099C – Why you MUST unplug (encore) [Podcast]

Encore episode during hiatus

Welcome to Season 3 of the Your Church Matters podcast. I’m currently on podcast hiatus until June 2, 2017, when I will be back with a brand new episode for episode 100. Between now and then, I’m releasing encore presentations of some of my favorite previous episodes. In this episode (99c) I’m going all the way back to Episode 5.

For the original show notes, please click here.

 

How you can help me help others:

  • Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes and give us a rating and review. 
  • We are also on Stitcher.com and Google Play, so if you prefer one of those formats, please subscribe there.
  • Share the love by clicking on one or more of the social share buttons at either the top or bottom of this post.

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

*Special thanks to Keith Cooper (Guitar Music)

*Special thanks to Nathan Woodward (Saxophone Music)

099B – How to stay overworked and busy in ministry (encore) [Podcast]

Encore episode during hiatus

 

Welcome to Season 3 of the Your Church Matters podcast. I’m currently on podcast hiatus until June 2, 2017, when I will be back with a brand new episode for episode 100. Between now and then, I’m releasing encore presentations of some of my favorite previous episodes. In this episode (99b) I’m going all the way back to Episode 2.

 

 

For the original show notes, please click here.

 

How you can help me help others:

  • Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes and give us a rating and review. 
  • We are also on Stitcher.com and Google Play, so if you prefer one of those formats, please subscribe there.
  • Share the love by clicking on one or more of the social share buttons at either the top or bottom of this post.

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

*Special thanks to Keith Cooper (Guitar Music)

*Special thanks to Nathan Woodward (Saxophone Music)

099A – There is no magic bullet (encore) [Podcast]

Encore episode during hiatus

 

Welcome to Season 3 of the Your Church Matters podcast. I’m currently on podcast hiatus until June 2, 2017 when I will be back with a brand new episode for episode 100. Between now and then, I’m releasing encore presentations of some of my favorite previous episodes. In this episode (99a) I’m going all the way back to Episode 1.

 

For the original show notes, please click here.

 

How you can help me help others:

  • Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes and give us a rating and review. 
  • We are also on Stitcher.com and Google Play, so if you prefer one of those formats, please subscribe there.
  • Share the love by clicking on one or more of the social share buttons at either the top or bottom of this post.

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

*Special thanks to Keith Cooper (Guitar Music)

*Special thanks to Nathan Woodward (Saxophone Music)

099 – Finding a Good Church (and a special announcement) [Podcast]

A listener question and a hiatus

Welcome to Season 3 of the Your Church Matters podcast. In this episode (99) I’m finishing a multi-episode series answering questions from a survey I did a few months back with my subscriber list.

Announcement

I’m also announcing that, due to upcoming travel that will have me out of pocket (much of it out of country) for the better part of 6 weeks AND due to a case of overwhelm (my fault for saying yes too often), I’m going to go on podcast hiatus until June 2017.

But don’t bail on me! There will still be a podcast each week, just not new episodes.  I will be reprising some of my earlier content that I think bears repeating.  For some of the newer members of our community, the content may actually be fresh.  For others, maybe you will hear something you didn’t hear the first time around.

During the break, I won’t be ignoring the podcast.   I’ll be recording interviews that will add a new element to the podcast format, bring in new voices, and add increasing value for churches and leaders.

One final note on the schedule: Since the next episode will be the 100th episode, I want to celebrate that milestone with fresh content.  Therefore the hiatus reprise episodes that will begin next week will be episode 99A and following.  Each new episode will release on Friday morning (unless I somehow mess up the auto scheduling while traveling).

Now to the Listener Question

Finding a good church was the survey response by one listener.  Since there was no more detail than that, I don’t know whether this individual is frustrated with a current church or is wanting some tips about finding a church home when either moving into a new community or returning to church life after an extended absence.  I’m going to address it from both standpoints, but I also want pastors and church leaders to consider how this applies to how you respond to unfamiliar faces at your church.

Frustrated

For those frustrated with a current church, I want to point you to a couple of previous episodes where I answered listener questions.

Episode 006 – What can one person do? Teresa asked for, “Practical tips on what one person can do to help realign their church with the Biblical ideal…or how one person can make a difference.”

Episode 014 – How do you stay with a church when it changes? Carmen asked, “How do you stay with a church when it changes?  How do you stay loyal?”

In addition to the answers contained in those two episodes, I would offer the following to the frustrated:

  • There is no perfect church.  Say it out loud with me: THERE IS NO PERFECT CHURCH.
  • Be cautious and gracious in any criticism you offer.
  • The church does not exist to make you happy or to meet your needs, but to share your journey, help you grow in Christ-likeness, and help you discover your unique contribution to the work of the Kingdom of God.
  • Examine yourself and see if you may be projecting onto the church a frustration that is really internal.

 

Seeking

To those who are seeking a church home either because you are in a new community, you are new to faith, or you are ready to come back to church after an extended absence, I offer the following:

  • There is no perfect church.  Say it out loud with me: THERE IS NO PERFECT CHURCH.
  • Visit a church enough times and observe enough variety of activities and ministries to get a true picture of who they are.  If you attend only the Sunday morning worship service, you will not learn much about the church.  Sit in on a Sunday School class (or whatever they call it).  If they have midweek activities, check them out.  Let your kids experience activities related to them.  Spend several weeks in a row with a church before you decide to either engage more deeply or move on to repeat the search with another church.
  • Pay attention to how they treat you as a guest. Were they helpful in answering your questions?  Did you feel welcome?  Did you feel like you had a target on your back?
  • Pay attention to how they treat each other.  Do they seem to enjoy being together?  Do they seem to have genuine concern for one another?
  • Pay attention to how they pray.  Are their prayers limited to praying for the sick or simply praying that God would bless their gathering?  Are they praying for their community and for the world? Is prayer a central part of everything they do?
  • Pay attention to how they engage with the Bible.  Is the Bible central to their worship and small groups?  Are the sermons built around Biblical texts?  Do they give any indication that they doubt the truth or reliability of the Bible?
  • Pay attention to how the members talk about their church.  Are they talking about how God is at work?  Are they talking about ministries?  Do they speak positively about their own experiences?  Do they speak positively about their fellow members?
  • Pay attention to how they talk about other churches in the community?  Do they seem to be in competition?  Are they critical of other churches and other pastors?  Do they have a Kingdom mindset that celebrates the work of God anywhere?
  • Pay attention to how people in the community talk about the church.  Do those who are not members have any impression of the church at all?  Do nonmembers speak positively about the church’s presence in and impact on the community?
  • Can you see yourself not simply attending this church, but serving Jesus alongside this group of people?
  • Do you have a sense that God may be directing you here?
  • Repeat this with me: THERE IS NO PERFECT CHURCH, BUT GOD WANTS ME TO BE A PART OF ONE THAT IS MOVING FORWARD WITH HIM.

How you can help me help others:

  • Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes and give us a rating and review. 
  • We are also on Stitcher.com and Google Play, so if you prefer one of those formats, please subscribe there.
  • Share the love by clicking on one or more of the social share buttons at either the top or bottom of this post.

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

*Special thanks to Keith Cooper (Guitar Music)

*Special thanks to Nathan Woodward (Saxophone Music)

098 – What are the things we can’t get wrong? [Podcast]

A listener question

Welcome to Season 3 of the Your Church Matters podcast. In this episode (98) I’m continuing a multi-episode series answering questions from a survey I did a few months back with my subscriber list.

 

Question: “What are the things we can’t get wrong – the essentials?”

 

 

If you were to ask 100 leaders this question, you would likely get 100 different answers.  Certainly, there would be similarities, but my guess is that no two lists would be identical. Since you asked me, I am assuming you want my answer.

My disclaimer: This is my answer; it is not the answer, nor is it the best answer.

 

A Jesus-focused church

It is my conviction that the #1 thing we can’t get wrong is that our churches must be Jesus-focused.  A Jesus-focused church is a community made up of people who are on-mission to live out the Christ-life:  loving who He loves, obeying what He says, demonstrating His character, and influencing the culture toward Him.

I spent a whole chapter unpacking the idea of the Jesus-focused church in my book Why “Bible Study” Doesn’t Work: The epic failure of evangelicalism’s favorite discipleship method – and how YOUR CHURCH can do something about it.

(Click here to listen to that chapter)

 

A blueprint for a Jesus-focused church

If we are going to build a church building, we would need a good set of plans.  If we are going to build a church, we need a set of plans from the Chief Architect.  To use that metaphor, the things we can’t get wrong – the essentials – would be the foundation and the load-bearing walls.

