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Reaching Millennials (3 of 5)

3. Build an Accepting Community

Pastors who lead congregations that feel “Stuck” – no sense of momentum, resistance to any new idea or direction.

In conversations with dozens of pastors and leaders, I hear the same sentiments.

“We are a very loving congregation, but no matter what we do, we have no momentum.”

After sitting in on some of their services, it seems right that their group is loving. On the other hand, those congregations are usually dug in and unwilling to upset what is already there.

Sometimes I’ve followed up on a list of their recent visitors to ask how they felt in visiting the church and if they will likely return. More often than not they too picked up on the love between members, but they didn’t feel love aimed at them. One couple said they felt “invisible” among the people. Acceptance goes beyond the required, “Turn to your neighbor and say hi” at the end of the worship.

When you go into the community to bring God’s kindness, you send an invitation stop by and check it out. Ask yourself (and detractors who might put fear into the mix) by saying something like, “If we open the doors too widely, who knows what sorts of people would show up – and bring in their problems here.” It is easy to justify attitudes and situations that stink, and that will cocoon us from being soiled by new people.

I usually ask them, “‘I hear your concern.’ How about this question, ‘Who isn’t welcome here?’ Here’s another one that goes with the first. ‘How long does it take for someone to change? As far as I can tell, it’s God who does the heavy lifting when it comes to hearts breaking. Our job is to love them and accept them as they come to us.’ Remember – acceptance isn’t the same as approval.’”

Every couple of weeks, at the end of services I usually ask the congregation to invite some others out to lunch. Usually, three individuals or couples are easier than just two. The new person will be more likely to say yes to dinner with three than two.

I suggest they take the new people out to lunch on their dime and maybe get them a burrito “that’s as big are your head” to give them a touch of the generosity they need to show. It’s amazing what can happen over a 45-minute lunch, even at Taco Bell (if that’s more in line with your budget).

Coming soon:4-5

Reaching Millennials (1 of 5)

Reaching Millennials (2 of 5)

How About A Summer Outreach Lab

photo 2If you haven’t taken a stab at Kindness Outreach, the summer is the perfect time for doing a “Lab” – that is, to do some experimenting to learn a few lessons about how to build a heart connection with the those in your community.

Any season has it’s advantages for connecting with people, but the summer works well for both servers and those they serve. The weather is better, so people are outside more, and in general there is a bit of a “Vacation mentality.” This could be the ideal time for your people to take a stab at reaching out.

Here are a couple of pointers to keep in mind.

A. Relax.
As we show God’s kindness we are planting seeds more than harvesting crops, at least to begin with. Don’t pay attention to the conventional stats you might be tempted to count, like “How many came to church this month because we served them.” Trust me, they will come, so don’t worry.

Right now the goal is to learn how to enjoy reaching out with the kindness of God “…that leads to a radical life change.” As we reach out in fun, doable ways we will catch the “Virus” of God’s love for others – and begin to see them with new eyes.

B. Have fun!
We have been wired by God to enjoy life. We may need to “Practice,” but as we stick with it, before long, we’ll be having fun like pros!

If we aren’t having a good time, we can’t disguise the truth. Those we touch will pick up on that, they’ll be turned off and won’t want to have anything to do with the God we are inviting them to follow.

Here are a couple of summer “No-Lose” projects to try on for size.
Give Away Bottles of Water
There are lots of places and ways to serve thirsty people in warm weather.

Dollar Car Wash
Wash a car, then give drivers money for the privilege of serving them. Mind blowing!
This is great for involving numbers of people (a minimum of 10 or up to as many as you want if you are able to do several cars at once).

To get the detailed explaination of these and many more projects, pick up “101 Ways To Serve Your Community.” It’s available on Amazon as an instant kindle eBook purchase, or in a paper version as well.

A Reflection on Donna Summers

The internet is buzzing today with the news that 70s Disco Queen Donna Summers died today. At the peak of her fame she produced hit after hit that fueled the sounds and culture of the disco scene. Some of that scene wasn’t worth fueling though. As the Holy Spirit began to work on her, she experienced a “radical life change” (Rom. 2:4, Message) in the early 80s. Janie and I were familiar with her new history as she began to rewrite it – part of it was launched out of the West LA Vineyard where we worked at the time. Ms. Summers sensed a calling from God to return to the places of influence where she’d made an impact for sin in the 70s and build a build a bridge of holiness toward Jesus.

