Small Church Pastor and Church Attendance

After many years of ministry, the weak excuses people give for lack of faithfulness, attendance and loyalty still bother me. Church is family and when one is missing from the table, you notice. Please, understand, it is not about breaking a record attendance; we are past bragging about how many we had in morning worship but a real pastor grieves when needy people are absent from the house of God.

I found this humorous (but painfully true) letter to a pastor:

Dear Pastor:
You often stress attendance at worship as being very important for a Christian, but I think a person has a right to miss Sunday worship now and then. I think every person ought to be excused for the following reasons and the number of times indicated:

* Christmas (Sunday before or after for traveling purposes)
* New Year (Sometimes the party last too long)
* Easter (We have to be away for holidays)
* July 4 (National holiday)
* Labor Day (Need to get away again)
* Memorial Day (Visit family and BBQ together)
* Spring Break (Kids need break)
* School Opens (One last summer fling)
* Family Reunions (wife’s and mine).
* 2 Sundays for sleeping in (Because Saturday night activities
* Deaths in Family (Average two per year)
* Anniversary (Second honeymoon)
* Sickness (One per family member)
* Business Trips (A must)
* Vacation (Three weeks)
* Bad Weather (Ice, snow, rain, sometimes-just clouds)
* Ball games (6 per season)
* Unexpected Company (Cannot walk out and leave them)
* Time changes (spring ahead; fall back)
* Specials on TV (Super Bowl, World Series, etc.)

Pastor that leaves two Sundays per year. Therefore, you can count on us to be in church on the fourth Sunday in February and the third Sunday in August—unless providentially hindered.

Sincerely, a faithful member*

It is true many millennials feel one morning worship service a month is church faithfulness but we need so much more. Going to the gym once a month is not giving me the results I want. Eating healthy once a month will not give me the health I need.
Maybe, just maybe, we need to examine why we have the church and endeavor to teach more often on the WHY of the church. Does going to church make a difference in the life of a believer? One thing is sure; not attending church makes a difference in the life of a believer.
I was reading Acts 2:42-47 and found several reasons the early church gathered, not once a week, but daily. We may not meet daily but one thing I noticed, when the saints met daily, “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” Multiplication and attendance mesh. The more the early church met together – the more salvations occurred. The growth of the early church and faithfulness of the early believer interlocked. Now I realize they did not have a church building, but they met together regularly.
Some believers go to church for the wrong reasons but God designed a blueprint for the early church. Adults need to see this, teenagers need to know this and young adults need to learn this. Examine the early church culture, according to Acts 2:42-27, the biblical reason for church attendance, although not comprehensive, explains a biblical foundation for regular worship together. Read the biblical passage above and notice the essential points of church attendance.

I need SOLID TEACHING –a regular examination of the beliefs, doctrines and experiences of the apostles.
I need SPIRITUAL FELLOWSHIP –we need each other. While one is up the other may be down but we lift each other through fellowship.
I want to partake in COMMUNION–the regular partaking of communion, the bread and the cup, “this do in remembrance of me.” 1 Corinthians 11:26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. This communion portrayed the common union they shared through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
I need CORPORATE PRAYER–yes, you can pray at home and should but there is power in praying together. “Prayer” is cited in Acts 1, 2 and 3 as a regular and common occurrence in the early church.
I want ACCOUNTABILITY–living in a body of believers brings personal accountability for my actions, words and life. Church is my insurance policy against drifting into dangerous waters, my place for repentance, correction and direction.
I want to hear TESTIMONIES–sharing personal stories of God’s divine intervention bring faith and tenacity into the lives of the hearers. We often select one or two who can give a clear testimony of God’s amazing grace. Often, a testimony can enhance the worship service and the message.
I want to CARE FOR ONE ANOTHER–this is huge. When one part of the body hurts, we all hurt together. This past Christmas our church gave a struggling family a sizable financial gift to a family of seven, who suffered through a difficult year, they continue to be a blessing to our church.
I want to be included in DISTRIBUTION–missions, the widow’s fund, feeding the poor, filling backpacks with school supplies for needy children, serving the elderly in nursing homes and assisted care units, are all a part of distribution that can only happen within a body of people.
I like to SERVE JOYFULLY–fixing a meal, workday at the church, filling gift bags for children’s church and much more gives much more in return than what we give.
I love to GIVE–church provides a place for me to give my tithes and offerings for the work of God. Even though it is a command in scripture, “bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse,” it is much more a joy to see how God multiplies the little we give to accomplish the greater good.
I love PRAISING GOD WITH OTHERS–the music, the worship time, prayer time and intentional opportunities in the service allow us to praise God together. Hearing the voices of others, praising God, encourage me to praise God.
I believe in INTENTIONAL EVANGELISM–the church is an excellent source of evangelism as men and women, teenagers and children bring their family and friends, to hear a gospel message and respond. The call for salvation declared through the local church is God’s plan and it happens, right where people live.

