Four Ways to Communicate the Power of Scripture through Verbal Words, Written Words, Pauses and Pictures

Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. (Ephesians 4:29 RSV)  Communication is ofte…

Source: Four Ways to Communicate the Power of Scripture through Verbal Words, Written Words, Pauses and Pictures

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Four Ways to Communicate the Power of Scripture through Verbal Words, Written Words, Pauses and Pictures

Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. (Ephesians 4:29 RSV) 

Communication is often difficult for each person to hear/see what we are communicating. The right words, the right pauses and pictures can bring people closer to Christ. Here are some thoughts:

  1. Words take on a life of their own. God spoke the world into existence! The Hebrew understanding was spoken words could not be taken back. They took on a life of their own. (Genesis 27 makes it very clear. Once you have spoken the words, you cannot take them back.) We need to help class members realize the power of their words in class and outside of class. One false word, rumor, gossip can destroy a class. One encouraging word can help people soar!

Sometimes we are called to share a word of discipline. Make sure that your motivation is to help them grow in Christ! I had many in my lifetime shares words that I needed to hear. Some did it out of love, and some out of other motives.

15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. (Ephesians 4:15 NIV)

  1. Written words can be just as damaging or uplifting! Be careful what you tweet, post on Facebook and more. I am so discouraged by Christians who post hateful, angry words to villainize others over political, social and even athletic opinions. Do we realize that we just put politics, social issues and sports above all of us “being in the image of God”? We can disagree respectfully and speak the truth in love. Please pray and think about what to say before you hit send or post!

I stay away from negativity, and try to send a positive quote, Scripture or thought each day on Facebook. It is a way of helping people think about the good things:

4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:4-9 NIV)

  1. Pauses matter in Sunday School/Small Groups and in life. Reflective learners learn best with silence. Give moments of silence for these persons to think through the Scripture and life application before they have to respond. I am an introvert. Though I speak to large groups, I need time to reflect and think about what God is doing in this situation- whether it is training teachers, preaching or Sabbath time for me each day. I need alone time to pray and reflect. What are you doing to help people do the same?
  1. Pictures are worth a thousand words! I learned that phrase early on, and it is true! Pictures and videos will increase retention levels on what you are learning. Use pictures and videos as a part of Bible study. Let me give one example. Knowing your why is more important than what you do. Check out the link: https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=michael+jr+know+your+why&view=detail&mid=E95A885D6C9F09E94C1DE95A885D6C9F09E94C1D&FORM=VIRE

When we understand the value of communication through words, pauses and pictures, your class will be transformed!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

4 Ways to Honor Sabbath & Sunday School

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (John 15: 1-4 NIV)

 

How can we be the most productive SS teachers for our class/community? We need to make sure we have time for renewal and re-creation. One of the great reminders of this for me was my time in a discipleship huddle group last year. (If you are interested in huddle groups, contact John Chandler or Laura McDaniel in the Spence Network of Virginia Baptist life: http://www.spencenetwork.org/)

I was reminded of the need for Sabbath (not as a way to rest from all of my work), but the time to abide in Christ so I am more effective in my work. Here is the crux of it all: Do you work in order to have time to rest or recreation? Do you rest/abide in Christ in order to work out of God’s design for you? Too often our priorities get out of the appropriate order and we need to be reminded of time away from it all with God for rest, renewal, abiding and pruning. Here are some ideas for you as teachers to remain effective:

 

Take time each day for God. I am not talking about preparing a SS lesson. We each need some quiet time with God. It does not always have to be in your study. For me it is time while I am pushing a lawn mower, fishing, taking a prayer walk, working in a garden or in other methods while enjoying God’s creation. Whatever energizes you in your relationship with God is appropriate. Though prayer on bended knee is important, so is prayer in other ways each day.

 

Have a Sabbath day each week. God chose for each of us to have a Sabbath day to rest and abide.

 

Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. (Genesis 2:1-3 NIV)

For ministers and teachers, Sunday is not a Sabbath. We need another day in the week to seek renewal and rest if possible.

We need longer periods of time for pruning and abiding each year. Part of this time each year is seen as vacation. Often we pack so many items into the agenda that it seems like work! Pick some time each year to seek renewal for your soul, and whatever that would look like for you.

Part of this time is pruning for teachers. This is a time of training and renewal as well. Doctors, lawyers, teachers and other professions need continuing education each year. Why not SS teachers? We have the greatest responsibility in sharing God’s Word. Take time for training each year. You may want to take a Sunday off and go hear another teacher in your church or

Posted in Small Group, Sunday School Updates, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

3 Ways to Reach Single Moms for Sunday School/Small Groups Revisited

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27 NIV)

I have been travelling across the Commonwealth leading Sunday School training events over this Summer. I still don’t know of many churches reaching single moms. Here is hjust a reminder of how to reach them. Single moms is the fastest growing population of people groups in the U.S. today. There are over 19 million singles moms raising over 47 million children. 58% of the births last year were to single moms. 95% of single moms are unchurched. They do not feel as though they fit anywhere, or they are judged. They are open to a loving church that will accept them where they are, but not sure where that is. When they see a church has a class/small group for them, they come and bring their friends along with their children. What can you do to reach this population?

