Archives For Church

Why do you go to church? Is it because you love the pastor and you want to hear what he has to say?  Maybe you really love the music or is it the donut fellowship?  Free food always seems to gather people at church.

Those are all nice reasons to attend church but it is not reason you should go.  What happens when the music is not so great, the message was mediocre or they ran out of donuts?  Would you still go?

It is finished Why YOU Need to Stop Going to Church by Michelle D Howe

It is finished by Michelle D Howe

There is a larger reason to go, but before I jump there let’s consider the previous suggestions.

Who are all those suggestions centered on?  They are centered on YOU!

I did not grow up going to church.  I went here and there with friends growing up but there was no consistency.  Mostly, I sat in the back of the church with my friend painting our nails.

I started going to church after I had attended a church ski trip with some friends.  A few months later, I received Christ as my Savior.  I was 19 at the time.  From then, up until about four years ago, church was about me and what I could get out of it.

All that shifted when I kept hearing God speak into my heart, “Your life is not your own.” At the time, I had started training for a half marathon.  It was a transitional time in my life, and God was moving my heart like never before.

I really had no idea what God meant by that statement but I did a search in the bible to see if it appears.  I found it in 1 Corinthians 6:19:

19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.

There it was, as clear as ever.  I belong to God.  I don’t belong to people.  I don’t belong to what they think of me, what possessions I have, or by whether or not I’m accepted by them.  I BELONG TO GOD!!!

So what happens when someone living from that space shows up to church? The Spirit within you shows up and “YOU” stays home.

“YOU” (your flesh) is selfish and ask the question, “What can I get today?”

The Spirit is about service and asks the questions, “What I can I offer today?” Big difference!

So what if we all showed up on Sunday in the Spirit rather than in our flesh?

  • What lives would be changed?
  • What drama wouldn’t exist?
  • Who would be reached for Christ?

How would the church service be different when we come to serve rather than be served?

Here is a suggestion that helps me shift into this place as I roll up into my church each Sunday:

Pray and ask the Lord to open your eyes to the needs around you.   Acknowledge that your life is not your own and you are there to serve His people.  When you ask to be used like this, your experience at church will be so different.  Your compassion for others will spill over.  You will let go of needing to be accepted by “those” people and really just “BE” with people.  You won’t care whether so-and-so invites you to their home or not because God may need you somewhere else that day.  You are open and that is a powerful place to be.

So here is your challenge: This Sunday, leave “YOU” at home and allow Jesus to shine through instead.

“Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”  Ephesians 5:14

  • How else can this be applied in your life?
  • How different would your life be if you showed up like this at work or at home?

I’d love to read and respond to your comments.

 

Michelle has written a book called It is Finished, Coming to the end of you so God can do something new where she takes you on a journey through the book of Nehemiah to rebuild the ruins in your life that have kept you stuck, not getting off the starting line.  Her message will inspire you to get up and move forward towards your own finish line of hope and healing.  Between the chapters, read real life transformational stories of the women that participated in Michelle’s event called Weekend of Wins.

Michelle is offering her book FREE on Amazon Kindle August 15 and 16.

Go now to download your copy now.  

It is Finished cover Why YOU Need to Stop Going to Church by Michelle D Howe

It is Finished by Michelle D Howe

Interested in building confidence and being transformed by a race experience?  Then visit her event website.

Michelle Howe resides in Stuart, Florida with her husband Mark and two children.  At the beginning of 2011, she started writing on a blog called iwokeupyesterday.com with her friends, Jenny Price and Tammy Werthem.  Their goal is to lead others to more – community, freedom and growth – through their different retreats, conferences and coaching services.

Michelle is a certified leadership coach and has been leading others in the areas of personal development, team building, event planning and marketing for the last eighteen years.  Her ultimate passion is to see people finish and encourage them along their journey.

  • Michelle can be reached via email at michelle@everydaylifeline.com
  • Facebook or Twitter @MichelleDHowe
  • Learn more about Michelle’s transformational event and book at www.weekendofwins.com

 

1374206 church cross on blue sky 1 Why am I going to Church?

