The Internet's Best Practices for Ministry

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Welcoming Guests and First Impressions

The sermon starts in the parking lot, and the impression you make for your guests on Sunday morning during the first 10 minutes will be indelible.

Technology and The Church

Leveraging technology for ministry can be an incredible blessing. But it can also be fraught with problems and pitfalls. Learn how to use technology well.

Vision and Leadership

Our God longs for leaders to request of Him to do that which they cannot. Faith filled vision, leadership and risk are key ingredients for ministry.

Preaching and Communication

You know and understand how challenging it is to communicate. It is hard to get and capture people's attention. Learn how to communicate effectively.

Creativity and Innovation

Being creative means asking the right questions and making new associations. Discover new and creative ideas for your ministry.

Showing posts with label Ministry_Philosophy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ministry_Philosophy. Show all posts

Two Communication Keys Can Double Your Organization

guest post by Mike Loomis:

Years ago, after selling my second business, I took some time off, painted our house, and volunteered time at our church.

To my surprise, in three months I was the executive pastor, serving 350 people and about seventy-five volunteers!

Two years later, the church attendance doubled to seven hundred. Volunteer involvement doubled as well, despite being a “mobile” church, with three different venues in those two years, and in a city with lots of churches. There were plenty of other challenges as well.

In hindsight, I credit two important elements in the growth of the church. Add these apply to any organization, business, or nonprofit.

1. Tell People Why the Organization Exists

It might sound elementary, but I challenge you to really examine this point for yourself.

Assuming you’re not the only option in a fifty-mile radius, why should people commit to your organization? What does the leadership believe is most important for this community? Communicate this—clearly and often.

One way of looking at this is to be clear on what your organization is not about. In other words, have the courage to be lovingly unapologetic…

“We hope you love our church (or conference, or restaurant, etc.) but here’s what we’re focusing on, and here’s what we’re not so great at - and we’re okay with it!” Just make sure you communicate the “why."

Once you start trying to please everyone, you’ll please no one. As an added bonus, your joy will decrease and your stress will increase!

2. Make Daily Choices Based on Your “Why”

Lack of follow-through is why many savvy employees and potential customers roll their eyes at “Mission Statements.” Face it, these globs of words get stale on a forgotten web page or poster and rarely are used in daily decision making.

Legendary organizational cultures are built by difficult decisions, based on a clear vision. (Click to Tweet)

Every week you’ll be asked about some new “must-do” idea. Most of these suggestions will be terrific—but that’s also why most new businesses, and churches, self-destruct. They try to be all things to all people.

People can sense when an organization is rudderless. How?

They simply look at actions.

In an effort to stay ahead of the competition, my past businesses were always temped to stretch outside our competencies. And the church I helped lead was almost derailed by well-intentioned forays into all kinds of distractions. The amount of effort we expelled, and the amount of pressure we exerted on people, was huge. And fruitless.

And you know what? Few really wanted these programs in the first place, least of all the senior leader.

Say no thanks.

People respect an enterprise that’s clear about their purpose and sticks to their focus. Communities are hungry for dependability and stability. You can’t have positive brand positioning when you’re chasing lots of good ideas at the expense of your great idea.

The best communication is not words anyway, the best communication is action. (Click to Tweet)

People in your organization, and those in your community, will appreciate focused, consistent leadership, where words and actions paint a clear picture.

Why does your organization exist? I challenge you to answer that question, and dare you to stick with the vision on an hourly basis!


Mike Loomis helps people launch their dream projects and books. Since starting and selling two businesses, hes strategic partner to bestselling authors, non-profits, publishers as well as startups, and aspiring messengers. He and his wife live in the mountains of Colorado with their pet moose.
www.MikeLoomis.CO

"Losing Money For Jesus" And Other Bad Ideas

guest post by Aimee Minnich:

I’m blunt and sometimes I want to tell people straight up that I think they have a really bad idea. Mostly I’m able to contain this urge and can find a more polite way to suggest they rethink their plans. But blogging is sort of anonymous and doesn’t require the same sort of delicate communication. So today I will share two bad ideas I’ve heard during this journey with Impact Investing Foundation.

1. “Losing Money for Jesus”

A few months ago, we visited a Christian business leader who had grown tired of supporting various missionary businesses. These missionaries were trained in theology, ministry, and evangelism, not management or finance. They sought the cover of business to gain access to countries unfriendly to Christianity. These groups kept coming back for donation after donation and their enterprises never reached sustainability.

This donor expressed concern that his philanthropy hadn’t accomplished much. He couldn’t point to measurable impact and the constant requests for funding left him feeling a bit used. Worse, he felt a bit insulted that these well-meaning evangelists were abusing the term “business” which to him connotes excellence, discipline, and the pursuit of profit for the sake of fueling generosity.

He declared, “I’m done with this whole “losing money for Jesus” idea.”

Indeed, Impact Investing and Ministry Enterprise (for a refresher on what those terms mean, see this post) must represent the very best of business. The pursuit of social and Kingdom impact cannot be excuses.

Industry-leading strategy, execution, integrity, transparency—these must be the hallmarks of any venture that attempts to impact the world for Christ. No more losing money for Jesus.

2. Assuming passion or vision can atone for a flawed business model

Similar to the first point, if a business model wouldn’t work in a ‘normal’ context, it won’t work just because someone attaches purpose to it. To put it another way, without profit, there will be no impact.

