Friday, January 6, 2012

Report from the Congress on Evangelism 2012

Mike and I had the opportunity to spend part of this past week at the Congress on Evangelism. We came away very thankful for the ideas that have come to fruition from the Congress on Evangelism 2009 and with a burden on our heearts to take it further.

Arlington is not our church, it is not Matt's church, and it is not the people's church; IT IS GOD"S CHURCH. We have learned in these past three years how to welcome people who do not look like us or act like us. I am so proud of how far the people of our church have come in welcoming all people. BUT, that is not enough! God planted Arlington in the center of a very ripe field and we need to begin harvesting it, "For the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few." We need to put on our overalls and get busy bringing in the harvest and allowing God to transform lives in the miraculous way that He does it. We need to assume a posture that this church is not about us, but about the people God wants to reach. It is a radical, old way, of being about God's business and not just maintaining a church.

Let's begin with some even more radical hospitality than we have now. Let's make our church all about visitors and not about members. Let's greet people in the parking lot, at the door, in the commons, and in the sanctuary. They come to us scared and unsure about this whole thing called church, let's put them at ease.

Let's take the worst parking spots so they can park close to the building. Let's move to the center of the pews so they can slip into the seats at the end of the aisle and not have to crawl over us. Let's even the playing field so even visitors in our church, see our church as we see it. Always introduce yourself so everyone knows your name, not just other members. Let's practice the three minute rule and the ten foot rule. That means you spend the first three minutes after the service talking to strangers before you talk to your friends and that you greet everyone within ten feet of you, in front of you, behind you and on each side. Take time to introduce them to others and include them in your conversations.

We will be beginning a new service in the not to distant future, this is to reach the unchurched. We are not going to mess with your service so don't get upset. We also hope to begin adding a new program called Alpha for new people coming into the church; for God to transform new believers lives, like He has transformed our lives. We ask you to begin praying over these new ministries so they come to fruition with the covering and power of prayer.

Let us go forth and be harvesters!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Update on Breakfasts

Mike and I will be attending The Congress on Evangelism again next week and it has motivated me to update and maybe be a little more faithful about keeping up the blog.
The first weekend in March we will be celebrating three years of free breakfasts at Arlington. A big debt of gratitude is owed to Mike and Dan for their faithful service as well as many other volunteers who have helped out when needed. I also would be terrible remiss to not mention that Odom's Tennessee Pride Sausage has been providing the meat for all the breakfasts from the very beginning, a big thank you!!!
Although our usual attendance is less than twenty five at any given time, many people have found housing who had none and are moving their lives in a positive direction. Many have been baptised and/or joined the church and become functioning members, volunteering their time and talents. Our hearts have been touched as we have gotten to know these people. I have to admit we have been frustrated, and going through a learning curve in how to help empower these friends to take control of their lives and not be a detriment by giving them too much, which only teaches them to be more dependent on others and not themselves.
I hope to share with you in future posts the stories of some of the people who we have gotten to know through the years.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Be a Friend

We have been talking about a guest being a gift from God. However, sometimes we don’t know how to start a conversation with a guest that is different from us by nationality or economic circumstances. We all like our little comfort zones and it is so much simpler to just go and sit with our best friends than to sit with a stranger.
Here are a few conversations starters that will help to get the conversation going. The first one is quite simple, “Did you grow up around here?” Whether the answer is, yes or no, it leaves an opening for you to ask about the place where they did grow up and about favorite childhood memories. Another question is, “How was your day?” Listen to them and then share about your day. A third might be, “Did you attend church as a child?”
I know many people shy away from speaking to the homeless that God has put here among us. We are beginning to make a difference in some of their lives; Megan got a job a week ago and is so excited. We cannot expect them to just get out of their dire circumstances without a little help.
Talk to them. Ask them how their day was. Share with them your own life stories. Become their friend. Over time, you'll get to know them for who they are, and get to know their real needs. And it would be on those needs that you could focus your care for them. Just know that being a real friend fulfills their biggest needs: the need to be known, the need to belong, and the need to be accepted. With these needs fulfilled, along with your care and encouragement, our homeless friends might find the motivation to take the journey out of homelessness. Winter is coming, let us do it now!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Guest is a Gift from God

The Title comes from a traditional old Hebrew story but it is so true about our church today. I want you to consider that every person God has walk through our doors is sent by Him. His prevenient grace has been working in them and He has led them to our church, not someone else’s church, but our church.

