Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Our Schedules Can Be An Idol

Ephesians 5:15-16 "Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil."

Time is perhaps our most precious commodity. For a growing number of people time is actually more precious than money. Many of us fill our days running here and there trying to keep up with our overcrowded calendars. Sometimes I wonder if Americans have made an idol of being busy. We tend to think that the busier we are, the more important we are. We often equate activity with productivity. Too many people have come to believe that their level of activity equals their level of value. Christians are as guilty of this as our non-believing friends.

I think it is a mistake to equate our schedules with our self-importance, our productivity, or our value. Sometimes we are busy doing all the wrong things. Sometimes our activity actually accomplishes very little because we approach it in such a disorganized way. We should most definitely not equate our level of activity with our value as a person, because our value comes not from how busy we are, but in the fact that we are created in God’s image, and that Christ died for us to be reconciled to God.

This does not mean that we should throw out our calendars and become couch potatoes. What it means is that we should evaluate our schedules and determine if there are things we can cut out to make our lives less busy so we can focus on the things that matter most. It means we must evaluate how our schedules are impacting the things that matter most, such as our spiritual walk with God, our family health, and our overall personal happiness. At some point we must ask ourselves if the things that fill our schedules really have meaning to us or did we just sign up for them because everyone else did. Do those activities really add value to our lives or are they merely attempts to convince ourselves that we are important? We may not like all the answers we come up with when we ask ourselves these questions, but in the end, the result will be a less hectic life that is full of value, meaning and purpose.

For those of us who are Christians, we should determine that before we add one more thing to our schedules, we should take time to ask if that activity fits God’s plan for our lives. Will that activity draw us closer to Christ or push us farther away?

I recall a young family in one church I served as pastor. The wife was a Sunday School teacher. At the time the husband was not a believer though he did come to church fairly often. As their children got older, the children became involved in a variety of extra-curricular activities. The mother volunteered for a lot of extra activities at the school where the children attended. She also volunteered for leadership positions in two community groups. None of these various activities were bad. In fact, some were quite healthy and it was good for their family to be involved in them. But as they continued to add things to their calendar, their schedule got so full that the family’s church attendance went from almost every week to about once every 6-8 weeks. At the end of the Sunday School year the mother gave up her Sunday School class because she was just “too busy to do everything.” I vividly recall her husband’s comment after she resigned. He said, “I think she is giving up the wrong thing!” I found his comment quite insightful since he was not yet a believer at that point in his life. Clearly something needed to be eliminated from her calendar, but it should not have been her service to the Lord. That family eventually dropped out of church altogether and is no longer active in the life of any church. Overcrowded schedules pulled them away from their faith, and did little to enhance their family bonding. All it did was overstress them. Sadly, I see it happening more and more in the typical American Christian family.

We must decide what is important to us. Then we must allocate time, our most precious commodity, to reflect our values. If we fail to do this, we will find ourselves busier than ever but with little or nothing to show for it.

Lord, help us evaluate our schedules and make adjustments that are healthy for our spiritual walk and our family life. Amen.


Dr. Terry W. Dorsett serves at the Executive Director of the Baptist Convention ofNew England. He has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He writes extensively and you can find all of his books at:

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Does Church Membership Matter?

Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us watch out for one another to provoke love and good works, not neglecting to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching.”

The first church I served after I graduated seminary ran between 200 to 250 in worship on Sunday morning. But we had over 900 members on the roll. That means we had three times as many members missing on a typical Sunday than we had present. While some of those missing members were elderly and no longer able to attend, hundreds of them were simply missing in action. Some of those missing members were still in the community and would occasionally show up for Easter or Christmas services. But many we had not seen in years. I am not sure the FBI could have found half of our missing members! Yet they remained on our membership roll. I remember wondering why we just didn’t cross all those names off our roll.

Though at the time I would not have wanted to admit it, I suspect that the reason that we kept all those missing members on the role was because it sounded a whole lot better to say we had more than 900 members than to admit we only had 250. Years later I look back on that experience and realize that the goal of our church was not just to add names to the roll, it was to multiply Christ-followers through evangelism, discipleship and missions. Adding names to the roll did not accomplish that goal. For a name on a roll to have meaning and purpose, the individual represented by that name has to be really involved in the church and growing in their faith. Our church had a lot of names on a roll, but most of those names meant little to the life and vitality of that church or to accomplishing the mission God had given that church. As harsh as it may sound, those names were empty of meaning and value.

There are millions of people across America who have their names on the roll of a church but who do not attend with any degree of regularity. My encouragement to those who find themselves in such a situation is to return to your church, roll up your sleeves and become active. Not just active in the organization of the church, but active in fulfilling the mission of the church. Be the Christian you claim to be! My encouragement to those who are in leadership of a church is to ask yourselves if it is time to meet with your long-term inactive members to determine their real commitment to Christ and the mission of your church. If they are no longer committed to the mission of the church, remove their names from the roll. Not out of anger or spite, but out of integrity and honesty. Membership should mean something. But if we continue to carry more names on the roll who are not active than who are, we have devalued membership and made it mean little. We must fix this. It might make our churches smaller on paper, but is highly unlikely to reduce the number of people actually involved. In fact, I think it will increase the number of those who are involved because when inactive members are challenged to become active again, some of them will rise to the occasion and accept that challenge. And that is good for both the individual and the church.

Lord, help our connection to our church be meaningful both to the church and to us. Amen.


Dr. Terry W. Dorsett serves at the Executive Director of the Baptist Convention of New England. He has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He writes extensively and you can find all of his books at:

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Flannel Graph Memories

Proverbs 9:9 “Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.” (NIV)

When I was 15 years old I became a volunteer for a ministry called Child Evangelism Fellowship. As a volunteer I helped teach a weekly Good News Club. The club met after school and helped children, mostly from non-religious homes, understand the stories of the Bible, and especially the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Part of my training as a volunteer was learning how to use flannel graph to illustrate the stories. I collected a number of Bible scenes painted on to large pieces of flannel and had file folders full of various biblical characters that I could put on the scenes as a visual to tell the Bible stories. I had not seen flannel graph before and thought it was the coolest thing ever. I used those visual aids over and over again to help children learn biblical truth. Even after I was no longer working with Child Evangelism Fellowship, I kept all the different characters and scenes and used them to teach in a variety of settings, including to teens and adults, for many years. They were very helpful in illustrating the stories I was teaching.

That was 35 years ago. Now, I don’t know anyone who still uses flannel graph. Now we use video, PowerPoint, and interactive games on I-pads and cell phones as visual aids in our teaching. Every couple of years some new technology comes along and changes the way we teach. As a lifelong learner, I try to stay up to date. But sometimes I struggle to figure out how to communicate the message in whatever way is currently fashionable.

To be honest, there are times I miss my old flannel graph scenes and characters. They were easy to use and I was comfortable with them. Many children came to faith in Christ through them and so there was a real emotional and spiritual attachment in my mind to those teaching tools. But there came a day when I realized they were no longer as effective as they once were. Staying up to date with teaching skills is always be a challenge. At times I’m tempted to revert back to those old flannel graph visuals and do things like I did 35 years ago. In many ways it would be easier for me. But I always resist that temptation because I realize it would not actually communicate the message of the Gospel as effectively as I would like it to.

The question I ask myself often is “Do I want things to be easy for me or do I want people to actually understand the message?” If the goal is for me to teach the message of Christ, then I have to constantly upgrade my communication skills and abilities. I have to learn new teaching techniques that actually get the point across. I cannot just rely on my past training or experience. While the past does have value, I cannot live in the past. I must be a lifelong learning in order to continue the calling God put on my life as a 15-year-old to teach others Jesus. 

What about you? Are you a lifelong learner? When was the last time you upgraded your efforts to share the word of God? Ongoing training is essential and the message of the Gospel is worth the time it takes to learn how to share it well.

Lord, help us be lifelong learners so we can be as effective as possible in sharing Your Word with others. Amen.


Dr. Terry W. Dorsett serves at the Executive Director of the Baptist Convention of New England. He has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He writes extensively and you can find all of his books at: