True or False?

by Rev. Rick Robinson

In this information age we live in, social media groups like Facebook, Twitter, and so many others, are used daily by millions. Sometimes I see some pretty off the wall statements on these networks. In fact, if you do a Google search on a particular subject, it is likely you can turn up multiple answers for your subject. Where do you get your information today? How can you know if something is true or false? I could write about government, automobile history, or any number of other subjects that interest me here at length. The subject I choose to present here is relevant to all. It is of the spiritual nature. No, not just religion, but a genuine relationship with God. Religion is man’s attempt to reach out to God. That’s why there are so many different ones. Jesus Christ is God’s attempt to reach out to man through a meaningful relationship–and there is only one way to have a relationship with God.

John 14:6

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

When people think of religion or spiritual life, they most often relate the subject to a church. There is a major false concept of what the church is and what the role the church in your life is. Most Americans (even Christians) really don’t understand what the relationship between the organized church and the members (the real church) should be. Six out of ten people drop out of church for at least two years of their life. Why does church become so “not relevant” to so many? One of the top reasons people drop out of church is because they have unmet expectations. Even people who attend church weekly, and get involved in the ministries, can get so wrapped up in church programs or producing ministry results that they lose sight of living in a transforming relationship with Jesus Christ.

43% of Americans say it doesn’t matter what religious faith you follow because they all teach the same lessons. Where did all these experts come from, and where did they learn that? 50% of Americans believe that God loves everyone and all people will go to heaven no matter what they do. I talk to a lot of people door to door, and most people think to get to heaven, your good works must out weigh your sinful acts. When I ask them where the line you cross to tip the scale in your favor is, they don’t know, yet they think they are going to make it to heaven because they never did anything that bad. For those who don’t know where the line is, it takes just one sin to tip the scale against you.

Romans 6:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

There are those who think to get to heaven, you have to live by the Ten Commandments, yet most of them cannot name the Ten Commandments, or even tell me where they are in the Bible, so we can look them up together. You are betting all of eternity that you are right about what happens to you when you die, don’t you think it’s time to stop taking opinion as fact, and discover the truth for yourself?

1 John 5:13

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.

We must look to the original source to discover what is true. Do not take the word of a pastor (including me) over looking to the Bible for yourself.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

In a 2011 survey, 26% of people who have been to a church before said that their life had been changed or affected “greatly” by attending church. Another 25% described it as “somewhat” life changing. 46% said their life had not changed at all as a result of going to church. Not going to church is not the obstacle to having a genuine relationship with God. Attending church is just religious activity by itself.

Out of the Americans that claim to be a Christian, 78% strongly agreed that spirituality is very important to them. On the other hand, only 18% of those same people claim to be totally committed to investing in their own spiritual development. This is the first real obstacle to Jesus Christ becoming real in your life. Be honest with yourself. Do you have a genuine commitment to investing in your spiritual life, or do you just attend church?

The next real obstacle I will list here is sin. This is second on the list not because it is not as important, but because if you do not have a commitment to developing a relationship with Christ, you will not take sin serious.

Out of those in America who consider themselves to be a Christian, 56% say they have not experienced the life God wants them to have. Only about 3% of these people say they have surrendered control of their life to God, submitted to His will for their life, and devoted themselves to loving and serving God and other people. Are there areas in your life that need to be surrendered to God? Are there areas where you need to trust Him more? The word repent does not mean to quit sinning; it means to have a change of heart. Simply showing up at church will not deal with these matters of the heart. You must have that commitment previously discussed when it comes to sin.

This brings us back to the obstacle of religious activity. 39% of people who claim to be a Christian have participated in a combination of three religious activities in the past week such as, attending church services, praying, and reading the Bible.

I am not saying that these are not important, but when it comes to the deeper expressions of a walk with Christ, participants are far and few between.  Less than 10% of these same people have talked about their faith with a non-Christian, fasted for religious purposes, or had an extended time of spiritual reflection during the past week.

Hebrews 10:25

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

 Most people who claim to be a Christian say that they feel comfortable and connected within their church. 80% of people first attended church because someone personally invited them. Over 70% say the reason they stay in church is because of the relationships. Only 21% of those who attend church on a regular basis believe that spiritual maturity requires a vital connection to a community of faith. Only 35% claim to have confessed their sins verbally to another believer at some point during the three months. They are just there for the fellowship. If you go to church, why are you there? If you do not, what keeps you away? Isn’t it time to look to the source for real answers for your life instead of opinions formed by experience, or taking another persons word for it?

Acts 17:11

Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

God has more for all of us all to enjoy, no matter where we are in our walk with Him today. Going to church is a good start, but working on these obstacles will put you in a position for Christ to become more real and personal in your life every day.

If you want to know how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, click here.

Copyright 2012 Church Growth Associates, Inc.

MyChurchGrowth.com

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When All is Lost, Not All is Lost!

by Rev. Rick Robinson 

Did you ever feel like all hope was gone? Even when all is lost, all is not lost! Sometimes we fall short of what God expects of us, as believers. God knew we would fall short, before we even thought about it. Jesus told Peter he would deny him three times before the rooster crows and Peter argued with him about it. 

Luke 22:34

Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.” 

Luke 22:54-62

Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. But when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, “This man was with him.”  But he denied it. “Woman, I don’t know him,” he said.  A little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” “Man, I am not!” Peter replied. About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.”  Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.