A recent case study in Stanford Social Innovation Review looked at the demise of a philanthro-pub and makes this point very well. The entire article is worth the read, but if you’re short on time, here’s a short excerpt to summarize the important points:

“The biggest misstep that Vilelle and Ratwani [the founders] made was to assume that their mission would sustain them. In fact, they made this assumption explicit in that closing Facebook message: “We knew going in that it was a very difficult industry, but we hoped that the mission behind CAUSE would help carry us to success.”13 Today, the founders of Cause readily note the limitations of that perspective. “You’ve got to put the warm-and-fuzzy side away and make sure that the nuts and bolts are in place, or else you’ll just never achieve the impact that you’re going for,” Vilelle says.”

Great business model with execution + purpose = financial return and accelerated impact

Flawed business model + purpose = going out of business

The lesson for investors: follow the same principles when vetting an impact investment as you would apply to a similarly situated traditional business. Put the potential impact aside and consider the financial merits alone. Is the deal structured well? Can the CEO execute? You get the idea.

The lesson for Ministry Enterprise: Make sure you have operators in place who know how to run the venture. Don’t assume that success running a charity will translate into success running a Ministry Enterprise. Get the education you need or bring in additional team members who can fill in the gaps. See The Profitable Charity for more help on this topic.


Aimee Minnich is a founder of Impact Foundation, facilitating charitable investments in Ministry Enterprises and other impact companies. She was formerly President and General Counsel of National Christian Foundation – Heartland. He’s the author of 'The Profitable Charity.' She and her husband, Marshall have three adorable, high-energy kids. www.ImpactFoundation.org


The Necessity Of Pastors Visiting Their Flock

knocking

from Martin Holdt:

“I have noted with alarm that in recent years younger ministers do not deem it an essential part of their ministry to visit people in their homes in order to share the Word of God with them, catechise them, talk with them and pray for them.

It seems as if the thought is that the pastor’s principal responsibility of preaching and teaching invalidates the need for visiting the people.

The Lord’s indictment against the shepherds of Israel clearly points to a situation where the people of God were not sought after and visited where they lived: ‘The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them’ (Ezekiel 34:4).

In an average congregation, all the people, members and adherents, may easily be visited over a space of time, and every pastor needs to pursue this objective energetically, heartily and lovingly.”

Your thoughts? Agree? Disagree with Martin's comments?
(ht: Blog of Dan)

How Do Pastors Feel About Their Job?


excerpted from Christianity Today:

Though pastors are stressed by overwhelming ministry demands and low salaries, only one percent abandon the pulpit each year.

In a first-of-its-kind study, LifeWay Research surveyed 1,500 pastors of evangelical and historically black churches and found an estimated 13 percent of senior pastors in 2005 had left the pastorate 10 years later for reasons other than death or retirement.

"Pastors are not leaving the ministry in droves," said vice president Scott McConnell.

Still, pastors say the role can be tough:
  • 84 percent say they're on call 24 hours a day.
  • 80 percent expect conflict in their church.
  • 54 percent find the role of pastor frequently overwhelming.
  • 53 percent are often concerned about their family's financial security.
  • 48 percent often feel the demands of ministry are more than they can handle.
  • 21 percent say their church has unrealistic expectations of them.

"This is a brutal job," McConnell said. "The problem isn't that pastors are quitting—the problem is that pastors have a challenging work environment.

"Churches ought to be concerned, and they ought to be doing what they can."

Here are some fascinating infographics and statistics from that report. 





Read the entire report overview HERE

5 Barriers To Your Church's Growth

Here is a list of the classic growth barriers every church will or is currently facing.  Under each is a quick summary of Nelson Searcy’s thoughts on each.

Space
  • When a room reaches 70% of its seating capacity, it’s full.
  • Most churches face growth barriers when attendance reaches 65, 125, 250, 500, and 1,000.
  • It is better to grow to 300 or 400 before starting a second service.
Self-Development
  • If the church leaders have stopped maturing spiritually and progressing personally, the congregation is not far behind.
  • Warning signs include stale sermons, the congregation’s passion waning, and the halt of staff and church growth.
Sharing
  • Churches stop growing when they become inwardly (instead of outwardly) focused.
  • Healthy churches should have a 5:100 ratio of first-time guests.
Weekly Worship Service
  • To keep your service strong, always try to look like a church twice your size.
Staff
  • Hiring staff is truly a faith issue. Many pastors want to put off staff hires until they have the money in place to support the positions. Sounds like a practical plan, but unfortunately, it doesn’t work. You will never have enough money in advance to hire the staff you need.
Read the entire article HERE

12 Unfortunate Reasons Why Churches Neglect Church Discipline

excerpted from Chuck Lawless at Thom Rainer's blog

Here are the twelve (8 posted here) unfortunate, yet true, reasons why churches neglect church discipline.

