The week that the Church celebrates the incarnation of Christ is a two-fold experience. First it is exhausting as we are a part of numerous events and special programs. It is also exhilarating as we celebrate the coming of Christ into the world, as we spend time with family and as we get a little break. For me, I have taken the Sunday off after Christmas since I can remember. I finally get some quiet time to enjoy with my family during this holiday season.
With that said – First let me wish you a very merry Incarnation Day and a Happy New Year.
Second – I will being writing again after the new year. I have lots of thoughts to share from my experiences with basketball, teaching at Alaska Bible Institute and a host of other experiences. I pray you will stop by to read more in 2014.
One year ago I decided to start blogging again. I came up with a title, which took a while. Then I developed a few ideas for posts. Finally I started working on the format. Well, I am now on my 200th post.
I believe that if you had told me I was going to write 200 posts just one year ago I would have thought it was impossible. But when you take it one day at a time, one blog at a time, or one of anything at a time, it really adds up quick.
So what am I going to start next year? What are you?
Last week I wrote a post about making connections in the Church over HERE . I had hoped to write a lot more, but I have busy. So today I want to follow-up with some more thoughts on making connections with other believers.
1. Don’t Eat Alone – Each one of us has to eat everyday. What if we used that time for making connections? Invite someone over to eat with your family at night or on the weekends. Take someone out to lunch and spend some time visiting together. Use this everyday opportunity to make a connection with another person or family.
2. Start Somewhere – The greatest relationships in my life were started over a conversation about math, small talk over a meal and a conversation about moving to Alaska.
3. You will have to take the initiative – Every relationship runs two ways. Your phone will call them. Your email will go to them. Your vehicle will drive across town. If you wait for people to come to you, you will rarely form deep relationships.
4. Allow yourself enough time – Through the years a number of people have walked through the Church doors and left within a year because they didn’t have any relationships. I usually tell them that they do have relationships but they simply are not “deep” yet because they haven’t had enough time. Think about it, “How long have you known your best friend?” I bet it has been a long time.
These are some of my thoughts on making connections in the Church. I hope they will help you as you think about your relationships.
In every Church that I have served as leader I have heard a common complaint. It is that “I just don’t feel connected to other people.” Often it is stated by people leaving the Church as “We don’t feel connected to other people.” I recently heard this kind of a statement again and so it has me thinking a great deal about the connections that we make in Church. So, over the next few posts I am going to be sharing a few thoughts on getting connected at Church (or anywhere for that matter.
First lesson – Most connections begin in the margins.
I wish that I could say that there was a specific event or activity that would bring people together, but there is no such thing. Small groups can help people get connected. Fun activities and special events can help you get connected. But being involved in either of those does not guarantee you will develop relationships with other people.
Instead, what I have found to be true is that the best connections begin around the edges of my programs and activities. What I mean by that is simple. The people who show up early and talk to others, will get connected faster. The people who stay late and talk to other people will get connected faster. The people who linger in the lobby for a time are more likely to meet people they will connect too.
Almost without fail, the people who complain about not being connected to other people in the congregation are those who arrive late or leave early (or both.) I firmly believe that if you want to get connected then you need to plan a few more minutes with every program than you need. It will be the first step toward the connections you are looking for.
Yesterday, I did something I have very rarely done. I slept in on Sunday morning. Normally I rise about 7:00 (or earlier) and get ready for Church. I drive to the Church building alone and there I pray and finally practice my sermon. I usually finish about the time the worship team shows up to practice. When they are done I teach Sunday School and then go right into worship. Well, yesterday I knew through several scheduling conflicts that most people were going to end up missing Sunday School, so I canceled it. On top of that, my family was leading worship for the Sunday so they decided to practice on Saturday. All of this together meant that we did not have to be at the Church building until 10:30 for worship. For my family that meant we could all sleep until almost 9:00 am. That may not sound like a big deal to you, but I only get to sleep in on Sunday once or twice a year on vacation. This was a special treat for us to enjoy. And to be honest, I started the day off rested and feeling great. That is, until we got to Church.
Then the worship seemed to be out of sync. Things did not flow real well. Finally my mind was struggling to get through the sermon. I stammered and struggled through the material unlike I have in a long time. After the program I was talking to my wife and we both stated how the day seemed awkward just by getting a late start.
All of this has made me realize what my weekly routine does for me. It gets me in a groove. The timing, the practice, the memory of my sermon all come together naturally. When the routine is thrown off, my brain struggles to adjust. I can honestly say I never really knew this about myself. I never completely understood how important it is to develop a Sunday routine in order for me to function properly.
Then I began to wonder about other people. Maybe that is why some weeks people seem engaged to learn and others want to sleep. Maybe that is why some people are here early and others arrive late. Maybe the difference between experiencing a great Sunday and a not-so-great Sunday is what each of us do before we arrive.
What if you were to take that one Sunday you truly loved and recreate your routine for that week. Would it change Sunday morning for us? Knowledge of yourself may help you to learn better the knowledge of the Holy.
Yesterday I was sitting for lunch with a group of college students. They were having a deep discussion about whether you should pretend there is a Santa with little kids or not. I listened to all of their stories and arguments and remained silent on the matter. But today I want to post my thoughts on Santa. I know it sounds simple, but I think there are some big issues underlying the question of Santa for me and my family.
First, I personally tell my kids that Santa is a nice story that people like to tell. It is kind of like Batman, Superman, or even Huck Finn. Nice stories created by nice, well-intentioned people. The stories may have some roots in history, but primarily serve the purpose of communicating a truth. With Santa, I learn that giving is better than receiving.
Second, my objections are more biblical than personal. What does it benefit my kids to lie to them? If I act like some mythical person (or creature) is real like Santa, the Easter bunny, the tooth fairy or whatever else is real, “How does that help them?” I tell them that mommy and daddy (along with grandma and grandpa) bought them their gifts. We did it because we love them and want them to enjoy the holiday. More than that, I tell them that God provided us with the money to purchase those gifts. God is the ultimate giver and that is the biggest lesson to learn. Then, I want them to understand that we are to giving people – just like God.
The bigger problem I see is what happens when my kids find out Santa is not real. I think I lose some credibility with my children. “If my parents are lying to me about this, what else are they lying to me about?” My deepest fear is that they will question the existence of God. If I lied to them about Santa, whom they have never seen, maybe I lied to them about God, whom they have also never seen.
I have yet to have one parent give me a descent answer when I ask the question, “What does it benefit my children (or me) to lie to them about Santa?” There is no benefit that I can see. So, I spend Christmas telling my kids about the great God we serve who gave us his one and only Son.