Archive for January, 2015

A New Church Down the Street: Competition or Cooperation?

January 26, 2015

Recently another mega-church moved to our church’s community. So yesterday we prayed for them and I told my church we welcomed them. You see, ¬†only 20% of our county is active in a church. Even if this new church attracts 10,000 people, it will only increase this percentage by 1.5%. We need them and they need us – so my prayer is we will work together to reach those who do not yet know Jesus and need a church home.

The amazing fact is yesterday when this new church opened with much publicity and buzz, we had our largest attendance in over a year in worship and our largest turnout for our Discipleship Classes ever! We also had 21 youth start in our Confirmation Class and we baptized 20 youth and adults. This was huge! And a sign we need more churches in this area, certainly not less.

Research shows that when a new church opens, all the surrounding churches grow as well. That is, all the healthy churches. So our emphasis on worship, small groups and calling everyone to places of service has made us stronger. We emphasize a “church of connections” where you will be known by name, where you can be part of a small group and have a place of service that makes a difference in this community. When you are in the hospital or crisis, a pastor will contact or visit you personally. People looking for this find a home here and stick with us.

I well know of the church that just opened around the corner. They are doing good, kingdom work in many places. Their youth minister, Reed Moore, used to be on my staff in a previous church. He is a great guy who reaches young people who would have never come to a church. He was my son’s mentor and now my son is a Youth Minister! Pray for our sister churches, welcome them and invite them to join us in showing the amazing love of God to this community. We need to be the church, the body of Christ, TOGETHER! God will bless our unity!!

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Suicide: talk about it and respond as Christ’s body

January 15, 2015

Two weeks ago I lost a very good friend to depression and suicide. He was a fellow pastor and a confidant of mine. His humor was contagious, his insights brilliant and he was a mighty encourager to me and hundreds of people. His pastor said at the funeral, “Sometimes even the experts get lost.” This is so true. All of us can feel lost, trapped in hopelessness and surrounded by darkness.

I already miss Chris. I am angry he won’t be there next week when we had planned to meet together. I am confused and ask God, “Why?” The lesson I am learning is that the church needs to talk more about mental illness. When someone in our church has cancer, we pray publicly for them, take them a prayer quilt and deliver meals to their family. When someone is suffering from mental illness, is chronically depressed or bipolar, we are embarrassed, few people go to visit them, take a meal or sends cards. We do not know how to respond or what to say.

Last year, over 500,000 people attempted suicide in this country, and one-third of them succeeded. If you or a loved one is depressed, bipolar, suffers from dementia or has ADHD, schizophrenia or any mental condition, our staff, prayer ministers and Stephen Ministers care about you, will walk with you and will never condemn you or look down on you. Our church, our pastors, the Healing Rooms and the Haven of Hope Counseling Center are here FOR YOU AND THIS COMMUNITY.

I ask you to be attentive, alert and available to your neighbors who are suffering, many times in silence. Our churches can make a big difference. Let’s live and share God’s love with all people and let others know we need not fear, for our God is with us and came to save us. Call me anytime. I am honored to serve as a pastor to broken, imperfect people, for this is me as well.