Foundation

Jesus is building His church (see Matthew 16:13-18).  The foundation of the church is the reality of Jesus Christ – His identity, purpose, completed work on the cross, and current activity in the world.

Load-bearing walls

  1. The Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) – equipping disciples to live as those who walk in step with Jesus, empowered by the Holy Spirit, demonstrating His character in both attitude and action.
  2. The Great Commandment (Matthew 22:35-40) – loving God by choosing to give Him His rightful place at the center of your existence, so that He receives your complete allegiance and ultimate affection.  We are also to love our neighbors by seeking to be a neighbor to those who need it most.
  3. A New Commandment (John 13:34-35) – loving one another with Jesus-like love demonstrated in the way we live out our lives in community.

 

How you can help me help others:

  • Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes and give us a rating and review. 
  • We are also on Stitcher.com and Google Play, so if you prefer one of those formats, please subscribe there.
  • Share the love by clicking on one or more of the social share buttons at either the top or bottom of this post.

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

*Special thanks to Keith Cooper (Guitar Music)

*Special thanks to Nathan Woodward (Saxophone Music)

097 – How do you know when to help people? [Podcast]

Listener question

Welcome to Season 3 of the Your Church Matters podcast. In this episode (97) I’m continuing a multi-episode series answering questions from a survey I did a few months back with my subscriber list.

 

Question: “There are so many people out to scam others so how do you know when to help people. I have heard different takes on this but no one wants to be taken so how do you handle this?”

 

 

Issues at hand

Since there are some particulars about the questions with which I am unfamiliar, I’ve identified some general issues:

  • Requests for help come both to churches and to individuals.  Since this podcast is more church focused, I will lean that way in my discussion.  However, some principles work either way.
  • Requests for help come both from individuals and organizations/causes.  Some principles work either way, but there will certainly need to be individualized responses.

I have good news and bad news.

First, the bad news

  • There are indeed people who are out to scam.
  • They will target Christians because they know:
    • We care deeply.
    • We look for the best in people and causes.
    • We tend not to really do our homework
    • We are generally unfocused.
    • We are easily manipulated by sad stories.
    • We are supposed to be gracious and forgiving.
  • At some point, someone will take advantage of us.

Grandpa said (when someone took advantage of him), “If he can live with it, I can live without it.”

The good news

  • Those with legitimate needs and good causes far outnumber the scammers.
  • It is much easier to find information than ever before.
  • The fact that you are able to ask the question is an indication that God has blessed you with resources to help.
  • God does not expect you to say “yes” to every request, but to display His character in every response.

With those in mind, I want to finish with some strategic focus.  Strategy does not kill freedom; it creates it.  If you have clarity on where you are and where you are headed, you are able to make better decisions because you are not having to create strategy “on the fly” in every circumstance.

Be strategic

  • Clearly identify your missional priorities and strategies.
  • Strengthen partnerships to multiply effective ministry.
  • Prayerfully choose a primary focus ministry and review annually.
  • Establish a budget (time, talent, money).
  • Say “no” with grace because you are clear on your larger “yes.”
  • Leave room for “God moments.”

 

How you can help me help others:

  • Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes and give us a rating and review. 
  • We are also on Stitcher.com and Google Play, so if you prefer one of those formats, please subscribe there.
  • Share the love by clicking on one or more of the social share buttons at either the top or bottom of this post.

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

*Special thanks to Keith Cooper (Guitar Music)

*Special thanks to Nathan Woodward (Saxophone Music)

 

 

096 – How do we help people choose to come to church on Sunday? [Podcast]

A listener question

 

Welcome to Season 3 of the Your Church Matters podcast. Starting with this episode (96) I’m going to spend several episodes answering questions from a survey I did a few months back with my subscriber list.

 

Question: “Church vs. the recliner, how do we get people to feel comfortable coming to our time of Praise, Worship & Bible Teaching?”

 

 

Non-judgmental Analysis

First, I want to offer an analysis of the question.  I can’t be unbiased (no one can), but I intend to be non-judgmental.  I’m simply responding to what I see in the question.

