Tips for Dealing with the Effects of Holidays on Church Life

Holidays affect the normal flow of church life whether intentional or not. Pastors, teachers, ministry leaders and workers should be aware of the effects of holidays, prepare for them, and make the most of them. Remember that we are exhorted to make the most of every opportunity (Eph. 5:16; Col. 4:5).

Holidays Effects on Attendance:

Holidays often bring a fluctuation in attendance. Regular attendees might be absent due to travel and visitors might be present as they are spending the holidays with your church member families. Tips:

  • Be prepared for a different group dynamic.
  • Be sensitive to newcomers.
  • Use it as time to share the Gospel.
  • Don’t bemoan who isn’t there but rather, remember them in prayer and maximize the time with those who are there.

Calendar of Events Over the Holidays:

Holidays often pull focus and resources from normal church life onto planning special programs and emphasis. Tips:

  • Use holidays to bring home points not usually covered throughout the year but remember that there are still on-going needs and ministry to be addressed.
  • Build margins into your schedule to be available for on-going ministry unrelated to the holidays.
  • Don’t lose focus on the essentials of life in Christ in the busyness of the season. Continue to nurture your own walk with God and encourage others to do so as well.

Holiday Effects on Giving:

Holidays often bring a fluctuation in giving, sometimes more and sometimes less. Tips:

  • Establish a means for those traveling for the holidays to still give to the ongoing work of the church.
  • Plan for ways to use extra giving beyond the budget for special projects, benevolence, etc.
  • Don’t pressure people but at the same time, keep stewardship and the vision before them.

Holiday Effects on Church Members’ Lives:

Holidays are often a more stressful, busier, and even an emotionally difficult time. Tips:

  • Be sensitive to people’s schedules and distractions in the way you plan.
  • Be available for counsel, to pray with and assist them as needed.
  • Don’t add more stress and turmoil to their lives.
  • Be a beacon of light and comfort to help them navigate these times.

The next post will look at how the holiday season can affect our lives. Subscribe to receive e-mail notice of new posts.

Effects of Holidays Like Intruders in ClassroomALSO:
The holidays can also affect the teaching-learning process in Sunday school or other Bible classes. Prepare your teachers to turn these intrusions into opportunities by ordering this two page teacher training document: Intruders in the Classroom that Steal & Vandalize: Holidays & Other Special Events

Effective & Productive?

Who doesn’t want to make a difference now and for eternity? But, how does God identify effectiveness and productivity? As believers we must get beyond the world’s standards, defining our ultimate purpose and reaching our greatest potential in and according to Him.

The Potential for Being Effective & Productive

2 Peter 1:5-7 lists important traits for followers of Jesus — faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection (brotherly kindness), and finally love (agape, divine love). Verse 8 goes on to state that “if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Effective & Productive Lives

Note how all these qualities culminate in love. As believers we have the potential of living effective and productive lives by loving as God loves. In identifying love as the Greatest Commandment, Jesus set up love for the Lord and others as the ultimate purpose in life. He said, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matt. 22:37-40). When we love, we are doing the greatest thing we could ever do and exhibiting the greatest character trait we could ever possess. In 1 Peter 4:8 we’re exhorted, “Above all, love.” Certainly then, when we love as He loves, we’re reaching our potential in Him.

The Process Leading to Effectiveness & Productivity

We don’t get saved one day and wake up the next filled and overflowing with God’s love. According to 2 Peter 1:5-8, reaching our potential to love as God loves, requires certain traits being built into our live with love being the ultimate. We must “make every effort” to keep progressing toward this ultimate purpose. When the Apostle Paul said, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Phil. 3:12), he was acknowledging that reaching our potential in Him isn’t automatic. It’s a journey, an ongoing growth process.

The Problem that Halts the Growth Process

Notice how perseverance sits in the middle of the traits listed in 2 Peter 1:5-8. If we don’t persevere, we won’t make it to love. And, without love, all our efforts are meaningless, hallow, just noise. And, we “gain nothing” without love according to 1 Corinthians 13:1-3.

If we don’t keep increasing and progressing in the growth process, we won’t reach God’s ultimate for our lives. — “For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Pet. 1:8) Believers who do not possess these qualities are “nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins” (2 Pet. 1:9).

The Plan for Persevering

To persevere, we need focus, not on a process but rather on a Person. Jesus provided the ultimate expression of love in dying on the cross for us. — “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (Jn. 15:13). We mustn’t forget what Jesus did in order for us to be cleansed from our sins. We must “fix our eyes on Jesus” so that we can “run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Heb. 12:1-2). He went before us, setting an example for us to follow.

The Power to Live Effective & Productive Lives

Fixing our eyes on Jesus must be more than looking at or following His example. We don’t have it within ourselves to love as He loves. How, then, can we ever live effective and productive lives? We must look at Jesus not only as our Standard but also as our power Source. Jesus Himself said, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (Jn. 15:5). As a branch pulls on the sustenance and strength of the vine, so we must look to Jesus if we have any hope of living life with purpose and making an eternal difference.

How appropriate that within the context of the verses we’ve been looking at in 2 Peter 1, we find verse 3. — “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”

Resources:

  • The Church Purpose Ministry Manual could be a starting point for leaders and leadership teams to work through living life with purpose as a church in order to make a greater difference.
  • As church leaders model this in the decisions and ministry of the church, you are then ready to teach the congregation. The Living Life with Purpose Curriculum will help adults in your church reach their potential in loving God and loving people in all aspects of their lives.

Help for When We Hurt

Help to Walk When It HurtsIn times of pain and loss, we most need comfort, peace, and hope. Yes, we might want tangible help, healing, and restoration but that doesn’t always happen right away. We need that which will help us walk through the valleys of life no matter how long it might take.

