Check Your Pastor #SundaySuggestion

In case you misread the title of this one, it is not a blog post about cooking – check your pasta! Instead, my suggestion this week is to check in with your pastor or church leader.

In my experience, church leaders can find it very difficult to manage their time and workload. This comes from the fact that they are not merely doing a job, but trying to fulfil a calling. For many church leaders, ministers and pastors, they are rarely off the clock and can be called on night and day for support. While many try to take a day off each week, the demands of a church family can encroach on that time. This is, of course, understandable at times and we cannot schedule our problems to fall on pastor’s working days! However, if a minister is frequently missing out of their time off, then it is only a matter of time before they run out of energy.

How is your #church leader doing? How can you support them this week? #Bible #Jesus #Christianity

Also in my experience, church leaders are not always so good at asking for help. They are so busy ministering to others that they forget they need ministering to as well.

So, this week, why not check in with your pastor. Ask them how they are doing, and if there is anything you can do to support them. You may be able to pray for them, and indeed is something we should try to do regularly. In what other ways can you be a blessing to them?

Perhaps you can offer to take care of their children for the night, giving them and their spouse an evening off? Maybe you can drop them in a meal or two, saving them having to prepare something during a busy period. I am certain there are lots of things that could be done. You might have to draw in the support of other leaders in the church to find out what they really need or to find the best way of supporting them. It could take a bit of effort, but I am sure it would be appreciated.

Many churches in UK, and I suppose it is similar elsewhere, are rather small consisting of fewer than 50 members. If they have their own minister (as many share), that person might be the only member of staff in the church. That can be a lonely position, especially if they are unmarried. In such a situation, ministers can be left carrying the burden of a whole church on their shoulders.

I am reminded of this passage from the Old Testament.

So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. 11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 12 When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. 13 So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.

Exodus 17:10-13 NIV

Moses could not bear the weight of his staff for a long time, so Aaron and Hur came alongside him and supported him. Can you stand alongside your pastor or church leader in a similar way?

Have a great Sunday!

Carpool Church – #SundaySuggestion

A simple suggestion this week, but one which can make a real difference.

If you have space in your car, why not offer to pick someone up who cannot get to church? Perhaps they do not drive, or perhaps their car is out of action for some reason. Whatever the cause, you can enable them to engage with the fellowship by giving them a lift. While many churches offer online or streaming options for services these days, they are little substitute for being there in person.

Even more radically, what if they choose to car pool even when they don’t need to? Not only is it good for the environment, but it may be an opportunity to fellowship with Christian brothers and sisters before the church service even begins! You could play worship music in the vehicle, pray for one another or share the struggles and triumphs of the week. Such discussion is often limited to a hasty word over a coffee post-church, but you can spend a bit more time by starting early.

#CarPool to #church even when you don’t have to #worship #Jesus #Christianity

A church I attended previously went as far as to set up a rota to ensure that any member who couldn’t get to church was catered for. Such organisation does take some admin, and so perhaps that is a role you can fill (even if you don’t hold a driver’s licence!).

This may not be a “spiritual” suggestion, but it is practical and can offer spiritual encouragement to those who would otherwise miss out on a Sunday morning. It may cost you a little fuel, or mean you have to leave the house a few minutes earlier than planned, but such sacrifices will be appreciated by those you bring together. God, also, will notice your efforts in strengthening the body of Christ.

Hope you’re having a great weekend!

Volunteer #SundaySuggestion

In a previous Sunday Suggestion entitled – Serving Sunday – I encouraged you to go to church looking for ways to serve. We do need to be built up and encouraged by going to church, but it is also not just about what we get out of it. We go to church to worship God, to meet with fellow believers, and to serve the family of God.

Today’s suggestion is of a similar nature. Why not go to church today and volunteer to help out with something? It need not be a big commitment, like taking on a new home group, but can be something smaller such as serving coffee or stacking chairs.

In particular, go with open eyes looking for opportunities. Where is it that your church needs help? Is there a way in which you can step into that gap and make a difference.

Perhaps your church has a set of rotas to sign up for different jobs such as cleaning, offering lifts or praying before the service. If so, ask the Lord to guide you and add your name if you feel prompted.

