Church Closings Revisited…

United Methodist ministers meet annually with other ministers and church attenders. This is known as an annual conference. It’s a visioning/business meeting sort of thing.  Reports are read and presentations are made that highlight the state of the church.

One of the reports/presentations includes churches that have closed. It’s always sad to hear the church names read while a picture is placed on the screen. It’s one thing to hear a name but  another thing to see the church. They come in many forms and happen in what seems every type of community.  During this presentation, people that have attended those churches as part of the church body are asked to stand.

This year it hit home more than usual as a close friend stood when his childhood church’s name was added to the list.  The church was 9th Street UMC in Decatur, AL. His mother was still a part until it closed. In fact, it’s the church you see at the beginning of this post.

Every church seems to have a season and some close. They close for various reasons… Lack of vision, leaders like the power of their position and won’t give up their post, financing, lack of ability to attract new people or even the lack of desire to have new people, just to name a few. I also believe that there are times when you can do all you know to do and it’s still not enough. The season is over.

As I heard the names read this year, as in years past, I wonder how it ended up this way. Who wants to be a part of a church that is declining to the point of closing? My guess is nobody!  The churches, at one time had been vibrant and full of life, as people who stood on the conference floor when their church was read could testify.

I understand that some churches come to the end of their useful life – none of Paul’s churches still exist. But what frightens me are  those churches that close that hadn’t finished serving God the way God had hoped.  That could happen in many ways, I’ll leave you to guess what that would  look like…

But the one question I have relates to our love for the “have nots.”  Did any of the closed churches quit loving  the “have nots?”  Did they love on those they had, “the haves” and  lose sight of the ones they didn’t, the “have nots?”

Loving the “haves” is very important. But, in my opinion, the love for the “have nots” must be incredibly important too. Nothing earth shattering here. While many believers may agree, the question remains, what are we doing to reach  the “have nots”  on a personal level?  Many believers would agree that we should, but how many actually have a personal strategy for actually reaching the “have nots?”  Many may have a detailed strategy, I just don’t know, but my hunch is, my gut instinct is, they don’t – but I hope I’m wrong.

If you don’t have a specific plan to reach the “have nots”, then I hope you’ll give it some thought. I don’t think  we need to pray about “should we”,  but instead pray that God will guide lead you in ways to do it.

It’s something to seriously think about, if we haven’t, and time to put that plan into action.

Habits of Productive People

Who doesn’t want to become more productive? To feel great about the day’s accomplishments! If you want to become more productive, these might be the ticket for you!

These come from Forbes Magazine’s online article 9 Habits of Productive People:

  1.  Cut your  “to do” list in half
  2. Take more breaks
  3. Follow the 80/20 rule
  4. Use your morning to focus on yourself
  5. Tackle your challenging tasks before lunch

To see the details and learn the next 4 then read more here!

Why Easter’s not on a set date every year…

Christmas is always on December 25th – right? So what’s up with Easter? Why is it not on a set date every year?  Glad you asked!  Here’s the skinny on Easter…

The Council of Nicaea set the date of Easter in 325 A.D. They determined it to be the Sunday following the paschal full moon, which is the first full moon on or after the spring equinox.

So, Easter is always the first Sunday after the first full moon that falls on or after March 21.

That means it can fall between March 22 to April 25th.

You can read more about the significance of the paschal full moon here.

Cut Your Cell Bill – Frugal Phone Plans

I’m amazed at how much people spend on their phone service and their actual phones! Let me confess what you’re already thinking – obviously he doesn’t have an Apple Iphone. And you’d be correct. Don’t get me wrong, I love apple products and would surely love an Iphone – but only if someone else is paying for it! Which isn’t happening right now in my life! Not that it may not change at some point – never say never! But for now I’m happy with an Android phone – but  let  me tell you why…

Features and cost are the two main selling points for me. I use the Kyocera Hydro phone that weighs in at a  whooping cost of $42.95 on I must admit that I periodically suffer ridicule from my Apple Fanboy friends when they see my Android phone! Until I tell them about  the Boost advantage… that advantage – cost and service! I pay less than $50.00 per month for UNLIMITED EVERYTHING through Boost mobile who uses the Sprint network. Big bonus is no contracts! Month to month, pay as you go. Did I mention unlimited everything?

