Q & A with Pastor Mark Haines

A place for heartfelt, honest answers to your questions from a caring pastor

Category Archives: The Church

Three Steps Out of Church Stagnation

Why isn’t our church growing like it did when I was a kid?

“If you or people around you are focused on someone or something other than Christ and his Kingdom, the purpose of the Church is out of view.” (Dunn & Stevenson)

“The need of the church is not a methodological fix.  It is much more profound.  The church needs a mission fix.”  (Reggie McNeal)

Here are three steps that might help your church move out of a stagnant state.

Consider them carefully and prayerfully. Read more of this post

7 Overlooked Factors that Can Affect Your Church’s Finances

Pastor, a few months ago you answered a question about how to pray for your church’s finances.  Is there anything else our congregation can do in this economic recession?

Far too often churches decide they cannot give because their donations are down and the bank account balances are low.  While I’m not suggesting you throw caution to the wind, I believe there are several factors that can affect your church’s finances that are revealed in God’s promises to generous congregations.

Image: David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Read more of this post

Praying for Church Finances

This is one of my top 5 posts so I’ve revised and updated it.

Our church has been struggling financially.  Many of our members lost their jobs as well as their savings in this recession.  How can we pray for our church’s finances?

Here are a few suggestions based on God’s principles for finances and generosity.

Principle #1: God evaluates your giving based on your heart motives and your ability to give, not on the amount of your offering.

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(Mark 12:41—44; 2 Corinthians 8:2)

  • Ask God to help your congregation’s constituents to see every tithe and gift to the Lord is important.  That way no one will miss out on a blessing by thinking his/her giving won’t be missed.
  • Pray for the ability to give generously.

Principle #2: Find help and instruction to help everyone in your church to enjoy the freedom of getting out of debt.

(Romans 13:8; Proverbs 22:7)

  • Pray that the families and individuals in your church will pay off any outstanding debts they may have in order to experience financial freedom.

Principle #3: Giving should come from the cheerful generous heart of one who loves God.

(2 Corinthians 9:6—8)

  • Pray for your church members to love the Lord so much that they see giving to Him through the church as a joy and a privilege. Then, they will give generously as God enables them.

Principle #4: Give to God not only as an act of thanksgiving, but also in obedience to His command. When you obey Him, He promises to meet all your needs and to bless your lives.

(Malachi 3:6-10; Philippians 4:19)

  • Ask the Lord to give each member the courage to accept God’s challenge to test Him by giving at least a tithe (10%) of his/her income, even if it seems impossible.
  • Thank the Lord for honoring His promise to pour out a blessing on those who give.
  • Ask that as God pours out His blessings, whether material or spiritual, the person receiving them will know them as God’s blessings sent because of their obedient giving.

Principle #5: Your tithe should be the first thing you pay.

(1 Corinthians 16:2)

  • Ask the Lord give each member the courage to trust Him to meet all his or her needs as they give to Him first and then pay their bills.

Principle #6: Money can be used for good or for evil.

(1 Timothy 6:6—10, 17—19)

  • Ask the Lord to give each member the sense of contentment we all need to resist greed, and the desire to “keep up with the Jones’s.”
  • Pray for wisdom in how you spend and invest your money, especially so you can reap eternal dividends.

QUESTION OF THE DAY:

How do you pray for your church’s finances?

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What will we do in heaven?

What will we do in heaven?  What does the Bible tell us about the activities there?

Meeting Jesus face to face may knock you off your feet and unto your face.

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as if I were dead. But he laid his right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last.  Revelation 1:17

The creatures and angels in heaven worship God constantly.

Each of these living beings had six wings, and their wings were covered all over with eyes, inside and out. Day after day and night after night they keep on saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty— the one who always was, who is, and who is still to come.”  Revelation 4:8

For thousands of years these mighty angels have done nothing but look at our awesome, infinitely beautiful God and exclaim, “Holy!”

The highest angelic powers stand in awe of God.  He is far more awesome than those who surround his throne. Psalm 89:7

I looked again, and I heard the voices of thousands and millions of angels around the throne and of the living beings and the elders. And they sang in a mighty chorus: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered— to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.”  And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. They sang: “Blessing and honor and glory and power belong to the one sitting on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever.”  And the four living beings said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped the Lamb. Revelation 5:11-13

Thousands of angels and every living thing sing the praise of Jesus.  But that’s not all.

In heaven there will be an immense multitude of appreciative disciples.

After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. And they were shouting with a mighty shout, “Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne  and from the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living beings. And they fell before the throne with their faces to the ground and worshiped God. They sang, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and strength belong to our God forever and ever! Amen.” Revelation 7:9-12

We will spend eternity worshiping God.  There’s only one way to prepare for eternal, face to face worship.  Develop the attitudes and actions of worship here in this lifetime.

