365: Barbara Thurston

Why do people leave the Church

6.16.15 Have you ever wondered why people leave the Church? I found a study awhile back and I'd like to share some of it with you tonight.

.People leave church when they can’t find community-When people can’t find community, can’t plug-in or access meaningful relationships, they split in hopes they’ll find it somewhere else. When a church learns to do community well, it is a life-giving experience. When churches fail to build community, church just becomes another item on your list that sucks the life out of you.

. People leave church because they need less drama in their lives-Church needs to be a safe place where one can escape the typical relational drama we all face and instead experience loving support and acceptance. When church just becomes another area that is going to add drama to my life, I need to cut the cord and move on for my own sanity. 2 Timothy 2:22-26 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

.People leave church because of unresolved conflict-If we want people to stop leaving church, we need to develop radical humility and become the peacemakers that Jesus claimed would be blessed. Matthew 18:15-17 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

.People leave church because of controlling leaders and unskilled teachers-Leaders make or break an organization, and church is no different. When the pastor or church leader(s) come across as controlling (whether it is real or perceived) it creates an environment that doesn’t feel safe to people. No one wants to be controlled or dominated in church– not even the people who assimilate and eventually tolerate such environments. Instead, people want to feel heard and included in issues of decision making and long-term vision.

. People leave church because they get turned off by social climbing, cliques, and nepotism-the popular folks at church amass followers, and power. Such a system requires you to play the “game” with people of influence if you want to be a fully included member of the group (leading to the formation of cliques). Paul exhorts us to, “Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion” (Rom. 12:16). Paul urged the Corinthian church to “all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10). James tells us not to show partiality (James 2:1).

. People leave church when they feel like they need to become a carbon copy of an individual or ideal in order to be fully included and appreciated-Most people don’t want to be like everyone else, and when a certain culture tells them they must become a clone as a condition of acceptance, many will leave instead of submitting to such a dehumanizing experience.

. People leave church because they’re looking for something authentic-People want to do church with people who are real, people who aren’t afraid to be vulnerable in relationship, and who are willing to sit beside you in the messiness of life. When church feels fake and like it’s not a safe place to be vulnerable, people leave in hopes they’ll find someplace that is. Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.

. People leave church because they feel lonely-People leave church because they start to feel like an outsider, and that makes them lonely. It is an emotion that is painful, powerful, and given enough time, unbearable. If leaving church is what’s needed to stop feeling so lonely and to stop feeling like an outsider– they’ll do it.

.People leave church when they don’t find Jesus-Church of all places should look like Jesus! Church should be a place where people are busy loving the unlovable, embracing the outcast, serving the widow, immigrant and fatherless. It should be a place where power is rejected, gender and race is irrelevant, and where the most coveted position is the position of servant. if we built loving communities of faith that were raw and authentic, that embraced the excluded, and were known by how well they loved others, there wouldn’t be an empty chair in the sanctuary. If a church were really to look like Jesus, people wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

Wow I hope you enjoy this as much as I have, It opens up your eyes to see if any of these are going on in your Church. I do have to say if you come to Bethlehem and don't find Jesus there then your not looking for Him. Mike our Pastor makes sure Jesus in welcome in our worship. Take a look @ the above list and if you are having some of these issues in your Church then you need to pray and let God change what needs to be changed.


God I come to you asking if there's anything like these going on in our Church that you take them away and point us in the direction you would have us go. I want to thank you for you sending us Mike and his family as they are a great fit for our Church. God I ask that if there are any Churches out there that is having some of these issues then they will open their eyes and turn their eyes to you. Now please be with my facebook family and friends and know that I love you. I ask these things in Jesus Name Amen.

Who is your neighbor

6.15.15 Well yesterday we talked about loving your neighbor as yourself and today let's see who the Bible says our neighbor is.

Typically, the concept of neighbor is limited to those people one lives near, or at least people in the local community. This is how the Old Testament sometimes uses the term, but it is also used in a broader or figurative sense to refer to all Israelites. Thus the commands not to covet a neighbors wife or possessions refers to all fellow Israelites, not just those who happen to live in the vicinity.

The Hebrew word most often translated as neighbor is rea and has a variety of connotations: friend, lover, and of course the usual sense of neighbor. In general, it might be used to refer to anyone who isnt an immediate kinsman or an enemy. Legally, it was used to refer to any fellow member of the covenant with God, in other words fellow Israelites.

