Creative Excellence

By Pastor Troy Dorrell

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Over my tenure as pastor of Eastland Baptist Church, we have done many creative and innovative things. Each one has been organized and planned with a specific purpose and goal in mind.

A number of years ago, we organized a creative outreach effort one summer called “Family Tract Team,” which involved taking busloads of adults, teens, and children to various neighborhoods for door-to-door canvassing, inviting people to church, and handing out gospel tracts. The innovative part was the pre-meeting skits and fun times, and then we followed the events with a special and unique time of fellowship afterwards. Through this effort we were able to get hundreds of people involved in outreach who had never been before.

Over the years we’ve enjoyed annual “I Love My Church” Sundays, which have to been seen and experienced to be appreciated. This is a day we promote extensively and create a lot of enthusiasm for. During the event itself, we take a special offering in a unique and memorable way for a designated church project. We also take up our Vision/Building offering pledges for the coming year on that day.

Among the other creative things we do outside of our normal church services are a 4th of July fireworks display that attracts a myriad of people and a family ice skating night each December, where we rent an entire ice arena downtown for our church family and guests.

Like many churches we have a fall Festival Day, with a host of carnival and family-friendly games after the morning service, concluding with a giant tent service.

Our church has also highly invested in a drama ministry where special productions on Christmas, Easter, and other occasions involve many of our people in ministry, production, and set up. It is one of our varied outreach efforts to minister to many in our community.

I could go on by telling of other special events and creative ideas we have had used through the years for outreach, ministry, community service, and building the church body. I think all these things have had their place and contribute both directly and indirectly to our purposes. Through some of these events we have not only reached souls or raised money, but we have also built precious, happy fun-filled memories that have endeared the hearts of our people … both young and old alike … to the church and the Lord’s work.

In my opinion, in all these “ideas” we have done no harm or violation to the Scriptures and have been guarded not to develop an expectation of entertainment. We measure these events out with calculation and much thought, endeavoring to consider all of their pros and cons.

With all that said, I think the thing we give the most time and attention to and that has grown our church the most and is appreciated by our people more than all of these things combined is an effort to conduct our church services with excellence. While I am a proponent of the careful use of creativity and memory building I don’t think creativity or special events should ever be a substitute or take away from giving our very best effort each week in how we conduct our services and how we present ourselves to our community.

Of course, want to be authentic, real, spirit-filled and conservative in philosophy, but we also want to do things well, to be “sharp” and on point. We endeavor to do all things to the glory of God and with all of our might and use the best of our abilities in everything we do.

That is reflected in having a service that is planned, discussed, and thought through each week, giving attention to details, transitions, and preparation of everything that is said and done. We expect our music to be thoughtful and well prepared, for our special music to be done with excellence and grace, and for the preaching to be labored over and prayed for.

Since we live in a visual and graphic world we endeavor for our bulletins and all our literature to be done with excellence. We produce new tracts for each season and special event; we make sure they are well done, proofed, and attractive.

We also endeavor to make sure our property is well maintained inside and out, that the facilities are clean and presentable, that things are in good repair and touched up.

It is very important to us that we have well-prepared greeters at the doors, that our nurseries stand out as excellent, and our Sunday School classes have teachers who have prepared both themselves and their classrooms to receive both members and guests.

The point and principle is this: preparation and excellence can look like and even surpass creativity and are better starting points for most of us in trying to build a church. People tend to universally appreciate things done well, and being creative is a bonus.

Reasons to Direct our Thinking – Part 2

By Pastor Troy Dorrell

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The Bible teaches us that we are to direct our thinking toward those things that honor God and are good for us. Part of the reason for this is that our thinking takes us somewhere. When we direct and align our thinking with the Bible and wisdom, we find life and peace. However, when we allow our thinking to become negative and worldly, we discover outcomes that diminish us and hurt others.

Reasons to Engage in Political Activism Carefully

By Pastor Dorrell

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As Christians living in the United States, it is easy to get caught up in political activism. There is no doubt many of us care deeply about the moral issues facing our nation. We incessantly hear about politics on the television news, on the radio, and in conversation. And, much of what we hear can discourage us. It can become tempting to think that legislation and politics are the keys or pathways to solving the moral problems that plague American culture and society. However, I simply want to pose the question: Is that really true? Where does the real potential reside to see American culture, values, and ethics change for the better?

His Glory Brings our Good

By Pastor Troy Dorrell

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I was recently reading an article on God’s desire for his creation to worship Him and how some people find objection to God asking us to make Him the primary source of our glorying and praise. Celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Brad Pitt said they turned away from their childhood faith because they felt God was too self-adulating. Unfortunately, people like these and many others fail to recognize that God is not a man. If a man demanded that we worship him or praise him he does so for his own glory, self-absorption, and benefit. However, when God asks us to glory in Him He is also giving us a gift in return. As our creator He has created and designed us to be most fulfilled and happy when we find satisfaction and joy in Him. In other words, when we see and recognize God’s goodness and we praise Him for it, we are giving the Lord His due and are releasing the greatest joy men can know. Living for the Lord truly is about honoring the One who saved us, but it is also acknowledging that living in Christ and for Christ unveils the best version of ourselves. Let me put it this way: God designed birds to fly. If birds tried to find the best and happiest version of themselves by hopping everywhere they would never know the full measure of the joy for which they were created. It is in the air that they live as they were intended to live and can find the greatest joy.  The same is true for us! If we try to find happiness apart from God in tangible things, accumulation, pleasure, prestige, or fame we are living like flightless birds. We will never fully realize that the way we were designed to fly is by living for God, pleasing Him, and making His purposes our own.  So when God asks us to Glorify Him and to live for Him He is loving us enough to tell us how to be the best and happiest versions of ourselves.  His glory does indeed bring our good.

Duty to a Principle or Passion for a Person

By Pastor Troy Dorrell

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In preparation for a sermon on the subject of Seeking God, I ran across a quote from A.W. Tozer referencing his assessment of the Christianity of his day. He said, “For millions of Christians, God is no more real than He is to the non-Christian. They go through life trying to love an ideal and to be loyal to a principle. But a loving person dominates our Bibles. A living person is present, speaking, pleading, loving, working, and manifesting himself whenever and wherever his people have the receptivity necessary to receive the manifestation.”

Humility

by Pastor Troy Dorrell

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The Bible says, “Only by pride cometh contention” (Proverbs 13:10). That truth is borne out in our lives in so many ways. We typically think of this in regard to our relationship with others and the difficulties we have with other people. Certainly, pride is the source of angst in many relationships where troubles exist between two people. We may argue and fuss with one another over differences of opinion or because of hurt feelings, but when our feuds become protracted and last longer than they should, the issue itself is no longer the stumbling block, but rather our pride.

A Willing Spirit

by Pastor Troy Dorrell

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Peter was a man who, like all of us, was hindered by his flesh. He often spoke too soon, made promises he could not keep, and allowed his temper to get the best of him.  This weakness of flesh nearly destroyed Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane, where he failed the Lord and subsequently denied him multiple times.  This discouraged Peter so much that for a brief period he returned to his old vocation of fishing—until the Lord Himself encouraged him to get back to feeding His sheep.

Building Family Memories

by Pastor Troy Dorrell

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In the tremendous challenge of raising children, one of the things that will create a bond of affection between teen and child are good memories. Everyone’s heart is endeared to people and places when positive memories are associated with them.