From the Desk of the Associate: Redeeming the Time for Practical Discipleship

A lot of ink has been spilled in the church world around this idea of discipleship, and for good reason too. After all this was our Lord’s final admonition to his disciples, that they should make disciples. If fact in Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” I want underline that word “Teaching.” We are to make disciples by teaching. As someone focused on discipleship and especially as a pastor, it’s easy to consider Sunday school, Youth Group, Sunday morning church, and numerous other Bible study venues as the place we do that teaching. All of those things are great tools for teaching what Jesus commanded us to teach, but some of the most effective opportunities come in the most surprising of forms.

Every Thursday our church’s secretary/custodian comes to do her assigned work. Along with her she brings her four children with ages varying from 10-17. This provides me with the unique opportunity to spend time with these young people on an extra day each week that I would not normally get to do. Now I’m sure that most pastors have certain days that they get interrupted more than most. These interruptions can be frustrating when you have a long list of work that needs to be done. But as our lead pastor will frequently say, “interruptions are the ministry.” I would whole-heartedly agree with him. As stated above, its easy to consider your regular teaching times on Sundays and Wednesdays to be the appropriate time for discipleship. If we think though that this is the case we will miss out on some of the choicest times that can be presented to us. Take today for instance. I have a long list of things I needed to accomplish today. As I was retrieving an item from the printer, I noticed the secretary’s 10 year old son working on multiplication tables near the printer. I could have continued on with my task as I would most days, but today I stopped to comment on what he was doing. He said “my mom is making me do this because I didn’t finish this at home.” I proceeded to ask him if he had any tricks for these multiplying numbers like this. He then showed me the unique method he used for multiplying by eleven. I was then sucked down a rabbit hole and began exploring with him new ways to multiply by eleven. His demeanor quickly changed from annoyance and frustration at his school and he became excited and interested in this activity. I was excited for a very different reason. See unlike his 3 older siblings, I have struggled to connect with him and therefore he was never really interested in the things I try to share with him. This very random and simple connect over math problems was the very thing that allowed me to connect with him on a personal level that I believe God will use for him to be able to hear wisdom from me in the future.

You see often times its not about the content of your message but about the relationships with the person you are trying to reach. So many of us truly desire to disciple and be discipled but we struggle to find others who have the time or desire to carry out that mission. Many of us will make time for that on Sundays, but how many of us are intentionally doing this throughout the week. I could easily have ignored this kid and gone on about my day completing my “important” tasks, but this time for whatever reason, God caused me to stop and enter into his world for just a few moments. I wish you could see the excitement of this young man as we worked together to figure out his math problems. In fact, later on that day his dad stopped by to bring him home, he had to be pulled away from my desk. I was thankful that I could get back to work but more thankful that God had given me this connection point.

Two real quick application thoughts. Number one, make time to have those basic every day connections with the people God has brought around you. I get it, you are busy. You have a million things to get done and cannot get distracted by everyone along the way. However, you may be struggling to connect with the people you want to connect with or that God wants you to connect with because you are so busy with the other things. People are usually not lining up to “be discipled or disciple you.” You have to be opportunistic with these moments. Secondly, if you are a parent, try to set your children up to be discipled by you and others in the church who will play a vital role in building up their faith. Most parents want the most for their kids and therefore try to put them in so many things so they have all kinds of opportunities. More often than not, these activities are the very things that prevent them from receiving what God would have for them. You have to teach them how to say no to good things for the sake of great things. God does not care how good an athlete, musician, or student your child is. He desires their heart. And if all of those good things are drawing their heart away from God, than its time to lay them down for the sake of the greatest thing, God himself.

Drop The Excuses: You Don’t Go To Church Because You Don’t Want To Go To Church…

In nearly a decade of pastoral ministry, I have heard it all in terms of why people don’t go to church. “I have to work.” “I’m sick.” “Covid.” The list of excuses that people generate for why they habitually skip out on a church service is nearly endless. Like the gushing waters of Niagara Falls, the excuses keep coming and coming and coming.

I’ve called church members who have missed months (even years!) of church, and the excuses pour forth. I’ve invited dear friends to a special event or program at church, and the excuses are many. As a local church, we’ve helped and counseled countless folks in our community with their bad marriages, addictions, and child rearing problems, hearing afterward that they’re so grateful and will be attending our awesome church. “We’ll be there this Sunday!”, they say quickly and with great excitement, but the following Sunday, they’re a no show. Gone. Absent. Not there.

And the excuses keep coming. “Oh, I forgot!” “I overslept.” “I’ll be there next Sunday!” As a church, we call, text, and visit in order to reach out and love on such people. And do you know what’s interesting? People tend to have no problem spending an hour or two at a coffee shop just shooting the breeze with us…People have no problem going to some church outreach event where hot dogs and burgers are being grilled…But an hour and fifteen minute church service (where we sing the truth, hear the truth, and try to live out the truth) is seemingly untenable to some of these folks. They kinda, sorta want to be there. But they’re not there.


I think the answer is drastically simple. THEY don’t go to church because THEY don’t want to go to church. Perhaps, as you read this short blog, this describes you. Let me be clear, gentle, and blunt. YOU don’t go to church because YOU don’t want to go to church. It’s really that simple. We all have the same amount of hours in a given week. 168 hours. In general, we choose how to use these precious few hours. Out of your 168 hours in a given week, a local church service will cost you between 1-2 hours a week. But the excuses keep coming and coming and coming…

Now, certainly, there are legitimate reasons to miss a church service. Sometimes we have to work. Sometimes we get sick. Sometimes covid is a real and deadly concern. I get it. There are legitimate reasons to miss church. But for anyone who habitually misses church, they need to seriously evaluate their hearts and lives, especially if they’re unable to attend church for an extended period of time (with a legitimate reason), but they’re not even tuning in online, or reading their Bible, or keeping up with their prayer life.

