Archive for the 'Guest Post' Category
Today, RonnieFloyd.com welcomes guest writer, Jackie Harmon. Jackie is a mom to two boys, Alex and Miles, and a Cross Church Ministry Staff wife. Jackie and her husband Keith minister to young adults at our Springdale campus. You can learn more about Jackie on her blog.
“I’m tired of caring for Miles.”
I actually spoke those words out loud to our Small Group. Keith and I have the privilege of teaching a group of Young Married couples every Sunday morning and we knew God wanted us to share with them what was going on in our lives – and I didn’t want to. Sharing our life and struggles with them is usually easy for us, but we are tired and our lives feel extra messy. I don’t mind sharing my messy life with people, but I prefer to do it after God works. After God restores. After God redeems. But God was asking us to share our hearts in the midst of being weary and that just felt like a big ask.
These two words have been running through my head all month. We just celebrated Miles’ 8th birthday and his birthdays always throw me into a funk. I celebrate knowing someone is remembering. I celebrate a physical age, but developmentally, emotionally, and mentally, we are nowhere near that number. And it’s just hard. Every year that goes by, I find myself grieving where I thought we’d be. I read posts from years past and realize we haven’t come as far as I thought we had or hoped we would. But this year, it seemed heavier. I couldn’t help but wonder if I can do this for eight more years? And then eight more? And eight more after that?
Keith spoke those words to me as I stood in the ocean washing sand off of me. I had just finished playing in the sand with our friends’ children and I told Keith I forgot how fun it is to play with kids that can play back. Playing with Miles is work. Keeping Miles safe is work. Keeping others safe from Miles is work. And because he has no self-care skills and is not potty trained, caring for his physical needs is a lot of work. The role of caregiver can be exhausting. And lonely.
“Let us not grow weary of doing good…”
God has been speaking these words over me the last month. He has been whispering them to my heart because He knows I am tired. And weary. He has been reminding me that “…in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart.” But that is so hard when you are walking through something that could last the rest of your life on this earth.
“And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh…”
God is using this verse found in Galatians 5 to bring clarity to my weariness. When I say I am tired of caring for Miles, what I actually mean is I am tired of what caring for Miles requires of me. It requires a daily dying to self. A daily crucifying of flesh. A daily decision to lay my life down so Jesus can shine. Crucifixion was a slow and painful way to die. So when we are told to be crucified with Christ, when we are told to offer ourselves as living sacrifices, we need to be prepared for that death to be slow and painful.
“I never want to be the me before Miles.”
Those words are just as true today as the day I first spoke them. Caring for Miles is the hardest thing I’ve ever done and it is the greatest privilege of my life. Nothing has ever challenged me to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus and Eternity more than the gift of Miles who has the gift of Autism.
“So, how are you doing?”
I wish I could sit with you over a cup of coffee and ask you that question. I wonder today what has you feeling tired and weary? What has you feeling defeated? What “gift” has God given you that feels too big and too heavy? Don’t give up. Don’t give in. Don’t lose heart. Keep your eyes and heart fixed on Jesus.
“Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard? The Eternal, the Everlasting God, the Creator of the whole world never gets weary or tired. His wisdom is beyond understanding. God strengthens the weary. Even young people get tired, then stumble and fall. But those who trust in the Lord will regain their strength. They will soar on wings as eagles. They will run – never winded, never weary. They will walk – never tired, never faint.”
Today, RonnieFloyd.com welcomes guest writer, Mark Brooks. Mark is founding partner and President of The Charis Group. You can find out more about Mark and The Charis Group here.
“Just as we get going in worship, we have to stop and take up the offering!” That was the comment a staff member made a few years back when asked about the offering time at their church. It might not surprise you that with that attitude, giving had declined the year before at this church. That attitude permeates the Church today. To increase giving and givers, we must recognize that the offering IS worship!
If you are a pastor, how much time did you spend this week preparing for your message? When I was in seminary, we had a preaching professor that said for every minute you preached, you should spend one hour of preparation. While I know few pastors that put in that amount of time, we all prepare and pray over our message. Why? Because it is so important.
So, let me ask you. How much time and preparation have you put into this weekend’s offering? Most would have to answer none or very little. Is the offering not important? If you struggle to make the budget, it suddenly becomes very important. Is not the offering a part of worship? Since it is worship, should we not put at least some thought and preparation into it?
Most offering times in churches are one of the most boring moments of the service. The typical church offering has become a routine that we rarely, if ever, put any thought or action into. Is it any wonder giving is declining? Here are some thoughts about how to break out of that rut and make your offerings inspiring and more impactful.
1. Elevate the importance of the offering first with yourself and then the entire staff. Work to change the attitude that the offering is an inconvenience, and see it as an act of worship.
2. Don’t be afraid to ask people to give. Never apologize for the offering. The offering is a time of worship. We never apologize for letting people give as an act of worship.
3. Plan out every offering just like you plan out every message. Spend time every week thinking through how to best present the offering.
4. Change the format and positioning regularly. Every once in a while, do something different to break the routine.
5. Always give a stewardship message before the offering is taken up. Work to craft one-minute messages that underscore the importance of giving. Use the time the ushers come forward to make a case for the offering.
6. Utilize testimonies before the offering as a means of inspiration. Laypeople expect you to tell them to give. When one of their peers talks about giving, they listen.
7. Use creative tools like video and skits to make the offering fun. There is a host of material out there. Use it. Be creative!
8. Always be positive with every offering appeal. Guilt never works, so don’t try to guilt people into giving.
9. Cast a compelling reason as to why people should give. People give to that which makes a difference. Tell them how their gift matters, and they will give.
10. Regularly tell people what their gifts have accomplished and thank them for their gifts. Blow your own horn. Link the offering to the ministries the church is doing. People give to success! People also like to be thanked. Never take your donors for granted.
I believe if you will incorporate these ten steps, your offerings will dramatically pick up. Work and plan to make your offerings anything but boring!
President, The Charis Group
No one in America has written more on giving than Mark Brooks, The Stewardship Coach, writing weekly offering talks at www.Giving365.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @StewardshipMan or check out his blog at http://thecharisgroup.org/blog/.