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Archive for March, 2014

“Attractors”

Last week we came back from our annual “out of the box” Texas trip. While there were a number of adventures, my favorite was our fly fishing trip. Our host had set up an afternoon of fly fishing on the Guadeloupe River. Apparently this river is one of the top fly fishing rivers in the United States. Fly Fishing happened to be one of my bucket list items, so I really enjoyed the day. Unfortunately, we learned why it is called “fishing” and not “catching”. We had a great time anyway and ate at a catfish place on the way home.

Before we got on the river, our outfitter spent some time on the shore teaching us the art of casting. I am a bass fisherman, so the whole idea of casting the line instead of the lure was more difficult than I anticipated. After about 45 minutes of lessons and practice, our guide started preparing the flies. He was explaining the process behind catching trout. He told us why he had selected the particular flies we were using. He talked about how the fish often wait for the fly to float downstream. Before he tied the final fly, he added a small hook with a colorful piece of rubber on a short leader. He then explained to us the purpose of the “attractor” as he called it.

It seems that we were near the end of the season for trout and that many of them were wiser and more sluggish. He explained that the “attractor” was used to get the attention of the fish. He said sometimes they will attack the “attractor”, so it has a small hook attached. Often, the “attractor” works to get the attention of the fish and then the fish notices the fly that is coming downstream.

This got me to thinking about the application to rural ministry. I realize that in rural ministry people are slow to trust and come to church. It is a long process for most people to make a commitment to a rural ministry and many are very hesitant. They remind me of that late season trout who is content to simply wait. I am starting to think about our ministry and how this principle relates to “fishing for men”. I am wondering what we are doing to “attract” people to the message of Christ? I am not talking about the old days of bigger and better Sunday gimmicks. I am thinking about the things that make people in our community curious to seek more information about who we are and what we are all about.

THOT – What are the “attractors” that you are developing and using to make people in your community curious about the gospel? Could a simple principle from fly fishing be something that would enhance our ministry to our community?

Madame_X_M

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Stepping Out of the Box

This week is one of the highlights of my year. A number of years ago a friend starting inviting my wife and I along with 2 other couples to southern Texas for a time of fellowship and encouragement. In the course of the last 5 years, this annual pilgrimage has had a tremendous impact on my ministry. I do not have any responsibilities for 5 days. My only job is to show up with a willing and teachable spirit to try new things. I have to be willing to step out of my comfortable box and routine. Each year we are exposed to unique opportunities that are outside of our comfort zones. We all participate together and no one is allowed to “opt out”. We even attend a Spanish / English-speaking church and sing familiar worship songs with words that are hard to pronounce. We eat different foods, and have plenty of unique and unusual experiences.

Over the years I have flown a plane, hunted wild hogs, run a quarter mile drag strip, sang Karaoke, judged a local car show, had a cooking lesson, fished in the gulf, and even gone to get a manicure and pedicure. While we each turned in our “man card” for the morning, everyone would sign up for the pedicure thing again in a heartbeat. Our host explained to us that we needed to experience the relaxation of a pedicure so that we would better be able to surprise our wives by giving them a certificate for a manicure or pedicure. We have made a number of new friends over the years and love the fellowship and excitement of being together. We spend hours in discussions and we have no special agenda. Our goal is to have some “real” conversation and I always come away refreshed, exhausted and challenged.

As I look back over the years, I see the benefit has been to get “uncomfortable”. I like my routine and I feel “safe” in my comfort zone. Often in ministry, we get too comfortable and start to get real nervous when we head into seasons of uncertainty. This annual event allows me to be more comfortable with being uncomfortable. I now see it as a necessary part of life. In order to really experience the joys, thrills, and fulfillment of life, you have to go through a process of being uncomfortable. I now embrace those times in ministry and realize they will produce a ministry that is full of unique and incredible experiences.

THOT – If you find yourself in a season of uncertainty, be careful of trying to escape that time as soon as possible. In the uncertainty, there are lessons to be learned and opportunities to stretch yourself. Are you “embracing” your season of uncertainty? Have you learned the art of being comfortable with being uncomfortable? I am reminded that our Lord set a great example of coming in flesh which Paul describes in Philippians 2 as the ultimate example of being uncomfortable.

Flight

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