Google Project fi

But now Google has entered the market with the Project fi with unlimited domestic calls and texts starting at $20.00 per month and you can add friends and family or $15.00!  There are limited phone choices but for me that  doesn’t really matter after using an Android that does everything I need.

Republic Wireless

Then there is a company most have never heard of but is well known by those that value the dollar. Those that don’t have money to blow and would rather spend it on experiences than material things. The company is called Republic Wireless with plans starting out as low as $15.00 per month. Seriously, read more about it  on their website,

Think of all the options of having a lower phone bill that does everything you need! Check these out and do your own research, you may want to make a change. Do the math of all the money you could be saving.  You might be surprised if you do the math.

Practicing the Presence of God

Was doing my morning reading today and ran across something that I wanted to share. It’s something that I don’t think we give much thought to, I could  be wrong, but…. It’s known as practicing the presence of God.  Here is what was noted in respect to that important topic as noted in the intro to “Tending to the Holy”…

“Foremost among our parents in practicing the presence of God is Brother Lawrence, who penned the spiritual classic, The Practice of the Presence of God….He saw all of life as a response to God’s ever-present and loving presence.  According to Brother Lawrence, “the most holy and necessary practice in the Christian life is the presence of God.  Whether in the kitchen, running an errand, buying provisions, or receiving the Eucharist, Brother Lawrence asserted that our calling as Christians is simply to be attentive  to God’s presence in our lives.  Following the apostle Paul’s counsel to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thes. 5:17), Brother Lawrence advised that “whatever we do, even if  we are reading the Word or praying, we should stop for a few minutes – as  often as possible – to praise  God, to enjoy God there in secret”

I wonder how our lives would be different if we followed this practice? How it might change everyday decisions knowing that we are in the presence of God? In essence that’s what is already occurring, but we often fail to recognize that God is present – seeing all we do.

What decisions would  you have made differently if you truly recognized that God was present?

Now that you are acutely aware that is the case, how will it affect decisions in the future?

Practice the presence of  God…

The One Thing…And Sunday?

Over the last several months I’ve been studying the productivity concept of “multitasking”.  After reading “Deep Work” and “The One Thing”, I have reinforced my belief that multitasking actually hurts productivity.

These books actually land on a concept called “Block Timing”. In essence, you are more productive when you block off periods of time and remain focused on one thing. Cut off social media (there is actually software that you can use to block you from social media for a block of time – no chance of being interrupted.) Shut off all Email etc… Refuse to be distracted until you get your one thing done.

In “The One Thing” it suggests that you always center on this focus question:

“What’s the ONE THING you can do, such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

As I read books like this I’m reminded of the spiritual applications and ramifications when we transfer these principals to our spiritual lives.

in this instance I wonder what would happen if as Christians we made Sunday Worship our “One Thing” each week. What if we decided to block off that day to “Remember the Sabbath?” To not allow any distractions. To rest, and renew our minds and bodies? To quit multitasking.  What would the church look like filled with singing and praising God. What would our relationships begin to look like? How about our communities? How about ourselves?

Have we forgotten that remembering the Sabbath is one of the top 10? 10 Commandments that is.  It’s the only one that begins with “Remember.”  Could it be that God knew that we’d forget?  Could it  be that  God knew the renewing power of that day to renew our mind, body and spirit?

That commandment mentions Sabbath.  For Christians that has become Sunday. But if you work on Sundays, even as pastors we do that, find another day  to rest and renew. Attend an alternate night of worship as so  many churches offer.

I’m afraid that most of our Sundays are spent multitasking – working, sports, cleaning, grocery shopping, and maybe worship…

I hope that you’ll consider making Sunday a day of worship at your church.  That you might block off that day from distractions to find rest and renewal.  It will make a difference or it wouldn’t be one of  the top 10!

Remember the Sabbath…


Ages 25-35 Wanted!

More and more studies seem to concur that the Christian church is starting to experience a huge gap in the 25-35 age group.  Some would say that if we don’t have a course correction there will be a gap that will take quite a while to make up.  This age group has become affectionately known as Millennials.


