First Presbyterian Church

First Presbyterian Church
221 North Main Street
Belvidere, IL 61008

Thursday, November 19, 2015



As I've mentioned many times, the OGD is the finest Reformed theologian to ever cross my path.  He often chastens me from sloppy agape to strong, calm, and sane Biblically Reformed theology.  He is a treasured brother.  You can link to his website, The Westminster Fellowship, via

Anyway, scroll down to his research on the "Top Ten Reasons Visitors Don't Return" to churches.  It has provoked my personal prayer and reflection on the matter; and I'm guessing our elders, deacons, staff, and membership may...

On to another subject, you are very generous!

Your support of our life and ministry on the corner of Lincoln and Main is consistent and sacrificial.  Your recent support of several "extra mile" efforts has been exemplary.

A little birdie just told me that we've also got to watch our regular tithes plus offerings to support the adopted budget; as things are a tad tight and, uh,...

Well, you know what I mean.

Anyway, here are some thoughts that came to me, uh, about ten minutes ago:

I am your budget.

I pay for all the things that you take for granted: heat, light, literature, bulletins, newsletters, salaries, maintenance, insurance, supplies, and...

I provide a place for the young to be inspired, the aged to be comforted, and all people to experience confident living and eternal life by grace through in Jesus.

I support worship, Sunday School, Midweek, Vacation Bible School, prayer meetings, prayer line, baptisms, funerals, weddings, circles, care, and counseling.

I reach out to the community through our monthly meals to the hungry, Compassion Closet, Stronghold, denominational and ecumenical partnerships, Salvation Army, and so much more to invite, welcome, include, and love.

I herald the gospel here, there, and everywhere 24/7/365 via

I am the enfleshment of your commitment to Jesus.

My effectiveness depends upon your faithfulness.

I am your budget.

I prove if you are His.

Be generous.

Be Christian.

You will be glad you did!

And the Kingdom will be stronger because of you!

Blessings and Love!
If you attend a church regularly, you’ve probably noticed the phenomenon. A guest shows up for a worship service, but he or she never returns. It is, unfortunately, a common issue in many churches.
I did a Twitter poll to ask these first-time guests why they chose not to return to a particular church. While some of the responses were anticipated, I admit being a bit surprised with some of them.
Though my poll is not scientific, it is nevertheless fascinating. Here are the top ten responses in order of frequency.
1.    Having a stand up and greet one another time in the worship service. This response was my greatest surprise for two reasons. First, I was surprised how much guests are really uncomfortable during this time. Second, I was really surprised that it was the most frequent response.
2.    Unfriendly church members. This response was anticipated. But the surprise was the number of respondents who included non-genuine friendliness in their answers. In other words, the guests perceived some of the church members were faking it.
3.    Unsafe and unclean children’s area. This response generated the greatest emotional reactions. If your church does not give a high priority to children, don’t expect young families to attend.
4.    No place to get information. If your church does not have a clear and obvious place to get information, you probably have lowered the chances of a return visit by half. There should also be someone to greet and assist guests at that information center as well.
5.    Bad church website. Most of the church guests went to the church website before they attended a worship service. Even if they attended the service after visiting a bad website, they attended with a prejudicial perspective. The two indispensable items guests want on a website are address and times of service. It’s just that basic.
6.    Poor signage. If you have been attending a church for a few weeks, you forget all about the signage. You don’t need it any more. But guests do. And they are frustrated when it’s not there.
7.    Insider church language. Most of the respondents were not referring to theological language as much as language that only the members know. My favorite example was: “The WMU will meet in the CLC in the room where the GAs usually meet.”
8.    Boring or bad service. My surprise was not the presence of this item. The surprise was that it was not ranked higher.
9.    Members telling guests that they were in their seat or pew. Yes, this obviously still takes place in some churches.
10. Dirty facilities. Some of the comments: “Didn’t look like it had been cleaned in a week.” “No trash cans anywhere.” Restrooms were worse than a bad truck stop.” “Pews had more stains than a Tide commercial.”
There you have it. The top ten reasons first-time guests said they did not return to a church. I can’t wait to hear from you readers. You always have such good additions and insights.

“A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God's truth is attacked and yet would remain silent.”
John Calvin

Thursday, November 5, 2015

November 5th


Mark your calendar!

1. November 14 - Holiday Bazaar and Bake Sale (9-2);

2. December 6 - "Spirit of Life" Christmas Concert (4:30);

3. Special "Veterans Day" music by Mona this Sunday at both services avec message on "Veterans Day and Presidential Politics"; and

4. Stay tuned to the many opportunities via,, and our regular bulletins and newsletters.

Blessings and Love!

Monday, November 2, 2015

November 1, 2015


My son forwarded an urgent message to me: "Does your dad know of any books that would help me with struggling faith?  I am just struggling to believe."

That call for help propelled me to pray and work on a brief and incomplete guide to overcoming fainting faith: "Scratching the Surface of Rejuvenating Faith."

Then I asked the very faithful saints who gather on Wednesdays for deeper discipleship to review my encouragements.

The first "airing" will be tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. during the live broadcast of Kopp Disclosure on - just click on the link at and tune in.

A summary of the encouragements will also be published in a forthcoming edition of The Belvidere Daily Republican and parochial newsletters for our family of faith on the corner of Lincoln and Main and Presbyterian Elders in Prayer. 

With the help of Presbyterian Elders in Prayer, Scratching the Surface (Volume 1), a collection of guides to important fidelity topics will be submitted for publication in the near future.  Kristine Meyer, a new member of PEP's board and marketing expert, will be serving as an agent and editorial consultant.

Again, listen in and call in tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. via for encouragements to overcoming fainting faith.

Blessings and Love!

Friday, October 16, 2015

October 16, 2015

***Press Release***

While it comes as no surprise to those who were yellowed out of "Sideline Superstitions" still available in the archives of - O.K., I got the one about the Yankees wrong! - the Cubs will still take a big bite out of the apple on its way to its first World Series title since Moses was lifted from the Nile.

Parenthetically, it takes objective fans who are not first love Cubs fans to see how great this Cubbie crew really is; as I was appalled by a local journalist still hedging his bets like, uh, Yankees fans would never do.

Talk about life in a Skinnerian box!

Anyway, read "Sideline Superstitions" again; because aside from the spirituality of the moment, uh, whoa, sorry, keep in mind that Yankees-Killer Theo said so before the season started, said so again after knocking off the PNCers, and... 

If he can beat Babe Ruth, he can beat a scrawny little goat idolater.

Thus saith Theo!

Uh, for those familiar with Greek, Epstein's first name does attract attention here.

Anyway, again, people have been asking how I feel about the Mets playing the Cubs as a from the womb til I hit the tomb Yankees fan.

Geez, as a Yankees fan, I forgot there was another MLB team in NYC until I heard last night that the team from the land of fruits, nuts, and flakes lost to 'em to play the Cubs.

Go Cubs!

P.S. That's why I'll never retire (see below) and only the wishful thinkers who hate me missed the humor as well as attempt to trap some gossipers and Facebookers.