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When Taking Up the Offering
By: James Smith
Here are a few things to remember when taking up the offering.
Don’t be timid or embarrassed to ask people for money. It takes money to make ministry happen.
Teach your people to give financially to the church. You are robbing them of a tremendous blessing if you are not teaching them to give tithes and offerings. It is the job of the ministry to instruct people how to give financially to God’s work.
Be the first to give. Instruct your ushers to take the offering from the platform first. The Pastor should be the first to give and then anyone who is seated on the platform. Preachers, musicians, singers, everybody should be instructed to be an example in giving in every service. Rule number 1 – If you are on the platform, you must give in every offering. (This serves as an example to the rest of the congregation. You will be amazed at the increase in offerings when your congregation begins to notice the leadership of the church being the first to give.
Tell the ushers to slow down – Recently I visited a church where the ushers went so fast collecting the offering that people did not even have time to get their wallets out before the ushers were finished. Slow them down. People need time to dig deep.
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One of the perceived obstacles to winning people to Christ is that the convictions we hold are not attractive to the world. I beg to differ with that. If the convictions we hold are no different than those of the world then why would they want what they already have? Why would they be attracted to what we have? Attraction, by definition, means to draw an object away from one thing towards another. The law of attraction states that the force doing the attracting has to be greater than the force holding back.
What we have is much greater than what the world has;
1 John 4:4
4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
Still, there is this perceived notion, that what we have is not what this world wants. Even though we know what we have is greater, the world doesn't know. They will not be attracted to what we have unless they can see it for themselves.
In 605 BC, the Babylonians invaded Jerusalem. Instead of destroying the nation, Babylon decided to destroy Israel's identity and culture. They turned Israel into a slave state. In the process of doing so, they selected the most promising children of Israel and shipped them off to be immersed into Babylonian culture.
At least four of these children were taken to the king's palace. Daniel was one of these four. He would be given and new name, a new wardrobe and taught a new language. Daniel did not protest these changes to his identity. Who could blame him? It seemed as if God had abandoned him.
Then the king asked one more thing of Daniel;
5 And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king's meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king.
This is where Daniel drew the line. Consuming the king's meat and drink meant that Daniel would be eating meat offered to the false gods of Babylon. He would not have any part of it. So Daniel asked the chief of staff for permission not to eat the king's food. This presented a serious problem for the chief of staff. He was responsible to the king for these four boys. If he gave this permission and they became pale and thin, the king would have his head. This man was not attracted by Daniel's conviction. In fact, he wanted nothing to do with it.
Daniel responded to this in unique way. We can all learn from what he did;
Dan 1:11-15 NLT
11 Daniel spoke with the attendant who had been appointed by the chief of staff to look after Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.
12 "Please test us for ten days on a diet of vegetables and water," Daniel said.
13 "At the end of the ten days, see how we look compared to the other young men who are eating the king's food. Then make your decision in light of what you see."
14 The attendant agreed to Daniel's suggestion and tested them for ten days.
15 At the end of the ten days, Daniel and his three friends looked healthier and better nourished than the young men who had been eating the food assigned by the king.[ read more...]
Casting a vision and leading people are not easy to do. Here are a few pointers when it comes to creating vision in the local church.
Don’t micromanage. Create a program or system for management then simply allow others to do their job. You may consider employing another person to do the managing. This would be someone who is close to you and knows how to follow your orders. Let them do the follow up, you cast the vision.
Admit mistakes. Being the leader does not mean you are going to be right 100% of the time. There are going to be times you make mistakes. Admit them quickly and cast a new vision. Allowing yourself to make mistakes will show your congregation that you are human and will enable them to feel that you are approachable.
Lead without fear. Fear will cripple your potential. “We have not the spirit of fear.” Seek your churches direction from the Lord. While it is good to get other people’s opinion and counsel regarding the direction the church should be moving, God alone can give you Divine direction. Seek God’s face for His will. Once he gives you direction, move forward into it without fear of defeat or what others may think.
Gather allies. Surround yourself with others who think like you do. Especially if they compliment your vision. As you begin to share your passion and burden with them, they will want to get on board. After training and equipping them, get them on board with you ASAP.[ read more...]
1. Learn that leadership is servanthood. Servanthood begins with security. Jesus knew His position and was willing to not flaunt it. Jesus knew His calling and was willing to be faithful to it. Jesus knew His future and was willing to submit to it.