If there really isn’t anything more you can do right now, then I understand. Life is generally busy and sometimes the thought of taking on another job, no matter how small, is overwhelming. Instead then, why not recognise the volunteers around you and just give them a word of thanks. It will be appreciated I am sure, and it is right to honour those who freely give their time for the good of the fellowship.

Your church may have a pastor or vicar, it may also have a leadership team or group of elders or deacons, but it is not their role to do everything! The church can only work if we all do our part. Too often, a few people do more than their fair share and end up burning out. If we share the load, we will all be far more effective for God’s kingdom.

Your #church may have a pastor, and may also have a leadership team or group of elders, but it is not their role to do everything! #Christianity

So how can you contribute? Don’t sign up for something you cannot deliver on, but do chip in in whatever way you can.

Have a great Sunday!

Pray for People #SundaySuggestion

One of the best things about a church fellowship is the variety of the members. In virtually no other setting do you find people of such varying age or experience. Think about it, most of your friends are likely a similar age to you, or in the same season of life. In church though, you could just as easily be sat next to a young family or an octogenarian.

No matter what the age profile of your church, today I am suggesting you identify an individual or family and set about praying for them consistently throughout this week. You might choose someone you know well, or you may decide to select a family you have spent little time with. Either way, make them your prayer mission for the week.

People are generally very appreciative of prayer. I know I need a lot of prayer coverage, and so if someone offered to set about praying for me for a week, I’d be very glad of it.

People appreciate #prayer – I know I do! #Pray for someone this #Sunday #Bible #Jesus #Church

What would be even better though is to let them know. Don’t just pray for them at a distance, tell them that this is what you are doing. You can even ask them what is happening that week that you could specifically pray for. Use your phone or a notebook to write things down if your memory is not all that reliable.

You can pray for the spiritual health of the family, that God would bless their working lives, that the Lord would protect them from harm this week, and that the Holy Spirit would reveal God’s love to them in a new or deeper way. Pray for their health. Pray for their home. Pray for their time with God to be productive and fruitful.

Do not merely ask for things though, remember to thank God for them and for their place in your fellowship.

Listen to what God is telling you too, as He may have a word of encouragement for them.

If you really feel led to, you could keep a prayer journal over the course of the week and present it back to them the following Sunday. What a blessing that would be!

I hope that this exercise will not just be a blessing to them, but it will encourage and uplift you also. What a privilege it is to stand alongside someone and invite the Lord into their lives.

#Pray without ceasing – #Bible #Jesus #Prayer #Christianity

Have a great day and a productive week in prayer!

Visit Another Church #SundaySuggestion

I’m not sure what it is like where you live, but in my part of the world August can be rather hit and miss for church attendance. This weekend in particular is a bank holiday weekend in the UK, so many are away on holiday or visiting friends or family.

Church attendance can take a hit when this happens, understandably. However, I have also noticed a few visitors to our church over the summer months. We live in an area where holiday makers often visit, and so we occasionally have people join our congregation for just one or two weeks.

I remember a time (before children) where my wife and I went away for a week or two, and while there visited a nearby church for their Sunday service. The congregation were very friendly and welcoming, and it was enjoyable to join with a totally new group of believers in worship. While we did not come away having made lifelong friends with anyone, it made a nice change and just because we were “away” did not mean we were away from worship.

Are you away this weekend? Are you getting away from your normal life for a few weeks? My Sunday Suggestion this week is simply to visit another church while away. We nearly all have phones these days and access to the Internet, so it doesn’t take a huge amount of effort to find a local church and work out their service times. It may be a blessing to them to see some new faces, even for one week, and it may be an encouragement to you too.

I understand that we all have preferences when it comes to churches, and more than just preference, I am not suggesting you join in with just any group calling themselves “Christian.” Clearly, we need to be discerning. If you do visit a fellowship which is not your “cup of tea,” then that won’t do you any great harm. Perhaps they worship with a pipe organ, and you prefer electric guitar. Perhaps they space out their music throughout the service, whereas you prefer to have it all together at the start. The point is not to have everything your way, but to unite with fellow believers and support the Body of Christ in a different part of the world.

