084 – The #1 question you MUST ask when planning a church event [Podcast]

Spoiler alert: It is the question that is most seldom asked

the-1-most-important-question-you-must-ask-when-planning-a-church-event

 

Welcome to Season 2 of the Your Church Matters podcast.  In this episode (84), I shared 6 important questions to ask when you are planning a church event. I wrapped up with the #1 question that MUST be asked, but seldom is.

 

 

6 Important Questions:

  1. The Why Question: why are we doing this event?
  2. The Who Question: who is our target, who do we need, who are our partners?
  3. The What Question: what kind of event is it going to be? (traditional, annual, seasonal, fellowship/community building, outreach, spiritual growth, etc)
  4. The Where Question: where is the best place for us to hold this event?
  5. The When Question: is there a particular time of year, day, week that is the best time for this event?
  6. The How Much Question: how much is it going to cost?

 

The #1 question that MUST be asked, but most seldom is: HOW does this event fit within our mission/vision journey?

Think of mission as the map of where you are headed and vision as the picture on the front of the travel brochure. (Based on concepts from Will Mancini’s Church Unique)

Events aren’t effective in isolation.  They are steps, not goals.  They are means, not ends.  Keep your events vision-centric.

 

Events are steps, not goals; means, not ends. Keep them vision-centric. Click To Tweet

 

 

Resources mentioned:

95network

New Small Church

Book: The Grasshopper Myth (Karl Vaters)

Previous Podcast Episode 09 – How to have a church failure … And why you should try to

Book: Church Unique (Will Mancini)

 

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A Pikachu in the hand is worth two Angry Birds in the bush

God is looking for a few good Songbirds

a-pikachu-in-the-hand-is-worth-two-angry-birds-in-the-bush

 

This Pokemon Go thing is nuts! I don’t mean that in terms of mentally unbalanced (though there are certainly those who would be with me on that assessment). I mean that in terms of how it has taken over the world.

This smartphone game app, released on July 6, 2016, hit 100 million downloads by August 1, is played over 30 minutes a day by the average iOS user, is used daily by over 23 million people in the US, and is generating more than $10 million in revenue per day.

This reminds me, albeit on an even larger scale, of the Angry Birds craze from a few years ago. In the height of the hoopla over that one, I wrote a post pondering the Angry Birds phenomenon.

I have never been much into video games, even back when all my friends were popping their quarters into the machine to play Pac-Man and Asteroids at the 7-Eleven, so I just kind of notice things that are going on in the world, ponder them, and offer some commentary. Here’s a little trip down the Angry Birds memory lane as my pondering led me to think about the non-gaming version of Angry Birds—that is to say, the Angry Birds we often encounter (and sometimes become) in life.

I first thought about the Mocking Birds. You know them. They have a remark for every situation. They are experts at making others feel small and insignificant. They know how to point out how people are inferior or unusual. They notice weaknesses in others and know how to exploit it to their own advantage. They love to offer “constructive” criticism and never seem to notice how rarely it is genuinely constructive.

Then I thought about the Birds of Prey (I hesitate to use the word “vultures” but that is probably an appropriate label). These birds go beyond simply mocking. They actually feast on the wounded. They can be mean-spirited for the sake of being mean-spirited. They sometimes even enjoy seeing others in pain. They may even find justification for how someone else “deserves” the pain that they have experienced. Their criticism has no constructive agenda; they just like to “put people in their place.”

Then I thought about the Hummingbirds. They seem so busy. They flit from bloom to bloom and make a lot of noise, never really causing harm, but not really staying in one place long enough to do any good. Once the sweet nectar of a situation becomes depleted, they zoom off to find the next “happy place.” They don’t really mock or prey on the misfortune of others; they just don’t hang around long enough to notice.

You notice that I keep using the word “they.” I wish it were always “they” and “them” who act like Angry Birds, but I am afraid it is sometimes “me” and “we.” So, what are we to do?

Here’s my suggestion for all of us: how about trying to be Songbirds? I’m not just talking about those with a musical talent. You may have a voice like a raven. When you sing, those close to you may plead that you do it nevermore. (Ancient video game references AND Edgar Allan Poe references in the same post!) But, how about letting our lives, our words, our attitudes, and our actions “sing?” How about “singing” over the wounded and weary? How about helping those around us to see and experience the beauty of a life that matters to God?

