Episode 520

Start Of Fiscal Year For Churches, Sermon Paintings By Artist & Congregation May Tune Out Your Sermon

Jan 10, 2024

For most pastors, the start of a new calendar year also indicates the start of a new fiscal year for their churches. A large blank canvas sits on an easel as Richard Pope, senior pastor of Canvas Church in Salisbury, Maryland, begins his Sunday sermon. And, if you’re a preacher or a teacher…you know when the listeners is tuned in and when they’re tuned out.

Transcript

For most pastors, the start of a new calendar year also indicates the start of a new fiscal year for their churches. But there is much more variety among pastors when it comes to who is involved in making the budget for the fiscal year.

According to a study from Lifeway Research, 74% of Protestant pastors say their church’s fiscal year starts in January. One in 20 say their fiscal year starts in July (5%), September (4%) or October (4%).
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A large blank canvas sits on an easel as Richard Pope, senior pastor of Canvas Church in Salisbury, Maryland, begins his Sunday sermon. As Scripture unfolds, so does the image on the canvas, as Ali Jacobs uses her artistic talent and vision to paint a vivid picture most of us can only imagine. She brings the message to light with beauty and artistic flair.

Jacobs grew up in Baltimore County in a family of artists where she attended church and distinctly remembers feeling the presence of God with her. As she honed her artistic skills with study and work, God was continuing to hone her heart. One memory, from a youth retreat she attended as a leader, stands out. The pastor asked if anyone wanted to be baptized.

The decision was not only good for her soul but for three others who followed her.

Currently, the paintings are in storage at Jacobs’ home and at and the pastor’s house. Canvas Church rents its meeting space, so the paintings are set aside awaiting their next purpose, whether for the walls of a future building or sold with the proceeds going toward ministry.
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Every day, hundreds of thousands of people die without the hope of Jesus. Your faithful prayers will make a difference. That’s why the IMB created a free 18-month calendar, called “Impacting Lostness Through Prayer”. It provides guidance, reminders and encouragement as you pray for individuals and communities who have yet to hear the gospel. Learn more about this free resource at IMB.org/prayercalendar.
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If you’re a preacher or a teacher…you know when the listeners is tuned in and when they’re tuned out.
In the Baptist Press Toolbox, Chuck Lawless gives us ten reasons folks may not be listening. Here’s a few of them.

1. Distraction. Something else was going on in their head—like worries, concerns, exciting plans, or even lunch. Sometimes, though, that distraction was actually something that happened in the sanctuary when we were speaking. It’s hard to miss, for example, when someone in front gets up and leaves several times during a sermon.

2. Fatigue. Sometimes people in our class or congregation were just tired. Maybe they stayed up too late. Maybe they worked all day the day before. It’s hard to keep your ears alert when you can’t keep your eyes open.

3. Sin. Some people who came to your church this past weekend came out of habit more than out of love of God. In the hidden areas of their lives, they’re walking in sin—and they didn’t really want to hear your message in the first place.

4. Boredom. Let’s be honest: some of us are more boring than we think, but we just don’t know it (in fact, I’ve met only one boring person who actually knew and admitted he was boring). Boring speakers seldom attract attentive listeners.

5. Lostness. It’s possible some of the people who heard your teaching this past weekend were not believers. Even if they’ve been faithful attenders, their lostness may have gotten in the way of their hearing.

6. Wounds. Wounds that you or I caused, that is, at least in their opinion. Perhaps some have a less-than-positive history with you, and past events made it difficult to hear you this past weekend. They just can’t tear down the wall of yesterday’s disagreement.

7. Ego. I don’t know how often this one happens, but it does happen. Some people didn’t listen this past weekend because they think they know more than you or I do anyway. If they listened at all, it was for the purpose of critiquing and correcting—not for personal growth.

8. Disbelief. Particularly as the prevalence of deconstructing faith increases, it’s possible some of your hearers didn’t listen simply because they increasingly don’t believe your message anyway. Their disbelief hasn’t yet resulted in their departing the church, but they’re moving in that direction.

9. Spiritual warfare. Jesus warned us that the enemy seeks to snatch the seed of the Word away before it ever settles in our heart (Mark 4). If you preached or taught the Word of God this past weekend, you can assume this kind of attack on your listeners.

10. Absence. This one’s simple: many people didn’t listen to you this past weekend because they weren’t present. They missed the Word—and that truth should drive us to our knees on their behalf.
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