3 Reasons to Smile More

My wife works for one of the finest dentists in Kentucky, so we often talk about teeth at our house. Lots of customers come to their office wanting to improve their smile. I think that they’re wise in doing so, because there are good reasons to improve your smile and even more good reasons to smile more often.

3 Reasons to Smile More

1. We will make more money. According to a recent study, the way we look has a direct bearing on our paycheck. According to the study, those who rated lower in appearance earned less than those who rated average or above.

…the biggest factor is the smile on our face.”

Appearance includes the style and neatness of our clothing, the shine on our shoes, the crease in our shirt, our choice of colors, the way we fix our hair, our makeup, and all the elements of our personal grooming. However, the biggest factor is the smile on our face, followed closely by our attitude and sense of humor. A good sense of humor and a positive attitude are particularly important as we move into the upper echelons of business.

2. We will make more friends. People do not want to be around an ol’ stiff, stick-in-the-mud! They are attracted to a person who is positive and friendly. A genuine smile is a good indicator of the type of person we are which causes others to want to get to know us.

3. We will make more converts.  In case all of this talk sounds less than spiritual, remember that we are ambassadors for Christ. As wise, conscientious ambassadors we want to improve our “abilities.” Let’s improve our respectability, approachability, and likeability. In this way we can draw people to us in order to point them to Christ!

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4 Ways to Help Busy Families

God created the family before He created the church.  Because of this, the church should be especially sensitive to the challenges and pressures families face today.  Here are a few ways the church can provide much-needed help to families.

1. Decrease the scheduling demands.  Many churches expect people to be at the church every night of the week, but this just isn’t possible or healthy for the family.  Churches should streamline Sunday activities to free up time for family outings.

2. Provide opportunities for families to serve together through the church. Family-oriented mission projects and service teams are great ways to allow families to serve together.

3. Provide opportunities for families to fellowship together. Family picnics, church fellowships, pizza parties, father/child outings, and mother/child outings are just a few ways to bring the family together.  When planning for the family, the church should be aware that many do not have “traditional” families. In response, churches should provide opportunities for single-parent and blended families as well.

4. Supplement costs. Often larger families cannot afford to send more than one child to camp or on a special trip. Providing scholarships or fund-raising opportunities for these families will meet an important need.

In some ways, the church becomes an extended family.  The Bible teaches that the bond between God’s children in this extended family should be strong, authentic, and transparent.

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5 Keys to Begin Making Disciples

Have you ever discipled someone one-on-one?  1-2-1 discipleship is arguably the most effective discipleship method.  If you are interested in this approach, here are 5 things to consider as you get started:

  1. Pray that God will lead you to the person He wants you to disciple.  I cannot overemphasize the importance of prayer in this whole process, so focus the process toward prayer from the very beginning.  God will match you with the person He wants you to disciple.
  2. Start by being a friend with that person (man to man, woman to woman).   By nature, this method works through relationships.  If God leads you to a person with whom you do not have an established relationship, take time to build a friendship before proceeding.  Don’t rush this step! For obvious reasons, this method works best man to man or woman to woman.
  3. Read a book together.  One great way to add structure to this approach is by reading a book together.  You can choose a book of the Bible or a good Christian book to read and discuss.
  4. Suggest classes at church.  When helpful discipleship classes are offered at church, encourage your friend to attend.  Better yet, attend a class or conference together and discuss the material during your 1-2-1 meetings.
  5. Model Christ to them in real life.  Involve your friend in your life and model Christ in your day-to-day living.

Prayer: “God, stir our hearts and help us to get real about your command to make disciples!  Lord, teach us that we cannot personally disciple everyone, but we can disciple someone.  Lead us to that person and give us the courage to get started for Your glory.”

For more posts on this topic, also see:

5 Reasons to Disciple One-On-One

The Skinny on Spiritual Growth

Grow Up

Make A List

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Churches & Car Dealerships

Car SalesmanIs there anything in life more frustrating than buying a car? Last week my wife and I attempted to replace one of our vehicles. It seems that every time I step on a car lot it tests my Christianity–that day was no exception. At one point during the “trial,” while the manager was making a dramatic last-ditch effort to make a sale, I wanted to ask “do I have the word stupid tattooed on my forehead or something?” I kept my cool, but I sent him back to his secret manager’s lair without a sale.

Don’t misunderstand, I realize dealerships are in the business to make money and salesmen are just trying to earn a living. I don’t fault them for that, but the truth is, buying a car is about as much fun as having your fingernails pulled out with a pair of needle-nosed plyers. Through the years, I have owned various brands: Chevrolet, Ford, Chrysler, Honda, Toyota, Nissan, and Mazda, but my experience was usually the same. I believe both car dealerships and churches might benefit from some of the things I wanted to say to the dealership that day:

  • I’m not the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz. Believe it or not, I actually have a brain. I’ve done some reading and research in my life. I can think, evaluate, and make decisions. Don’t talk down to me.
  • Give me some space. Sometimes I like to window-shop a little before being bombarded with the “sales pitch.” I expect a “sales pitch” and I’m ok with that, but just give me some space first. Let me just “kick the tires” for a while. If I really like them, I will buy them from you and a car to go with them!
  • Be honest with me. We all know the stereotype that car salesmen are dishonest. In many cases, they probably earned that reputation. The church is sometimes viewed the same way, so honesty is paramount to me.
  • Don’t play games and don’t play me. There’s nothing I hate much more than “being played.” Almost everyone I know feels the same way. Car dealerships, churches, salesmen, and preachers should be transparent and genuine.
  • Give me the facts and give them to me fast. How long can it possibly take to calculate the value of my trade-in? I looked up the Kelly Blue Book price on the internet in 5 minutes before I left the house! Don’t go on and on–it won’t change the facts. Give me the facts and I’ll make a decision.
  • Sale, but don’t oversale. I came expecting a sale, but don’t go overboard or you will turn me off for sure.

