What I look for in an elder

Our church is going through an elder search process. I honestly didn’t think much about it all until a few weeks ago when I decided that I really needed to start thinking about who I would like to see serve as an elder in our church.

But before I could do that, before I could come up with any names, I found that I needed to take a step back and really think about what I thought were the characteristics of an elder for me.  What kind of person would I throw my support behind?  What kind of person would I trust and feel like I could go to when I needed help?  What kind of person would I really trust to shepherd myself and my family?

I am a list-maker, so I decided I would make a list and see what happened.  So, on the way to work in my van (where I do all of my great thinking), I started my list.  I’d love to hear what you would add to the list.

  • Notice people
  • Interested in the lives of others
  • Pray for others
  • Approachable
  • Keep confidentiality
  • Ask others how they are doing
  • Listen – REALLY listen
  • Open about their lives
  • Honest
  • Appreciative
  • Open heart
  • Generous
  • Encouraging – Uplifts others (positive thinker)

This is not an extensive list, and others probably disagree with my list.  But for me, these are the things that I looked for in an elder. And after I created my list, choosing names was easy and fun. 

What is on your list?

Church Inspirations

I find myself in a lot of churches in meetings or like this weekend, in working music contests. When I go to other churches, I always keep my eyes open for inspirations and ideas. 

This week, I went to two churches. Here’s what I was inspired by:

I  had a meeting at The Village Church in Flower Mound. I loved these paintings in the children’s area. I love the colors, the creativity and thoughts. 

I also like the idea of this safety info hanging around the building.    

At Custer Road UMC, I love this idea from their bulletin!  What a special, loving thing to do for teenage moms!  

And they have great signage that gets my wheels turning.    

   

I like the idea of pictures in the halls showcasing their ministries and events.   

And remember my post about tassels?  Tassels on the bottom of this table cover!!   

And how can you not be inspired by this view!  I can almost hear angels singing! ūüôā  

I love that I get to visit churches and steal, I mean borrow, or get inspired by others’ work and ideas!

Food Truck Gospel: 3 ways the church should work to operate more like food trucks

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One of the keynote speakers at my conference last week, Reverend Susan Sparks, had a great point that I can’t help but share with you! ¬†It really spoke to the room full of church administrators and was pretty convicting. ¬†So here it is:

Churches should learn to operate more like food trucks.

People love food trucks!  They are all the rage these days!  We flock to them!  We get excited when we see them!  We tell our friends about them!  We want more from them!

Susan gave us two ways that the church should be like food trucks, and I’m going to throw one more at the end of my own.

  1. “Churches should go to their customers.” ¬†Food trucks go to their customers. ¬†They are mobile. ¬†They go where the people are! ¬†They meet them where they are! ¬†Woah! ¬†What if we viewed church as a place/people who physically and spiritually went where the people are already? ¬†That met them there. Engaged with them there. ¬†Not forcing them to always come to us, in our buildings, on our terms.
  2. “Churches should share the bread of God in a relevant and intimate way.¬†” Food trucks have found a way to be relevant to our culture. We love them!¬†And churches should constantly be looking for ways to be relevant to our culture in our current time. ¬†Old ways can be good and meaningful, but often times, things need to change to be relevant, up-to-date and in line with the ways that people currently living, interacting, learning, etc.
  3. Churches should work to be relevant and meaningful to all types of people. ¬†All ages. ¬†All walks of life. ¬†I realize there are different types of food trucks, but they attract a wide variety of people. ¬†Look at a food truck line, and you will probably not see a group of people who look all alike. ¬†(Age, gender, race, etc.) Too often churches look alike. ¬†If you’re different, you don’t really fit in. ¬†This doesn’t happen everywhere, but the church should work to be inclusive of everyone and do what it takes to reach people of all walks of life.

So, how do you feel about this food truck analogy?  What are other ways that churches should work toward being more like food trucks?

Why cell phones going off in church (or anywhere else) don’t bother me as much anymore

We’ve all been there! ¬†It’s a quiet moment in church. ¬†Like prayer time. ¬†Or the preacher is really getting into the groove in his sermon.

And a cell phone goes off.

Everyone looks around wondering whose phone it is. ¬†Some people can’t believe the nerve of the person for not turning the sound off their phone before church. ¬†Some think it’s amusing to look around and see who it belongs to. ¬†Some are instantly paranoid that it could be their phone. ¬†Some remember times when their phone went off in church and they’ve wanted to crawl under the pew to hide!

But cell phones going off in church (or anywhere else) do not bother me as much as they once did.

Recently, a church administrator friend of mine told me a story…

He was sitting in church really into the morning and feeling the Spirit moving when someone’s phone started ringing. ¬†And they answered it in the service!! ¬†He was immediately distracted, annoyed and ticked off at the irresponsible person who was disturbing the service. ¬†It really got to him.

After the service, he went up to the preacher and mentioned the phone going off.  Surely the preacher would be angry too!  Phones going off during sermons had to be a pet peeve of the preacher!  The preacher calmly looked at him and said that it was actually a really great thing that the phone rang!  It was an answered prayer!  The owner of the phone had been waiting on that call for a long time!  They had been on an organ transplant list for years, and when their phone rang, it was the hospital telling them that the organ that they needed was ready!  This person had to answer that call!  It was a life-changing call!

Now, the vast majority of times, phones going off are not that much of an emergency.  But sometimes they are.