2. Let your purpose prioritize your life. Because Jesus developed priorities based upon His purpose:
- He successfully dealt with distractions.
- He wisely responded to personal rejection.
- He willingly suffered pain.
3. Live the life before you lead others. Jesus never begged anyone to believe in Him. He knew that integrity cannot be proven; it must be discerned. He never wasted time with critics. He kept His attention on His goal. He stayed focused.
4. Walk slowly through the crowd. Leadership impact is drawn not from official position, but from authentic relationships. (John 4:5-30, 8:1-11) "You will never possess what you are unwilling to pursue." Jesus knew this.
5. Replenish yourself. Life is demanding. People are demanding. The more you succeed, the more you lead, the more people will demand of you. Replenishing yourself requires your attention. Faith walks out when fatigue walks in.[ read more...]
Let's say that there are 10,000 pastors who in any given week spend an average of 5 hours in preparation for the following weeks sermon. That would mean that those pastors accumulatively spend 50,000 hours per week studying for their sermon. On an annual basis, those same pastors spend a total of 2,600,000 hours in sermon preparation.
- In 1 year = 108,333 days
- In 1 year = 297 years
- In 1 year = 5 life times (60 year life span)
Think about that for a moment. To me it is staggering. What is also staggering to me is that many of these ministers are going to preach a message within that year that is similar to that of another man's message. Eventually, most of our messages are very similar!
Combined, these men will preach a total of 520,000 messages this year. I guarantee you that at least 20% of these messages are teaching very similar principles.
Here is where I am concerned. We are living in the last days. Every moment counts. If it were possible to help theses 10,000 men/women shave 20% off of their study time by creating a way for them to share sermon thoughts or ideas we could save the Church...
- 520,000 hours. Each Year!
- 21,667 days. Each Year!
- 59.5 years. Each Year!
Orphanages were already an important part of the everyday social landscape in the United States 100 years ago. As shocking as it may sound, statistics validate that 99 out of 100 babies in orphanages died before reaching the age of seven months!
The institutions themselves were not the problem. They had adequate food, clean environments, and modern antiseptic procedures. Everything to give these unwanted or otherwise orphaned children a safe and secure environment was in place, and yet 99% of the infants died within months after birth. These babies were given a healthy chance at life and yet they died anyway. The cause of these deaths was an illusive mystery for many years.
Research studies have long since revealed that these babies did not die from malnutrition or infectious diseases, but instead they wasted away in a human condition known as “marasmus”.
Marasmus claimed these countless little lives in spite of clean and sterile environments and adequate food, shelter and clothing. Marasmus can be caused by the deprivation of human touch. Babies without adequate human touch can simply waste away and die regardless of their surroundings and environment.
When babies suffering from marasmus receive physical nurturing while being fed their formula the marasmus reverses. They begin to gain weight and thrive. Human touch is vital for survival in the very young.
The System Was Changed
Although it is tragic that countless infants died from marasmus’ deadly consequences resulting from the absence of human touch, it fostered change. Today’s infants that are isolated in sterile environments are taken into the hands of caregivers who give them loving touch therapy three times a day for fifteen minutes. Taking these infants out of their cribs and holding and rocking them by volunteers has reversed the mortality rate. Research has validated that the infants receiving this personal touch grow faster, gain more weight, and leave the facility sooner that other untouched infants do.
The infants are not the only beneficiaries of this “touching” time. Those who volunteer as caregivers or “grandparents” to hold, rock, touch and massage these infants also experience measurable benefits. They reduce their coffee and caffeine intake and make less frequent visits to their doctor. They experience a reduction in anxiety levels, fewer symptoms of depression, and improved self-esteem.
Touch is powerful. When skin touches skin magical consequences occur. Human touch and contact is directly linked to every aspect of health and well-being.
Where Touch Begins
The sensation of touch actually begins in the womb.
The human skin is derived from the same cells as the nervous system and is a perfect instrument for collecting information about our surrounding environment long before birth. A fetus will withdraw from the touch of a probe at less than 8 weeks of gestation, showing that the link between touch and survival is one of the first and most important protective mechanisms to develop.[ read more...]
Some of the things you can do in your own congregation to rectify any lack of loyalty are: 1. Teach the difference between faithfulness and loyalty. 2. Remind your people that, according to their new nature, they already want to be loyal. Unless they are outright rebels, disloyal acts come out of ignorance and/or weakness of the flesh. 3. Let them know, in light of their sharpened understanding, you are expecting them to be loyal. They will be what you expect them to be.
