Archives For Leadership

“Happy” is a nebulous term. It is usually understood better than defined. So I know I am taking a risk when I used such a subjective word.

Please allow me to explain. For almost twenty years, I served as a consultant to churches in the United States and Canada. After working with hundreds of churches, I saw several patterns develop. One of those patterns correlated directly with the happiness of the church. I was able to discern happiness by the interviews with members and staff, with diagnostic tools we used, and with a grasp of the histories of the churches, particularly in the area of church conflict.

Recently I reviewed the files of 17 of the happiest churches where I consulted. As is typical in consultations, patterns emerged. In the case of these churches, I found nine common characteristics among the congregations. In each case, the characteristic seemed to contribute to the overall happiness of the churches.

  1. The pastor was a strong leader, but not an autocratic leader. He was able to maintain that healthy balance of providing clarity of vision without imposing his will on…

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There are few professions with the burn-out and drop out rate as high as that of the Pastorate.  A few weeks ago, I was in Jacksonville, FL at a Pastors conference talking with a group of about a dozen other Pastors.  Someone in the group shared that a good friend of his had just left the ministry due to the constant pressure and struggles.  As we talked it quickly became apparent to me that everyone in the group knew not just one but several fellow Pastors who had dropped out of the ministry in the recent years.  I imagine those of you reading this blog could add your own names to that list.  Having been in the ministry now for the past twenty years, I can fully understand the struggles involved.  In fact, last December I shared a series of blog posts about my own struggle with a ministry meltdown last year.  (see “The Anatomy of a Ministry Meltdown.”)  Over the past couple of weeks I have been thinking about how Pastors can stay fresh in the ministry.  Let me share with you a couple…

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By Russ Rankin

giftThe majority of Southern Baptist pastors believe Christians should include a legacy gift to a ministry or church, but 86 percent of their churches provide no assistance for estate planning, according to a study by LifeWay Research.

LifeWay Research conducted a survey of Southern Baptist pastors on behalf of the Southern Baptist Foundation to gauge the awareness and preparedness of churches to issues surrounding estate planning, investments and wills.

According to the survey, 84 percent of Southern Baptist churches received no estate gifts in the year preceding the poll. Eleven percent received one estate gift and just 1 percent received three or more gifts the previous year.

Churches that reported receiving at least one gift bequest received an average of $22,507.

“One of the issues revealed by the research is the need for education,” said Warren Peek, president of the Nashville-based Southern Baptist Foundation.

“While the research shows pastors believe the estate planning of Christians should include gifts for the future health and financial ability of a church or ministry, four out of five pastors — 86 percent — have not provided their congregation with seminars or even basic information such…

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threecrossesIf you want to start a heated debate among a group of Christians, just bring up Paul’s admonition that wives should submit to their husbands. But that debate is a distraction from the bigger issue: All Christians must submit to Jesus.

Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer has convinced me that the number one reason so many of us are stuck in spiritual immaturity is that we commit to Christ rather than submit to Christ.

The difference is this: We may commit to bringing dinner rolls to the church social and have the best of intentions to provide them, even getting off work early in order to serve our locally famous, family-recipe yeast delicacy. But no one expects you to quit your job and spend all your savings in order to provide the rolls, let alone center your whole life on the rolls. In fact, people would think you were crazy.

Have we reduced following Jesus to a similar commitment? If we’re barely willing to adjust our schedules to serve Jesus, is there any hope we’ll adjust our whole lives?

Commitment still leaves us in control, deciding, according to our own agendas, when or where…

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Many of the failures in leadership are failures to communicate well. No matter how smart we are or how good our strategies are, they are doomed for failure if no one understands them.

In previous articles, I dealt with poor written grammar, so much so that some of my friends refer to me as “the grammar cop.” In this article, I deal with five of the more common communication mistakes made by leaders when they speak.

  1. Poor grammar. Grammatical mistakes are not limited to written communication. They are much too common when leaders speak as well, including some leaders who are highly educated and in positions of great influence. The most common speaking grammatical error that I have noticed in recent years is the incorrect use of reflexive pronouns. For example the reflexive pronoun “myself” is used improperly in this sentence: “The award was presented to Janice, John, and myself.” The correct pronoun is the non-reflexive “me.”
  2. Too much information. An audience can only absorb a limited number of facts in a given presentation. Some leaders attempt to cover a multitude of items, leaving the hearers bored,…

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By Buddy Owens

Worship EnvironmentsI remember only two things about my college biology class: the broken clock that hung on the wall behind my professor’s desk and this definition of culture: “A colony of microorganisms or cells grown in a specially prepared nourishing environment.” Sounds like the church, doesn’t it? Each congregation is a colony — an outpost of the Kingdom (to mix metaphors) — that is grown in a specially prepared, nourishing environment.

