I can’t juggle. Can you?
I’ve tried many times. I just can’t do it! I’m amazed at those who can. But, I am learning to juggle in my role as a Shepherd. It’s taken me years to figure it out and to actually be able to do it. But, I’m thankful to the Lord that I’ve learned (somewhat). What do I mean?
Last Sunday we had almost 700 people attend our three services. The week before we had over 650. That’s a lot of people for three pastors. So, how do we juggle all of the people? VERY CAREFULLY. 🙂 Truly, the thing that many people don’t realize about a church our size is assimilating all of the new people.
We have an informal time where we bring folks in (who want to join the church) and we talk to them about their lives and about the church. In fact, here is the full run-down of that meeting:
MPBC Prospective New Member Meeting with Elders/Pastors
Questions for You:
- What brings you to MPBC? Tell us your story?
- Tell us about your Salvation Experience (You must be saved to join.)
- Have you been baptized by immersion? (You must be to join the church.)
- What do you believe about the Bible? (divinely inspired, inerrant Word of God)
- What do you believe about Jesus? Is He the only way to Heaven? (yes)
- What is your position on the Lordship of Jesus Christ? (Can a person take Jesus as Savior without taking him as Lord? The answer is: No.)
- Do you have a daily “quiet time” or “devotion time” with the Lord where you pray and read the Bible?
- What do you believe God has gifted you to do in His Kingdom’s work?
- What do you believe your level of commitment will be as a new member?
- Is there anything in your life right now that would be a detriment to the kingdom of God regarding your current lifestyle that needs to be confessed or repented of at this time?
- History of church, been here since 1875 in the Reach Center since 2006
- Leadership Structure: Elders/Pastors (multiple elders/pastors to lead)
- Worshipful music through Praise Team and choir, which leads us to experience God’s presence and power in our lives (See Pastor Brad)
- Expository Preaching (verse by verse) Acts 2:42 (We want you to learn and be equipped)
- Our Goal: Equip the Saints for works of ministry. Ephesians 4:11, 16 (equip the saints for ministry, each member has a ministry) We are Christ’s ambassadors (2 Cor. 5:20)
- Keep it Simple: We aren’t so interested in plugging people into a building and programs as we are plugging you into your family and community. GO and make disciples… (Matt 28:19-20)
- We Worship as a Family…we worship as a family (no children’s church/youth groups) The Bible teaches everyone is together in the meeting “ecclesia.” There is no Scriptural evidence that the family was ever separated during the ecclesia. That’s a modern invention of convenience, but it’s not Biblical.
- Rite of Passage (ROP)-Raise the Bar for our Young Adults. Give them a job, apprentice…Mentoring Class, kitchen duty, AV, choir, mission work, services, church-wide functions. We want your entire family to be a part of what we do. We don’t entertain children; we INVOLVE them.
- Bible Studies: Sunday Mornings-please plug-in for the fellowship and accountability
- Mission-minded-Local: Passion Play, Flag Football League (FFL), Movie Nights, VBS, Sportsmen Banquet, Trunk or Treat. Global: Weslaco, TX and Mexico, Philippines, China and beyond.
- Contribute: We expect and desire for you to contribute to the church in your time, talent and treasure (10% is a wonderful goal), but we don’t tell you what that is. God will. We don’t want you to just fill a chair. We want you to be involved in YOUR church.
- Service times: Wed. 5:15 meal, 6:30 Service, 6:30 Children’s classes (birth through 5th grade), Choir Practice 7:30, Praise Team 8:30 pm, Sunday Worship Services- 8:20 am, 9:40 am and 11:00 am. SS/Bible Study 9:40 am.
- Picture: We’d love the opportunity to have your picture for our reference as a staff and for our Deacons. We’ll do this following this meeting if you don’t mind.
How to join:
- Move your church letter from another church of like faith
- Upon your Statement of Faith (and previous baptism by immersion)
- Baptism by immersion (you must be baptized by IMMERSION to join the church)
That’s not too bad is it? I joke with folks and I tell them that sitting through this 45 min to an hour meeting is not as bad as getting a root canal. Ha! 🙂 But, seriously, it’s a wonderful time to sit down and get to know people. Because we want to know the people who are joining the church, right? Of course! We are confident about the majority of folks who join the church (we have some knowledge of them prior to joining), but we have had the occasion where we don’t know folks as well and we want to make sure we understand their theology and that they understand ours. One of the jobs of a shepherd is keeping wolves out of the flock. Again, we take this seriously. Most churches don’t, to be honest. They’ll let anybody join at any time and that can be dangerous.
The next step is to get the new folks plugged into the body life of the church and often this ends up leading to some more discussions and even some counseling. Now, that’s where the juggling comes in. We’ve been blessed to add over 200 people over the last 3 years and that’s a TREMENDOUS amount of time and discussion. It’s hard to describe the time that’s required. That’s why we’ve had to set up some protocol on talking with folks. Why? Because it was totally monopolizing our time and we couldn’t get to everything else. It was hard to find time to study and write sermons, devotions, get to the hospitals, rest homes, etc.
Something that I’ve learned through the years is the fact that the “tyranny of the urgent” doesn’t have to rule our lives. It’s so easy to do that. We’ve had to clarify what an emergency really is. What is an emergency? Can I be blunt? There is no way that we can handle close to 700 “immediate needs.”
So, what is an immediate need? Really just two things. (1) you’re going to the hospital that requires an overnight stay. (2) a death in your family. Those are the two things that we will try to drop everything and get to immediately…no matter what. Outside of that, a person will have to wait. Yes, wait. I know many folks have needs, but usually their situation didn’t pop up overnight and so we’ve had to schedule times with folks so that we can have somewhat of an appropriate and sustainable work/life balance. Without question, we want to care for our congregation and support our staff in maintaining a good balance.
During the week, we counsel on Monday afternoons, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. A member can contact our church and set-up a time with one of the pastors/elders. These are 1-hour long times. If more counseling is needed, another appointment can be made. Often, I will ask people to prepare before they come by giving them Scripture to read or some homework that will prepare them for the meeting. This prepares them spiritually. It allows the Lord to begin to work in their lives. I also tell people that I’m not a miracle worker and I try to minimize and bring down their expectations so that they’re not disappointed if things in their lives don’t change overnight (because they usually don’t).
I’ve had to learn that I’m not Jesus and I can’t fix every problem or anyone for that matter. It’s a God thing. Something else I’ve learned is the fact that having people make an appointment and wait (when it’s not truly an emergency) gives them time to prepare, pray and think and it does me, as well. It’s like making a doctor’s appointment and you bring your medicines and you think through all the things you want to tell him/her and you are prepared and ready for that appointment. The same is true spiritually. We believe this model is healthy and sustainable as we grow and move forward as a congregation. Believe me…it’s a juggling act…but, I’m getting better at it!
Here’s this week’s Two-Minute-Tuesday about “What is Love?”