I cannot wait for church Sunday.

*Letter to Pastor contributed by Phyllis Traugher

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission of the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal or professional advice.

When You Have Been Criticized

It was a harsh criticism and mostly undeserving but it struck through the heart. It may not had been taken seriously but it was someone we expected better. Even though it was over 25 years ago, I still remember how the bite hurt for a few months.

When criticism comes your way, it can make you feel devalued, disrespected and unappreciated; however, not all criticism should be treated the same. Criticism comes through various means and varied approaches, so the response to criticism varies; one answer for all does not apply.

Let me suggest a few action steps if criticism bites today:

Examine the criticism. Is it an attack against a decision you made and not all parties are on the same page? If so, no matter what side you are on, criticism will come. Stand for the right and continue to live with a smile on your face. If the criticism attacks an unchangeable feature, understand the nature of the attack, find grace to live without bitterness and continue to live patiently. If the same criticism thrown at you, others have received, most likely, nothing will change to suit the critic, continue to live forgiving.

Evaluate the criticism. Is the criticism coming from a person you love? Did it come at a heated moment? Was it intentional? Did it come from someone who does not know you? Evaluate the person’s value to you, close friend, anonymous source, a person in your group?

 

Rate criticism on a scale of one to ten. One being, criticism from a person I don’t know and ten being a criticism from a person who loves me much?
If one to four, IGNORE,
Five to eight, ADAPT and
Nine to ten CHANGE.
Is the critic a “known” critic? Everyone knows the critic lives with a chip on his or her shoulder or an axe to grind, give them a one.

 

Estimate the criticism. Are you offended? Is the criticism well deserved? Was it a courteous criticism? Are you willing to listen to creative criticism? Estimate the amount of criticism you will accept and the amount you will reject. Can you tell if the criticism is constructive criticism or destructive criticism? Can you accept ideas from others? What do you do when others do not agree with you? How you handle criticism tells a lot about you as a person.

Entertain the criticism. The worse becomes the worst when we engage an army, enlist recruits, play the story over in your mind and entertain the critic by how bad we feel.. Live by the philosophy, “you can hurt my ears but you can’t touch my heart.” Find a place to put your criticism before you go home. Hang up your jacket before you leave the office, placing all the criticism in the pockets, you will feel better when you get home.

Lastly, enlarge your heart by praying for your critic and  praying for yourself. Pray specifically for joy and peace. Pray because God understands criticism. When David was criticized by Shemei in 2 Samuel, he cursed, criticized and cast stones but David responded with an amazing answer, It may be that the LORD will look on mine affliction, and that the LORD will requite me good for his cursing this day. Leave criticism in God’s hands, it may be God will turn it around for the good.

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission of the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. Do not construe this post as medical, legal or professional advice.

Small Church Pastor and Thank You Notes

In a personal file I have a valuable collection of encouragement notes filled with “thank you” and appreciation, I have collected from over forty years of ministry (I started young). These notes are read from time to time for a jolt of personal joy from remembering the event and the person who wrote the card or note. I have a separate file of notes or letters written by critics or complainers, in comparative size, it is small. I never read them again; because most of them lack the pain, they previously carried.
No doubt about it, the thank you note will be read more than once and still treasured. A thank you note can be written to a volunteer who put together a special occasion. A handwritten thank you note expresses faithfulness, loyalty or hard work.

A THANK YOU NOTE WILL ENCOURAGE A GOOD VOLUNTEER TO BE THE BEST VOLUNTEER

If I enjoy receiving a handwritten thank-you card – it must be true, others enjoy receiving a handwritten thank-you card. If we wrote, more thank you cards and expressed appreciation, we may see a decrease in criticism and complaints. Pastor, we set the atmosphere!

GOD GAVE A GIFT OF 86,400 SECONDS TODAY. HAVE YOU USED ONE TO SAY “THANK YOU?”
–William Arthur Ward

So, let me begin. Thank you, pastor, for reading this brief blog post today. Thank you, for being a man or woman of prayer. Thank you for preaching the Word of God each Sunday. Thank you for your care, love and concern in your pastoral role. Thank you from my heart, for the sacrifices you have made. Thank you, Pastor, for keeping your family first. Thank you, Pastor, for living holy, modest, and revering God. Thank you, Pastor, for your role in the community, your smile and prayers.
Thank you, Pastor, for being a pastor.

Let us get our Thank you note written. Here are some ideas:
1. Thank you for being a friend to the Pastor and Spouse.
2. I know you pray and thank you for keeping your Pastor in your prayers.
3. Thank you for your volunteer work as a Nursery Worker – I know it is not easy giving up a Sunday. Morning Worship Service but YOU are making a difference in the lives of people.
4. Thank you, Youth Leader, I appreciate your leadership and enjoy spending time with you.
5. Thank you, greeters, for your friendly smile, warm welcome and firm handshake every morning, the first 90 seconds a first time visitor comes to our church will cause many of them to return.
6. Thank you, worship team, for practicing often and setting the atmosphere of worship. I could not do it without you.
7. Thank you, (elderly person), for your faithfulness over the past (30) years, I am personally encouraged to keep the faith because of you.

Well, you get the idea; in fact, it may not be a bad idea to write a thank-you card each week or every two weeks. It would do wonders for your spirit and for the spirit of the church. Pray for the person as you write the card, asking God for the spirit of encouragement to envelop them. Thank you cards are inexpensive but are invaluable in encouraging another. Go ahead and write a Thank You card now.

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission of the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. Do not construe this post as medical, legal or professional advice.

LIFT Living in Fullness Today

The joy continues.

I am so thankful and humbled by the response to my new book, LIFT, Living in Fullness Today, published by Harper Collins Christian Publishing.

Lift is what God does to get people off the ground. Lift is what aerodynamics does to get airplanes off the ground. LIFT is needed in every man and every woman’s life, everyday.

On Launch Day we watched as people posted, “I got mine.” And every new picture and post brought tears to my eyes as I watched my dream come true. I wanted to see people encouraged on a national scale, enough with the blame game, criticism, laughing at others, putting others down and division. People need to be lifted not downgraded. Lifted not scorned. Lifted not shunned.

Launch Day and the day after proved to be amazing. God kept amazing me. On Launch Day, LIFT, went from Amazon’s Best Seller Rating on Spiritual Growth Books #16,698 at 8:30 am to #365 by 9:00 pm. And, Kindle downloads, the day after on Amazon’s Best Seller Rating #55 in Christian Prayer and #283 in Christian Spiritual Growth.

I asked several people, including my congregation, to believe in prayer, specifically on Launch Day, that God would be glorified as the CEO of LIFT. It wasn’t the money because writers don’t get rich but it was a message needed among thousands.

Thank you! To the many people who bought the book, thank you! For the many people who posted their picture with “I got mine,” thank you!  For the many pastors who ordered multiple copies for their staff, thank you! For the many people who prayed and believed with us, thank you!

If you haven’t ordered LIFT here is a link for both paperback and Kindle download. Blessings to you.

LIFT LAUNCH DAY

What makes LIFT launch day important?

Today is the day we launch LIFT to the public but why is that important?

Ratings? Sales? Orders? Income?

The reason a person needs to purchase LIFT is there are many, many ‘how to” books but this is not one of those.

This book discovers the LIFT rising underneath to take you to greater heights.

When an airplane rises in the air, it can only do so by the lift underneath it. You need something underneath you to take you and hold you up.

LIFT – Living in Fullness Today

 

The Small Church Pastor and the Holidays

One thing is for sure about Christmas – it comes around every year. There are times Christmas holidays can play havoc on the calendar. A dinner, family gatherings, local events, church programs, shopping, cooking, giving presents and much, much more. But there may be some common sense ways to enjoy the holidays without ending up in the ER from “December overload.”

Keep Your Calendar Handy. There is not a doubt the holidays are hectic, so make it easier on yourself by comparing your calendar with your wife’s calendar. Our department leaders meet the week before Thanksgiving and synchronize our church calendars. Most times and dates are set a month ago but with school events, local events and family schedules, but there may be some late changes to the December calendar. The Key Word is Flexible.

Change Your Morning Routine. This may not work for everyone but personally, I like getting in the office by 5:00 or at the latest, 6:00 in the morning to write, pray, to read my Bible and to take a peek at my calendar for the day. My home is close, so I slip back to the house about 9:00, for breakfast and a cup of coffee with my wife. This is our “talk time,” which is important as family events seem to “pop up” quickly, especially since three of our grandchildren celebrate birthdays during the month of December. The Key Word is Communicate

Enjoy the Moment. A small church Pastor must plan personal time by selecting a day that seems to be a light schedule to take a moment to enjoy the Christmas lights, have a date night with your wife, or a short break at your favorite coffee shop. Grab a book to read for thirty minutes, spend more time at the gym or call an old friend to wish him, Merry Christmas, are some other ideas. Hug your grandkids, tell stories and make memories, and enjoy the moment. The Key Word is Relax.

Endeavor to be Spiritually Sensitive. As a small church Pastor, I am painfully aware of the busyness of the season but there are numerous people who suffer from anxiety issues, depression, frustrations, family issues, sickness, and financial stress during the holidays. Jesus is the Reason for the Season and we must be spiritually sensitive to families who are hurting and the elderly who are lonely, the list goes on. The small church Pastor may be needed more during the holidays than at any other time of the year, plan your sermons to bring encouragement and healing to the hurting and hopeless. We are not called to simply pray for people but pray with people. Care, concern, and comfort are necessary during the holiday season. Let God use you as you go about the community and lead people to lean upon the arms of Jesus. The Key Word is Prayerful.

God bless ALL our small church pastors – all of heaven is behind you!
Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission of the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal or professional advice.