BY COREY WADE
With my degree in Bible and almost a decade of experience teaching Sunday School, I feel it is my solemn duty to tell you that the Church has been doing small groups wrong for the last 2000 years. All those Godly men and women sadly missed the mark for over a couple millennia. But do not fear, this 29-year-old has finally figured out the secret to church growth that has eluded all our forefathers. I have laid out before you a plan to make new visitors feel most welcome when they come into your small group. Do the following steps and no one will EVER leave your small group. Since I’m hoping to turn these timeless tips into a book deal, I have broken these steps into a catching and life affirming acronym:
BY KENT BUSH
Sheep are dumb.
They will eat themselves to death if someone doesn’t stop them. Honestly though, I’ve been at a Golden Corral a few times when I wondered if we were going to need a good shepherd to use his crook to pull some folks away from the roast beef.
I saw a modern day shepherd one night when I was going to cover a small-school basketball game for my newspaper.
In more than 45 years of life I had never seen a scene like this. I looked on the side of the road and saw a young man walking two sheep down the shoulder of the highway.
I think it is an Oklahoma law that you have to change lanes to allow livestock plenty of room to roam. I had no problem making room for a young man and his sheep.
They seemed rather content to be enjoying the evening breeze. You could say they had a great “relationsheep.” You probably wouldn’t, but you could.
I couldn’t help but think what would happen if something changed that peaceful scene. What if a dog barked at them or something else spooked one of them? What if one stayed with him and the other bolted into the southbound lanes of the highway?
What would this young shepherd do?
Robert Stevenson | @ap_527
The philosophical ponderings of our day are deep and weighty. Should we pray the imprecatory psalms? What would Jesus do? Free will or election? Kirk or Picard? Credit or Debit? And of course, every young boy’s favorite: if you could have any superpower, what would it be? Actually, I’ll have to answer that twice and cheat a little bit on the second answer... or else this will not be very funny.
Never stopped you before, Robert.
Oh! Rim shot!
Corey Wade | @cwadepga
Year after year I find myself in the same exact place. Broken, humbled, unable to see the light of day. I sulk around the house, making noises resembling that of a sad Yeti, because once again, my bracket has been busted. I see the money float out of my hand in the office pool into another pocket of one more favored than I. BUT NOT THIS YEAR!!!! I have a secret weapon. THE FAITH OF A CHILD. This year I will have my 4-year-old daughter pick out the first round for me to give me that little innocent sprinkle of blessing that I have needed the past few years. Either that or I’m going to have to develop a more sound theology of suffering. (Since this will be posted on Friday you will all already be witness to this amazing strategy in action.)
Below, I present the match-up, the team she picked is in bold, and whatever reasoning she had (if any) is listed below (with my thoughts):
Corey Wade | @cwadepga
We’ve all been there. Coming off a sleep starved night—mostly toddler related sleep deprivation and the message isn’t quite resonating. Your mind begins to wander and your eyes are getting heavier. You MUST fight it! But how? Count those in attendance? (although counting sheep could make you more sleepy--*Rimshot*.) Figure out different combinations to fit your fingers in the communion cup holders? If it's really bad, you can get out your phone out to check your “bible app” –You’re fooling no one.
So what is a good Christian to do when he doesn’t have the mental fortitude to focus during the sermon? Here are my 3 favorite games to play to stay partially engaged with the message, because something is better than nothing:
Kyle Bueermann | @KyleBueerman
Oh, muse: sing to me the song of my childhood.
My inner 10-year old is rejoicing. Thanks to the wonders of the interwebs and Netflix (seriously, you should check these things out), TGIF is slowly being brought back to life. My family and I recently binge-watched the first season of Girl Meets World. I felt a certain sense of accomplishment by being able to show my kids the new adventures of Corey, Topanga, and of course Shawn.
Then, this past Friday, the much anticipated first season of Fuller House was mercifully unleashed on a waiting world (Confession: I’ve only watched the Pilot episode of Fuller House, just before our internet was switched off for our big move). Just the mention of Boy Meets World and Full House bring back many memories of our family huddled around at TV on Friday nights. Sure,they were cheesy. Sure they went for cheap laughs. And I will forever argue that those things are greatly under-appreciated in our world today. Those shows showed us strong families front and center in Prime Time. They certainly remind me of simpler times in my own life.
But, of course, we can’t live perpetually as pre-teens. And the reboots of these shows remind us that sometimes life doesn’t end happily-ever-after, but it can still turn out alright with the support of family and friends. Perhaps I’m just being nostalgic. However, this has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that an episode of Fuller House brought me to the point of sobbing as an adult. Nothing, I tell ya. Don’t judge me.
Anyway, I’m thoroughly enjoying these reboots of some of my favorite shows as a kid. Maybe some more are on the way. Your move, Urkel...
Kyle Bueermann is a New Mexico pastor. He has been married to Michelle since 2004 and they have two kids who are far cooler than he will ever be. He takes his ministry, but not himself, seriously. In addition to his family and ministry, Kyle loves Johnny Cash and the Texas Rangers.You can contact him on Twitter at @kylebueermann.
Kent Bush | @KentBush
Nothing makes adults at church squirm more than hearing a pastor tell them to turn to Malachi 3:9-10 ("You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need." As soon as they hear it, they know the collection plate has been a little light lately and it is time to hear the tithing message.
But as a 10-year-old, the Malachi sermon never scared me. My tithe was a quarter and dad gave it to me on the way to church. That’s a good deal and if we could figure out a way to do it as adults, tithing would be a lot easier.
But as a kid, I can tell you I knew about stress at church. It wasn’t tithing. It was that Sunday night service when you walked in and saw something stacked on the table up front with a sheet draped over it.