Archives For evangelism

Time to have the funeral

December 31, 2014 — 8 Comments

2015-aheadThis is a difficult post to write because it’s about something near and dear to my heart: the local church. And it impacts far more congregations than we’d probably want to admit.

Having served on staff for many years in Christian churches and ministry organizations, there’s a pattern of dysfunction that must be addressed. I look around and see so many churches struggling to be effective in today’s environment. While the reasons are often numerous, one in particular seems to wreak havoc, especially in terms of unity and momentum.

It goes beyond worship styles and preaching styles. It has little or nothing to do with denominational ties or affiliations. And it’s not something that prayer alone can fix.

A closer look, usually including honest conversations with members and staff ministers, often reveals that the key problem is a failure to appropriately move through the stages of grief. Whether related to a specific ministry — or a specific minister — drastic change, even over a period of years, can bring feelings of shock, denial, anger, sadness and despair. However, acceptance of the new reality is extremely difficult for many people, particularly those who place great value on tradition and history.

Inherent in the much-needed acceptance stage is the important process of recalibrating life and perspectives in light of the loss, whether real or perceived. This lack of emotional recalibration is potentially paralyzing and poisonous to the health and growth of a church.

Let me explain. Continue Reading…

Just As I AmDo you ever get a song in your head that just doesn’t want to leave? That’s what I’m experiencing right now (while I should be sleeping). That’s because of a new favorite that we’ve sang in church a lot recently.

Having grown up in church, I absolutely love sacred music: hymns, southern gospel, choral, contemporary, you name it. In general, I prefer hymns to remain true to the song writer’s original intent — particularly with regard to words and tune. However, there are some incredible arrangements now available that just speak directly to my soul. One of them is a fairly new adaptation of the classic invitation hymn, “Just As I Am,” which, of course, was sung at the end of every Billy Graham crusade.

This hymn was penned by Charlotte Elliott, who died in 1871. As the story goes, Elliott, then 46 years old, was approached at a dinner party by a man who asked if she was a Christian. Elliott was offended by the question — but couldn’t shake it. Obviously the Holy Spirit was at work, and the poet went to find the man and asked him how to become a Christian. The woman came to know Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior, and the song she wrote — “Just As I Am” — was considered a tribute to the man who explained to her that she could come to Jesus just as she was. Elliott would go on to write some 150 hymns, but none is so popular as this one. (View Source)

The newer version by Travis Cottrell adds a chorus that I think even the original songwriter would find a blessing:

I come broken to be mended
I come wounded to be healed
I come desperate to be rescued
I come empty to be filled
I come guilty to be pardoned
By the blood of Christ, the Lamb
And I’m welcomed with open arms
Praise God, just as I am

I hope you can identify with these powerful words. I sure can. Come to Jesus, just as you are. And let Him begin to transform your heart, your mind, and your entire life.

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