Some of the things you can do in your own congregation to rectify any lack of loyalty are:
1. Teach the difference between faithfulness and loyalty.
2. Remind your people that, according to their new nature, they already want to be loyal. Unless they are outright rebels, disloyal acts come out of ignorance and/or weakness of the flesh.
3. Let them know, in light of their sharpened understanding, you are expecting them to be loyal. They will be what you expect them to be.[ read more...]
I doubt there has ever been a day or society more dysfunctional than the one we are living in today.
Children are growing up in homes with absent and all too often abusive fathers and mothers. These children grow up in an emotionally or physically abusive atmosphere. One recent statistic stated that 1/3 of the homes in America are verbally abusive homes. Where husbands stop short of hitting their wives, but instead wound them with words that cut deep into her heart and emotional make up. Many husbands are grown men with childhood scars that leave them wounded little boys for the rest of their lives. These same men are often emotionally unable to minister to the sensitive needs of their own children and thus a new generation of dysfunctional adults are born.
The individual is wounded, emotionally scarred and hurting spiritually. There is in America a vacuum of need in the individual's life. It may well be said that there has never been a time when this vacuum has been greater.
We have a Savior who can answer the needs of the individual, yet with this wonderful touch of God on our lives, we are all too often unable to transfer God's loving touch to the hurting, needy individual.
Where is the catalyst that will bring Christ to this hurting world? The catalyst is the Church, yet the catalyst is sometimes unable to accomplish her part. We have to ask ourselves, why? The disciples tried their best to shut Blind Bartimaeus up. They were so inebriated with their own relationship with Jesus that they almost angrily tried to shoo Bartimaeus away. Never noticing his need, they said, "Leave the Master alone".
The individual in America is an emotional mess, with wounds and scars that alcohol, drugs and psychologists cannot heal. The Church is this person's only hope. However, in the traditional church setting, the individual is not always wholly ministered to. Many people have needs that cannot be completely met in the traditional church service. If a silent poll were taken in the average church, I believe we would be surprised to hear what some people would say concerning their personal, spiritual and emotional needs being met.
In the Home Friendship Group setting, the individual has an opportunity to not only be ministered to, but to minister to others. The Bible does tell us to "edify one another". A true family unit is developed when adult members share in the responsibility of preparing food for fellowship times, praying & worshiping together, caring for the children of the group, and hosting meetings in one another's homes.[ read more...]
In one of our recent family devotions, my wife and I sat our three children down to talk about the importance of 'family.' We do this ever so often because our children, and probably yours as well, often withdraw into their own world of fantasy and ignore the rest of the family. They each have their own room and their own ideas about how to spend their free time. If we allow them, they will shut themselves out from the rest of us to do their thing. While this can be cute when they are very young, my wife and I have noticed that it lends itself strongly to an attitude of selfishness. It becomes all about 'me' and less about others in the family. When the kids do get together, it becomes a war of words or worse, as each of them stand up for what they feel is 'their rights'. They have no sympathy or compassion for their siblings. It is almost as if they desire to build their own little 'kingdom' or 'empire' in their own little space.
As I was thinking about this it struck me that this is also a danger for all of us in ministry. If we are not careful, we can allow ourselves to get caught up in building 'our kingdom' instead of building 'His Kingdom.' Even though we feel like we are doing the work of Christ, it can become more about 'me' and less about others. There is a grey area here where the lines of demarcation become blurred. 'His Kingdom' begins to blend into 'my kingdom.' Motives become mismanaged. Desires turn dangerous. And it is not too long until 'my kingdom' becomes more important than anything or anybody else. Because of this danger, we all need to test ourselves every so often. We do this by asking; How do I feel about the others in this Kingdom? Do I truly have sympathy and compassion for their needs? Or, are my desires more important?
As we all do, I understand the importance of caring for others, but recently, while listening to a Jewish Rabbi, this understanding became crystal clear.
Rabbi Daniel Lapin was speaking of the typical Orthodox Jewish family. I paraphrase his words;
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Why is it that everywhere in the world the Jewish people are so successful and wealthy? Why are their families so close knit and strong? Why is there very little divorce?
The obvious answer is they put God first. However, beyond that, it is because of their strong sense of 'family'.
The origin of the Hebrew word for 'family' means; to serve. A family is not a family unless they serve one another. Brother serves brother. Sister serves sister. Husbands serve their wives. They put others needs in front of their own. The Jewish people live this way.