9 Reasons A Good Welcome Makes A Difference

Most of us don’t have any problem knowing how to gather for a time of informal fun and food, but what can we do in a simple church gathering when we need a little structure? We have discovered that one of the best ways is to use a little outline that some call the 4 W’s – Welcome / Worship / Word / Work.


4 W'sGood meetings happen when we are linked together and everyone present feels wanted and welcome. Even though we see and speak to one another often during the week we need some time to reconnect. The Welcome time should help us transition from informal chatting and visiting to a more focused time of edification.

Here are 9 reasons why I believe that a directed focus on welcoming one another into a small group, cell group or simple church meeting is important:

  1. We reconnect with the group no matter how well we might know the other members
  2. We get involved from the beginning
  3. We participate in an atmosphere of listening
  4. We feel valued as others listen to us
  5. We learn some fun things about one another
  6. We hear our own voices in a group setting
  7. We develop a sense of belonging
  8. We are reminded that we are the body of Christ
  9. We strengthen our “one another” bond before we direct our attention to God in worship, look into His Word and seek to see where He is working in our world.

What reasons would you add to the list?

Grace and Peace,


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5 Questions To Ask Before Meeting With Your Church

Are you bringing anything to your church meetings other than your body? Many times we think only about receiving something for ourselves when we gather with our church or small group. But do you ever think about bringing something to share?

You can’t “one another” by yourself.

One of the hallmarks of simple church meetings should be mutual sharing. These together times are wonderful opportunities for us to practice the one another scripture passages we find in our Bibles. The term “one another” implies within itself the concept of sharing because you can’t “one another” by yourself.

Here are 5 questions to ask before you gather with your church or small group.

  1. What can I bring that will help us center on Christ’s Lordship
  2. What can I bring that will help us build up Christ’s body
  3. What can I bring that will help us participate in Christ’s mission
  4. What can I bring that will help us grow as Christ followers
  5. What can I bring that will help us extend Christ’s Kingdom

Other than a plate of brownies, what will you bring to your next church meeting?

Any thoughts or ideas?

Grace and Peace,


The Family that Retreats Together

Our prayer retreat was a family retreat. Sometimes the children romped and played children’s games with one another but we also did a lot of things intergenerationally. We ate together, sang together, told stories together, played board games together, studied the Bible together and prayed together.

Doing things together.

I got to spend some time in conversion with Joelle and P.J. during dinner on Saturday evening. Joelle and I talked about her favorite subjects and her 2nd grade friends.  She told me about a close friend who was going to move because her dad was looking for a new job. Her mom and dad also joined in the conversation.

Around the campfire we shared some great stories. We did not limit our singing to fun songs with motions and actions. The children sang along with us in praise and worship.

David was bold and slept in his tent with four boys, preschool to age 12.

Several adults and the children played board games together. Their laughter was contagious and heart warming.

Studying God’s Word Together

One of the most rewarding things for me was the intergenerational nature of our Bible study on Saturday afternoon. We examined the prayer life of Jesus form the gospels. We were divided into two groups and the children were grouped with their parents. They read scripture and asked and answered questions. We did not “dumb” down the study time but simply included them in the conversation about the times and manner of the Jesus’ prayer life.

We need to remember that Jesus’ parents found him, at age 12, in the temple sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions. (Luke 2:46-52)

Don’t take your children for granted and don’t send them off to a back room to watch a video. Sit down and talk with them. Play a game with them. Study God’s Word with them. Pray with them.

Father, help us understand that corporate prayer means intergenerational prayer.

Grace and Peace,

Join the conversation: What are some ways we can be more intergenerational in our church gatherings?

6 Reflections From Our Prayer Retreat

Camping in the rainI had a great experience at the prayer retreat last weekend. Let me share 6 things that touched my life.

1. Conversation with friends

There’s just something about a good cup of coffee and good conversation. The relaxed schedule offered many opportunities to sit and talk with friends. We shared stories from our past and expressed hopes for our tomorrows.