Go to Church

Why do people go to church?

There are a lot of reasons people go to church. Some good. Some not so good.
  • To feel good
  • To get good moral teaching
  • Because it’s a habit
  • To get some “positive energy”
  • So they don’t feel guilty
  • Because they work there
After a lifetime of going to church, I’m convinced that there is one reason that’s better than any other.

Why am I going to church today?

This verse from 1 Peter explains it:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,” (1 Peter 1:3)
It’s not because of me. It’s because of God!
  • I’m going to worship the God who made me brand new from the inside out.
  • He have me a new life and a hope that doesn’t die.
  • My eternity is now secure. Jesus’ payment of my sin debt on the cross ensures that.
  • My future is forever altered because Jesus rose, making me new on the inside.
  • My present is empowered by God because His Holy Spirit now fills me.

Over the years I’ve gone to church for a lot of reasons. But this is the best one.

When a bunch of Christians gather to worship, aware of where they’ve come from and where they’re headed, something powerful happens. Whoever is present as they worship gets swept into an opportunity to see the true reason we gather.

God has done a mighty work in Jesus Christ, and He is still doing it for any who will come and worship Him.

Are you going to church this week?

  1. 3 Reasons to Go to Church this Weekend

  2. “Why I Go to Church – Part 1″

  3. “Why I Go to Church – Part 2″

  4. “Why I Go to Church – Part 3″

  5. “Why I Go to Church – Part 4″

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Why I Do What I Do: “Mimi”

I love our church.

My job as a pastor at New Life is pretty gratifying to begin with. It’s got its’ challenges, but as a general rule I get to do what I love to do. Sometimes I get a crystal-clear reminder of why I do what I do. This week “Mimi” was the reminder.

The precious girl in pink, seated in the middle of the stage, is “Mimi”. I have known and prayed for her since she was an infant. She has a tumor that is effecting her eyesight, among other things. The treatment includes a year-long course of Chemotherapy. This little girl is brave, but she also gets scared while undergoing treatment. I would too.

Recently I was casually chatting with Mimi’s Grandma and learned that her Chemo was preventing them from attending KidStuf. It pained my heart to hear that this little girl couldn’t come. I knew how much she loved the fun, hope and joy she experienced at KidStuf.

When I told my friends about the challenges this little girl was facing, they decided to invite her to dress rehearsal. The result is that Mimi, her sister and her Grandma got to a front-row seat to KidStuf as our special guests. Afterwards, Miss Leah, one of our phenomenal actors, presented Mimi with a gift basket including a tiara and an autographed KidStuf T-shirt. Her eyes lit up with wonder.

Finally, we gathered together and did what we do best. We prayed over this child. We prayed for healing. We called on God to bless and touch her body. We believe it will happen.

I get to be part of an amazing group of people who are lazer-focused on the mission of “Knowing God and Making God Known”. I can’t think of a better reminder of our mission than the wide-eyed wonder of a precious child. To see so many compassionate people, all pouring themselves out in love, reminds me why I do what I do.

Easter for Atheists

March 16, 2013 — 3 Comments
 Easter for Atheists

Easter for Atheists

A church for atheists?

I couldn’t make this up if I tried. You wouldn’t believe me.

There is a “church for atheists” now meeting in London. The Sunday Assembly is a congregation (ironic?) of people who meet in an old church (again, irony?) to meet, sing and talk about becoming better people.

The Australian” newspaper has this to say:

Britain’s atheist church is barely three months old but it already has more “worshippers” than can fit into its services, while more than 200 non-believers worldwide have contacted organisers to ask how they can set up their own branch, with one due to open in Australia next month.

Officially named The Sunday Assembly, the church was the brainchild of Pippa Evans and Sanderson Jones, two comedians who suspected there might be an appetite for atheist gatherings that borrowed a few aspects of religious worship.

Held in an airy, ramshackle former church in north London, their quirky monthly meetings combine music, speeches and moral pondering with large doses of humour.

