Posts tagged ‘tithe’

September 23, 2011

Looking For A Church

by pastortimfowler

I know that looking for a church to attend can be frustration no matter if you are looking for the first time as a new Christian or you are looking again as a more seasoned believer. I hear of people who look and stop because of one bad experience or that don’t look enough because they are easily frustrate. So I thought about giving some tips to help if you ever find yourself looking for a new church. Here are a few things that will help if you are looking for a good church to attend.
1. If you are a new Christian, I always encourage people to stay in the same church for at least a year. This gives you time to develop the basics of your new faith and therefore be able to decide whether or not you even need to find a new church. If you are in a church that preaches Jesus and His word and even if you don’t feel like it is where you need to be, hold off looking until you understand better what God’s desire in you life is. It may be that you are right where you need to be for any number of reasons. Get yourself rooted and grounded in your faith first.
2. Pray. This is the obvious answer, I know. But too many times our search begins with emotions not prayer. God may want you stay right where you and we not have allowed Him to convey that to us. Be specific about your motives, your needs, and your family’s needs, but also be sensitive about the fact that God knows our needs and He will never confuse them with our wants. You want to be sure that God is not keeping you where you can be the solution if there is a problem or might be using a situation to teach you patience. The church should be your family and family doesn’t run away just because you are not happy.
3. Do your homework. Too many times people just drive to the next nearest church or go to the latest big thing in churches. Not that either is wrong, but this is not how to find anything else you are looking for and should not be the way you find a church. Decide what you need and are looking for in a church. If you want a large church with lots of stuff, you don’t need to go to a small country church. Visit websites of churches that you think you might want to visit. Be sure that their doctrine and beliefs are close to yours. Look at style of worship, children’s activity, and small group classes.
4. Pick 2 or 3 to visit. Too many times we bounce from church to church to church and after the third or fourth one we are confused and frustrated. But if you have done your homework you should have a better feel of the ones in your area that meets your needs and can narrow it down to 2 or 3. Visit the first one at least 3 times. Attend a small group and go to the evening and or mid-week service. Get a good feel for who they really are and don’t be afraid to let that church know of your intentions. You want to see if they treat people different if they are just visiting than they do people who have been there a while. Make notes of what you like and don’t like. And then visit the next one and do the same. Do not make these visits on major holidays like Easter and Christmas, because most churches ramp up everything during these times and you are looking for what is normal activity.
5. Try to meet with the pastor privately. This will let you see how interactive he is with his congregation. If you are looking for a very personable pastor and one is hard to reach it might not be for you. This doesn’t mean that the pastor is not caring, it may just be that he is busy, so use common sense there. When you get with him, ask questions about his vision, leadership style, and core beliefs. Most congregations are a reflection of the pastor, so see if they match up. Ask him what his policies are for people getting involved in the type ministry that you are interested in serving in. See if he is someone you can follow because he is the shepherd of that flock.
6. Take a day to talk. If you are married, this would mean you and your spouse, involve the kids if they are old enough but they should not be the deciding factor. If you are single, find a good Christian friend to talk to. Pray for wisdom and seek God’s will for this. I would suggest that this time be a Sunday morning. Yep, don’t go to church that day, but rather seek God’s will for this major decision that you are about to make. I believe if God is leading you that there will be an agreement that happens rather easily. Don’t let a minor thing become a stumbling block, because Satan wants you confused and discouraged. Once you have decided which church that you want to make your home, share that decision with they whole family and or friend.
7. Began to attend regularly. Don’t join immediately, although some churches won’t allow membership until you attend a class for new members, some will let you join right away. Hold off for a month or so just to be sure of your decision. Give, serve, and participate as much as they will allow until you join, but let God confirm this in your heart. Once you decide to join, ask for another meeting with the pastor to let him know your decision and ask the best way to make it public. This does vary from church to church and he will give you the best way to make it public. Tell him that you are ready to serve in the capacity as a member and will follow his leader as he sees fit.
This can be a tough time in a Christians life, but can be very rewarding. You can learn how to hear from God more clearly and strengthen your faith. The local church is important to God and you are an important part of that local church. So follow these things and I believe that you will know God’s place for you and be ready to take part in growing the Body of Christ in your new church family.

