Give Thanks: In Church, In Life

Does this happen to you? I catch myself asking God for help—a lot. When God responds, I thank God—a little.

We were helping a church near Detroit, Michigan. We were there to report our recommendations. The pastor asked me to preach for all three services. When I concluded the message, the crowd spontaneously applauded! In three decades of helping churches, that never happened before. It crossed my mind, but I was too timid to ask: do they always do that?

It wasn’t my best preaching, but it was better than average, for me. I wondered—and you may too: did they look at preaching as entertainment?

I don’t think so, honestly. I saw it as an act of thanksgiving. You may have seen it occasionally in church before—applause after a great worship song, or choir presentation. I really believe when people applaud, it is a gesture of thanks to God, not praise of people.

This month we celebrate Thanksgiving—a part of life from the beginning of this nation. Our forefathers and mothers chose to thank God for all the blessings. Thanksgiving is not just a four-day holiday with an opportunity to eat your way to an additional notch on your belt. It’s a great time to put life in perspective.

In our nation today, there is plenty to be concerned about. I appreciate the news media that balance the good with the troubling—don’t you? It is “news” when good occurs. It is also a reminder that God is good—an opportunity to worship and praise Him. Perhaps Thanksgiving ought to be a holiday every month. No, actually, a part of every day. I wonder if you and I would be healthier if we balanced the “count your blessings” with the “lists of challenges.”

I heard a pastor once remind church leaders, “Focus on the doughnut, not the hole.” You see, even church people get out of balance on this issue. We focus on all those who are sick, hospitalized, or mourning a loss. We should pray for them. However, perhaps we should also say more prayers of thanksgiving when they are healed of illness, or from the pain of loss, when babies are born, every time a couple celebrates an anniversary. It’s a big deal to be thankful.

In Scripture, Jesus healed ten people with leprosy. Only one returned to thank Him. I tell pastors, “You preach a great sermon, and about one in ten people will thank you.” Can you change that?

Let’s start a trend: think thanks. Every day. Stop and think about the blessings you have. The word “blessing” is loaded with meaning, but it can describe that which brings you joy or happiness. I wonder: if you consciously thank God more regularly, will you be a happier person? Would it lead you to thank others more often? Would that help them? Would that make our world a little better? Thank you…for thinking about this.

How do you give thanks to God? We welcome your comments below.

Kent Hunter, founder of Church Doctor Ministries, is known as the Church Doctor. His most recent e-books are The Future Is Now and The J-Dog Journey, available at no cost. Contact him at (800) 626-8515, by emailTwitter, Facebook, or visit www.churchdoctor.org.

Have the Church Doctor Report and more news from Church Doctor Ministries delivered direct to your email inbox by subscribing now.

Pioneering Thought: Bible Class Man and General Lee’s Cavalry

As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me — the crown of righteousness that the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that great day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his glorious return.
2 Timothy 4:6-8 New Living Translation

JebStuart

Jeb Stuart

James Ewell Brown (Jeb) Stuart was 31 when he died, May 12, 1864, succumbing to a mortal stomach wound after the Civil War battle of Yellow Tavern. Known for his mastery of reconnaissance and the use of cavalry in support of offensive operations, he cultivated a cavalier image (red-lined gray cape, yellow sash, hat cocked to the side with an ostrich plume, red flower in his lapel, often sporting cologne), but, his serious work made him the trusted eyes and ears of Lee’s Army and inspired Southern morale.

Attending West Point from 1850-54 he was under Robert E. Lee’s tutelage when Lee took over as superintendent of the Point in 1852. The faithful Christian devotion of his mother was embedded in Stuart’s character causing his cadet classmates to dub him Bible Class Man. He carried orders for Robert E. Lee to proceed to Harpers Ferry to crush John Brown’s raid. Stuart, volunteering as aide-de-camp, went along and read the ultimatum to Brown before the assault in which he distinguished himself.

Twice during his Confederate carrier (during the Peninsula and Maryland Campaigns) he circumnavigated the Union Army of the Potomac, bringing fame to himself and embarrassment to the North. At the Battle of Chancellorsville, he distinguished himself as a temporary commander of the wounded Stonewall Jackson’s infantry corps.

