Categories
Church Leadership Good News

Bring a Can to Church Day

Photo by CarbonNYC via Flickr (Creative Commons)

I want to encourage you to do a little civil disobedience within your church congregation.

Start bringing and leaving a canned food item to your church every time you go. Have every person in your family do it, too. Don’t make a spectacle of it. Just leave your cans in the foyer on the floor or on the counter in the bathroom. Sunday morning worship? Leave a can. Mom goes back later for a meeting? Leave a can. Your son goes for youth group? Leave a can.

Don’t ask permission. Just do it. The Bible tells you it is OK.

Eventually, someone on the church staff is going to say… “What’s up with all of these cans? And what do we do with them?

I’ll tell you what they will do. Someone will put the cans in a box. And it’ll just sit there.

Imagine if 20% of your congregation got in the habit of doing this? Instant food pantry. It’s not a program. It’s dealing with a problem. Who keeps leaving all of these cans here!

See, I think you’ll join me in the understanding that a house of God should also be a place of refuge for the hungry. As we linger in this recession I can guarantee you there are hungry among every single congregation.

And my experience in working in churches for nearly a decade– every single one of them had random people who drop by every single day looking for food or money. And in nearly 10 years I can think of only a couple of times we had food on hand to give them.

Almost every time people come to the church looking for help and are turned away. This isn’t exactly Good News in the neighborhood, is it?

I believe God has hard-wired us in the knowledge that if we need help or need a place to run to, the church is there.

Sadly most congregations in America have gotten lazy. They think an annual clothing drive or food donation to a local pantry is the right answer.

Ding-dong.” Every day the bell rings at the church. People come to them who are hungry. Don’t you want your church to be a place that gives them food? Wouldn’t you want your music pastor to overhear the secretary start to explain to someone that the church doesn’t keep food at the church but makes an annual donation to the food pantry in town… and says, “Wait a minute. The janitor found these cans. You can have them.

Bam! Instant food program. The church didn’t spend a dollar. They didn’t have a meeting to discuss it. They didn’t hire a staff member to start it. It’s just a box (or closet) full of cans people mysteriously left at church.

Bring a can to church. Every time. Every person.

Problem solved.

Categories
Church Leadership Good News

10 Ways Your Church Can Be Good News to the Neighborhood

I have a fervent belief that if we want to reach a post-Christian society, we have to be Good News before someone will listen to Good News.

Here are 10 ways you can begin transforming your church into a place where Good News flows from:

  1. If you have a building, offer a public bathroom and shower that’s open to whomever needs it during your office hours.
  2. Ask every attendee to get in the habit of bringing a canned food item (you get the idea) to church every week. Then start a food pantry that’s open a couple days a week for people to drop in.
  3. Buy things for the church from local suppliers. Avoid the big box (probably cheaper) stores for ones that support a local company. Encourage your church attendees to do the same.
  4. Encourage people who go out to lunch after church to be generous with tipping servers and conscious of how long they are staying. You want wait staffs to desire the church crowd, they are avoiding it at all costs now.
  5. Require church staff to live within the area you are trying to reach.
  6. Add a requirement to all board and staff job descriptions that they attend public meetings. (Schools, city planning, city council, county government, etc.)
  7. Ask adults to volunteer at the public schools. (Give staff lots of freedom to volunteer)
  8. Participate in organized community events. Cleaning up, planting flowers, helping with parades, etc.
  9. Make church property open to the public. (Playground equipment, skateboard park, community garden, host local festivals, allow the schools to hold events in the auditorium.) Better yet, turn all of your property into a community center.
  10. Create a culture of saying yes to community involvement instead of no.

These are my ideas. What are yours?

How can your church (and the people who go to it) become Good News to your neighborhood?

Categories
Church Leadership Good News

The Good News is You

 

 

 

Giant slice of lasagna
Photo by Gone-Walkabout via Flickr (Creative Commons)

 

Have you ever stopped to think that Good News is brought through you?

Sometimes I wonder if our ideal theology is a bit larger than the practical theology God is actually calling us to do?

We think global while God is likely thinking local. We get so lost in the vastness of our calling to change the world that we lose sight of being good news to our block, next door neighbor, or even our house.

