Archives For Leadership

Ready to Serve

Pastor, you were created by God to serve your congregation. What he told the prophet Jeremiah is also true for you: “Before I made you in your mother’s womb, I chose you. Before you were born, I set you apart for a special work.” (Jeremiah 1:5, NCV)

God redeemed you so you could do his holy work. In God’s kingdom, you have a place, a purpose, a role, and a function to fulfill, and this gives your life great significance and special value, no matter how discouraged you may feel right now. You are not God’s child by this service, but as God’s child you were created for this service.

The Bible says, “You were chosen to tell about the excellent qualities of God, who called you.” (1 Peter 2:9, GW) Anytime you use your God-given abilities to help others, you are fulfilling your calling. In some churches in China, they welcome new believers by saying – “Jesus now has a new pair of eyes with which to see, a new set of ears for listening, two new hands for which to help, and a new heart for loving others.”

You’re not only the eyes, ears,…

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I’ve failed more than I’ve succeeded. I’ve been criticized much more than I’ve been complemented. I’ve been thrown into circumstances that I’ve never been in before many more times than finding myself somewhere familiar. And because of those truths, it makes me fearful that those trends will continue and I will ultimately find myself unemployed, alone, and isolated.

Maybe you can relate. I make decisions… worried that it won’t work out. I assign tasks… scared that they won’t follow through. I lead the team into the future… doubting that goals will be accomplished. Sound familiar at all?

Don’t get me wrong, I wish that fear wasn’t a part of my life. I sincerely hope that, one day, I’ll be in a place where I have so much confidence that fear dare not rear its ugly face. But that day is not today.

And the truth is that we leaders don’t do a good job at all of sharing these fears. We don’t want to get vulnerable or seem like we don’t have it all together. Although I don’t advocate this, I completely understand. But, I have come to find over the many years of leadership that we…

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Religious Liberty On Decline

By Bob Smietana

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A growing number of Americans believe religious liberty is on the decline and that the nation’s Christians face growing intolerance.

They also say American Christians complain too much.

Those are among the findings of a new study of views about religious liberty from LifeWay Research. Researchers surveyed 1,000 Americans in September 2013 and September 2015 and then compared the results.

Two-thirds (63 percent) say Christians face increasing intolerance, up from half (50 percent) in 2013.

A similar number (60 percent) say religious liberty is on the decline, up from just over half (54 percent) in 2013.

Forty-three percent say American Christians…

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Accountability and counsel are essential to a church planter. In the early days of a new church plant, you’ll likely experience one of two temptations when it comes to leadership. One is to hastily construct a leadership team with a board, positions and policies. The other is to fly solo with no accountability at all.  Both are extreme approaches and dangerous for a church planter.  Here are a few things I learned the hard way that may help you in developing your leadership structure.

Move Slowly

Move slowly when choosing the leadership structure for a new church. Do not feel like you have to have the entire structure in place in the beginning. As a matter of fact, you’ll find it best if you don’t hastily build a leadership structure and assign roles. If you choose the structure or the leaders too quickly, you may have a mess to unravel.

Resist the urge to move quickly, and methodically set a structure. If you are in a denomination that has already chosen  your structure, then move slowly  in choosing the leaders within the structure. The challenge in a new church is that you really don’t know the…

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Last week I blogged about the 58 things that were killing me.

That post came from burnout I had as a small business owner. Right in the middle of that process, it got me thinking…

I wonder if pastors are getting burned out for the same reason as me?

With that question on my mind for a few days, I decided to send a quick survey to the pastors on my email list. The results were just as I suspected, and they point to the real reason why I believe pastors are so worn out.

It was the same reason I had experienced burnout as a small business owner in the height of our successes.

This revealing survey had two questions:

In what areas does your team need the most training?

I received a total of 17 different answers. Organization, volunteer management and spiritual development were just a few of the answers given.

The #2 answer on the list was Leadership, with 38% of pastors saying leadership is at the top of the list of areas their staff needs training in.

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This answer wasn’t surprising considering we are an industry…

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Clutter

I have a friend who’s life is defined by “busy.” He doesn’t really accomplish much, and I think that’s why he’s embraced an identity of always being busy.  He can’t talk without complaining how busy he is, he starts most of his emails with “I’ve been so busy recently that…,” and he never seems to have time to read a book, reflect, or think. It’s another symptom of this disrupted culture we live in. So if you occasionally feel overwhelmed and can’t really define why, here’s a few new rules for living in the constant “on” culture:

1) Turn off your computer and mobile device notifications.  Every app these days wants to be able to notify you of discounts and special deals. I looked at my wife’s phone recently and she had 22 apps that all had notifications turned on. It was pinging all day long. And that’s not counting email, text, and social media notifications. Just turn them off. Do you really need to know the moment a person responds to your Twitter post? Do you need to be alerted the exact second every email arrives? Talk about overkill. Let it rest.

2) Schedule 2-3…

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Senior Pastors typically underestimate the impact their building has on their church’s future growth.

