Getting the most out of your Sundays

The following is an email I sent out through our church database, thought it might be helpful as my yearly blogpost.

Hey church.

Recently as I have been praying and talking with Ben about our worship time together there are a couple of things I would like you to consider. When we gather on Sunday it is a unique experience that we likely won’t have the rest of the week and, therefore, I believe worthy of preparation.

Here are a few suggestions to get the most our of our 70 minutes together on Sunday (please read these as a pastor seeking to love his church and not as one pointing a finger):

Prioritize Attendance – We often preach through books or topical series that build on one another and regular attendance will help you grasp the truth and grow in your relationship with God. I know life is crazy, but let me challenge you to pray about the priority that worship attendance will play in your family.

-Plan Your Saturdays with Sunday in mind – This really applies to your Saturday nights. I think back on my life and wonder how many Sunday services I simply showed up and went through the motions instead of engaging because I lacked the energy to do so. Your ability to consider the words of the song rather than just sing them, or interact with the text apply it to your life rather than hope for a punchline are directly related to your sleep. I know Saturday nights might be the only time to catch up on your DVR or finish that Netflix season, but consider shutting it down a bit earlier so that you might be better prepared for Sunday morning.

-Begin worshiping before worshiping – This will look different for everyone, but maybe set your alarm five minutes earlier on Sunday morning and spend a few minutes before your feet touch the floor praying about worship. I know getting kids ready and dealing with conflict often makes our minds a battleground on Sunday morning, but do your best to worship before worship.

-Arrive Early – Coming in during the second song often means that you rushed to get in the door, rushed to get your kids checked in, and rushed to get into the worship area, allow margin on Sunday morning. Arriving early gives you a minute to sit in your chair and catch your breath, be encouraged by a conversation with a friend, or welcome someone who might be new.

– Participate in Worship – The band is not performing they are leading, consider following their lead. I know that people may not have sang in the church you grew up in or you believe the sound of your voice would drive others away, but participation in worship Jesus cannot be matched. You are singing to him and for him, consider the words and sing them out.

Another part of participation is the sermon, we believe that the Bible is living and powerful (Hebrews 4:12) and it is our prayer that through attentively engaging you can experience that.

– Take it With You – I try (sometimes more successfully than others) to challenge you to walk away with something when you leave, but you can take ownership in that process in various ways: 1.) commit to having a conversation with someone about it during the week 2.) commit to rereading the text for that week each day 3.) commit to memorize a specific text that challenged you. 4.) take notes and review them throughout the week.

It is my hope that this might be helpful to you as you and I seek to gain the most out of our Sunday morning time. When I plan my yearly calendar I am deeply burdened that we only have 52 Sunday together each year, lets do our best to make the most of them.

Hope to See you Sunday,
Matt

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10 Things I Have Learned In 10 Years of Marriage

1.)  I am selfish.  Okay I didn’t learn this, I knew this, I just didn’t know it was so bad.  I wish I could have type, “I used to be selfish,” but that would be a lie.  I try and work on it, I try and acknowledge it, but I have a ways to go.  Marriage has a way of exposing things in your life that otherwise you have managed to suppress. 

2.)  My wife is hilarious.  Again not a totally new revelation, but one that I continue to appreciate.  She is really funny, if you don’t know that side of her you need to hang out with her more.  The more comfortable she gets the more she opens up, the more the opens up the funnier things become.  

3.)  Marriage is tough.  Refer to number one if you need much of an explanation on this or try be married for longer than 48.  I love being married to Jenn, but that doesn’t mean things are easy.  One of the greatest things about being married to Jenn is the comfort that comes that no matter how hard things might get she isn’t going anywhere and neither am I.  

4.)  I don’t have style.  Golf shirts and athletic shorts are not a style. She is the stylish one and she does with limited spending.  From my shirt to my shoes if I am wearing something that looks like it was made after 1997 my wife picked it out. 

5.)  Date night is important.  I don’t do this well enough and it is one of the things I need to get better at these next 10 years.  

6.)  My wife is incredible with children.  She is a school teacher so I knew she liked kids and I knew kids liked her, but I didn’t know how good she was.  The year she left teaching her principal teacher pulled me aside and asked if I thought she really wasn’t coming back, when I told her that it seemed that way, she said, “I have been in education a really long time and she is the best kindergarten teacher I have ever seen.”  The best kindergarten teacher she has ever seen is the one I get to raise kids with.  

7.)  There is a direct connection to the quality of my marriage and my ability to listen.  No other commentary needed.  

8.)  Hawaii is awesome.  Lots of great memories from spending the first week of our marriage in Maui.  Who knows if we ever go back, but it was a great start.  

9.)  Leave your college roommate pranks behind.  Those jokes that were funny in college do not carry the same comedic value when you get married.  When your wife is ready for work then gets water all over her shirt and pants because you put a rubber band on water sprayer at the faucet, no one is laughing. 

10.)  I would marry her again today.  

 

 

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A Letter to The Passage Church

As we shut down 2013 and look to 2014 I wanted to take a brief moment to say thank you to our church family.  Thank you for continuing on this journey of being followers of Jesus who make followers of Jesus.  We are excited about the births and baptisms we celebrated together this year.  It is our privilege to share the joys and hurts of life with you.

Thank you for all you have done to serve at The Passage Church this year.  Each year we have new people step up at just the right time and we have others who have been volunteers from the beginning continuing to serve Jesus.  We could not say enough or thank you enough for what you do.  

In the new year I believe that we are positioned better than we ever have been to see God do some amazing things this year.  Please join me in praying for God to do something unexplainable this year.  I can’t wait to kick off 2014 with you on Sunday morning at 10:30, I hope to see you there.  

The Walton’s are grateful and thankful for our church and we can’t wait to see what is going to happen in 2014.  

