7 Ways to Fall In Love With the Church

I was reminded again recently of the fickle love that many have for the church.  Many people in our culture, today, changes churches like they change favorite restaurants.  One will stop serving a favorite menu item and they move on.  Or maybe a commercial for another restaurant displays something more desirable and off they go.   It’s really not a big deal when we are talking about restaurants, but when we are talking about the church of the living God it should be something much deeper and more real.  We should fall in love with our church because Christ died for it.  We should fall in love with our church because it is the chosen method of Christ bringing about His Kingdom.  We should fall in love with the church because it is filled with people just like us: each of us guilty of our sinfulness yet loved and redeemed by the one and only Savior.  If you are finding it hard to fall in love with your church, here are a few suggestions that just might hep:

  • Invest yourself in a ministry – Everybody needs a purpose. People who come to worship services without finding a ministry to belong to rarely stick around long.  On top of that, it is part of the call of every believer.  We are called to make a difference.  We are called to serve others.  It helps us get our eyes off ourselves and put them on those whom God sees. If you want to fall in love with your church, serve the people in and around it.
  • Make real relationships with God’s people – Fellowship is a highly important part of the Christian experience. Human interaction in our culture is becoming harder to find.  We interact through social media and we would often rather buy online than brave a shopping trip.  Nonetheless, we crave friendship and community.  The church is the ultimate expression of this community as we are equal before our savior and drawn together as one by His love.  If you want to fall in love with your church, fall in love with its people. 
  • Worship with abandon – True worship is turning our hearts and minds towards God and His perfect salvation through Jesus Christ. It is the emotional expression of the truths that we know about God.  When we worship we acknowledge that the greatest act of human love and devotion was done by Jesus on the cross.  Through that action you are forgiven and given the hope of eternal life.  If that doesn’t move you, you don’t understand it.  Let the truth of God’s love through the gospel move you to worship him without fear.  If you want to fall in love with the church, worship with abandon
  • Be a faucet, not a drain – People generally fall in to one of these two categories. They are either faucets or drains.  Drains let the water flow out.  Often people will come to church for what they can get out of it.  In the worst of cases they can leave people and congregations depleted of energy and love due to the drama and disunity they bring.  On the other hand, faucets give water.  They replenish other people and the organization.  That is our call in the church.  We are to help others find life in Christ and help them to grow in their walk with Christ.  If you want to fall in love with your church, be a faucet, not a drain. 
  • Be encouraged by being an encourager – This one is closely linked to the previous statement, but it has more to do with our attitudes than our actions. There are people who inherently look for the good in others and in their church.  There are others who seem to see all of the difficulty and the bad.  The truth is, whichever you are looking for, you will find plenty.  If you want to see the hypocrisy and ugliness of church, somewhere amongst the sinfulness of all our members it is there to be found.  At the same time, the Holy Spirit is alive and well in the church.  He is still creating redemption stories in the lives of our members.  He is still moving us to great acts of service.  Look for the good and be encouraged by what God does, even in the midst of all the bad we can often do.  If you want to fall in love with your church be an encourager.
  • Be the Church everywhere you go – Too many people do their religious duty on Sunday and then forget about it the rest of the week. The greatest joy in the church is that it is where we find salvation and where God makes us in to a new creation.  Let Sunday be your day to recharge and be reminded about God’s goodness through our worship.  On Monday, go out and apply what you learned.  Begin to live out the Christian life in a way that is real.  Let it change you.  If you want to fall in love with your church let it change you all week long.
  • Fall in love with Jesus – Jesus is the Author and finisher of our faith. He is the one who first loved us.  He is the reason for everything that we do in the church.  He is worthy of our deepest love and affections.  See to love him more.  Meditate on His goodness and love.  Read His word so that you know him more deeply.  Spend time with Him in prayer.  Foster and real relationship with Christ that is based in love.  When you love Jesus you will love His body, the church and you will find it a privilege to be a part of.  If you want to fall in love with your church, fall in love with Jesus.


Why Worship Attendance Matters

             What do you consider faithful attendance in church worship?  It is amazing how the view of church attendance has changed over the last few decades.  When I was a child church attendance was integral to life in our family.  We didn’t skip church except during the yearly vacation or when we were sick.  I remember times when we were not able to attend, and it left a hollow, empty feeling, like we had missed something. 

              Contemporary church goers seem to have a different view.  Studies show that people today see themselves as regular attenders of church if they attend only one church service per month.   We also see a major decline in Sunday evening and mid-week prayer services.  So, what is the answer?  How should we view church attendance as followers of Jesus Christ?

              Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”  The author sees the importance of gathering together as a part of the fellowship of the church.  How do you encourage your church family and stir one another to good works if you do not meet together regularly?  Each Sunday we gather together as an encouragement to one another through relationships and building one another up.  It is also an encouragement to stand strong in your faith as we do so together, as a believing body.

              Another reason we should desire to gather together each week is for spiritual growth.  It is abundantly clear that many people who claim faith in Jesus Christ, today, have a hard time defending or sharing their faith.  The reason is because many do not know the word of God and have not taken the time to learn about their faith.  Growing spiritually requires setting aside regular time for worship and sitting under the word of God in order to learn it.  This happens both in worship and in Sunday school.  Regular attenders to these services of the church are much more likely to understand and apply their faith, which ultimately means a more joyful faith.