There is no one way to worship, nor is there only one way to “do” church. We are connected to the rest of the church, and this is particularly clear when we share in Communion. Visiting a church may feel a bit odd, or even a chore when you just want to enjoy your break, but you never know what God might have in store for you if you do. Likewise, you do not know how God might use you to be a blessing in that place.

If you do choose to visit a new congregation this week, or in the near future, I hope it proves a positive experience for you. Have a great weekend, and if you are away, enjoy your time to rest and relax.

P.S. – don’t forget to mention the blog where you got the idea from!

Impromptu Invite – Sunday Suggestion

Most churches have some form of coffee or refreshment after the service on a Sunday morning. This can be a great time of fellowship, but often (especially with children) it can fly by too fast and you do not get the chance to really speak with people. Why not extend that time of encouragement by inviting someone back to your home for a meal?

I know what you are thinking, “I need to plan that sort of thing…” “I haven’t cleaned up yet this weekend…” or “I’m not sure there’s enough food to go around.” While you may be able to make the house more presentable, or you may be able to serve up a better meal if you plan ahead, the point is not the perfect surroundings or exquisite cuisine. The point is to connect with people.

Aside from when I’m in the pulpit, I’m generally an introvert kind of person. An afternoon spent with people I do not know well sounds a lot like hard work to me! Yet this is the kind of hard work that pays. It will be a blessing to you, of course, but more importantly it will be a blessing to your guest.

In our busy world and hectic lives, we rarely have time to develop strong and deep relationships with people. Nothing can achieve this without time and investment. There are times when we do click with people without much effort, but generally all relationships take time and effort.

The Bible says:

Be glad to take other Christians into your house and care for them. And do not grumble about it.

10 God has given each person a gift. That gift is something he can do. Each one should use his gift to help the others. In that way you all make good use of the many blessings God has given you.

11 Has God blessed you by knowing how to talk? Then you should talk the words of God. Are you a helper? Then you should help with the strength God has given you. In all that you do, you should show that God is great through Jesus Christ. He has praise and power for ever. Yes, he has!

1 Peter 4:9011 WEB

Be glad to take other Christians into your house and care for them #Bible #hospitality

There is nothing I can add to this! Be glad to bring believers into your home, share with them, build them up and make them feel part of the family – because they are.

Have a great Sunday!

Skip Church #SundaySuggestion

Skip church? Is he serious?

Before you unfollow me, I am not advocating you deprioritise church or stop going altogether. Being part of a church family, and making it a priority, is something we all must strive for. In days gone by, it would be unthinkable to miss a Sunday service, yet these days a committed member might make three Sundays a month.

So what is the point of my Sunday Suggestion for today? I will explain by telling you about my day today.

This morning I will be taking care of someone who is not too well in order that their spouse can go to church. They are unwell to the point where they cannot easily be left, so their spouse is rarely able to meet with other believers in church. Church is certainly my priority, but today I have the chance to help someone else get to church instead.

Now if I were to do this all of the time, missing church frequently, then that would not be healthy. Between us though, I am sure we can find ways of supporting each other and ensuring believers get the encouragement of fellowship.

I once heard a story of a group of women who felt compelled to get together twice a week to pray. That is, all except one member of the group. Instead of praying, she felt led to take care of the others’ children so that they could pray. While not praying with them herself, she certainly enabled them to do it.

In a similar way, are you able to enable others to take part? Whether it be a Sunday service, home group or other church event, is it possible for you to step in and give a hand? That might be by taking care of someone, or offering a lift, or missing out on a hobby you had been planning. Whatever it is, do think about whether you can be an “enabler” and help someone else benefit from a time of fellowship.

Skip church? Absolutely not – unless you are paving the way for someone else!

Have a great Sunday!

Fasting – Sunday Suggestion

Over the season of Lent, I have been fasting. It has not always gone according to plan, I hasten to add, but it has been an enriching experience in many ways.

This Sunday, why not give it a try yourself? Be sure to do it sensibly and wisely if you have never done it before. For instance, if you have any medical conditions which may be affected by it, then give it more thought and seek some advice if you need to.

