If you phone my wife during the work day her cell phone will ring. If you call in the evenings, her cell phone and our home phone will ring at the same time. If she’s at home she can use the home phone, if she’s out of the house, she catches the call on her cell phone. If you call in the middle of the night her phone(s) may ring, or you may get voicemail, depending on who you are. When she’s on vacation, if family members call, her cell phone will ring. However, if others call, they go straight to voicemail. If someone leaves a voicemail, she gets an email transcription of their voice message. When someone texts her she can either read and respond to the text from her phone, or if she’s near a computer, she can read it and respond to it on a computer.
Someday she may decide to change cell phone numbers or we may get a new home number (or do away with it all together). However, all our friends will never know the difference because the number they dial or text to will stay the same.
It’s all done with Google Voice. Just about everybody should have a Google Voice account. When you sign up you can pick an available local phone number. You then configure the account to handle calls and texts as I described above.
Think of the advantages of this service for a church. You can customize voicemail based on who is calling, you can listen to voicemail as it’s being entered and answer right then, you can customize what callers are forwarded to what phone(s), and much more.
In my Zion, the Church of the Nazarene, there’s a required annual church meeting in which the business of the church is conducted. I’m writing with my own denomination in mind but I wouldn’t be surprised if this approach is applicable for other groups as well.
There are several reports to be heard in this meeting: youth, missions, stewards, trustees, treasurer, secretary, and others. The old way to do it was to set aside a Sunday night for reports and voting. Frankly, it wasn’t an inspiring event and a lot of folks opted to do something else that night.
It’s really too bad. Some of our finest people serve faithfully through the year and the church really does need to hear them tell what they’ve done. Hearing them report reminds the congregation of the many things that happen in the church that don’t take place on the platform on Sunday mornings.
So, here’s the solution. During the weeks leading up to the voting, take time each Sunday morning to hear three or so reports. Ask those reporting to take three or four minutes for their reports. Following each report, have everyone clap and cheer.
This approach will allow the congregation to focus on each report and not get saturated from hearing one report after another. It also puts the church leaders up front on a Sunday morning — giving honor to those to whom honor is due.
Pastors, of all people, understand the importance of highlighting the efforts of dedicated laypeople in the church and this is an excellent way to do it.
In “Silent God” Joesph Bentz takes on an issue that is oft explored in the Psalms – why it is that God sometimes seems distant and silent? He begins his exploration by looking, not to God, but to us – pointing out that we are seldom good listeners, but instead have lives full of noise, both physical and inner. His observations about cellphones, email, and other technological “noise” hit home for me.
From there, we move to discussions about the possible reasons for God’s silence; that he has a purpose in all he does (or, in this case, doesn’t do). We come away from the book with an appreciation of the power of silence and a realization that God’s silence actually speaks to us and advances us in our journey to Christ-likeness.
I recommend this book as one that will help the seeking reader to go deeper in their relationship with the Lord.