There are several reasons we come to a state of feeling hopeless. One of those reasons is our sin. Jesus didn’t love Peter any less in his failure, and He still loves you and me, no matter what we have (or have not) done. This is not an excuse for sin, but the enemy likes to beat you up with your sin. There is a difference between conviction and condemnation. When God brings your sin up, he always offers a solution. Repentance, and restitution when necessary, is all that is required for you to walk in freedom from the hopelessness that sin brings. The enemy always brings your sin up as a hopeless situation—one that has caused God to hate you. God hates our sin, but He always loves us. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

It is not always an intentional act of sin that causes our self inflicted pain. Just like Peter, our fear can get the best of us. God is always there for us, even when we are not thinking about it.

Our circumstances are another reason we may feel hopeless. You may be in a certain predicament because of your own foolish decisions or someone else’s decisions beyond your control. That does not mean it is beyond God’s control. I love this character study found in the book of Acts. As you read this excerpt, think about which of the characters you most relate to.

Acts 27:9-22

Much time had been lost, and sailing had already become dangerous because by now it was after the Fast. So Paul warned them, “Men, I can see that our voyage is going to be disastrous and bring great loss to ship and cargo, and to our own lives also.” But the centurion, instead of listening to what Paul said, followed the advice of the pilot and of the owner of the ship. Since the harbor was unsuitable to winter in, the majority decided that we should sail on, hoping to reach Phoenix and winter there. This was a harbor in Crete, facing both southwest and northwest. When a gentle south wind began to blow, they thought they had obtained what they wanted; so they weighed anchor and sailed along the shore of Crete. Before very long, a wind of hurricane force, called the “northeaster,” swept down from the island. The ship was caught by the storm and could not head into the wind; so we gave way to it and were driven along. As we passed to the lee of a small island called Cauda, we were hardly able to make the lifeboat secure. When the men had hoisted it aboard, they passed ropes under the ship itself to hold it together. Fearing that they would run aground on the sandbars of Syrtis, they lowered the sea anchor and let the ship be driven along. We took such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard. On the third day, they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands. When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved. After the men had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up before them and said: “Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss. But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed.

Are you seeking first your own desires? Have you given up all hope? Are you accepting the loss of things you thought were important, with thanksgiving to God for His mercy with the things that matter most? The enemy will always get you to focus on what could have, would have, and should have been. The only way Satan can defeat you, is to break your will to fight. Once you loose hope, everything bad that happens is traumatic, everything good that happens is too little too late, and your relationship with God (and others) will suffer along with you.

All these years after that shipwreck, the ship that was destroyed is lost and worthless in itself. The story of Paul has become part of the greatest book ever published, for all generations until Christ returns. The lives that were saved have untold stories of another opportunity for salvation before death. Only God knows the rest of the stories about the 276 passengers on board.

Storms are part of life. Sometimes we bring them upon ourselves, and sometimes they are beyond our control. Just as Jesus watched Peter deny him and just as God saw Paul in his distress, so is God watching you. Keep up your courage. Call out to Him in your distress, and realize that when all is lost, all is not lost.

Have you come to the place in your spiritual life, where you know for certain if you died today, you would go to heaven? For information about the ultimate hope, follow this link. http://mychurchgrowth.com/heaven.php 

Copyright 2012 Church Growth Associates, Inc.

MyChurchGrowth.com

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Life’s a Beach … Are You Ready?

by Rev. Rick Robinson

The statement “Life’s a Beach” is a phrase created to be a positive statement, thinking on sun, sand, water and people having fun. I am using the statement as a metaphor to illustrate a principle that will make life better for you. While some people may be thinking of the fun they had yesterday, others have a secret hope that yesterday will get better. You cannot live in the past with the good times, or with the bad times. Each day is made new, so are you ready for the new day? God not only wants you to be ready for it, He wants you to be happy about it.

Psalm 118:24

This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

That word glad in the original language is samach (pronounced “saw-makh’”) which means joyful and merry. So, the statement life is a beach can be a great sentiment, but can you make each day a better day?

Maybe you are one of those people who don’t like the beach. No matter how you feel about the beach, it is a fact that every day at the beach is not tourist worthy. Storms come to the beach just like other places and sometimes they are even more severe.

In the summer of 1944 my dad went to a beach in France known as Normandy. Dad was not issued a shovel and pail, and promised a nice trip to the beaches of France. The soldiers participating in the Normandy invasion were given weapons and training, and they were told the truth about enemy soldiers who want to kill them.

In the same way, if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you must not be content to go to the beach of life with a shovel and pail. God has given you weapons to fight the enemy. He has given you everything you need to live life to the full.

2 Corinthians 10:4-5

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

God wants you to know there is an enemy who wants to kill you.

John 10:10

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

God wants you to know the way to live and He has told you the truth, because He is truth.

John 14:5-6

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Not spending time in God’s word is as foolish as it would have been to send soldiers to Normandy with a shovel and pail, and not mentioning there were German soldiers there who don’t want to play. June 6, 1944 has often been referred to as the longest day, and what a long day it must have seemed like. The beach of your life will have long days at times. You will still experience storms at your beach called life because there is an enemy who hates you.

Don’t face your long and stormy days with a shovel and pail. Dig deep into God’s word so you will be trained and equipped with the weapons to survive even the longest day at the beach.

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Creature of Habit

by Rev. Rick Robinson

When I was a boy growing up in rural Marion county Florida, my dog Stubby took up a sport that many rural dogs enjoyed. He chased cars. That was not a habit cats would participate in, because animals really are creatures of habit. Dogs like to chase cars and hang out the window when they go for a ride in a car. I have never seen a cat do that either, what they must think of dogs.

