The Church can not be separated from the State

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Walking Away From God

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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

Soup?! A Bowl Of Soup?!

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“In Control” vs. “Controlling”

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Your Drawbridge

By Dr. John Ed Mathison
Executive Director
John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries

We are constantly warned that we have to be careful what we eat. If we consume spoiledjohn ed or poisonous food, it will have very adverse effects on us. When going into a foreign country you have to be careful about drinking the water. What we put into our bodies will determine how our bodies function.

The same is true of our minds. What goes in determines our actions. You can’t put in bad things and expect good things to come out. Our minds are like a computer – garbage in, garbage out.

We are the only ones who determine what goes into our minds. This makes guarding our minds very important. Recently Jim Denison referred to the following quote by Henri Nouwen: “Think of a medieval castle surrounded by a moat. The drawbridge is the only access to the interior of the castle.

The lord of the castle must have the power to decide when to draw the bridge and when to let it down. Without such power, he can become the victim of enemies, strangers, and wanderers. He will never feel at peace in his own castle.”

Apply this image of the drawbridge to your mind. You are the keeper of the drawbridge. You need to keep the drawbridge up when bitterness comes calling. All of us have adversities in life. We get mistreated. If you invite bitterness into your mind, you will become a bitter person who other people don’t enjoy – and you won’t enjoy yourself.

Negativity inevitably comes calling. Keep the drawbridge up. A negative outlook will always produce negative results. Whenever people say that something is impossible, practice selective deafness. Don’t listen to them.

Pride is constantly requesting entrance. The middle letter of pride is “I.” It creates an attitude where we think life focuses around ourselves. Sin also has “I” as the middle letter. Pride is an expression of sin. It is when we think we can replace God. When sin and pride call, keep the drawbridge up.

Fear will come calling. Fear will paralyze you. Fear will conjure up demons that don’t exist. Fear will make you feel totally inadequate to face a situation. The Bible speaks 365 times against fear – that is once for every day of the year that will help you keep the drawbridge up on fear.

There are some good visitors that will come calling. Put the drawbridge down for them. One is faith. Faith is the antithesis to fear. Faith means that we are going to follow what God desires for us. One of the best definitions of faith is “forsaking all, I take Him.” He is in charge of the future.

Hope will come calling. Put down the drawbridge. I love the lines in South Pacific where the young lady sings, “I’m stuck like a dope with a thing called hope, and I can’t get it out of my mind.” The most basic hope that we have is not in our individual achievement or our personal abilities, but in the fact that God created us and has a plan and purpose for our lives.

Love will come calling. Welcome love. Jesus taught that it is the way that we are to live – to love God and to love our fellowman. It is the universal language that everyone understands.

You are in charge of the drawbridge to your mind. Nobody else can operate it for you. What you allow to cross the drawbridge will greatly affect your quality of life and your effectiveness as a human being.

Guard carefully your drawbridge.

John Ed’s posts appear each Thursday in For His Glory.

Contact: JAM Executive Suite 4,4131 Carmichael Road, Montgomery, AL 36106 Phone: 334-270-2149 Email:info@johnedmathison.org

God Is In Control! Or Is He?

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President Obama Won. Now What?

By Bryan Ridenauer
Guest Blogger

Yesterday, I wrote a semi-controversial post identifying God as the reason President Obama retained his position as Commander-in-Chief. Some responded with Continue reading

Reflecting The Power Of God

Power is a popular and highly sought-after commodity in our culture. Politicians seek it, businessmen seek it, some people seek it over others. Continue reading

Fret-Free Living (from Our Daily Bread)

Marie and I read the Our Daily Bread devotionals in the mornings.  Now and again I run across a devotional I would like to share with you. Today was such an occasion.

What piqued my interest was thinking about the people who worry about (or touched by) evil in the world: evil people (E.g. Saddam Hussein), evil events (such as 911), or evil tragedies (like rape or child molestation). The devotional comes close to home for me because Continue reading

Will Muslims Rule The US?

George Soros is funding a group to create a one-world economic system. Gadhafi continues his murderous assault on his own people in Libya.  Oil prices are becoming prohibitive again.  Our military is fighting on two fronts. People are out of work. Abortions continue. Banks are failing. The Mets keep loosing.  How will it end? Continue reading