Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Appreciation Day


Our congregation has hosted several appreciation days for groups in our community. An Appreciation Day can be a great experience for a church and the community. You might want to consider hosting one. Below are some questions and answers you might have.

How do we host an Appreciation Day?

You simply select a group from the community to invite to a service and have a meal afterward in their honor. For example, churches I have served in Florida, Wyoming and Kansas have all had Appreciation Days. Groups we have invited have been the Law Enforcement agencies, Emergency Medical Service, Fire Department and schools. Every person in the organization or agency is invited along with their families. For example, if you invite a police department, then the officers, jailers and dispatchers and all of their families are invited.

What is the benefit of doing this?

It is healthy for churches to be concerned about how the community perceives them. Since we are the light of Christ, it is important that the community recognizes His light in us. That light shines by our care, concern and ministry in the community. An Appreciation Day is one way to let our light shine.

An Appreciation Day provides an opportunity to overcome some of the negative impressions that a community might have for a church, and to actually develop positive impressions. Visitors from the town that might not ever associate with a particular body of Christians are invited for a service, are given sincere expressions of thanks, and are treated to a meal.

Does it work?

Yes! Communities often identify their churches by the fights and splits that have occurred within them over the years. They don’t soon forget when the preacher and a deacon got into a shouting (or even shoving) match in the very building where they claim to preach truth and love!
Fellowship with community members in worship and with an enjoyable meal afterwards can soften some of the harsh and painful memories people harbor. Long term friendships often develop.

Can we get new members from hosting an Appreciation Day?

Not often, but sometimes. The real purpose is not to "recruit" new church members. It is to show sincere appreciation to involved members of your community with no strings attached.

What are some of the exact steps in hosting an Appreciation Day?

1) Decide what group in your community you want to recognize.If there has been a terrible accident in your community, that might be a good time to recognize the EMS.

2) Talk personally to the leaders of the groups you want to honor.Speak to the Sheriff, Chief of Police, Head of the EMS, principal of a school, etc. Let them know you appreciate their work and service and want to honor them.

3) Follow your personal visit with a letter from the church office. Every police and sheriff’s department I have ever invited to an Appreciation Day provided us with personal addresses of the officers to send them letters. Stress that family members are invited. Also, if an officer is on duty that morning and can’t attend the service, stress that he can stop by during the potluck and have lunch, even if he has to take it with him.

4) You can follow the church letter with a handwritten one from a group within the church, such as the ladies group. This letter does two things. One, it reinforces your invitation. Two, it involves more folks from the church, allowing them to feel some ownership in the project.

5) Encourage the church members to make their usual amount of food plus plenty of extras!

6) Preach a sermon that morning on a topic that will resonate with your visitors: Respect for authority (Romans 13), appreciation, gratitude, service, etc.

7) Allow your visitors to be the first in the serving line.

8) Encourage your members to mix and mingle with the guests during the meal.

9) You may or may not do personal recognitions of the guests. I typically have chosen not to so as to not embarrass anyone.

Do people actually come to these Appreciation days?


How many?

We’ve had as few as 5 and as many as 55. In Cody, WY we actually had a couple of times where we had more visitors than we had members on an Appreciation Day!

Any closing suggestions?

Just this: an Appreciation Day is not an occasion to "recruit" new members. It is a day to open yourself up to serve others simply for the joy of service. Many of your visitors will already be members of other churches and are not interested in leaving where they are. The purpose of an Appreciation Day is to show appreciation and develop relationships. God is free to do what he wants to with that in his time.

If your congregation hosts an Appreciation Day, please revisit this blog and leave a comment on how it went.


Warren Baldwin

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Introduction to Roaring Lions, Cracking Rocks

Bio on Warren Baldwin

I live in southwestern Kansas. My wife and I have ministered with a church here for ten years. Prior to moving to Kansas we lived in Cody, Wyoming for 9 ½ years and Marianna, FL for 8 ½ years.

Cheryl and I have three children: Wes, a graduate of Freed-Hardeman University and currently a youth minister in Wyoming; Jenny, a senior at a University in Arkansas majoring in elementary education; Kristin, a junior in high school who loves playing golf, basketball and softball.

I attended Freed-Hardeman University, Harding Graduate School of Religion and Abilene Christian University. In addition to preaching I teach as an adjunct professor for Seward County Community College in southwest KS and Harding University in Searcy, AR. I teach religion, history and philosophy courses.

