Did you know there is a very common word that is used in our culture that you cannot find in the Bible? It is the word competition. Jesus never talked about it, but He did talk about the opposite of that word.
What is the greatest catalyst that allows the unsaved to make a decision for Jesus Christ? It isn’t prayer, though this is important. It isn’t good deeds, though deeds indicate a fruitful relationship with God. It isn’t good behavior, though Christ commands us to be obedient as sons.
This is the fourth blog post in a series (intro, Part 1, Part 2) regarding pastors developing healthy boundaries in their ministries. I’m sharing four key points in the process, thinking of them as four fence posts around a healthy ministry.
The next may be the hardest to implement in our culture. Also, I imagine it will generate the most disagreement. However, I think it demonstrates a biblical approach to the shepherding of a congregation, rather than turning the church into a place where a group of customers demand their area of interest be paramount.
The third post supporting a healthy ministry is guarding your flock, even if it is from other Christians.
The title of this article may seem both presumptuous and audacious. Do I really believe every pastor should have a blog? Yes, I do.
I speak to pastors in numerous settings, and I am able to share with them the benefits of such a discipline in writing.
Understand that writing a blog can begin simple, with little time pressure. The pastor can commit to writing 400 words a week in one post. I do recommend that the number of posts increases to at least twice a week later, but you need to start somewhere.
I think you will be amazed how much the blog benefits the church and your ministry. Here are seven reasons why it is so important:
Have you ever thought that a guest at your church might, in fact, be a spy? My church consulting company uses church “spies” to help us evaluate how churches respond to guests. Our spies are “good” spies, though, since their goal is to help a church face reality and move toward health.
Numerous spies have written us reports for more than a decade. Below are some of the most common findings they have sent us.
To be fair, the churches that invite us to work with them know they need help, so these findings should not be entirely surprising. What concerns me is the number of churches that have not yet recognized these findings characterize them too:
Jesus used many similar stories and illustrations to teach the people as much as they could understand. In fact, in his public ministry he never taught without using parables; but afterward, when he was alone with his disciples, he explained everything to them.— Mark 4:33-34
The fine, the deep mid, the silly, the short square, the leg slip, the gully . . . If one is not familiar with these terms, he will find himself in the wrong place at the wrong time and will certainly lose the game of cricket for his team. Where would one learn the terminology for the game? It is readily available in the encyclopedia. But learning the terminology and actually playing the game are two different things entirely. Playing the positions well can only come from experience on the cricket field.
Jesus was a master at speaking in riddles for the public while at the same time teaching his disciples valuable lessons. He spoke with words that both taught and challenged. He taught those who could hear with faith and challenged those who were trying to trap him.
There were times, however, when even the disciples were unable to understand Jesus. Then Jesus would patiently explain everything to them in detail. Jesus knew that as the disciples gained experience in the mission field, their understanding of his parables would grow. Meanwhile, Jesus took the time to spell parables out for the disciples by defining terms or by retelling the stories more simply.
Sometimes it may seem that things would go faster if we just used shortcuts to get the task at hand over and done with. However, in the long run, spelling things out and bringing new people along can be more efficient than doing it all on our own. Growing people into their positions takes patience and diligence. It requires commitment to the betterment of that other person. It requires the ability to see beyond the task at hand to the value of the person at hand.
Are we as patient as Jesus was with new Christians at church, or even new people at our workplace? The patience we show to our teammates can make the difference between a weak team and a strong, maturing, effective team.
Some of the people who sit before the pastor on Sundays have open, untreated wounds on their souls.
The church can really help them through today’s ministries. Or it can damage them to the point that they will never recover.
Your work is so critical, church leaders.
If you are the pastor, your sermon can make a world of difference. If you are worship leader, the choices of hymns and choruses and Scriptures, and the manner in which they are conducted, can be a balm to those in great pain. If you teach a Sunday school class, ask the Father to go far beyond the lesson you will be commenting on and do something miraculous in the hearts and souls of all who will sit before you.
There is a counterintuitive marketing concept that we, as pastors, should spend some time contemplating: “If you try to reach everyone, you’ll reach no one.”
When you are promoting an event or sermon series, who is your target audience? Are you focused on a 35-year-old man who works in construction and has two kids, or are you focused on all men who might possibly see your sign or know someone who does?
When you focus your advertising (announcement) on a particular target audience instead of trying to reach everyone possible, you create energy and momentum.
I’ve worked for bullies that demanded trust. I’ve worked for weaklings that demanded trust. I’ve worked for very few that legitimately worked to build my trust in them.
Trust, like loyalty, is a two-way street that instead often looks like people driving three cars down the wrong lane, headed in the entirely wrong direction. As a leader, one has to think of trust as something built, not won in the lottery. It’s done in so many different ways.
1. Show people that you care about them. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Is that saying cliche? Yes. Is that saying correct? Yes.
Over the last several years, we’ve been collecting data from the churches with which we consult. One of the key questions we were interested in had to do with serving.
We wanted to find out how many people are volunteering in one of the church’s ministries, either inside or outside the walls of the church. Here’s what we’ve found:
The average church engages four to five people out of 10 in some sort of serving role. For the purposes of this research, we assumed kids aren’t serving, and therefore they aren’t included in the percentage. However, there are a few churches that are creating serving opportunities for older children as well.