Friends, if you call yourself a Christian, but you don’t go to church, something is off and very wrong. Do you know there is not one single account in the New Testament of a Christian who wasn’t connected to a local church? Not one instance of such a “Christian”…Not one. Research for yourself…To be a true believer in Jesus Christ is to love the Bride of Jesus Christ, the Church. Do you love Jesus, but disdain His Bride, the Church? What does you church attendance say to this question?

So, will you miss church this week? What’s your excuse? As you grab your go bag of excuses, let me remind you of the Bible…Hebrews 10:24-25, “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.” So, will you miss church this Sunday? What’s your excuse this time? I would kindly ask you to drop the excuses…But the choice is yours.

Four Types of Church Attenders…

I’ve been in pastoral ministry for nearly 8 years. During that time frame, I have encountered so many different people with a variety of different perspectives. Indeed, different is not always bad. Sometimes different is just different; and that’s ok. But when it comes to church attendance, I have noticed that, in general, there are four very different types of church attenders. I like to think of these people as follows:

  1. Church attenders who treat the local church like a grocery store. These types of people are always shopping for the best deal for themselves, and especially their kids. These folks are highly uncommitted and fear joining any church because…”What if the church goes bad?” And “I want to keep my options open.” These folks might go to the church down the street on Sunday morning because they like the music there and the preaching is tolerable, but on Wednesday night they’ll take their kids to another church in town because (“Well, come on now!”) they just have a better kid’s ministry or youth outreach event. These folks view their local churches like they view their local grocery stores and are always hunting for the best deals in town.
  2. Church attenders who treat the local church like their favorite restaurant. These types of people have honestly fooled themselves into thinking that they are faithful and loyal to their local church because they only/exclusively attend just one local church. Some of these folks have even taken the plunge into full blown church membership, but they are rarely seen and, because of their lack of attendance, don’t give of their time, talents, and treasure with ease. No, they don’t hop and shop around for the best deals in town like the first category above, but because they view their local church like their favorite restaurant, they rarely show up and step up. Why? Well, you don’t eat at your favorite restaurant every week, do you? No, you reserve eating at your favorite restaurant for special events, date night, or whenever your schedule is free and uncluttered. This is exactly how these category of church attenders view their church experience.
  3. Church attenders who treat the local church like their local gym. Now, I’ll be honest, this is by far my favorite group of church attenders because these folks don’t merely attend their local church, they’re all in. These folks have joined the church by giving credible testimony of their salvation and baptism and have plunged themselves into all of the “one another” commands of Scripture. These folks love well, serve often, and are truly committed to Christ and the local church. And they rarely miss a Sunday unless they’re puking their guts out or are out of town on business or vacation. Why don’t they hardly miss a Sunday? Because they view the church like their local gym…They take their fitness (their spiritual fitness) very, very seriously. They work out on their own nearly every day (i.e., reading their Bibles and praying) and then on Sunday they converge at their local church to work out. Yes, they are fed the Word by the singing and preaching, but they are also greatly interested in lifting some serious weight as they love, give, and serve in a variety of ways.
  4. Church attenders who treat the local church like a gas station. Ha! Just had to throw this category into the mix. Who are these folks? This is the online crowd. They view things (many things – great praise bands, great preachers, and great churches) from the comfort of their devices with no intention of ever actually, physically attending a local church. They consume, and consume, and consume. It’s so easy! It’s so convenient! “Why go to church when I can worship God anywhere?”, they think to themselves. They get their fill of knowledge from online sources and get extremely fat on the Word. Why? Because they merely eat and consume without working out and giving back. In treating church like gas station food they have gorged themselves to being extremely full, and extremely unhealthy. Gas station church attenders…Gotta love them! And yeah, some of them scream, “Covid! Covid! It’s all because of Covid!” But I doubt many of them are truly sincere…But I digress.

There you have it. Four types of church attenders as far as I see the current church going landscape. What do you think? Which church attender best describes you? Do you truly love Christ’s Bride, the Church? Do you truly love the individual expression of Christ’s Bride, the LOCAL church? Are you fully bought in and committed, eating the Word and exercising your faith?

The 2021 Annual Election of Officers Timeline

Our 2021 Annual Election of Officers is fast approaching! All church members, in good standing, who are 14 years of age or older, are kindly invited to nominate and then vote for individuals in the following categories: Deacon, Clerk, Financial Secretary, Treasurer, and Sunday School Superintendent. Below you will find the church’s timeline of events:

Sunday, October 31 – Nomination of Officers Commences (Clerk mails explanation letter, membership roll, and nomination ballots the week prior)

Sunday, November 14 – Nomination of Officers Closes (Nominating and Election Committee meet on Sunday, November 14 at 2:00 PM to discuss results)

Monday, November 15 – Wednesday, November 24 – Contact proposed nominees to see if they’re interested in serving (These individuals must reply by 5 PM on Wednesday, November 24)

Sunday, November 28 – Official Posting of the 2021 Officer Nominees (Posting of nominees will be done by email, the church bulletin board, and via our app…Two week notice of special member’s meeting to elect officers will be given)

Sunday, December 12 – Annual Election of Officers (Election will be held by secret ballot)

All elected officers will take office on January 1, 2022. Please be in prayer concerning who you would have serve and if God is leading you to serve!