Boy oh boy…..I feel so much better now that I got that off my chest. Thanks for allowing me to vent. Let me end with this question, “how often does an unchurched person want to make these same statements to us after he visits one of our churches?”

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4 Things That Should Happen in the First 7 Minutes in Our Churches Each Sunday

FourToday, as I continue discussing Nelson Searcy’s book Fusion: Turning First-Time Guests into Fully-Engaged Members of Your Church, I will look at the 7-minute, pre-service period when first-time guests decide if they will return for a second visit. Searcy refers to this time as the time “from the street to the seat.” This is the time before the service even begins. Searcy says “Your pre-service mission is to make every effort to take your guests’ guard down and even put a smile on their face–before the service begins.

4 THINGS IN THE FIRST 7 MINUTES

  • GREETED: Welcomed with a smile. Searcy says we should memorize the sentence “everything speaks to first-time guests–everything.” He says we should strive for excellence and he defines excellence as “doing the best you can with what you’ve got.” Journey Church discovered from their surveys of first-time guests that one of the things they noticed and appreciated most were the smiling faces and the warm welcome as they entered the building. NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF A SMILE!
  • DIRECTED: Simply and politely shown to where they need to go. Guests should be directed either by a sign or a volunteer–preferably by both. When it comes to first-time guests, Searcy said the real estate axiom “location, location, location” should be replaced by “signs, signs, signs.” Searcy says that signs are the single best way to ensure that guests can find what they need. I strongly agree, but I think a church can overdo it in this area. You can get so many signs that none of the signs stand out. Having said that, I’ve only seen a couple of churches that had too many signs.
  • TREATED: Shown respect, and happily surprised with comfort food and a drink. Searcy says, “first-time guests want to feel respected and welcomed. They want to know that you are happy they’re there and that you are serious about making sure they have a good experience.” One of the best ways to convey that message is through food, but it should be well done. Searcy says, “Don’t skimp on food. This is not the area to try to save a nickel. Don’t halve foods to make them stretch. Don’t glare at the person who takes three donuts. Good food lets your guests know that you care enough to offer them something for free that will meet a need.” Provide a good, quality coffee with flavored creamers and large cups. Provide juice, bottled water, and a high quality donut. Some may also want to provide bagels and other alternatives.
  • SEATED: Led to comfortable, appropriate seats. If possible, guests should be led to a seat. It is often very awkward when they try to find a seat on their own. The usher will feel comfortable asking someone to slide over, but the first-time guests usually will not do so. Guests typically are among the last to enter. As a result, it is more difficult for them to find seats on their own. A great usher can strategically seat guests in sections that have people their age.

By the way, be sure to buy Searcy’s book, Fusion. We are only touching the highlights here, so you will want to read it from cover to cover. Here are a few of my other posts on similar topics.

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7 Minutes and Counting

Stop-WatchToday, we continue talking about Nelson Searcy’s book Fusion: Turning First-Time Guests into Fully-Engaged Members of Your Church. Searcy titled chapter 3, Seven Minutes and Counting. In the chapter, he talked the importance of what happens to first-time guests during the first 7 minutes of their visit. He wrote,

 

Seven minutes is all you get to make a positive first impression. In the first 7 minutes of contact with your church, your first-time guests will know whether or not they are coming back. That’s before a single worship song is sung and before a single word of the message is uttered.

Common sense tells us that we never get a second chance to make a first impression, and unfortunately, first impressions are usually lasting impressions. If Searcy is correct in saying that guests are deciding whether they are coming back in the first 7 minutes, then the question becomes, “what’s actually being judged?”

Are they judging the building, the landscaping, the parking lot, the church sign, the entrance area, the lobby, the parking lot greeters, the door greeters, the bulletin? The simple answer is “YES“! They probably judge all those things, but keep in mind, they decide if they are coming back before they sing the first song or hear a word of the sermon.

As pastors, we usually spend a large portion of our week planning the worship service and preparing the message without being proactive in this important area. We should continue our practice of sermon preparation, but we should also give thought, time, and attention to helping our guests have a great first impression. As pastors, we should take the lead in this area.

In my next post, I will look at the 7-minute, first impression time Searcy refers to as the time “from the street to the seat.” Here are my other posts along these lines.

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The Key to Keep Church Guests Coming Back

fallsemester_serve2Let’s continue to look at Nelson Searcy’s rockin’ assimilation book, Fusion: Turning First-Time Guests into Fully-Engaged Members of Your Church. Today, we will look at God’s assimilation plan discussed in chapter 2.

But before we get into our discussion, let me encourage you to check out his blog and the free stuff that he is providing to help churches in their work for the Lord. Here are some helpful links to his website:

. . . . Now, on with the discussion. In chapter 2, Searcy wrote,

God has not only given us the responsibility of being hospitable to His guests, but He has also given us the perfect example of how to go about it. Jesus came to the earth to serve, not to be served. Throughout the New Testament, we see His examples of selfless service for those He had the opportunity to influence. And we’ve been left with the challenge of doing even greater things. When we serve our guests well, we reflect Jesus’ attitude and mindset toward them.

Although Searcy provided a thorough definition of assimilation in chapter 1, he sums up assimilation here as follows:

Assimilation is simply well-planned biblical hospitality through service. The head of our organization is the greatest server of all time. Doesn’t it follow that we should be the ultimate example of such service to our guests? With the right system in place, we can serve in a way that will truly touch lives for God’s kingdom.

For more details about  improving assimilation in your church, see the following posts:

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