This is a great article and we would all do well to take it to heart during this season.
Pastors have facetiously called them C & E Christians…those people who show up on Christmas and Easter, but the reality is that most people are likely to begin attending a church at three particular times of the year: Christmas, Easter and Back-to-School time. With that in mind, pastors and congregations need to be particularly aware that guests are likely, and they need to be prepared to greet them accordingly if they ever hope to have the first-time guests return.
So? What are you doing to pave the way for return guests? I came across a list of five things a congregation can do to connect with first-time guests. The list itself comes from Pastor Rick Ezell in South Carolina, but the commentary is mine. I thought it would be good to share as pastors and congregations prepare special Advent and Christmas season worship services.
1. Visitors make up their minds…
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Mount of Temptation (Photo credit: Seetheholyland.net)
Abba Anthony said to Abba Poemen, ‘this is the great work of a man: always to take the blame for his own sins before God and to expect temptation to his last breath. He also said, ‘Whoever has not experienced temptation cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. ‘He even added, ‘Without temptations no-one can be saved.’
—-Sayings of the Desert Fathers
In a world where TV networks hire “spin doctors” to make the story turn in the “right” direction, it is no wonder we fail to acknowledge our weaknesses and failures. After all, this problem must be somebody else’s fault. It is no wonder that Anthony called it the great work of life. All of us have someone to blame for our sin and shortcomings. It is our childhood, the boss, the job, the teacher or if all else fails, just everyone. That’s bad enough, but the best is yet to come. We are to expect temptations throughout our lives – no relief, no time out. They are part of the human condition. Temptations are what form us into the children of God. Our challenge is to ascend to God and walk the path he has set before us.
Lord God, give me the courage and grace to ascend to You. Help me to turn away from the excuses that so readily fill my lips and rise to the occasion of my sin. Help me to see the many temptations of my life as the road to perfection. I ask for strength and grace to stay on that road. I ask this though the one who saves and sustains me. Amen
- Temptation (savedbygraceblogdotcom.wordpress.com)