service

Wanna make a difference this year?

My friend and fellow pastor, Stephen Cavness: For those who follow Christ & really want to make a difference this week/year:

Don't wait until sunday morning to "get ready for church" why not start NOW by:

* praying for your pastor as he prays, finishes up preparation,etc. pray that he have wisdom, understanding, clarity, & passion, as well as that he would be faithful to God's Word in his study, life, & proclamation.

*pray for sunday school teachers, nursery workers, ushers, & other church servants

*study your small group/ sunday school lesson!!! you'll be amazed at how much more enjoyable& beneficial your time together is, if what is being discussed is something you have been thinking/ praying through before you got there!

*pray for your own heart & mind to be impacted by God's word, worshiping with the church, & by encouraging & being encouraged by your brothers & sisters in Christ

*pray for visitors who may be there & think of ways to make them feel welcomed (more than just a quick hello & handshake). pray that any who have not trusted Christ will have their hearts pierced by the proclamation of the gospel!

*get on the phone or in the car & bring people with you!!!

Now, imagine if most everyone in our churches "prepared" this way each week- think we might notice a difference?

"Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God!" - William Carey

Involve Your Kids in Ministry to Elderly

Brian Croft gives a good reminder for pastors to take their children with them when they visit the elderly. He brings out three points:

  1. Never underestimate the impact of children in the lives of others.
  2. It is good for a child to learn to love, grieve, and let go.
  3. It will cause the young and old to see the value of the other.

Read the whole thing.

Doing Mercy in the Suburbs

This is a great piece by Susan Fikse on doing mercy in the suburbs.  She quotes Tim Keller in his excellent book, Ministries of Mercy:

Keller writes that as we keep our eyes open, we will discover needs on the roads we travel, as did the Good Samaritan. “The family needs to look ‘in close’ before it ‘looks afar.’ You must be sure that there is no bleeding man right under your nose, in your family, church, or neighborhood … . A family’s mercy ministry should develop naturally, not according to a formal program. It should be comprised of the needs God has led you to.”

... “Your job is to initiate contact. You must turn strangers into contacts, contacts into acquaintances, and acquaintances into friends,” writes Keller. “Christian ministers of mercy are unique in that they intentionally and systematically seek to build bridges with all the people around them at home, at work, and at church. They do this to discover needs and to create a climate in which others can share their weakness.”

Building a Community of Volunteers

Every church is really a community of volunteers.  Over the years I've learned (and I'm still learning) how to encourage God's people to get involved in serving others.  There is always a need--always a place where people can get plugged in.  But how do you care for your volunteers and keep them excited about where they are serving?  Like I said, I have much to learn, but here's an acrostic (V.E.T.S.) I'm using to evaluate whether or not I'm creating and maintaining a volunteer (servant) culture in our family ministry.    Vision

  • Am I providing a clear, consistent, and compelling vision to this area of ministry? 
  • Do my volunteers see the big picture behind what they are doing? 
  • Do they know how their ministry fits into the overall vision of the church?

Encouragement

  • Do they feel genuinely supported? 
  • Do they feel like an important part of the team? 
  • Are they growing spiritually under my leadership and care?

Training

  • Am I providing the right kind of training that equips them for the work of the ministry? 
  • Do they feel prepared and ready to serve?
  • Do they know what "success" would look like in their area of service?

Space

  • Do they have room to operate in their area of gifting?
  • Am I micromanaging everything?
  • Do they feel a sense of ownership and excitement about their place of service?

I may ask these questions to the many volunteers who serve with me.  Would you add anything?

Our New Ministry to Families -- "Seeds"

For quite some time now, my friend Lisle and I have been thinking about how we can form a better partnership between the church and the home so we can meet families where they’re at and point them to the gospel.  We pray God will use our new ministry to families called Seeds to help make that vision a reality.  The name comes from the Seeds Family Worship CD's that we have grown to love.  And our philosophy of ministry has been influenced by many over the years, including: David Michael with CDG, Reggie Joiner with Orange and 252 Basics, Steve Wright with ReThink, Randy Stinson with SBTS, Voddie Baucham with Family Driven Faith, and the folks at Covenant Life.  Below is our vision and strategy for Seeds.  Feel free to check out our website and if you're a member of LBC, pray about how God might want you to serve in this ministry.

What's My Spiritual Gift?

Every believer has at least one spiritual gift.  I think the best way to discern your spiritual gift is to jump in and serve and see what brings you joy and what blesses others.  Recently, Mark Driscoll did a series on spiritual gifts that you may want to check out.  Or you can click on a specific spiritual gift below to find out more about how Scripture defines the gift and whether or not you have it.  Whatever gifts you have, remember "the Spirit gives them to each one, just as he determines" and all are "given for the common good." So use your gift! One practical application for pastors and leaders is when you see someone serving and it blesses you, honor that person and affirm how God is working in them through His Spirit for his glory and the good of the church. It's not about exalting a certain gift or person, but cultivating a spirit of unity and humility in the body.

What if we were known for our serving?

Dave Workman, from his excellent book, The Outward Focused Life, poses a challenging question to churches:

The question I regularly ask myself as a pastor in Cincinatti is this: what if the "Big C" Church in our city was known more for serving than for any other thing?

... I have a feeling that every day there are little opportunities I miss that are big invitations to serve the King of Kings, that the Creator of the universe was hidden behind the smallest act of love I could have expressed to someone.

... We probably have too small a view of the kingdom of God and can't see that he is ahead of all of us, moving in the lives of people day in and day out.  And all he wants to do is use us in his supernatural movement in others' lives.  He wants to write some divine appointments into our PDA's and Outlook calendars.

Recently, I got the chance to visit Workman's church while attending a Small Groups Conference in Cincinnati.  From what I observed, they definitely have a unique focus on service to their surrounding community.  In fact, on the outside of their building they have in large print engraved these words: small things done with great love will change the world.

This week our church is participating in what we call LaGrange Missions, and next week is Vacation Bible School.  It has been exciting to see so many students and adults serving together to promote the gospel in our community.  From Backyard Bible Clubs to many Work Sites around the city, our church is serving and getting into the lives of people in LaGrange, KY! 

So let's be known for our serving.  And may our serving point people to the One who came "not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45).

  • Read The Outward Focused Life by Dave Workman
  • Watch or Listen to my message, "A LIFE of Service"

Serving in a Serve Me World

Jesus summed up his life in one word -- service.  Mark 10:45 says, “For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to SERVE and give his life as a ransom for many.” Even in heaven Jesus will never stop serving you and me.  In Luke 12:37 it says, “Truly he will dress himself for service and have them recline at the table and he will come and serve them.”

In light of this, we are implored to have the same attitude as Jesus.  In the NIV, Philippians 2:5 says, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.”  But this is difficult in the American, suburban, culture we live in.  We like comfort and control and rarely do we think about others.

So, how can we become servants in a serve-me world?  How can we follow the One who rode into Jerusalem on the back of a humble donkey and ushered in his kingdom by dying on a cross?  And how can we see that an outward focused life is the most freeing kind of life of all?

These are the questions I sought to answer in my message last Sunday called, A LIFE of Service.  You can watch or listen here.