Pastors, nowhere in Ephesians 6 are we given any protection for our backsides! I think there’s a good reason for that—we aren’t given permission to retreat.
So the answer to "When should a godly leader retreat?" is "Never!"
Understand, I’m not talking about repentance, a changing of the mind or an encounter of real truth, where we turn from wrong beliefs and actions. I’m talking about turning back from the God path.
Whether you recognize Sam Hinn’s name or know nothing about the ministry of Benny Hinn’s younger brother, there’s an important issue in the body of Christ that needs to be addressed in light of Sam’s “re-ordination” on Sunday night in Orlando, Fla., only eight months after he stepped down from the pulpit due to a serious moral indiscretion.
This and other recent instances—both in Orlando and around the nation—prove that we, as the church, still struggle with how to restore fallen leaders.
Ministry is too important to be done haphazardly. How we’re leading in the core of our churches has to do with life-changing, eternity-consequential decisions. Therefore, we need to think through what ministry is all about. Sometimes we are more strategic about our grocery lists than our approach to ministry.
"Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but many.
Many times, as leaders, we are blindfolded by the experience we have gained over the years. We assume everyone knows what we know, but we forget what we once didn’t know.
I feel what I’m writing is elementary in the field of leadership. But what is elementary to one is high school or even college to others.
I’m not at all saying you can stop learning. That’s a dangerous thing for a leader to ever do. I’m saying to be conscious of the fact that if you are a leader, chances are you’ve learned a few things along the way to getting where you are today.
One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers--Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew--throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. Jesus called out to them, "Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!" And they left their nets at once and followed him.— Matthew 4:18-20
A good leader looks for undiscovered qualities in people and provides opportunities for those qualities to become assets. The ability to nurture talent and encourage growth in others can also create deep loyalty.
One of the tasks Jesus had to accomplish in his three years of ministry was to put an effective team together that could follow through with his mission after he had ascended to heaven. One problem was that no one had ever been trained in the field of church planting. Jesus had to pick people for his team who could grow into their jobs. His ability to see potential in people brought twelve very different men together.
How did Jesus persuade the disciples to join him? No begging, no buttering up. Jesus did not give the disciples false hope or exaggerate their potential. He simply told them that they would remain fishermen but that the bait and the catch would be much more significant.
Scripture tells us that Andrew and Peter responded immediately to the offer Jesus made. They faltered and fell along the way but always got back up and continued to follow Jesus. History records that they were loyal to Jesus unto death. Jesus called them away from an unexciting, common existence to a compelling and challenging career. The disciples could not have envisioned themselves as part of future earth-changing events, but Jesus knew exactly how they would be used to further his kingdom. Jesus had a vision and he invited simple men to step out of the common and into something completely new. That invitation made all the difference for the disciples and for the world.
Let me state the obvious: Pastors are human. That means they have preferences, likes and dislikes. So I did an unscientific Twitter poll to find out what pastors really don’t like about their job.
By the way, one pastor cautioned me about calling their ministries “jobs.” I understand, but it’s hard to fit “God-called vocation and ministry” into a 140-character Twitter question.
I was surprised at the variety of responses. Pastors are certainly not monolithic. No one response was greater than 20 percent of the total. And I was surprised at some potential responses that did not show up.
The local church should be a Holy Spirit training outpost for equipping God’s people to be kingdom warriors of love and servanthood on earth and to destroy the works of darkness. Instead, the local church is often operating more like a cruise ship instead of a battleship designed to equip an army.
I first met pastor Fred Hartley about five years ago when I was invited to be on a city transformation leadership team in Atlanta. Fred pastors a midsize congregation in a suburb of Atlanta and is also the founder of the College of Prayer, an international equipping ministry. Fred has written several books on prayer. He knew little about my work, but as we began getting to know one another, he took more of an interest in what I did. I shared a few of my books with him, but it was almost two years before Fred caught what I was doing and how it could impact his own local congregation. He wrote me this letter:
The kind of preaching that changes lives is from the heart to the heart, not from the head to the head. Lives are changed as we speak from our deepest pain and suffering.
Socrates was the first to explain communication in three dimensions. He talked about ethos as the speaker’s character, pathos as the speaker’s compassion, and logos as the speaker’s content. We tend to think most about the content of a sermon, but the people to whom we are speaking perceive all three, and ethos is really the most vital of all three dimensions.
Beginning this fall, a major television network will begin airing a new reality show called Preachers of L.A. Before you continue reading this article, please view this trailer.
Though every ounce of my being is tempted to respond in condemning judgmentalism, I will obey God’s command and judge not.
As with everything else, Christianity has changed in this new millennium. The question we must all ask is, Is it for the better or for the worse? Never before has the church earned such a poor reputation as we have in this generation. It appears as if the current church in America has two gods—the god of attendance and the god of money. We are seen as superficial, arrogant, self-serving, unloving and unholy.
To say that issues surrounding the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer movement are sensitive to navigate would be a gross understatement. Here are three mistakes that are often made in our ministries:
1. People make “gay” jokes. Statements like, “That’s gay,” or, “What are you, gay?” are exactly the types of things that will repel someone who needs to have a safe place to share. This will alienate kids and make you completely unsafe to talk to. We come across as arrogant and condemning. Huge mistake.