Articles for the Month of July 2017

Everyone’s Favourite Word


How do you feel when someone calls you by name?

Everyone likes to hear their name. Imagine visiting a church and on the second visit, someone we met the previous week calls us by name. We would feel noticed, remembered, and welcome! Learning names shows our interest in guests. We are actively getting acquainted with them beyond what their faces look like.

It’s endearing to hear our names spoken. Bonus points to those who attempt to pronounce our name correctly! It’s a sign that they care about us. The things that are most precious to us receive the a higher level of care and attention. Some of us name our favourite things, for example. Our vehicles may have a name; our stray pets; our favourite piece of furniture or an appliance. We name them because they are valuable.

There are establishments in our city where the staff prioritizes learning their clients by name. We get that warm fuzzy feeling when someone who is a nearly a stranger greets us specifically with “Hi ___________! Good to see you!” Why do they bother to do this? Other than keeping their sales records climbing and earning positive feedback and high-rated customer service reviews, they don’t really need to learn their customers names.

In the church setting, however, our reason for learning names goes much deeper. Yes, we’d love to have our Sabbath Schools and worship services at an overflowing capacity. We’d love to see guests and regular church-goers alike buzzing with excitement when they enter our doors because of the love they feel in our facility. But there’s more. Anyone who enters our door for any occasion is valuable to God. They are one of His beloved creations. If God has called us all by name because we are His (Isaiah 43:1), then that’s the standard we should follow when caring for each other and our guests. In calling each other by name, we are showing a higher level of care of who is precious to God.

Let’s work on learning names. We may need to ask a guest to write their name for us or spell is out. It may mean having the guest repeat the pronunciation a few times in order to get the proper accents and emphasis in the correct spots. During the week, practice. Loving others is worth the effort.

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This is part of our Practicing Hospitality series. Visit the introduction page to read the other articles in the series.

Smile Like You Mean It

There is a well-loved song that many churches use during their welcoming time. The lyrics are:

Smile
Everybody smile, everybody smile, everybody smile
Smile
Everybody smile, everybody smile, everybody smile

Let us greet somebody in Jesus’ name
Let us tell them that we love them in Jesus’ name
We’ll tell them we can work together in Jesus’ name
Everybody smile
Jesus loves you
Everybody smile
Jesus loves you

The Bible describes various interactions with Jesus. The commonality is that He was warm and friendly to everybody. There were times when He used many words, and times when a look or a touch was the sole interaction. Have you noticed how many times people complained about Jesus being unfriendly or grumpy? That He had a repelling scowl on His face that kept people away?

A smile is a sign that Jesus’ love is noticeably present. It does not imply that church is perfect or that its attendees are without struggles. However, a smile is a sign of hope. Despite what is happening to us, we choose to trust God and put our hope in Him.

One benefit of coming to church is the assembly of people. Regardless of why you choose to attend, no one comes for a negative experience. I have never heard anyone declare that they attend church intending to have a terrible time. We like to call ourselves ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters’ in Christ. With God as the head of our family, we should strive to maintain a loving environment. One that is also attractive to our guests.

A simple way to get along is to smile. Smiles can be less threatening than a verbal greeting. A smile can be given in silence. It’s an ice-breaker that bridges gaps and warms hearts. A smile is affirmation for guests; we are happy that they’ve come to our church. A smile shows that the regular attendees are content where they are and want to let it be known. Guests feel more at ease when they see smiling people. A smile shows that we’ve put effort into our countenance. A universally understood sign, a smile shows acceptance and love.

A smile may be the one thing a person needs to feel welcome! Let’s practice to form a smiling habit. Before you verbally greet someone, may our smiles be the first impression they see.

You can always choose to resume your somber expressions when you get home.

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This is part of our Practicing Hospitality series. Visit the introduction page to read the other articles in the series.

 

 

 

Total Devotion: Jonathon Rowe

“There is nothing that Satan fears so much as that the people of God shall clear the way by removing every hindrance, so that the Lord can pour out His Spirit upon a languishing church and an impenitent congregation”. Selected Messages, Book 1 pp124

Own the Building


This statement helps to shift our perspective. It’s easier to lay claim to a small part of the church building rather than the whole.

Where are some areas that we like to take ownership? Perhaps in the sanctuary. We can grow accustomed to sitting in particular sections week after week, year after year. We may feel disturbed if can’t get ‘our’ spot. In the more extreme instances, guests have been chased away from worship services because they unknowingly sat down in someone’s preferred place. Perhaps we like to own our ministry title or church office position. Though elected to serve for a term, we figure out how to do things just right, weaving service into our daily lives. As changes occur in the department, we may personalize hurt and confusion as our identities are shifted.

In the same way that we own certain areas, we may also disown areas. Perhaps the Sabbath School rooms go unnoticed because they don’t affect us directly. The office space, audio/visual booth, personal ministries room, janitorial supplies and more are areas that are not accessed by everyone each week. We may overlook them because they’re not a part of our weekly routine. Yet, they’re all a part of the whole.

We’re encouraged here to own the whole building. We could rephrase that to say own the property. Every part of this church belongs to us. We should invest in its upkeep, cheerfully tending to the needs of the church. When we invite people to our homes, we expend effort to making the place look nice. It takes a group effort to maintain our church facility.

 

Owning the church as ‘ours’ should go beyond agreeing with its theology and doctrine. The people–both guests and members–in it are ours, as well as the facility. We don’t have to be the original designer or an assigned caretaker to take care of God’s house. When we have the ability to help, let’s do it.

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This is part of our Practicing Hospitality series. Visit the introduction page to see the other articles in the series.

Practicing Hospitality


In June, we hosted a Guest Care workshop with Pastor Lynn Ripley. This session provided us with techniques to make our church more welcoming, especially for our guests. In addition to our own greeters and church family, some members from Transcona SDA Church joined us as well. Pastor Lynn kept the session fun and interactive. There was an opportunity for brainstorming and group discussion. It was evident as various people shared their perspectives, that this one church can present in a number of ways, depending on the personality of the guest. Pastor Lynn educated us on why guests are important and reminded us that guests are just like us. Jesus loves them too—they might not know this yet. In making their church experience warm and friendly, they will be more to return, giving them another interaction with Jesus.

The information presented was thorough. Our work, as a church, begins even before the event starts. Our facilities should be tidy and be inviting. Our parking lot, our signage inside and outside the building and more, all contribute to the guest experience. All of us can keep our eyes peeled for unfamiliar faces and help to guide them to the right place. At the end of the service, we should say farewell and invite them back to worship with us again. But we cannot stop there. There is necessity for a consistent follow-up process to thank our guests for worshiping with us. It shows them that we noticed them, that they were not overlooked.

Caring for our guests goes beyond the greeting station. We all have a role to play. Contact your department leader today to find out how your team can best care for guests. In the coming weeks, we’ll be exploring ideas on how to practice hospitality. The principles shared here, while designed for the church setting, can also be applied to our personal lives.

How can we give our guests the best of care?

Listed below are some ways that we can be intentional in practicing hospitality.

  1. Own the Building
  2. Smile Like You Mean It
  3. Everyone’s Favourite Word
  4. Move to the Middle
  5. Look for the ‘Lost Look’
  6. Make the First Move
  7. Circle of Ten
  8. Rule of Three
  9. Invite Them Back
  10. Be Willing to Walk

Conclusion–Clearing the Way For the Holy Spirit


We concluded our series this past Wednesday evening. After weighing the pros and cons of God’s ideal against an opposing ideal during the first eleven weeks, this final study outlined ‘Steps for Overcoming Sin’. The information was divided into three parts:

A) Be prepared. Fortify our relationship with Jesus. Temptations will come to us repeatedly. However, we have opportunity to get ready so that we are equipped to face temptation. We can live confidently when we know the God who promises to guide us step by step.

B) Resist Temptation. We do not have to give in to temptation when it comes. Jesus experienced temptation in all the same ways we are tempted today. He withstood every temptation. Every single one. Being on this side of Jesus’ life, we have His example to follow. The same enemy is constantly on the prowl, setting all manner of traps to catch God’s people. But God has promised–and delivered–on a way out of all temptation. We can resist it. We are not alone and we don’t have to rely on our own strength.

C) Reflect and learn from our experience. Keep track of both successes and failures daily. This is not to measure shortcomings, but to learn from the day and look for areas of improvement for tomorrow. We also learn by sharing. We need to tell our unique story. No one can explain how God moved in our lives better than us, because we experienced it firsthand. This does not mean that all the finite details must be exposed to every audience. Ask the Holy Spirit to show us when to share, how much to share and to which listening ear.

Our prayer time began with the commitment listed below. Why not jot this down on a card and place it where it can remind us of our choice:
Through God’s power, I will not ____________________________________(sin).
I claim God’s promise:  __________________________________________(scripture that matches your need).
Instead I will ___________________________________________________(opposite action to the sin).

We continue to pray for our church, that we would all respond to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Prayer meeting resumes Wednesday, July 12 at 7:00 pm.

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