  1. Start a new class specifically for single moms. This may begin in a home, public meeting place or the church based on your culture. Most single moms are of the Millennial generation with some suspicion of the institutional church. Finding single moms in your church to help start this class may be the best solution, as they can tell friends and have empathy for other single moms.

 

  1. Provide a Mom’s night out and/or a special dinner. Offer to watch their children one evening while they go grocery shopping, clean house/wash clothes, have a dinner date or just get away for a while. Single moms are working and then have all the childcare/parenting duties when they get home.

 

Providing a dinner for the moms and children with some play time and devotional may be great as well-Perhaps using one of my other blogs as a theme: https://tonystopic.com/2014/03/11/children-parents-sunday-school-color-my-world-2/

 

  1. Adopt a grandchild. Katrina and I were fortunate to have two special ladies while I was Pastor of Bethel Baptist: Janice Burton and Virginia Clark that adopted our two when we were many miles from grandparents. Both children still think about them often. You have older adults who do not have children or their grandchildren live far away. Many would love to have time with children for a few hours or more and share God’s love with them.

 

The bottom line is we have an opportunity to love on people and reach people for Christ. Are you willing?

Posted in Small Group, Sunday School Updates, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Planting Seeds in the Community for Future Growth

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9 NIV)

College Hill Baptist Church (1101 Floyd street in Lynchburg, VA) celebrated 140 years of ministering in the community on August 6th. In their “hay day”, they had a 1,000 members. Now, they are averaging 35-40 on Sunday. The majority are senior adults. What can they do to impact the community for Christ? Several are drivers for a meals on wheels program, volunteer at the hospital, work with a local food ministry and partner with R. S. Payne Elementary School.

Here are some lessons I have learned as their Interim Pastor that may help Sunday School classes realize how a small number can make a difference for a local school:

 

  1. Provide a meal for the workers at a school. S. Payne Elementary is directly across the street from the church. Ten to twelve workers from College Hill provides lunch for all of the workers the last day of school in the church fellowship hall. 80-85 employees showed up with gratitude for this lunch this year.

 

  1. Partner on the School’s projects. Whether it is tutoring students after school, helping with hunger through backpack buddies, or whatever the school is doing, you can make a difference. R. S. Payne has many transient families that come in the middle of the school year. These families can’t afford the school supplies. The employees had been funding, out of their salary, school supplies. They decided to have a Spring Carnival for families to raise money for the school supplies. College Hill provides baked goodies to sell at their carnival.

 

  1. Have a Back to School Festival. I learned this from a previous ministry. I shared the vision of providing a day when families would come and enjoy a meal. At the games played, prizes would be school supplies. We would give away door prizes to get information for follow up on families. Included in the door prizes was a refurbished computer to give away along with certificates from local restaurants. We would also give an abundance of school supplies to the school, based on what they needed. (Get the list a few months out from the school.) This past Saturday, we had the festival. Again, I learned many valuable lessons:

 

  1. Youth and young adults will come help. They want to make a difference in the community. We had around 15-20 members helping with an additional 10-15 college and youth who are not members of the church. (Let service organizations at colleges know what you are doing. Some will come and help with joy in their hearts.)
  2. Other mission minded churches will help smaller congregations/classes. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Calvary Baptist Church in Lynchburg provided many school supplies for this school.
  3. Seeds will be planted. Some of the door prizes were Bibles. I was amazed at how many children chose a Bible over other prizes. We also gave out New Testaments to every child. One such child asked, “May I have a Bible? I love reading the stories about Jesus.” Our church member replied, “Sure.” Then the child said, “I have three brothers and sisters that are not able to be here. They need to read about Jesus.” With a smile on her face, the member reached in and gave three more Bibles.
  4. The school will be blown away by your gratitude and grace. The Principal at the school could not thank us enough. We all were inspired as I called out the name of the winner for the computer. He looks to be in the 2nd or 3rd It was like Christmas came early.

 

Just because you are small in numbers doesn’t mean that God can’t use you to plant seeds in your Sunday School Class/Small Group.

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20 NIV)

Posted in Small Group, Sunday School Updates, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sunday School/Small Groups: Four Lessons I Learned from Pokemon Go

22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. (I Corinthians 9:22-23 NIV)

Pokemon Go has become the latest craze. Instead of fighting it, allow it to lead people to your church and the Gospel. I downloaded it, because my son loved Pokemon as a child, and I heard churches could use it as a way of reaching new people. I even discovered our BGAV sign at our building is a Pokemon stop (More to that later)!