This year they’re gathering for “Easter for Atheists“. This is how they describe their reason for gathering:

There have been spring festivals since time began, and wouldn’t it be a shame to lose 1400 years of British history over a minor theological difference? Yes. It would. Also, we love chocolate eggs!

Wow. Really?

At least they’re honest about what they’re doing and who they are.

In one way this is funny to me, even useful. As a Christian I think it’s great when someone challenges all of our assumptions. If the idea of a group of atheist gathering bothers you, then maybe it’s time to examine why you’re going to church.

I hope you arrive at church for all the right reasons.

  • Connection with God (Worship)
  • Connection with God’s people (Community)
  • Loving others in God’s name (Service)

But let’s be honest. Haven’t we all arrived at church, at one time or another, and thought, “What am I really doing here?”

Church, when it’s all God intended it to be, is a living body. (1 Corinthians 12:12-26) It’s not an organization. It’s an organism. It’s alive. It breathes. This makes the church distinct from all other entities on earth.

So the gathering of the church (not at church) is a life-giving event that gives us an opportunity to be refreshed and refueled. Time together fills us for the week ahead, giving life to all members of the body.

I hope someday all the members of this “church for atheists” discover what it means to be a living, breathing part of the body of Christ.

 

For Further Discussion:  Must Christians Go to Church?

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Is Church necessary for Christians, or is it just an optional exercise?

  • A runner can run on the road. They don’t have to go to a gym.
  • A student can complete a college degree online. They don’t have to sit in a classroom.

So in this day and age, do we really need to go to church?

 

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts,according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your[a] faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead,do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. (Romans 12:3-8)

  • Do you think it’s necessary for believers to go to church?
  • Do you think it’s necessary for your head to be attached to your neck?
  • Who misses out more when you aren’t part of the body? Answer = EVERYONE

When you’re distant from the body of Christ, you are missed. You are valued. You are formed for function.

This week, make sure you don’t miss the opportunity to live out the role God has carved out for you in His body, the church.

 

Need more encouragement?

  1. 3 Reasons to Go to Church this Weekend

  2. “Why I Go to Church – Part 1″

  3. “Why I Go to Church – Part 2″

  4. “Why I Go to Church – Part 3″

  5. “Why I Go to Church – Part 4″

 

A Pastor’s Only Hope

December 4, 2012 — 9 Comments
 A Pastors Only Hope

A Pastor’s Only Hope

Pastors are human.

If you’ve known one for any length of time, you’ve realized this is all too true. I got another lesson in my own limitations this past weekend.

This weekend was fantastic because:

  • I got to baptize twin girls who made a deep commitment to Christ just months before they go off to college.
  • Worship and the message were off the charts. The hope and help of Jesus Christ flooded the church.
  • Generous donations funded “The Big Give”. We get to feed 30+ families for a month!
  • I met a woman who attended church for the first time in her life. (and liked it)
  • A woman I invited, who is new to the area, attended for the first time, and is planning on coming back.

These things fire me up! They are the “wins” that cause us to celebrate. But…

This weekend was tough because:

  • I learned that 4 couples I know and love are either divorcing or are under extreme duress.
  • Two of my friends who are hurting deeply won’t return my calls.
  • Others that I care about are missing from church, failing in faith, or running from God.

This stark contrast is what I see week in and week out. Being a pastor puts me at the crossroads of peoples’ lives. I get the privilege of sharing profound joy and deep sorrow with many.

The joys buoy me. They fill me with energy. I love nothing more than to share the fullness of Jesus Christ with families and see Him supply healing and wholeness. It’s fun. And it’s what I was called to do as a pastor.

But pastors are also called to “mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15). Sometimes, since we live in a fallen and broken world, there is chaos and destruction. Pastors are called to meet people there too. That’s less fun. But it’s still a privilege.

This weekend I was reminded once more that I am finite.

I resonated with Paul’s words. When describing his trials as a man spreading the Gospel he said,

Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. (2 Corinthians 11:28)

Every pastor understands that burden. Heck, every Christian who cares for others understands it. We want God’s best for the people He has put within our reach. But even though He has won the war, the enemy often steals a battle here and there. Witnessing others hurt makes a man weary.