  • Make up 25 % of the US. population
  • 53% already have children
  • Almost 50% like purchases that support a cause and 37% say they’re will to pay more for it
  • 46% reported 200 Facebook friends
  • 2.5 times more likely to be an early adopter of technology
  • 69% say they crave adventure
  • Read more here

More alarming is their dropout rate when it comes to church.

  • 59% who were raised in a church have dropped out
  • Only 4% are bible based believers
  • 96% don’t live out the teachings of the bible

So what can we do to reach this segment before it’s too late? offers 12 potential reasons why this is happening ranging form:

  • We’re sick of hearing about values and mission statements
  • Churches with no desire to really help the poor
  • Distrust and misallocation of resources
  • and 9 others

Read the entire article, and it’s worth the read if we want to reach them, here…

What Would Jesus Have to Do?

What would Jesus have to do/prove, for you to reclaim Sunday worship on a consistent basis?

  • Be Baptized? Done!
  • Resist temptation in the desert? Done!
  • Convince 12 men who didn’t know him to follow him? Done!
  • Preach a moving sermon from a mount? Done!
  • Heal a leper? Done!
  • Heal a Roman officer’s son? Done!
  • Heal a sick woman and others? Done!
  • Calm a storm? Done!
  • Give sight to the blind? Done!
  • Remove sickness? Done!
  • Help the lame to walk again? Done!
  • Turn water into wine? Done!
  • Raise people from the dead? Done!
  • Love you unconditionally? Done!
  • Be crucified? Done!

Seriously, what would it take for you to take back Sunday worship on a consistent basis?

What if Jesus was willing to die for you? Oh yeah, done!

So, fill in the blank…. I would give Jesus my Sunday worship consistently if he would only ______________.

Reclaim the Sabbath, Jesus has already done everything possible for you.

Now it’s time to reclaim the Sabbath and worship him for all He’s ALREADY done for YOU!

You got this! You can do it! You can do it this Sunday and start doing it consistently.

One day He’ll thank you for it! 🙂

Mini Retirements – a new trend?

Are you familiar with the new trending concept of  Mini Retirements? Odds are you’re like me and have never heard of the concept, much less know that the concept is actually getting some traction.

In a nutshell, people aren’t waiting for the traditional retirement ages, to retire.  They’ve made a decision to take mini-retirements while they’re still young. Retirements in bursts throughout life, not just at the end when health factors may limit choices.

To sum it up as stated on the blog, Bren on the Road…

You can experience the joy of retirement during your youth

There are certain things that you can’t do (or can’t do as well) when you’re 65 and up, especially physical things such as kite-surfing, climbing mountains, enduring 20-hour train rides, cliff jumping – the list goes on.

When you take a mini-retirement at 30, you can still do all these things with your youthful body. Your hips won’t die on you when you sit on a bus for hours, your back won’t buckle when a wave throws you off your surfboard at 20 miles an hour. It’s not only more fun, but it’s safer and healthier.

Your mind is also young. You learn things easier, you remember things better. You get the chance to become a student again while your brain is still fresh and clicking. I’ve met many older folk in my language classes that talk of difficulties in remembering vocabulary and conjugations, and I’ve also experienced this as the years click on.

As the old saying goes, youth is wasted on the young.

If you would like to learn how to take your first mini retirement then you can read more from Bren on the Road blog here – it’s a great read!

10 Tips to Becoming a Better Adult Sibling

Having a sister 8 years my junior…  I probably wasn’t the best brother she could have hoped for. No, I can drop the “probably”, I could have been better!  I remember one of my “blue ribbon” experiences that left a scar!  On her not me! I chased her around a swimming pool aggravating her…  It was hilarious for me watching her and hearing her scream her head off…  Funny right up until her leg fell into the pool drain, her shin skin being ripped up her leg to the actual bone where it rubbed the concrete going in, etc…  She still reminds me of that one!  And that’s just one of many incidences.

Before you get all holy on me, you probably have a similar story!

Luckily, as we got older we became closer but there were some gaps in those years!  Unfortunately, for many, they remain adversaries once they become adults.  They only grow apart as siblings.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.  It doesn’t have to end that way.

If you would like to have a better relationship with your sibling then maybe you need to be the one to initiate the move. If you would like to do that then you might want to read this article that has 10 Tips to Becoming a Better Adult Sibling.