Archives For March 2013

I was invited to present to a select group of administrators (I just wrote that so it sounds important) on the topic of reaching and engaging young adults. As I pondered my assignment, I came to the realization that most attempts to engage that generation, are trying to address symptoms and not causes.

At the root of the problem, are different perspectives on three basic questions:

1.       What is the church?

2.       Who is the church for?

3.       Who does the church belong to?

If those core, foundational questions are not answered correctly, our progress can be delayed and our efforts severely hampered. Let’s take one by one:

1. What is the church?There are two approaches to doing church. One is “come and see”. The other is “go and tell”. These two need not be in opposition to each other. Clarifying what the church is, and more importantly, what it is not, is step one.

 In Hispanic churches for example, the main fight in many boards has been the preservation of the Spanish language in the Sabbath school classes. People get animated when the topic comes up, but the truth is that sometimes we have decided to put culture over kids, and preservation of a language over salvation of the lost.

 When thinking church, think body, not building. Think innovation, not stagnation. Think growth, not status quo. I believe we should let the bible determine what church is, not personal preference or tradition.

2. Who is the church for?If the church is primarily for believers, church people and long-time members, then non-christians risk the chance of becoming an afterthought.  

Believers put up with a lot of stuff. They sit through boring sermons, adapt their noses to intense smells, step over clutter and avoid sitting by the drafty window. They know (wink wink) that 7pm is really “whenever people get there” and they have learned to speak adventese (although sometimes with an accent).

If, and that’s a big IF with capital letters, church is primarily for people that are far from God, then that is a game changer. What we do in church, when we do church, matters. It matters that the sermons are true and relevant. It matters that whatever style of music you chose, is done with excellence. It matters that we start and end on time. It matters that the church smells, looks, and feels good.  

One quick example. I visited a church not too long ago in the town of ______________. The carpet was orange. The fabric in the back of the pews was orange. Orange everywhere. When the church was constructed, that carpet said: yea, we’re cool! That carpet now says: so this is how the 70’s looked! People attend there. They love their church. They put up with the ugly colors. They shouldn’t have to, and neither should the non-christians. Extreme example? Maybe. But it happens so much…

This is my defining principle: any and every barrier that precludes a person from becoming a Christian, without going outside clear biblical boundaries, should be eliminated. Immediately.

3. Who does the church belong to? There are two ways of looking at church governance and participation. In many churches, the older crowd is responsible for leadership, without any desire to pass the baton or share the ball. That results in younger Christians sitting on the sidelines, unasked and uninvolved. There are two options:

                *Option #1-The church is about the older generation teaching the younger generation and making sure they continue the status quo.

                *Option #2- The church is a partnership of generations that are fulfilling God’s plans and purposes in this time.

God didn’t create you to live on the cutting edge of the status quo. Take time to go through the three questions. Wrestle with them. Look for answers in God’s Word. Before you reach them…  

Surviving a Bad Day

imprrh@gmail.com —  March 9, 2013
Jesus had one of those. (based on Mathew 14)

Surviving a Bad Day

Jesus had one of them. Based on Mathew 14

1. His cousing is killed. 14:12 “John’s disciples came and took his body and buried it. Then they went and told Jesus.”

2. He has to preach/work/heal all day, no time to grieve. 14:13 “When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.”

3. He was a victim of mistaken identity, by his own friends. 14:25 “Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.”

So, what can we learn?
1. Life doesn’t stop when pain arrives. The sun rises. Work won’t wait. People need you. Two times in the story we see Jesus trying to get away for some “alone time”. Sometimes that’s exactly what we need.

2. People can be insensitive, clingy, interested only in their needs. Jesus loved them anyway. It should have been obvious (it actually was!) to the disciples what kind of pain he was in, yet all they cared about was what He could do for them. This is hard to understand, but sometimes people care more about themselves than your pain.

3. Find solace in prayer, find purpose in ministry, find God in your pain. Great pain usually give way to great miracles. We see in this story, how in the midst of pain, God performed several miracles. People were healed. Multitudes were fed. A storm was calmed. You even had a water walking disciple. God is present in your pain, and your miracle is coming. Will you connect with Him today?

Coments? Suggestions? Write them here.

