Potluck religious stew

Someone once told me we’ll be able to pick out the Baptists when we get to heaven. They’ll be the ones toting the covered dishes. Eating has always been a hallmark for us church folks. We love to eat and gather around the dinner table.

The trouble is, it seems to me the church is guilty of treating church like a pot luck supper.  More and more we’re ignoring God’s banquet table and cooking up our own “kitchen religion”.  The church would rather eat whatever tastes good than feast on God’s Word.  The church would rather roast a bunch of rules and regulations than feast on the Bread of Life. The church would rather gorge on opulence than taste obedience.

“I’ve made myself available
    to those who haven’t bothered to ask.
I’m here, ready to be found
    by those who haven’t bothered to look.
I kept saying ‘I’m here, I’m right here’
    to a nation that ignored me.
I reached out day after day
    to a people who turned their backs on me,
People who make wrong turns,
    who insist on doing things their own way.
They get on my nerves,
    are rude to my face day after day,
Make up their own kitchen religion,
    a potluck religious stew.
Isaiah 65:1-3 MSG

Detaching to detox

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We change our clothes, we change our minds, but . . .

we often fear
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No way to treat a gay waitress

A gay Charlotte, North Carolina waitress was dismayed this week when a woman customer scribbled Leviticus 20:13 on the ticket where the tip should be. Continue reading

Intolerent Tolerence

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Something to THINK about

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Growth Requires Change

By John Ed Mathison
Executive Director
John Ed Mathison Ministries

Change is always difficult because most of us don’t want to change.  However, thejohn ed amount of growth is often dependent on the amount of change we are willing to make.

My experience with Sunday School at Frazer is an excellent example.  Early in my ministry I put together a visionary group called the Joel Team to help discern God’s vision for the future.  One layperson suggested that Sunday School attendance had to grow in our church.  This bucked the trend because United Methodist Sunday School had been declining over the last 50 years.  Our Sunday School was small, but these creative laypeople began to discuss how we could change that trend.

We discovered that some of the larger Sunday School classes were meeting in smaller rooms, and some of our smaller classes were meeting in larger rooms.  This isn’t good stewardship in the use of the facility.

Let me remind you that Sunday School classes have a tendency to have ownership of their space.  They go to great efforts to upgrade the looks of their classroom.  The window treatments, the altar tables, etc. are oftentimes personally made by members of the class.  One layperson suggested, “Why don’t we look at Sunday School attendance every six months and rearrange the rooms to give the largest rooms to the largest classes.”

Caution!  This is a huge change.  People began to see that every Sunday School class might have to change rooms.  But the question is – do we want to grow a Sunday School or do we want to have business as usual and keep our own rooms?  Change would be necessary.

The Joel Team, consisting of people from all age groups, said that our core value is to grow our Sunday School. To do that it would be necessary to place the largest classes in the largest rooms.  It was voted on and passed unanimously, because the core value did not center around the inconvenience of change but the vision of growing the Sunday School.

Every six months the average attendance of each class is recorded and the rooms are assigned accordingly.  The Sunday School grew to three sessions each Sunday morning.  Each room is used three times.  If you go to Frazer today you will see no permanent Sunday School class names on a door.  There are actually three slots for 8:00, 9:30, and 11:00 Sunday School.  Each class has a nameplate that they can slide into that slot.  The classrooms change accordingly to average attendance and the size of the room.

It has also created a bit of competition.  If you want to keep your Sunday School room, you need to be inviting people and growing!

Another layperson suggested that the best way to grow our Sunday School is to start new classes.  Because the tendency to give a new Sunday School class a room that is not being used (because nobody else wanted that room) you design defeat for the new class.  The Joel Team suggested that we give the best classrooms to the new classes.  That was a big mindset change for Sunday School classes.

All of these ideas passed our governing body almost unanimously.  Because the Joel Team had representatives from every age group in the church it was not a case of “they” making a decision for radical change, but it was a “we” are a part of that deciding body.

If these proposals had been my idea, I would not have been retained as pastor very long!  But this was the vision of the laypeople.  When laypeople have ownership, vision becomes reality.

What was the result – Frazer grew a Sunday School that became the largest Sunday School attendance of any United Methodist Church in America!!  The amount of change dictates the amount of growth.  Vision became reality when people were willing to change.