Are you a creature of habit? We all are, to a point. When I need to buy something for a home repair, I go to the same Lowe’s store. No, they did not pay me to mention that, I am a creature of habit. We shop in the same stores, buy the same products (although pricing these days may drive business more than convenience or loyalty) and go to the same places.

Not all habits are convenience or market driven. When we go to church we tend to sit in the same area and even sit in the same seat if it is available. A few years ago, my wife and I walked into a church with a capacity about 1000. We were the only ones there, so my wife selected a seat by placing her Bible and purse on the pew. She then went to find the ladies room. While I was waiting for the pastor in the sanctuary, an elderly lady came in and discovered the purse and Bible sitting on the pew where my wife had left them. “Oh!” the lady exclaimed. “Somebody is sitting in my seat! What shall I do?” Keep in mind there are still close to 1000 available seats. Instead of sitting in one of those available seats, she picked up my wife’s belongings and moved them back a pew. That is a perfect example of a creature of habit.

Habits become such a part of our life that we don’t even have to think about them, they place us on sort of an auto pilot. There are good habits; we call discipline, and bad habits that cause detrimental things in our lives to happen. Although every habit is not sin, bad habits are encouraged by bad thoughts.

James 1:13-15
When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

That is a good reason we should take every thought captive.

2 Corinthians 10:5-6
We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.

For every 100 people that watch a television commercial only a certain percentage will pay attention to it. A smaller percentage will understand what the message was, and an even smaller percentage will relate to it. The percentage of people who will act on the ad by making a purchase will be determined by the repetition of presenting a relative message to the audience. That’s why the chewing gum ad says it will last longer, you will kiss longer, and have whiter teeth, instead of saying it taste good for a while then you spit it out. It has to look relevant and good.

The devil is a pro at making sin look relevant and good. When God told Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree in the middle of the garden, the sales pitch began and became very persuasive. What Eve was thinking when she made a decision to sin is something we can all relate to. We are often tempted that a certain sin would be to our benefit or enjoyment.

Genisis 3:6
When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.

If we fail to take our thoughts captive, our thoughts will take us captive. When your thought process comes in obedience to Jesus Christ, it will cut off your bad habits. This is not a complex issue, it just requires one to keep the habit (or the discipline) of staying in God’s word, and thinking about what you are thinking about. You are either a servant of Jesus Christ, or a prisoner of the devil. There are only two choices; the category of “neither” does not exist, except in the minds of those who lack knowledge of the truth.

2 Timothy 2:24-26
The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

We must make it a habit to have fellowship with God and walk in His word. This does not mean you will never sin again. It is a matter of becoming a creature of habit when it comes to taking thoughts captive and bringing them into obedience to Him.

1 John 1:5-9
This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

The word walk used here is the Greek word peripateo (per-ee-pat-eh’-o) and it means to make one’s way, progress; to make due use of opportunities. Has that become your habit yet? The good news is when we fall, there is forgiveness and hope. Are you walking in the freedom of the forgiveness of Jesus Christ, or living as a captive to sin? Allow Christ to rule in your heart and bring you into the fullness of life that no bad habit or sin can provide.

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Help Wanted … Under Qualified But Overwhelmed

by Rick Robinson

Did you ever feel like God has call waiting, kind of like your telephone, and He switches between the calls He wants to talk to—and you’re the one on hold? Here you are in the most difficult of situations, and God doesn’t seem to be concerned about it at all. If this description fits your life right now, you and God are in a great place to help each other. Yes—I said help each other. Let me explain. There are scores of stories in the Bible to illustrate this, but I have selected accounts of Moses as an example. 

God called upon Moses to help deliver the people out of Egypt. God did not need Moses, any more than He needs us, but He loves working together with us. He is not cold and impersonal, but a relationship oriented God. Trusting us with a task is one of the ways God draws us closer together. Even as God ask Moses to participate in the deliverance of His people, Moses feels under qualified.

Exodus 3:10-11

“Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?”

God has great patience with Moses, showing Him miracles and proving His power, yet Moses continues to express his own feelings of being under qualified and overwhelmed, even begging the Lord to enlist someone else. 

Exodus 4:10

Then Moses said to the Lord, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” 

Have you ever made excuses about why you can’t do something for God? I am a pro, but He is not impressed with that part of my resume. As Moses surrenders to “help” God with this task, we can see the relationship transformed as he transfers his trust from his own ability over to confidence in God. If you want your relationship with God to prosper, you too will have to look at the truth of His ability, not your own. 

While the people are in the desert for what should have been a short journey, disobedience sends things sideways. There is no meat and fresh produce in the desert and the people grumble wishing they had not left Egypt. Moses is found questioning his own relationship with God, because he is looking to himself for answers. Once again, Moses is feeling under qualified and overwhelmed and perhaps overlooked. Have you ever felt that way? You’re in good company and not alone like you thought. 

Numbers 11:11-15

So Moses said to the Lord, “Why have You been so hard on Your servant? And why have I not found favor in Your sight, that You have laid the burden of all this people on me? “Was it I who conceived all this people? Was it I who brought them forth, that You should say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom as a nurse carries a nursing infant, to the land which You swore to their fathers’? “Where am I to get meat to give to all this people? For they weep before me, saying, ‘Give us meat that we may eat!’ “I alone am not able to carry all this people, because it is too burdensome for me. “So if You are going to deal thus with me, please kill me at once, if I have found favor in Your sight, and do not let me see my wretchedness.” 