Bottom line: I left church yesterday feeling 1,000 pounds heavier than when I walked in.

Throughout the day I had “accumulated” concerns and burdens for those I love and care about. It’s weeks like these that I understand why Jesus was called, “a man of suffering, and familiar with pain” (Isaiah 53:3)

It’s Him that I need.

This Jesus, this God, eternally existing in perfection, took on the form of man and entered this mucked up world we live in. He lived and walked among the broken. Love poured out of every pore of his body. When he looked upon the city that would soon crucify him, he didn’t shy away. Instead…

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36)

This Jesus is the only hope for all the people I am concerned about. He is the only one who can truly and completely help and heal their hearts and lives. He’s also the only hope for me.

Here’s my conclusion: I was never designed to carry all these burdens. I cannot. I am too weak to even bear my own.

Yes, I get to come alongside many who are hurting, and I will continue to. But the distinguishing factor that makes me effective as a minister of the Gospel is that I myself am not what they need. He is. I get to walk alongside my brothers and sisters in Christ. But my main goal must always be to point them to Him. To carry them, if need be, to the Savior who holds in His hands infinite mercy, grace and compassion for the ones He came to save.

And after leading the way to Him, after exhausting my own feeble resources, I must routinely heed Jesus’ words:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

I will. I must. This Jesus is my only hope.

Don’t worry. I’m not going that far. I’m only moving across the river from Endicott to Vestal. My office will still be at 201 Hill Ave. I’ll still be part of the New Life pastoral team.

So where am I going? God willing, we’ll be launching New Life Vestal on 10/13/13. Pastor Sab has asked me to lead this new work. We have great hopes that through it we’ll be able to reach many more families with the life-saving message of Jesus Christ.

That’s right. After growing up in Vestal, graduating from Vestal, and choosing to raise my family in Vestal, I will get to open the next New Life campus in the neighborhood I love.

There are 100 question marks hanging over the launch of this new campus. Here are a few of the questions I’ve begun to field:

  • Where will the new church meet? I’m not sure yet. I’ve got a list of possibilities, but it’s too early to make a decision. To tell you the truth, I’m much more concerned with developing the people who will launch the church. The facility matters, but in the end it’s just a building. The church is made up of people. If we don’t build them, the building won’t matter.
  • Who is going with you? I’ve begun a roster of people who have expressed interest in joining me in this new work. Bottom line: I only want people who God is leading to join in this new work. I don’t want to convince or cajole anyone into coming. If God has been talking to you about being part of a new work of the Gospel that will reach an underserved population in Vestal and Apalachin, then I’d like to have a conversation with you.
  • Who will do the teaching? Me, plus one or two other communicators that I train. It’ll be live teaching each week. I cannot wait to bring the message on a regular basis. When I get to teach I feel like I’m standing right in the middle of what God created me to do.
  • Who will lead worship? I don’t know. This is an important role that will need to be filled by a leader who can build a great team. Please pray for God to provide exactly the right person to lead that team.
  • Will New Life Vestal still connected to the Endicott campus? Yes. That’s the best part! Pastor Sab will still be my leader. We’ll teach the same material. We’ll also maintain the same look and feel of all New Life campuses. Better yet, we’ll get to share resources, training and all sorts of connection with our greater New Life community. We get to be one church with many locations, reaching our community with local congregations while sharing all the efficiencies of a big church.
  • What do you need? First of all, I need people to pray. Pray God will provide the people, the facilities and the finances for this new venture. I am confident we’ll have plenty of families join us in this mission. I am certain we’ll locate a facility to house a couple hundred of us. The one thing we lack the most is the financing to move forward. It’s going to take God’s people giving above and beyond in order to fuel the mission moving forward. Those who respond to God’s call to invest in His kingdom will not be disappointed in how He makes use of those funds.

I can’t wait to write more about this new adventure as we plan and prepare in advance of the launch. Kelcy and I have been blown away with the many ways God has led the way for us throughout the years. We know that as we turn this corner, we will be amazed anew at the work of God’s hands.

