If You Bake It, They Will Come

Perhaps you know that allusion to the 1989 film “Field of Dreams” when the whispered phrase “if you build it, they will come” motivates a farmer baseball fan to plow his corn over in order to build a baseball field. If you don’t know the allusion-now you do 🙂

In inviting teens to events (which I do often in my job as a Youth Center Director at The Factory Ministries)-I often effectively get these awesome teens to come out to stuff when there is FREE FOOD. Who doesn’t love free food, right?! This morning, I have two teens coming to church with me that I promised breakfast to before we head into the service. It’s a joy for me to tell friends, students, co-workers, etc. “Hey! How about you come over to my place (or meet at IHOP) for breakfast (I’m thinking blueberry pancakes!) and then we’ll go to church together, you game?” Breakfast gives a casual, peaceful time to connect or relax their nerves if their anxious about church for whatever reason. It can be a time they ask questions, or a time just to laugh together-mark the day with joy-before heading into the service.

Consider these statistics from a 2014 article in Christianity Today:

  • 67% of Americans say a personal invitation from a family member would be very or somewhat effective in getting them to visit a church.
  • 63% of Americans say a personal invitation from a friend or neighbor would be very or somewhat effective in getting them to visit a church.
  • 63% of Americans are very or somewhat willing to receive information about a local congregation or faith community from a family member.
  • 56% of Americans are very or somewhat willing to receive information about a local congregation or faith community from a friend or neighbor.

Even though this is a couple years old, I think the message is clear and still accurate. You’ve got a pretty good chance of getting a positive reaction to inviting someone to church! Many people long for community, are curious about the gospel and its effect in people’s lives, and miss going to church but are overwhelmed by the prospect of finding one and being the “new person”. God can use you to alleviate some of their fears and misconceptions!

Maybe baking scones isn’t your thing–find something that is! Inviting them to church is AWESOME, but inviting them into a friendship relationship is an imperative piece of the puzzle. Maybe you and your co-worker bond over tennis, or movies, or your kids–so maybe incorporate that into a Sunday after church activity that gives you the opportunity to be with them at church, and then process the service together over lunch, or time on a court, or while your kids swim, etc. etc. etc.

Bottom Lines:

  • Lovingly and kindly invite people to church-they often will come!
    • You have to know the difference church and the gospel makes in your life, so that this is a natural outpouring of the change in you
  • Don’t JUST invite them-be with them every step of the way
    • Things like: park here, I’ll be in the foyer, my family sits here you can too–can make the morning so comfortable and stressless for your visitor
  • Build a relationship with them through doing something else together
    • “Don’t invite people to church, until you’ve invited them into your home” can be a powerful line to help you remember that it’s not about church attendance- but about your investment in their lives.

The gospel travels best over bridges of relationship ❤ I encourage you to pray that THIS WEEK God puts someone in your life and on your heart to continue building a relationship with and invite them to church. Let me know how it goes 🙂

Love,

Betty

Hymns Shape My Thinking

Admittedly,  I have a bit of an old soul. One of the ways that manifests itself is through my song preferences at church 🙂 I. Love. Hymns. I love the old melody lines-ragged with years of being clung to. I love the wordy lines that engage my heart and pop into my head later that week right when I need to hear truth. I love the harmonies that allow the congregation to make such a beautiful sound unto the Lord.

I’ve heard pastor’s say, “You don’t walk out of a church service quoting the points from the sermon-you walk out humming the songs that were sung”. His point being, make sure the truth in your song lyrics are rich enough to mediate on as you sing them later.

One such song for me is the hymn “Day By Day”. This hymn has been with me through quite a number of trials and had been my guide to truth. It’s reminded me OVER and OVER and OVER again to trust my Father’s wisdom and kind heart, to rest in the promises of the word, and to delight in his care for me. I need songs like that in my life 🙂

Day by day, and with each passing moment,
Strength I find to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.
He, whose heart is kind beyond all measure,
Gives unto each day what He deems best,
Lovingly its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

Every day the Lord Himself is near me,
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear and cheer me,
He whose name is Counsellor and Pow’r.
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
“As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,”
This the pledge to me He made.

