Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Welcome to Church!

Yesterday I wrote a 'welcome' for my page on my church's new website. It forced me to think about, 'What could I say about our church that would incourage an unchurched person to come see us, and not lie?' I mean do we really know what the unchurched are searching for? Being that I was business major, I thought it would be a snap to market my church, but remember I wanted to be honest. I was farily pleased with what I was able to write, although there is much room for improvement. I was pleased, not content. Well, the project had two good outcomes: One- it caused me to take a real look at where our church is vs where it should be a year of two from now. Second-it made me think about what I think I know about what the unchurched need, and instilled in me a desire to get my church out into the community and find out for sure!
Here is what I wrote, tell me what you think:

Hello! I would like to welcome you to Albion Wesleyan Church! We believe that the Church is an extension of the family of God, and what better family to be apart of than God’s?! I mean, God invented the family so being in His family should be awesome! I would like to invite you to join our family anytime. You can always feel welcome and loved here in God’s family. We do lots of things together as a family such as having dinner together as a family on Thanksgiving or just because; celebrating the harvest season together with a Trunk or Treat on Halloween; worshiping the true Father of our family together every week; community service projects; or just hanging out together like families should do. We worship together and work together; and we pray together and play together. If you have a great family life at home you will find that same love and acceptance here at AWC. If you have less than a good family life then you find all that you have ever hoped for in a family here, people who will love you no matter what and will listen to you about anything and will try their best to understand where you are coming from in life. We love everybody and we have no requirements for you to meet before you walk in our doors. Now that you know what you will find here, here are a couple of things you will not find here. There will be no cover charge. It doesn’t cost any money to meet and/or worship God. There will be no bouncer to toss you out for any reason. All are always welcome in God’s house, He loves everybody and we are doing our best. No dress code. As long as you have on clothes we don’t care what they look like! No tender to cut you off and tell you that you have had too much Jesus, or God, or the Holy Spirit. No tab. What’s the point? Since we could never do or have enough to pay God back for what He has done for us He doesn’t ask us to. No blacklist, or A-list. After we ask forgiveness God never keeps a record of our wrongs to hold against us later. At the same token, He doesn’t love anyone more than anyone else, or hold anyone I higher esteem than anyone else; we are on the same plain with God. You also will not find perfection here either. We love and worship a perfect God, but that does not make us perfect and we know that. So, there will be no perfect standards of others shoved in your face to live up to. We are all broken and cracked jars of clay doing the best we can to live the best we can and hold as much of God as we can. You will find love and acceptance from the people and we will introduce you our best friend Jesus. From Jesus you will also find love and acceptance, but He can also offer you protection and salvation.
We are all God’s adopted children so come and hang with us and you can be adopted too!
God Loves you and so do I,
Pastor of AWC

1) Does this look like where a church should be? or at least be trying to get to?
2) Is this an appropriate welcome for a church website?
3) If you attend my church, does this look like an accurate and honest statement?
4) Any other thoughts you may have, honestly.

PS: Next Tuesday I will be starting a daily or semi-daily devotional here on Daniel. It is a gret book, more than all the end-time prophecy we hear about it.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

I just wanted to wish anyone who reads this a Happy Day of giving thanks to the Lord.
Please use this a time to reflect on all that God has done for you. Spend some time thinking about the benefits you receive from a love relationship with the Father. If you have a hard time thinking of any benefits lately, then maybe you may need to take inventory of your love for Him.
To hear more about the benefits of this relationship, come see me at Albion Wesleyan Church this Sunday at 10:00 am.
"For I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you." Jeremiah 29:11
David Sheffield