“Worship is not a style of music (or an activity for Sunday mornings).  It is living a lifestyle that pleases God” – Rick Warren, The Purpose-Driven Church (phrase added).

QUESTION OF THE DAY:

What do you think?  Would a good loving God force someone who’d rather be golfing or shopping to spend eternity in heaven where all we’ll do is worship him?

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Praying for Revival

WHAT IS REVIVAL?

Revive Us Again

It is a manifestation of God’s holiness, sovereignty, and power.  It is a special moving of God among a group of Christians where many experience God’s life changing power, and an atmosphere of conviction and repentance takes over . . . in this atmosphere sinners are saved.

WHEN SHOULD I PRAY FOR A PERSONAL REVIVAL?

  • When you sense a spiritual apathy; when you rarely hunger for more time in to read your Bible and to pray; when you seldom sense the Holy Spirit speaking to you
  • When you lack real compassion for people in need; when you feel little concern for those without Christ and little sense of personal responsibility for God’s presence and blessing in your local church.
  • When prayer is more of a duty than a joy; when you seldom sense God’s nearness when you pray.

WHEN SHOULD I PRAY FOR MY CHURCH’S REVIVAL?

  • When group prayer is lifeless; when there are only a few half-hearted praises to God.
  • When church services are seldom marked by a sense of God being present and speaking personally to people; when there is an aging congregation with an obvious lack of young married couples and youth.
  • When members seem apathetic about living holy lives; when the church lacks vision and concern for bringing their community to Christ; when there is interpersonal tension or unforgiveness in the church.

HOW SHOULD I PRAY FOR REVIVAL?

  • Ask God for a deep desire for revival.
  • Ask God for a prayer burden for revival.
  • Ask God to give you a promise to claim.
  • Pray humbly and persistently.
  • Ask God for a prayer partner and invite others to join you in special prayer meetings for revival.

HOW WILL I KNOW REVIVAL IS COMING?  God is sending revival…

  • When people who call themselves Christians act like Christians.
  • When Christians humbly admit their need for revival.
  • When more and more Christians pray.
  • When Christians seriously seek to meet with God in every worship service and meeting.
  • When Christians repent from our own sins.
  • When Christians hear God’s clear direction.
  • When Christians sense forgiveness and victory over our sins and shallowness.
  • When our broken land begins to heal.

QUESTION OF THE DAY:

Have you experienced a revival?  Please tell us about it.

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Care for Others

How can I express genuine concern for others?  I tend to be awkward in social settings but I want to share Jesus’ love with others.  What can I do?

Here’s a short list of suggestions that will take you a long way in showing genuine care for others.

Simply remember to C.A.R.E.–

CONNECT with people by talking to them.  It is easy to forget they often as uncomfortable as you are.  Introducing yourself is a good way to start a conversations.

ASK others questions about themselves.  Everybody likes to talk about himself or herself, if you show genuine interest.  Ask about their background,  job and family.  Share similar information about yourself.

RELATE to their lives in a credible, meaningful way.  Introduce them to people with similar interests or situation.

ENCOURAGE them.  Affirm their worth, identity, and purpose.  Make sure they know you’d love to get to know them more.

If this post has helped you, you may want to try one of these as well.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?  HOW DO YOU SHOW CONCERN FOR OTHERS?  JOIN THE CONVERSATION BY LEAVING YOUR COMMENTS.  IF THIS ARTICLE HAS HELPED YOU PLEASE USE ONE OF THE BUTTONS BELOW TO SHARE IT WITH YOUR FRIENDS AND FOLLOWERS.  THANK YOU.

Will God be mad because I fall asleep in church?

I keep falling to sleep in church. Will God be mad at me?

No, at least I sure hope not. 

Return to your rest, my soul,
   for the LORD has been good to you. (Psalm 116:7)

Image: Michal Marcol / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

My dad told me about a time that he fell asleep when my mom was preaching.  They were serving in their first pastorate in Peru, Indiana.  Dad was working ten hours a night on third shift and attempting to finish his last year of college.  Dad was trying to succeed in life on about two or three hours of sleep.  He spoke on Sunday mornings and mom preached on Sunday evenings.   One Sunday evening he fell asleep but mom got him back.  She called on him to close the service.

That reminds me of one of my college math professors.  He fell asleep during the pastor’s message and his wife woke him up by whispering in his ear.  She said, “Pastor called on you to close in prayer.”  Half asleep, my professor jumped to his feet, interrupting the sermon with his loud prayer thanking God for meeting with them and asking for his protection as they travelled home.  The congregation’s laughter woke him up fully.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

I’ve fallen asleep in church many times.  Like my father I tried to work full-time and go to college full-time.  Who needs sleep when God gave us caffeine, right?  Wrong!  We need sleep to function well.  I wrecked my car and broke my nose to learn that lesson.

