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Kickoff Sunday

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Our annual Kickoff Sunday, which we celebrated on August 21 at Faith Baptist reminded me of how far our church has come in dealing with the “majors and minors” of Christianity. When I came to Faith over 7 years ago I was surprised one day when a few people asked me to take a stand against staff members who were wearing their shirts untucked. And I didn’t know what to say when I heard discussion about whether the large, majestic pulpit or a smaller, simpler lectern should be used on stage. There was conflict and division over worship music styles. Guests were even occasionally stopped and questioned about their clothing or intent to walk into the worship center with a coffee cup in their hand. Perhaps the most haunting thing was the constant discussions among the leadership about who Faith Baptist was in our community. Other large churches had established their identity, but Faith didn’t know how to define herself.
Thinking back on Kickoff Sunday made me smile. There was freedom. I saw suits, ties, polo shirts, tshirts, slacks, jeans and varied choices of clothing. Our speaker wore blue jeans and a sport coat. Guests were met and greeted in the parking lot, at the doors and all over the worship center as they entered. Our combined services the past few years have been predominantly blended, led with a choir, piano and organ. This service was a predominantly contemporary service led with a band and contemporary stage set. I imagine it was a very different combined service than what most of our members came expecting. And yet, when the singing began voices filled the room with praise to our Lord! The speaker spoke 50 minutes (a no-no in most churches), and then the invitation appeal carried the service even longer. And yet, I saw no one leave. The room was filled with responses, and the altar filled with people who came forward in response. There were many salvations and rededications. The Family Life Center was filled with people laughing, shaking hands, introducing people and visiting during the meal after the service. I did not hear one negative word about the style of music, stage set, whether a shirt was tucked in, the length of the service or other “minors” that Satan could have used to divide our unity and our goal of worshipping and “making disciples” unto our Lord Jesus Christ!
I love both of our worship services. Both the blended and the contemporary services lead us to the throne of Christ each week! I am so glad that Faith is a church seeking to Experience Faith through E3. It is not only our theme, our goal, our motto and our definition of a balanced and healthy Christian life, it has been adopted in our constitution and has helped define our mission as a church. I am proud that we have a very unified and gifted staff, strong Pastor Overseers who lead the church and that many people who focus on the main things rather than being tempted (as were the Pharisees in Jesus’ day) to major on minors of self opinion rather than on the kingdom.
I have enjoyed seeing some of these same characteristics in the 3 churches I have pastored the past 23 years. I am blessed to pastor Faith Baptist Church! I thank God for our spiritual growth, maturity and unity in Christ! I think God was smiling on us Kickoff Sunday. I know this pastor sure was!

Posted by Craig Lile with

5 things ministers love to hear from their church members.

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Thom Rainer surveyed pastors across the nation with this question, "What do you love to hear from your church members?" He said the responses were amazingly similar. He came out with 10 specific areas that were all spot on. I would like to share some that mean the most to me.

1. "I pray for you every day." With the spiritual warfare pastors go through this statement ranks at the top of my list. I am grateful for how many at Faith state this to me. I AM CERTAIN that I am still pastoring at our church after 7 years because of the faithful prayers from our members that have rescued and preserved me.

2. "I want you to know specifically how God spoke to me through your sermon." The key word here is "specifically." My heart is blessed when people say a sermon spoke to them. I am filled with joy when people state a specific meaning or application God showed them in His Word.

3. "I am ready and willing to take on that ministry task." It brings great joy when members realize that ministry is to be done by members of the church. I have had several people respond to my request to serve recently with, "absolutely, where and when do I begin?" Isn't that awesome?

4. "I see my role as one who will confront bullies and the perpetual critics in the church." Bullies and critics are wired for conflict. But God's people are often convinced that they should avoid conflict. This allows just a handful to disrupt entire Sunday School classes and can even create great chaos, division and factions in an entire church. Pastors long for members to speak up to the critics, rebuking them for creating the divisiveness that God hates in His church.

5. "I will be in church with no excuses unless providentially hindered." Statistics show that church leaders used to be in church 3 nights a week. Now the average church leader attends only 3 morning services per month. Thus, church attendance has automatically dropped considerably just from leaders not prioritizing getting back home on Saturday evenings so they can be in worship with their church Sunday morning. Attendance makes a difference, especially among all leaders in Sunday School, worship and Wednesday evenings.

These are all noble statements. I have met many people who personify these positive attributes and have been blessed to serve in only 3 churches in 33 years of ministry. God is so good! I thank Him for you!

Posted by Craig Lile with

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