He calls us to treat them with great hospitality and friendliness. The Holy Spirit has been working in them and has gotten them to the point where they are finally willing to take a chance and walk into our church, we, as His people, need to welcome them with love and open arms. God is entrusting us with their care, nurture, and discipling.
The Bible tells us that Jesus came to save all people, not just the ones that look like us and are like us. He wants all His children to spend eternity with Him in heaven. Sometimes we shy away from those who look different from us; they may be a different color or nationality or are poor or even homeless. God is especially fond of each and every one of them. He desires that every one of them have a relationship with Him. He has brought them here, to Arlington, so we can teach them how.
As we go forward let us remember how much He loves each and every one of them and do our part to bring them into a relationship with Jesus Christ and eternal life. This is “Kingdom Building” work, God’s work, done here on earth.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

God Is Not Poor

Take a moment and look around you. The trees are leafed out in the most awesome shades of green, flowers are blooming, the sun is shining in the beautiful blue sky with white puffy clouds floating by. All of this brought to you, courtesy of the God of heaven and earth. God is a spiritual person not a physical person and He created everything and gave it to us, you and me. Do you have food on your table? Are you able to see, hear, taste. God has blessed you then. He has blessed you to be a blessing. God created enough of everything for everyone. It was His plan, given to us a long time ago.

He gives us everything, He asks that we give Him our time, our talents, our presence, and ten percent of all the things He gave to us. One, because it is good for us to know that we are still alright if we have ten percent less than we did a while ago. Two, because it is not good for us to hold tightly to material things. Three, we need to learn to trust Him in all things. Four, it is His way of providing for all of His people.

God's love is like a river flowing through all mankind. He gives to one, who gives back ten percent, which combines with others ten percents and makes it possible to do His work in another, who gives back ten percent to help another. When the system is working correctly there is enough to go around for everyone. Goods and services flow surely and confidently from one to another and goes on forever, a mighty flowing river. That is God's way. We wouldn't need government involvement if we would just do our part.

We need to quit stopping up the river. We build dams to try to keep the blessings all to ourselves which means someone else loses out on a blessing, and they are hurting and unsure if God is able to take care of them, and then they don't think they have enough to give to help someone else. God is spiritual, He shows us how it is supposed to work but He needs our help in the physical world.

This is a spiritual law, when obeyed, you are blessed and the blessing continues. When not obeyed, things start to deteriorate around you. It is not a hard concept, we can help to be the hands and feet of God blessing others so they also can be a blessing. We need to just follow the law and there will be enough for everyone.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Update on Breakfasts

Well, we are still excited about our breakfasts and there are many people who volunteer on a regular basis. We have been especially blessed that Tennessee Pride has been supplying us with sausage and sausage gravy. We have five different menus that we are using depending on what Sunday of the month it is.

I would love to tell you that there are tons of people coming but that isn't exactly true. We do have some regulars though. Freddie is homeless, has two braids like Willy Nelson, and rides a bicycle. Sometimes he can get work and he is here as long as he is not working. He was in the service and spent his time in Alaska and the Arctic. He says he learned a lot about survival while he was stationed there. He is very pleasant and always glad to see you. He often comes early and will help set up tables and chairs. He says he doesn't have a watch so he doesn't know what time it is.

One woman, Helen came, ate breakfast, went to Sunday School and church for several Sundays and now wants to join the church, she has become a regular

We have one couple that come fairly regular and they wrote the nicest letter:

Paster John Carpenter, it was a pleasure and wonderful experience to fellowship with you. My husband and I are very thankful for the blessing to be able to have breakfast and something to eat. It has been very hard for us since my husband was laidoff and with the economy being in such a situation now, he has not been able to find work. In our hearts I know the lord will bless us, as he has provided for us to come to your church and eat, sit and talk with you all. I thank God for the experience to fellowship with his children. Mr. Kevin and Rondalin Washington. See you soon.
Please remember us in your prayers.

We have another couple Chris and Marna who come every week. They are staying in an inexpensive hotel up the street, so they walk. Marna is deaf but Chris wants her to practice reading lips so we will speak slowly and she generally gets what we are saying. Often they volunter to take any left over food with them.

Richard lives in his truck and he comes every week but doesn't say much. Even if you try and talk to him. Generally he comes early and cleans his truck out using our dumpster before he comes in. Then he goes and cleans up in the restroom before he eats.

Mary comes for breakfast and stays for church, she has long white hair that goes down to her waist. We have been helping her with food from the food pantry and we have also met her daughter who lives with her.

Cliff has been coming to our church to get food and magazines for a long time. He has started to come to the breakfasts as well. Although he is generally pleasant, you can tell he is a little mixed up in his mind.

So, these are the people that God sent for us to minister to. We are getting to know them better all the time and taking care of their physical needs.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Sign

In our ongoing desire to be a presence in the local neighborhood we decided to invite the community to our Easter services. About a block from our church, right by the Briley parkway ramps, is a large electronic billboard. We decided we could put our ad up there for the days before Easter. We signed on for Wednesday through Saturday but they started running our ad on Monday morning. It runs for ten seconds and there are two other ads that run for ten seconds each, so our ad comes on every twenty seconds and even if you don't see it the first time, it will be back on soon.

Speaking of signs, we also wrote our large lawn sign for our Easter egg hunt in Spanish as well as English. We have learned that a large portion of our neighborhood is Hispanic and we want to try and reach out to them.