Posts Tagged: Witnessing

Sometimes You Have to Ask More Than Once to Get to “Yes”

I have been married for 11 1/2 years, I would have never even made it to the wedding day though if I had not been persistent.

In the fall of 2000 I called Christina up on the phone and asked her if she would like to go out on a date with me and a few other friends of mine. It was going to be a double or triple date, I don’t remember exactly now; Christina’s answer, I do remember this exactly, “I’m sorry I can’t. I have a big test coming-up and I’ve committed to studying tonight.” Not aware at the time of Christina’s extreme commitment to graduate Summa Cum Laude all three times she graduated (yes you read that correctly) I saw this as a classic brush off.

In the winter of 2001 some friends were having a bonfire, my college Mom Kathy said, “you should bring,” and she named a girl…I said, “no I’m not really that into her, but I know who I’ll invite,” and I ran upstairs grabbed the Joker (Southern’s student directory) looked-up Christina’s room number and gave her call, Christina’s answer, “I’m sorry I’ve already made plans to hang-out with my roommate.” Again to me a classic brush-off.

Spring of 2001 I see Christina walking on the road in front of the gymnasium as I drive by, I swing my car around (I had been going in the opposite direction) roll down my window and ask,

“Hey do you need a ride?”

Christina answers, “I’m not going far.”

“That’s okay get in I’ll take you.” So Christina got in the car and I ask, “Where are you going?”

She pointed across the street…So I drive her 100 yards across the street…and that is the beginning of it all because…

A few weeks later after a Saturday night concert on campus Christina asked me if I wanted to go hang-out with some of her friends…I was less studious and more than willing to cast aside any plans I had with friends, so I said, “Sure I’ll go.”

I am fully convinced Christina would have never asked me that night to go and hang-out with her friends, if I had not asked her out twice and flipped a U to pick her up and drive her 100 yards across the street.

Persistence.

I wish more of us Christians had persistence! I believe if we did Jesus would have a lot more names written in The Book of Life. Each one of us should be consistently, persistently inviting people to our church, to study the Bible with us, to hang-out for the purpose of witnessing and serving these individuals, to pray with us or us for them, but many of us stop at the first “No.”

And not only do we stop at the first, “No” with that individual we often times let that one “No” stop us from also engaging any other individuals ever again.

In witnessing “No” is going to be more frequent than “yes,” but persistence pays off.

It paid off in my love life and I have seen it time and time again pay off in witnessing.

In fact last week an individual I have been developing a friendship with and inviting to connect with for more than 5 months called me and left the following message on my phone, “Hi Chad this is _______ I was wondering if you would still be willing to meet and study with me and my wife?”

What do you think my answer was?

Christians be persistent! Sometimes you have to ask more than once to get to “yes.”

Do This ONE Thing To Grow Your Church

It is hard to reduce church growth down to one thing. In fact it probably should almost never be done; but in this post I am going to do just that…

I want to give y’all just one method to grow your church.

Yes it will grow MORE with many other things involved.

It will of course grow MORE if prayer is the driving force behind all the things you do.

Your church will grow MORE if it is a healthy church…

If the music is inspiring…

The Preaching is alive and Biblical…

If there are friendly greeters…

But I am not talking about MORE growth…

just SOME growth!

And so for that I want to give the ONE thing that you can do, that every church member can do to grow their church.

INVITE!

Yep, invite!

Maybe the saddest reality about the lack of church growth in North America is that every church could grow but most aren’t and the primary reason…

NO ONE is inviting folk to come visit their church.

This is truth!

Thom Rainer reports that in their research of the unchurched 45% of all unchurched would say “NO” if someone they knew invited them to church. 5% said they would probably be hostile in their rejection of the invitation.

Wait a second…

Do you see what that means?

It means, 55% of all unchurched people would respond positively to an invitation to church by someone they knew…and guess what? They don’t even have to know the invitee well!

55% indicated they would still respond positively even if the invitee was just an acquaintance! WOW!

We spend time focusing on the 45% that would say, “NO” and more than likely we’re scared to run into one of the 5% percent that have a burr in their saddle…yep I just used that idiom like the old man I’m becoming…

But we should be spending time focusing on the 55% that would say “yes!”

Picture a church of 100 members.

If each of those members invited one person per week that would be 5,200 invitations in a year.

Now applying Thom Rainer’s research we would surmise that 55% of those invitees would accept the invitation and attend church at least once.

That means a church of 100 members inviting 100 people each week by the end of a given year would have 2,860 guests pass through the doors of their church. Not only that but 55 new people would be in church every single week! Can you imagine how exciting that would be to have 55 NEW people worshiping with you each and every week? That would be awesome in a church of 200 or 300, much less 100!

Now I want y’all to pause and think about a couple other statistics very quickly. These statistics come from Pastor Nelson Searcy.

The average church loses 3 members per 100 members each year due to death, a move, apostasy, or just becoming inactive.

So let us go back up to our church of 100 members; in order for that church to maintain it’s membership of 100 people all they would have to do to not decline is win the hearts of 3 of those 2,860 guests that attended their church in a given year.

3 FOLK!

I didn’t say 300 or 30 or even 13…just 3! (Contact me on Twitter @chadnstuart and I’ll share with you just a couple things that you can try at your church to turn three guests into members).

But this blog post isn’t about maintaining, although that would be a huge step for many of our churches since 80% of all our churches are plateaued or declining, no this blog is about growth.

So let me share with you how many guests you need to retain in order to grow your church at a steady pace.

Are you ready for this huge number?

5 per 100 members.

So in a church of 100 members, if every member is inviting 1 person per week, roughly 2,860 of those invitees would become a guest at that church, and if that church retained FIVE individuals per year they would grow at a steady pace.

Because the next year 102 people would be inviting 1 person per week (remember there is an average of 3 members lost per 100 a year) and that means 2,917 people would attend the church as a guest (based on Rainer’s 55% percent rule of thumb) and with more guests there would be more chances of guests becoming members…and so the next year if 5 more joined, the membership would now be up to 104 and 2,974 guests would attend…

And maybe within a few years, because everyone wants to be a part of a growing church your church would start retaining 7 guests or more a year and then your church, believe it or not, with just the retention of 7 guests a year would be considered a rapidly growing church in North America.

So will you make a commitment right now? Will you commit to help grow your church? It takes just ONE thing…

The ONE thing: Love Jesus enough to invite someone to come hear about Him at your church just one time per week!

 

 

 

For the Sake of The Gospel: A Solution to End the Women’s Ordination Debate

This is a wonderful video short illustrating the value of the moderate view, on what has been the most hotly debated issue in The Seventh-day Adventist Church over the last three years. There have been some (like myself) that have been staunchly in favor of women’s ordination. There have been others that have been staunchly opposed to women’s ordination. Then there is a group that has a preference and believe the ideal is male leadership within the church, and it is from within this group I believe the largest contribution to the entire debate has been made. A contribution that if embraced will hopefully end the debate, or at least tone down the rhetoric, but more importantly will move us forward as a church FOR THE SAKE OF THE GOSPEL!

Oh and Nate Dubs I’m proud of you for using your gifts in this way!

Watch and see what you think:

A Pitch-Back Baseball Training Aid, The Sabbath, & the Happiest Moment of My Day!

A story that leads to the happiest moment of my day:

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After much pleading I bought Dayton a pitch back baseball training aid today. He said he wanted it because he wanted “to practice [his] baseball catching.”

It was $20, so on the condition, my exact words, “he practice EVERY SINGLE DAY” I bought it.

Well I have to say I was impressed immediately after I put it together; he & his little brother spent close to an hour playing with it.

Then after dinner outside (we live in California 😉 ), he spent another hour practicing.

It was during this second stint of practice as I was sitting at the computer working on something and watching the boys through the window that I saw Dayton suddenly stop and he came running into the house.

Dayton ran up to me baseball mitt and ball in hand–I noticed a concerned, maybe even distressed look on his face and then these words flowed out of his mouth,

“Daddy I will practice all the other days I promise; but I don’t want to practice baseball on the Sabbath.”

I smiled gently though inside I was absolutely beaming!

I said, “Dayton I think that is a good idea. Thank you for correcting & reminding me.”

He got a big ‘ole smile on his face and ran back outside to play some more.

He made a deal with his Dad, he was concerned about breaking the deal, but he was willing to do it for his convictions on the Sabbath. Even though I would have told him I didn’t mean Sabbath too, he didn’t know that. All he knew was that he told his Dad he would practice every day, but then his little 5 year old mind remembered that he had a more important Dad that asked him to “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy…” And to Dayton without anyone prompting him, practicing baseball and keeping Sabbath holy didn’t jive and so he had to break the deal with me. His face showed this concerned him, but his convictions were more important.

He didn’t ask, he said, “”Daddy I will practice all the other days I promise; but I don’t want to practice baseball on The Sabbath.”

Donkeys, Elephants, And A Lesson Learned at Chick-Fil-A

My wife Christina & I are now headed into our third presidential election season. I mention that because this presidential election season has been a complete contrast to the previous two presidential elections we’ve gone through together.

It has been peaceful!

Why?

Not because we are now both members of the same party, to be honest Christina won’t even tell me what party she is registered with, if any. Nor has she confirmed her vote in any of the previous elections. I always want to talk about whom I just voted for & my dear wife sits there silently, not taking any of the bait.

It is not because I no longer pay attention to politics. I still read the news articles and head to Real Clear Politics almost every single day to see the latest polls.

Nor because she is less involved, her involvment has always been zero ’till election time, so you can’t go much less than that.

No, the reason this election season is peaceful is because I’ve repented!

I’ve repented of all the years of my life I put politics ahead of the Gospel!

That is what I believe happens when Pastors, well really all Christians, enter the fray of the political dialogue to such a degree that they are willing to alienate another human being over a political conviction.

I learned this lesson again just recently, when I decided to visit a Chick-fil-a for the first time ever in my life. I went not based on a moral conviction regarding the issue at hand or due to my loyalty to any political party. I went simply because I was irritated with a politician I heard tell people not to frequent the business based on the owners particular point of view.

I posted a picture of my wife returning to our car with the caption “waiting in line for the first and probably last time at a Chick-Fil-a.”

By the time I got home, my Facebook was lit up with comments most supportive, but quite a number in angst over my decision to go to the Chick-Fil-a. My initial reaction was to get defensive and even mad at those that were so bothered…but then I stepped back and I agreed with the people that were mad at me, I was mad at me too!

I was not mad at myself for the same reason most of them were, but I was mad at myself for needlessly entering a battle that was a no-win situation as most battles fought through political means are!

This election season I had done so well at keeping my mouth shut. Not posting any opinions about the candidates. Not even pressing “like” on the political satire constantly being posted on Facebook. Christina had not had to tell me every Sabbath afternoon to stop talking politics (that is why it is peaceful now:)). I have not felt the need to throw under handed digs into my sermons against one party or another. I have not posted video clips of one candidate or another that clearly shows my endorsement, without ever actually endorsing anyone (since that would be illegal for me as a pastor). But now just like that, in just a moments time with one simple picture and post on Facebook, I was back in the thick of it and I had people in support and people in opposition going at it on my Facebook page. This was something I would have loved in years past, but that I now despise!

I despise, because Jesus deserves better than having one of His children putting politics ahead of the Gospel.

And that is exactly what we are doing whenever we choose to have an argument about politics, publically endorse a candidate, put a political placard in our front yard, or slap a bumper sticker onto our car that will alienate one group for the sake of rallying another.

During the 2010 Congressional Elections as I was becoming my usual heated self, ready and willing to have debates with both sides of the aisle and considering myself “oh such a balanced person”, Jesus convicted my heart. He asked me very clearly, “are you willing to sacrifice your ability to witness to someone for the joy of being right about a political candidate.”

My answer is NO!

The Salvation of all mankind Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Independent, etc. is far more important to me than any position I have.

But when I choose to voicferously express my political views.

When I choose to post political digs on my twitter or facebook accounts against particular parties or individuals.

When I am willing to have an argument or even an intense discussion about politics…

In this politically polarized and politcally caustic society I am essentially choosing to say, “I care more about my views and what I want than being a witness to you.”

Thus, I care more about myself and my way of life than I do your eternal salvation!

I still enjoy & even care very much about what is happening in the political world. It is my hobby–but it is now a personal hobby, between me, myself, & I.

And I repent for the years I put politics ahead of the Gospel. The election of a candidate over the witness of Jesus. Me over you.

It is peaceful in our home this election season because Jesus is the only individual worth publically endorsing!

 

The Ellen G. White Quote Quota

As a preacher I have a quota on Ellen G. White quotes for my sermons. The quota is basically this: “NEVER have more Ellen White quotes than Bible texts, NEVER!” 

Many years ago my wife and I were traveling, when we arrived at our destination for the evening I had a message on my phone,

“Pastor, Pastor you have to listen to the sermon that was preached today at church. We had guests, they walked out. It was horrible. Just listen!”

Well the next day my wife and I would be driving again and so I decided to download the sermon and listen to it as we drove.  The content wasn’t horrible, the premise wasn’t to far off the mark (though out there a ‘bit), but I quickly realized what the issue was. About ten minutes into the sermon I started to count: 3 scriptures, 20 Ellen G. White quotes, and the three scriptures were from the first 10 minutes–they were easy to remember there were only 3 of them in the entire sermon! (I have to give the speaker credit he introduced her by all her titles: Mrs. White, Sister White, The prophet, The prophetess, The pen of inspiration, Our inspired writer, My favorite author, etc.)

Needless to say I wasn’t pleased!

This gentleman definitely wasn’t following the rule; never have Mrs. White out quote the Word of God!

So why do I bring this up?

Not because I am trying to discourage preachers from using Ellen White, in fact I think it is ridiculous for an Adventist preacher to not quote her, yet to quote from every other Spiritual writer there is, Lucado, Warren, Swindoll, Hybels, etc.. Her writings are powerful and she is often the first quote I want to use to illuminate what is being said. So we as preachers should quote her.

I don’t bring it up because I hear the pastors that do quote her, quoting her too much. I think most Adventist pastors are respectful of the “EGW Quote Quota.”

I bring this issue up, because I am afraid that for many of us, myself included (and not just pastors but many Seventh-day Adventist Christians) we have forgotten this rule when it comes to our Facebook & Twitter accounts!

I am finding more and more Ellen White quotes amongst my peers on Facebook & Twitter and not enough Bible. It seems her quotes are outpacing the Bible 3 to 1 (of course that is not an official ratio), but you get the point! I hope? 

There are times when I’ve been doing seminars or speaking in front of an exclusively Adventist crowd and on these occasions I will use tons of Ellen White quotes, but when I am in a public forum speaking where I know there are many pre-Adventists present I will always make sure there is more Bible than “my favorite author.”

Why?

Because I want to do what Ellen White told us to do & what she tried to do for all of us, “Point people back to the Bible.”

Well Facebook, Twitter, & other Social Media outlets for most of us are public forums. They are for many of us, places where we have a signficant amount of contact w/ a captive audience. an audience which often times may not believe as we do, in those moments where do we want to FIRST point these individuals–hear me I am not saying to do away with Ellen White quotes or that they are unable to be edifying to the unbeliever–but where do we want to FIRST point our readers? To the Word of God! That which is, “a lamp unto their feet & a light unto their path.” (Psalm 119:105)

So let us all strive to remember The Ellen G. White Quote Quota, not just in our public speaking, but in all our public discourse, “NEVER quote Ellen White more than you quote the Bible, NEVER!”

 

 

 

The Apple Store

My iphone 4 went kerplunk yesterday, and living in an age and working in a profession where I “feel” the need for a phone constantly by my side, we can break down that flawed thinking later, I headed out to the Apple store in Fresno to figure things out.

I left the store with a new iphone 4s, I’m getting that out of the way because that has nothing to do with what I want to share with you in this post.

“ENTHUSIASM” is what I want to share with you! That is the word I would use to describe the employees at the Apple store. It struck me how ENTHUSIASTIC the folk are about their product. A cynic would say, “Well they are paid to be ENTHUSIASTIC.” I would ask said cynic, “Have you ever been around an Apple product owner?” People don’t have to be paid to be enthusiastic about Apple!

In fact every Apple purchase I have ever made has been done completely on the ENTHUSIASM of another human being–

My laptop & desktop — My best friend, Scott

My orginal ipod — My Mom & Dad, Vicki & Daryl

My original iphone — My brother-in-law, Chad

My ipad — My wife, Christina

Their ENTHUSIASM on all said products made me want what they had! Again the cynic may say, “You obviously are easily impressionable.” I would say to said cynic, “Ask anyone who knows me how comfortable I am holding an opinion that is contrary to the general support of the crowd.”

It was folks ENTHUSIASM that truly swayed me and made me take a first and a second and eventually purchase each of those products.

And that ENTHUSIASM was on full display in the Apple store yesterday. These folk seemed genuinely happy for me that I now owned an iphone 4s.

My question to Christians is do people see that you are ENTHUSIASTIC about Jesus? When folk walk into your church will they feel an ENTHUSIASTIC anticipation for what Jesus is going to show up and give to people?

When people in our church make a decision for Jesus is there true ENTHUSIASM for that individual going home with Jesus in their life?

If you can’t answer yes to these questions for you personally or for your church. Then there is something wrong!

“I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” –Luke 15:7

Heaven is rejoicing because they are ENTHUSIASTIC about someone else walking around with Jesus in their heart.

Are you?

People Need the Lord: A Guest Post by Noemi Roman

Noemi Roman is the Bible worker of the Visalia Seventh-day Adventist church and she is also working with our team to plant our new campus/church The Ark.  Yesterday she was out inviting community people to The Ark’s Cookout, a connecting event this Sunday. The following is the story of an encounter she had with a lady by the name of Victoria:

Last night my sister and I while knocking on doors inviting people to the new church, knocked on a door of a lady who was on the phone.  Not wanting to bother her, I was about to just leave the flyer on the door, but before I could pull it from my hand, she motioned for me to  open the door and come inside. By the time we were through the front door,  she had us two cold  Pepsi’s and a apple apple juice (for Isaiah) in our hands motioning for us to sit down on the sofa. As we talked she told us that she needed to be saved and was scared she was lost. She questioned what was different about our church and said that even though we were nice, she probably wouldn’t attend because she felt like such a sinner, and had no knowledge of God. All she knew of Him was from what she had seen from The Passion of the Christ, she told us that if any of that was true and if He was willing to endure all that for us then she really wanted to be saved. We told her that God loved her and that it was by Grace alone, through faith, to the Glory of God alone that we are saved. Yvonne  was so loving to her and asked her if she had ever considered bible studies. Her answer was no, because she felt embarrassed because she hadn’t read the bible and didn’t think she could understand it. She explained that her life  had been spent making bad choices and that  if we only knew, it would make us think different of her.  WOW! I told her that God loved her and despite OUR failure, His love continues and will always continue.  She looked at us so puzzled and said she had never heard such things. I thought how could someone not know that God loves them? God loves us so much and yet the Devil tries to blind people into not seeing who God really is~ A loving compassionate Father who at the thought of not spending eternity with us,  jumped off a throne and land on cross just to save us and show us how much He values us. Giving up His life shows us our value. I praised God that she had seen The Passion of the Christ, that if that was the only knowledge she had of Him, PTL because that is the Gospel! (Despite some of the different portrayals of Christ in the movie vs bible). 

 As we were leaving she walked us out and I felt impressed to ask her if I could pray with her. Her eyes began to fill with tears and she asked if we could go back inside just the two of us. We went to her room and I grabbed her hand and prayed for her, I asked God to pour His Spirit on her and show her that He died to save especially her, that her name Victoria is engraved in the palm of His hands and that despite whom she sees, God sees a beautiful daughter whom He loves. I poured out my heart because I wanted her to know that she was loved and that we weren’t there by chance, God had led us to her house specifically.  She cried the entire prayer. As I was leaving she hugged me and asked what she could bring on Sunday. 

 

God is so good and meeting Victoria yesterday reminded me just how much God loves us. I left so blessed and so encouraged. There are so many people out in this world that don’t really know who God really is and how much He loves them. Thank you God for leading us to Victoria yesterday. Our group knocked on over 100 other doors and personally invited each of them. Please keep this Sunday’s event in prayer, pray for the last 200 invitations that were personally asked to come in prayer.

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