Quail would migrate across the Sinai Peninsula in large numbers at certain times during the year, usually between March and April. God brought the birds over the camp of the Israelites with a great wind in the evening, and also wherever they camped for forty years, daily He dropped manna to the ground with the dew. Each family was to take what they needed with no leftovers. God made the manna unfit to eat overnight, so it was of no use trying to store up a supply. Daily trust in the Lord for provision was required. In case you wonder about it as you read, a measure of omer is about 2 liters. 

Exodus 16:16-24

This is what the Lord has commanded, ‘Gather of it every man as much as he should eat; you shall take an omer apiece according to the number of persons each of you has in his tent.’ The sons of Israel did so, and some gathered much and some little. When they measured it with an omer, he who had gathered much had no excess, and he who had gathered little had no lack; every man gathered as much as he should eat. Moses said to them, “Let no man leave any of it until morning.” But they did not listen to Moses, and some left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and became foul; and Moses was angry with them. They gathered it morning by morning, every man as much as he should eat; but when the sun grew hot, it would melt. Now on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one. When all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, then he said to them, “This is what the Lord meant: Tomorrow is a sabbath observance, a holy sabbath to the Lord. Bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over put aside to be kept until morning.” So they put it aside until morning, as Moses had ordered, and it did not become foul nor was there any worm in it. 

This was not the normal manna they were familiar with. It melted in the sun, it became foul overnight, and it could be worked into nutritional bread. This was not a normal substance that the people recognized, it was a miracle. 

Deuteronomy 8:3

He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord. 

If we want to live in the provision of God and share in deep fellowship with Him, we will need to take heed of these words the Prophet Isaiah wrote. 

Isaiah 55:8-9

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts. 

Isaiah used this timeless picture of the heavens, which is a great illustration of the wonder of our God. We cannot even imagine the things He has created. The speed of light is our basic measurement for distance in space (the heavens). Light travels at some 186,000 miles per second. That means a beam of light could travel around the earth several times in one second. We don’t all own rockets, but most of us own a man made car. If you could drive your car non-stop to the sun, it would take over 160 years to get there, yet the light from the sun (God’s creation) reaches us in seconds. How great is your God? Are you still looking for provision on your own standard? Are you looking for a place to serve in your own ability or still making excuses of why you will fail? God wants to provide for you, and wants your help in some capacity. Most of all, God desires an intimate relationship with you. Did you know God has given you manna (bread) from heaven? Will you scoff and complain, or expect daily supply?

John 6:30-33

So they said to Him, “What then do You do for a sign, so that we may see, and believe You? What work do You perform? “Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread out of heaven to eat.’ ” Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. “For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.” 

You and I may be under qualified for certain things and we may be overwhelmed with others, but God is neither under qualified nor overwhelmed. His word will accomplish everything as He desires, and you are a part of that plan—we all are. 

Isaiah 55:10-11

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. 

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What Are You Waiting For?

by Rev. Rick Robinson

John the Baptist preceded Christ and prepared the way for His coming, and Paul succeeded Christ proclaiming that the Christ had come, calling upon all to repent and accept Him as their Lord and Savior. You also have a call on your life to accomplish something for God. It may seem insignificant to you in comparison with these two men, but it is important to God. Maybe you don’t see yourself as an important part of what God is doing in the world—you are wrong. Maybe you are afraid to ask, since He might expect you to do something you do not want to do. Maybe you have not discovered what it is God wants you to do because you are waiting on a “sign” from above. Every single believer has a place to serve, along with the grace and God given ability to achieve the task.

1 Corinthians 12:6-7,11

And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.

The culture of the early church was much different than the freedom we have in the United States today. For the Romans, Greeks, and conquered nations of that time, the gods and goddesses in the great heathen temples had their rites and ceremonies. It was the policy of the state to maintain the worship of the gods and goddesses, and any attack upon them or their worship was regarded as an offense against the state. As for the Jews, to preach a crucified and risen Christ as the Messiah often put them into a rage. To speak against the religion of the state constituted an offense which was punishable by whipping and prison. This punishment was not working, so it was proposed by a Pharisee named Gamaliel, in the Jewish council to let the followers of Christ alone, arguing that then they would give up their preaching.

Acts 5:38-39

“So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.” 

After the election of Stephen as a deacon, the followers of Christ began to multiply and the let-alone policy was seen as an inadequate strategy. It was seen that Christianity would keep no truce, and proposed to keep no truce, which denied the supremacy of Christ. Saul was placed in charge as the arch persecutor for the new policy that called for the penalty of death. Here we see Saul watching the execution of Stephen in the beginning of this persecution. 

Acts 7:58-60

When they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him; and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul. They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” Having said this, he fell asleep. 

The threat of beatings, jail, and even death would not stop the early church from serving the Lord. Each one lived their normal life, but continued to proclaim the Christ. Even Paul had a somewhat normal life at times. It was a common Jewish proverb that “he who taught his son no trade taught him to be a thief.” Paul was taught the trade of tent making by his father. The hair of the Cicilian goats was made into cloth used to make tents for travelers, merchants, and soldiers. 

Acts 18:1-3

After these things he left Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, having recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. He came to them, and because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and they were working, for by trade they were tent-makers. 

