Monday, August 25, 2008

How to be an Ineffective Church Member II

Only Pray Occasionally
Paramount in your quest for ineffectiveness in church life is that you have infrequent communication with God. Infrequent prayer will develop an icy breeze that will blast through your character and cool down any heart warming for a closer walk with God and a love for others that might be heating up within.
Don’t be misled into thinking that the simplest route is to abandon prayer completely. Such a drastic step has the possibility of sparking feelings of guilt, which will hinder your slip sliding away approach to church commitment. Remember that a slow death of spiritual vigour is the easiest to handle, so you do need the odd gasp of the vital breath of prayer to make the whole process a lot less painful.
On a personal level there are some basic components that assist in developing an irregular prayer life. A meaningless repetitive grace at mealtimes can help make the whole sphere of prayer a mere recitation. It is also advisable for those infrequent excursions to your knees to gather up as many little clich├ęs as you can. These will ensure that your infrequent prayers don’t get too personal, for that again tends to stir up the spiritual juices. Try hard to limit your praying to cover the big decisions of life – what your opinion should be on global warming, the expansion of the European Union and the pros and cons of world trade embargoes. Such an approach will help you work into your life a sense of the utter futility of prayer.
Do not at any cost start talking to God about who He is, your sin, what you have to thank Him for or communicate with Him about the details of your everyday life. Keep prayers really vague, “God bless all missionaries everywhere all the time.” These generalities will mean that you will never be aware of God answering prayers and the desire will decrease. Remember also to only pray when you feel like praying. Never force yourself to your knees.
No matter how many times the minister asks for prayer for himself and the church missionaries you must resist any tendency to do this on a regular basis. Once a year would be a reasonable approach for such prayers as a good conscience salving measure. When the church has a bookstall, divert your eyes from books on prayer and any study guides for exploring Bible prayers. If the minister announces a forth coming series on prayer you must initiate Getaway Plan A, that long planned visit to your mother’s second cousin twice removed in Outer Mongolia. Sitting under preaching on prayer will scupper any progress you are making.
With regards to prayer at a corporate level there are ten golden rules for utter ineffectiveness in church membership:
Only appear at the Sabbath morning prayer meeting when you have a doctor’s certificate to say that such an early start will not seriously damage your health. You need your lie in.
Make several guest appearances where you talk about the importance of the prayer meeting to as many as possible. Such holy chit chat will give the impression that you are there all the time.
A few well-timed appearances at the prayer meeting just before the annual session oversight visit to your home, will keep at bay any pleas for commitment to corporal prayer..
When the elder who leads the prayer meeting asks for prayer points keep your head down and your lip firmly buttoned, unless of course you have some juicy gossip to share.
During your infrequent appearances try to tune out the passionate prayers of others in case such godliness rubs off. Think rather about your busy schedule for the incoming week.
Thinking about going more often than you do is quite sufficient. After all it is the thought that counts.
If your congregation issues a prayer diary each year leave it in your pew or at least stuck at the back of your Bible.
When mission activities are coming up in congregational life avoid those extra prayer times that will be announced. Your life is too busy.
Tune out the pleas of the minister for a deeper commitment to prayer in the congregation and don’t believe him when he says that without prayer there will be no blessing.
Don’t allow guilty thought patterns to develop. You do go to the prayer meeting. It is just that the times that they arrange don’t fit in with your hectic lifestyle.
Remember a regular prayer slot in the Christian life is like breathing in invigorating fresh mountain air. Start praying regularly and you will soon find that your “Royale family style couch potato” lethargy will begin to disappear and the next thing you know you’ll be one of those active members that encourages everyone in the congregation.
You’ve been warned – Keep off the knees.
Bible Bits to keep clear of: Philippians 4:6&7; Nehemiah 9, Luke 11:1-13

The Gospel and Personal Evangelism Mark Dever

This is a cracker book on personal evangelism. It is a short book punching well above its weight. Dever sets our the usual point of the why and how to of personal evangelism. It is fresh and full of helpful one liners thatt stir up the juices to be sharing the glorious good news of Jesus - crucified and risen. This is a must read for anyone with a concern to bring the gospel to the lost and perishing. I like the way that Dever doesn't give you the gloss and glitz of how to but again and again brings the reader to the cross. It is both personal and practical but not in a sickening manner. This is an afternoon read. It would be beneficial to study with a friend. Buy six and give them out. Below is what's in it.

Introduction: An Amazing Story
1 Why Don’t We Evangelize?
2 What is the Gospel?
3 Who Should Evangelize?
4 How Should We Evangelize?
5 What Isn’t Evangelism?
6 What Should We Do After We Evangelize?
7 Why Should We Evangelize?
Conclusion: Closing the Sale
Recommended Reading
Appendix: A Word to Pastors