Articles

Loving As We Are

‘Thank you for loving me just as I am.’

The words flashed across my screen. Is there a better way to love someone if we do not accept them as they are?

If, in our Christian growth experience, we’re striving to be more like Jesus, then shouldn’t we aim for His standards at loving people?

Jesus loves. He loves everyone, just as they are. There are no conditions attached to the fact that He loves every single person on this planet. He willingly accepted the mission to die for our sins, even though there was no guarantee that His gift would be accepted. The Bible doesn’t teach us that we must tweak this or change that before we’re loved by our Saviour. Transformations will occur as God’s love grows in our hearts. He just loves.

Loving people will not miraculously make every irritating quirk or characteristic in each other enjoyable. There will be habits and behaviours in us that continue to grate hearts, like nails on a chalkboard. Loving like Jesus does not mean that everyone we meet will be harmless or will reciprocate love in return. Loving others does not automatically mean that everyone is to be considered as your best friend.

Loving as Jesus does means we desire His best for each other. The ultimate goal is Heaven, for us all. In our daily interactions, we would look past the misunderstood qualities and focus on the heart. We would willingly pray for each other. For those who hurt us as a result of their own hurts, we would pray that they find peace and healing in Jesus.

With all the knowledge we have, with an entire Bible at our fingertips, we still struggle to love well. We’ve taken Christ’s ideal and contorted it into something unrecognizable. We want people to change to suit our standards. We, with our limited vision and flawed insight, have put conditions on how we love. We want first see visible changes. Then, after we find them more acceptable in our sights, we’re more comfortable to attempt loving them.

Perhaps love is supposed to be uncomfortable? In loving others as they are, we stretch too. We challenge ourselves look deeper than surface level. It’s easier to quit loving as Christ does and make excuses that we cannot stand each other. But the easy things aren’t always the best things.

Let’s work on loving each other as we are. Pray for help to see the gifts we all have rather than the flaws. Ask God to love others through you.

Let’s desire God’s best for one another, so that His glory may be seen. In all of us.

How to Use A Story

In John 4:1-42, we learn about Jesus and the Samaritan Woman. To recap, Jesus went out of His way to visit a Samaritan village. While there, He met a woman and talked with her. He managed to change not only her life but the lives of many other Samaritans in the village. What makes this encounter more enticing is this detail: Jews and Samaritans despised each other. So what Jesus did was momentous!

Perhaps you’ve heard or studied this story at least once before. If you’ve grown up in a church setting or a Christian home, you’ve may have heard a few different lessons on this scripture passage. Yet, each time we read the Bible, there is still more to learn. One point that came out of this story was what Jesus did.

Jesus used the Woman’s story to save her.

As our Pastor Josué loves to remind us: ‘everybody’s got a story that can change our hearts’. The Samaritan Woman had a story. We aren’t privy to every single detail of her life; only one small part of her story is revealed. While we don’t know much about her, we can see that her life is not going ideally.

At the time when the Samaritan Woman lived, people would go to the well first thing in the day to get water. They went early, while it was cooler. This was also a moment for social gathering. You were able to visit briefly with many community members at the well because there were many people there.

However, the Samaritan Woman waited until much later, when the foot traffic at the well was remarkably less. She went alone, probably hoping to return home as quickly and as unnoticed as possible. There are things going on in her personal life that has caused her to live this way.

Jesus, armed with this knowledge and a deeper insight, used the Samaritan Woman’s story to save her. He did not twist her words to accuse or belittle her. He did not abuse His spirituality, demeaning her for her differences. Instead, Jesus acknowledged that life was tough. And then He went a step further.

Jesus offered to improve the Samaritan Woman’s life tremendously.

Everybody has a reason for living the way that they do. Their story is not subject to our approval. But we can choose how we love and treat each other.

How are we using the bits and pieces of someone’s story? Are we looking to help improve someone’s life or keep them in a lowly place?

What Happens When We Throw Mud?

When mud is thrown at someone, the focus is the person at the receiving end. The recipient usually ends up dirty or tarnished, because the intention of the mud-thrower is to mess up someone else.

The statement in the image focuses on how the mud-thrower is devastated by their actions rather than can happen to the recipient. In using the mud around us to hurt others, it eventually runs out leaving us, the throwers, with nothing to stand on.