You do not have to go to the mission field, or be an ordained minister to serve Christ. You do it right where you are with a willingness to let God take you to the next level in your walk with him. The early church was active sharing their faith daily but they did not all quit their jobs. 

So what are you waiting for?  Are you  going to wait for an experience like Paul, when God knocked him off his high horse? Perhaps you have been watching the TV commercial offers getting better, and you are holding out for a better deal. 

You may serve in the local church, give money every week, and be a really good person, but are you sharing your faith? You already have the greatest offer ever made. The offer is one that money cannot buy and you cannot afford, yet it is available just the same. You are the one who can “double the offer” as it were, by telling someone else about the life changing relationship with Jesus Christ.

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Let’s Play Trouble Swap!

by Rev. Rick Robinson

Everyone has some kind of trouble to deal with. What if there was a reality show called “Trouble Swap!” I bet you can think of a few people you would not like to swap your trouble with. There are even more people suffering in silence that you know nothing about. There are people right now that may wish they could have you as the other contestant on “Trouble Swap!”

Is that hard to believe? Do you feel like nobody cares what trouble you’re in, and everyone ignores the trouble you are having as though it were trivial? When you call the counseling center, does your call get put on hold with the 1965 song by The Fortunes “You’ve Got Your Troubles (I’ve Got Mine)” playing.

Each trial we go through brings with it the opportunity to testify to the reality of God’s presence in our lives, or the opportunity for us to blow the testimony of His gospel. Our real problems come when we refuse to trust in the reality of God’s presence and power.

Are we intellectually dictating to God what we intend for Him to make of us, searching through the Bible to back up our demands? No–we must learn the discipline of submitting our intelligence (whatever we have) and our reasoning to Jesus Christ. The reality of God’s presence is not dependent on the evidence of a situation, but on His word. The unseen solution is much greater than the seen situation.

Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 

You can see the unseen is greater than the seen by looking at this passage using the original Greek words. Faith is pistis–meaning conviction of the truth, assurance is hupostasis—meaning firm foundation, conviction is elegchos—meaning proof and things is pragma—meaning an accomplished fact. If you read Hebrews 11:1 in that light, this is what it says.

Now conviction of the truth is the firm foundation of things hoped for, the proof of accomplished facts not seen.

How beautiful and simple that is. We must have God’s word alive in us and walk in His light to deal effectively with our problems. Otherwise, you may as well hope for the best on a show called Problem Swap. The choice is yours. Are you spending time in God’s word to increase your conviction of the truth (faith) or just hoping for the best?

Romans 10:17

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

This is from the New American Standard Bible, some versions read “by the word of God.” The word of Christ is a phrase that means hearing and learning about Jesus–which is the purpose of the word of God. In other words, conviction of the truth comes by learning about Jesus. Jesus Christ is everything to me. My eternal hope and my strength for the problems I cannot swap away. The Apostle Paul knew he could not swap away, or even pray away some of his problems.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

I am not saying we should not pray about our problems–we should. Many of them are self inflicted, and many may not be as bad as they seem, especially in light of the wide array of trouble swap contestant wannabes. One thing that all problems have in common is that God has allowed them. When things do turn around for us we must not then have an “I’ll take it from here!” attitude with God. Complete reliance on Jesus Christ is the standard of living for the Christian. We must strive not to walk in the light of our experience, (or someone else’s) but in the light of God’s word.

Do you have this almighty Christ, or just the attributes and experiences of a believer? There must be total abandonment to Christ for us to obtain true peace through our problems. Jesus loves you and gave his life for you that you can have an eternal relationship with him. Don’t let your problems cut you off from the solution God has provided. Religion by itself, will display attributes only as deep as experience can take you–but a relationship with Christ will show you the unseen is much greater than the seen.

Romans 8:35-39

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

2 Corinthians 4:17-18

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

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Gone To the Dogs

by Rev. Rick Robinson

When someone speaks of something going to the dogs, it usually annotates a distinct turn for the worse. Have you ever felt like your life was going to the dogs? How did those lovable dogs get a bad rap for a saying like that anyway? Dogs were not always as popular as they are today. There was a time when calling someone a dog was a serious insult–in fact; the Bible is full of contemptuous references to dogs.

The book of Revelation places dogs on a list of outcast.

Revelation 22:14

Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.

The psalmist compares his enemies to dogs. Keep in mind that the narrowness and the darkness of the streets at night, along with the odd corners, made the cities vulnerable to violence. Evil people could hide easily to wait on unsuspecting victims. Dogs roamed the area looking for food with howling and growling.

Psalm 59:14

They return at evening, they howl like a dog, And go around the city. They wander about for food and growl if they are not satisfied.

Many of the religious Jews would refer to Christians as dogs, and Paul dished it right back at them as he also mentions his list of achievements from their standards.

Philippians 3:2-7

Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision; for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh, although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless. But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.

In volume 6 of his books of Antiquities, the famous ancient historian Josephus gives account of a conversation between David and Goliath.

Accordingly he laid by the armor, and taking his staff with him, and putting five stones out of the brook into a shepherd’s bag, and having a sling in his right hand, he went toward Goliath. But the adversary seeing him come in such a manner, disdained him, and jested upon him, as if he had not such weapons with him as are usual when one man fights against another, but such as are used in driving away and avoiding of dogs; and said, “Dost thou take me not for a man, but a dog?” To which he replied, “No, not for a dog, but for a creature worse than a dog.” This provoked Goliath to anger, who thereupon cursed him by the name of God, and threatened to give his flesh to the beasts of the earth, and to the fowls of the air, to be torn in pieces by them. To whom David answered, “Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a breastplate; but I have God for my armor in coming against thee, who will destroy thee and all thy army by my hands; for I will this day cut off thy head and cast the other parts of thy body to the dogs; and all men shall learn that God is the protector of the Hebrews, and that our armor and our strength is in his providence; and that without God’s assistance all other warlike preparations and power are useless.”  — Flavius Josephus

In the book of Kings we read that King Ahab wanted a piece of ground that was near his palace. He asked the owner to sell it to him, but he was not willing to sell because his father had given it to him before he died.  