              We also come together as the body of Christ.  That is such an important part of our faith.  When Christ ascended to heaven, after the resurrection period, he left people of the church, indwelt by His Spirit, to be his hands and feet and to carry out His mission on earth.  We gather together to be commissioned each week.  Can you imagine a platoon of soldiers being sent out on the field of battel without a mission and specific instructions on how to carry out the mission so that they could act as one body?  Neither should the Christ body be made up of scattered individuals who are all simply doing their own thing.  We gather together to work together and carry out the mission of Christ.

              Lastly, we gather together honor God.  Each worship service is a time to corporately acknowledge the amazing plan of salvation and the sacrifice that Christ became on our behalf.  It is impossible to ever repay our God for the love and work that He has poured out for us.  But, we must try.  It is our greatest privilege and obligation to gather together to glorify our God and Savior.  He is worth it!

              So, what keeps you from faithful attendance in worship.  Let’s be honest, most of the excuses we have our not good ones.  We must faithfully commit ourselves to take up our place in the body of Christ.  We shouldn’t let the things of this world so easily turn us aside from the faithful worship of God.  Make that commitment.

              Let me make one last, personal note about this issue.  Today is the last day of pastor appreciation month.  There is no greater way to show appreciation for your pastors than to be of a part of the church that God has called us to lead.  It is painful to look around the sanctuary and see so many who are not faithful attenders.  We are called to love you, serve you, and even miss you when you are not there.  You can bet we do because we love you.  Encourage us by your faithful attendance.  In so doing you will be supporting our call as shepherds as we seek to gather you and lead you.

What is Biblical Preaching and How Should You Respond To It?

              I still remember several years ago when a man was talking to me, as the new preacher at church, about how I differed from previous pastors he had known.  I believe what he said went something like, “you know, you’re more like one of those teacher preachers.  I’m used to preachers who really preach.”  I can’t even say I understood what he was talking about, but I know how it felt.  It felt like he was saying, “I don’t like your preaching.  You are too busy talking about the Bible and don’t tell enough good stories that connect with people.”  I admit, what I heard and what he was saying may have been completely different.
              The fact remains we have become a highly entertained society.  We like good stories and lots of illustration in the preaching.  Truthfully, we need some of that in our sermons because we must connect with our people and apply the Word of God in way that help people to understand and live it out.  At the same time, it seems like many people want a preacher is just as much comedian/story-teller as anything.  Here’s the problem:  we will never be fed, spiritually, on good stories and illustrations.  Again, good preaching relies on these tools, and I certainly seek to get them in, but what matters in the sermon is not the story, but the Word of God.

              The text drives the sermon.  When a pastor is called of god to preach he is called to help people know and apply the Word of God to their lives.  Anything less that that will never do.  Paul points this out in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, which says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”  It is the Scripture that is of God.  It is the scripture that is inspired.  It is the scripture that is needed to guide, affect, and grow a person’s spiritual life.  The Word of God is the medium that the Spirit uses to make us more like Him.   The truth is, we need less stories and more proclamation of the scriptures because we need more true disciples.  We are equipped through the scriptures.

              Scripture has power.  It changes lives.  The problem is that our sin nature can drag us away from that truth if we are not vigilant.  Paul goes on to say in 2 Timothy 4:2-4, “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”

              This is where we need to be very careful.  We like to have our ears tickled.  We want to hear something entertaining and enjoyable, but what God has to say to us is not always that way.  It’s like my children.  They love it when I proclaim that we are going to out to dinner tonight.  They hate it when I say it’s time to clean their rooms, but both are necessary in their given time.  We have a culture that tends to move towards the preacher who says what they want to hear in a way they want to hear it, but that is not truly listening for the word of God.

              Each week during our services we will be walking through the scriptures mining it for something that will move us closer to Christ-likeness.  Some weeks it will be the moving and wonderful passages about God’s love and salvation.  Some weeks it will bring us to tears and repentance.  It will always, as much as I am humanly able to bring it, be the Word of God. 

              So, what do you do about it?  First, train yourself to long for the word of God more than you long for the word of man.  What man has to say will not save you and will rarely change you.  What God says always will.  Second, listen to learn.  Seek to learn the Word of God and be taught through the preaching.  The point of sitting under the Word of God is to learn and be transformed by it.  Let it do its work.  Last, apply it.  Ask yourself this question each and every week: “What can I take with me this week that will change my life as I seek to live it out?”  Look for something that will bring you closer to Christ and to be more like Him.

New website

I am excited about the unveiling of this new site.  It is long overdue.  I have had the domain for some time and even had an unfinished website on it for several years.  I rarely checked it, but recently decided that I needed to do so, only to find that my website was gone. Apparently I hadn’t paid for my web hosting and it was gone.  To be exact, brantlyon.com was pointing to some other guys website.  I figured it was time to put together something completely new and finally start doing some writing.  I am sure that my blog will come as I have time to write, but I will try to share from time to time.  Thanks for visiting.