 

in HIM 

Matt Walton 

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Passage Church Turns Four (Thank You)

This Sunday The Passage Church celebrated our 4th anniversary.  On one hand it is hard to believe it has been four years and on the other is feels like it has been 40. As I think back on all the advice and wisdom I was given before we ever began there are two statements that I have found to absolutely true:

  • Starting a church is like learning to ride a bike while building it at the same time.
  • You will never know the weight of leading a church until you are sitting in the lead chair.  

I could write numerous post on these two statements or I could write a series of post on what I have learned and mistakes that I have made.   While they might make for interesting conversation within the right crowd I will spare you, although if you would like to have that conversation give me a call and we can talk.  

 

I hope you are still with me because what I really want to say in this post is THANK YOU.  Thank you to those who have sacrificed.  Thank you for waking up early and staying late.  Thank you for going months without sitting in worship, so that others could while you watched their children.  Thank you for taking on task outside of your gifting, because you knew it needed to be done.  Thank you sitting in front of computer instead of with your family so others could follow the lyrics in worship.  Thank you for opening up your homes to people because we have no permanent space.  Thank you for your patience as we work to develop new ministries.  Thank you for moving from one venue to another without ever complaining.  Thank you for putting up with a pastor that is learning.  Thank you!!!!!!!!

Your time and energy has impacted eternity.  I thank God for you regularly and pray for you often.  Your friendship is valued more than you know.  I look forward to serving God together as we move forward, believing the best is yet to come.  

Thanks again for all you have done to serve Jesus!  I look forward to worshiping with you again on Sunday.  

 

in HIM 

Matt Walton 

 

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Monday Quote

Back in the day I had a weekly Monday quote, it was the only consistent thing with this blog.  I was reading Spiritual Discipleship this morning by Oswald Sanders and came across this quote.  It was both helpful and challenging to me.  It is from a Methodist preacher Samuel Chadwick.  

“We are moved by the act of God.  Omniscience holds no conference.  Infinite authority leaves no room for compromise.  Eternal love offers no explanations.  The Lord expects to be trusted.  He disturbs us at will.  Human arrangements are disregarded, family ties ignored, business claims put aside.  We are never asked if it is convenient.”  

 

Have a great Monday.  

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Lesson Learned, Changes Coming

Yesterday, I had a conversation with someone that is going to shift the way I/we do ministry at The Passage Church.  Yesterday I was shown how wrong I have been in a specific approach to ministry and from today forward it is going to change.  

Let me begin with my conversation from yesterday.  I was talking with someone whom I hadn’t talked with in a long time and the conversation of church came up, as it often does when you are a pastor, and I asked them if they were still going to church.  They informed me they had stopped going and gave a few reasons why they no longer attended, we could debate the validity those reasons, but we will leave them alone.  After talking for a bit longer he said there is one thing that has bothered me since I have been gone, no one has called to check on me.  He said he hasn’t been to church there in almost two years and both the phone calls he received were about sending money for a specific campaign.  He was obviously hurt that no one had called about his lack of attendance, but he felt they were quick to call about his giving.  Now I understand that the person who called about his giving more than likely did not know he was not attending.  I think what bothered my friend was that it seemed people didn’t care if he showed up or not.  

As I went through my day yesterday I thought of all the times I was guilty of the same thing.  People who have come to The Passage Church hung around for awhile and then haven’t shown back up.  I haven’t emailed, called, or visited nearly enough.  My justification has always been, they must have found what they were looking for somewhere else.  I have always assumed they left in search of better preaching or programs, more likely preaching, and have found it.  I like to assume they get up every Sunday and head to church where they are being taught discipled well.  

The reality may be quite different.  The reality could be that they need encouragement in a difficult situation or that they have been away for awhile and want to return, but find it difficult.  The reasons could be many, but I/we need to make a return to church simple, and begin doing so, by letting people know they have been missed and they are wanted at our church.  

I know church is not about filling seats, but making disciples, I understand it isn’t a church’s seating capacity, but sending capacity that defines it, and we don’t want to just see people return we want to see them become followers of Jesus who make followers of Jesus.  

So finally let me say this.  If you are still on our email list and have made it to the bottom of this long blog post or stumbled across this via facebook, let me apologize.  I am sorry if I have dropped the ball.  I am sorry that if you have left The Passage church and felt that we didn’t pursue you, therefore, feeling like we didn’t love you.  I am sorry if you have ever felt used, feeling like we want something FROM you rather than something FOR you.  If you have found another church home, praise God, serve Him well there with that body, but if not, let me invite you back (WARNING: You will probably be hearing from me or someone soon).

in HIM

Matt Walton 

 

 

 

 

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Monday Quote

The Monday Quote portion is back this week, as I AGAIN try to get back into the blogging routine.  This time I have a little more accountability.  

Today’s quote is coming from the sermon on Sunday.  We are in the middle of a series on money.  It has been fun and I pray helpful.  This week I mentioned three books that have helpful and worth your time: 1.)  Sex and Money, by Paul Tripp 2.) Counterfeit Gods, by Tim Keller 3.) Treasure Principle, by Randy Alcorn

Here are two quotes from Paul Tripp’s book Sex and Money that I used this week: 

“The majority of what we tell ourselves we need we don’t actually need. We are very skilled at loading our desires into our need category, and once we have, we think it’s our right to have these things and therefore it’s appropriate to do what is necessary to possess them.”

 

“Money is a blessing.  Money is a danger.  What will it be to you? You will not answer this question once.  No, you will answer it again and again as day after day you are greeted with false promises and truth, each voice telling you what to do with the money in your hand.”

 

I look forward to blogging a bit more in the coming days.  Have a good week. 

 

 

 

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