One of the best remembered of Jesus parables is that of the Good Samaritan who stops to help an injured man when no one else would. Less well remembered is the fact that this parable was told to answer the question Who is my neighbor? Jesus answer suggests the broadest possible interpretation for neighbor, such that it even includes members of unfriendly tribal groups. This would be consistent with his command to love ones enemies.

Identifying who ones neighbor is has occupied a great deal of discussion in Jewish and Christian theology. The broad use of neighbor in the Bible appears to be part of a general trend through the entire history of ethics, which is to increasingly broaden the social circle of ones ethical concern.

Noteworthy is the fact that its always used in the singular, neighbor, rather than the plural this highlights ones ethical duty in particular cases to specific people, not in the abstract.

Everybody is your neighbor. Jesus was trying to illustrate the the very ones you are prejudice against your neighbor. In his parable the Jewish man that was robbed and beaten was helped by a Samaritan, the one most unlikely to help the man.

Jesus was once asked a provocative question by a lawyer: “Who is my neighbour?” (Luke 10:29). Indeed, that is a question we all should ask—“Who is my neighbor?”

The Savior provided a penetrating, unexpected answer to the lawyer. He taught him with a parable—the parable of the Good Samaritan.

An unfortunate victim traveling to Jericho fell among thieves. He was robbed, beaten, and left for dead.

A priest, on his way to the temple, saw him and passed by. Likewise, a Levite, who in that day assisted the priests, passed him by. To the Jews in Jesus’ day this unconcern for the victim in the parable was considered appropriate religious behavior. Their rabbinical teaching declared, “We are not to contrive the death of the Gentiles, but if they are in any danger of death we are not bound to deliver them, … for such a one is not thy neighbour” (in A Commentary on the Holy Bible, ed. J. R. Dummelow, New York: The Macmillan Co., 1936, p. 751).

The Samaritan, though despised by the Jews, saw the suffering victim and did three things: (1) he had compassion on him, (2) he went to him and bound up his wounds, and (3) he cared for him (see Luke 10:30–35).

After relating the parable, Jesus asked the lawyer which of the three was neighbor to him that fell among the thieves—the priest, the Levite, or the Samaritan. The lawyer could not avoid the evident truth. “He that shewed mercy on him,” he replied. To which the Savior said, “Go, and do thou likewise” (Luke 10:37).

A more perfect parable could not have been conceived to teach the eternal truth that God is the Father of us all and therefore we are brothers one to another.

My neighbor—my brother! Such is the teaching of our Lord and Savior. We are to esteem every man as our brother, our neighbor as ourselves.
This truth is the fundamental basis for our inspired missionary effort throughout the world—to share the glorious truths of the restored gospel with our neighbors, who are our brothers and sisters.

Well there you have it, our neighbor is not just the person next door, so I'm thinking we need to go outside the box to share the Gospel with all of our neighbors no matter if we don't think we like them or not. You are to love everyone just not love the sin just as Jesus does. Love the sinner not the sin.


God I come to you asking that you give me the opportunity and desire to share the gospel with all my neighbors no matter where I'm at. Lord please open the eyes of the lost so they will be receptive to what we are trying to tell them. I know we are the ones planting the seed and we may not see the outcome but God let us plant more seeds. Now God please be with my facebook family and friends and know that I love you. I ask these things in Jesus Name Amen.

Love your neighbor as yourself

6.14.15 Love your neighbor as yourself
Thank about that do you love your neighbor like you love yourself?

What does God require of us? Simply that we love as he loves! God is love and everything he does flows from his love for us. God loved us first and our love for him is a response to his exceeding grace and kindness towards us. The love of God comes first and the love of neighbor is firmly grounded in the love of God. The more we know of God’s love and truth the more we love what he loves and reject what is hateful and contrary to his will.

What makes our love for God and his commands grow in us? Faith in God and hope in his promises strengthen us in the love of God. They are essential for a good relationship with God, for being united with him. The more we know of God the more we love him and the more we love him the greater we believe and hope in his promises. The Lord, through the gift of the Holy Spirit, gives us a new freedom to love as he loves (Galatians 5:13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh, rather, serve one another humbly in love.):. Do you allow anything to keep you from the love of God and the joy of serving others with a generous heart? Paul the Apostle says: (hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us Romans 5:5).

Look at Romans 13:8–10.

Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. 9 For this, 'You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet,' and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; love therefore is the fulfillment of the law.

