Hey Church Guy!

What are you called? I don’t mean just your name, but what do people call you? I have a lot of labels. I’m Dad.  I’m Lion Andy (I’m part of the local Lions club). My pharmacist greets me, “Hi Henry”. The other day I was being introduced to a new neighbor just 3 houses down, when the lady from across the street – who doesn’t attend our church – yells across the street, “That’s our pastor!” I’m Pastor Andy. A boss I had when I worked at Zellers always called me Andrew. Henry is my first name but I go by my middle name, A100_0735ndrew, but that isn’t even quite right as I have always been called Andy.

The other day, one of the 4 yr. olds in church was trying to get my attention while I was talking with his mom so he said, “Hey Church Guy!” I like that. He wasn’t quite sure what to call me and only knew me as the guy at church, but he really wanted my attention.

People give us a label based on how they know us. So how do people know us? What is the name that people give you when you aren’t around and they are talking about you to someone else? Joe and Terry might call me neighbor. Rob might call me a friend. Gary might call me a fellow Lion.

My relationship with people determines what label they might give me. I guess Church Guy isn’t that bad. But I hope there are people in my circle of influence who see me as more than a church guy and more than a pastor and more than a fellow Lion but who see me as someone who loves them with the love of Jesus! Do I care for people? Do I take time to listen to what is going on in their life? They may not call be “Care-er”, but I would love it if they saw me as someone who cares. They may not call be “Confidant”, but I would hope they felt free to confide in me when they need someone. I don’t ever want them to call me “Jesus”, but wouldn’t it be great if they felt the love of Jesus through a friendship with me – or with you?

Plan It Well!

Our church does a few annual “Big Days” or special events.

We begin the fall season with an “Open House Sunday & Chili Cook-Off”. This is our “kickoff” to the new season. We invite our friends and family and announce the event 6510028_origeverywhere we can. People can take special invitations to give out with all the details on them. This is the Sunday we announce our Care Groups and begin our Children’s Ministry. People prepare their favorite chili’s and people get to try all of them and vote on the one they like the best. A silly prize is given out.

Christmas Eve is one of the common ones among many of us. We usually have a full house as we celebrate with the Christmas story and carols. We’ve had hot apple cider for after which has gone over very well.

We always try to make the Sunday before Family Day a big event. We again prepare invitations for people to hand out. The day begins with a pancake breakfast – actually this year it was waffles and sausages. And we always have some kind of fun activity to do together. We have played “Name that Tune”. This last time we moved chairs to the side and played some “Sunday School Picnic” type of games before we had an abbreviated service.

3943719_orig 2040929_origOur Easter Eggstravaganza takes place at the community hall. This has been a big hit for our community. We have had up to 250 people and we usually average 60 at our regular services! Again, we give out invitations, have a few fun activities, offer free family pictures by a local photographer, and have activities on the tables. We do a breakfast, an Easter service, and then the Easter Egg hunt for the kids.

While we do other things, these are a couple of our big ones. And we try our best to plan them well!! I’ve developed a checklist template that guides our planning.

How to plan a Big Day well:

  • Special Day Details: Event ____________/ Date _____________/ Time ______________
  • Purpose: Why are we doing this? We need to be clear of why we are doing the event and what we are hoping to accomplish.
  • Food: Food – usually there is food. What will it be? Who will prepare it? Who will buy it? Will it be served? etc.
  • Service: What will the church service look like? Will kids be part of it? Will the sermon address a related theme to the special day? Will there be testimonies? What about special music or scripture readings? Any video clips? How will the Gospel be presented? How will a “decision” be asked for? How will people be invited back to regular services or church activities?
  • Activity Details: What will the activity be with this Big Day? Who will plan it? Who will run it? Where can we do it? Is there any special planning needed?
  • Promotion/ Publicity: Are posters being printed? Where will they go? Who will put them up? Are invitations being printed? Will they be ready at least 3 Sundays before the event so they can be handed out to the congregation for them to use? Any advertising in the local paper? What about a sandwich board in front of the church? Can we send some papers home through the local school?
  • Set up/Take down: What tables and chairs need to be put up? Who will do that? Who will put them away? Are there decorations to put up? Who can do that?
  • Take Home: What will people take home? It’s always good to send people home with something. A Bible? A little gift? A Jesus DVD?
  • Contact Information: How will we gather information from new people who attend? One thing that we have used quite often has been a Connection Card where we ask them to fill out their information and leave it on the tables. Or you can have a “Guess how many Jelly Beans” Jar and ask them to fill out their information along with their guess as to how many candies in the jar. Remember to give the candies out to the closest guess.
  • Prayer Plan: How will the church be praying for this event? What prayer reminder can you give people? I’m thinking of giving everyone a Chili Bean in September to remind them to pray for our Open House and Chili Cook-off event.
  • Photography: Is anyone going to take pictures for later? Who? How will they be stored? Who will get them onto the church website and Facebook page?
  • Budget: It’s a good idea to build a little budget before the event so you can plan your spending. Remember that you can always bring some money back in through charging a little – if appropriate – or through asking for church or community sponsors. We’ve had different opportunities to partner with community groups who like certain events we are doing and they are willing to help support them
  • Celebrate: How will you thank your people afterward for all their prayer and invitations and hard work? How will you let people know what actually took place? How many new people? How many new conversions?

I hope you have many great events, events that are fun, that bring friends out, and invite those present into a relationship with Jesus!

I Didn’t Know They Still Did Church

So I’m walking to the church this morning. It happens to be at the same time as the neighborhood kids heading to school. I end up walking behind two girls – one on a bike, the other carrying two backpacks. I make some comment about why she is carrying two backpacks and she explains the other girl can’t carry it very well on her bike. And then the girl on the bike asks if I’m going to the school today too? I respond that I’m going to the church. She looks at me as she is coasting along on her bike and innocently says, “I didn’t know they still did church.”abandoned-church

What a question! Not something one who lives and breathes “the church” really likes to hear. Sure she was only around 8 years old. And if mom and dad don’t go to church, I’m sure it hasn’t come up in conversation at home.

But, yes! We still do church!

“Out of the mouths of babes” – isn’t that what they say? She voiced what the general population of Carseland, or Alberta, or Canada, seems to think.

The Church has lost its place in the community and we need to work hard to reintroduce “the church” – more than that – Jesus – into our world again and again. Are we “being the church” and being the light of Jesus so the church isn’t being pushed to the background in the community we live in?

Yes, we still do church!!!!

Entertaining Strangers

The storm of the last few days may very well become known as “the Storm of 2011”.

A winter storm blew in and stranded many people on the road and in the ditch. Strathmore, just 15 minutes north of us even declared a State of Emergency for about 36-48 hours as they tried to cope with all the stranded people. A family ended up at the local Fire Hall looking for shelter. The white-out conditions made going any further impossible.

At 12: 35 at night we were called to see if we could assist them. When I met the family at the Fire Hall, the Firemen were out on another rescue call. The family consisted of one husband and wife and two children, the husband’s brother, and the grandma. I couldn’t just take them to the church and leave them there. They ended up on the floor at our house. This was late Saturday night.

The storm continued to blow through Saturday night, all day Sunday, and into the second night. The husband was trying to dig his Suburban out the Sunday morning, to make it possible to get home, but there were still road warnings in effect. The storm was so bad, we didn’t even have church, in fact, I as the pastor didn’t even make it to the church.

How do you entertain a family whom you don’t know? They were even from a different culture, Muslims of East Indian background who had grown up in Tanzania, Africa. My wife did an awesome job of providing food for them, but was told the wife wouldn’t eat beef because she was from India. As Lynnette was cooking some pizzas she was also informed they wouldn’t eat it because it had pork – ham- on it. So she came up with something else!! She even prepared a separate vegetarian sauce alongside the beef sauce she had prepared.

My poor teenage daughters had a tough time. The son was about their age but not interested in doing anything beside playing his gameboy or whatever his handheld toy was.

They even spoke in their own language most of the time, keeping us out of the conversation.

But what do you do? You help them out just they way that you would want to be. Would this be expected of a city pastor? Probably not.

Yet it gave us an opportunity to meet someone from another culture. I even had opportunity to talk with them a little about their Muslim religion.

Interesting experience in the “Storm of 2011”!