Aug 25, 2015


Pastor JR Shick,

White Cloud SDB Church, MI




The week before Conference our Ministers Association from the town of White Cloud had a community church picnic. It was received very well. We planned on serving 60-75 people and we had over 120. What a blessing for the first time doing the picnic. The food was amazing and a great time was had by all. There was only one problem that we had observed. The intent for this picnic was to build on relationships within the community of believers. We noticed that people would stay within the comfort of others from their own churches. This should not be a big surprise to us. We see this in our own churches. Families sit in the same places and we tend to talk to the same people every week. How do we get out of this pattern?

I have noticed this summer that my children have no problem making friends. Most children do not have a problem making friends. They see something that piques their interest and then they start asking questions. Seems easy, right? I was reminded of Mark 10:13-16: 13People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.”

If it’s so easy for a child to make friends or to enter into a conversation, why is it so hard for adults? The answer is that we stop thinking like GOD’S children.

Many of us are comfortable where we are, or we are afraid. Basically, we are too old in our thinking. Most of us found comfort in the presence of our parents or close family and friends. One of the reasons I was drawn to Seventh Day Baptists was its strong family ties. From the first time I stepped into the church at White Cloud I was part of the family. For the first time in my life I felt like I was with my family and not in a church. From that moment on I found GOD’s way was not to “do church” but to be part of HIS family. So maybe we should just look at everyone as family.

The week of Conference, I challenged all that went from the White Cloud church to find someone they did not know, or find someone they have not seen in 10 years or longer, and learn something about him. It did not stop there – they needed to tell the rest of the group about that person or persons, reminding them that this was their family.

This was also my wife and kids’ first Conference. I would introduce them to people by saying, “This is my brother or sister.” At one time my son Keith asked, “Who was that man, Daddy? He kind of looks like Santa.” His white hair and beard stood out. “That is my Uncle Dale,” I told him. So, I figured I would introduce you all to a few of my family. First my brother Dennis who is a fellow Chicago Bears fan. His wife Julia is from Jamaica and she can sing! My brother Andy, who is a world traveler, lives in Florida. My sister Paula, whom I have not seen in over 13 years, leads a worship band. I have a brother Nick who loves teaching, history, blueberry pie and cookies. My sister Pat is an editor for a long-running magazine. If you would like to get an idea of how big my family is, just look at our family photo (above) from Conference. Remember, not everyone was there.

Maybe we need to change our perspective. Get on the floor and look up at Jesus’ face as a child would. Remember you are HIS child. Look for opportunities and invite people into HIS family. Then He can put HIS arms around them and bless them too. If you are comfortable in the place where you are, it is time to get uncomfortable. Look for something that piques your interest and invite someone to church, Bible study, or fellowship. There is always room at GOD’s table.

Man, I love my kids! Sometimes our children can teach us the biggest lessons. Looking forward to seeing all of you next year and others from HIS family at conference.

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