I Couldn’t Do It

dad-and-daughter

I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t watch my child be tortured. Yet, that’s exactly what a Christian leader in Syria had to do when he wouldn’t renounce Christ and turn back to Islam.

“The relatives said ISIS militants on Aug. 7 captured the Christian workers in a village whose name is withheld for security reasons. On Aug. 28, the militants asked if they had renounced Islam for Christianity. When the Christians said that they had, the rebels asked if they wanted to return to Islam. The Christians said they would never renounce Christ.

“The 41-year-old team leader, his young son and two ministry members in their 20s were questioned at one village site where ISIS militants had summoned a crowd. The team leader presided over nine house churches he had helped to establish. His son was two months away from his 13th birthday.

“In front of the team leader and relatives in the crowd, the Islamic extremists cut off the fingertips of the boy and severely beat him, telling his father they would stop the torture only if he, the father, returned to Islam. When the team leader refused, relatives said, the ISIS militants also tortured and beat him and the two other ministry workers. The three men and the boy then met their deaths in crucifixion.

“ ‘All were badly brutalized and then crucified,’ the ministry leader said. ‘They were left on their crosses for two days. No one was allowed to remove them.’ ” Christian Aid

It’s one thing to stand in front of a crazed shooter who’s asking if you’re a Christian that holds your life in his hands, I think I could do that, but it’s another thing when your kids are involved.

I don’t think I could do it.

I think I would renounce Christ. I wouldn’t mean it. I would have my fingers crossed. I would be praying for forgiveness the entire time, but in that moment, when my child’s life depended on it, I believe I would give in.

I don’t know if Jesus would be disappointed in me. I don’t know if Jesus would forgive me. I don’t know what kind of an example that would set for others. I’m just trying to be honest with myself.

I hope I’m never put in that situation.

No one should ever be put in that situation.

The fact that this goes on in our world and no one is doing anything about it, absolutely baffles me. I believe those in power who have the ability to do something about this, and don’t, should be held accountable for their actions.

I just hope if I’m ever put in that situation, I’m not held accountable for mine.

Six Reasons Leaders Avoid Change

Change

I was recently flipping through the radio stations in my car when I came across one of my favorite Pearl Jam songs. The band doesn’t get played a lot on the radio anymore, so I glanced at the station and noticed it was 105.9 Classic Rock. When did Pearl Jam become classic rock?

Everything changes over time. The music industry is a great example. I never would have guessed fifteen years ago that CD’s would one day become obsolete, but that day is just around the corner. Music distribution has gone from vinyl records to eight tracks to cassettes to cd’s to mp3’s just within the last sixty to seventy years.

So, why is it that so many church leaders avoid change when they operate in such a changing world? I can think of six reasons.

  1. Laziness“Change just means more work for me.”

It’s hard to believe, but I’ve been in ministry long enough to realize that some leaders are just lazy. Some leaders can find time for everything else they want to do in their life, but when it comes to ministry they want to do the least amount of work possible. To them, leadership is more about a title than anything else.

  1. Complacency“The status quo is fine. We can pay the bills. People are showing up. There’s no need to change.”

Many leaders are far too easily satisfied. They view keeping the lights on and the doors open a success. As long as the Word is being preached, they believe their job is done. They never let numbers or statistics upset them because they rarely look at them.

  1. Doubt“What if it doesn’t work? What if I make a mistake?”

Moses wasn’t alone in his doubts. Many of us suffer with the same anxiety. We doubt our abilities, we doubt our knowledge, and we doubt our calling. Yet we would do good to remember that it isn’t about what we can do, but what God can do through us.

  1. Busyness“I don’t have time to. I’m too busy preparing sermons, counseling, visiting, you fill in the blank.”

There’s no doubt in my mind that if you serve at a church you’re busy. It seems like the work never ends. The key is prioritizing what’s most important and raising up other leaders to help share the load. If you wait until you have time, the time will never come. Make it a priority to focus on changes that need to be made to help your church grow.

  1. Fear“The people don’t want change. What if people leave? What if they fire me?”

Many of us are so afraid of failing we never try. We would rather watch the church die, than make someone mad at us. I believe that’s why one of God’s favorite phrases was “fear not.” Many of us need to quit fearing man, and start fearing what will happen in our communities if our churches refuse to change.

  1. Pride“I know what I’m doing. It worked back then, so it can work now.”

If you’ve been in ministry for very long, you’ve heard this phrase: “We’ve never done it that way before.” It’s the cry of a dying church, and unfortunately the cry of many church leaders. It’s difficult to change something that at one point worked well, but it’s absolutely necessary if your church is going to continue to reach new people.

How silly would it be if U2 decided that they loved their sound on cassette tapes so much that it was the only way they were going to release their music? We would call them crazy, and then we would call them bankrupt. Yet, we see this in churches every day.

Don’t let this be your church. Choose to get rid of your excuses, embrace change, and trust God with the results.

What are some other reasons churches avoid change? How can you lead change in a church that is against it?

Give it Away

Basics - Free Stuff

Every Monday I post one of The Basics. The Basics are simple steps every church can take to grow. They are the same steps that led my church from 87 people in attendance to over 700. These steps have helped my church see hundreds of people saved and baptized in just a few short years. Most of these steps you can take this week without even having a board meeting. These are The Basics.

CoffeeHands

Over the past nine years, my church has given away over 65,000 glazed doughnuts. Why? Because people love free stuff.

McDonalds serves free coffee. Kids eat free at the IHOP. And millions of people join Amazon Prime to get free shipping, free music, free movies and more.

Now, I know what some of you are thinking? You don’t want to bribe people with free stuff in order to get them to your church. That’s fine, but let me ask you this question. In the Gospels, did people follow Jesus for what they could do for Him or for what He could do for them? Initially, it was always about what they could get from Jesus.

I believe Jesus was ok with this because He knew that would change over time. As people spend time with Jesus, we see them change from someone who is looking to be served, to someone who is becoming a servant.

With that in mind, here are 4 things we give away at my church in order to entice guests to spend more time with Jesus.

Coffee – Depending on what survey you look at, between 60-80% of Americans drink coffee, and most of the coffee consumption takes place during the hours your church is meeting. Providing coffee for your guests promotes fellowship, brings energy to the room, and keeps people from yawning through your service. 

Doughnuts – Families with young children struggle to get to church on time. By providing doughnuts or some other food option, they don’t have to worry about missing breakfast because you’ve got them covered. What we’ve seen in our small town is many families struggle to put food on the table each week, so this may be the only breakfast they’re able to get.

Bible – Living in the Bible Belt I’m constantly surprised at how many people do not have a Bible in their homes. We make the announcement each week, that if you don’t have a Bible, we’d love to give you one. You can find the Bible we give away here. It’s a great Bible for those just getting started with their faith.

First-Time Guest Gift – If someone visits our church for the first time, we want to know about it. One of the ways we make sure we get their information is offering them a free gift. We’ve offered a variety of gifts over the years, but the two we give away most are coffee mugs in the fall and winter and water bottles in the spring and summer. Make sure you spend the money to have these items personalized with your church logo and information, that way any time someone uses them, they’re reminded of your church.

All four of these things come with a cost, but I believe not being generous comes with a greater cost.

Proverbs 11:25 says, “The generous will prosper, those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.”

We’ve certainly seen this within our church, and I believe you will be amazed by the difference you’ll see in your church when you start to give things away.

What do you give away to guests at your church? Do you believe the benefits outweigh the costs?