2. Flying a kite

Friday was a beautiful day with enough wind to get my kite aloft. Lying on the ground looking up at the blue sky and feeling the kite tug at the string in my hand helped me spend some time with an old friend of mine.

3. Singing and telling stories around a campfire

We took advantage of the pretty weather on Friday night and had a campfire. It was great singing those old camp songs like Little Cabin in the Woods and Kumbaya. We’ve also got some good story tellers in our group.

4. Sleeping in a tent with my wife

I don’t know how many times I have spent the night in a tent. It has always been something that I took for granted. I had never taken time to realize that Beth never got to camp out. I neglected to observe that it was something she had always wanted to do. I am  so glad that after 37 years of marriage we got to share that experience.

5. 30 hours with out . . .

The retreat afforded 30 hours without a phone, texting, messaging, email, computer . . . You get the picture.

6. Refreshing times of prayer

We had several stations of prayer based of the phrases of the Disciple’s Prayer. The schedule was relaxed giving us time to visit each station during the day on Saturday. Those times refreshed and renewed me – something I greatly needed.

Grace and Peace,

Join the conversation: Do you practice the life habit of retreating?

The Lord’s Template

The Lord's TemplateWe’ve been examining Matthew 6:9-13 for the past few weeks when our church gathers. This passage is often referred to as “The Lord’s Prayer” but better titles are “The Model Prayer” or “The Disciple’s Prayer.”

We were listening to the Spirit speak through the God’s Word and one another when someone laughing used the phrase, “The Lord’s Template.” Since a template is a generic model or pattern, we decided to use that phrase for the title of our study.

Look at the pronouns . . .

One of the things we discovered in this template is that the only singular pronoun in this prayer is in reference to God –  your name / your kingdom / your will.

All the rest are plural. . .our / us / our / us / we /our / us / us

We share our lives with others

This prayer template prompts us that we share our lives with others. So, who are these people who turn our “my’s” into “our” and our “me’s” into “us”?

  • Friends and family
  • Coworkers and neighbors
  • Fellow Christ followers in my church and elsewhere
  • Strangers and acquaintances
  • Women and men
  • Young and old
  • People who are like me and those who are not
  • Those near and those far away

Make a list of at least 5 people in your life and pray using Matthew 6:9-13 as a template.

Grace and Peace,

Join the Conversation: How does prayer connect you to other people?

Same Time Tomorrow

As my eyes scanned the room I realized that he was sitting at the same table as the week before. When he rose to leave the Batista asked, “See you tomorrow?” to which he replied emphatically, “same time!”

I think I’ll go back tomorrow too. There might be an opportunity for a conversation.

Due to the nature of my work I have to be very intentional about finding times and places to meet people and build relationships. My office is in my home. My work appointments are in connection with Starboard Nets and mostly with believers. I have been thinking of ways to better connect with people and have come up with a few new ideas.

Extend Meeting Times

My appointments are in public places (usually some place where I can get a cup of coffee). I used to arrive right about the scheduled time and leave when finished. My new goal is to arrive at least 30 minutes early and stay 30 minutes after the meeting is over.

Frequent the Same Places

By regularly using the same meeting place, conversations I start can be continued in the future.

Put Down That Book

In the past, when I was early or my appointment was late I would read. That’s OK, but I can easily disappear into the latest book I am reading. Now, I put my book down and make an effort to really see and interact with the people around me.

On Site with Insight

I use this time to watch what is going on around me. I pray remembering what I learned when I first started prayer walking: Pray on site with insight. I ask the Father to show me someone to talk with. Sometimes it’s a fellow customer who seems to be in a talkative mood. Sometimes it’s with someone who works there.

When you are in public places practice the habit of “praying on site with insight.”

Grace and Peace,

Join the Conversation: What are some things you do to help you meet people, start conversations and build relationships?