Today's Word for Pastors...
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
Today's Preaching Insight...
Why Do People Switch Churches?
More than 1 in 5 adults who switch to a new church move away from traditional worship, finds recent LifeWay Research. Church Switchers often choose a new church that is different in several ways from their previous one, and most end up not attending traditional services as they did formerly. 53% attended traditional style worship; of that, only 29% switched to churches with traditional services.
The most popular worship styles among switchers are blended worship (38%) and contemporary worship (33%). 46% move to a larger church while 29% go to a smaller one and 25% find one the same size as their former church. Among those who attended a church of 100 or less, 79% switch to a larger church. Among those who attended a church of more than 500, 57% moved to a smaller church. 54% change denominations when switching. 44% consider denomination an important selection factor.
Among those who have disagreements with their previous church's teachings or positions on issues, 71% change denominations. Only 4% left a previous church because they could no longer identify with that particular denomination. 87% base their selection on preaching and 90% have found preaching that meets their need for relevance, interest and clarity. 91% consider the preaching at their current church relevant while only 44% say this about their previous church. 91% say their current preacher holds their attention vs. only 37% who claim this about their previous preacher; 86% are challenged by the preaching at their new church to live and think biblically compared to only 39% who were previously so challenged. 97% attend worship at their current church; 84% contribute financially vs. 69% previously; and 64% volunteer compared to 51% before. Also, 60% attend a small group, Sunday school or discipleship class at their new church. Moreover, 74% become a member of their current church vs. 69% at their previous church. (Church Leaders Intelligence Report, 6-27-07)
In a recent Turning Point Daily Devotional, David Jeremiah relates this story: During the mid-twentieth century, one of the most recognizable brand icons in America was a dog sitting in front of an old-time gramophone, head cocked, listening to the sound. That iconic image, owned by the RCA Victor record company, was taken from a painting by English artist Francis Barraud. The dog, Nipper, had been owned by Barraud's brother who had recorded his voice on early phonograph records. After the brother died, Barraud inherited Nipper and the gramophone and records. Whenever the records with Nipper's master's voice were played, the dog would sit in front of the gramophone listening to his master's voice.
That's a beautiful image of the relationship between Jesus Christ and us. He has gone away from earth, so we can no longer hear His physical voice. But we sit in front of His Word, and kneel before Him in prayer, and listen for our Master's voice. The Bible was given to be the voice of the Lord until He returns, and prayer is how we confirm what we believe He has spoken to our hearts. How easily can you pick out the Master's voice from all others?
Listening for the Master's voice is a sign of loyalty and longing -- an indication that we are eager to hear and obey.