Help me then, in every tribulation,
So to trust Thy promises, O Lord,
That I lose not faith’s sweet consolation,
Offered me within Thy holy Word.
Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
E’er to take, as from a father’s hand,
One by one, the days, the moments fleeting,
Till with Christ the Lord I stand.

What are your heart’s “go to” songs or hymns?

 

Before You Go to Church-Do These 3 Things!

My thought for today is simply that prepping our hearts and minds for church is an important part of a Sunday morning routine.

You’re going to dress up, be greeted by strangers and friends, sing songs, pray, listen to a sermon, maybe take communion, and a few other things specific to your congregation. Sometimes we go into this beautiful opportunity tired, unengaged, irritated, or distracted. But WOW-Sunday morning church is so much more fulfilling and spirit-stirring when we take the time to think about what we are doing and why. 

#1-Remember that you sing to declare who God is. We often need to remember how BIG he is, or how KIND, or how POWERFUL. We need to sing to remind ourselves of truth about him and thusly our circumstances. Worship music also allows us to respond to his AMAZING characteristics by praising him and thanking him. Through song, we elevate him to where he should always be in our hearts & minds-supreme.

#2- Remember that you listen to the sermon to know God by his word. When you’re in love, you want to know every single detail about that person. You want to know what makes them laugh until they cry, what they are like when they are mad, what they were like as a kid, and anything else you can learn about them! Let’s pray for that sort of eagerness in knowing our Savior, King, and Good Father.

#3- Remember that when you talk to people at church-it’s not because it’s a social gathering or some kind of club where you’re just supposed to be nice-but because you’re a family. You are supposed to know each others victories and defeats. You’re supposed to do life together so that we can rally around in the good times and bad and point each other to Christ.

I am more quickly able to worship with true reverence, awe, and without distraction when I’ve already prepped my heart and mind to be thinking about WHO God is. I delight in and retain the message better when I’ve engaged my mind with the truth that knowing God is the greatest gift and privilege known to man, and I am receiving part of that gift this morning. I am able to engage with my church family with the proper motivation, mindset, and vulnerability when I see them as brothers and sisters that I am supposed to invest in and be loved by.

So before you set foot inside your church this morning–maybe in the van ride there, or over your breakfast cereal bowl–pray. Pray that God will help you in these three areas this morning–that he will give you a mind that understands him and a heart that loves him and his people. Oh, and feel free to let me know if it makes any sort of difference in your Sunday morn! 🙂

With Love,
Betty

 

 

What I Learned from Dating Around…for the Perfect Church

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I moved back in April, and thusly was on a quest to find the “right church for me”. With a history of solid churches in my background and a Bachelors in Bible, I was ready to joyfully overanalyze every church I visited until finding the one that fit me! 🙂

I researched churches online and asked locals about their church of choice. I knew that I needed to be full of both discernment and grace. I needed to make sure I could submit theologically to their leadership, and that I could be discipled and have the opportunity to disciple through the church–but I can’t be TOO picky. I know that I’d never find a perfect church, and if I did-i shouldn’t join it, because I’d ruin it!

And so I began church dating.

At least that’s what it felt like.

“Oh Betty, you would LOVE _______. He is just AMAZING! His family is the best, and he is super musical-just like you! You guys could do it together”

“Betty-you should totally meet up with _______! He has such a great heart; you would be really good for him. ”

Etc. etc. 😉

So I would visit a church (the first date), and often walk away with a heavy heart. I was confused, because the churches were GREAT-I just “wasn’t feeling it”. Why didn’t I want to go on a second date? Was it because he talked about himself the whole time? Or  because he didn’t tip the waitress? Or because I feel like, though he’s a godly guy, he is clearly still stuck in the 90’s, and brother has no sense of humor? Are these okay reasons not to go back? I hated not being plugged in to a local body of believers, and I know many of them would have been good choices to “date”-I just had no peace.

