Pay Much Closer Attention

Kevin’s North Country Notes – November 17, 2011

I hope you’ve all had as good a week as I have. Last Sunday we had a great time with the church youth as we ate lunch together and then packed shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. A special thanks to my wife, Carolyn, for getting everything organized. We packed 52 shoeboxes, all filled with the gifts you provided. Thanks you! 

This Sunday our Thanksgiving Love Offering will go to help cover the shipping for those boxes we packed. There will be an envelope in each program if you’d like to give toward this. Samaritans Purse organizes Operation Christmas Child and estimates the cost to deliver each box to it’s final destination to be about $7. Everything we receive for the love offering will be sent to help cover the costs of delivering shoeboxes around the world. You can read all about this great project here.

Now let’s pray together that as those Gospel booklets are placed inside the boxes and they head out this week to their final destination somewhere in the world, that God will use your gifts to bring the wonderful truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to many families.

Another highlight of my week was my time with the deacons as we met for our monthly meeting. I thank God often for the Godly men who help lead God’s church here at HLBC. What a privilege to serve alongside them. Their love for all of you is evident.

Again this week I was so encouraged to see several people doing work around the church and property, cleaning, trimming, washing, painting, repairing and generally putting things in order so that we are honoring God with the resources He’s blessed us with. We hope that those who come to church for the first time see a place that’s well cared for and honors the Lord. The purpose of all this is of course to bring God glory in how we serve Him together. We serve together to further advance the Gospel in our neighborhoods and beyond. Thank you each one who serves as a part of our church family.

As a part of our efforts to challenge ourselves in the area of serving God and others the deacons and I agreed that we need to be more intentional about caring for people. I think we’ll have some exciting news for you soon that will help us greatly care for and serve one another more effectively.

Until then one thing we’re going to do is be more intentional about looking for people instead of numbers. Here’s what I mean. For years we’ve kept our Sunday School attendance on a board on the back wall in the church. We’re removing that. We will also stop posting attendance in the program. Here’s why we’re doing this. 

While it’s nice to know how many people came to church last week, attendance isn’t always a good indicator of the health of the church. In our case numbers dip in the winter and climb in the summer. And that’s for good reason. We have folks who travel to warmer climates in the winter, and return in the spring. We also have many who own a cottage in the area who attend mostly in the summer months.

There’s actually a better way to get a read on the health of the church. We think that better than looking for numbers is looking for people.

Many of you do some of the following things very well but we also need to grow in these areas. Rather than looking for attendance numbers, let’s look for people. Here’s some suggestions about how we can do that. 

  • Each Sunday look around to see who is here.
  • Each Sunday go out of your way to greet someone you’ve never greeted before or haven’t in a while, and don’t just limit this to our “greeting time” in the service.
  • Each Sunday look for a new face, greet them, tell them your name, and after the service introduce them to someone else.
  • Each Sunday go out of your way to get to know someone you don’t know very well, ask someone how their doing and give them time to answer with something other than “I’m great”.
  • Also, don’t be afraid to ask someone their name. Even if you know they’ve been attending for a long time. You may be embarrassed to ask — I am every time I can’t remember a name — ask anyway, then write their name down while you’re speaking with them, then pray for them in the coming week.
  • Invite someone over for supper or go out to eat with someone you’ve not done that with before.
  • Also look around to see who isn’t here.
  • If you notice someone isn’t here, give them a friendly call this week and let them know they were missed. They may have been sick and could use your encouragement. They may have been away visiting family. Whatever the reason, the purpose isn’t to make them feel guilty for not being here. The purpose for your call is to let them know you care. Ask if you can pray with them and for them for anything in particular. Just think of how encouraged you’d be if three or four people called you next week to say they missed you.
  • Another way to look for people is to take a few of the new “Be My Guest” cards with you when you work and shop and invite someone who has never been to our church. Invite them to be your guest next Sunday — then introduce them to your church family when they attend and invite them to dinner afterwards.

We’d all love to see the church filled every Sunday, but we also want to be certain we’re caring for the people God is sending us to care for. 

So the next time you wonder how many were in church last week, let it be a reminder to look for people.  

Remember too why we’re doing this. As God’s people we’re to be all about loving God and loving people. Sometimes loving people comes naturally, other times not so much. So let’s be intentional. Let’s be certain we truly are loving God and loving people. Let’s go out of our way to get to know and care for others. Let’s be careful we’re not only getting to know our favorite people. Let’s look for people to love like Christ has loved us. 

Now, don’t forget that this Sunday is the Thanksgiving dinner after the morning service. Bring a couple of dishes to share. Table service will be provided. And this will be a natural time for you to invite a friend to be your guest. Fix some extra food for them, and offer them a ride, so all they have to do is be there. We’ll have no evening service so we can take our time and get to know one another during our dinner. We’d love to meet your friends.

We’re going to be in John 14:15-17 Sunday, so read ahead, I hope to see you all then.

UPDATE
I mentioned in my North Country Notes yesterday (above) that we were taking down the Sunday School attendance board. A couple of the deacons and I have talked today and we’re going to leave the board for now. Please let one of the deacons or me know if this is something you’d really miss.

Please do read my note from yesterday to understand the background on this. Most important, as a leadership, we know we must keep challenging ourselves to be caring for people, caring for one another and seeking out the lost to whom we must witness. All the other things I mentioned in my note yesterday are things we can all do to grow in our care for one another and the lost.

We continue to grow in this area of caring for people as a church, and I praise God for that!