Psalm 150 says, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Are you breathing? Let’s tune up and “sing”.

083 – You need a really good reason to get up at 4:00 in the morning [Podcast]

Early morning thoughts on the road to the airport

you-need-a-really-good-reason-to-get-up-at-4_00-in-the-morning

 

Welcome to Season 2 of the Your Church Matters podcast.  In this episode (83), I shared some 4:00 a.m. on the way to the airport ramblings about a small church conference I am headed to, as well as some thoughts on some common pastor struggles from some recent conversations.

 

 

Resources mentioned:

95conference

95network

New Small Church

 

Would you like to join me on an amazing Alaskan Cruise with a mission?

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We will not forget

But let's be sure we are remembering the right things

we-will-not-forget

 

We will not forget.

That phrase came up again over the past couple of weeks. Special gatherings, memorial services, and first-responder recognitions were held all over the country.  The pastor at the church I attended on Sunday preached a powerful sermon on living in a 9/11 world. It is hard to believe that it has been 15 years since September 11, 2001.

Nine Eleven” is part of our country’s vernacular.  It truly has become a day that will live in infamy.  I remember telling my church family about two weeks after the event that I believed that September 11, 2011 would be for this generation what December 7, 1941 was for the previous generation.  Those whose lives and perspectives were forever altered by Pearl Harbor rolled their eyes and shook their heads, but I think the ensuing years have given some validity to my words.

When I began seeing the “We will not forget” posts a few days ago, I was struck with my own risky thought: What is it exactly that we are not supposed to forget?  

Honestly, there are some things about that day and the days following that I would give anything to forget.  I wish I could erase my mental pictures and videos of planes crashing into buildings, people jumping out of windows, buildings collapsing.  I wish I could forget the political opportunism of those who used tragedy to further their own political agenda.  I wish I could forget the ugliness of those who portrayed all Muslims as anti-American followers of Osama bin Laden and all persons of Middle Eastern descent as potential terrorists.  As a Baptist, I don’t want to be identified with those nut-jobs from Westboro “Baptist Church” in Topeka, KS.  And I suspect that many Muslims feel the same way about being painted with the broad brush of ISIS.

So, what do I want to be sure I never forget?  

I want never to forget how our leaders initially set aside political differences and came together in solidarity.  For a few precious hours, we were not Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, or whatever … we were Americans.  Making sure our commemorations always include the words, “One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all” will help us never forget.

I want never to forget that there are heroes who risk their lives every day to protect us. Firefighters are being called out daily.  Law enforcement and emergency medical personnel are every bit as vital to our daily lives as those first responders who were called to Ground Zero.  And certainly we don’t want to forget the members of our military in harm’s way throughout the world.  Making sure that our commemorations always include recognition of these heroes will help us never forget.

I want to be sure that I never forget that our security is not ultimately in our hands.  Psalm 20:7 says, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”  Not every commemoration is in a setting where that can be acknowledged out loud.  But those of us who know how much our lives matters to Him can make our daily lives a reaffirmation of that reality.

May we never, ever forget.

082 – Did he really just say that? [Podcast]

Responding to Rudeness (Encore presentation)

did-he-just-say-that_

 

Welcome to Season 2 of the Your Church Matters podcast.  In this episode (82), I am sharing an encore presentation of Episode 10: Responding to Rudeness.

 

 

For original detailed notes, click here.

 

Highlights

Observations about Rudeness:

  1. Rude comments are not just directed toward pastors.
  2. Our culture has become more rude in general.
  3. Rude is in the eyes of the beholder.
  4. Rudeness is not going away.

 

Tips for dealing with rudeness:

  1. Consider the source.
  2. As much as you would like to, don’t respond in kind.
  3. Part of leadership is holding up a higher standard.
  4. Never underestimate the power of Holy Spirit when we pray.

 

Part of leadership is holding up a higher standard. #dontwrestlewithapig Click To Tweet

 

 

Would you like to join me on an amazing Alaskan Cruise with a mission?