  1. They don’t know the Bible’s teaching on discipline. I can only guess what percentage of regular attenders in evangelical churches even know that the Bible teaches the necessity of church discipline. This topic is one that some pastors choose to avoid.
  2. They have never seen it done before. Some of the reticence to do church discipline is the result of ignorance. Frankly, I admit my own ignorance when I began serving as a pastor 30+ years ago. If you’ve never been part of a church that carried out discipline, it’s easy to let any of these following reasons halt the process.
  3. They don’t want to appear judgmental. “Judge not, lest you be judged” takes precedence over any scripture that calls for discipline, especially in a culture where political correctness rules the day. Judging, it seems, is deemed an unchristian act.
  4. The church has a wide-open front door. Church discipline is challenging to do if membership expectations are few; that is, it’s difficult to hold someone accountable to standards never stated in the first place. The easier it is to join the church, the harder it is to discipline people when necessary.
  5. They have had a bad experience with discipline in the past. For those churches that have done discipline, the memories of poorly done discipline seem to last long. They remember confrontation, judgment, heartache, and division – with apparently no attempt to produce repentance and reconciliation.
  6. The church is afraid to open “Pandora’s box.” If they discipline one church member, they fear establishing a pattern that can’t be halted as long as human beings comprise their congregation. To put it another way, they wonder how many members will remain if they discipline every member with unrepentant sin.
  7. They have no guidelines for discipline. For what sins is discipline necessary? At what point does church leadership choose to make public a private sin? Rather than wrestle with tough questions, many churches just ignore the topic.
  8. They fear losing members (or dollars). We hope no congregation makes decisions based solely on attendance and income, but we know otherwise. Sometimes churches tolerate sin rather than risk decline.
Read the last 4 at the original post

7 Habits Of Highly Effective Pastors

excerpted from Thom Rainer:

There are many characteristics most pastors have: prayerful; committed to the Word; dedicated to their families; high character; and others. My interest in this exercise, however, was to find the traits that set them apart from most others. When I finished this assignment, I found seven distinguishing characteristic or habits.

  1. They have genuine enthusiasm. I am not referring to the vocal cheerleader type. These pastors may be quiet, but their passion and enthusiasm for their churches, their families, and their ministries are evident in all they say and do. It is not a contrived enthusiasm; it is real and contagious.
  2. They are great listeners. When you are around these pastors, they genuinely want to focus on you. They seem to have little desire to talk about themselves; they would rather hear your stories. They can make you feel very important because they genuinely care and genuinely listen.
  3. Their identity is not their vocation. They don’t have to climb a perceived ladder of success because their greatest reward comes from serving Christ in whatever manner He directs them. You don’t have to worry about these pastors manipulating the network or the system for their own advancement. Their identities are in Christ, not their vocations.
  4. They are intentional about personal witnessing. These pastors don’t see the Great Commission as an abstract concept or something that others are supposed to do. They love to share the gospel personally with others. They are also highly intentional about personal witnessing.
  5. They have unconditional love of their critics. So many leaders, pastors included, have limited effectiveness because critics constantly hound them. They are drained emotionally and sometimes walk in fear of the critics. These effective pastors, however, include in their prayer lives intercession for their critics. They learn to love them because they are asking God to help them to have that love.
  6. They have a gentle spirit. We often forget that gentleness is part of the fruit of the Spirit. In this hypercritical social media world, aggression and negativity have become normative, even in our churches. These pastors, to the contrary, have a calm and gentleness that can only come from the Holy Spirit.
  7. They persevere. Ministry is not easy. Local church ministry can be especially difficult. There are too many wounded warriors in our churches. Unfortunately, most of their wounds have come from friendly fire (though I’m not sure the word “friendly” fits well in this metaphor). Highly effective pastors hang in there. Sure, they get hurt. Sure, they get discouraged. But they ultimately keep on doing ministry in God’s power. Though it’s cliché, they look for strength to keep on ministering one day at a time.
read the entire post HERE

Being A Pastor Is Not For Wimps - It's A Dangerous Calling

dangerous calling
The Ministry Best Practices Staff will be on vacation and will be entering a "tech-free" zone. Therefore for the week we are sharing some of the best of MBP. Some of the content has been repurposed and updated.

Peter Drucker, the late leadership guru, said that the four hardest jobs in America (and not necessarily in order, he added) are:
  • The President of the United States
  • A university president
  • A CEO of a hospital and
  • A pastor
Do you believe that?

Some of you may think that it's a dream job. You can read the Bible all day, pray, play a little golf and preach.

Here is the secret. Being a pastor is hard work. It’s not for the faint of heart.

The reality is - the job of a pastor can be 24/7 and carry unique challenges. Some pastors wear themselves out trying to help people. Some wound their family because they are so involved in ministry. Others flourish in their ministry and personal life.  Here are a couple of statistics about pastors.
  • 90% of pastors said the ministry was completely different than what they thought it would be like before they entered the ministry. 
  • 70% say they have a lower self-image now than when they first started.
  • 40% report a conflict with a church member at least once a month. (Tweet This)
  • 85% of pastors said their greatest problem is they are tired of dealing with problem people, such as disgruntled elders, deacons, worship leaders, worship teams, board members, and associate pastors. 
  • The #1 reason pastors leave the ministry is that church people are not willing to go the same direction and goal of the pastor. Pastors believe God wants them to go in one direction but the people are not willing to follow or change. 
  • 40% of pastors say they have considered leaving their pastorates in the last three months. (Tweet This)
  • 70% of pastors do not have someone they consider a close friend. (Tweet This)
  • 50% of the ministers starting out will not last 5 years. (Tweet This)
  • 70% felt God called them to pastoral ministry before their ministry began, but after three years of ministry, only 50% still felt called. 
  • 4,000 new churches begin each year and 7,000 churches close. (Tweet This)
  • Over 1,700 pastors left the ministry every month last year. (Tweet This)
  • Over 3,500 people a day left the church last year. (Tweet This)
  • 50% of pastors feel so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living. 
  • 45.5 % of pastors say that they've experienced depression or burnout to the extent that they needed to take a leave of absence from ministry. 
According to the Barna report - the profession of “Pastor” is near the bottom of a survey of the most-respected professions, just above “car salesman”.