When we’re stuck in a muddy place, there are two options. We can wallow where we are, pulling others down into the mess. Or, we can get out. The second option, though, may require us to ask for help; to rely on another person instead of attacking them.

Jesus is not the mud-slinging type. Though He knew every detail about people’s lives, Jesus never once used it against them. He didn’t fling His words around carelessly. He was intentional in how He conversed with everyone, man, woman, and child. Jesus wanted their hearts to be compassionately touched, not tarnished. Whenever He was stuck, He called out to His Father for help.

Jesus’ Father is our Father too!

When we find ourselves in muddy situations, call on God. He always answers.

We don’t need to throw any mud.

A Call for Prayer


A call for prayer went out last Wednesday, September 13.

Elder David Ripley, President of the Manitoba-Saskatchewan Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and its respective pastoral search committee have been actively seeking a senior pastor for Henderson Highway Church. Earlier this year, they welcomed our feedback to best determine our needs. Armed with this knowledge and the vision for our Conference, they have been prayerfully searching. They have found a potential candidate and have been working through their pastoral selection process. The next step is for the candidate to come to meet with our church board in person. However, there have been some barriers.

President Ripley asked our church to have a special prayer session on September 16 and to spread the word before the weekend for the entire church body to be unified. We opted to for hold a second prayer session this past Wednesday evening. While our church hosts a weekly prayer meeting, we had a specific emphasis on September 13.

The time was well-spent. We dove into scripture, gaining encouragement from the Bible. We serve a promise-keeping God! He does not fail! We were able to pray from a place of knowledgeable boldness, using God’s own words.

As we prayed, we kept our Bibles open to Jeremiah 23:4. ‘Then I will appoint responsible shepherds who will care for them, and they will never be afraid again. Not a single one will be lost or missing. I, the Lord, have spoken!’ (NLT) We used this passage as a reminder that God appoints shepherds to His flock. God appoints pastors for His church. The shepherd God sends Henderson Highway Church will be responsible and care for us according to God’s standard.

We asked the Lord to intervene on behalf of the pastoral candidate and to remove the barriers. We also asked for Him for clear guidance in the selection process. We don’t want to overstep His best and rush ahead of Him. Though God’s timing differs from ours, He is always on the move. There were some who also spent time praying from elsewhere last Wednesday, though they couldn’t physically be in the church at that moment.

Thankfully, God’s power is not dependent on our physical proximity.

There is power in united prayer. When we are not unified in our prayers, there is a spiritual tug-of-war that occurs. We hinder ourselves. As our prayers pull us in opposing directions, we cannot move forward or even together. We end up stuck.

Let’s keep praying together with a spirit of unity. There are still people in our local community who have not met Jesus. We need to work together to accomplish this task.

Be Willing to Walk


Our final idea in the Practicing Hospitality series is: be willing to walk.

This sounds daunting, considering the briskness of Winnipeg’s chillier seasons. However, there are a number of ways where we can willingly walk in caring for our guests.

In our parking lot, if we’re physically able, fill the furthest spots first. Leave the closer spaces for guests. Some guests have been known to drive away if they cannot find a place to park. They may be unfamiliar with the side streets or parking laws around our church facility and won’t know alternate parking options. Some churches have reserved parking for first-time guests. This gesture shows that guests are expected and welcome.

Be willing to walk to another seat in the sanctuary if your preferred area is occupied. No one owns their seat. We do not sell season tickets or have restricted seating for frequent attendees. It’s okay to enhance our worship experience from another location.

Be willing to walk with a guest. This can mean directing them to a friend. Perhaps they need directions to a study room or washroom. Escort them to their destination. Walk our guests downstairs after inviting them to the fellowship meal. Even if we’re not planning to stay, we can introduce them to a new friend who would, in turn, keep them company during the meal.

Walk with guests by following up during the week. Use social media to wave or say hello. Send a text message thanking them for joining our worship or event and invite them back. Follow up by praying for our guests. We may not be in a position to contact them again, but we can remain connected through the power of prayer.

Our willingness to walk with our guests is an extension of what Jesus does for us. He accompanies us everywhere, without hesitation, because He loves us so deeply. We cannot make assumptions on the spiritual temperature of our guests. We can love them and walk alongside them, modeling what Jesus does for us.

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

Invite Them Back


When saying goodbye to a guest, it’s simple to say, ‘Thank you for being here. We’d love to have you come again!’

As an afterthought, we may regretfully express ‘Oh, I should have invited our guests back’. Let’s move this concept to the forefront of our minds. After welcoming guests, learning their names and engaging in conversation, we can also invite them to return. Guests may have sat through an announcement period or perused the bulletin listing upcoming events. Without a direct invitation, they won’t know that these events apply to them as well.

There are some churches that deliberately communicate their expectations after guests visit a specific number of times. They are given ultimatums of what commitment level is required in order to keep attending church. At Henderson Highway Church, we do not have restrictions on attendance for our attendees. We want people to meet Christ in and around our church. We do not have to coerce them into commitment or twist their arms to go deeper with Christ. He handles His business in the best way possible for each individual person.

What we can do is share information. We can demonstrate through word and action that Henderson Highway Church is a loving and supportive setting for their growth in Christ. We want to see our guests return because we love them.

Inviting them back implies they will continue to be welcome here. In addition to the worship service, there may be other events that suit their needs. We have prayer meetings on Wednesday nights, various small groups, children’s programming and more. Many of our events are open to all audiences. Those unfamiliar won’t know this unless we invite them to come.

Many people are looking for a place to belong, where they can connect with Jesus. Let’s make our church that place!

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

 

 

 

 

Rule of Three

Challenge yourself to talk to people you don’t know well for the first three minutes after the service.

Our previous hospitality idea was the Circle of Ten, where we are encouraged to greet everyone who comes within a ten-foot range of us, multi-directionally. Greeting people can be kept simple: a smile, a handshake, a hello.

The Rule of Three goes one step further by engaging with others. This does not mean that you are limited to mingling with only three people.

Rather, the name of this hospitality idea is a reminder of time. We have approximately three minutes after the service to talk with our guests before they leave. Many people, when going someplace unfamiliar, aim to slip in and slip out. While more comfortable for the guest, it often means that we don’t even have the opportunity to realize that they were there. We would like to catch them before they slip out unnoticed.

Immediately after the service ends, beeline towards the new faces. They may have slipped in after our welcome time at the beginning of the service. Or they may have arrived long after the Greeters have left their posts. A final opportunity to welcome them comes at the conclusion of the service.

Everyone, old and young, who comes through our church doors has a story. We don’t know what led them to Henderson Highway Church for worship. However, we can ensure that they have an uplifting encounter with Christ. There are numerous chances for this during the music, the prayers, the giving, the praise, the children’s story, the message.

And through us.

 

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

 

 

 


 

Circle of Ten

The church was packed as an usher found room for us to sit. We were on vacation and had heard it was Visitor’s Day at this particular church, so we decided to visit. We sat sandwiched between other worshippers, curious as to what would make their Visitor’s Day remarkable. The most memorable part of the experience was how we were greeted.

Nobody said hello. One woman attempted to grab my baby for a cuddle, without even so much as a smile and was unsuccessful. There were a few smiles exchanged. But in a facility full of hundreds of people, it was disappointing to see that no one would even greet us.

We can learn from the experiences of others. We can choose to do things differently at Henderson Highway Church. Each opportunity to smile, greet and interact with a guest is an opportunity for them to meet Jesus through us. A great way to ensure everyone gets noticed is to apply the ‘Circle of Ten’.

Let’s picture ourselves each standing in the middle of a 10-foot hula hoop. With a hoop that wide, those ten feet are bound to bump into someone else. In a full sanctuary, we will each bump into many someones. What if we got into the habit of greeting everyone who came within our hula hoop range? Look behind, in front, to the left and to the right. Those are the people to share a warm smile with, a handshake, a simple greeting.

The beauty of the ‘Circle of Ten’ is that everyone is working with the same range. The person next to you, the leader up front, the child in the parents’ room–we are all in the middle of a 10-foot hoop too. This creates overlap so that no one is isolated.

Let’s take time to greet everyone who comes within our circle, particularly those we don’t know well. This will ensure that they are noticed and welcomed.

 

 

 

 

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