Thursday, September 24, 2009

You've Got To See This!

Two years ago, Lifeway Resources studied unchurched people in the United States. One of the most surprising things they learned was that non-Christians are willing to give church a try--but only if they can go with a friend. 82% said they would attend church if a friend invited them and agreed to go with them. Can you believe that? With the soaring cost of advertising and direct mail campaigns, isn't it good to know the best method of promoting our church's message is still free of charge? Just invite your friends!

That's the good news. Now for the bad.

Lifeway also surveyed Christians, asking them, "Have you invited an unchurched person to visit your church in the past year?" Only 21% said yes. How can this be? This Sunday, we'll look at the story of a woman who won an entire village to Christ simply by saying, "Come and see!" And she wasn't as socially accomplished as most of us; in fact, she was the town outcast. Yet people were so hungry for spiritual truth...and she was so excited about what she had found in meeting Jesus, that her invitation was accepted. What must we do in order to effectively invite our friends to meet Christ at church? We'll take a look at that this Sunday in a message from John 4.

Friday, September 18, 2009

It's Not What You Know, It's Who You Know

There's a great line the movie As Good As It Gets. Jack Nicholson plays a character who is unlikable in every way. He is rude and inconsiderate to his neighbors, treats a lovely waitress with contempt, and throws his neighbor's small dog down a laundry chute (Okay, I'll admit I've wanted to do something like that last one...but I never have). The waitress is kind to him in spite of his oblivious attitude toward the rest of the world, but one day while having dinner with him, she says, "Give me a compliment. I need one." He proceeds to unleash one of the most romantic lines in the history of cinema. He says, "You make me want to be a better man."

That is what we can say about the very best friends God gives us. If you are very, very fortunate, as I am, you can say that about the person you married, or about a lifelong friend you still have today. Proverbs tells us "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." That is the purpose of friendship: To provide us with the encouragement and challenge of someone else, pushing us toward all God has for us.

As God's people, we must take responsibility for the fact that every person in our lives was put there for a purpose. Are we fulfilling God's purpose in each and every one of our relationships? Matthew was a man who didn't waste the relationships he had formed with dozens of fellow tax collectors and other notorious "sinners." When Jesus came into His life, the first thing he did was make sure his friends got to know Jesus as well. This Sunday, we'll look at how God expects us to bring Christ into all of our relationships, as we study Matthew 9:9-13, part of our series, How to Win Your Friends...Naturally.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Just For Fun

I really don't have time for Youtube. I really don't. But every once in a while, I get one of those links I just have to pass along. There's nothing remotely spiritual about any of this, but joy is indeed one of the fruits of the Spirit, so enjoy:

Comedian Tim Hawkins' ode to Chick Fil-A:

Mr. Bean's visit to church, complete with unfriendly people, unfamiliar hymns, and a non-cooperative piece of peppermint candy:

Tell Your Story: The Blind Man's Testimonial Approach

There is something in us that loves stories. Stories have a power that other forms of speech, like straight lecture or traditional three-point preaching, do not have. Do you want proof? Alright, indulge me in a little experiment:

Quick, tell me how you met your spouse or best friend. Tell me about something embarassing that happened to you in high school. Tell me the story your family re-tells every year around the Thanksgiving table. Tell me the most exciting or frustrating thing that has happened to you this week. Tell me the basic plot of the movie you rented recently.

Easy, isn't it? We remember stories. We listen when others tell them. We rehearse them in our minds as we lie in bed. We laugh at them, cry at them, learn from them.

Now, for part two of the experiment: Tell me one point of the sermon I preached last Sunday. One point. Any point. Hello? Buehler?

Not so easy, is it? Heck, I'd bet money my own wife couldn't remember any of the points. (For that matter, could I? Hmmm....)

Stories have power. That's part of the reason Jesus did most of His teaching in stories called parables. Yet traditionally we've been told the best way to share our faith with people is in a series of propositional truths: The Four Spiritual Laws. The two Evangelism Explosion questions. The Bridge Illustration. The Roman Road.

Maybe...and I'm just spitballing would be more natural for us to simply to tell our stories to people who do not believe. More natural for us--rather than memorizing a set of Scriptures or a canned presentation--and more effective for them. This Sunday, we'll look at a man who didn't know much at all about Jesus. He just knew, "I was blind, but now I see." His story is found in John 9. What is your story? Are you eager for people to know it? If not, why not?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Use Your Head: Paul's Intellectual Approach

Imagine a young, cocky freshman goes off to college hoping to "score" a girlfriend. Now imagine our freshman--let's call him Billy Bob--decides on a fool-proof strategy: He will ask any moderately attractive woman on campus out on a date. If she refuses, he will try again. And again. And again. His thinking is that, sooner or later, someone will say yes. And after all, what does it hurt to ask? The squeaky wheel gets the grease, right?