En Sus Zapatos
 


Asisti a una iglesia hace un tiempo atras, en un raro sabado en el cual no estaba predicando. Me senté con mi familia, y llego la parte del servicio donde se recogeria la ofrenda. Sentí la necesidad de dar y decidi dar $300 a un proyecto especial. Miré a mi alrededor buscando un sobre de diezmo. No habia en mi banca. Mire hacia atrás y hacia adelante. No habia tampoco. Le pedi a mi hijo que saliera al vestíbulo, a buscar uno. Nada. Le pregunté a la señora a mi lado, un miembro de la iglesia, por sobres de diezmo. Ella dijo que los diáconos se los llevan, porque los niños dibujan sobre ellos durante el servicio. Eso me hizo pensar: ¿Cuántos otros donativos de $300 ha perdido esa iglesia, porque estaban preocupados por 10 sobres de diezmos que estaban siendo destruidos los sábados? Más sobre esto despues…
Visito muchas iglesias. Iglesias de todos los tamaños. Iglesias de todos los idiomas. Iglesias en las grandes ciudades y iglesias en el campo. Iglesias de todos los estilos, colores y sabores. Aquí hay tres recomendaciones para crear una mejor experiencia para los invitados que asisten a su iglesia. Preste atención a tres áreas:
1. Lo que oyen. ¿Es el servicio positivo? ¿Esta el director de la escuela sabática contento con los que están allí, o se queja de los que no estan? ¿Habla  el idioma “adventista” o pueden los invitados claramente discernir y entender lo que se dice? Cuando llega el momento de las ofrendas, ¿se pinta un cuadro de la visión, mision, y el progreso de la iglesia o se da una lista de quejas sobre las facturas por pagar, las deudas por cancelar, y la falta de compromiso por parte de los miembros? La gente da, se sienten atraídos, e inspirado por una visión positiva, y no una letanía de quejas.
2. Lo que ven. Este es un problema en muchas iglesias (queria decir en la mayoria de iglesias, pero no quiero sonar negativo). Como iba diciendo, en la mayoría de las iglesias no hay una letreros que especifiquen para los invitados donde estan localizados las cosas mas importantes. ¿Sabes tu dónde estan los baños, aulas infantiles, el santuario y el salón de compañerismo? ¡Ellos no! Otra cosa que veo muchas veces es desorden y como le dice un amigo “el tiradero”. Cuanto más tiempo estás en una iglesia, menos se ve la ventana rota pegada con cinta adhesiva, el techo que tiene manchas de agua, los boletines del año pasado en las aulas, las cajas, e himnarios fuera de lugar, cosas rotas en el estacionamiento y sillas oxidadas. El mensaje que eso envíaa un invitado es: A nosotros no nos importa nuestra iglesia. A ti tampoco debería. Por favor, no vengas otra vez aquí. Estamos bien sin ti.
3. Lo que huelen. 9.99 de 10 baños que uso en las iglesias huelen mal, se ven mal, y nunca sería aceptable en ninguna de las casas de los miembros. Las iglesias con olor a humedad, que apestan de olores poco atractivos, envían el mensaje: El servicio de hoy es para ser soportado, no disfrutado. Andy Stanley en su libro Deep & Wide, lo dice mejor: “el entorno físico hace más que dejar una buena impresión, envía un mensaje.” En muchas iglesias ese mensaje es: “No estamos esperando invitados. Lo que estamos haciendo aquí no es tan importante. Esperamos que alguien mas limpie después que terminemos. No nos sentimos orgullosos de nuestra iglesia. “(Stanley, Andy Deep & Wide)

¿Qué cambios puedes hacer? ¿Quién puede ser un par de ojos frescos que podrías invitan a echar un vistazo a tu iglesia y señalar algunas áreas de crecimiento?
Y por favor, tenga a mano algunos sobres de diezmo listos, disponibles y visibles. ¿No son gratis?

In Their Shoes

I went to a church a while back, on a rare Sabbath I wasn’t preaching. I sat with my family, and as the church service progressed, the time for offering came. I felt the need to give and decided to give $300 to a special project they had. I looked around for a tithe envelope. None in my pew. Looked backwards and forward. None there either. I asked my son to go out to the lobby, to look for one. We struck out again. I asked the lady next to me, a member of the church, about the lack of tithe envelopes. She said the deacons take them away, because the children draw on them during service. Which made me think: How many other $300 donations has the church lost, because they were concerned about 10 tithe envelopes being destroyed on Sabbath? More on this later…

I visit many churches. Churches of all sizes. Churches of all languages. Churches in major cities and churches in the country. Churches of all styles. Here are three recommendations for creating a better experience for guests that attend your church. Pay attention to what guests experience in these areas:

1. What they hear.Do you keep the service positive? Is the Sabbath school director happy about the ones that are there, or is complaining about the ones that aren’t? Are you prone to speaking adventese or can guests clearly discern and understand “the words that are coming out of my mouth”? (sorry couldn’t help myself) When offering time comes, does it paint a picture of vision and progress or is it a list of complaints about bills, past dues and lack of commitment from members? People give, are attracted to, and inspired by a positive vision, not a litany of complaints.