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:34-35)

For Jesus, to love your neighbor as yourself meant Leviticus 19:9–18:
“When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God.
You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; you shall not lie to one another. You shall not swear by my name falsely, and so profane the name of your God: I am the LORD.
You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages of a hired worker shall not remain with you all night until the morning. You shall not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall fear your God: I am the LORD.
You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor. You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand up against the life of your neighbor: I am the LORD.
You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD”

For Jesus, to love your neighbor as you love yourself was to practice justice towards your fellow human beings:

Bless Those Who Persecute You, Romans 12:14 says, bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Matthew 5:44 love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

Be Real- tell someone you love them and mean it, or show them you love them by being there for them when they need it, or doing something for them when they can't do it for themselves.

Sacrifice-Well Jesus was the ultimate Sacrifice, but if you see someone ask you to take them to the store or so something for them and your watching your favorite TV show then sacrifice your show to help the person out.

Be a Good Listener-James 1:19 says, be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger. Following this model, we will show our neighbor love even if they don’t recognize it.
Sometimes just listening to a person when they have a problem shows that you care and love them. They don't necessarily want you to say anything they just need a shoulder to lean on.

Respect The Boundaries-To love like Christ is to be the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13). Salt adds flavor and seasoning to food. We are to be like salt. People want flavor. Colossians 4:6 says, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” When we answer our neighbor like we “ought” to, they will be drawn to us. They will notice something different about us if they are not already a believer, and that is what attracts them. While respecting someone’s boundaries, they will be more inclined to converse and they will be much more receptive to what we have to say.

In order to really focus on loving others, we have to constantly be aware of how much Jesus loves us by how He laid His life down for us on the cross. When we are thankful for Him, we can really express the love needed to plant the seed into an unbeliever’s heart.

Can you imagine a world where people loved each other? The world would be a much better place if people would show love to one another as Christ has shown love to us.

Come back tomorrow and we'll see who the Bible says is our neighbor.


God I ask that is there is someone out there dealing with how to love someone please take their cold heart and turn it into a loving giving heart. God I pray that more people would become more loving and turn this world around. Lord please be with my facebook family and friends and know I love you. I ask these things in Jesus Name Amen.

Bring God back to America

6.13.15 Have you ever set and listened to the news? What do you hear a lot of good stuff happening in the world right? Wrong it's all about violence how this person killed this person, someone's been beaten and burned. You have a lot of racial stuff going on, face it there is nothing good on the news. The problem with the world today is God is not apart of the world. They use to have prayers in the schools and it's against the rules now. People don't even say pledge of allegiance much anymore because it says something about God, they even wanted to try and take in God we trust off money. I ask you what is this world coming to?

Is America The Prodigal Son?

11 And He said, “A man had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his wealth between them. 13 And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living.14 Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.16 And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him. 17 But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.” 20 So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; 23 and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24 for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.”
— Luke 15:11-24 (NASB)
In the parable of the prodigal son, the Father waited for his son. He probably looked for him everyday expecting him to come home. One day the lost son finally came home. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. 21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ His father clothed him with rich garments and prepared a feast for him saying, “For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”
America has squandered her inheritance and spent it on fleeting pleasures and entertainment leaving her Father behind. But her Father is waiting and scanning the horizon for His child’s return. We need to turn our lives around. We need to get down on our knees and ask for forgiveness. God wants to say, “This child of mine was dead and is alive again, America was lost and now she is found.”
Author: Team B.A.B.T.G.

"Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. For our citizenship is in Heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ." (Phil 3:17-20)

This earth is not our destiny. HEAVEN is! Jesus needs your help desperately to reach men and women with the saving message of the Gospel so that their eternity can also be Heaven instead of the eternal lake of fire.

The Lord is slowly but steadily being expelled from every public venue. It started in the public schools, and has spread to public places, court houses, our coins, our pledge of allegiance, and on and on to the point where today we are fighting battles about what we can even say in the church! It is no longer just about the separation of church and state but rather the separation of America from the God Who founded her and has so blessed her!

So what do you say should we stand and bring America back to God or should we just stand by and do nothing. So please pray with me and make a stand to let God be control again.


God I come to you praying that we bring America back to you, after all you are the One that created everything and people have destroyed it. God please forgive us for what we've done. God just chastise those that are taking you out of the equation. Without you we are doomed, with you all things are possible. Now God please be with my facebook family and friends and know that I love you. I ask these things in Jesus Name Amen.

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