Don’t go to church? Here’s why I do:  Why I Go To Church – Part 1

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Full Throttle at New Life

September 26, 2012 — Leave a comment

At New Life we’re going “Full Throttle”!

This is the message I got to bring to open up the series:

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/49692434 w=400&h=300]

Here are a few questions I have for you:

 3 Reasons to Go to Church This Weekend

3 Reasons to Go to Church this Weekend

Summer is roughly 8 days long here in Upstate NY, so we try to take full advantage of it. Vacations, day trips and cookouts are more fun when the sun’s shining.

But now we’re turning the corner to Fall. The kids are back in school. The weather’s cooler. It’s time to get the routine back on track. With that in mind, here’s…

3 Reasons  to Go to Church This Weekend:

  1. We miss you. Seriously, church isn’t the same without you. Worship is better with more voices. Ministries all over the church need more great volunteers like you. God has given you a story that intersects with ours, and when you’re not there, we miss out on getting to be part of it.
  2. Healthy habits grow us over time. Routine is crucial to our development in every area we want to grow. Consistency is a huge factor in growth, physically, mentally and spiritually. Weekly church attendance gives your soul fuel to keep growing.
  3. The time to start is now. If you don’t, you won’t. Even if you’ve never been to church, you need to start somewhere. Give it a try. The atmosphere is casual. You can come as you are, expecting to be accepted.

This weekend at New Life we’re starting a brand new series called, “Full Throttle”. We’ll be walking through the book of Acts, discovering God’s mission for the church. It’s the perfect time to drop in and see what it’s all about. I hope to see you there.

  • Going to church this weekend? Share it with your friends.
  • Got another reason to add? Post it in the comments!

Want to read more? Click on these:

  1. “Why I Go to Church – Part 1″
  2. “Why I Go to Church – Part 2″
  3. “Why I Go to Church – Part 3″
  4. “Why I Go to Church – Part 4″

Reason #1 – I need it.

Reason #2 – My family needs it.

Reason #3 – The Church needs me.

Reason #4 – We’re on a Mission

I’ve been part of New Life Ministries, in one way or another, for 30 years.

Today a friend brought in some old “church directories”.

  • I remembered what I looked like when I was 23 and came on staff for the first time. (Where’d that skinny guy go?)
  • A flood of memories resurfaced when I saw a picture of me getting baptized at 18.
  • I even got to laugh at my Dad’s mullet and the crazy mustaches represented in the 1982 directory.

The memories are great, and I hope my kids have them someday. Maybe in 20 years they’ll laugh their way through somebody’s online photo album from that thing we used to call “facebook”.

But there’s more to this whole church thing than just making memories. Bottom line, it’s about lives being changed by Jesus Christ.

Today I also got to sit in my office with a young man I have gotten to know over these past months. As he asked me questions about faith and baptism, he told me how God had orchestrated every experience over the course of his entire life in advance of the decision he was making at that moment. After experiencing both joy and pain in great amounts over a broad range of experiences, he was ready to place his faith wholly in Jesus. He did.

That’s what we’re all about, creating a community that welcomes people from all sorts of backgrounds. In that environment of love and acceptance, people get to experience what Christian community is all about well before they’re asked to make a decision for Jesus. We’re crazy enough to believe that, as they become part of the family, Jesus will become so attractive to them that they’ll cross that line of faith willingly.

It’s working. Over the past 15 years I’ve watch God grow our small community to over 1,000 friends who get to worship together over four different experiences a weekend.

  • Hopeless people have found new joy and promise in Jesus Christ.
  • Marriages have been saved, resurrected from the ruin of selfish living.
  • Children’s lives have been forever altered by God’s repair of their home.
  • Young men and women have been empowered to live a Christ-centered life, even against the grain of current culture.
  • I see it every day, lives being changed supernaturally. God is on the move, one heart at a time.
And He’s just getting started.

In the future we hope God will open the door to even more families as we open new locations, bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to new communities. Are you in on the mission? Are you part of bringing that hope to your community? If not, it’s a great time to step in.