2. What they see.This is a problem in many churches (I would say most, but I don’t want to sound negative). As I was saying, in most churches there is no clear signage. You know where bathrooms, children’s classrooms, the sanctuary and the fellowship hall are. Do they? No! Another thing they see is clutter. The longer you are in a church the less you see the broken window held with duct tape, the ceiling that has water spots, the year old bulletins in the classrooms, the boxes, hymnals out of place, broken things in the parking lot and rusty chairs. The message that sends is this: We don’t care about our church. Neither should you. Please don’t come here. Were good.

3. What they smell.  9.99 out of 10 bathrooms I use in churches smell bad, look bad, and would never be acceptable in any of the members’ homes.  Churches with musty smells, that reek of unattractive odors, send the message: today’s service is to be endured, not enjoyed. Andy Stanley in his book Deep & Wide, says it best: “the physical environment does more than leave an impression; it sends a message.” In many churches the message is:  “We aren’t expecting guests. What we are doing here is not all that important. We expect somebody to clean up after us. We don’t take pride in our church.” Stanley, Andy (2012-09-25). Deep & Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend (Kindle Locations 1693-1695). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

What changes can you make? Who can be a set of fresh eyes you could invite to take a look at your church and point out some areas of growth?

And please, please have some tithe envelopes ready, available and visible. Aren’t they free?

This is a power point presentation on prayer.

More than just reading and downloading this presentation, take time to pray!

May you be blessed.

http://www.slideshare.net/RogerHernandez6/prayer-semminar?utm_source=ss&utm_medium=upload&utm_campaign=quick-view

Connect- Four Things I Experienced There

The energy in the room was palpable. I was greeted at the door with a smile and a handshake by several young adults. The program started with this high quality video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CFQ_rf8WyFk

Tree hours later, the program was over, and I was encouraged by what I saw at Connect, a young adult ministry from Berean SDA in Atlanta.

Berean Atlanta is a historic congregation, under the leadership of Senior Pastor Frederick Russell. The associate pastor is Rebecca Davis, who leads out in Connect. These are four things I observed:

1. Empowering leadership. It all starts at the top. Pastor Russell supports and empowers leaders. A great example is him showing up, not to take over the program, but to sit among the crowd and worship. This empowering  leadership style (think constellation not star) is adopted by Mrs. Davis. The program, almost in its entirety was led by young adults, not the pastor. They had high quality music and worship (nothing beats seeing over 100 young adults worship with all their heart), engaging and touching moments (see #2) and many YA engaged. It was THEIR space. Their program.

2. Encouraging climate. A young lady, shared her testimony. She is pregnant and just lost her job, and her story of faith in the middle of adversity, strengthened ours. He testimony was not in the program, yet it was probably the highlight of the night. It was especially significant when the rest of the young adults blessed her with an spontaneous offering. A God moment, for sure.

3. Expectation of God. The worship was participatory, intentional and inspiring. The young adult choir Open Praise of more than 30 voices kicked the program to another level. People expected God to show up. He did.  https://www.facebook.com/#!/open.praisechoir

4. Excellence in delivery. The program flowed, yet it was sensitive to God’s prompting if a shift needed to occur. The videos were well done. Not cheesy. The people that led were engaging, and connected well with the audience. We were made to feel like family. Excellence honors God and inspires people. Both happened.

May God continue to bless this ministry and this church. If you would like to connect (no pun intended) with Rebecca, you can do so on twitter @mrsrebeccadavis or their facebook page https://www.facebook.com/#!/BereanYoungAdults?fref=ts

I invite you, to connect: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVmrDmvETG8&feature=youtu.be

This you can do with your boards, elders retreat, potential leaders. The opportunities are endless:

Take the test here:
http://www.slideshare.net/RogerHernandez6/teal-test-16848294

See results here:
http://www.slideshare.net/RogerHernandez6/teal-scoring