John Ed’s blog posts appear on For His Glory each week.
Contact: JAM Executive Suite 4,4131 Carmichael Road, Montgomery, AL 36106 Phone: 334-270-2149 Email:info@johnedmathison.org

The Great Pumpkin

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Does Your Search For Recognition Seem Like A Merry Go Round?

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What’s Next For America?

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The Church Is A Mess!

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“Religious Freedom” Is An Oxymoron

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Nobody Has Shoes Here

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When Jesus Said No

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If I Had Hair, I’d Pull It All Out

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The Tolerance Myth

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No

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. . .you are made acceptable in Christ

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God’s Acceptance Scale

Gods acceptance meter

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A Prostitute Teaches Me How To Worship — Part 1

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For His Glory 2013 Season Preview

Summer’s over.
Sabbatical’s over.
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What If No One Saw The Lily?

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See How They Run

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Buck Nekkid, Right There In Front Of God And Everybody

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Your Problem’s Not Your Problem

Is this you? You wish your life was better than it is. But there’s this problem. This problem is keeping you from enjoying a better life. Continue reading

You Plus God Equals Zero U+GOD=0

Lots of people who don’t know their true identity in Christ believe and live out of a contrived philosophy of works and performance. They think God plus ID in Christtheir good works is what brings God glory. If the truth be told, in my opinion and from my experience, usually the motivation for their good works is probably more about getting approval from God.

I had a friend who used to tell me, and everyone else, “The Lord helps those who help themselves.” I had to bite my tongue every time I heard that platitude. First, it’s not the least bit scriptural or true. And second, it creates the impression that one has to do stuff to get help, approval or acceptance from God.

I was teaching about grace and the freedom we have in Christ one Sunday in my adult Bible study class. One of our members grew up in another faith, a legalistic, works oriented religion. She made this statement, “Okay, I hear what you’re saying, but surely there must be something we need to do to receive God’s grace.”

Obviously she did NOT hear what I was saying. Her resistance to surrendering her life to Christ and abiding in Christ (John 15:1-5) caused her to struggle with God’s grace and receive it.  John 15:5 says, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing!”

Abiding is the toughest “nothing” we will ever do. But as the verses in John say, unless we do nothing in and of ourselves and just abide, we won’t produce anything worthwhile for the Kingdom of God.

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The Problem Of Being Different In Church; Welcoming Differences, Avoiding Divisions

By Rob Morley
Pastor, Real Life Church

Exploring the possibility of real unity under one roof despite differences of opinion

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Blissfully Ignorant in My Church: Welcoming Differences, Avoiding Division – Part 3

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Bottom Line On Gay “Queen James” Bible

A Godly blogging friend wrote a wonderful comment on our “Gay Queen James Bible” post published on For His Glory Monday. I thought it was appropriate and well stated. I want to share it with all of you as a follow-up post.

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“Clean Up Your Room. Like A Good Boy”

If you’re a guy older than six, you’ve heard, “Clean up your room like a good boy”, or something akin to it, a bazillion times. Ladies, your husbands have all heard it too.

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Our Culture Redefined Tolerance

My blogging friend, Lyn posted this on her website. I thought it was appropriate for our culture and the “church” today, so I decided to re-post it here on For His Glory.

Enjoy

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Does The Church Draw People, Or Drive Them Away? Part 1

This Is A True Story. What Would Your Church Do?

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Struggling For Acceptance

Struggling for acceptance is often associated with alcoholics or drug addicts in their recovery. Lots of people who Continue reading

Where Are You On God’s Acceptance Scale?

Acceptance is a big deal for lots of folks. We want to be accepted by our co-workers, by our managers, by our friends, our spouses, our children. Some of us crave acceptance Continue reading

Think About This Today

How do you feel today? Are you anxious, tired, fearful for your job or you marriage or your kids? Are you disappointed? Discouraged? In financial trouble? Emotionally devastated? Feeling hopeless? Unworthy? Unaccepted? Lonely?

God has a prescription for you that He guarantees will make you feel better. God prescribes that we read Psalms 139 and call on Him any time. We cannot fathom the depths of God’s love for ALL of us. But, David came as close as any human could when he wrote this Psalm.

Read it, chew it up and swallow it. Digest every line, every promise God makes to us, and every way He tells us that He loves us. Continue reading