Building Too Late

Church planters believe the lie that they don’t need a building to grow, ignoring the fact that your chances of survival begin to plummet drastically after year six outside of a permanent facility (whether owned or leased). We will always find growing church plants past that age in rented/temporary facilities, but those outliers are breathing rare air.

Senior Pastors of established churches, likewise, face their own unique challenges.

Expecting A Silver Bullet

Many assume that simply “rallying the troops” and building a new building, or relocating to another location, will automatically ignite growth. What happens, more often than not, is the increased debt and facility expansion doesn’t overcompensate for the fact that the church hasn’t addressed the underlying issues that stalled their church’s growth in the first place. As the old Buddhist proverb states, “Wherever you go, there you are.”

Inevitable Bottlenecks

Others assume they can overcome the size limitations their facility places on their ministry. The rule of thumb when it comes to facilities is that there are three things that impact a church’s ability to grow: parking, seats in the auditorium, and…

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Executive-Pastor-768x509One of the questions I get asked a lot is, “At what point should I hire an Executive Pastor?”

This is an easy one to answer.

Let me briefly sketch the challenges that must be addressed at every stage of growth up to 1,000 so you can see the natural place this hire should occur.

200 Barrier – Senior Pastor and Congregation

Breaking the 200 attendance barrier is all about changing the relationship between the Senior Pastor and the congregation at large. Up to that point the congregation has essentially been one big group with the Senior Pastor in the center of it.

To break that barrier the Senior Pastor has to forcibly change the congregational culture by (1) creating multiple gatherings where people don’t see each other on Sunday morning, (2) drive hands-on pastoral care to other leaders in the church (by decreasing their personal accessibility and increasing systems for care), and (3) fanatically finding and raising up new volunteer and paid leaders to lead segments of the congregation.

400 Barrier – Senior Pastor and Governing Board

Breaking the 400 barrier is all about changing the nature of the governing board of the church, and the way it…

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No one’s life is an unbroken chain of victories. We all experience setbacks, defeats, losses and failures. Consider the example of baseball – not even the greatest of players bats 1,000%. The same is true in ministry – we all make mistakes, even as we seek to serve God.

Since failure is something every one of us will, at some time, experience, one of the most important skills you can acquire is the ability to respond to it in a godly fashion. It has been my observation that successful ministers know how to turn every failure into a learning experience – creating a stepping stone for future success.

The first thing to do when you’re faced with any failure is to analyze why it happened. Although there may be a variety of reasons – many out of your control – here are five common causes of failure:

When you don’t plan ahead

As the old saying goes, “If you fail to plan, then you’re planning to fail.” Proverbs 27:12 says, “A sensible man watches for problems ahead and prepares to meet them” (LB). Moving your church towards greater growth and health requires a lot of planning. You not only need to plan how to…

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Providence is God’s guidance and protection in our lives. Pastor, I know we teach about God’s providence to His people regularly. We counsel people with a deep belief and conviction about God’s guidance and protection through life. Yet, when it comes to our own lives and ministries, do we believe it with the same level of conviction and operate our lives accordingly?

God Knows What is Best for Me

I have often struggled with understanding many things in my own life and ministry. I have wondered why certain doors have closed when I thought their opening would be the will of God. Conversely, I have often been overwhelmed with God’s gracious blessing of opening doors for me that I knew I did not deserve. After all these years it is still hard to write them in confession to you: but I understand that God knows what is best for me, even when I do not know what is best for myself. Yes, He protects me from things I may want or believe, when in reality, they are not best for me.

Trusting the Providence of God

The Lord is always working around us. He desires to work…

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Leading WomenI led the worship department at Parkview Christian Church for 20 years, where I started on staff with me, myself, and I. But as the years progressed and the church grew, the worship staff did also and in my final years, I was leading a staff of 11 paid staff plus interns, and over 300 volunteers. I’ll be honest, I had no management training in college. Unfortunately, most people who are educated for Ministry are not taught these things, and they should be.

Some of you lead a department at a ministry or church, some of you lead volunteers whether a serving team or a small group, and some of you lead other moms or even just your own family for now. But you ARE a leader. And how you lead truly influences others and their perspective of Jesus. And, Ephesians 6:7 says “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people” (NIV) so our attitude when leading others should be about doing our very best.

So, as a leader, I wanted to share some tips I have learned along the way to help you (as well as my…

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Money

Some time ago, I received a call from The New York Times. The reporter was curious if I knew of any pastors or ministry leaders who were changing their tune because the economy wasn’t going so well. That call reminded me how much the world looks at our message as adaptable, changeable, and flexible. When it comes to those pesky issues like absolute truth, can’t we just change God’s principles to accommodate a changing culture, financial problems, or difficult circumstances?

So if you’re facing financial challenges with your organization, here are some suggestions:

1) Be Confident in the Validity of Your Message.  If you really feel God has given you a message for this generation, outside circumstances shouldn’t impact the essential truth of that message. In other words, don’t pull back on your core message – in fact, it probably should be stronger than ever. You can re-think the way we package the message, or how you present it, but don’t pull back from the message itself. Be confident in your calling, and bold in your message. You have this platform because your voice matters. Don’t allow fear to hold you back.

2) Keep…

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