Well, I think we can all imagine what will happen to Billy Bob. Instead of becoming Big Man on Campus, he will become widely known as The Creepy Guy. Instead of finding true love, he will find himself the proud recipient of dozens of restrainment orders. And that's IF he's not dumb enough to try his strategy on the girlfriend of the middle that case, he could wind up in a full body cast. Ultimately, Billy Bob's strategy will backfire in every way; not only will he not get a date, he'll quickly disqualify himself in the eyes of every young woman on the campus.

I know this is a bad analogy--and no, Mr. Smarty Pants, this isn't some thinly veiled piece of autobiography. Billy Bob and his strategy are totally hypothetical. I promise--But it is not dissimilar to the way Christians have approached sharing their faith. For years, we've learned witnessing methods that embrace the cold-call sales approach..."Give me five minutes, and I'll change your eternity!" Of course, most of us don't feel comfortable with that style. And in recent years, most unbelievers don't respond well, either. Some might say, "But what does it hurt to ask? Even if we're rejected every time, haven't we done the right thing?" Well, just ask Billy Bob. Like him, if we approach unbelievers without respecting them, without understanding that we have to gain their trust and understand their viewpoint before we can hope to persuade them to change their lives, then we won't just be rejected. We'll innoculate them and everyone they know against the Gospel.

In our current series, "How to Win Your Friends...Naturally," we're talking about biblical ways to share our faith without feeling like a phony...and without turning off the very people Jesus wants to save. This week, we'll look at how Paul approached a very skeptical, intellectual crowd at Athens in Acts 17.

Faith in Action Projects!!!

Well, it's finally here: The list of projects that our church will be participating in for Faith in Action Day. Feel free to contact me for any additional information you need. You can sign up for any of these projects on our website main page, or in Bible study departments, or in the narthex as you come to worship service.

Home repair project

We will help some of our neighbors with light household repairs. For more information, contact Paul or Becky Brown.

Water bottle handout

The Braes Bayou jogging trail is used by many people every day, especially on the weekends. Join us as we hand out cold WBC water bottles to those folks out exercising on a Sunday morning. For more info, contact Randy Mitchell at 713.723.6428 or

Door-to-door prayer

We will go door-to-door, asking our neighbors how we can pray for them. For more information, contact: Jeff Berger, 713-723-6428. or Ruth Escamilla, 713-272-9881.

McNamara Elementary beautification

We will do another workday at our adopted school, McNamara Elementary. Both landscaping and interior beautification is needed. For more information, contact Ron Routzon or Hope McNeil.

Women’s Pregnancy Center gift baskets

Volunteers will collect and assemble items for gift baskets to be given to expectant mothers in need through the Women’s Pregnancy Center. For more information, contact Susan Nutter or Gale Yandell.

Braes Interfaith Ministries

Volunteers will help BIM with their food and clothing ministry to the disadvantaged. Please note: This project is limited to 8-12 people. For more information, see Kelly Senter, Ruth Simons and Becky Brown.

Volunteering at The Beacon

The Beacon ministers to the homeless and displaced. They need plenty of volunteers on a Sunday! For more information, contact Steve and Sherry Adell or Stephen Ray.

Clean up Westbury Square

Join us as we do some clean-up, gardening, and minor repair in and around this Westbury area icon. It will be a great morning to help improve the looks of our community. For more info, contact Randy Mitchell at 713.723.6428 or

Worship at nursing/retirement homes

Ministry teams will lead and assist with worship services at local nursing or retirement centers. For more information, contact Kyle Damron.

Prayer meeting in WBC sanctuary

We will hold a prayer meeting in the WBC sanctuary at 10:30 AM on Faith in Action Day. This will give our ongoing ministry projects prayer support, and will be there to greet any visitors who come to our church unaware of Faith in Action Day. For more information, contact Jeff Berger.

Prepare lunch for Faith in Action Day
At noon on October 11, we will gather in the gym to eat lunch and share stories of what God has done through our ministries. We need 10 volunteers to assist Karen Mitchell in preparing the meal. If you would like to be part of this important ministry, contact Karen.