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Reputations Are Overrated

I am sure that when you read the title to this blog you probably almost lost your cookies. "What do you mean reputations are overrated?" "To people that do not know me, my reputation is all that I have." Yes, that is correct. As individuals we need to keep our reputations as clean and spotless as possible. As a Church (universal) we also need to do all we can to keep a clean rep. We must do our part to stay clean and show the world that the Church is a great place for them to find love, peace, acceptance and salvation. But when the Church's rep seems to go bad, don't fret over it so much. What happens in another part of the country or world with another pastor or Church leader is not the fault of all of us and we can't beat ourselves up over it. One hypocrite or act of hypocrisy does not make the entire Church and our message hypocritical.
In the wake of the recent fall of a Church giant the natural tendency is to worry about the reputation of the Church and how it makes us look. And to a degree this is a valid concern, however where is our faith in God? We preach and teach God to be an all powerful, "can do anything" God, but when tragedy hits the Church we start thinking, "Oh no! What can we do to restore the reputation of the Church?" "I can't believe this person has given 'them' such a weapon to use against us!"
Maybe we need to remember a couple of things:
1) Isaiah 54:17a "no weapon turned against you will succeed"(NLT) God is making a promise to Israel here. He is promising that they will be returned to glory and that their enemies will not defeat them. God will protect them and take care of all the weapons the enemy throws at them. God also says something interesting at the end of verse 17 when He says, "These benefits are enjoyed by the servants of the LORD; their vindication will come from me."(NLT) This tells us; all servants of the LORD, for all time will fall under His protection from these weapons. So, yes we may give Satan weapons to use against us, but what good is it going to do him? Now, that is not to say that we should be care-free and give him all kinds of weapons to use, that would be stupid. He will find a way to use the weapons we give him. He will use them against the very people we are trying to reach for God. If these benefits are for those who serve Him, then those who do not, are left wide-open. So out of love for them, please let's stop giving Satan weapons; as for the Church, it will stand and will be protected. For those who try to pin this kind of behavior on the entire Church, they tell lies and in verse 17 we also see that those who lie against the Church will have their day in court and will be brought to justice, God's justice.
2) The first Christian Church did not have a good reputation. They were branded as a bunch of criminals by society and were hunted down and killed. I know that there reputation was because they were doing the work of God, or was for a good thing. I also know that the reputation we get when these things happen is for bad reasons, and there is a difference. However, in either situation we are talking about the Church's reputation to society and in each incident we had a bad reputation to society. In the early Church, God worked through that rep and the Church grew exponentially. Now, am I saying that a bad rep is a new Church growth strategy? Of course not! But if God can work through their bad rep, He can still work through our bad rep.
I am in no way saying that when these things happen it is OK and that we should not worry about our reputation. We should concern ourselves with it before we make mistakes because to those who do not know the Church or God, our reputation is the only thing they have to know us by. So, we have to do all that we can to keep our reputation clean. Run away from the temptation to sin and honor God with all that you do, say, and think. What I am saying is that when things happen that is out of most of our control, don't worry and get a defeatist attitude about it. God is going to protect His Church. His Church will survive no matter what. Do you remember what He told Peter about the Church vs the Gates of Hell? We are going to win! So, don't waste too much time worrying about restoring the Church's rep, leave that to God. Time spent doing that is time away from the mission of reaching the lost for Him and discipling the believers.
This should be comforting to the Church and to the individual who fell. All is not lost. God is still in control. No man made the Church indestructible and no man can tear the Church down. Stay focused on our mission, and "Be still and know that I am God" Psalm 46:10 (NIV).

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Hey anybody who might actually be reading this. This is the first time I have ever blogged so forgive me if I do not do it 'right.' I really have no idea what I am doing. I named this blog 'One Rock Cries Out' for two reasons. One 'Rock' is a nickname I got in college and it has stuck with me through six years in the USMC and is still with me today after four and a half years in the ministry. I also used it as a reference to Luke 19:40 where Jesus said, "If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!" this is in response to the Pharisees telling Him to get the people quiet who were worshiping Him as he made His way into Jerusalem on a donkey. I do not ever want to be 'out cried' by a rock. Rather, I want us, His children, to be the rocks along the road. I want everyone I meet to know how I feel about Jesus. I want all of us to be the rocks crying out for Him, and I want to be one of those rocks. I apparently already am a rock, but I want to be one of those, not just a mute rock sitting around doing no good. I will have more to write about those rocks later, but for now,
David Sheffield