There are different ways to fast, and it does not necessarily mean giving up all food altogether. You may choose to limit what food you eat, or to only eat certain foods. You may decide to miss a particular meal, or you may decide not to eat anything at all for a period. Pray about it before you begin, and follow the Lord’s lead. Start off slowly, and build yourself up.

Most importantly, fast with a purpose. Do not do it merely to appear spiritual to others. Instead, use the time you would have spent eating or preparing food to talk to the Lord or read your Bible. When you feel that sense of hunger, use it as a prompt to thank God for all the good He is doing in your life. Let this disciplining of your body remind you that we are not merely physical, but rather spiritual beings, and the spiritual needs to be primary, not the physical.

Remember, Jesus said:

“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Matthew 6:16-18 (NIV)

Jesus wants us to fast for our spiritual good and to draw nearer to God, not to look good in front of others. If we talk about our fasting, or worse fish for compliments, then we have already received any reward we may get from the exercise.

Use the experience to strengthen your relationship to God, and praise Him for the plenty you have.

Serving Sunday – Sunday Suggestion

I want to encourage you to go to church with a servant’s heart.

The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Matthew 23:11-12 (NIV)

Church is not about you. For many of us, we go to church wanting it to meet our needs. We might want our favourite seat. We want our preferred style of music. We want sermons that do not make us feel uncomfortable or challenge us too much.

That may sound harsh, but unfortunately we are often guilty of going to church for what we can get out of it, not what we put in.

Of course, church should be a blessing to us, and if we never received anything from being there, it would not be healthy or right. But the primary purpose is not about what you need or want.

Instead, go with an attitude of service. Give up your seat or parking spot for a newcomer. Pass out the notice sheet if you see those without one. Help move the chairs afterwards if they need moving, or offer to serve the coffee or other refreshments.

Bringing together the family of believers is primarily about the worship of God. It can take a lot of work and organisation to bring it all together, and our consumer society means that too frequently we rock up, expecting to be “fed” and then leave. We are a family though, and if we all do our bit to serve one another, it will be such an amazing experience.

The church I attend is not perfect (of course) but one of the things that was so positive about it was that there were so many volunteers of all ages contributing to the events. We first went to a family oriented event, with different craft activities and a Bible time later on. There were many people there who were just there to serve, and it has always stayed with me.

In my experience, it is usually a select few who run around doing all of the work while the rest keep the seats warm! But we all have gifts, talents and abilities we can use to be a blessing to each other. If everyone did a little serving, then that would go a long way.

In my experience, it is usually a select few who run around doing all of the work while the rest keep the seats warm! #church #Bible #Christianity #Jesus

Make it your mission today to be a servant at church. Look around you and see what needs doing, and do it. It won’t go unnoticed, and even if your church family do not see it, the Lord will.

Going for a Goal… Still? – Sunday Suggestion

At the beginning of 2022, I began a new series called “Sunday Suggestion” and the first in that series was Go for a Goal linked here.

As many people do at the start of the year, it was about setting goals for yourself – although I hesitated to call them resolutions!

We are now nearly two months into the year and for this week’s Sunday Suggestion, I want to encourage you to review your goals.

Are you still on track, or have you let it slide? Is this something you need to pick back up again, or do you now realise (in hindsight) that it was too much to take on this year?

If you are still on course, then good for you! If you are not, then it certainly is not too late to catch up. If miss a meal due to a busy schedule, we do not give up eating altogether, but perhaps eat a little more next time!

If you missed that earlier post, or did not set yourself any goals for 2022, then there is no reason why you cannot (prayerfully) set some right here and now. You perhaps cannot claim them to be “New Year’s Resolutions” but if you think about it, 1st January is just an arbitrary date anyway. Why not start a new, positive habit on 20th February? If it is indeed positive, then there is no better time than now to begin.

In Galatians, Paul says:

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Galatians 6:9 (NIV)

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Gal 6:9 #Bible

I want to encourage you today not to give up. Press on towards your goal, even if progress has been slow up until now. Do not become weary in doing the good you need to do, instead keep putting one foot in front of the other and sooner or later, you will reach your target.

