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

A Hymn to Start Your Day!

“Jesus isn’t an escape from life’s trials, but he’s our closest friend through them.” —Burk Parsons

What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!

Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.

Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised
Thou wilt all our burdens bear;
May we ever, Lord, be bringing
All to Thee in earnest prayer.

Soon in glory bright, unclouded,
There will be no need for prayer—
Rapture, praise, and endless worship
Will be our sweet portion there.

Gifts and Limitations: Weighty Wings Let You Fly

I had a dear friend over yesterday evening for dinner and some sweet time together. While chatting we grabbed a book from my shelf that I gave her a copy of for her wedding. She leafed through Elisabeth Elliott’s “Let Me Be a Woman” and read aloud to me an impactful part she had just been thinking about recently concerning insecurities:

“The elephant and the mouse might each complain about his size, the turtle about his shell, the bird about the weight of his wings. But elephants are not called upon to run behind wainscots, mice will not be found ‘pacing along as though they have an appointment at the end of the world’, turtles have no need to fly nor birds to creep. The special gift and ability of each creature defines its special limitations. And as the bird easily comes to terms with the necessity of bearing wings when it finds that it is, in fact, the wings that bear the bird.”

Hmm…Let’s read that again. “The special gift and ability of each creature defines its special limitations. And as the bird easily comes to terms with the necessity of bearing wings when it finds that it is, in fact, the wings that bear the bird.”

After reading that, (this is one of the reasons why I am so blessed by our friendship!) it only seemed natural to take the next few minutes identifying gifts that we see in one another and it’s corresponding limitations. What are the “wings” in our lives that we think weigh us down-but really are what allow us to fly? God is a brilliant designer…how might we praise him instead of complaining about the weight of our wings?

I’ll give just one example. My dear friend is a woman of grace. I look up to her in so many ways, and I am so blessed by her example of having a “gentle and quiet spirit”. When I am worked up, disheartened, disheveled, and dramatic-she is peaceful, soothing, calm, soft, kind, and loving. I see her soft demeanor as a huge blessing. But she can sometimes be tempted to see it as a limitation. Within a group of people, she sometimes cannot be heard. She is not the “life of the party” or the bombastic teacher that she thinks she’d like to be sometimes. It is seen as a limitation, but really the limitation is a rare and lovely gift from God for her to best accomplish his purposes through her life. What she (sometimes) finds most frustrating about herself, is actually one of the very things that is most lovely, and most impactful about her!

We each thought of 2 things (gifts that we often see as limitations) in one another’s life and it was a very encouraging time! So I want to encourage you to 1.) think of “limitations” you perceive in yourself, and how they might actually be gifts to praise God for and serve God with 2.) think of someone in your life that views one of their gifts as a limitation and call/text/facebook message/skype/snapchat/snail mail/etc. them to encourage them with the gift God has given them, OR 3.) comment below with any thoughts pertaining to gifts and limitations! 😀

As always, thanks so much for reading! I pray through this blog you grow to love and know God more! Enjoy some Elisabeth Elliot quotes below!

THINK SOMETHING KIND-SAY SOMETHING KIND

My professor made this comment today when discussing change and conflict:

“It takes 20 statements of encouragement to balance out one statement of discouragement.”

That’s right folks. 20-to-1.

This isn’t going to be long, or profound, or beautifully said. My point is simple: our words are powerful. They can (even unbeknownst to us!) be destructive and pain-evoking, or they can be empowering and be life-giving.

My simple challenge/throw-down/idea is just for you to try and make it a habit to be a person of uplifting words. Think of ways to intentionally encourage people you interact with tomorrow. If you think something positive about someone-just tell them! Don’t keep it to yourself! You don’t know what statement of discouragement they may be needing to battle today.

But hey, don’t take my word for it! Look at The Word!

 

1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

 

Ephesians 4:29 ESV

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

 

Hebrews 10:24-25 esv

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

You Might be the Answer to Your Own Prayer

There are some people in my life that I pray for pretty consistently. And I pray for them about the most important thing I can pray for anyone about-their relationship with God. Often times I say something like this:

“Lord I care so deeply for ________, and I know you care for them even more. Please Lord, I know that they will only be whole if they stop trying to live life on their own and they run to you. I so badly want them to find purpose and joy and in you. I want to be able to talk to them about how amazing and faithful and fulfilling you are. Father, please, do whatever you have to in their life to bring them back to you. Do whatever it takes for them to see their need and find their meaning in you. Help them see the truth. I love and trust you. Amen.”

And I pray that and I mean that. But I am still surprised when it starts to happen.  We God starts to allow things in their life to unravel to show them that HE is more satisfying than anything this world has to offer. That HE is the only true love, real friend, steadfast peace, and eternal hope that they can have. But they can’t always see it on their own. Not past their own tears, confusion, and pain-they are blinded by it. So again I pray “help them see the truth”.

Then I realize that God has been preparing my heart for this. That I am not supposed to stand idely by and watch them grapple with purposelessness, but instead I need to be ready to help them see what God wants them to see. I don’t want this opportunity to come and for me to miss the role that God wants me to play in it because I am too afraid to “offend” or “make things awkward”.

I guess my point to all of this is to say, that if you have someone in your life (like I do right now) who is hurting badly, I think that you might be the answer to your own prayer. If you have been praying for them and God allows trials to come, maybe through the power of the Holy Spirit it is YOU who is supposed to be breathing truth and weaving the beauty of the gospel into the tapestry of their story. Pray for words of wisdom, the perfect mixture of love and boldness, and divine appointments to know when to be silent and when to speak to help them see the truth.