I lost track of her progress after a few years but am aware she launched well. God loves a changed heart. Here’s to moldable hearts.

“Precious in the sight of the Lord, is the death of His saints.” Ps. 116:15, NKJV

Now I’m a Veteran Commencement Speaker

I had a blast speaking last Saturday at the graduation ceremony of Spring Arbor University located an hour west of Detroit. The whole thing went very well. I spoke for 14.5 minutes about several things I should have learned in college but had to figure out on my own later (“A lot of the best stuff happens on the second, third or beyond iteration – I’ve purchased the White Album by the Beatles 5 times now – LP twice, cassette, CD and now iTunes.)

Though it went well i had a problem. Janie wasn’t able to be with me (her dad has been sick with severe heart problems so she has been in Southern Calif. for the past week) and since one of her jobs is to sit on the front row and watch my time I was at a loss. I had to innovate. In one hand I had my iPad with my speaking notes and in my other I held my iphone with the countdown app open. A couple of people asked if all of that was a portable TelePrompTer!

New Shoes or Shoe Aficionado?

We live in a rocky, thorn-infested world.

Some wouldn’t know about that because they have worn shoes since the moment they could stand. Since birth we have been well cared for spiritually. They’ve not known life without shoes. Therefore it is difficult to relate to the huge percentage of those who go without adequate foot ware (in the Pacific Northwest U.S. that’s perhaps 91% of the population). Shoe wearers tend to spend all their time hanging around others who are like them.

Many of the well shod have grown to become shoe experts. Their favorite activity in life is to compare and contrast various shoes and shoe stores. They are shoe aficionados! Imelda Marcos, with her 2,700 pair of shoes, seems reasonable – perhaps even a hero even.

Others feel called to reach out to those without shoes – who aren’t aware of how differently life could go with a custom pair of shoes.

Shoes are transformational! There’s nothing wrong with owning multiple pair of foot ware. There’s a lot wrong with a smug attitude with those who feel there is no need for concern with the lost suffering feet of those without proper shoes.

When was the last time you got around the Shoeless? Ask God to give you his heart for them…and he will!

“A man’s Self is the sum total of all that he can call his own.” – Wm. James

Mother’s Day Wisdom

In 30 years of preaching I’ve never given a message focused on Mother’s Day but feel led to do that this year. I’m cobbling together a simple talk looking at the vital importance of living out an honoring relationship with our mothers or mother figures – by developing a three-step strategy. Have a listen after this Sunday at NorthsideNewberg.org. Pastors – it’s not too late to late to do something for moms yourselves!

Update – I’ve seen the light!

I’ve been an intermittent blogger, as many of you know, mainly because I’ve not known where blogging fit in in the scheme of my writing overall. I have a plan for so hopefully you’ll hear from me more frequently!

How to get a job

  1. Learn how to learn. It’s about humility. We won’t go very far forward until we bow down and allow the lessons of God to permeate our souls. The good news…he is continually bringing us around to know what we don’t yet understand. We will never make make progress in our souls until we admit we are in desperate need of his intervention. “Mess with me” is our dangerous prayer.
  1. 2. Learn how to ask great questions. Great questions come out of great levels of curiosity. Reading in the power and leading of the Spirit is life changing.
  2. 3. Learn how to knuckle down. There is a lot we are called to accomplish we will never pull off save for mere commitment to the task that lies before us. The Kingdom goes forward on the backs of available people who are willing to say Yes to the call of Jesus, come what may.

Strategy of attacks

As we live a life of obedience we run into obstacles. Chalk it up to the universal principle of attack and counter-attack. As you sign up to do good and the will of God there will automatically come opposition. You are no longer moving in the direction of agreement with the culture that opposes God. Attack is simply going to be your lot in life every now and then.

How you deal with these attacks will be one of the first testings to come your direction. What are we to do with those who oppose us almost to an irrational level? Jesus and Paul give us simple counsel: “Bless and curse not.” Don’t give into your natural inclinations. Don’t strike back, even when they jolly well deserve it.

The difference between a good idea and a God idea

Good Idea
Stressed out
Serious-minded
Comes as result of brain storming and hard work
Comes from much effort
Feel accomplished in the end

God Idea
Relaxed
Fun!
Often spontaneous
Emphasis on Jesus’ vine-branch relationship (John 15)
Feel humbled, grateful at what God has done in spite of us

There’s nothing wrong with good ideas. They can be inspired to a degree, but God ideas are the ones to shoot for – they are the ones that tend to endure the test of time.