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I am involved in a bible study at the prison here in Columbus. I’m not bragging – believe me. I was confiding once that even though I’m always glad I went that I always dread going. There’s just something about having to go through 9 locked doors that gets at me. I’ve even found myself wishing that I could get sick (not bad – just a little sick) or such.
But I go anyway and I am always glad. The other people who attend with me confided that they go through the same thing every month. They dread it – the wish they didn’t have to go.
Can you imagine what would happen if we only did stuff that we liked. I’d spend my days watching television and drinking diet cokes in my neighborhood Best Buy.
God doesn’t say we have to like the ministry we’re called to do – but God does promise that we will never be alone and that great things will happen when we step up and share Christ – especially in those times where we would rather be anywhere else but where we are.
I had a small class today on conflict management and it got me to thinking about leadership. I remember when I served in Plains I was called to the hospital in Americus. A member had died. Normally this was not shocking – I did it all the time. But this night the deceased was Miss Allie – the mother of Rosalynn Carter.
I was sitting in a chair in a small room talking and chatting. President and Mrs. Carter entered the room and he sat in the chair next to me. By this time in my ministry at Plains the awe of him being there was gone. It was cool – but by this time they were just Mr. Jimmy and Miss Rosalynn and they seemed comfortable in that role as did the people of Plains. I remember this night not to name drop but for what I saw. At one point I looked around the room and several people – myself included – had their legs crossed and most even had their arms crossed across their chests and were even slouched somewhat. But I will never forget Mr. Jimmy – I looked back over my left shoulder and noticed him.
He was in his upper 70’s at this point – he had nothing to prove to anyone and at that moment he could have been any man in their upper 70’s comforting his wife on the death of her mother. But this man in his upper 70’s stood out because of how he was sitting. He wasn’t slouched, no arms were crossed or legs. His whole demeanor even in a time of mourning was an air of confidence. His mother in law – but more importantly his bride – the love of his life – her mother was gone. And he supported her without even opening his mouth.
I thought about this story today because I think it relates to conflict management. I think we can learn that there are times when those around us need us to be strong. And sometimes we can do that without even opening our mouths.
I have become quite a worrier. I fight it with every fiber of my being. Because I know people I love need me to be strong. There are also other times where people need to be strong for me – but we should never lose sight that sometimes the best way to begin conflict management has nothing to do with how eloquently we can debate a point. Sometimes it’s just having a confident demeanor and being strong for those that need us to be strong.
The story for me is about being a strong person of faith. Sometimes we do it for ourselves and sometimes we do it for those we love. But let me close with this thought – sometimes conflict in our lives can be diverted best by what we don’t say than what we do say.
Do you remember the lyrics to that old song, “What the world needs now is love, sweet love.” I remember reading an article some time ago about an 85 year old gentleman in the Atlanta area that just received his masters degree from Kennesaw State University. I was so inspired by this gentleman and his love for his wife. His degree was in English and it all seemed to begin from love letters he was writing for his wife. But then I started reading some of the responses people wrote and one of them was a gentleman that asked why was he getting praised for something he should have done 50 years ago. Eh – some people are just like that – they would rather tear down than build up. As I was thinking about this I started laughing and thought to myself, “The world went to pot when people started asking why the Howell’s took all those clothes and money and why Ginger had all those clothes for just a 3 hour tour. We never thought those things when we were kids. It also never seemed necessary for us to question why The Brady’s lived in a house with no toilet and cut a lawn of astroturf. It just was.
Then came a generation of people that wanted to ask why. Don’t get me wrong, some why’s are important – like why do people of color have to drink from separate water fountains and sit on other parts of the bus? Why can’t women vote? But some why’s are just mean. I don’t know – maybe we had a generation that wasn’t taught, “if you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all.”
I hope you have a great Christmas season. I don’t know why people get so upset by the phrase Merry Xmas when the X symbol dates back to early biblical times when X was a symbol for Christ. I don’t know why people care that there is a nativity scene on the courthouse lawn or a Menorah on the counter at a local community center. I don’t know why it bothers people so much to have to look at those things.
Here’s a suggestion – lets save the why’s for important stuff like the lack of toilets in the Brady household. You might find yourselves much happier if you worry less about the opinons of others and more on how you can reach out and love.
What the world doesn’t need is more people who ask why only to show their own superiority.
So, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.”
We live in a world where advertising is everything. The days of people moving into a community and trying to find a church to attend are gone for the most part. Churches have to work at getting noticed. Now of course, there are obvious ways such as billboards and radio and TV spots to get your name out there. But I want to focus on things the average lay person can do to “sell” their church.
1. Be a Friend
Do you remember when our Mother used to tell us that to have a friend we had to be a friend. Well that still rings true today. Studies show that most people come to church today because they were asked by friends. Sometimes all we have to do is to tell people we know about our church.
In all likely hood, your church has a Facebook page or a group. Use the “invite friends” function to send out invites to your friends. You don’t have to be an administrator of the group or page to send out friend invites. Be as proactive about sharing your Church on Facebook as you are about sharing that video of the cat attacking the family dog.
3. Car Stickers and Magnets
This may be more subliminal stuff – but it’s still something you can do that is very passive. Be careful though – if you are a driver that cuts people off in traffic a lot if can backfire on you.
4. Business Cards
My church at Striplin Terrace UMC had cards made up that say “Come and See” and then gives brief information on the church and some of it’s activities. Be sure to include the address and website information. The church can have these made up very cheap – about $10 through Vista Print. It’s an easy way to tell your family, friends, neighbors, and people you meet on a daily basis something about the church without you having to feel too uncomfortable. Just keep them with you and hand them out as you go through the day. You won’t have to go out of your way – you will be surprised how many opportunities will present itself in a given day when you are thinking about your church.
5. Be Proactive
It really doesn’t take much effort at all to advertise things. All it takes is people who are sold on the product. If you love your church then you should want to share that information. Most people really don’t mind you telling them about your church. If they tell you they already go to a church, don’t ask them questions like who is your pastor? or where is that church? It just sets them up to be embarrassed. Stay positive and let your love for your church shine through. When you do this – the ways to share will present themselves to you.
See you at church Sunday!