Sunday, January 15, 2017

When Angels Visit

When searching for a church to attend, many of our leads come from Bob’s driving around and making notes that (in his words) look like they were written by a chicken on drugs. We spent a good portion of today deciphering those notes and making a new list of places to worship.

This week we thought we’d use this space to point out a few things we’ve learned in our visits, most of which we never would have considered when we were members.

Visitors are hampered when a church does not have a website. Some churches do not have a phone or an answering machine where the greeting can provide such general information as worship times or where a caller can leave a message or ask a question. These are hindrances for those seeking a church, and many will pass.

Churches should regularly put some time into reviewing their communications, giving thought to exactly what they want to communicate and to whom. Members know which door to use, where the restrooms are, and what’s down the hall. The visitor is lost. I (Bob) once climbed a set of stairs looking for the sanctuary and came out in the choir loft; thankfully for all they didn’t make me sing.

Consider whether the outdoor signage is of value to a visitor. Some churches have a large sign that cannot be read by someone driving by. If they must turn into the driveway to read the sign, many have likely passed by.

Does your sign list the meetings this week or does it display a come-on that makes someone want to come in to learn more? Is the sign up-to-date or are the Christmas worship services still listed at Easter? Are the correct worship times shown? If passers-by notice the sign, you’re halfway there…make sure the message they see brings them inside.

Worship in the Park / Picnic Sunday is a great time for church fellowship, but are visitors welcome? The signs on the church doors indicating that “worship is in the park today” are only for members unless they include directions to where you are.

Visitors are usually easy to spot. Watch who parks in the visitor spots, notice who is looking at the bulletin boards or literature table…members almost never do. Is someone you don’t recognize sitting where a particular member always sits? Do they look lost?

If you are looking for fresh eyes, ask a relative or friend who is not familiar with your church to come and provide candid feedback about their experience.

God brings visitors to your door. If you see someone you don’t recognize, take the time to smile, say hello, and ask if you can be of assistance. I never had a long-time member who was offended when I asked if I could help. Ask God to guide and help you and He will.

Sunday, January 8, 2017


Today we attended a service at a church that shall remain unidentified.

We traveled for worship today but the church we chose was conducting a prayer and healing service, therefore we did not experience any of a normal worship service. The best line I heard was when the congregation was coming forward for prayer they were admonished to “come with expectation.”

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Northway Christian Community Church

Today we worshiped at Northway Christian Community Church, 12121 Perry Highway, Wexford, PA 15090, 724.935.6800,, Kent Chevalier, Wexford Campus Pastor.

Scripture –

Philippians 1:7, NLT –
So it is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a special place in my heart. You share with me the special favor of God, both in my imprisonment and in defending and confirming the truth of the Good News.

1 Peter 3:15-16, ESV –
but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

Isaiah 8:13, ESV –
But the Lord of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.

Matthew 10:32-33, ESV –
So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

Proverbs 15:1, ESV –
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Bob’s thoughts:

We wanted to attend an early service today and it had been quite a while since we worshiped here. We were welcomed at the door by the usher.

I couldn’t find a cross, but one may have been hidden by the Christmas decorations.

The bass was well beyond my earplugs but I could retreat to the atrium and watch on the screens. With my hearing problems, when the volume is loud I have trouble understanding the words.

There is a lot to this campus and I had to ask how to get back into the worship area after the music ended.

The message was a Christ-inspired personal testimony of medical trials and God’s miraculous healing. I wonder how often we witness God’s intervention and fail to proclaim it loudly to all. This message was a reminder that we have a responsibility to tell what God has done. Are we living as people of hope?

It was a wake-up call from Christ for me to go back to telling what God has done in my life.

Jan’s thoughts:

It was something of a challenge to find an early worship service this first day of the new year as a number of churches were not holding a service and/or had done so Saturday evening instead. But we arrived here early enough to enjoy a cup of coffee in the café before the service began.

The message, “A New Year’s Wish – Choose Passion,” was presented by a guest, Dr. Jim Platt. He said he had planned to preach on a different topic but felt compelled to speak instead about deliverance in the face of a recent health crisis. He provided sufficient detail for those listening to recognize that he was only still present because God intervened, and stated “When God shows up, we have a responsibility to talk about it.”

After reading through 1 Peter 3:15-16, he stated that everyone in whom the Holy Spirit lives needs to be able to articulate the reasons for their faith with gentleness and kindness and without defensiveness or anger. He urged everyone to choose passion and be ready to share their story.

Our prayer for this church:

Lord, we pray this church continues to loudly proclaim Your goodness. Amen.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Pathway Church

Yesterday we worshiped at Pathway Church, 239 Braun Road, Beaver Falls, PA 15010, 724.843.6381,, Jeff McNicol, Senior Pastor.

Scripture – NIV

Romans 5:8 –
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Luke 21:28 –
When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.

Bob’s thoughts:

Last week we were in North Carolina and looking forward to worshiping there, but our daughter was called to the hospital for heart-related emergencies so often that we missed the opportunity.

For Saturday’s Christmas Eve service, we worshiped at Grace Church. A friend of our daughters’ from Geneva College recognized me before the service and we got to chat a bit before she returned to sit with her family.

We enjoyed our coffee and worshiped in the calmer, quieter overflow room, by ourselves as it turned out. I enjoyed the lead female singer and the talented music team.

This morning we were blessed to worship at Pathway where several people welcomed us. With the inspired Christmas decoration I almost missed seeing the impressive cross. The sax and strings were a welcome addition to the other musicians and the voice of the female lead.

The sermon was presented by three of the pastors who commented on their favorite Christmas hymns.

It was mentioned that the beauty of God’s invitation is God’s perfect timing: I can certainly vouch for that based on when He called me.

One of the pastors spoke of his tragic loss of a child and that unlike the loss of a spouse, where one becomes a widow(er), or the loss of a parent where one becomes an orphan, there is no equivalent word when one loses a child. I had never considered the unnamed aspect of this loss, but he added that God had experienced this loss Himself and thus He understands. I was thankful we got to minister to each other some after the service and grateful God led us to worship here.

Noticing all the businesses closed reminded me of when I was much younger, there were two drug stores in our small town. One owner was Catholic and the other Jewish, so when one was closed for a special day like Christmas, the other would be open to handle the needs of the community. They had a lot more freedom then to help the competitor’s customers.

I don’t remember so many churches closed on a Sunday Christmas but I am thankful for God’s Presence here today.

Jan’s thoughts:

After missing church while traveling last weekend, I was pleased we were led to invigorating services both last night and this morning.

We have worshiped here a number of times, but the facility looked quite different than I recalled as the church is in the midst of a building project. The atmosphere was festive and friendly: several folks introduced themselves and welcomed us, which made it even more of a joy to be there.

The message was centered on hymns that bore particular significance to the speakers. Each included some background on the hymn and explained what it meant to them. The stories were full of passion and significance, appropriate for the day.

I truly appreciated the music: it was outstanding, and the violin and saxophone added an exceptional texture.

I was grateful for the time of the one pastor and his wife and the opportunity for mutual ministry in loss.

Our prayer for this church:

Lord, we feel the excitement of Your church and pray for Your continued overwhelming blessings. Amen.