Monthly Archives: June 2011

Where does freedom come from?

This is a great weekend at SML.  The 4th of July is really the summer’s crescendo of travel and excitement here at the Lake.  Amongst all the excitement of families, vacations and relaxation is the celebration of our nation’s independence.  For more than 235 years Freedom has been ours, and the theme of our nation’s anthem.    This Saturday night we will all enjoy a great firework display (A no wake event btw) in celebration of our freedom.

 

Freedom is something America has led the world in during our reasonably short history. Freedom is not a tangible commodity that can be measured in our national GDP, but is one of the greatest gifts we as a nation have ever been given or have ever exported.

 

The question that is worth asking is, where does freedom come from?  It must surely have a source.  Was it the in-genius ideas of our founding fathers?  Did we stumble upon accidentally as our forefathers were scrounging for survival in the new land? Who do we ask?  Where can we go to find the answer?

Perhaps we should ask those who experimented with it and found it for us as a nation.  They who discovered it left behind a legacy of a free people and would surely know best where freedom comes from

Our founding fathers were connoisseurs of freedom.  They grappled with it’s ideals, they debated its characteristics, they longed to know it and possess it when they saw it within reach they sacrificed everything to possess it.  These were men who knew a lot about freedom.  Lets consider their opinion on the source of freedom. 

John Adams:“ The general principles upon which the Fathers achieved independence were the general principals of Christianity… I will avow that I believed and now believe that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.”

Thomas Jefferson stated: “God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift from God?

Jedediah Morse: “To the kindly influence of Christianity we owe that degree of civil freedom, and political and social happiness which mankind now enjoys.

At the Constitutional Convention of 1787, James Madison proposed the plan to divide the central government into three branches. He discovered this model of government from the Perfect Governor, as he read Isaiah 33:22;

“For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver,
the LORD is our king; He will save us.”  From this he proposed the legislative, the judicial and the executive branches of our government.

Their conviction that God was the source of freedom was even vividly woven into our founding documents.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

As we read these statements along with scores of others from our founding fathers it becomes clear and evident that our founders, even those who were not the greatest Christians personally, understood a very important truth, that is  Freedom comes from and has its origin in God!  Not just a god but the God of the Bible.   They knew and discovered what so many have forgotten in the day in which we live.  There is no freedom without God.

This week as we celebrate the great nation that we live in, let us humbly bow our heads and give praise to God for the freedom he created and has so graciously bestowed upon this great nation.  May God Bless America!

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Church Guest: 5 Good things

As a follow up to my last post “Church Guest Blunders”  Here are 5 good things I’ve done when it comes to guest.

1.  Be Personal – Of all the gifts or gadgets we may try to do making people feel welcome, I have never found anything so positive as genuine personal contact.  It may be as simple as asking for and remembering their name.  I always write a handwritten (not typed) note on church letter head to every guest that leaves information. In today’s world people aren’t impressed with our ability to be professional (everyone has a computer and printer) as much as they are our willingness to be personal.

2.  Be Intentional  – Great intentions do not make for great guest treatment.  We may genuinely be glad that people come but unless we have in place people and plans that are intentional we often fail our guest.   From the parking lot to the following week we must know how we plan to handle guest.

3.  Be a learner – We like to give our guest an opportunity to teach us how we are doing.  We often send an survey to them with a self-addressed stamped envelope with which they can give us their opinion of the general atmosphere, the music, the preaching, the warmth of the people and the spiritual impact.  We don’t let this drive our ministry but it is a helpful insight to blind-spots we may have in guest services.

4.   Don’t Quit week 1  – In short we work harder on the 2nd and 3rd time guest than the first.  We have a “newcomer’s dinner” every few weeks to invite those who have recently started coming.  This allows us to introduce them to our staff and staff families.  Our experience is that those who attend one of these dinners are far more likely to connect.

5.  Build Connections –  I offer to have coffee or tea with new people or connect them to someone in the church who will do the same.  In these meetings we make personal connection with guest, learn about them, they us and we both get valued information about each other.  In the end they have a personal connection to the church.  I would say I have connected more people this way than any other.

I would love to hear what works for you.



Church Guest Blunders

On July 3rd, I will celebrate the completion of 17 years of pastoral ministry.  An inner city re-start, an established denominational church and a church plant have been my calling.  I have been blessed to see considerable growth in each ministry.  Finding, reaching and integrating new people has been very important to me since my first day in the ministry.

One of the key elements of integration is how we handle guest who enter our church.  Over the years I’ve made my fair share of blunders (and watched or heard of others) in handling these important people.

Here’s a list of “DON’T DO’S” for Church Guest.

  1. Neglecting  –  Not following up with people is a monumental mistake.  Never intentional, sometimes unavoidable,  but always easy to do.  One of the most common mistakes amongst churches.  When we don’t email, write, call or show them we realized they were there we imprint a bad first impression upon them.
  2. Ostracizing – At times guest are such a rare thing at a church that we make them feel quite uncomfortable.  Most people don’t want to go to a church that makes too big of a deal their presence.  Make them feel special without making them feel like they are an aberration. 
  3. Cheesy – When trying to show appreciation the church has led the way in things that are totally not cool.  Unsharpened pencils, plastic bible penny banks or singing a welcome song to them.   Who needs this? 
  4. Over selling – Every church has that person who wants to size up the guest and their family and tell them in detail exactly the ministry that we have that they will love.  Maybe they will or maybe they couldn’t care less about our Saturday evening prayer and pastry ministry.  Don’t try to decide for them. 
  5. Assuming – There have been people that after having seen or talked to we quickly make the assumption that they won’t fit here.  Maybe it’s their style, their dress or their social status.   I shutter to think of those we’ve lost due to bad assumptions. 
  6. Embracing too quickly –  Sometimes in our desperation as churches to grow and assimilate new people we too quickly embrace by putting in positions of responsibility and authority.  This ancient Chinese church proverb J is helpful here, “It is easier to keep them out than get them out once they are there.”

 

What would you add to this list?