1. Count your blessings. Literally. Number a paper from 1 to 20 and don’t stop until you have written 20 things that are gifts from God.
2. Memorize Psalm 106:1 and repeat it each day for a week. “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good; his love endures forever.” You could say it all together before your Thanksgiving feast.
3. Call or e-mail a friend and tell that person that you thank God for their friendship.
4. Fast for one meal this weekend. Not Thursday, of course. It’s a day of feasting. Fasting (going without food) is also a way of showing your gratitude to God.
5. Give something away. God has given us more than we need, and we’re grateful. Show your gratitude by taking something to Goodwill or donating money to help others.
What do you think? What’s a good way to express gratitude to God?
1. Somebody wants something.
2. They try to get it, but keep running into obstacles.
3. Finally, they get it (or they don’t, if you’re writing tragedy).
That’s it. Every story from Pride and Prejudice to Ernest Goes to Camp can be reduced that formula. Everybody’s life–including yours–is a story of setbacks, challenges, and frustrations.
Though we might define it differently, each of us wants the good life. And though the obstacles may vary from person to person, we all face them–physical challenges, illness, economic setbacks, accidents, and intentional harm by others.
What makes the story interesting is character–how we handle the problems we face.
This week I’m pondering the story of Joseph, who endured more hardship than a Charles Dickens hero and managed to make this incredible pronouncement to the brothers who’d done him wrong:
>Last week I blogged about changes I’d like to see in the worship space at Fall Creek Wesleyan Church. Some of the comments posted in response mention a concern that is often expressed as churches grow, which is the fear that a sense of community will disappear as a church grows larger.
That concern is sometimes heard in comments like these—
I hope we never lose the “small church feel” that we have.
I’d never want to be part of a church that gets so large that people don’t know one another.
This assumes that there is an inherent conflict between high-tech and high-touch, that relationships inevitably suffer as a church grows in size and relies more heavily on technology to communicate with parishioners and produce the worship experience.
I’ve been around enough megachurches to know that that doesn’t have to happen. Most people who attend large churches like them and feel a sense of belonging, though it may be different from the everybody-knows-everybody feel of a small church. And many large churches have intentional strategies for helping people get connected. You don’t find that in smaller congregations, which can be downright difficult for newcomers to break into.
Even so, I have little fear that relationships will diminish at Fall Creek as we continue to grow. Here’s why.
Building community is one of the primary things we are doing.
As you pastor, I will continue to insist that community is vital to our existence and will see that it is worked into everything we do.
Anyone who has attended Fall Creek even once has heard, from the pulpit, the words “Connect to God and connect to each other.” We make time for it in every service. We promote it by personally inviting people to join small groups and Bible studies. We foster it by sharing prayer requests with one another.
I’m adamant that we must form an authentic community of people who are connected to others in meaningful, intimate relationships based on shared faith.
We have reached the size where this must be done intentionally. We have a Connections Ministry, and we are developing a Care Ministry, which will help us to recognize the people who are not involved in relationships or are absent for a period of time. Beyond that, I call on every person who calls Fall Creek home to intentionally identify and offer a connection to newcomers.
If you are reading this, that means you.
We will use technology as a tool, not fuel.
Some churches do lose their relational value as they grow in size—or seek to grow. Frankly, I believe that happens when leaders see numerical increase as growth and not a byproduct of growth.
In reality, church growth is the growth of individuals who become connected to God by faith in Christ and to each other in meaningful relationships. As a result, they are spiritually transformed. That’s growth. When growth happens, a church inevitably becomes larger. But the egg is transformation. The chicken is increased attendance.
Seeing that many growing congregations produce worship experiences that exhibit high production values, some leaders in smaller or mid-sized churches view technology as a solution for producing church growth. When that happens, technical solutions (computers, graphics, sound systems, worship music, video) are favored over personal connection with individuals. People begin to feel that they have been lost in the process.
I have no intention of abandoning our focus on spiritual transformation in favor of strategies for gathering more people in one spot. That is not to say that we will not be intentional about using lighting, video, or other technologies in our worship. We will. But technology will always be a tool for solving a problem, never the means by which to grow. Spiritual transformation is the fuel that will propel this church.
It is worth noting that when churches abandon their focus on transformation, they stop growing—regardless of size. Many megachurches are not growing. Those that are continue to be highly people centered, highly evangelistic congregations (high-touch)—even at 3,000 members and above.
That’s why I ask every ministry to justify itself not merely by reporting how many people attended (though I do ask that) but “Whose life was changed?”
So what do you think? Can a church be both “high-tech” and “high-touch”?