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Ordinary, Imperfect Saints

God shows up in ordinary, imperfect people who follow Him

ordinary, imperfect saints

 

If God had a wife, it would be my Grandmother.  At least that’s what I thought when I was a kid.  She probably did more ministry than any preacher in the little community of Grandfalls, TX.  Her skills as a Registered Nurse were pretty valuable in that west Texas community.  She visited the sick and also visited on behalf of the little Baptist church there.  Rumor has it that folks were afraid to miss church on Sunday because Mrs. Pollard would be at their house on Monday to check on them.

She was a saint in the Biblical sense of the word.  What that means is that she was a follower of Christ and understood that God had selected her for a purpose.  That’s what the word means: “One who has been set apart for God’s purpose.”  And just like those other Biblical saints, she wasn’t perfect.

When my mom was in college, she went through a rough patch.  Grandmother was worried about her and went out to where Granddaddy was working out in the west Texas oilfields.  As Granddaddy told it, she expressed her concern to him and he had an answer for her.  “The only thing wrong with that girl is that she inherited your temper and my temper and the combination of those two is pure hell.” (His words, not mine).  According to his recollection, Grandmother stuck out her chin and said, “I’ll have you know I don’t have a temper!” And then she stomped over to her car, got in and slammed the door, and sped off throwing gravel all the way down that oil patch road.

Grandmother has been gone for 40 years and Granddaddy has been gone for 16, but that is one of the many stories that get repeated, and laughed about, when Mom and I start reminiscing. I think I enjoy hearing about the funny predicaments and foibles of my ancestors more than I enjoy hearing about their successes; partly because they are funny and partly because it reminds me that God shows up in ordinary, imperfect people who follow Him.

 

God shows up in ordinary, imperfect people who follow Him. Click To Tweet

 

The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”  As one who wrote more than two-thirds of the New Testament and who evangelized most of his known world, he might have been tempted to just say, “Follow my example.”  But his focus was pointing people to Christ.

Grandmother pointed me to Jesus.  An occasional temper flare up can never negate that.  I hope that when my grandchildren remember the quirks of their ordinary and imperfect grandpa, they remember someone who loved them, pointed them to Jesus, and helped them understand how much their lives matter to God.

I once commented that my kids got their temper from their mother.  She said that must be true because I still have mine.

Oops!

I guess if it works that way, they must have gotten their good looks from me.  After all, she still has hers.

081 – Church lessons from a restaurant opening [Podcast]

Are you listening to your guests?

Church lessons from a restaurant opening

 

Welcome to Season 2 of the Your Church Matters podcast.  In this episode (81), I am sharing some thoughts from a recent restaurant visit and how that relates to your church’s guest-friendliness.

 

 

Previous Episodes on the topic of Guest-Friendliness

Episode 41 – Make your church more guest-friendly in 7 days

Episode 42 – So you think you’re guest-friendly

 

Top church insights from the restaurant grand opening

  • Help your members know your church.  Each member and regular attender is part of the unofficial guest-relations team.
  • Pay attention to your guests.  They see things you don’t see.  Their questions and comments can actually help you see your blind spots.
  • Develop really good systems for all you do and evaluate regularly.  What is going well?  What needs attention? What are we missing?
  • Feed them really good food. The best “guest experience” in the world is no substitute for spiritual nourishment.

 

Question:  What’s the first adjustment you can make starting today to make your church more guest-friendly?

 

 

Would you like to join me on an amazing Alaskan Cruise with a mission?

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Forget about it!

The gift of forgetfulness

Forget about it!

 

I once heard in church a story that was both poignant and humorous. A man told about taking his mother to church shortly after she had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.  The sermon that day was based on James 5:16 – “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”

As the preacher talked about the value of Christians confessing their sins to each other and not carrying the weight of guilt by themselves, he also warned that confession should only be made to trustworthy people who would not allow the information to become a seed for gossip.  At the end of the service, the dear lady leaned over to her son and said, “That’s me! People can share whatever they want with me.  In five minutes, I won’t remember a thing!”

I would probably be cautious about telling that story if I hadn’t heard it spoken directly by this man who was respectfully and lovingly remembering the gracious heart of his mom. I have seen both family members and friends have their lives devastated by the cruel disease of Alzheimer’s. To lose a loved one, mentally, long before losing them physically is especially painful.  And for those persons who can no longer trust their minds to be truthful with them, the inability to remember is certainly one of the most frustrating and fearful conditions.  It is hard to imagine many things worse.