About the book Roaring Lions, Cracking Rocks and Other Gems from Proverbs:

For over two thousand years the book of Proverbs has provided wise counsel and spiritual direction for God's people. The piercing truths of Proverbs penetrate the readers' hearts, challenging them to align their lives with the wisdom the proverbs proclaim.

Roaring Lions, Cracking Rocks and other Gems from Proverbs bring these ancient sayings into contemporary focus by applying their insights to modern situations. Marriage, parenting, friendship, work, money and other topics are brought under the scrutiny of this ancient wisdom. Each chapter in this thought-provoking book is a short essay on a specific proverb that makes God's Word come alive with fresh relevance. You'll be amazed what a roaring lion or cracking rock can mean for your life today.

Roaring Lions, Cracking Rocks and Other Gems from Proverbs is a collection of essays based on 118 proverbs. Many people like reading the book of Proverbs in the Old Testament because it is so rich with advice and direction for life. But Proverbs is more than a book loaded with advice. Proverbs is a book about wisdom. Wisdom in Proverbs is not about getting A's on school work or knowing how to answer all the questions on a tv game show. Wisdom in Proverbs is about knowing how to navigate life.

Topics dealt with in the book include marriage, parenting, responsibility, relationships and more.

Some specific titles are:
- A Good Wife
- A Wife from the Lord
- Honesty and a Kiss
- Parenting Heritage
- What A Father Does
- Rod of Correction
- Pampering Children
- Challenge to Character
- Stingrays
- Self-control
- Debt Slavery and Freedom
- Straying from Home
- Integrity
- Rebuke
- Roaring Lions
- Gossip
- Pride
- Sexual Ethics
- Craftiness
- Envy
- Bitterness
- One Easily Angered and many more.

Roaring Lions, Cracking Rocks is 201 pages long. The chapters are short, about 600 words, so they can be read in about 5 minutes. Some of the essays are devotional in nature, some tell a story, some teach, and many of them are reflections upon the proverb and how it intersects, conflicts or impresses itself upon life, often times my own. I try to ‘engage’ the proverb, which is what I believe the author intended for us to do. A sample chapter is included at the end of this letter.

If you have any more questions please email me at

Thank you,

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Give Us A King


Israel had the most perfect government but didn’t know it. God was their king, offering all the rights and protection that any king can possibly offer, and more.

But even when they have it good, people want more. Blessed though they were with God as their king, they wanted to be like the nations around them and have an earthly king sitting on a throne ruling over them. "Appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have," Israel told the prophet Samuel (1 Sam. 8:5).

"Samuel, just go tell those people what having a king will be like. Dispel their erroneous notions and perhaps they’ll give up their quest to be like the nations around them," God told the prophet. Samuel obeyed and delivered a stirring message that should have raised a some doubts and put the skids to this movement.

"You think you want a king? Do you know what having a king will be like? He’ll take your sons for military service, whether they want to go or not. He’ll use the strength of your sons to plow his own fields, not yours. Your daughters will be called to serve as his perfumers, cooks and bakers. Your fields and vineyards you have worked so hard to maintain and bear fruit will be confiscated by the king and given to his officials. Taxes will deplete you of cattle, crops and even your servants. When the grip of government control tightens around your necks and you cry out for relief, no one will help you in that day. Care to rethink your request for a king?"

"No, no!" the people answered back. "We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles" (1 Samuel 8:19-20). Freedom isn’t something you can force on people. God realized that, so he told Samuel to give the people the restrictive measures they requested. Only the grip of unlimited control will make them realize the safety and protection they thought they wanted from an earthly power was but the forerunner of oppression.

Freedom requires levels of personal responsibility and integrity that many people are not willing to muster. It is easier to be told when to plant and when to harvest. It is easier to be told how much to turn over to money handlers to set aside for our retirement (Social Security). It is easier to trust that the earthly powers to whom we submit seek our peace and safety. It is easier, but it is often delusional, too.

In a letter to Colonel Carrington, Thomas Jefferson wrote, "The natural progression of things is for liberty to yield, and government to gain ground." He added that the great confidence people have in President Washington could put them sleep, and that "after him, inferior characters may perhaps succeed, and awaken us to the danger which his merit had led us into." (Jefferson: Magnificent Populist, p.85). Jefferson feared that the trust the people of America put in the integrity of President Washington would cause them to lose the vigilance of studying, thinking and assessing the moral and political decline of the country. A very good leader makes a very lazy populace.

Israel could not have had a better leader than they did in God. But that wasn’t enough, and soon they were saddled with leaders who bled them dry economically, politically and morally. Young farmers raised to worked the land bequeathed to them by their fathers were driven from the land. Young widows, who should have at least had the comfort of knowing that the land was theirs, had even this resource ripped from their possession. "You drive the women of my people from their pleasant homes," Micah railed against the leaders. "You take away my blessing (the land) from their children forever" (Micah 2:9).

Government is ordained of God, for sure (Romans 13:1). But no government was ever meant to supplant our primary devotion to God. Nor was any government ever meant to override our own responsibility to work and provide, by the grace of God, for our needs. No matter how appealing government may seem, remember the warning of Samuel that one day "you will cry out for relief" from the very government you begged to have rule over you.

Warren Baldwin

Monday, April 5, 2010

Honest Government


Honest scales and balances are from the Lord; all the weights in the bag are of his making. Kings detest wrongdoing, for a throne is established through righteousness." Proverbs 16:11-12

The great enemy of the people is a corrupt legal system and ruling elite. Years ago God stipulated that business practices and legal systems practice godly ethics and righteousness. This is not only honorable before God, but it provides the most wholesome opportunity for people to live lives of dignity.

One hundred and fifty years before Christ a wealthy and well-placed member of Roman society, Tiberius Gracchus, was returning home from war. Tiberius didn’t have to go to war. As a member of the upper class he could have sat out of military service. But, he was patriotic and wanted to do his part to ensure the health and vitality of the Roman Empire. So he enlisted.

Tiberius was excited to return home, but upon reaching the limits of his home territory he became very discouraged. Where once there had been numerous farm settlements there now was large tracts of abandoned land. Members of the wealthier classes had been acquiring the land for themselves and developing large estates.

Roman law stipulated that land taken from enemy countries should be made available for public use. The people fought for the land, so they should have access to it. Farmers, laborers, and even the poor would be allowed to rent land, up to three hundred and thirty acres, at a moderate fee to build houses and raise crops. The money they paid the government would go into the public treasury.

But the well-placed and powerful saw an opportunity for their own benefit. By using their position and power they were able to displace the laboring class from the land and take it over for themselves. They didn’t limit their take to only three hundred and thirty acres, either. They took as much land as they wanted to build their mansions or to rent it back to the farmers at much higher rates than the government originally had.

Tiberius was appalled by the complete disregard for the law and for the needs of the poor and working class. These people fought for Rome, yet when they returned from battle, many of them did not have a garden plot to raise their food or a house to sleep in. Within a few hundred yards of the wealthy estates poor people were starving. He decided to do rectify these wrongs.

Tiberius announced that the wealthy robbers should give up the lands they had taken. He did not make war on the wealthy, but he attacked the advantages they gained by doing wrong.

The people were happy and the land grabbers were angry. The wealthy accused Tiberius of disturbing the peace and said he should be killed. But, the great land reformer and advocate of honest government and fair policies did not back down. In a speech to the people he said: "The wild beasts of Italy have their dens and caves, but the brave men who spill their blood in her cause have nothing left but the light and the air. Without houses, without any settled homes, they wander from place to place with their wives and children. They fight and die in order to advance the wealth and luxury of the great. They are called the masters of the world, while they have not a foot of ground in their possession."

The poor elected Tiberius to public office and under his leadership much public land was returned to the people. In their great hatred for him the aristocrats schemed his death They believed that when he died and things went back to how they were, the poor would believe it was the will of the gods, and they would be content. At a public meeting the aristocrats rushed Tiberius and beat him to death with clubs. His body was thrown into the river. (Thomas E. Watson, Sketches from Roman History, Noontide Press).

No class in society is inherently evil or good. But, when one class uses its power inappropriately it can cause others to suffer intolerably. God envisions each class in society functioning in its role for the benefit of the whole community. Kings and other leaders are to detest wrongdoing and are to govern with ethics and concern for the people. The working class contributes labor producing food and other products for the good of all. When each functions as God intends, peace and prosperity is possible. But, when either class decides that labor and government can be manipulated for selfish ends, suffering ensues (cf. Proverbs 28:15).

The wisdom and ethics of Proverbs seeks to establish order in all spheres of life, including our personal lives, the family, neighborhood, work environment and even society at large. It is to the benefit of all that honest scales (ethical business) and righteous government prevails, because not every generation is fortunate enough to have a Tiberius rise up.

Warren Baldwin