1 Kings 21:1-3

Now it came about after these things that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard which was in Jezreel beside the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. Ahab spoke to Naboth, saying, Give me your vineyard, that I may have it for a vegetable garden because it is close beside my house, and I will give you a better vineyard than it in its place; if you like, I will give you the price of it in money.” But Naboth said to Ahab, “The Lord forbid me that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.”

Ahab was so upset about it that he would not even eat. The King’s wife, Jezebel, told him that he need not be troubled, for she could get the land for him. She cooked up a scheme to have Naboth killed by stoning. 

1 Kings 21:5-10

But Jezebel his wife came to him and said to him, “How is it that your spirit is so sullen that you are not eating food?” So he said to her, “Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite and said to him, ‘Give me your vineyard for money; or else, if it pleases you, I will give you a vineyard in its place.’But he said, ‘I will not give you my vineyard.’ Jezebel his wife said to him, “Do you now reign over Israel? Arise, eat bread, and let your heart be joyful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.” So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name and sealed them with his seal, and sent letters to the elders and to the nobles who were living with Naboth in his city. Now she wrote in the letters, saying, “Proclaim a fast and seat Naboth at the head of the people; and seat two worthless men before him, and let them testify against him, saying, ‘You cursed God and the king.’ Then take him out and stone him to death.” 

God was so displeased with the actions of this couple, he told Ahab the dogs would lick his blood from the very spot his victim died, and the dogs would eat Jezebel. This was understood in that day as the fate of the most despicable people. Dogs were often fed the remains of people who were executed and enemies of the King. The bodies were thrown outside the city for the dogs to eat. 

1 Kings 21:23

Of Jezebel also has the Lord spoken, saying, The dogs will eat Jezebel in the district of Jezreel. 

2 Kings 9:34-37

When he came in, he ate and drank; and he said, “See now to this cursed woman and bury her, for she is a king’s daughter.” They went to bury her, but they found nothing more of her than the skull and the feet and the palms of her hands. Therefore they returned and told him. And he said, “This is the word of the Lord, which He spoke by His servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, ‘In the property of Jezreel the dogs shall eat the flesh of Jezebel;and the corpse of Jezebel will be as dung on the face of the field in the property of Jezreel, so they cannot say, “This is Jezebel.” 

Not all dogs were ruffians and misfits in that day. Many shepherd’s would lead sheep, fighting off any predators with the use of a sling and stones in front, while his dogs brought up the rear, ensuring that the sheep were not attacked by wild animals and keeping them in pace with the shepherd. Isaiah made reference to this double protection when he delivered his message from God. 

Isaiah 52:12

But you will not go out in haste, Nor will you go as fugitives; For the Lord will go before you, And the God of Israel will be your rear guard. 

Solomon writes a message of hope to those who feel life has gone to the dogs, placing a lion at the top of animals in nature (King of the jungle?) and a dog at the bottom of the animal kingdom. 

Ecclesiastes 9:4

For whoever is joined with all the living, there is hope; surely a live dog is better than a dead lion. 

So…do you feel like your life has gone to the dogs? Are your dreams wasting away? There is hope for you, no matter how bad you think your life is right now. Honor the Lord with your life and actions. Don’t let possessions control your actions as Ahab and Jezebel did. Possessions won’t bring you lasting peace or make you happy for long. Only a personal relationship with Jesus Christ can provide what you truly need. Place your trust in the God who will protect you from all sides and keep you on pace with Him. 

Copyright Church Growth Associates, Inc.

http://MyChurchGrowth.com

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Enjoy the Day

by Rev. Rick Robinson

I remember when I was an inventory manager at the Chevrolet store; a gentleman came in and introduced himself as Elvis Presley. The self proclaimed Elvis claimed he wanted to purchase 50 new pink Chevrolet Corvettes for his newest movie. I knew he wasn’t Elvis. I knew that there was no new Elvis movie scheduled for production. I also knew he was not going to buy 50 pink Corvettes. He had a woman he introduced as Pricilla with him. Mormons usually come in pairs, but it is unusual to have nutty people in pairs.

He wouldn’t take my word that Chevy doesn’t paint production Corvettes pink, and even if they did–I couldn’t get him 50 of them. He wanted to talk with someone that could get him the cars, so I introduced him to the sales manager. He was nice to the man too, but refereed him to another Chevrolet store to get him to leave.

Almost every time I go to a store to purchase something, the clerk greets me with “How are you today?“ and when I leave they tell me to “Have a nice day!” Do they care how I feel? Do they care if I have a good day? When you are having a bad day, do you explain that to the clerk? Do they even know your name? (Your real name.) There is someone who knows your name, cares how you feel and is sincere when he tells you to have a nice day. When you are walking through problems, it is an act of your will to have a nice day.