There is one exception – when memory loss is an intentional choice.  No, I’m not talking about deliberately forgetting to buy the skim milk that was on the shopping list because it tastes like dirty water. Or forgetting that it was your turn to take out the trash, knowing that your brother would have to do it. Or intentionally forgetting that neither of those are hypothetical!

Actually, I’m talking about something that is not humanly possible.  We do not have the capacity to choose to forget.  We can choose to ignore, deny, or forgive, but we cannot make an intentional choice to forget. That is an ability that belongs exclusively to God.  Jeremiah 31:34 records these amazing words spoken by God – “And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.”

Wow!  Did you get how powerful that is?  God, who is the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful, unlimited Creator of all that exists, says He will deliberately choose to forget the sins He has forgiven.  He doesn’t say He will hide them away in a secret place in case he needs to pull them out and hold them over our heads.  He says He will use His unlimited power to cause Himself to completely remove them from His unlimited memory.

 

God will use His unlimited power to completely remove our sins from His unlimited memory. Click To Tweet

 

I must confess that I can’t completely wrap my mind around that reality.  And I think the problem is that I can’t forget all my sins. Sometimes some bad decision, impure thought, harsh or careless word from long ago creeps back into my memory and I feel guilty all over again.  How could God really forgive and forget?

I can’t completely understand it, but I have to trust that His word is true and that my life matters enough to Him that He has forgotten my sins, but has never forgotten His love for me.

 

He has forgotten my sins, but has never forgotten His love for me. #jeremiah31_4 Click To Tweet

 

What an amazing gift!

080 – Sometimes answers just aren’t enough [Podcast]

Cling to the Answerer

answerer

 

Welcome to Season 2 of the Your Church Matters podcast.  In this episode (80), I am sharing a recent blog post and some thoughts on the goodness of God even in times of trouble and grief.

 

 

Read the post here

 

When Answers Aren’t Enough (Scott Wesley Brown)

 

To comment on this episode or leave a question for a future episode:

1. Comment section below

2. Email: contactgerrylewis@gmail.com

3. Voicemail: 817-929-0643

4. Direct tweet @drgerrylewis

 

Do you have your copy of my Best Selling Book yet?

 

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What do you need to know about the book?  (click on links)

 

 

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He’s still good

Jesus wasn't for nothin'

He's still good

 

“God is good!”  I hear that phrase and see it on Facebook often.  It almost always follows a report of some kind of blessing.  We got some much needed rain today.  My friend got a good report from the doctor.  I got the job.  My kids made the trip safely.  We baptized three people at church today.

I love hearing good news!  And I love it when people publicly acknowledge the truth of James 1:17—“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

I know it bothers some cynics when a successful public figure says, “I just want to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”  It even bothers some Christ-followers when someone says that who has made some, shall we say, less than Christ-honoring choices.

It doesn’t bother me.  I love Jesus and anytime He is thanked publicly is a good thing, as far as I am concerned.

But there’s something that is often missing in our public declarations.  I’d like to hear the loser say, “I want to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for giving me the ability to compete.”  I’d like to see all of us acknowledge this incredible truth, even in the midst of the worst days and worst news of our lives: He’s still good.

In the past few days, several of my preacher friends have had reason to question the goodness of God.  One lost his wife in a tragic automobile accident.  Another’s wife is going through chemotherapy and is suffering terribly.  Another’s wife fell and broke her hip.  Another had back surgery and is looking at a long period of time before he can return to ministry.  Another lost his sister.  Another lost his mom.

What do these have in common?  They are all preachers—those who are in the business of telling people in times of struggle that God is still good.  It is easy to say to others, but do we really mean it?

The other things all these men have in common is that they are all members of the human race and live in a broken world where terrible things happen.  People get bad reports from the doctor.  Loved ones don’t make it.  Trips are not negotiated safely.  Jobs and relationships are lost.

Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)  You. Will. Have. Trouble.

One of my deeply grieving friends wrote this: “Remember, the gospel is just as true today as it was yesterday morning. When Jesus stepped out of the grave it was a statement and a promise — he had overcome, and he promised the same for all who would own such a humble King. Cry. Be mad. Grieve. But NEVER be hopeless. Jesus wasn’t for nothin’.”

Jesus: He’s still good.  He’s still God.  Our lives still matter to Him.