“What Christmas is All About”

In Sweden, there is a church in a little town with a crucifix hanging in an unusual place.  It is directly in front of the pulpit so that it is visible to the person behind the pulpit.  It has been there since 1716.  In that year the King, King Charles XII visited the church.  On that day, when the King walked into the service, the pastor became so enamored with the King’s presence; he threw aside his sermon and proceeded to give tribute to the King.  A few months later, the church received from King Charles that crucifix with these instructions.  “This is to bung opposite the pulpit so that whoever stands there will be reminded of the proper subject.”

Dear people, may we always remember what Christmas is all about – not the gifts, not the parties, not the decorations.  Christmas, quite simply, is all about Jesus!

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church_datingWe all remember that radio transmission from Apollo 13, “Houston, we have a problem.” Well, America has a problem…an illiteracy problem… Biblical illiteracy to be precise. A recent LifeWay Survey reports only 22% say they spend time reading God’s Word on a daily basis. A third of Americans never read the Bible on their own.

*Fewer than half say the Bible is accurate in all it teaches
*Half say the Bible was written for each person to interpret as he or she chooses
*Three-quarters disagree with the idea that every sin deserves to be punished.

So what do we do? Here are three ways to tackle the problem of Biblical illiteracy.

*Get people into God’s Word on a daily basis. Our people need exposure to the life-changing power of the Word of God. Reading the Bible is the number one predictor of spiritual growth.

*Encourage people to get involved in small group discipleship studies. People grow spiritually by being around believers. Living in community with other believers, wrestling with real issues, etc., is transformative.

*Help people become familiar with all of God’s Word. As Paul admonishes, “Preach the whole counsel of God.”

Partial understanding can lead to partial obedience. Pastors need to preach expository messages.

(Adapted from Ken Braddy, Discipling in an Age of Biblical Illiteracy, Facts and Trends, Summer 2017, pp.24-25)

Visit our website at:http://www.mtairybaptistchurch.com

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LifeWay Research and the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism recently asked unchurched Americans the above question and received the following answers:

I saw Christians treating others better – 32%

I saw Christians caring for people’s needs – 31%

I saw Christians who were happier – 26%

I saw Christians standing up against injustice – 24%

I saw Christians solving community problems – 22%

I saw Christians solving personal problems – 22%

I saw Christians working together with multiple races and ethnicities in a church – 21%.

(Facts and Trends, Spring 2017, p. 15)

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So often we struggle to come up with strategies that are successful in getting our unchurched friends and neighbors to come to church. A article in the Spring 2017 issue of On Mission, NAMB’s quarterly publication, addressed this matter. It cited a LifeWay survey of 2000 Americans who do not attend church. The survey found these people would walk through the doors of a church if it addressed a specific need or interest. Specifically,

62% would attend a meeting at a church about a neighborhood safety event.
51% would attend a community service event.
46% would attend a sports or exercise program.
45% would attend a neighborhood get-together.
35% would attend a worship service.
25% would attend a recovery group.
24% would attend a seminar on a spiritual topic.

So what do we glean from this survey? It shows that in order to be successful in reaching the unchurched, we need to specifically target needs and interests that they feel are important.

(Source: Christianity Today, September 2016)

Visit our website: http://www.mtairybaptistchurch.com

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319739-44128-5We all know someone who has lost interest in spiritual things. Maybe that person has stopped attending church.  How is one to respond to a friend who seemingly walks away from God? David Sanford’s article in the Winter issue of Facts and Trends addresses this problem. He offers the following steps we can take…

1. Love your friend unconditionally.
2. Invite your friend to tell his or her story, and then just listen.
3. Be unshockable.
4. After your friend has finished talking, remain quiet.
5. Once your friend tells you what he or she needs, still don’t say anything.
6. Whatever you do, don’t promise to meet your friend’s needs.
7. If you and your friend have a mutual friend, who has a strong faith in Christ, try to reach out to that friend.
8. Ask your friend if you can pray for him or her.
9. When the time is right, ask your friend to read the Bible with you.
10. Stay in touch with your friend.

(To find out more, pick up and read David Sanford’s Loving Your Neighbor: Surprise! It’s Not What You Think, available from Kregel Publications this Summer.)

Visit our website: http://www.mtairybaptistchurch.com

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why-go-to-churchLifeWay Research reports that “Most Americans believe in God, the Bible, and a few heresies. An online survey of 3000 Americans showed there is much confusion about details of Christian theology. What is a heresy? Union University professor Nathan Finn says, “A heresy is a belief that denies a core teaching of the Christian faith…we are talking about the difference between being a Christian and not being a Christian. The most persistent heresies in church history revolve around the nature of God and the identity of Jesus.” For example:

  • More than half of Americans say the Holy Spirit is a force, not a person. (includes 63% of churchgoers)
  • Many believe Jesus was created by God. (includes 67% of churchgoers)
  • Some (28%) say the Holy Spirit is not equal to the God the Father and God the Son.
  • Most believe works can get you into Heaven. (52%)
  • 85% of churchgoers believe a person can turn to God without the help of the Holy Spirit.
  • Many (31%) do not believe in the doctrine of the Trinity – that there is one true God in three Persons.
  • And 39% do not believe Jesus was both divine and human.

Because these are serious misunderstandings, Professor Finn says, “Pastors shouldn’t be afraid to talk about theology, because people in the pew want to know the truth about God.” Amen! So let it be. People need to hear what is true and what is not. Preachers need to give people what they need, not just what they want.

(adapted from Bob Smietana, Facts and Trends, Winter 2017, pp. 22-26)

Visit our website: http://www.mtairybaptistchurch.com

Posted in Christianity, Christians, God's Word, Jesus, Knowledge, Salvation, scripture, Spiritual Growth, Uncategorized, Wisdom | Leave a comment


two-men-studying-bible-hdGreg Laurie’s book, “Tell Someone”, is the Bible study the Men’s Ministry of our church is currently using on Tuesday nights at 7:30 and Saturday mornings at 7:30. It is a great study! By the way, if you are not yet attending, as Bob Barker used to say on The Price Is Right, “Come on Down!” We would love to have you. It is all about Christian men telling others about their spiritual pilgrimage.

That runs hand-in-hand with what I just read in the Fall 2016 issue of Facts and Trends. Scott McConnell writes about a recent Lifeway study of 2000 unchurched individuals – those who haven’t attended a worship service in the last six months. Who are they? 67% are white. 53% are male. 47% have a high school diploma or less. What did it show? 62% went to church regularly as a child. 19% had a bad experience with people at church. 21% were turned off by the church’s teaching on moral issues. Many seemed to have simply fallen out of the habit of going. Few though are hostile to church. They just don’t think church is for them.

It also showed the unchurched have Christian friends and aren’t turned off by conversations about faith. 79% said “If a friend of mine really values their faith, I don’t mind talking to them about it.” So once again, the challenge for all of us is to go “tell someone!”

(Facts and Trends, Fall 2016, pp.7-13)

Visit our website: http://www.mtairybaptistchurch.com

Posted in Christianity, Christians, Evangelism, Faith, Friendship, God's Love, God's Word, Jesus, Men's Ministry, Salvation, scripture, Spiritual Growth, Uncategorized | Leave a comment