Archive for July 8th, 2013

First things first…. If you are not familiar with the “Coffee with Jesus” comics, you are missing out. You can see more of them by going here or here.

That said, I must admit, I didn’t really put a lot of thought into this one when it posted. However, this morning, I find it back on my mind as I compile several running thoughts in my head.

The church I pastor went through a lot of change in the 14-16 months. For about 7 years, we were always about 60 people and right now, we have a base of 120 or so. I know from a distance that doesn’t sound like much of a change but it has brought with it new challenges. (To see why we grew, go here).

One of the changes is the dreaded summer slump and it has been concerning and frustrating to me.

You see, when we were smaller, it was a very dedicated group of people who saw themselves as a connected unit (much like a home group). As a larger group, it’s easier to feel you come for a Sunday morning experience and if you don’t show up, people probably won’t notice. Then when you get to the summer, people load up their schedules with trips, relaxing, swimming pools, Cedar Point, and more while church slides down the list of priorities.  You start missing people and there is a distance felt. The fellowship struggles along. The Bible studies struggle along. The people who put in time and work to get the gatherings ready struggle a little with disappointment of how many are missing. (And yes…) The finances and tithing struggle as people put their focuses elsewhere, skip weeks, and hold back their tithe to pay for the summer fun.

Most recently, it was great to hear how well church went yesterday in my absence but disheartening to hear about half of our people were missing. By the way, dealing with “the pastor is out of town so this is a good week to skip” is a common problem we didn’t really have to deal with before but that I have noticed over the last year too).

Many of my pastor buddies tell me that is just how it goes. You get through the summer and then get back to jamming in the fall. To be honest, I don’t subscribe to that. There is nothing Biblical that supports that mentality and it feels like there must be ways to lead the church to keeping consistent and dedicated to Christian community and faithfulness. It’s really not all that hard to schedule that cookout for a Saturday instead of a Sunday. It’s a powerful testimony when you tell your family you can meet at the park at 1:00pm instead of noon because you have church.

At the same time, I know this is just the kind of thing I can over focus on and push too hard on. The frustration side of seeing what people can have and the group as a whole can have if we stay consistent can become a negative force instead of a caring one for me. I am still learning the balance.

That’s why this strip came back into my mind. It’s where the focus should be (at least for me this morning). Instead of being focused on the half that did not show up yesterday, I am THRILLED that half did! I got several texts and messages about how awesome it was. I am pumped to see Brent being used by God and how his hard work, study, and heart touched others. I am blessed with Mike taking the calling as Worship Coordinator and the team working together to lead us again in worship music. On finances… I know June was a tough month and I have no idea of yesterday’s collection… but I celebrate those who are being faithful (not to the church but to God through tithes and offerings) and through that, are blessing the ministry of the church and holding on the promises of God in their own life too! I am thankful for the children volunteers, the greeters, those who brought food and the computer operator who work behind the scenes for the ministry at hand!

Outside of yesterday, I am thankful for the leadership of Ginger and Carrie who worked on the groups for NT60 even if no one else came. I am thankful for those who are doing the reading for NT60 even though they could not go to the meetings. I am thankful for those volunteering to be elders, to be care givers and to Brenda for faithfully sending birthday cards each month. I am thankful for the visitors and the volunteers who are diving in, growing, and investing of themselves into the community.

I continue to pray for and reach out to those who could have so much more if they plugged in more but today, I am thankful for the hearts of so many who already are. I miss you guys and will see you soon!

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Psalm 3: 1-2

“O Lord, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me; many are saying of my soul, there is no salvation for him in God.”

Are you going through some tough times right now?

– Bills stacked up high and bill collectors calling?
– Your marriage or relationship is sinking fast?
– Loss of job or can’t find a job?
– Your child has walked away from you?
– Seems like everyone is conspiring against you?

King David in the Bible fully understands. His life was full of all kinds of ups and downs including one time towards the end of his life where his own son had turned against him. Absalom had rose up, gathered the nation around him, and declared himself king. He wanted his father dead and David fled the kingdom and was hiding in the wilderness.

In the midst of this season of threat and betrayal, David started his psalm by stating the issue at hand. The whole world was crushing in on him and he felt alone. There is a possibility that you feel that way today. However, David never stopped right there in the midst of despair. He made the choice to focus on what really matters.

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