Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Avoid Dumb Mistakes Christians Make

Whitney Hopler has contributed the following "dumb mistakes" to What are your thoughts on some of these? (Please overlook the format...I can't seem to get it to work properly.)

* Dropping out of church.
Don’t be one of those Christians who is missing
in action. Make sure you’re participating in worship services and other
church activities regularly, so you can keep growing and others can see
that you’re serious about your faith.

* Chronically complaining. Rather than focusing on the negative, ask God
to help you to see the positive. Make it a habit to notice your
blessings, thank God for them, and think and act in positive ways. Ask
God to help you be content, peaceful, and joyful –– no matter what your
current circumstances. Whenever you have a problem with particular person
or group of people (such as church leaders), go directly to them to work
it out rather than just blabbing about it to others. Try to encourage
other people on a regular basis, through kind words and actions.

* Taking without giving. Instead of taking everything the church has to
offer without giving anything back, commit to volunteering your time and
energy to help out in at least one of your church’s ministries. Know that
contributing however you can –– even in small ways –– will make a big
difference in your congregation.

* Misbehaving. Be sure to practice what you preach. When you say you
believe something, yet act in ways that are inconsistent with that
belief, you become a hypocrite who turns people away from the faith. Ask
God to help you life every part of your life with integrity. Don’t
participate in any activities that you’d be embarrassed about if other
people in your church knew you were engaging in them.

* Winning people to the church rather than to Christ. Remember that the
reason why you’re trying to reach people with your faith isn'’t simply so
they can join your church –– it’s so they can have a relationship with
Christ. Focus on Him, whether or not the people you’re reaching end up
worshiping in your particular church or not. When you discuss your
church, make sure you’re not giving people unrealistic expectations about
what to expect there. Recognize that just joining a church won’t
magically make people’s problems disappear. Be honest about the fact that
church, like any other place, has some difficult and unpleasant people
and that the church someone joins isn'’t always going to be like it is
currently, because change is inevitable. Emphasize that Christ (not the
church) is the way, the truth, and the life.

* Living below the level of your beliefs. Be alert to sins that can slip
past your spiritual radar and become part of your daily routine. Reject
materialism by refusing to waste time and energy on pursuing things God
isn'’t clearly calling you to pursue. Reject worry by trusting that God is
in control, even when you’’re under pressure. Reject superiority by
praying for a humble heart. Help your church become a place that presents
God’s whole message instead of watered-down, seeker-friendly principles.
Get to know the Bible well, and be ready to speak from Scripture rather
than pop psychology when talking with others. Stay connected to God
through daily prayer, and give Him your heart anew each day to stay close
to Him.

* Speaking above the level of your knowledge. Be careful about saying
more than you truly know. Resist the temptations to analyze people,
explain suffering, spread rumors, or believe everything you hear. Take
the time to think before you speak. Ask God to keep you from doing harm
through your conversations and help you do good through them instead.

* Hopping from church to church. Realize that there’s no such thing as a
perfect church. Rather than constantly searching for a church that can
serve you better, decide to serve your current church. Ask God to give
you the motivation to become committed and involved. Remember the
blessings that come from a long-term commitment to one church: a sense of
belonging, a sense of accomplishment, discoveries about yourself, lots of
meaningful relationships, and a powerful witness for Christ. Start giving
your time, energy, and money on a regular basis to contribute to your
church’s work. Join a Sunday school class or small group to build
friendships with others in your congregation. Understand that there are
many biblical commands that you can’t fulfill if you’re church-hopping,
such as: being devoted to one another, serving one another, building
yourselves together, teaching and counseling each other, building each
other up, leaving peaceably with each other, encouraging and warning each
other, confessing your sins to each other and praying for each other, and
living in harmony with one another.

* Fighting among yourselves. Do all you can to work conflicts with other
Christians out peacefully. Understand that church feuds lead to disaster,
because: church leaders are distracted, church members not involved in
the feud are discouraged, God’s work is disrupted, the community’s
seekers are disenchanted, important beliefs such as forgiveness are
disregarded, the congregation’s testimony is discredited, and God Himself
is dishonored. Remember Christ’s statement that believers’ love for one
another will prove to the world that they are His disciples. Help create
a calm and loving culture in your church by obeying church leaders,
confronting troublemakers, refuting heresy, meeting hurting people’s
needs, suppressing legalism and modeling grace and kindness, discouraging
arguments, and forgiving sinners.

* Missing golden opportunities. Don’t overlook the mundane moments in
life when opportunities to share the Gospel suddenly materialize. Seize
opportunities that arise at the grocery store, PTA meeting, bank window,
gas pump, ball field, or anywhere else God nudges you to witness to
someone. Know that some opportunities, if they are missed, will be lost
forever. Understand that God will give special opportunities to those who
are committed and prepared, so make sure you know Scripture well.
Recognize that some opportunities are much larger than they first appear,
and that on opportunity is too small or insignificant. Understand that
some opportunities bear immediate fruit for the kingdom. Remember that
the goal of every opportunity should be to lead people to Christ, rather
than to a church program. Ask God to give you the passion you need to
seize the opportunities He brings your way.

* Settling for mediocrity. Don’t believe that the quality of your work
doesn'’t matter when you volunteer in ministry, because you’re not a
professional. Realize that excellence matters, because: God loves
excellence, the Bible commands it, and people respond to it. Ask God to
give you the courage to make decisions for excellence. Decide to serve in
your areas of giftedness. Invest the money necessary to provide excellent
services, programs, equipment, etc. at your church. Thoroughly plan and
prepare for events. Persevere and work hard, trusting that your best
efforts are worthwhile.

* Allowing wolves to live among the sheep. Watch out for spiritual wolves
(troublemakers) among the sheep (faithful people) in your congregation.
Confront gossips, liars, caustic critics, legalists, and power-hungry
manipulators. Realize that they can be deceptive, but will eventually
reveal themselves by how they act. Don’t be afraid to call evil what it
is –– evil. Don’t allow people to destroy others in your congregation
through their bad behavior. Confront them, all the while remembering that
your goal isn'’t to shame them, but to bring them back into a right
relationship with God. Don’t be afraid to follow biblical principles for
church discipline whenever you need to do so.


Michael Louviere said...

I would say they are all great and accurate, other than "Winning people to the church rather than to Christ". I believe it is Christ whom wins people, not us. But other than that I think those are pretty great to keep in remembrance. I could probably give a little more to my Church. That would be one I could work on.

Shannon said...

Hi Michael and thanks for dropping by :)

I agree with you and I would hope that the Christ in us would create an interest in others to consider Christ for themselves.