7 Things YOU Can Do this Easter to Help Guests Feel Welcome

Easter is Sunday! Are you ready?

This Sunday is Easter, and Easter is traditionally one of our largest attended services of the year. Here are 7 things that EVERYONE can do to help make this Sunday a grand success.

1. Please use the invite cards to invite the people you have been praying for. If you need additional cards, let me know and we will get you what we can.

2. Invite people even if they weren’t on your original list! The Easter Egg Hunt after the service is a big draw for families. Use social media to spread the word!

3. Continue to pray! Pray for those you are inviting, pray for those that others are inviting, and pray for those who may come in without a specific invitation – maybe they will read our newspaper articles or received a door hanger this past Sunday.

4. Be a one-time member of the First Impressions Team on Sunday. We need EVERYONE to help focus on the first time guests this Sunday. Think about their situation – first time in a new church – how would you want to be treated? Let’s forgo some of our usual fellowship to really make sure that guests feel welcome. Ask them about themselves. Tell them why you attend HCC! Do this both before and after the service.

5. Stay for the Egg Hunt, and cross the street! The families that come will no doubt stay for the egg hunt across the street. While the kids are hunting, the parents are often left standing alone. We need YOU to help them feel welcome and help them make connections. It will also be a great time for you to check out our remodeled Children’s Church room!

6. Be a one-time member of the outside greeting team! For Easter only (at this time) we would like to have 3 people outside to welcome and direct new families. There will be a person in each parking lot and one on Marshall. The purpose of these outside greeters is just to give a friendly smile/wave to people, and to let people know that we care about their experience from the moment they arrive, not just once they step in the door.

Finally,

7. Be ready to give up your seat. When you see people coming into the auditorium on Sunday, think about where they want to sit. Most guests want to sit near the back and on the aisles. If those are your traditional seats, consider moving around a bit. Also take note of empty seats between you. If there’s not room for the family that just walked in, YOU be the person to move so that they can sit down together.

Easter Sunday is not about Hays Christian Church. It’s about something much bigger and more important: the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. What you and I do on Sunday, however, may have a direct impact on whether or not a person is open to hearing the message of the gospel. If they have a terrible time finding a seat, if no one talks to them, if the church is dirty, or any number of other things, that can turn them off to hearing about what we’re all there for. Don’t underestimate your ability to point people to the Savior this Sunday!

Thank you for being an important part of our Hays Christian Church family! I look forward to seeing you and all of the first time guests this Sunday!

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Doubting Thomas…Not so Different

How do you know when something is true? Do you base your decision on facts? Do you base your decision on your own experience? How about your feelings?

The fact is, most of us, though we say we base things on fact, lean more on our own experience and feelings than we’d like to admit.

In our passage, Thomas, faced with the facts – 10 other witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection – didn’t believe them. He based his decision on his own experience that people don’t rise from the dead. The people he had seen who had died, had all stayed dead. Though he was facing the eye-witness testimony of his trusted friends and companions, he still doubted.

I think that most of us, if faced with the same situation, would have been with Thomas as opposed to the other disciples. I know we don’t like to think that, but in reality, we would probably have doubted as well.

Even today we face myriad of facts and theories and evidence that attempts to refute the claim that Jesus rose from the dead. Books have been written, speaking engagements have been booked, all claiming that Jesus’ resurrection was a hoax or just a fable.

I’m not going to get into refuting some of those theories right now, but I would encourage you to check out any of “The Case for …” books by Lee Strobel. He was an atheist who set out to disprove Christianity. Instead, he found that the evidence points to what the Bible teaches.

Thomas was a man who had lived with Jesus for three years, studying him, listening to him, loving him. Yet when it came time for him to believe what had happened he doubted. If you have doubts today about your faith or your future, Thomas would make a good companion for you. His example, and the way Jesus spoke with him, set the stage for how we should combat our own fears and doubts.

First, Thomas was open and honest about his doubt. The first thing we must do if we are ever going to get the answers for the questions we seek is to be honest about having the questions in the first place. God can handle the questions that we have. In fact, he wants us to ask the questions and find the answer. And that leads us into the second thing to note.

Second, Jesus never rebukes Thomas for doubting. Instead of yelling at him and telling him he should have believed, we see Jesus calmly and lovingly showing him the evidence he needs. God doesn’t want you to hide your doubt, he wants you to express it so that he can help you overcome it.

When you have doubts about the faith, it is important to share those with a trusted Christian leader who can help you find the answers that you seek. Certainly there are always going to be questions we can’t answer, but there are many answers found in Scripture that can help us through our periods of doubt.

When you face doubt, know that you are not alone. God will never leave you or turn his back on you because you have questions and doubt. In fact, some of the greatest understandings about God you have may come directly from the period of doubt you’re currently in.

Don’t be afraid of your doubt, but don’t stop in that doubt. Work through it so that God can show you the wonderful truth of him and his word.

But Thomas, sometimes called the Twin, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples told him, “We saw the Master.”

But he said, “Unless I see the nail holes in his hands, put my finger in the nail holes, and stick my hand in his side, I won’t believe it.”

Eight days later, his disciples were again in the room. This time Thomas was with them. Jesus came through the locked doors, stood among them, and said, “Peace to you.”