Psalm 118:24
This is the day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it

God made this day and we should actively be thankful to Him. The word used for glad in this passage is samach–which means to be joyful and merry. Can you be joyful today? God really does want you to have a nice day. It is not all the things you can get that will make you happy. It is not all the things you do not have that will make you sad; it is your attitude.

1 Timothy 6:17
Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.

I know there are things that happen that will make you sad, like the death of a loved one. Two of my friends died this week. There are times we become overwhelmed with circumstances. Jesus was moved to tears over the death of Lazarus.

John 11:32-35
Therefore, when Mary came where Jesus was, she saw Him, and fell at His feet, saying to Him, Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled, and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept.

I cannot pretend there will not be trials that are overwhelming. I can only say there comes a time when being glad must be an act of the will. Knowing that God is in control. Knowing that God has the final say over our life and death. Those who are in Christ will be together again in a new place where things not imagined in this world will be enjoyed together.

How is your life ever going to become normal and happy again? Are you waiting to figure it out for yourself, or are you willing to accept that this is the day, which the Lord has made? If you focus on God’s word you will find strength–but if you focus on the world you will find no lasting hope, only uncertainty.

copyright 2011 Church Growth Associates, Inc.

http://MyChurchGrowth.com

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Making Visitation Work

By Rev. Rick Robinson


Mark 16:15
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.

IS IT WORTH IT?

How effective is home visitation? Some say visitation is not effective in the modern church culture. Try explaining that to the cult members who are growing by proselytizing 70 to 80 percent of their membership out of our churches. Only 3 out of 10 Protestant churches have an organized visitation program and most of those have their sights on the church visitor. Churches with effective outreach should be touching the lives in five people groups. These include members, guest, the hospitalized, the homebound, and the unchurched. Each one of these people groups will require a different strategy, and you may have people with a passion for each one of those categories to help. If not, get organized, God will send them.

So how effective is home visitation? The most influential component of your church growth mix is the friendship factor. The effectiveness of visitation is cut in half when a paid staff member does it, because the perception is the staff is being paid to make visits. When ordinary members of the church make those visits, it is an act of wanting to be friends. When we look at the growth mix of your church, we use church growth ratios to determine the strengths and weaknesses you have. We can determine how your assimilation strategy is working by looking at the visitor retention ratios. Ratios from first time visitors are as follows:

  • Declining churches will see 12% or less of their first time guest join the church.
  • Slightly growing churches may see around 16% of first time guest join the church.
  • Growing, healthy churches will see 25% or more of their guest join the church.

If your strategy for growth includes only visitation, you have no strategy. Effective assimilation will require a detailed follow-up strategy, and until you are retaining at least one out of four first time visitors, it is not working. We can help you with assimilating your guest, but this lesson is going to help you get your visitation started, or organized first. You will see how it all comes together.

GETTING STARTED

Mark 7:6
Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two …

Let’s begin here with the visitation team itself. Some Christians prefer visiting alone. This can limit your opportunity for ministry and invite a potential uncomfortable situation under certain circumstances. Having a second person on the team has advantages. Each will have different gifts and perspectives that will make a successful team. This will also increase the safety of the visit. A husband and wife team would be ideal. I do not believe a man and woman should visit alone on the team when they are married, but not to each other. The next logical choice would be a third person team. As with the two-person ministry team, there will be more opportunity for witness and ministry with the variety of gifts, testimonies, and perspectives. There is not a right or wrong number of people to use on the team for basic visitation purposes. There is a common sense number, don’t storm the house with a bus load of people.

RECRUITING WOKERS

Luke 10:2
He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.

When we do the Thoughts & Perceptions surveys in a church, it always reveals there are people who are willing to be trained in outreach. Most churches already have people that are ready and willing to work in outreach ministry. Pray for God to guide you as you begin this ministry in your church. I would encourage you to start by building a leadership base that you personally recruit, one on one. These are the people you can trust, that love the church, and love you. Make sure outreach is kept in the forefront of the church. Utilize the free help that is available to you in our library at MyChurchGrowth.com as a guideline. As your ministry grows, God will continue to supply the workers you need.

WE DON’T HAVE ANY PROSPECTS

John 4:35
Do you not say, „Four months more and then the harvest‟? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.

Unless you got this message out of a bottle that floated up on the deserted island you live on, you have plenty of prospects. Let’s take a look at where we can go visiting. Any evangelism or outreach ministry will be more effective with understanding the fields to be harvested. We must develop meaningful relationships through meeting needs both in the community and the church. So, what types of prospective new members are out there? The simple church growth principle of. No visitors, no growth, really comes into focus here. Our iCONSULTATION can help you with this part of your church growth mix, but here are some basic thoughts.

THE CHURCH GUEST

Matthew 22:9-10
Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.‟ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

The church guest is one of the best prospective members we have. Remember the contact should be made within 36 hours after their visit if possible. This is because 60% of first time visitors will return if the contact is made within 36 hours, while 15% will return if you wait until the end of the week.

INACTIVE MEMBERS

James 5:19-20
My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

Inactive Sunday School and church members are another resource for visitation. Don’t get discouraged when dealing with inactives. You should be aware that it is likely to require six to ten hours of visitation to move into ministry with the inactive. You can get detailed help with ministry to inactive church members in our library on our web site at MyChurchGrowth.com. Everything in the library is free.

FRAN’s

Mark 5:19-20
… “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.

Friends, relatives, associates, and neighbors are rich mission fields for ministry. I have gone to many churches that thought they had no prospects, and asked them to make a list of people they can think of that do not attend church. A small church with a handful of people can easily come up with hundreds of prospects. Try it! Make your list, start praying for the people, and ask God to present opportunity. God does not procrastinate like we do. He is more than willing to set up divine appointments for us.