If you listen to me, you can save yourself some pain and some cash.

  1. God will not be angry with you for falling asleep in church.
  2. Find out why you’re so tired.
  3. Get some more sleep, even if it means staying home from church once in a while.

If this post has helped you perhaps one of these articles will interest you too.

Do you have a story about falling asleep in church?  Share it with us in the comments.  Please share this post with others using the buttons below.  Thanks.

Why are you a pastor?

Why did you become a pastor?

First, these are not reasons that I became a pastor.

  • I did not become a pastor because my parents were pastors. Yes, both my mother and father were ordained ministers in The Wesleyan Church.  In fact, watching the battles they fought made me want to be anything but a pastor.
  • I did not become a pastor because my parents pushed me into the ministry.  They supported all of my dreams from being a cowboy to medical doctor to pastor without pushing me one way or another.
  • I did not become a pastor because I always thought I would be one.  Some people grow up knowing exactly what they will do as adults but I was over half way through my college studies when I began to consider the pastorate.
  • I did not become a pastor because I wanted to do it.  I fought the idea for over a year and even after struggling through my theological studies it took me four years to stop being sick every Sunday morning.

Now, the reasons I became and have stayed a pastor.

  • On a missions trip to Columbia, South America, I realized the world had many medical doctors.  But most people were lost spiritually.  They needed rest for their souls and faith in Christ to soothe their spirits.

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.  When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matthew 9:35-38)

  • I felt as though God left me with no choice.  I had to go to Asbury Theological Seminary if I was to continue following Jesus.
  • After I stopped being sick every Sunday morning, I began to enjoy talking to groups of people about Jesus and the Bible.  In fact, I look forward to each week now.
  • I simply cannot imagine doing anything else.  There is nothing quite like seeing people worship God with all their hearts, except seeing the light come on in their eyes when they understand the Bible in a new way.

Credit: Free images from acobox.com

What about you?  Why do you do the work you do?  Please let me know by leaving a comment.

Dealing with Critical People

How should I respond to a person who wrongly criticizes the pastor or others in our congregation?

Critical people are unhappy and draw comfort from sharing that feeling with others.  Critical people often carry deep wounds that they cannot allow to heal.  Critical people have been around for thousands of years.  They are inescapable.

Critical people seek out others in order to reinforce their statements.  They want to inflate the importance of their opinions by saying others agree with them.  It gives them a sense of power and influence.

Credit: Free images from acobox.com

Here are a few ideas that will prevent people from enjoying passing judgement on others to you.

  1. The person may not realize he or she has a critical attitude.  Let him or her know what the statements sounded. You could say, “I feel like you may be critical when I hear you say that.  Do you mean to sound like that?”
  2. When you hear deliberate criticism of others, ask the person if he or she has spoken with the one he or she is criticizing.  If not, you have a couple of options.  One the one hand, you can offer to go with him or her to serve as a catalyst in the conversation.  On the other hand, you may inform him or her that you will pass the information on to the one he or she is criticizing.
  3. Tell the critical person you believe God can help with the problem and you will pray as he or she goes to talk to the person that was criticized.  If the criticizer refuses to talk to whomever he or she is speaking about, assure him or her that you will talk to them.  Make sure he or she knows your goal is to improve the relationships in the church.  Go to the other person and bring these parties together to talk out the situation.

If you follow these suggestions critical people will either be changed by God’s grace or they will stop talking to you.

You may find one or more of the following posts helpful as well.

What do you think?  How have you dealt with critical people?  Share your story with us in the comments.  If this article has helped you please use one of the buttons below to share it with your friends and followers.  Thanks.

TOP TEN REASONS TO ATTEND WORSHIP

Why should I attend worship at a church?

MY TOP TEN REASONS TO WORSHIP THIS SUNDAY

Come on in

10.  It’s a good excuse to buy new jeans.

9.    It can’t be as boring as you think.

8.    Most pastors are truly caring people.

7.    You might see an old friend or meet a new friend.

6.    Even atheists and agnostics check out worship celebrations from time to time.

5.    The church roof has not been tested for a couple of years.

4.    It will give you the right to tell your grandmother, “I went to church.”

3.    Your nosey neighbor won’t know what you’re up to.

2.    Attending worship will give you a good opportunity to connect with God in a fresh way.

1.    You’ve said, “I need to go back to church” long enough.  Just do it.

You may find one of the following posts helpful too.

What do you think?  What are your reasons for attending worship at a church?  Tell me in the comments section.  By the way, please use one of the buttons below to share this post with your friends.  Thank you.

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