Tag Archives: Sunday

No more counting

Years ago I heard Tony Campolo speak about being part of a ministerial association where he lived. Every group has their measuring stick and this group used Sunday evening attendance. So the first thing they did each meeting was to go around the circle and share that statistic.

Tony decided to have some fun and play their game. When it was his turn, he reported that they had between 3 and 4 hundred in attendance for their Sunday evening services. Every pastor in the room was awestruck and Tony became the new guru of that little group. His words of wisdom were valued like gold and everyone had questions to ask.

Then a few months into these meetings someone asked Tony exactly how many people they averaged in attendance at Sunday evening services. Tony replied with something like “37.”

As you can imagine, everyone was stunned. “But you said it was between 3 and 400!” To which Tony replied, “37 is between 3 and 400.”

I love it! How could they be so vain as to think that the number of Sunday evening attenders is the measure of success in a church.

I would never do that. But I would use the number of blog followers to boost my confidence and measure my success. I’ve even looked for the number of followers on other blogs that I visit.

How could I be so vain?!

Everyone likes to have someone reading their blogs and positive affirmation can be great fuel to spur us on in writing. But this shouldn’t be our primary motivation.

If it’s all about God then it’s simply a matter of sharing what He has put on our heart and trusting that He will use it according to His will; whether it’s with a thousand people or just one soul.

But it’s hard. Even the tips others give you for building a following include visiting lots of other blogs to either “Like” a post or “Subscribe” to their blog. The idea is that people will return the favor. But I can’t bring myself to do that.

I enjoy checking out other blogs when time allows, but if I like a post or follow a blog it’s simply because it touched my heart and challenged me in some way.

Jesus taught that the way to confront the issue of greed in our heart is to give stuff away.

So to confront my tendency to “number watch” my blog I’ve stopped posting how many people are following through Subscription. Though it just dawned on me that the number of people following my Facebook page is still listed. I wonder if that can be removed?

What’s your real motivation for blogging or doing anything for the cause of Christ?

P.S. – And anyway, the number of followers posted by WordPress was wrong by my count. It was actually… never mind.  LOL

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Accountability, Blogging, Loving God, Motivation

This is where the Church belongs!

Like most of us, Thomas Keinath felt the need to spend some time away from the office. In Keinath’s case, the “office” is Calvary Temple, a “mega-church” with a 2,000-plus seat sanctuary in an affluent suburb, in Wayne, New Jersey.

Instead of a personal retreat or a fun-filled vacation, Keinath spent that week living with the homeless in nearby Paterson, New Jersey.

During the day, he wandered through the streets dressed like everyone else. At night, he joined the homeless as they built fires to keep warm from temperatures that dropped into the teens.

He wrote mini biographies about the people he met and their life story. Why would he do all of this?

According to Keinath, “I needed to understand what they were experiencing, and I needed to feel their pain; how could I bring help or healing to the streets if I did not know what their needs are?”

To put it bluntly, people in Wayne tend to avoid Paterson like the plague. But not Pastor Keinath and the folks at Calvary Temple.

This church is reaching out to their neighbors in some vital and tangible ways. They are not only taking basic supplies to the homeless but they are bringing them to services at the church on Sundays.

This is just the beginning of what Keinath calls “a long-term solution” that includes building a center that will “shelter the homeless while helping them recover from problems including substance abuse.”

Loving our neighbor as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:39) is being the church as God intended. It’s living out the gospel like the Christians of Caesarea did centuries ago.

In the early fourth century, the city was hit by a plague. While everyone was fleeing the city, the Christians stayed to minister to the sick and dying.

As the church historian Eusebius wrote, “All day long some of [the Christians] tended to the dying and to their burial, countless numbers with no one to care for them.” Other Christians took it upon themselves to feed the rest.

This is how Christianity prevailed over Rome and spread like wildfire. And the same is still possible today.

Hitting the streets to meet peoples’ needs. This is where the Church belongs!

© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Christianity, Church, Compassion, Generosity, Grace, influence with the world, Inspiration, involvement with the church, Kingdom of God, Loving others, Serving

Pastors and their families at risk!

Last Sunday I blogged about prayer being an essential part of getting ready for church gatherings. Among other things I encouraged you to pray for pastors and their families.

Since then, I’ve come across some rather staggering statistics that I want to share in the hope that it will spark us to pray more earnestly for them.

      • 1500 pastors leave the ministry permanently each month in America.
      • 80% of pastors and 85% of their spouses feel discouraged in their roles.
      •  70% of pastors do not have a close friend, confidant, or mentor.
      • Over 50% of pastors are so discouraged they would leave the ministry if they could but have no other way of making a living.
      • Over 50% of pastor’s wives feel that their husband entering ministry was the most destructive thing to ever happen to their families.
      • 30% of pastors said they had either been in an ongoing affair or had a one-time sexual encounter with a parishioner.
      • 71% of pastors stated they were burned out, and they battle depression beyond fatigue on a weekly and even a daily basis.
      • One out of every ten ministers will actually retire as a minister.*

I know that reading statistics can at times be cold and distant, but please don’t rush past this information. It is staggering and it is very real. Don’t assume that your pastor and his family are different or immune to such struggles.

Pray for them daily and ask God to lead you into ways of encouraging them. It’s all part of being the family of God and sharing the journey!

* Research was compiled from The Barna Group, Focus on the Family, Fuller Seminary, and the Institute of Church Leadership Development.

© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

4 Comments

Filed under Encouragement, Family, involvement with the church, Loving others, Pastor

Waiting… on God

Have you ever had to wait for something you really, really, really wanted?

Today is the first Sunday of the Advent season – the period of time leading up to Christmas. Many churches use these four weeks before Christmas to recognize the 400 years the Israelites waited from the last time God spoke through a prophet until the arrival of Jesus as a baby.

As the Israelites waited with expectations of the coming Messiah, we today wait with expectation for His second coming – when He will claim those who belong to Him as His bride and take them to be with Him forever.

But can we even begin to grasp what it must have felt like to wait 400 years for God!

Waiting is not one of my strong points. I struggle to wait for anything or anyone. Makes me wonder how the Israelites handled it. Did they get angry? Did they wonder if God had forgotten them? Did they begin to question the old faith stories that they had grown up with?

We know for sure that some of them decided to take matters into their own hands. They were called Zealots and they physically revolted against the ruling Roman empire on numerous occasions.

I don’t usually revolt or become violent but I can relate to taking matters into my own hands. But this seldom… NEVER works the way I want it to. In the end we are always better off trusting God and waiting on Him.

But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, they run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind. ~ Isaiah 40:31 (Message)

What is it that you’re waiting on God for today? Will you choose to trust Him?

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Filed under Advent, Choices, Christmas, Patience, Trusting God