HOSPITALS AND NURSING HOMES

Luke 8:41-42
Then a man named Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, came and fell at Jesus‟ feet, pleading with him to come to his house because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying.

Hospitals and nursing homes are full of people waiting for someone to come by and spend some time talking and praying with them. If you do not have members in the hospital or nursing home, try going from room to room, asking if anyone would like prayer. I have also asked nurses on duty if there is a certain patient that may enjoy a visit from someone. You run the risk of being asked to leave, but unless it is a small hospital, there’s more than one floor and more than one shift of nurses. You may be surprised with the results.

GOING DOOR TO DOOR

Acts 5:42
Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.

Sound a little scary? Being a little frightened is only Satan trying to stop you. Before I was saved, I visited as a Mormon with no fear. Satan did not want to stop me. After I met Jesus Christ began visiting with the true gospel, I found that spirit of fear trying to stop me. Remember that we must only be willing to do it, and God will bless our efforts.

When you consider where you may want to go door to door, something else to consider is the natural traffic pattern. When the church is between the prospects home and a destination the prospect travels to on a regular basis, such as work, it is in the natural traffic pattern. These prospects will be easier to reach since they are accustomed to traveling from home in the direction of the church. It will require approximately 5 visits to get someone to attend worship when the church is in this traffic pattern. It will require about 9 visits for those who live outside that pattern. The most important question is, which field does God want you to work in, and what will the strategies be? These questions will be answered through prayer, the most important, effective part of outreach. Be sure to read the Caring & Sharing article in our library for more help on this subject.

THE BASICS

Acts 19:17
Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Now we want to lay a foundation for knocking on the door and keeping a follow up strategy going. This article will assume first, that the prospect you are visiting has previously attended your church. Other articles in our library will support other types of visitation. Secondly, we will assume the reader knows little or nothing about visitation.

PRAYER

Romans 10:1
Brothers, my heart‟s desire and prayer to God … is that they may be saved.

Prayer is the most important part of the visit. Pray together before leaving the church, not in front of the prospects home. If your prospect looks out the window and sees people sitting in a car in front of their home, it can make for an uncomfortable situation. Praying inside the home silently as someone on your ministry team shares is always appropriate. I recall a visit I made a few years back with a new trainee. “All you have to do is pray as I share Christ with our prospect” I said. Well, as I began to share the gospel with our prospect, my trainee dropped to his knees and began praying loudly, “Oh God, save this wretched sinner!” I couldn’t believe this was happening. I continued as though I hadn’t noticed what my ministry partner was doing. Although our prospect received Christ that night, I explained to my new trainee that this is not be the best approach the next time.

THE APPROACH

Colossians 4:5
Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.

Be sure not to park your vehicle on the grass or a flower bed, and try not to block in other vehicles. You don’t want to position your vehicle so it will have to be moved if someone in the home needs to leave. If there is a woman on your team, she should be the most visible person on the team at the door. This is much less intimidating for most people. Introduce yourself and the team members and state you are from the church immediately. If no one is home, be certain you leave a door hanger with church information, and a brief note to let them know you stopped by.

INSIDE THE HOME

Colossians 4:6
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Once inside the home, you can look for visible things to build a friendly conversation with. For example: Musical instruments, trophies, pictures, etc. Begin building a relationship with the prospect by talking about the things they like. Remember to retrieve any information that may be used for follow up and ministry. Do not take notes in front of the prospects. Stay focused on ministry to the individual. Listen for feelings, attitudes, perceptions and values as well as for facts. Pay attention and avoid interrupting. Never tune people out because you don’t like them, you disagree with them, or you find them dull. This time should not be rushed although you should not overstay your welcome either. Be Spirit led and use good judgment.

LEAVING THE HOME

Ephesians 5:15-16
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, …

Do not end your visit with a reason you must leave. (i.e. We have a meeting to go to, we have more visits to make, I’ve got to get home, etc..) The prospect should feel special enough that you have designated this time just for them. Praying with the prospect is a good way to conclude the visit, but always ask permission to pray for them and never call on them to pray, some people will be very uncomfortable with that.

KEEP GOOD RECORDS FOR ASSIMILATION

Colossians 4:9
… They will tell you everything that is happening here.

In establishing a visitation ministry, report back and record keeping are very important ingredients. A report back session gives opportunity to share about our ministry time for purposes of follow-up ideas and prayer. You can serve refreshments and turn this into a special time of the outreach night. A report back time also brings the paper work or reports back to the church. How will you carry on the assimilation process without this information? It is vital the information retrieved will be useful. The biggest problem I have seen when it comes to visitation reports, is a name of the members who made the visit and “Good visit” written on the form. What strategy would you use to assimilate the prospect with the term “good visit” penciled in on a report? Strategic detailed information must be captured if we are to be effective in outreach ministry.
These are the simple basics of a visitation ministry to get you started. When I watch the weekly attendance records for the churches we work with I can tell when they are not doing the outreach, because The growth starts to level off. Visitation still works today, just as it did in the early church.

For other free articles on ministry to inactives and other evangelism and outreach training for your visitation ministry, visit our library at MyChurchGrowth.com/library.

From the library of MyChurchGrowth.com
copyright ©2011 Church Growth Associates, Inc.
Where the complexity of church growth intersects with the simplicity of the gospel

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