This is a most dangerous and difficult calling - not to be entered into lightly - and it is a calling that is in dire need of the prayers and support of those in the church, family and of close, personal confidants.  That begs the question, are you praying for your pastor?  Pastor, do you have someone in your life who is safe? Someone you would consider a friend?

We can't just set aside one month as Pastor Appreciation Month, all the while relegating the other remaining 11 months as critique, criticize and combat the Pastor Months.  Pastors need our support and prayers.

The Fuller Institute, George Barna, and Pastoral Care Inc. provide the statistics I have used in this blog.

Great resource is Paul Tripp's book - Dangerous Calling

from the original post HERE

10 Major Reasons To Avoid Pastoral Ministry All Together

invisible man
The Ministry Best Practices Staff will be on vacation and will be entering a "tech-free" zone. Therefore for the week we are sharing some of the best of MBP. Some of the content has been repurposed and updated.

Certainly the blessings of ministry far outweigh the realities below, yet ministry is definitely not easy. That is why pastoral ministry must be a calling and not simply a "job". If you can't reconcile with these 10 difficult realities and challenges concerning pastoral ministry, then perhaps you should avoid it all together.

from the Aquila Report:

If you enter pastoral ministry…

10. Not everyone will like you.

9. You will make people angry regardless how godly you handle yourself; it comes with the position.

8. You will feel like a failure often, and when you do appear to succeed, the fruit that is produced cannot be accredited to you. God alone gives the increase (1 Cor. 3:7). Thus, there is little “sense of accomplishment in ministry” that you may be accustomed to in other vocations.

7. You will fight legalism and liberalism, along with laziness, ignorance, tradition, and opposition. Yet, your greatest enemy will be your own heart (Jer. 17:9).

6. Not everyone will respond positively to your preaching, teaching, or leadership. You will bring people to tears with the same sermon: one in joy, another in anger (I have done this).

5. You will be criticized, rarely to your face, and frequently behind your back. This criticism will come from those that love you, those that obviously do not like you, and pastors and Christians that barely know you.

4. You will think about quitting yearly or monthly, if not weekly or even daily.

3. You will be persecuted for preaching the truth, mostly from your brothers and sisters in the pews. You shouldn’t be surprised by the sight of your own blood. You’re a Christian, after all (Matt. 16:24).

2. You will feel very lonely on a consistent basis, feeling like no one truly knows you or cares how you feel, because you do not want to burden your family, and trust-worthy peers are few and far in-between. Because of the ”super-Christian” myth accredited to pastors literally, you will find it extremely difficult to disclose your deep thoughts and feelings to others. Thus, you will struggle with loneliness.

1. You will probably pastor a church that is barely growing (if at all), is opposed to change, doesn’t pay well, has seen pastors come and go, doesn’t respect the position as Biblically as they should, doesn’t understand what the Bible says a pastor’s or a church’s jobs are, and will only follow you when they agree with you (thus, they’ll really only follow themselves).

from original post HERE

5 Pastor Leadership Styles You Will Discover

The Ministry Best Practices Staff will be on vacation and will be entering a "tech-free" zone. Therefore for the week we are sharing some of the best of MBP. Some of the content has been repurposed and updated.

When a church is “looking” to call a pastor, in reality there are only five “types” of pastors out there.

A disclaimer before proceeding. These five types or paradigmatic pastors don’t cover varying theologies, beliefs, doctrines, or even tribal affinity. These categories are talking about five kinds of “Christian” leaders based on “how” they lead. This is a behavioral/personality typology that should be helpful in choosing a pastor for your church.

Each of these types carries positives and negatives, and most likely no one fits into only one category but rather has roots in one and branches that spread into one or two others, we're all mixed bags.

Here is the summation of the article of the 5 Kinds of Pastors:

The five archetypes of pastors are:
  • Catalytic 
  • Cultivator 
  • Conflict-Quelling 
  • Chaplain 
  • Catatonic 
Here’s a brief description of each.

The Catalytic Pastor: The catalytic pastor is wired to stir things up. They’re gifted in the prophetic and tend to be charismatic leaders. These pastors have lots of energy and are focused on the mission of the church … that is, reaching the community for Jesus Christ. In the “right” church, they’ll grow it without a doubt. In the “wrong” church, they’ll create conflict, they’ll be frustrated, and they’ll either burn out or they’ll move on … assuming they’re not fired first. Catalytic pastors are ideal church planters but often lack the finesse and patience for church transformations (except in those VERY rare churches that are truly willing to do anything to reach the community for Jesus).

The Cultivating Pastor: The cultivating pastor is wired to break up hard ground, plant seeds, nurture the fields, and are both willing and able to bring in a harvest. They’re gifted in big-picture understanding, systems analysis, and systems manipulation (in a good way). Because of their systems understanding and their patience, they are able to cultivate change and transformation over time. However, they’re tenacious and are used to getting their way in the long run … because they know how to deal with obstacles that get in their way. Cultivating pastors are well suited for church transformations in churches that can afford to effect gentle change that takes significant time … as many as seven to ten years.

The Conflict-Quelling Pastor: The Conflict-Quelling pastor is exactly the type that the name implies … they’re the guys and gals who are natural or skilled peacemakers, mediators, and/or conflict managers. These pastors are wired differently than any of the other pastoral types. They’re not catalytic and they’re distinctive from chaplains. Instead, these folks can walk into a congregation and in short order assess the situation and instinctively seem to know who the major players are. They are affable and able to build bridges. They tend to be quiet and reflective … when they speak, they do so with conviction, wisdom, and certainty. Conflict-Quelling pastors make excellent interim pastors and/or troubled-church pastors.