Church vs. the Recliner – Is the “recliner” your main competition?  If you were to survey the non-church-attenders within a two-mile radius of your church, what percentage would say that they are spending that time sitting in the recliner instead of going to church?  I know that the question was posed by a male over the age of 60 who is retired from a non-church business (based on survey responses), so the “recliner” may be more of an issue within that demographic.  However, I suspect that it would still be a small percentage.

How do we get people to feel comfortable coming – Is your church really uncomfortable? If that is the case, what makes it so?  If the “recliner” is truly the main competition, then “comfort” may really be a big issue.  I wonder how many of those non-church-attenders would say, “I just don’t feel comfortable there,” because they know from having been there.  I also wonder how many would say, “I wouldn’t feel comfortable there,” out of speculation based on their perception or what they have heard?  Again, I suspect that “comfort” is not the primary issue.

Our time of Praise, Worship, and Bible Teaching – This may provide us with a good transition point.  “Our time” suggests to me that we are trying to get them to join us in what we are doing.  We may be getting somewhere with this one.  The tension between what we are doing on Sunday morning and what they are doing on Sunday morning is real.  How to most effectively deal with it is key.

Possible Diagnostic Questions

  1. What are people in our area doing on Sunday morning instead of going to church somewhere? Let’s not just think about our church, but let’s broaden it to any church. Are most of them really sitting home in the recliner?  Are they doing yard work?  Are they participating in youth sports leagues?  Are they on the lake or the golf course?  What options are there in our community?  Knowing those things will help us figure out how best to connect.  Assuming that the “recliner” is the only other attraction will limit our thinking and perhaps create ineffective outreach methods.
  2. Is our church really uncomfortable? If it were physically uncomfortable (seating, temperature, schedule) or had a spiritually/emotionally uncomfortable atmosphere, the regular attenders would be mentioning it. If that is the case, then start thinking about what adjustments or modifications can be made.
  3. Is our church comfortable to insiders but we are not communicating it well to guests or potential guests?  Could it be that our atmosphere and facilities are comfortable, but not guest-friendly?  I’ll refer you to two previous podcasts on the subject of guest-friendliness: Episode 41 – Make your church more guest-friendly in 7 days and Episode 42 – So, you think you’re guest-friendly.
  4. If our church closed, how long would it take for the non-church-attenders in our community to notice? I mentioned earlier that I suspect “comfort” is not the main issue. Is it possible that they don’t think church really matters?  Is it possible they don’t think attending church would have any impact on their lives?  Is it possible they don’t think we have a clue about what is going on in the real world and are not really doing anything to make an impact on the world?  It is not our job to make the gospel or Jesus relevant.  It is our job to demonstrate real world relevance.  Personal Bias Alert: It is my contention that trying to make people comfortable with the concept of “Bible teaching” is not far from trying to get them comfortable with the concept of a colonoscopy.  If I don’t believe the Bible really has anything to say to my circumstances, why would I want to come and listen to someone teach it? I believe we have done a disservice to the Bible by studying it for knowledge gaining rather than for life transformation.  That’s why I wrote my latest book, Why “Bible Study” Doesn’t Work: The epic failure of evangelicalism’s favorite discipleship method – and how Your Church can do something about it.
  5. Does our church communicate that we are interested in the lives of the people who live around us?  Here is an inconvenient truth: We have been sent to them; they have not been sent to us.  We are the ones with the missionary commission from God.  By asking them to join us in what we are doing, we are asking them to be the missionaries.  Rather, we are called to bring the presence of Jesus and the influence of the gospel into their world.  One of the greatest hindrances to people coming to church is our failure to BE the church.

 

One of the greatest hindrances to people coming to church is our failure to BE the church. Click To Tweet

 

How you can help me help others:

  • Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes and give us a rating and review. 
  • We are also on Stitcher.com and Google Play, so if you prefer one of those formats, please subscribe there.
  • Share the love by clicking on one or more of the social share buttons at either the top or bottom of this post.

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

*Special thanks to Keith Cooper (Guitar Music)

*Special thanks to Nathan Woodward (Saxophone Music)

095 – Give me 10 good reasons not to give up on Facebook [Podcast]

10 tips for Facebook engagement for individuals and churches

Welcome to Season 3 of the Your Church Matters podcast. In this episode (95) was inspired by the Facebook post of a friend (not just a FB friend, but a real one for over 30 years).  I responded on Facebook and then decided to do a podcast for the benefit of other Christ-followers and churches who may be dealing with the same question.