 

Here are four lessons I have learned from Pokemon Go:

It is a tool to reach new people for Bible study. Many of my churches are Pokemon stops (more to come). I am encouraging them to advertise for all children, youth and young adult events that they are. You may have Pokemon enthusiasts willing to come to an event. Build relationships with them at this event. Get registration information, invite them to other social events and follow up to invite them to Bible study.

Are you as passionate about truths from God’s Word as Pokemon fans are for Pokemon Go? This should be a wakeup call. Are you providing a lesson in such a way that people want to study the scripture, and its application for life after the lesson is over? We have the most powerful word to share. How well are you bringing them into the presence of Christ? The lesson isn’t about what we teach, or how we teach. It is about the “why” as we lead people to a deeper relationship with Christ.

Pokemon Stops remind us to seek Sabbath. In Pokemon Go, you run out of Poke balls pretty quickly as you try to capture Pokemon. The only way to replenish is to go to a Poke Stop. (Again many churches are.) We need to remind our students that they are human beings, not human doings. We focus way too much on what we do. Sabbath reminds us of who we are to replenish our purpose. God has claimed us through Christ to be in relationship (John 15), not try to outperform others. Bible study is a constant reminder of our purpose.

What to do when your bag is full? I discovered at Pokemon Stops that I was picking up more than Poke Balls. I was picking up candy, potions and more. I was surprised when I tried to get Poke balls (I had none), and got the message, “Your bag is full.” To get Poke balls, I needed to get rid of the potions and candy. Why is that important in spiritual maturity? We are bombarded daily by media and information. We have busy lives with work, family and community events. We need to remind our folks of the need each day to spend time in Bible study and prayer. Jesus used Scripture to combat evil powers, and so should we. We need to let go, and prioritize time with God. “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.”
— Martin Luther (https://loveandbelief.wordpress.com/2011/08/31/to-busy-not-to-pray/)

Posted in Small Group, Sunday School Updates, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

5 Ways to Help Newcomers Feel Welcomed for Sunday School Revisited

“Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2 NIV)

As we think about visitors (Newcomers if you are from the south), I want to encourage you in several ways. First of all, it is important to make them feel wanted and welcome from the time they drive in the parking lot! Visitors will decide within the first five minutes whether they are welcome or not. Here are a few ways to help them feel welcomed:

  • Make sure they know where to park and where to go in the church. Do you have someone in the parking lot to direct parking or adequate parking spaces designated for visitors? (There should be some designated handicap and visitor parking spaces. If you want to really impress, have designated parking for expectant mothers!) If you do not have a member in charge of helping in the parking lot, do you have signage that denotes a “Welcome Center at one of the doors near the parking lot?” Inside the door designated for welcoming people should be a greeter who helps them find their class and can register them as well. Have designated signage for all classes and sanctuary to make it easy for persons to find their way.

I have found that a person in the parking lot can be beneficial at times. Not only can this person help with parking, but they can provide an umbrella when it rains or a helping hand for those who need it! One single mother and her three children had such a warm reception on a rainy day from the greeter in the parking lot, that years after she was a member, she remembered that experience as being influential in her decision to become a part of that family of faith!

 

  • When the visitor makes it to a class, do you have someone designated to welcome them? In the past we may have assigned a greeter or the outreach leader may be the greeter. I want to suggest that the person you want is more of a connector than just a greeter. Have someone who wants to know the visitor at a deeper level than just name, workplace and family. You want someone who will find out their hobbies and passions as well, and connect them to another person in the class or the church with those hobbies/passions.

For instance, if I had a visitor who loved to fish, I would want them to know two or three more people in the class/congregation who love to fish. I want to build multiple relationships with persons in my church. The more connected they feel the greater chance they will come back.

If possible I would want to sit with them in worship as well. I have found this to be especially helpful if the visitor did not grow up in a faith tradition like ours. I could explain what we do and why to help them feel more comfortable.

 

  • Have a Visitor Contact Committee to follow up as well outside the class. In my past church experience, we had such a committee to send cards, call and perhaps even visit with a homemade loaf of bread. One person would call first of the week to see how they felt about the visit. One person would send a card besides the Pastor, and one would stop by just to drop off a homemade baked item with more information about the church. (Please note that the person would not enter the house, but simply drop off the items unless the visitor was insistent.)

 

  • Have a training session to train your people to minister to your visitors with the same passion and warmth as you would want to be treated. You want to find people who naturally gravitate towards people to be trained in showing the ministry of hospitality. Relational learners are the best for this position. E-mail me if you want to know about learning approaches at tony.brooks@bgav.org)

 

  • Have the nursery close to the sanctuary. Parents want to get to their children close to the sanctuary. They want be close in case of an emergency during worship as well.

If we want to reach new people, especially young adults, we need to be prepared for them. They will decide within the first five minutes whether they are coming back.  

Posted in Sunday School Updates, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment