children to play, and distribute brochures
?- If you love basketball, please consider coaching a team or serving as a referee. Games are on Saturdays beginning in late January. God can use your sports knowledge to impact children for eternity!
- If you have an Upward T-shirt, please wear it on Sunday, October 17. Children who have played are encouraged to wear uniforms or jerseys on this date too.??We look forward to your involvement. Please pray for a fun, successful, and God-honoring season!
Guest blogger: Allison Bies??