There was one church I visited, Keystone, that was nearly perfect at first. I loved their gospel centeredness. I appreciated their worship service and their song choices really stirred my affections for Christ. They had a great heart for missions and for youth and for prayer. It seemed like a second date was definitely a possibility! But then I became really discouraged about the sermon (we simply weren’t in Scripture as much as I think we should be), and so after the last song, I hightailed it outta there fast and decided that was a big NO for me thanks.

I continued searching for a church.

However, I couldn’t get Keystone out of my head.

Two weeks ago I was at a picnic in the park that Keystone hosted. I watched their church serve their community. They went above and beyond to bless and interact with people, and I got to know some families from the church.

And there I realized, I’ve been church hopping/hunting/dating ALL wrong.

The problem with my thinking was that I went to churches seeking to “experience” the church, and not seeking to be PART of the church. I didn’t view the church as the body of believers I would be shaped by, I viewed the church by the sermon’s depth or the musicians focus or the bulletin’s contents (though all important things). I went home that night and spent hours on their website again-listening to more sermons and allowing the Holy Spirit to convict me of pride, and encourage me deeply with what I was hearing.

Once I visited Keystone again with a heart desiring to be part of the body-my experience changed completely. I didn’t just come and go without striving to be involved. I came a little early, met people, stayed a little late and connected again. I was so blessed by the people I spoke to. I realized that this Bride of Christ is where I want to go to grow in my love for the Lord and partner in the spread of the Gospel.

So, if you ever find yourself church hopping/hunting/dating- just remember to clothe yourself in prayer, and don’t just go expecting to be impressed. Go with a heart that wants to learn, worship, and serve alongside of this community and seek to discover if this is where God will make that happen!

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Also, because I love laughing:

A Question for my Married Friends

So this is something I’ve been thinking about for a while.

The Old Testament is full of the relationship between God and his chosen people being compared to a husband and wife. And then Jesus, in the New Testament of course, says that awesome bit in Ephesians 5 about husbands loving their wives as Christ loves the church. So I infer that the opposite is also true. Wives then are to love their husbands like the church love Christ, right?

So I’ve been asking myself, what does that really look like?

This is what I’ve come up with. God/Christ/Husband Figure is supposed to be the pursuer, the delighter, the sustainer, and the provider. That is what God does with his people. He chooses us, he lavishes love and (TOTALLY UNDESERVED) grace upon us. He is the one that keeps the relationship together. Though we are prone to wander (Lord, I feel it!), it is HE who fights for our unity. He gives his children all that they need and satisfies them.

The proper response of the church-is to be crazy about Jesus, right? We are to be all about praising Him, and lifting Him up,and helping others see Him as glorious and awesome as He truly is. We should LOVE being with Him more than ANY other thing, and we should respond to his love with delight and thanksgiving. We should be ALL ABOUT serving Him, and ALL ABOUT pleasing Him because we are so grateful for the way that He loves us.

Right?

And our marriages are supposed to reflect that, right? OBVIOUSLY, no couple will ever be perfect. And OBVIOUSLY we should NOT worship our husband, and we DON’T save our wives. But in a smaller, defaced humanistic sort of way, isn’t that what it should look like to the outside world and feel like to us?

I need to know what my married brothers and sisters think, because I know I dream big and am a die hard optimist. Am I seeing this correctly?

One day I hope to be married, and I so badly want people to watch the interactions my husband and I have, and say “that’s awesome”. So that my response will be: It’s awesome because it’s a reflection of God and us. And then they’ll be all like “whaaa” and I’ll tell them the gospel, and how awesome God’s love is, and how easy it is for me to serve Him with my life because of his love. Then I want to look to my awesome husband, and point out that though he is faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa-aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar from perfect (am I equally, if not farther from it), he loves me awesomely, which makes it’s easier to selflessly serve him.

Where am I wrong in this analysis? Where am I right? Help a sister out!

Mounted Scripture Art 16x20  Ephesians by ToSuchAsTheseDesigns, $45.00