Monday, October 14, 2013

chapter five/six Unbinding the Gospel

GET REAL.  Be genuinely welcoming, interested in, and hospitable to church visitors.  Stop treating them as 'prey' i.e. new blood for the choir or Sunday school teachers.  Find out what they need; what they hunger for spiritually; where they need healing, encouraging, hope, comfort.

We need strength in three areas--relationships with God; relationships between church members; and relationships with people outside the church.  I see us really strong in one area.  That means we are a lop-sided three-legged stool, barely able to stand up.  We need to strengthen personal relationships with God and those outside the church.  Pray, study, share what God has just taught us.

Forget about ego wrangling and tell people what's really going on in your life.

Be Spirit-led, shaped, and used.  Yield yourself to God.  Surrender your will for God's.
Let the Spirit ignite your faith.

GET REAL TODAY.  TRY SOMETHING NEW-PRAY FOR YOURSELF WHAT GOD SHOWS YOU YOU NEED.  Ask God to scramble your circuitry and show you something new.

Grow away from insider focus.  It (worship, coffee hour, the color of the bathroom) doesn't have to be about me.  What are you willing to give up to make that visitor feel comfortable and hear the love of God?

Things that aren't important-doctrine, theology, and denominational affiliation.
Things that are important-getting real and knowing someone.

p. 80 It's not about church, it's about Jesus.  It's about one human being, at a crucial point in his or her life, learning about God being love and about Jesus being God.  Then s/he decides to live life with God leading.

Do the exercise at the end of chapter six.  Tale to pastor Marian or someone else about the results.

chapter four Unbinding the Gospel

p. 41-Doesn't Jesus tell the disciples that after he left and the spirit came, that they could do greater things than he could do?  Too awesome!
p. 42 It is time to hand this church to God and stop trying to do things under our own steam.  Let's stop wasting energy, time, opportunities, life and money on things then asking God's blessing.  Let's start listening to God and looking for where God is already at work and join in.

We will continue to do devotions, as lengthy as need be, because our first love is God not the 'business.'

Pray diligently for God to show us what to do and for God to nudge the right people to help.
Has God already been nudging you?  Let the pastor know.  Let's see who is waiting to help.

p,. 46 Prayer makes openings and we see possibilities and shifts and openings happening all the time.
Is this not exactly what happened with our kitchen project?

Practice listening.  Not talking.  Silence.

Pray for every single worship service, PLEASE!
Every church staff, pastor, youth leader, CYG leaders, secretary, custodian.
Every volunteer, treasurer, financial secretary, committees.
Every ministry in the church-CYG, food pantry, exercise ladies, use of our building, welcome table, shoebox project, Kids Against Hunger, anything else.

Let go of the idea that numbers matter or that it's visible results that count.  Leave the results of our prayer to God.  Would you like to become a Prayer Walker?  Stroll through any ongoing activity and just pray as led.

Prayer will make us more flexible; have fewer disagreements; be less attached to our own ideas and presuppositions; experience revival.  KEEP A WINDOW OPEN FOR THE SPIRIT.  It's OK for God to change the institution even if it's scary.

chapter three

I don't like statistics, but there are a couple of things worth noting and thinking about here.
What are some of the things we 'just know' or 'just do' that come from being people of faith?
If our numbers are dwindling what will that mean for our communities, country, the world?

p. 27 Please ponder: "The thought of 'going back to church' when they're in trouble will never occur to them, because they have never been inside a church building in the first place.  For them church is an alien, possibly intimidating place--not a cradle of comfort and hope."

Is the church alien, intimidating, comforting, hopeful, or something else entirely for you?  Is it a place and a people that you want others to experience?

The statistics prove true in our Community Youth Group.  One in three youth claim no church affiliation.

We need to delve into an understanding of scripture, the Spirit, people, and prayer.

From page 35-I don't want to wear myself out on the 'treadmill of church maintenance' nor do I care much about 'institutional decline' what I care about is the people who have not been led into the joy, peace, and hope of having a relationship with God.

Prayer-lead me O God, open my eyes, heart, and mind; give me courage and boldness in telling my story in such a way that others want what I have-YOU.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Chapter two Unbinding the Gospel

Chapter two:
please tell me you don't think your pastor preaches from an 'experiential vacuum"!

from page 11 sidebar--i picture TV evangelists with their big hair, big heads, big hands and pockets out

Do you see yourself as one of the evangelism lovers or cautious?  I feel more cautious not wanting anything I say or do to actually turn someone away from God instead of toward God.  I'm much more comfortable/open on a one-to-one basis after I get to know someone.  Of course that could be said of almost any topic, as that's my basic nature.

Sidebar on page 12: do you agree with that statement?  What was your last 'little conversion'?  are you past due for one? ie is it time to get back into bible study or small group of some kind, morning devotions, retreat?  stop just 'dabbling our toes in the waters of faith'? (page 15)  What are you doing to keep your 'pitcher refilled?'  (page 20)

page 14 says God matters more than church.  What do you think about that?  How often and to what extent do we idolize our buildings?

If we are to 'bear Christ to those who don't know him', what does that mean to us?  I liken it to giving birth type of bearing.  which is hard, focused work-giving birth perhaps to new knowledge or new practices.
Also bearing as in carrying a load.  Has God put a burden on us to carry the message of Christ, the gospel into the world?

page 17-I have to admit I got a kick out of the phrase 'Gospel constipation'  How we doing?

page 21  'What's at stake in evangelism is transformed lives, yours included'  Do you realize it?  Do you want it?

Find a couple of friends and do the exercise on page 22 or just ponder it for yourself.  The most important time in your life with God.
I find it really hard to narrow it down to one time.  The value of doing such an exercise is so that we learn how to put into words what our faith stories are and then we become comfortable sharing them.  Hey! that's evangelism! 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Unbinding the Gospel week one

Forget about the scary E word.
Do we want to be a church that cooperates with the Spirit?

What does that mean to you?

How have/are we resisting the Spirit individually/or corporately?

p. 6: "People sharing with others their personal understandings that life is better, richer, truer if one has faith in Christ and lives is a faith community."
So, share one example of this in your life.

p. 8 Prayer focus: ask God, "Which small things can I do today to help more people know you?