We let ourselves get worked up about so many small things, don’t we? ¬†I know I do! ¬†I’m sad to say that sometimes it doesn’t take much to rile me up!

But I’m thankful for friends, stories, etc. who help me see different perspectives.

There is always more to things and life than meets the eye!

The Worship Experiment: 1 of 2

I’ll be honest. For many years, I haven’t been all that happy with church. I’ve yearned for more, but I felt like I wasn’t getting it. My husband is on a team at our church that plans what happens in Bible class. I know I’ve driven him crazy with my complaints along the way. He’s worked hard over the years to continue to make things better. I haven’t been much help to him. Just another person complaining out of my selfishness. The church just wasn’t giving me what I felt like I needed. The classes weren’t deep enough for me. ¬†The worship time wasn’t what I wanted or felt like I needed.¬†Lots of selfishness on my part.

Surely I’m not alone on this. ¬†Can I get an amen?!

But lately, I’ve sensed a shift in myself. I have looked forward to church. I’ve been paying more attention in Bible class and have actually been participating quite a bit in the discussion. ¬†I’ve loved it!

So what changed?

Church is the same.  The people are the same.

But I’ve realized that I am thinking about serving, reaching and helping others more during my week. On the 6 other days in between church, I am looking for opportunities to minister to people. To listen to others. To respond to a need when it presents itself. To show love to people. ¬†To be contagious.

No longer am I feeling like I need the church to serve me. To teach me. To cater to my needs.

And because of this shift in my focus, I have been coming to church excited and more ready to worship than I ever have before.

Over the next few days, I am going to have a couple of posts on this topic. Fleshing all of this out. The last post will be about what I’m calling The Worship Experiment. I hope you’ll join me in this experiment!

Let’s do this thing!

One way I believe Christians are hurting the church

My church is studying the Becoming a Contagious Christian material by Bill Hybels and Mark Mittelberg. I’ve been really pumped about this study and the potential it has for our church and people. I’m excited about our members learning to be more contagious, how to have more spiritual conversations naturally, etc. I’m excited about more non-Christians finding Christ and enjoying a relationship with him. I’m excited about these people joining churches (not necessarily ours), getting plugged in and being loved on by other Christians. It’s a whole lot of excitement!

But I have to be honest with you.¬† There’s a part of me that is nervous to ask and bring new people to church.¬† Again, not just my church…any church.¬† It would be one thing if church people were absolutely perfect people that always treated everyone well.¬† But we’re not perfect people.¬† We’re just as messed up as everyone else.¬† We still need God to change our lives too!¬† Daily!¬† And don’t get me wrong, that is all an extremely beautiful thing.¬† That we can come together as messed up, broken, nutty people and learn from each other, serve together, experience Christ together, etc.¬† It’s beautiful!

That all being said, one of the ways that I believe Christians are hurting the church and the influence of the church is by the way we speak to and about one another.  And there are three ways I believe we do this.

We like to gossip.

Honestly, we are just as bad or worse than non-Christians about this.¬† And we’re so used to it, that most of the time, it doesn’t phase us at all.¬† We sit there and have no problem listening to friends who are gossiping about someone.¬† We don’t do anything about it.¬† It’s so bad that a lot of the time, we don’t even think it is gossip.¬† It’s just the way we talk!¬† And most of the time we join in!¬† How horrible is that!¬† I would hope that if someone is talking about me, my church friends would step up and stop it!¬† Not let it go on!¬† And I believe that is exactly what Christ would want us to do.¬† For us not to be so complacent and passive when we hear others gossiping.¬† To be bold and show courage to encourage the right kind of behavior and speech about others.

We like to complain.

Someone recently told me that the easiest way to start a conversation at church is to complain about something.¬† How true that is!¬† People can talk all day long about something they’re upset about!¬† And it’s so easy to join in on these kinds of conversations!¬† But this griping and complaining never helps things.¬† It might make us feel better in the short run that we got to vent, but it never solves the problem.¬† It just creates more problems.¬† More people are now upset about things that otherwise would not have been upset because they listened to others’ complaints.¬† It’s like a snowball that keeps rolling faster and faster and getting bigger and bigger until it is out of control and extremely dangerous.

We like to share confidential information.

Sometimes we like to cover this form of gossip up by making it into a prayer request.¬† Sometimes we just really want to share what we know about someone.¬† Sometimes we feel like the person we are telling the information to just really needs to hear it.¬† But here’s the deal, it’s never OK to share confidential information.¬† Ever!¬† If someone has shared something in confidence, it does not need to be shared.¬† Period.¬† Not much more to say about this.

These ways that we speak to and about one another are dangerous for the church!¬† Satan would love to get us all riled up about silly things and divide us any way he can so that we are not as effective.¬† He’s really good at this!¬† Why do we let ourselves get caught up in these petty things when there are so many bigger, better things out there for us to talk about and do?

The church is a wonderful, beautiful thing!¬† Let’s (and I’m definitely including myself in this) be intentional about the ways we speak to and about one another!¬† Let’s be contagious!

Questions

Here are a few questions I am wrestling with in regards to church lately:

РWhat do we want our guests to tell their friends about their experience at our church the next morning?  We need to write this story and then make it happen!
РWhat is the greatest need/pain in our community?  How are we meeting this need?
РIf church is not a popular place in the community these days, how are we different?  What are we good at?  What do we do better than 10,000 other churches?
I’d love to hear your thoughts!