Back when I was a kid sometimes I’d order something at a restaurant that was simply more than I could eat. The waitress would bring this massive plate of lasagna and my eyes would get big. As I readied my fork, mouth watering, anticipating the first bite– reality would set in. My dad would say, “Looks like your eyes are bigger than your stomach.”

Of course it was true. I had ordered a massive portion and my dad had amused me by letting me get it and thinking I could finish it. But he knew from the get-go that there wasn’t a chance I could polish off such a tall order. I’d try but ultimately there would be more meal than would fit in my stomach. When I had finally given up and pushed the half full plate away in defeat my dad would repeat the same phrase with a smile, “Looks like your eyes were bigger than your stomach.

The same is true with our desires to change the world, isn’t it? Sometimes we order such a big portion that we barely make a dent. We push away the plate and give up– and our Heavenly Father knowingly smiles and reminds us that our eyes were bigger than our appetite.

Perhaps the smarter thing is to order a portion we can tackle?

Categories
Church Leadership Good News Music

Greater things…

I think the visuals of this version of the song, coupled with the history of Northern Ireland… really adds the significance and desperation needed for this song. Greater things are needed in the city.

For those of us in ministry, the real question this song brings to the forefront is one of priorities. Will 2010 be a year when we lay aside our pet projects and church crap and actually bring Good News to the cities we live in? Or will we just continue “discipling” and “entertaining” the same people another year without ever compelling them to take action and live out what we believe?

Unrelated sidenote: I’m itching to get back to Belfast.

Categories
Church Leadership

Set the 2010 Agenda

2010-church-agendaIn 6 weeks it will be 2010. And as many pastors climb into the pulpit on January 3rd, 2010 they will give the annual State of the church message, as well as a road map of the 2010 church agenda.

Lots of churches do this. The first weekend in January is perfect for it as Christmas is in the rear view mirror, people are naturally looking at plans for the year… and most importantly the pastor has had a few days of R&R. I love this practice.

My beef is that too many pastors give a State of our church message as opposed to a State of the church in our town message.

Set Your Agenda on Local Matters

Read Revelation 2-3 from the perspective of the church in your community. You will see that Jesus did not judge those churches by their local individual meetings. He judged the church by a collection of churches in a city. Jesus was looking forward prophetically. He knew that before he came back we would be fractured into hundreds of thousands of groups… and yet his prophesy was tied to a community, not a local church. How can you deny that? I hope this drastically changes how church leaders look at their role. Likewise, I hope they set an agenda for their church body that is reflective of Scripture and not what they know within their denomination or theological tradition. Scripture is always right!

Maybe this changes how we look at our role as a pastor in the community?

  • Our role may be to call local churches to come together for a common purpose.
  • Our role may be to call one another back to our first love.
  • Our role may be to ask the body of believers in our town to seek justice, speaking out against injustice to the point of change.
  • Our role may be to beg the church back to a period of societal reformation.
  • Our role may be to implore the local church to put the protest back in protestant.
  • Our role may be to remind churches that we are called to reach lost people, not put on the best show in town.
  • Our role may be to sound the alarm that the best way to reach the lost is minister to their needs, not entertain them.

Phrases from Revelation 2-3 to meditate on as you set your churches 2010 agenda. First love. Perseverance. Rich in poverty. Faithful to the point of death. Overcome. Service. Hold on to what you have until I come. You have a reputation for being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Dressed in white, for they are worthy. You have kept my word and not denied my name. Endure patiently. I am coming soon. Buy from me gold refined by fire. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. Be earnest.

What if, on January 3rd 2010, your church delivered a new kind of message? What if you called a meeting with some like-minded pastors in your community and set a common agenda for what the church will do in your town? I’m not talking about 100 things you will do… I’m talking baby steps. Here are 3 things we will do as “the church of our town.” And then on the first Sunday in January your agenda for 2010 includes a couple of things for what happens within your four walls… but also includes a few things that WE as the body of Christ in our town are doing together to be the Gospel to our town?

Now there is an agenda worth rallying around! I’d give to that. I’d stick around for that.

That creates new energy. Well, in me at least.