Then he focused his attention on Thomas. “Take your finger and examine my hands. Take your hand and stick it in my side. Don’t be unbelieving. Believe.”

Thomas said, “My Master! My God!”

Jesus said, “So, you believe because you’ve seen with your own eyes. Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing.”

– John 20:24-29 (MSG)

The Hurried Easter

The time has come – Easter, or Resurrection Sunday, is upon us!

It seems like just yesterday we were celebrating Thanksgiving, lighting the tree, and singing “Auld Lang Syne” to ring in the New Year. The groundhog did not see his shadow, our valentines have been sent, and now Easter is here! When I was a kid, I always thought time moved very slowly. As an adult with children of my own, I now see time continually speeding up.

God knows that is our tendency. God understands that as we get busier and life’s demands continue to pile up, the time seems to slip by more quickly. That’s one reason he instituted festivals, feasts, and the Sabbath. He designed our lives with intentional rhythms, to help us slow down and remember what’s really important.

Resurrection Sunday is one of those times when we are to slow down, remember, and celebrate something that changed the course of human history. On that day, some 2,000 years ago, Jesus rose from the dead! The man who was betrayed, mocked, ridiculed, and crucified, defied death and rose anew. This act conquered death once and for all, and gives each of us who follow Christ the assurance that Jesus is even more powerful than the grave.

The resurrection of Jesus is at the heart of the gospel message. If we go through this Easter season intent on focusing on the Easter bunny, egg hunts, and chocolate, we risk missing out on the true reason for the celebration. I encourage you to sit down with your family this Easter season and read an account from one of the Gospels about Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. Share with them the truth of Christ, the truth that really matters.

Sticks & Stones? (Luke 22:63-65)

 The guards in charge of Jesus began mocking and beating him. They blindfolded him and said, “Prophesy to us! Who hit you that time?” And they hurled all sorts of terrible insults at him. – Luke 22:63-65 (New Living Translation)

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me!”

This lie has been told to children for many years. (The first printed copy of the nursery rhyme was found in The Christian Recorder in 1862.) I call this a lie because, as we know, words can and often do hurt much worse than a broken bone.

Of course, the intent of the saying was to help children ignore taunts, refrain from physical retaliation, and remain calm. That’s not bad advice by any means, but the fact is that broken bones will heal; hurtful words which are spoken cannot ever be taken back.

Often the words of a stranger leave no lasting impression on us. We know that the stranger doesn’t really know us, and chances are good we won’t see him again. His words can most likely roll off us with no further consequence. We trust in the fact that he doesn’t really know who we are, therefore his words have very little power over us.

In contrast, the words that hurt us most deeply are the words spoken by those closest to us. The ones who know us intimately have the power to cut us to the core. The hurtful words they speak tend to stay with us. We begin to question our very identity because we believe that they know us so well, there must be truth to what they say. We think perhaps they know us better than we know ourselves. We take their words to heart, even if said in the heat of the moment, because we believe they wouldn’t have said it if it wasn’t true on at least some level.

In this passage, we read that Jesus is being mocked by the soldiers who are guarding him. We may quickly believe that this is like the first case I referred to – simply strangers. These guards don’t have a clue as to who Jesus truly is. They don’t know that he is the Creator and Sustainer of the world. They don’t know that he is the Son of God, sent to earth to die on the cross for their sins. They don’t know that hours from now, Jesus, while hanging on the cross, will ask God to forgive them.

While that is true, there is something more we need to consider: the guards don’t know Jesus, but Jesus knows them; that’s the very nature of God. We can’t gloss over the fact that God created these men. He knew them before time existed. He watched as they grew in the wombs of their mothers, whom Jesus also knew intimately.

These men, though they don’t know Jesus, were known by Jesus, and they are his children. He knows them and loves them more than anyone else on earth. He cares for their well-being. He cares for their eternal destiny. He cares for their families and their friends. These are not mere strangers – they are his children, created in his image.

Imagine being at the lowest point in your life. You’re literally being taken to your execution – for a crime you did not commit – and there, hurling insults and berating you in front of everyone are your children. Not only have they joined the crowd, they are leading the charge. They are actively taunting you, calling you names, and telling everyone that you are delusional. I cannot imagine that level of pain and betrayal.

Certainly the physical pain that Jesus endured on the cross was excruciating. Crucifixion was the cruelest form of capital punishment at the time. But the emotional pain that Jesus experienced – being rejected, mocked, and scorned – by the people he loves, has to be severe. Jesus loved these men and the crowds that they led so much that they were the very reason he was going through all of this in the first place! He could have called down his legion of angels and ended the torture at any time. Yet he didn’t. He stayed. He endured. And for what? For the chance to save his children from their evil and misguided ways.

We have all done things in our lives that we regret. We have all said hurtful words to our loved ones, to our parents, to our spouses. We know the sting those words have. For Jesus, the pain must have been infinitely worse. The people he loved, the people he knew intimately, were treating him like the worst type of criminal. They rejected him in word and deeds. And to this very day, men and women continue to mock and reject Jesus, in spite of his love for them. May it never be said of us that we mocked the very God who came to save us. Jesus’ physical pain has ended, but it seems to me that the pain of knowing that so many reject him would continue to this day.