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March 19, 2011

Some people are just clueless

by pastortimfowler

I have the privilege of being the pastor of one of the greatest churches that I have ever seen. I know that is said by many pastors, but I think that I have the statistics to validate it. And yet there are still some who find fault and make claims that we are not all that. Some people are clueless.
We average about 120 on Sunday mornings when you count children and workers in the nursery and children’s areas. Today during a work day where we started at 9am and did not finish until 2pm, there were as many as 25 people working at any one time. 20% of your church doing anything volunteer is a lot. We have about 65% of our church attending a small group on any given week. The average church only has about 25% attend Sunday School, which we don’t have, but it is still a small group no matter what you call it.
Last year we had a slow and rather rough year for our church. We only baptized about 40 people. Most churches our size would love to see 12 baptized. This year we have already seen 18 salvations and many of them will be baptized soon. Our membership is growing because people are taking ownership. You see members have rights but owners have responsibilities. Only 1 or 2 Sundays this years have we not seen a new family or person visiting our church. Many of those are choosing to stay and are bringing their friends.
Our giving, which is a sore spot for many churches to talk about has increased by almost 50% this year alone. Ministries are being started and funded and are healthy in all areas. Considering the average age of our church is probably 30-35, and most are people who are new Christians or people who were hurt in a previous church and are just coming back, that financial status is amazing. It often takes people a while to trust God with their finances.
Despite all this and I know I can share more, there are still one or two who would say that we are not doing things right and not what they would like to see in a church. I would like to say that they are not in many of the amazing statistics that I just shared either, so it is no wonder that they are clueless.
My job as pastor is to love the folks that God has given me to watch over. To teach them about the love and grace of God. To encourage them to serve and to tell others about their church and their Savior. But not to kiss butt, babysit, or play favorites. Oh yeah, I have the responsibility of protecting our church even from someone who refuses to see the good and only point out the negative and to try to do so with love.
As long as there are people in churches, there will be imperfections. My prayer is that eyes will be open to look at the good and speak loudly about it, and to see the negative and find solutions if there is a problem and to be quiet unless you are part of the solution. We are different by choice and that can be hard to understand, but we love the Lord and love each other and even love those who think we don’t care.
I hope that you don’t read this and start thinking of who I could be talking about. Most will never know. Many pastors face this same thing but far greater than I ever have at The Body. My goal is to love more, forgive more, teach more, offer solutions to problems and not complain. That is what most everyone in our church does and I can’t be more proud!
But some people are clueless.

March 2, 2011

Thoughts on Leviticus

by pastortimfowler

Sacrifice

In my journey to read through the Bible again this year I have been reading through the Old Testament book of Leviticus. This is where Arron and his sons become the official priests of Israel and what it takes to achieve a holy standing before God.
First of all I am really glad that I am a Christian when I read about the stuff that had to happen. The amount of detail and effort that it took is mind numbing. What makes it more difficult is that this status of being holy was only temporary and the sacrifices had to be repeated over and over.
When God gave the instructions to build the tabernacle He told the people to give gold, silver, bronze, jewels, and most of the precious stuff that they had. They did it and as far as I can tell they did not do a lot of whining about it. Christians are only asked to give 10% to maintain the church, and none of it in jewelery.

But back to Leviticus. The priests had to sacrifice a bull to make the tabernacle holy. Then they had to sacrifice a bull to make the clothes holy. Then they had to sacrifice to make themselves holy before they could sacrifice to make the person offering the sacrifice holy. And that was just the sin offering.
There were guilt offerings, grain offerings, fellowship offering, praise offerings and an ordination offering. The priests had to put blood from the bull, goat, lamb, or dove on about everything, including their big toe!
I know it was an extreme honor to be one of those priests. I know that they got to experience the presence of God every time they offered a sacrifice. I know that the clothes must have been really awesome to wear because they set you apart from everyone else. But it they messed up at any level, it was all for nothing. If they forgot to confess ALL their sins before entering the Holiest part of the tabernacle, they would die.
So being a Christian is pretty cool. Our holiness does not depend on a bull, goat, or dove. It does not depend on someone wearing the right clothes or having the right set of rituals. It depends on what Jesus did and that alone. He shed His blood, forgave my sin, and that was good enough to never have to be repeated.
Sure I have my part to do in all this. But it won’t cost me my life if I mess up. I am the son of the King! The Chief High Priest and Judge of all has found me forgiven of all charges and set free!
My part is simple. Ask for forgiveness when I sin. Love others freely like God loves me. Give like I trust God to give to me and to help others like God helps me. Have a relationship with my Savior and forget the whole religious thing. No stinkin’ animal blood on me.
Wait a minute…it does mean the blood of Jesus covers me. Like the old hymn says; What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.