The Chaplain Pastor: The Chaplain pastor is wired for peace, harmony, and pastoral care. This is the type of pastor that has been produced by seminaries for several decades, though a few … a very few … seminaries are retooling. Chaplain pastors eschew change and value status quo. They don’t want to stir the waters; rather, they want to bring healing to hurting souls.

They are excellent listeners and tend to be good networkers within the community, primarily so they can extend their ministry, but also so they can refer those in need to oasis’ of help. Chaplain pastors don’t grow churches. In fact, a Chaplain pastor will hasten a congregation’s demise because they tend to focus on those within the congregation rather than in bringing new converts to Jesus Christ. Churches that have very little hope of transformation and church growth do well with Chaplain pastors who serve as hospice care.

The Catatonic Pastor: This type of pastor is, frankly, either lazy or sick. There are far too many of these pastors. They take refuge in their offices ostensibly to do sermon preparation, create brochures, sum up numbers, and so on, but ultimately they’re spinning their wheels and accomplishing very little.

They may or may not do the hospital visitation, but they seldom miss an opportunity to have a meal with one of the inside buddies. Catatonic pastors tend to be well liked by the power holders in the church, because the Catatonic pastor is easily manipulated and seldom, if ever, makes waves … except when they need to accomplish something and fail to meet even the lowest of expectations. Indeed, Catatonic pastors may remain as the senior pastor of a church for many years because they know how to schmooze their way into grace.

Churches that hate change often end up with excellent examples of Catatonic pastors. Catatonic pastors may spend a lot of time “at work” but any congregation that sets performance goals for their Catatonic pastor will quickly discover that time in the office does not guarantee results. Of course, Catatonic pastors do not grow churches, are poor chaplains - even poor hospice chaplains, and they pretty much destroy wherever they root … and they’re more like crabgrass or bamboo that, once established, is almost impossible to eradicate.

from original post HERE

Are You Brave Enough To Ask This Question?


If you and your church were to disappear off the face of the earth tomorrow, would anyone in the community around you notice you were gone? And if the community did even notice would they say ‘we are really glad they are gone’, or ‘we are really going to miss them’?
-Tim Keller

This is a great question to ask as you and I move into 2015. Yet asking the question is one thing, getting an honest answer is another. Too often in our churches we are keeping busy and being distracted with our programs and events that indulge us and make us feel self-important. Yet at the end of the day, what Kingdom impact are we really making to the community around us? Are lives, families and communities radically changed and impacted? Have we been a blessing to them? Serving them? Show them the love of Jesus in word and deed?

Certainly God's power and ability to impact lives, families, communities and societies is very much possible without you and me. He can and will accomplish His purposes - "I tell you," he replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out." (Lk 19:40). And yet he uses broken, frail and faulty men and women like you and me. It is a privilege that we have the invitation to be a part of God's redeeming purposes. Therefore let us use our time, talents, money and energy to do more than just serving ourselves, let us bless and serve others who are outside our church. Let us make such a tangible impact and have such a positive presence that our communities would certainly miss us if we were to disappear tomorrow.

How To Sabotage Your Church Without Even Trying



Here's an excerpt of the 1944 'Simple Sabotage Field Manual' created by the US Strategic Services explaining how to train people to sabotage their workplace. Full of useful suggestions, from the very practical to the less so (i.e. bring a bag of moths into a theater showing propaganda films). It also recommends doing things through official channels, making speeches, and referring matters to committee as techniques and means of sabotage.

What's scary about these suggestions is that we do these all the time in our churches, without even thinking. This list of subversive and sabotaging acts is so eerily close to many church meetings that I have been a part of over the years - I hate to admit.

Therefore if you want to sabotage your church and especially their heart for kingdom ministry and impact, then go ahead and implement these simple techniques. (For some of you, your church is already doing it.). Here is a sample:

Insist on doing everything through “channels.” Never permit short-cuts to be taken in order to expedite decisions.

Make “speeches.” Talk as frequently as possible and at great length. Illustrate our “points” by long anecdotes and accounts of personal experiences. Never hesitate to make a few appropriate “patriotic” comments.

When possible, refer all matters to committees, for “further study and consideration.” Attempt to make the committees as large as possible — never less than five.

Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.

Haggle over precise wordings of communications, minutes, resolutions.

Refer back to matters decided upon at the last meeting. Attempt to re-open the question of the advisability of that decision.

Advocate “caution.” Be “reasonable” and urge your fellow-conferees to be “reasonable” and avoid haste which might result in embarrassments or difficulties later on.

Be worried about the propriety of any decision — raise the question of whether such action as is contemplated lies within the jurisdiction of the group or whether it might conflict with the policy of some higher echelon.

Have you ever been in or a part of these kinds of meetings?

9 Signs That As A Leader You're Burning Out

excerpted from Carey Nieuwhof

So how do you know if you’re heading for burnout?
Here are 9 things I personally experienced as I burned out. I hope they can help you see the edge before you careen past it:

1. Your motivation has faded. The passion that fueled you is gone, and your motivation has either vaporized or become self-centered.

2. Your main emotion is ‘numbness’ – you no longer feel the highs or the lows. 

3. People drain you. Of course there are draining people on the best of days. But not everybody, every time. Burnout often means few to no people energize you anymore.

4. Little things make you disproportionately angry. When you start losing your cool over small things, it’s a sign something deeper is very wrong.

5. You’re becoming cynical. Many leaders fight this one, but cynicism rarely finds a home in a healthy heart.

6. Your productivity is dropping. You might be working long hours, but you’re producing little of value. Or what used to take you 5 minutes just took you 45. That’s a warning bell.

