Thursday, June 26, 2014

What do they need?

Did you know that everyone visiting First Free for the first time has five unspoken needs? Did you know that God wants to use you to help meet those unspoken needs?

The first unspoken need that guests want met is acceptance. They come asking, “Will I be accepted at this church?” Everyone needs a niche. Our life groups play a crucial role in meeting this need. Your job is to show our guests there is a place for them.

The second unspoken need is friendship. Guests of First Free come asking, “Will I find friends at this church?” People are looking for opportunities to develop relationships. They are not looking for a friendly church as much as they are looking for friends. Be a friend. Become a friend to our guests.

The third need guests want met is significance. “How will I make a difference at this church?” People want their lives to count. When we show people their gifts, talents, involvement and influence matter they will want to be part of that. First Free must be a creative place where all sorts of talents and abilities are expressed.

The forth unspoken need that guests are asking is, “How will I benefit from joining this church?” People will never grow spiritually without a commitment to live out what the Bible teaches in relationship with others. There are Biblical, practical and personal reasons for partnerships (membership). Do you know them?

The last unspoken need is in the area of expectation. “What will be expected of me at this church?” People have the right to know this before joining in. To worship, to pray, to use their gifts, to be generous, to serve the community, to spiritually reproduce themselves in others; whatever the expectation, the church must make it known.

Will you help First Free meet these needs for those who come?


P.S. Should I take this job? Should I marry this person? Where should I live? What does God want from me? If you have ever asked such questions you won’t want to miss this Sunday’s message – God’s Will: It’s simpler than you think!

Thursday, June 19, 2014


Ten years ago nobody was talking about churches and brands. That doesn’t mean churches didn’t have brands or that branding didn’t exist; it simply means times have changed. Branding didn’t matter back then to the degree it does today.

I know the arguments: “We shouldn’t have to ‘market’ God” or “It’s not marketing God so much as doing our due diligence to make sure the love of Jesus is properly presented in our communities.”

To me, the bottom line is this: let’s make sure our “brand” doesn’t get in the way of reaching others with God’s love and truth.

All churches have brands. Yes, even First Free. By brand, I am not talking about a logo, a design or a given stated purpose. A brand is simply the experience someone has of our church.

If you tell your friends about First Free, what do you say about it? Do you say “it’s pretty boring, my wife makes me go” or “ I always feel welcome the minute I walk in the door” or “I like it but don’t understand the name” or “I tried to find it once, but couldn’t.” These kinds of experiences are the brand.

Every church provides an experience, whether good or bad, to those who visit. This experience is the brand! Do you think First Free needs a brand adjustment?

By that question, I don’t mean a new logo, fancier slides for sermons or more expensive brochures. I mean do we need to work to provide a better experience for those who are involved in their church and for those who could potentially be involved in the church?

I think the answer is yes and that every one of us should be part of the solution. There is a large coffee chain that trains their baristas by having them do a “go see.” A “go see” is when you go in front of the store and try to look at it through the customer’s eyes.

This “go see” improves the customer experience. Why not try a “go see” this Sunday. Come looking at the experience of our church through the eyes of a guest. Were you greeted? Was the facility appealing and clean? Could you park easily? Were there signs to show where classrooms, restrooms and the auditorium are? Would you know where to drop off and pick up your kids? Would you feel safe leaving them there? Did you feel welcomed by the pastor? Was the message relevant to a need in your life? Did you connect with others? Were you told why we do things the way we do them?

Let’s all work hard at creating experiences that will draw others to Jesus.


P.S. Help! I’m drowning in debt! What’s my next step? More money should make me happy shouldn’t it? God loves rich people more than poor people doesn’t He? Join me this Sunday at 9:00am or 10:30am to get the Bible’s view of financial contentment.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Since It's Father's Day...

Since it is Father’s Day this coming weekend, I wanted to commit this issue of the Freshly Bru’d to all the dads out there. If you are not a dad, don’t think “this issue isn’t for me.” There is something for all of us to glean.

The following are excerpts from Mark Merrill’s All Pro Dad book:

1.  Love is not a feeling; it is a decision. Love is an act of the will to be patient, kind, gentle, humble, sincere, compassionate, giving, faithful, trusting, forgiving, uniting and persevering.

2. Image is how we think others view us… identity is who we really are.

3. Children need to know we love them for who they are, not for what they do.

4. Your job as a dad is not that of a general contractor… your job is that of a CEO in your home.

5. People often say “time is money.” I say, “time is love.”

6. If you are married, the very best thing you can do for your children is to love their mother.

7. Everybody can be great, because anyone can serve. – Martin Luther King Jr.

8. Don’t ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that because that’s what the world needs, people who come alive. – Howard Thurman

9. You must be forever expanding your capacity to love in order to expand your capacity to lead in your home.

10. Leading a family is the hardest job a man can ever have. – Dave Ramsey

Pastor Mark
P.S. Dad’s Day is this Sunday! Be there! Invite your dad to join you. Take him to lunch afterwards. Tell him how much he means to you. If you want to learn how to be successful in life don’t miss the service. To be great, you have to be_________. What word do you believe should go in the blank?

Thursday, June 5, 2014

A Dramatically Different Christianity is Just a Short Step Away

The more I read about the post-Christian era in the west, the more I am convinced that a dramatically different kind of Christianity is just a short step away. The well-worn path of how we have approached and measured following Christ, attending church using the church building, meeting in life groups, etc. will have to change if we want to be responsible Christ followers in reaching the world.

Let me share with you some things that are changing in many of our communities and churches. I will be the first to say “I don’t like the change” and “I wish it were not so.” However, these changes are upon us. The question for us is how will we adopt and adapt for ministry effectiveness.

The following are just observations however, if I were a “betting” man I would say that we should begin to prepare ourselves for their actuality.
  1. The speed of change is accelerating. Gone are the days when a change is followed by a decade of the status quo. More often than not, the pace of change on the outside is greater than the pace of change on the inside of the church. This leads to a perilous disconnect.
  2. Every Biblical reference is obscure to almost everyone. A lot of people in the church today have no point of reference. Concepts like communion, Jesus’s death, burial and resurrection are a complete mystery to many. We must not assume an “everybody knows that” philosophy.
  3. It will become increasingly harder to say “come with me to church” and easier to say “meet me at Starbucks.” We need to discover and build a “meet me” philosophy of ministry.
  4. Leader development and encouragement will be decentralized. The pace of life is making centralized gatherings more difficult and less productive to implement. Living rooms and coffee shops are becoming more productive.
  5. Leader training will be accessed on a “need to know” basis and distributed on a “just in time” basis. Advances in training preparation is becoming obsolete. Now we have 24/7 delivery made possible on the internet.
With such changes, how will the church respond?

P.S. Have you ever felt you can’t measure up to the characters in the Bible? Have you ever thought that God is out to get you? Have you ever felt that He has abandoned you? If you have, you won’t want to miss this Sunday’s worship as we wrestle with these questions.