Check out the Walk the Walk Even When It Hurts Devotional for thirty devotions from Psalm 23 pointing to the Lord as your Shepherd who provides what you need to make it through even the shadow of death.

Sources of Help for When We Hurt

We can try to pull ourselves together but sometimes we are so emotionally wrung out, mentally exhausted, or physically depleted that we have little reserve to pull on. Perspective can become skewed when we hurt and we could lose all sense of hope.

We can wait for our circumstances to change but sometimes life gets worse rather than better or the change isn’t as we thought it should be. Prospects of a better life can allude us and so we become more anxious rather than finding a sense of peace and contentment.

We can expect other people to come to our rescue but sometimes they seem blind to our pain or fail to consistently show the compassion and understanding we need. Problems can be compounded by additional hurts from people we thought would be there for us and so we lack any sense of comfort.

Ultimate Source of Help for When We Hurt

We can’t rely on self, circumstances, or others. But, there is One who can give us what we truly need when we hurt — God, who is the God of all comfort, peace, and hope.

God of Comfort:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (2 Cor. 1:3-4)

Even when we find comfort from other people, it’s because of God. He is the ultimate source of comfort. God designed the Body of Christ to be there for one another in both the ups and downs of life, the joys and the sorrows. But, the Church is composed of imperfect human beings incapable of consistently showing unfailing love and compassion. Only God can be counted on at all times and in all circumstances. Let Him use other people through your grief and pain, but put your trust and ultimate reliance in Him for the comfort you need.

God of Peace:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Phil. 4:6-9)

We can’t dwell on our negative circumstances and expect to have peace. We won’t feel good when we dwell on the bad. When, however, we turn to the Lord who is good and works for our good, we can find rest for our souls in Him even when circumstances remain unchanged for He is the God of peace.

God of Hope:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Rom. 15:13)

When we come to the realization that we can’t fix what’s wrong in this world, albeit even in our own lives, but that there is Someone who can and will one day right the wrongs, we can experience hope. We can believe God’s good purposes will prevail no matter what happens.

Persevering in our suffering lets us experience God in a way we otherwise would not know. It puts us in touch with the God of all comfort, peace, and hope — who is sufficient to help us when we hurt.

Maximum Participation in Ministry Training

Training Category: Staffing Ministry

We’ve already established that a comprehensive ministry training plan that includes a variety of elements beyond skill development leads to greater effectiveness in serving. But, getting people to participate in training opportunities can seem quite difficult. There are steps you can take that should help.

Gaining Maximum Participation in Ministry Training Opportunities

Staffing Ministry Manual for Training Help

The AAA’s that follow are included in the Staffing Ministry Manual along with some additional thoughts on these steps.

Advance notice

Don’t spring opportunities on people at the last minute and expect them to fit it onto their busy schedules.

Adaptability

Remember that many of your workers will have child care needs, perhaps transportation needs, or scheduling conflicts. Accommodate when you can.

Alternative approaches

The question is not if workers need to be trained but how. In today’s world, giving workers choices in how to get trained will increase the likelihood of it happening. The Staffing Ministry Manual includes a template you can use to develop a list of possible alternative training resources for different ministries.

Prized Verses in Philippians

Prized Bible Verse in PhilippiansThe last post looked at practical issues in the Book of Philippians.

Perhaps the reason the Book of Philippians contains some of the most treasured and quoted Bible verses is because of how practical that book is for our daily lives and the church.

Prized Verses for Reflection and Memorization in the Book of Philippians

You might already have some of the following verses memorized. Let me encourage you to take some time to reflect on how these verses can help you today with whatever issues you might be facing. “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12) You may even want to work at memorizing those verses which are especially meaningful to you.

1:3 – I thank my God every time I remember you.

1:6 – being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

1:21 – For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

2:3-4 – Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

2:9-11 – Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

3:8-9 – What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.

3:10-11 – I want to know Christ -yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

3:12 – Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

3:13-14 – Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

3:20 – But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ

4:4 – Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

4:6-7 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

4:8 – Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.

4:12 – I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

4:13 – I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

4:19 – And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

Other familiar verses from Philippians could be added to the list but the list was getting quite long with those included. Imagine if we regularly applied these verses to our lives! We can when we remember Philippians 4:13. — I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

God Gets Practical

Self-help books and seminars may have a place but so often take a humanistic path void of divine intervention. The Christian life, however, centers around what God does for us, not what we do for ourselves. — “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:13)

God already provided The Book, His Word, that contains practical solutions for issues we still experience today along with the power we need to apply these truths to our lives. While “all Scripture” is intended to be “useful” (2 Tim. 3:16-17), we’re going to zero in on just one small book in the Bible to demonstrate how practical God gets — the Book of Philippians.

Practical Issues in the Book of Philippians

Outline the Book of Philippians and in just four chapters you will find the following practical issues we face in our daily lives as individuals and as a church today:

  • becoming more other-centered (1:1-11)
  • learning to better cope and deal with circumstances (1:12-26)
  • maintaining unity (1:27-2:11)
  • living a life of obedience to God (2:12-18)
  • serving wholeheartedly (2:19-30)
  • setting priorities (3:1-14)
  • getting an attitude adjustment (3:15-4:1)
  • experiencing peace (4:1-9)
  • being content (4:10-19)
  • praising God & embracing one another (4:20-23)

Imagine the difference in our lives if we took the help He offers to deal with these issues!

Practical Issues in the Book of PhilippiansIf you haven’t read through Philippians lately, perhaps this is a good time to do so. Maybe you would find it useful to study it with a small group. You can order the Practical Issues in the Book of Philippians Discussion Guides which follows the above outline. You are permitted to copy the guides which contain questions to discuss.