Archive | March, 2014

You have nothing on Elvis!

The lucky numbers on this week back in 1958 were 53310761. No, these are not a lottery pick. Nor are they a combination to any lock. It is the serial number given to Elvis Presley when he enlisted in the Army. If you go back to the old newspapers and magazines that week, the press made a big thing out of it. The old Colonel knew how to get Elvis easy publicity.

Doing something for your country like serving in the armed forces shouldn’t be a big fanfare. It should be a solemn occasion. You are committing yourself to give of yourself even to the point of death. I hope that Elvis had a chance to think about that when all the cameras were going off around him. Probably not!

Today you may not be as famous or get the recognition as Elvis when you do things in giving of yourself for a higher calling – serving God. But He knows. He is watching and doesn’t need cameras to remind him who you are. He knows your heart. He also knows fame comes and goes rather quickly but service to the heavenly kingdom has eternal rewards. That’s better than any lucky lotto numbers!

To Dough or Not to Dough

He “popped” on television screens across the nation for the first time on this week back in 1961. Life would not be the same today without the Poppin Fresh Dough Boy to help pitch the Pillsbury bread commercials. Who can’t just love that short, pudgy guy all dressed up in white and happy to giggle after he gets pushed in his stomach?

You know that it is an advertisement because no one in his right mind really wants to smile and laugh after he gets punched! But I guess if we all had dough for abs, it would not bother us that much. No comments, please!

But maybe today we can be reminded of something that Jesus said about how we are to react to others when they come after us. In some ways this is a form of encouragement because it gives the other person a different message than what the world has taught. We still live in a world that believes in an eye for an eye justice, but our Lord said that we are to turn the other cheek and forgive unconditionally. We can become stronger as followers of Christ when we harness this spiritual power of forgiveness. Now go and be a spokesperson for the other bread company – The Bread of Life!

Who Are You Playing For?

If you knew me growing up, I was an avid Cincinnati Reds fan. You see, Johnny Bench, their outstanding catcher and hitter, grew up just a few miles from my home town. It didn’t hurt that they would seem to be playing baseball every Saturday in the Game of Week on NBC. These were in the dark ages before cable came to town.

Once cable was ushered in during my college years and the Reds were no longer the Big Red Machine, the poor hapless Braves became my team. Their star slugger, Dale Murphy, was born this week back in 1956 in Portland, Oregon. During his time with the team he won the National League Most Valuable Player twice. I wonder how many more awards he would have received if the Atlanta team was any better while he was with them.

But I do admire Dale for sticking it out with the team. I bet there were a lot of times in right field he was wondering what else could go wrong with this error-prone bunch of players. But he persevered. He saw the group as just as important as a star player, even when at times he could have gone to another team and gotten more recognition.

This story reminds me that many times in the New Testament the Apostle Paul wrote to the young Christian churches to not give up in their time of persecution and uncertainty. They may not get the immediate reward that is due them. They needed to stay in the game. The recognition will follow maybe in the next life to come. So when your team is not “playing up to par” today, keep going. You are playing for someone a whole lot more important than the ones around you!

Insiders or Outsiders

In my recent article for The E-ncourager, I wrote about the messages we communicate in our bulletins, newsletters, websites, etc.  One of the points I stressed in helping get our message across better is to keep the guest in mind.

Recently, I attended a Baptist Men’s Day worship service.  The service was led by laity and it was obvious that the person who was doing the welcome that morning was very new at this.  Naturally, he spoke about the work of Baptist Men in the church and then invited everyone to come to the “Region 4 Rally” being held at another church.  I had no idea what a “Region 4 Rally” was and I’m sure there were other people sitting the pews with me who were wondering about it as well.  It was not until I looked in the bulletin and noticed that he was talking about a Baptist Men’s Mission Rally that everything clicked.  If he had called it that in the first place, then chances are that people like me, and others who were guests that day, would understand what he was talking about without having to sit in bewilderment.

It’s  instances like this when I talk about keeping the guest in mind and not use language that only “insiders” – people who attend your church – would understand.  I was looking at our local paper and noticed ten different instances where churches used acronyms or names where I’m sure the people of that church would know what they were, but your average person would not.  If you’re trying to attract new people to your place of worship, then it’s important to use “outsider” language that they would understand.

Here are some tips to keeping the guest in mind…

Explain your Sunday School classes – Chances are, if your church has been around for more than 50 years, you have Sunday School classes that are either named after influential people in the church’s history, have obscure names, or are called Adult I, II, and so on.  While there’s nothing wrong with how we name our Sunday School classes, some people may have trouble with which class to go to.  In times like this, it’s helpful to have a sheet available to guests that have 1) the name of each Sunday School Class, 2) age range and or gender, 3) brief description of the class, and 4) the type of literature used.  The same idea can be used for children’s choirs – give the name and age range for each choir.

Invite someone not a part of your church to read your bulletin – It’s helpful to have a fresh set of eyes read the bulletin and giving them freedom to ask any question about something that they don’t understand.  This will tell you immediately if you’re using any insider language that needs to be explained, and will cause you to think differently about how you word announcements in the bulletin.

Don’t use acronyms unless you’re willing to explain what they mean on a regular basis – It’s cool that you came up with a cute name for a group of young women that meet twice a month for Bible study.  It’s even cuter that you’ve made the name into an acronym.  It gets annoying, though, when people come up to you asking what that particular group is because you provide no other information about the group beyond the acronym.

Visit other places of worship and go to sporting events and notice the difference – Marketing departments for sports franchises are pretty good at communication because they want everyone attending their event to know what’s going on.  Listen and how they phrase events and communication information, then go to other places for worship (when you can) and see if you can understand every event that is taking place.

Most importantly, it really does come down to us thinking like someone who has never come through the door of our church before.  What would they think if they saw what was written in our bulletins, brochures or websites?  Would they be able to understand all the events your church is doing?  If not, then we may need to rethink how we phrase what’s going on in our churches.