The Seed

My friend’s post: Looking for 10 reasons to not leave facebook….ready…go

My response: Because we who have higher aspirations for Facebook and other social media should not abandon it to the trolls, whiners, critics, and generally miserable people who use it for no other reason than to spread their misery. Facebook is unparalleled in its connection potential for either good or evil. I choose to be intentional in how I use it for good, knowing that I will have to ignore a lot, block some, and endure some for the sake of making use of its kingdom potential. I hope you will as well.

The Growing Thoughts

Rather than simply giving reasons not to give up on Facebook, I thought it more helpful to give tips on how those of us who are not giving up can use it for effective engagement.

 

10 Tips for Facebook Engagement

1. See it as a tool.

2. See it as 1 tool in your toolbox.

3. Use it strategically to serve a larger mission.

4. Never forget that you are the guest in a public space.

5. Never forget that you represent your God, your church, your community.

6. Social media is about influence. We do not expand influence through burning bridges.

7. “Yes, and” is conversation.  “Yes, but” is argument. Nothing moves forward without common ground.

8. Please don’t equate yourself with Jesus or the prophets as an excuse for being offensive.

9. Don’t get sucked into other people’s drama.

10. Take regular breaks, unplug, get outside and breathe, be completely present with real people. (Turn off push notifications).

 

I mentioned this quote in this episode: Once you become a political operative for one party, you are a tool to one party, and enemy to the other, and prophetic to neither. The quote was from a guest on a recent episode of the 200 Churches Podcast.

How you can help me help others:

  • Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes and give us a rating and review. 
  • We are also on Stitcher.com and Google Play, so if you prefer one of those formats, please subscribe there.
  • Share the love by clicking on one or more of the social share buttons at either the top or bottom of this post.

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

*Special thanks to Keith Cooper (Guitar Music)

*Special thanks to Nathan Woodward (Saxophone Music)

094 – Sometimes the High Road is under construction [Podcast]

Choose it anyway

 

Welcome to Season 3 of the Your Church Matters podcast. In this episode (94) I talked about the concept of Taking the High Road.  I told a story of a recent situation where I had to choose the high road and then used the metaphor of a road under construction, and signs you might see on such a road, to encourage living on the high road.

 

 

Three signs you may see on a road under construction:

1. CAUTION.

Slow down; the high road can’t be rushed.  There are hazards to you and others.  Distracted driving can put you in the ditch.

2. UNDER CONSTRUCTION.

Something in you may need to be deconstructed, renovated, or created.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12:2)

3. LOCAL TRAFFIC ONLY.

Take up residence on the high road; don’t try to pass through quickly.

 

Two benefits of the High Road:

1. The view is magnificent.

2. Junk always runs downhill.

Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow, an undeserved curse does not come to rest. (Proverbs 26:2)

How you can help me help others:

  • Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes and give us a rating and review. 
  • We are also on Stitcher.com and Google Play, so if you prefer one of those formats, please subscribe there.
  • Share the love by clicking on one or more of the social share buttons at either the top or bottom of this post.

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

*Special thanks to Keith Cooper (Guitar Music)

*Special thanks to Nathan Woodward (Saxophone Music)

093 – Embarking on the Journey to Amazing [Podcast]

You can choose Amazing

 

Welcome to Season 3 of the Your Church Matters podcast. In this episode (93) I’m launching a new season with an explanation of a phrase that changed my life, encouragement that Amazing is possible, and a caution about two roadblocks that will keep you from Amazing.

 

 

The phrase that changed my life: “Now go and be amazing!”

The context/framework in which I use it: We are most amazing when we are amazed by God and join Him in His amazing activity in the world.

 

Two Roadblocks that will keep you from amazing

  1. You don’t believe amazing is possible.
  2. You are not willing to explore.

 

How you can help me help others:

  • Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes and give us a rating and review. 
  • We are also on Stitcher.com and Google Play, so if you prefer one of those formats, please subscribe there.
  • Share the love by clicking on one or more of the social share buttons at either the top or bottom of this post.

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

*Special thanks to Keith Cooper (Guitar Music)

*Special thanks to Nathan Woodward (Saxophone Music)