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Assumptions - Part 2

Good morning friends! I hope your week is going well. I look forward to the day we can gather on Wednesday evenings so we don't have to wait seven days before we can see each other again!

Continuing what I started last week, a seven-week series on "Assumptions Pastors Can't Make in a Post-Christian Culture," we come to assumption #2 today. These assumptions were written by Karl Vaters and published in a December 2017 issue of Christianity Today. Assumption #1 had to do with Biblical Literacy, meaning we can no longer assume people, even church members, have any significant familiarity with the basic stories or message of the Bible. 

Assumption #2 - Frequent Attendance

The author says, "Consistent, committed attenders use to go to church three times a week. Now, according to experts like Thom Rainer, it's approximately three times a month. In some places, twice a month is considered the new normal.

Attending worship should be the most normal, basic instinctive, delightful habit for a redeemed believer. Surely this is what the psalmist meant when he said, "I was glad when they said unto me, 'Let us go into the house of the Lord.'" Once upon a time many years ago a church dismissed a talented program staff member because he was not a nice person. He was very gifted in his field but was extremely rude and discourteous far too much of the time. As someone said later, "Church personnel should not have to be told to be nice." Indeed! Nor should we have to be told to attend church consistently. It should be a very natural, even intense desire for redeemed sinners.

The author continues, "This has profound implications for the way we do everything in a church, from the strength of our relationships, to the amount of time and money people give, to what they expect of their pastoral staff. For instance, when I prepare a sermon series, I have to assume that most people will miss several of the sermons, so each message needs to be more self-contained..and churches need a larger pool of volunteers..because they are more likely to serve in a rotation instead of showing up every week."

When I joined the staff of the Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church in 1980, the Christian Education committee recruited Sunday School teachers to serve for three consecutive years, including summers. By the time I left my former church three years ago, we were doing well to find Sunday School teachers who would serve for 9 months. Even then their travel schedules meant they would miss 25-50% of those 39 Sundays. The result was a loss of continuity in the classroom, a need for more volunteers, and unfortunate disruption for the class.

Much of our travel is optional. Many of our activities that cause us to miss church are also optional. While we may bask in our freedom and wealth we should also pause to consider the effect it has upon our church. And we should ask ourselves, "If everyone imitated my example, how would it affect my church?" And most fundamentally, how does it affect my family and me spiritually?

Posted by Jim Bachmann

Assumptions - Part 1

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Greetings on this beautiful Wednesday morning! I hope all of you are doing well and are ready for fall.

I want to encourage everyone to remember our church in your prayers. Pray for our sick, pray for our growth, pray for our new construction, pray for our new staff (Heath Cross) and his family, pray for God to meet our financial needs, pray for effective preaching and teaching, pray for spiritual growth, pray for lost souls to be won to Christ, pray for hurricane victims, and pray for us to have an impact in our new community. I'm sure you can add other things to this list!

My wife recently came across an article (thanks to Tammi Hollis) from Christianity Today written in December 2017. While it was written for pastors and church leaders, I want to share these things with you. Many of them hit home with me! The title of the article is "8 Assumptions Pastors Can't Make in a Post-Christian Culture." I will paraphrase one each week for the next eight weeks because I think they will benefit us greatly.

Assumption #1 - Biblical Literacy

The author of the article says, "Pastors can no longer start a Bible lesson with a phrase like 'we all know the story of...'.." He adds that people no longer know the story of David and Goliath or the Israelites crossing the Red Sea. Nor can we say "turn with me in your Bibles" anymore because so many don't own a printed Bible. What are we to do about this? I suggest two things. First, be sure that we are literate! Know the Scripture; study it, read it, and even memorize it. Attend Sunday School and worship and join a small group Bible study. "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge," said the Lord, and I'm pretty sure He was referring to an ignorance of His word. Second, don't get upset at people for not knowing Scripture. See it as an opportunity. The author says, "Instead of getting upset at people for not knowing my favorite Bible story, I get to see their eyes light up as they are introduced to something they never knew before. There's less unlearning to do, and more chances to start people with a fresh take on the timeless truths of Scripture."