Controversy surrounded the third ride around the Union Army which caused his late arrival at Gettysburg and added to the many “what ifs” of that battle. Lee’s scolding of Stuart was one of the few times his anger was displayed. On the third day at Gettysburg Stuart failed to penetrate the Union line from the rear being stopped by Custer’s 7th Michigan.

Jeb Stuart did not drink or use tobacco, devoted to a promise he’d made his mother to never give in to the habit. He was loved by his men on account of his fairness and extreme desire to take care of his subordinates. He was friendly and approachable.

Nearly one year to the day of the death of Stonewall Jackson, Stuart would be mortally wounded during the Overland Campaign. Union cavalry General Philip Sheridan, leading a much matured cavalry, pressed Stuart and his troopers. Jeb Stuart nearly overcome by rushing horseman turned to empty his revolver, but a volley from the attackers took him down.

To the Doctor, who sat holding his wrist and counting the fleeting, weakening pulse, he remarked, “Doctor, I suppose I am going fast now. It will soon be over. But God’s will be done. I hope I have fulfilled my destiny to my country and my duty to God.” His worldly matters closed, his eternal soul engaged his mind. Turning to the Rev. Peterkin, of the Episcopal Church, and of which he was an exemplary member, he asked him to sing the hymn, “Rock of ages cleft for me, Let me hide myself in thee,” he joining in with all the voice his strength would permit. He then joined in prayer with the ministers. To the Doctor he again said, “I am going fast now; I am resigned; God’s will be done,” passing briefly thereafter. His wife reached the house of death and mourning about ten o’clock on Thursday night, one hour and a half after his death. She wore black the remainder of her life.

Prayer: Lord, help me to be faithful to the call to preach and pave a way for others to follow and to keep on keeping on until you call me to my eternal rest.

Pioneering Thought: Faithful pioneers persevere, never giving up, until their last breath.  -Dennis L. Kutzner

Thanksgiving – How do you tangibly thank God?

prayerDear Friend of Church Doctor Ministries,

How often do you tangibly thank God?  For health, for life, for family, for your church, for your pastor?  Ever notice, in church, how much we ask God for healing, comfort, safety, guidance?  And, when we receive these blessings, how we thank God…not so much?

Jesus healed ten people with leprosy.  Leprosy was as scary in the first century as Ebola is in ours.  The Bible says that only one of the people with leprosy returned to say thanks.  We tell pastors, if you preach a great sermon, and ten people thank you on the way out of church, there are probably a hundred who thought it was great.  Just multiply times ten!

Worse than Ebola and leprosy, is people living without Jesus Christ.  And churches who are ineffective at reaching them.  By God’s amazing grace, He uses Church Doctor Ministries to bring outreach healing to many Christians, church leaders and churches.  We are honored to be in such a ministry, and we praise God for what He does.  He gets the honor and glory!

Would you join us in tangibly thanking Him for this ministry?  Would you give a special, tangible thank offering for the blessings God gives through this work?

This would help us help others so much!  This Thanksgiving season, will you join us in thanking God with a thank offering that will help us heal churches?

Thank you for your prayers and support!

Kent R. Hunter
Founder, Church Doctor Ministries

Tracee J. Swank
Leader, Church Doctor Ministries

Thanksgiving Support and Prayer Opportunities
 
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Ten Jesus Motivation Insights

Ten Jesus Motivation Insights

  1. The joy in your church translates directly to the production of those involved in service.
  2. Serving God is a joyful experience when you are in your “sweet spot.”
  3. Your “sweet spot” is determined by the Holy Spirit and the spiritual gifts given uniquely to you.
  4. Divine motivation powers Christians when their efforts make an eternal impact. That power comes only from God.
  5. Messages on law, fear, and threat get attention, but messages on grace, love and forgiveness get results.
  6. Add more fun to worship, outreach, service, financial giving, and Bible study, and people will be increasingly motivated to participate.
  7. Put increased emphasis on celebration when there are baptisms, new members join, and prayers are answered, and people will be more enthusiastic about their faith and involvement.
  8. Spend more time laughing at church meetings, and they will become more productive.
  9. Train the preacher, and worship team, and/or choir to smile while they speak and sing.
  10. When confronting a wayward believer, begin and end with a positive, and put your correction in the middle.

