Month: April 2012

#TheirNamesAre

Everyone has a name that is personal and a story that is important. To remember their name and to hear their story shows respect and communicates value. At New Life, names and stories matter and that is why you will see a lot of Twitter and Facebook posts using the hashtag #TheirNamesAre

Social media is a great tool for celebrating the many people we meet each week through the ministries of our church. You are invited to join us, following a few simple guidelines. First, don’t publicly share any embarrassing or personal information that should be kept private. Second, it is a probably a good idea to ask them permission to post their story or info if you are unsure.

So, starting this weekend, introduce yourselves to some new people, ask their names and listen to their stories. These “chance” meetings might be the highlight of your worship this week and may open the door for new friendships and ministry.

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Great Guests with Good Manners

From time to time, I get the honor of speaking at other churches and frequently I have guest speakers at New Life. Over the years, I have seen a few guests with some terrible manners while most, thankfully, had great habits. These are my six rules for being a great guest with good manners.

1. Finish on time.

This is a big one, especially for those of us who have multiple services in a day. Ask the pastor when he wants the microphone back and make sure he gets it earlier than requested. It is good manners.

2. Dress for the culture

I always ask how the pastor dresses at his church and try to dress similarly. As long as it’s not an 8-button suit with a mustard colored shirt and purple tie, I can normally blend in pretty well.

3. Don’t purposely create any messes

It is certainly ok to bring strong and challenging messages as the guest speaker, but I will be gone on Monday and they have to live there and return all the emails and phone calls. I call them the “blow in, blow up and blow out” guest speakers. I am there to add to what God is doing, so I usually don’t tackle topics that are best taught by the pastor who lives among them.

4. Let others sell your stuff

Trust me, there is nothing more nauseating than someone pitching their stuff when they should be teaching the Scriptures. I actually had a guest once who demanded that he pitch his book because he said he sold more that way. He has never been invited back, which brings me to number five …

5. Don’t make any demands

Go to be a blessing and love and shepherd them the way their pastors do each week.  Where I stay, the amount of the honorarium or what brand of bottled water I prefer is inconsequential when compared to the people hearing the message. I do not have guests who make ridiculous demands. Period.

6. Learn from their team

One of the joys of getting to visit other churches is the inside access you get to their staff and volunteers. Ask them questions, spend some time and learn from them. In fact, most of my good ideas have been stolen over lunch after speaking somewhere. I feel better now that I have confessed.

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Patient with People

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:2

At a recent lunch, a man was trying to convince me he was called to be a pastor. I asked him if he enjoyed helping people and he told me he did as they long as they were willing to work at the problem. I told him he was probably called to be a counselor and not a pastor. I explained to him that pastors are called to walk with people whether they are on board with the process or not.

This past weekend we celebrated the resurrection and I was reminded once again that Jesus did not die on the cross because we were finally ready for him to help us. In fact, Jesus came looking for us long before we even knew we needed redemption. Jesus was working in us and around us, with great patience, even when we were less than cooperative.

The passage from Ephesians that I quoted above mentions humility, gentleness and patience, but the word that is most troublesome is the word “bearing”, which means to “endure through suffering.”  Sometimes the people we are called to love and pastor are not ready to make right choices, or to meet with us for counsel. They may not even care about the consequences of their choices. Are we then supposed to move on to the next person and discard the one who is not ready for our help?

A counselor might have every right to make that call, but a pastor cannnot. We must love them, while not enabling them. We must pray for their eyes to be opened, and stand alongside them. We should certainly not allow them to abuse us or others, but waiting and praying for God’s work to be completed in their lives is a chore and a privilege that comes with the calling of pastor.

But, for how long?

As long as it takes. Patience is simply hopeful waiting and there is no expiration date for hope. Our church is full of people who were called out of the darkness into the light. That is my story and I suspect it is your story. Somewhere in that journey, we can all point to people who did not give up on us and we are certainly thankful for Jesus who patiently pursued us.

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Awkward Conversation Starters

I talk to a lot of people as a pastor and it’s almost always a pleasure. However, I can usually tell when a conversation isn’t going to go so well when it begins with any of the following phrases.

1. “I don’t mean to hurt your feelings, but …”

Interpretation: “I actually know that I’m going to be rude, but maybe it won’t be as painful if I smile the entire time.”

2. “I know you are really busy, but …”

Interpretation: “Nothing on your schedule is as important as what I’m about to say. Cancel whatever is next, because I am taking this slot.”

3. “This is going to sound weird, but …”

Interpretation: “I have rehearsed this over and over, but I still sound weird, even to myself. However, even my own weirdness will not prevent me from sharing this with you.”

4. “You probably already know this, but …”

Interpretation: “You think you know, but I really have more insight and you need to hear it from me to get the facts straight. This is gossip, but I am going to present it as a prayer request.”

And finally, one of my all-time favs:

5. “I forgive you even though you did not know you hurt me.”

Interpretation: You made me mad, I realized I was wrong, but I still want you to know you made me mad, even though you did nothing wrong. Do you feel better now?

Thanks for letting me have some fun. People are mostly great, even when they stumble with words. What are some of your favorite, but awkward, conversation starters?

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