7. You’re self-medicating. Your coping mechanism has gone underground or dark. Whether that’s overeating, overworking, drinking, impulsive spending or even drugs, you’ve chosen a path of self-medication over self-care. Ironically, my self-medication was actually more work, which just spirals things downward.

8. You don’t laugh anymore. Nothing seems fun or funny, and, at its worst, you begin to resent people who enjoy life.

9. Sleep and time off no longer refuel you. Sometimes you’re not burnt out; you’re just tired. A good night’s sleep or a week or two off will help most healthy people bounce back with fresh energy. But you could have a month off when you’re burnt out and not feel any difference. Not being refueled when you take time off is a major warning sign you’re burning out.

(ht: Carey

One Issue That Is Keeping You From A "Grace" Church

Tithe



guest post by Jeff Anderson

Pastor, do you call yours a "grace" church when it's really not? Do you tell you people that the bible does not require anything of them, but you still give them a high bar to clear in the area of giving?

Do you tell your folks that Christ is about relationships and not regulations, yet you still give them one last rule? Do you tell them that Jesus loves them no matter what, yet remind them every week of the one thing that might change God's treatment of them?

I'm talking about the tithe.
This post isn't a tithe rant. I deal with the subject more thoroughly elsewhere (see my 2,000 Gifts E-Paper). But what I am talking about is being straight with your people. You can't have your cake, and eat it too.

You can't boast that you're a church that avoids religion, while holding onto religious traditions. You can't tell people you're different than other churches because you've abandoned church rules, but then tell them they must tithe a tenth of their incomes. It's hypocrisy to cuddle up to folks with your grace words and then hold the tithe standard over their heads like it's somehow tied to God's happy smile.

It's time that churches start talking straight on this matter.
If the tithe is the only rule standing in your church, then let’s hear it - Folks, we have abandoned all the rules in the bible except one. And here's why.

Or if you truly believe in the all-grace message and wish to rethink your tithe posture, lets hear that - Folks, we're afraid we've been holding a certain standard over your heads while trying to preach a grace message. It's time we revisit this matter and all get on the same page.

You'll find just how supportive and understanding your folks will be. They appreciate honesty and humility. They're tired of the bait and switch with mixed messages - especially when it involves money!

When you tell people that there are no biblical rules, then you surprise them with the one-size-fits-all, ten percent clause, it's confusing. When you preach a heavy message of grace then make them feel guilty if they don't tithe, it just flies smack in the face of this idea that grace abounds with regard to our spiritual choices.

If you're a grace church, teach what the bible says about giving and put them in position to act on the grace. Or if you absolutely believe the tithe is the golden giving standard for everyone, then make sure you use the "grace" word selectively and appropriately.

You may think I'm hammering the tithe-teachers, but I'm not. I understand the tithe topic is a doozy and not everyone agrees about it the same way. I don't plan to settle that debate. All I want to do is encourage teachers, leaders, pastors to be thoughtful and clear with their words and messaging…and to show their true colors.

If you're on the read team, wear red uniforms. If the blue team, wear blue. Don't pretend to be on one team but wear another team's colors.

JEFF ANDERSON speaks and writes about walking with God, with an approach to discipleship that combines scripture and story. He’s the author of two books, Plastic Donuts and Divine Applause (January 2015).

Jeff began his career working as a CPA for a Big Six accounting firm, then became a day trader in the stock market. Following that, he joined Crown Financial Ministries as vice-president for North America Generosity Initiatives. He now speaks, writes, and consults with churches and ministries. Jeff and his wife, Stephanie have four children.www.DivineApplause.com

A Pastor Is In Danger If They Only Teach The Word To Others

Bible Reading




Bad things happen when maturity is more defined by knowing than it is by being. Danger is afloat when you come to love the ideas more than the God whom they represent and the people they are meant to free......

....The ultimate purpose of the Word of God is not theological information but heart and life transformation. (Tweet This)
- Paul Tripp, Dangerous Calling

It might appear odd to suggest that pastors are somehow misusing the Word of God. The Word is the pastor’s major tool in their toolbox. Most pastors go to school (seminary) just to study a single book, getting to know it backwards and forwards. As pastors we understand just how essential it is to be a faithful and diligent workman with the Scriptures and to correctly handle, teach, train and preach the Word of God.

So if all of that is suppose to be true, why is it such a danger that the pastor may be ignoring the Word?

This point goes to the crux of Paul Tripp’s comments at the beginning of this post - there is a difference between knowing and being. It is the danger of simply having head knowledge at the expense of ignoring the heart.

The pastor can’t stand outside and above the Word of God simply treating it as an academic exercise only interested in teaching and preaching it to others. No, the pastor must, just like the congregations they teach, have his heart in a surrendered posture, ready to have the word transform him.

The pastor is in severe danger if he simply approaches the Word in a clinical manner. The pastor cannot approach the Word merely as an academician, but rather he must approach it as a student, a pilgrim, one who is on a spiritual journey - continuing to learn and grow. He must approach the Word with deep affection and expectancy. Eager to hear from the Lord and to respond to His voice with faithful obedience. The pastor must be yielded to the power and work of the Holy Spirit, allowing the Spirit to apply the truth of the Word to his heart and life.

The pastor can’t be simply someone who teaches the Word, but they must be willing to be taught by it as well.

The Lost Vision Of Pastoral Ministry

Pastor Shepherd


Has the church growth paradigm within American culture shifted focus away from the intended calling of most pastors? As a result of large, big and corporate megachurches, have we redefined who a pastor is, and what they are Biblically called to do?