This was taken from the November/December 2014 Church Doctor Report – What Motivates Christians? Surprising Lessons from Jesus.

Kent Hunter, founder of Church Doctor Ministries, is known as the Church Doctor. His most recent e-books are The Future Is Now and The J-Dog Journey, available at no cost. Contact him at (800) 626-8515, by emailTwitter, Facebook, or visit www.churchdoctor.org.

Have the Church Doctor Report and more news from Church Doctor Ministries delivered direct to your email inbox by subscribing now.

Size Matters! 10 Ideas for a Growing Church

GrowingChurchWhat frustrates you about church?

Fred, Jim, Bill, and John met in the church parking lot. “I called the church office the other day,” John said, “and I got the recording. It took two days before anybody called me back!” “What frustrates me,” Bill responded, “is that I invited Sam and his family to church, but they can’t come at 10:30 a.m. when we worship, because their kids have soccer practice every Sunday.” Fred weighed in: “What irritates me is when we have potlucks. I love them, but we stand in line for 20 minutes. It takes forever to get the food.” “Something happened to me just last week,” said Jim. “We came late and had to park in the side parking lot. I know we’ve got greeters at the front doors, but when we came in the side doors, there were no greeters or bulletins handed out. We had to walk all the way to the back just to get our church bulletin.” “You know what I get tired of,” added Bill, “the prayers in church that seem to go on forever. Who are all those sick people anyway?”

And so the story goes. These are the symptoms. What is the problem? A middle-size church with small-church thinking. As your church grows, think about how your church has to change.

Focus on these issues:

  1. Measure the size of your church—by average worship attendance. Two hundred or less, you’re a small church—it’s all right to act like one! Two hundred and one to 450 and you’re a middle-size church and need to grow your thinking, ministries, and structure. Larger than 450, you are part of the larger churches in our world.
  2. If you’re a church that has grown, establish a church office, with scheduled office hours and a real person on the end of the phone.
  3. Move to two (or more) worship services. This develops a multi-cellular view of the church. It promotes bigger-church thinking. Make them different styles, at different times, and perhaps even on different days, and the worship event changes from a “holding tank” to a “growth engine.”
  4. When you provide refreshments or meals, provide more than one serving line, more than one serving station.
  5. Expect all the church doors to be used and place greeters accordingly.
  6. Develop infrastructures. These include small groups of 8-12 people who meet in homes to share ministry, Bible study, prayer, and intimate fellowship.
  7. Organize adult Sunday school classes as Adult Bible Fellowships. Utilize the audio resource How to Design and Develop Fellowship Groups from Church Doctor Ministries.
  8. Share announcements and prayers in the Adult Bible Fellowships of 40-80 people. Celebrate birthdays and anniversaries. Take prayer requests. Ask people to share what God is doing in their lives. Study the Bible in this group that meets every Sunday at the church. They remain in the same group, have the same leader, but change teachers and topics.
  9. Add a second staff person. Can’t afford one? Add a part-time person. This can be an on-fire volunteer who could work a few hours (at first) and get paid. This is the best way to cultivate home-grown, full-time staff for the future.
  10. Get intentional about assimilating new members. Develop an assimilation team. Ask them to read, study, and discuss the book Your Church Has Doors: How to Open the Front and Close the Back from Church Doctor Ministries. Use the appendix of this book, which has practical ideas for assimilation and backdoor follow-up.

Teach the leaders, like Fred, Jim, Bill, and John, that the large church is not a bigger form of the smaller church. It’s a different church!

How has your church adjusted to a growing attendance/membership? We welcome your comments below.

Kent Hunter, founder of Church Doctor Ministries, is known as the Church Doctor. His most recent e-books are The Future Is Now and The J-Dog Journey, available at no cost. Contact him at (800) 626-8515, by emailTwitter, Facebook, or visit www.churchdoctor.org.

Have the Church Doctor Report and more news from Church Doctor Ministries delivered direct to your email inbox by subscribing now.