Thursday, December 15, 2016

Today's "Average" Family

Today’s families have changed drastically. What that means for First Free is that our strategies and programs need to change to reach them.

Brian Moss, who blogs at Next Level Leadership, gives 10 characteristics of what the ‘average’ unchurched family looks like today. As you read through his list, ask yourself how First Free is doing in reinventing structures, strategies, and programs to reach these families.
1.        They are a blended home. 43% of marriages are remarriages. 65% of those involve children from a prior marriage. Blended families are becoming the norm.
2.       They are spiritually mismatched. Moms generally make the connection to church. Dad is busy ‘enjoying the only day off’ at home.
3.       They are financially strapped. They need to learn to earn, budget, spend, save, and give. Credit is a way of life for them and they cannot absorb even one financial catastrophe.
4.       They are over-calendared. Parents have become the willing slaves of their children’s activities. No time for church.
5.        They are Biblically illiterate. They have no idea what the Bible actually says. To many, the Bible is a book of fables and fairy tales.
6.       They are ethnically diverse. Millennials can’t relate to racial barriers and tensions.
7.        They have a special needs child. 12% of children in kindergarten through 6th grade are identified with a disability. This percentage is rising each year.
8.       One in five have experienced some form of trauma in the home. Abuse, violence, and severe cruelty is common today.
9.       They want to be successful. They want to have a good marriage, good home, be a good parent, and they simply have no idea how to get there.
10.     They are spiritually hungry. They are searching for change. They want truth, meaning, hope, and healing.
As a church, may we be willing to remove every unnecessary encumbrance and unbiblical distraction and be the place of grace that reaches the ones Christ gave his very life for.

Chances are very good that if you invite one of these families to join you for the Christmas Eve service at 2:00, 3:30, or 5:00, they would join you. All of these characteristics scream ‘we need Jesus.’

Mark "The Bru" Brunott

P.S. For many of us Christmas brings about a lot of positive feelings and memories. For others the thought of Christmas brings tension, disappointment, and unnecessary competition. Join us and bring a friend Sunday at 9:15 and 11 am to discover the secret to having a Merry Christmas, no matter what comes your way.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

One humorist took the song Jingle Bells and rewrote the verses to be culturally relevant: “Dashing through the snow, with a high-def. touchscreen display, o’er the fields we go, tweeting and texting all the way! Bells on smartphones ring, making bandwidth bright, what fun it is to stare and cling to a virtual world tonight!”

In other words, silver bells, tinsel, and mistletoe are being replaced with smartphones, tablets, computers, and social media. Our tendency is to pay more attention to screens than people.

May I suggest something to all of us this Christmas season? What I’m about to suggest is going to sound like I’m Ebenezer Scrooge to many, but I hope you will heed what I say.

Go on a diet! Not a food kind of diet but a media diet. Jesus spent time with loved ones; He prayed for and touched the untouchable. I’m not saying Jesus wouldn’t use the technology available today- He would. I am simply saying He wouldn’t be so absorbed in it that He neglected the personal touch.

Here’s what your media diet might look like:
  • Plan ahead for people time. Meet with family and friends without cell phones, computers, iPads, or other electronics. “Quality time” comes from quality time. Play a game, eat together, or wrap gifts together, without all the techno stuff.
  • Plan ahead for tech time. What? Doesn’t this contradict what I just said? Not if you use the technology to be together. Don’t let technology replace your presence. Put on a Christmas movie with others, and actually watch it. Watch a Christmas service online. Google ‘the meaning of Christmas’ to see what it says. You get the idea.
  • Reach out and touch someone. Literally. Allow #4Lincoln to become part of your Christmas living.
  • Talk. Conversations connect people. What we say matters. I said ‘what we say’ not ‘what we text.’ Texting is less personal and you really can’t understand what the person means. You can’t hear the tone of voice or the non-verbal expressions which is 93% of the communication message.
Try the diet and then let me know what you discovered. I look forward to hearing from you.

Pastor Mark "The Bru" Brunott

P.S. How can a person be joyful when faced with trouble, difficulty, fractured relationships, or discouraging circumstances? There is a way! Come Sunday at 9:15 or 11:00 to discover how to be joyful always, and bring a friend with you.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Christmas Advice from the Pastor

Christmas is just around the corner and I’d like to share some pastoral advice to help you experience God’s love during this special season of the year. These are three things I am trying to do personally and I hope we do at First Free.

First, keep it simple. Make sure all your activities focus on Christmas. Small and personal is better than large and impersonal. Talk to each other, help each other, and serve each other. Love and Community are two things we are trying to cultivate through our #4Lincoln campaign.

Simple is powerful. Don’t cram your days full of activities and don’t make everything big and complicated. Keep the holiday simple, so you are free to serve those in need and celebrate with those you love.

Second, be there. Tell your family and friends that you love them by giving them your focused attention. Communicate ‘I value you enough to give you my most precious asset- my time.’ You can always make more money, but you cannot make more time. Schedules that are full and hectic do not communicate focused attention to those we love.

Jesus showed His love to others by being there. He gave people time and focused His attention on them when they needed His help, His comfort, and His protection. Show up in the lives of those you love- that includes your church family.

Third, give with delight. God uses giving as an antidote for materialism. He loves when we give with a cheerful heart (2 Corinthians 9:7). Jesus knew there was more happiness in giving than receiving.

We’ve replaced true, heartfelt, delightful giving with a hollow materialism that keeps us all overspending during the holidays. Instead, we should give from our hearts. As your pastor, I’d like to see you expand your definition of giving beyond the financial. How could you bless others if you also shared your time and talents?

When we learn generosity in giving, it builds our faith as we look to be generous with the world. The essence of Christmas is that we simply and humbly give of ourselves, just as God gave generously and sacrificially to us through His Son, Jesus Christ.

There you have it. Three things to make your holiday season a blessed one.


P.S. Don’t let the hectic pace of the season hinder you. Experience the peace, joy, and love that Christmas brings. Invite a friend to join us this Sunday at 9:15 or 11:00 and discover a peace that surpasses our comprehension- yes- especially at Christmas time.