Here is a quote from Mark Galli which raises the issue:
...We find that American churches exalt and isolate their leaders almost by design. Our ambitious churches lust after size—American churches don't feel good about themselves unless they are growing. We justify church growth with spiritual language—concern for the lost and so forth. But much of the time, it's American institutional self-esteem that is on the line. This is an audacious and unprovable statement, I grant, but given human nature (the way motives become terribly mixed in that desperately wicked human heart) and personal experience, I will stick to it.
With this addiction to growth comes a host of behavioral tics, such as a fascination with numbers. The larger the church, the more those who attend become stats, "attenders" to be counted and measured against previous weeks. Pastoral leaders are judged mostly on their ability to enlarge their ministries. It's not long before we have to rely on "systems" to track and follow newcomers. It is the rare church now that can depend on members naturally noticing newcomers, or on their reaching out to them with simple hospitality. That has become the job of a committee, which is overseen by a staff member. With increasing size comes an increasing temptation to confuse evangelism with marketing, the remarkably efficient and effective if impersonal science of getting people in the doors.
With the longing for size comes a commitment to efficiency. No longer is it a good use of the head pastor's time to visit the sick or give spiritual counsel to individuals. Better for him to make use of his "gift mix," which usually has little to do with the word pastor—or shepherd, the biblical word for this position. Instead, he has been hired for his ability to manage the workings of large and complex institutions. The bigger the church, the less he works with common members and mostly with staff and the church board. To successfully manage a large church, one must be on top of all the details of that institution. This doesn't necessarily mean directly micromanaging things, but it certainly means to do so indirectly. The large church pastor may not personally tell the nursery volunteers to repaint the 2–3 year-old room, but when he notices a spot of peeling paint as he passes by, the pastor will tell someone who will tell someone, and it will get done in short order.
What do you think? Does the megachurch, multisite church movement call the pastor away from their Biblical calling as a shepherd? 

Build The Right Church By Using The Wrong People

In Jesus’ simple command to ‘make disciples,’ he has invited every one of his followers to share the life of Christ with others in a sacrificial, intentional, global effort to multiply the gospel of Christ through others. He never intended to limit this invitation to the most effective communicators, the most brilliant organizers, or the most talented leaders and artists — all the allegedly right people that you and I are prone to exalt in the church. Instead, the Spirit of God has empowered every follower of Christ to accomplish the purpose of God for the glory of God in the world. This includes the so-called wrong people: those who are least effective, least brilliant, or least talented in the church.
Building the right church, then, is dependent on using all the wrong people. (Tweet This)
— David Platt -Radical Together

Your thoughts?

What do you think of Platt's quote? How would you apply this exhortation within your own life and ministry?

Why Finding The “Some” Will Satisfy

guest post by Jaclyn Rowe

Just this morning, I was on the phone with a woman almost 700 miles away. As with so many conversations I have with those in ministry, she reluctantly expressed the struggle she and her husband have to not only reach, but also keep people coming to their church and Bible studies.

I can easily relate. As a Bible teacher and lay worker at my home church, it often feels daunting to try and retain people. We are so thrilled when new people come and so discouraged when they don’t come back or when we see people leave. Even though our brains tell us to “trust the Lord, fear not, give thanks and pray” and our mouths may even say the right things, our hearts are still hurt.

In the account of King Hezekiah told in 2 Chronicles 30, the newly crowned king desires to host the Passover feast in Jerusalem. It had been decades since the people had celebrated this important holiday and Hezekiah was seeking to restore the laws of Moses and the decrees of King David in order to get his wicked nation back on track.

First, he reached far. Hezekiah was the king of Judah, the southern kingdom of Israel. At this time in history, God’s people were divided and both the northern and southern kingdoms were a hot mess! The people were violently wicked; they worshiped Baal idols and took no thought for the God of the Bible. Hezekiah had EVERY reason to be discouraged and he had an overwhelming task to do in Judah. It slays me that we see him reach beyond his borders to Israel. Hezekiah was not responsible for the northern kingdom. Yet, he sent invitations for the Passover by messengers, not only throughout his southern kingdom of Judah, but also to the northern kingdom of Israel. His heart was for everyone to have the opportunity to know God.

Second, he ignored the negative. 2 Chronicles 30:10 tells us that as Hezekiah’s messengers went out throughout the land, they were laughed at and mocked.

Can you relate? For example, you just know God has given you this great new outreach idea. No one thinks it will work. Or maybe you start with an excited and enthusiastic bunch for a bible study and then, three weeks in, you have to send fourteen text reminders just to make sure you have enough people coming to justify the meeting. You wonder if it’s even worth the time and effort anymore.

The very next verse is what inspires me. Verse 11 says, “Nevertheless, however, SOME…” Some came. In reality, the “some” snowballed and ended up being a huge sum. Thousands were restored in their relationship with God as they returned to Jerusalem and, ultimately, to the God of their fathers. The entire nation would experience blessing and revival because of the “some” that did come.

What if the messengers had turned around and went home early? What if they had reported back to Hezekiah, “King, everyone is laughing at us and they think we’re crazy. Sorry, but it’s just not worth the humiliation.”

Imagine if Hezekiah would have given up. 

So ask yourself; who does come? Who has God sent for you to disciple, mentor and encourage? Rather than focusing on those who don’t or won’t attend your church or Bible study, praise God for the some who are there. Embrace His timing and trust him to expand your territory as He sees fit. Until then, reach far, ignore the negative and be encouraged.

