The kinds of people you meet in the kingdom of heaven

Visitors to our church here in Rome often comment on the diversity of nationalities and skin colours present on a Sunday morning. It shall be even more staggering to witness the great multitude before the throne of heaven (Revelation 7:9), among whom shall be:

People from the jungles of Indonesia…

…and from the mountains of Albania…

Tough guys like Jim the Marine…

…and urbanites like Chrissie the New Yorker

Oh, and don’t forget all the other believers throughout all the ages—all united by the saving power of Jesus Christ!

“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” –Acts 16:31

When to stop serving in church

I’ve griped before on serving in church. Those who don’t haven’t quite grasped the nature of being an imitator of Christ, who came to serve and not to be served. Sadly,  those who do contribute to their local congregation don’t always have the purest of motives.

I’m not wise enough nor have I had enough life experience to exhaust all the possible wrong motives we may have for doing what we do. I’ve come up with 3 situations in which it would be opportune for a Christian to quit doing what they’re doing. It need not be permanent—a break long enough to examine one’s own heart and repent should suffice.

When you’re not in it for the Father’s pleasure

Remember when you were a kid and you presented your parents with artistic masterpieces? You were completely unself-conscious about the disproportionate human limbs and incongruous colour of the family pet. It was simply a pleasure, not a means to an end.

Are you disappointed that no one notices all the work you put in? Do you feel you can’t stand the people you’re serving or serving with? Or do you pat yourself on the back, thinking it was awfully nice of you to have done such an unpleasant task? Then stop.  Stop if you can’t go up to your heavenly Father and unabashedly say, “Look what I did today!”

When you can’t see yourself doing something else

So you’re thrilled by what you’re doing, but what if you’re asked to do something else? Maybe your area of ministry is being discontinued, or more hands are needed elsewhere. If that prospect seems unthinkable, then stop. You’ve made an idol out of your service. The God you’re serving is greater than the task you’re accomplishing. He is pleased by your faithfulness in the work, and not by the work itself.

When you can’t see someone else in your place

This is related to the previous point, which assumed that your place would remain vacant. But what if someone is called to replace you or work alongside you?

I struggled with this particular issue. For over 3 years, I was the sole person in charge of our church website. A while back, two other volunteers joined me and I found it oh-so-hard to give up exclusive control (I eventually did, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this). The sky didn’t fall on our heads and it was great to have less to think about, even though I had to tweak things every now and then.

Conclusion

I hope reading this post hasn’t left you feeling guilty. God has an infinite willingness to forgive His wayward children and to welcome into His family those that aren’t part of it. Repent, and trust in His Holy Spirit to work in you.

Raising spiritually successful children

What are the common characteristics of children who grow up to become spiritually mature adults? The folks at LifeWay Research set to find out, surveying 500 parents of 1005 children ages 20-35. The findings can be summarised in the following statistically significant factors, which I hope to recall if I ever become a parent:

The spiritually mature adult children while they were young children: Continue reading

Transformational small churches (1 of 3)

the transformational loop

What are the common characteristics of churches that transform their members and their communities? The folks at LifeWay Research set to find out, and published their findings in a book, Transformational Churches. Last September, they held an all-day webinar specifically aimed at small churches. Being part of a small church, I tuned in. Though much was aimed at pastors, there was something in there for folks in the pew like me, and here are my (sometimes disjointed) notes.

Continue reading

10 gospel tweets

I’m trying out a brand-new (less than 24hrs old!) WordPress feature that embeds tweets. Too bad the tweets’ colour scheme and mine clash 🙂

Continue reading