Love is a Verb

Staying in Love - Part One

This November my wife and I are beginning a new small group study based on Andy Stanley’s series Staying in Love.

Over the next four weeks we’ll be learning practical lessons that will help strengthen marriages. We’ve already had a tremendous interest in the group at our church, so I thought it would be a good idea to sum up what we’ve been learning each week and share it with a larger audience. This is part one.

StayinginLove

Love is a Verb

It’s easy to fall in love, it’s much harder to stay in love.

Most of us fall in love multiples times in our lives. I fell in love three or four times before I ever entered High School. Much fewer of us stay in love for a lifetime.

There seems to be two reasons for this.

  1. Our Relational Standards – We need someone to give us massive amounts of respect, encouragement, comfort, security, support, acceptance, approval, appreciation, attention, and affection.
  1. Our Threshold of Relational Pain – We find it very easy to give up if things aren’t going how we expect. If we’re unhappy, we think we’ve chosen the wrong person, so the answer is to go find another one.

Yet, Jesus has a different answer, and it’s so simple, it’s easy to overlook.

Jesus says in John 13:34, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

Jesus takes the word love, which we typically use as a noun, and turns it into a verb. So, love is now not something we can fall in and out of, but love is something you do. Love is an action.

Later on the Apostle Paul expands on this idea when he tells us in Ephesians 5:21, “Submit to one another out of reference for Christ.”

Submit means to put the other first. Husbands put your wives first. Wives put your husbands first.

A healthy marriage relationship is one in which the husband and wife try to out love one another. They try to make each other the priority.

It’s not about being in love, it’s about putting love into action.

And if you’ll make love a verb, you’ll end up making more love.

What are some ways you can make a love a verb? How can you show your spouse they are the priority?

Volunteer Appreciation Month

Three Reasons You Should Have One

October is Pastor Appreciation Month. At least it has been since around 1992. If you serve in a small town like I do, that means your church may set out a basket for the pastor and ask the church members to bring gifts each week.

VolunteerAppreciation

If the congregation likes you, you may get some fresh fruits and vegetables, or perhaps a jar of jam or honey. If they congregation doesn’t like you, expect to get whatever they have left over in their pantry. I hope you like lima beans. If you have more than one pastor on staff, expect the awkward tension of one pastor getting more than the other.

For these reasons, and many more, my church decided to change October from Pastor Appreciation Month to Volunteer Appreciation Month.

Here are the three areas we focused on.

  • Appreciation – My church doesn’t function without the help of close to one hundred volunteers who serve each week. Volunteers are the lifeblood of my church. People really like the preaching, they really like the music, but they love how our volunteers serve them each week. My church tries to go out of our way throughout the year to show appreciation to our volunteers. We send thank you cards. We give gifts. We buy pizza. This year we wanted to do more. So, every Sunday in October we looked for ways to bless our volunteers. One week we gave away free premium coffee at our coffee shop. One week we took family photos and provided a free 8×10 to every volunteer. And one week we gave away a $200 gift card to help one volunteer with their Christmas shopping.
  • Celebration – Not only do we want to show appreciation to our volunteers, but we want to celebrate the act of serving. We have a saying at my church that you may use as well, we say, “You’re never more like Jesus than when you serve.” Serving is not just a next step at my church; it’s a core value of my church. So, when one hundred volunteers are choosing to serve others each week, we want to celebrate that. Few things bring me more joy than seeing a new family show up at church and watching how much love they receive from our volunteers. I imagine it’s like seeing a head coach watch his team score a touchdown.
  • Initiation – Andy Stanley says, “What gets celebrated, gets replicated.” So, this October we wanted to appreciate our current volunteers, celebrate the act of serving, and use that to initiate a whole new group of volunteers. We started promoting Volunteer Appreciation Month on social media a few weeks before October and provided a link for people to sign up to serve. Each Sunday in October, we spent 2-3 minutes during worship to tell a story of how serving was impacting others. On the last Sunday of the month, our lead pastor spoke on the vision of the church and how each person could help us achieve that vision by volunteering.

If you’re a pastor, you know there are two things you can never have enough of: money and volunteers. So, always be looking for clever ways to initiate more people into serving.

What’s the worst gift you’ve ever received as a pastor?

Drop the Dress Code

Basics - Church Dress Code

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.

Whether implied or not, many churches still have a dress code. The thought that you should dress your best for God is still alive and well in many churches across America. And it’s especially prevalent in small towns.

DressCode

Many pastors in small towns across America still feel like they have to wear a suit and tie on Sundays. Here is why you shouldn’t do that: it immediately disconnects you from the people you’re trying to reach.

People far from God have already painted a picture of what church and pastors look like, and wearing a suit and tie will only feed into their preconceived notions. It makes it more difficult for people to relate to you. It puts a barrier between you and them, and I think we can all agree that we already have enough barriers in our way of reaching people.

I’m not suggesting you dress like a slob. I’m suggesting you dress like the people you’re trying to reach. When you begin to do this, your congregation will follow suit, and your church will become a much more inviting place for your community to walk into.

I know what some of you are thinking, we’re supposed to give God our best. It’s funny how we want to apply that to the way we dress, but not to whom we allow on stage to sing.

John the Baptist certainly wouldn’t fit into your give God our best dress mindset, yet Jesus said, “Among those born of women, no one is greater than John the Baptist”.

Peter, James, and John were fishermen. They probably didn’t smell the best or dress the best. If every Easter play I’ve ever witnessed is an accurate depiction of them, and I’m sure it is, they wore a brown gown with a colorful sash.

And let’s not even bring up Adam and Eve.

God has made every one of us in His own image. The writer of Psalm 139 says, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” We are beautiful creations, and when we judge people by the clothes they wear, we dishonor God.

One of our staff members recently asked a couple what they enjoyed the most about our church. You know what the lady said? “I love that I can wear jogging pants and a t-shirt to church.” Out of everything we do at our church that was the one thing she picked.

I happen to believe there are hundreds, if not thousands, of people in your community who would try out your church, but they feel like they have nothing to wear. If you care about reaching those people, drop the dress code.

Do you have a dress code at your church? Why or why not?