Jaclyn Rowe is an author and speaker who teaches a weekly Bible class for women ages 18-30 in addition to teaching preschool children through AWANA. A former television talk show host and top ranked speaker for Monster.com, Jaclyn is a sought-after speaker for Bible teaching, as well as personality and etiquette training. Her latest book is a bible study entitled King Hezekiah: Examining a Life of Bold Faith. Visit www.jaclynrowe.com for more information.

The One Person In Your Church That Will Derail You



The Nitpicker

from Seth Godin 
“The pedant (that’s what we call someone who is pedantic, a picker of nits, eager to find the little thing that’s wrong or out of place) is afraid. He’s afraid and he’s projecting his fear on you, the person who did something, who shipped something, who stood up and said, “here, I made this.” 
Without a doubt, when the Beatles played Shea Stadium, Paul was a little out of tune. Without a doubt, the Gettysburg Address had one or two word choice issues. Without a doubt, that restaurant down the street isn’t perfect.
That’s okay. They made something.  
Sure, make it better, by all means put in the time to bring us your best work. But no, of course not, no, the pedant is not our audience, nor is he making as much of a difference as he would like to believe.”
Although Seth wasn't directly addressing pastors or ministry leaders - he might as well have been. As a pastor and ministry leader, I am certain that you, all too often, have to contend with "nitpickers" within your church. They may be in your leadership or they may merely be sitting in the pews.

It is easy to identify these people: 
  • They are the ones who are first to write you that email after your sermon. 
  • They are the ones who always offer their opinion, but rarely ever offer to serve.
  • They seem good at identifying problems but never solutions.
  • They love to focus on the minutia, often times missing the big picture.
  • They are the people you cringe at the thought of talking to because they seem to only offer criticism and yet never a praise.
Nitpickers will try to distract, discourage and derail you. But don't be discouraged. Nitpickers will always be there in your church and ministry. You can't satisfy all their concerns or placate their criticisms. All you can do is move forward in love and faithfulness, create, work hard and do your best - and believe in the gospel for your identity and security. Certainly you can find a kernel of truth and help in what a nitpicker may have to offer, but don't get bogged or paralyzed with their nitpicking, fault-finding and criticism.

If you try to please or accommodate the nitpickers, you will end up moving nowhere fast - in your both your life and your ministry.

(thanks to Phil for a heads up on Seth's post)

10 Bad Reasons To Be A Pastor

Bad Reasons
excerpted from Resurgence

Over the years, I have heard men give compelling reasons to be a pastor. I have also heard a few ridiculous reasons. But most often, I have heard reasons that just aren’t sufficient on their own to justify becoming a pastor. Here are 10 of them.

1. YOU LIKE SPENDING TIME WITH OTHER CHRISTIANS
This a very good thing. You should be really encouraged by this desire. According to Jesus, the clearest evidence of being a Christian is loving other Christians (John 13:35). And to love other Christians requires spending time with them.

But being a pastor requires you to spend considerable time alone in study and prayer. You will also give of yourself in knowing and serving non-Christians. Too many people mistake pastoral ministry for a never-ending summer youth camp. In reality, the two have very little in common.

2. YOU LIKE TO STUDY YOUR BIBLE
Again, this is a really good thing to like. All Christians should love to study the Bible in order to better know Jesus. A pastor must study the Bible. Preaching should be his highest priority and the foundation of influential preaching is focused study. But almost every pastor I know wishes he had more time to spend studying. It’s absolutely important and completely impossible to give yourself to it exclusively.

I have heard many reasons that just aren’t sufficient on their own to justify becoming a pastor.

3. YOU LIKE SPEAKING IN PUBLIC
Pastors must be able to clearly communicate the Bible. Most will preach anywhere from fifty to over a hundred different sermons in a single year. But speaking in public and preaching are two different things. The medium is the same, but the responsibility is not.

Making a compelling presentation to your co-workers and preaching the Bible are as different as a paintball competition and real combat. Both involve guns and helmets, but that is about all. Projects, products, and dollars can’t compare in worth to the souls and eternal destinies of human beings. And that is exactly what is at stake every time the pastor enters the pulpit. Being responsible to relay a message from God to people who desperately need him is an enormous task.

Being a pastor requires you to spend considerable time alone in study and prayer.

4. YOU LIKE INTRODUCING NON-CHRISTIANS TO JESUS
Connecting unbelievers to Jesus is one of the greatest thrills a Christian can know, and those who are fruitful in personal evangelism are a gift to a church. But a pastor has a responsibility to both evangelize and equip the church to share their faith with those who don’t yet know Jesus. It’s the role of equipping that makes the role of a pastor more like a player/coach than just a player. Be sure you want to coach before you retire from playing.

5. YOU WANT TO BE MORE DEVOTED TO JESUS
Maybe the most ironic aspect of pastoral ministry is how challenging it can be to prioritize your time with Jesus. I am not alone in feeling that my devotional life became far more challenging the day I began full-time vocational ministry. It is the number-one struggle for most pastors I know and have known. I think it has much to do with the constant demands and distractions intrinsic to ministry. That leads me to bad reason number six.

Almost every pastor I know wishes he had more time to spend studying.

6. YOU WANT TO SPEND FEWER HOURS WORKING

7. YOU ARE LOOKING FOR A MORE STABLE CAREER

8. YOU ARE TIRED OF CONFLICT

9. YOU WANT OTHERS TO RESPECT YOU

10. YOU WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE


Read the whole post HERE