Do comment below with how things are going, and please do respond to one another’s comment with words of encouragement.

Talk It Out – Sunday Suggestion

Throughout this week, we have been thinking about the Great Commission as given to us by the Lord Himself and recorded in Matthew’s Gospel. I want this week’s Sunday Suggestion to carry on the theme.

Before I do, is there anything that has challenged you this week? If so, talk it out with a trusted friend at church. Perhaps you were moved by the fact that the Eleven disciples had doubts (see Matthew 28:16-17), or perhaps you felt a nudge from the Lord to “go”? Maybe the discussion about baptism prompted you to want to explore it for yourself, in which case why not take this chance to discuss with your pastor? Did the posts about making disciples or teaching challenge you to want to go deeper with the Lord, or help others do the same? Whatever it may be, grab a coffee after the service and sit down with someone. Share your thoughts and get their views.

If there was nothing in particular that stood out this week, then that is fine. Instead, take that same cup of coffee and talk to your home group leader or leadership team about how your church is fulfilling the Great Commission. Do not be critical of course, but look for ways you can get involved and support the church’s efforts. There are undoubtedly myriad ways you can get involved. You might like to help run the next baptism preparation class, or take the big step of offering to lead a small group and help make disciples? You could start a prayer programme for those who are going out and sharing the Gospel, or join them yourself.

Ask your pastor or trusted friend to help you figure out your gifts and unique contribution, together make a plan on how you can use those talents to preach the Gospel – directly or indirectly.

As you discuss the Great Commission, see if there are ways you can encourage others. Some may be cautious or even fearful about stepping out, so give them confidence by supporting them and reminding them of Christ’s presence with them. It might be that they have a God-ordained idea in their heart to reach people with the truth, but they cannot do it alone. You may be the person they need to help turn their idea into a reality.

There are countless ways in which we as individuals and as part of a church, can seek to fulfil Jesus’ commands here. Perhaps you are desperately seeking a way to do so, but just can’t seem to find the right avenue. Talk to someone about it, and listen not just to them, but to the Lord through them as well.

I do hope you have enjoyed what you have read this week, but do not allow it to just pass you by. Let it prompt you to action, and to “go” as Christ instructed. Don’t dive in without thought, but do take definite action. Take the counsel of fellow believers and work with them in whatever way God is directing you.

Together, we can take the Gospel to the world that needs it so very much.

As a reminder, here are the words we have read so many times this week. Read them once again, slowly, and pay particular attention to those elements you have not noticed before. Importantly, read that last sentence more than once. Jesus is with you! Praise the Lord!

But the eleven disciples went into Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had sent them. 17 When they saw him, they bowed down to him; but some doubted. 18 Jesus came to them and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go[b] and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I commanded you. Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Matthew 28:16-20 (WEB)

If you missed any of the post on the Great Commission, here is a list:

  • Bowing and Doubting
  • Go!
  • Make Disciples
  • Baptise Them
  • Teach Them
  • I Am With You

Pray for your Neighbour – Sunday Suggestion

This Sunday, after church of course, why don’t you take a walk around your neighbourhood and pray for those living there. You could focus on your own street, or else wander a little further afield. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you, and see if He will lead you to pray over a particular house or area.

Prayer walking is a great habit to get into. Not only does your physical body get some exercise, but it also gives you the chance to stretch those spiritual muscles. There are many practical ways to bless your neighbour, but only prayer allows you to invite God into their lives and do His miracle work.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12:30-31 (NIV)

Love your #neighbour as yourself #Bible #Jesus #Christianity

The chances are that the most popular name on your prayer list is your own… I know that’s true for me, I’m ashamed to admit. Yet verse 31 tells us to love our neighbour as we do ourselves. Well, if we pray mostly for our own needs, then let us each love our neighbour that way, and lift them before the Lord.

Perhaps it just isn’t possible for you to prayer walk right now, and that’s ok. If you can, pray at home for those living near you, as that will be beneficial too.

Finally, if you live in the UK, don’t forget your raincoat!

Have a great weekend!