Here’s another definition of culture. This one is from my sociology class, which, by the way, also had a broken clock hanging behind the professor’s desk: “The values, beliefs, ideas, customs, skills, arts, and traditions of a people that are passed along to succeeding generations.” That sounds like the church, too.

The church is a culture, in the sense that it is a living organism, and the church has a culture that is a reflection of its values and beliefs.

With those definitions in mind, let’s think about this: How can we as pastors and leaders create a culture of worship in our churches? How can we prepare a “nourishing environment”? How can we transfer our values, customs,…

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Here’s a simple way to evaluate how guests see your church building. Take the “5-Spot Test.”

CasualCoffeeStop at five specific places around your church site for five minutes and answer five questions.

Spot #1: Church parking lot. Just before worship, park in a guest space.

  1. How easy is it to find a parking space?
  2. From here, how enticing is the building’s appearance and landscape?
  3. Is the parking lot well kept?
  4. Is the church sign current and attractive?
  5. Is the main entrance inviting?

Spot #2:  Main Church Entrance. Walk inside at the most obvious entry.

  1. Is the front door clean, attractive, well maintained?
  2. What’s your first impression? Consider décor, lighting, music.
  3. Is the entry area perfectly clean?
  4. Does signage direct guests to childcare, restrooms, worship center?
  5. Are wall displays and printed materials attractive, positive, current?

Spot #3:  Back row panoramic. Sit on the third row from the rear, left side.

  1. Is your view unobstructed? Can you hear well?
  2. What is the overall atmosphere of the worship center?
  3. Are pew envelopes, books, pens or clipboards neat and current?
  4. Are seats, ceilings, walls and floors in perfect condition?
  5. Does worship center reflect careful consideration of décor, upkeep,…

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Hear from players during Super Bowl 47 Media Day – how they use the Bible App and what connecting with God’s Word means to them.

Special thanks to

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Ways to LeadAll great leaders are great learners. But, sometimes we overcomplicate that process and leave behind the most foundational elements that make a great leader… great

I’ve found that a check of the basics is always a good place to start. If we have strong basics in place, it’s much more difficult to fall off as we move ahead.

Here are 5 basic, but powerful ways to lead…

#1 Godly

When we lead godly, we lead with a heart that is more concerned about empowerment and encouragement rather than self promotion. I have to constantly remind myself of Jesus’ words, “The least among you will be the greatest.”

#2 Simply

We over complicate things waaay to much! We may want to impress others or maybe we just think we’ve ‘progressed’ past simplicity. Whatever our reason, sometimes we just need to get back to simple. Sometimes, I have to remind myself, “Keep it simple stupid!”

#3 Timely

You can have the greatest plan and vision in the world, and not lead in a timely manner and kill a great vision and team. When you know, go… but don’t go until you know. Time matters.

#4 Actively

There can be no “absentee owner” of a vision. You…

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Most of us realize that the local church is called upon to meet and help those in need and we, as Christians, all feel that it is our responsibility to provide to the church so that it can do what it is called to do.  We recognize and understand what the Bible teaches us about tithing.  We want to be servants, however, before we give, we want to know and be assured that our funds are going to be used in a way that is pleasing to the Lord.

For this reason, it is important for a church to be financially accountable.  It should alwaysdemonstrate transparency and be a good steward of its contributions.

Here are some easy ways to provide Safeguards for Financial Accountability:

1)  Use a financial management software system for bookkeeping such as QuickBooks by Intuit.

2)  Nominate a financial committee or elder team on behalf of the church to review financial statements (at minimum) on a monthly basis.

3)  Establish policies and procedures – from how to properly count and record the weekly tithes and offerings, to how to handle an expense report for a church staff member.

4)  Use a…

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One of the keys to a church’s missional success is how its members are deployed. There are two approaches—one facilitates the church’s mission; the other often frustrates it.  Few in the church ever clarify this choice, but every church makes it, and every church lives with the consequences of its choice.

The institutional approach to lay ministry begins with the needs of the institution.  Every church needs Sunday school teachers, committee members, musicians, ushers.  In the institutional approach, when a job opens up, the response is to search for a person who seems most suitable to fill it and/or is most likely to say yes.  Success, in such churches, is when a member says, “Okay, I’ll do it.”  Hopefully the person is qualified, gifted, and motivated for that ministry; but there are no guarantees.  If it turns out there is a mismatch between member and task, the result is a job poorly done and a member mostly frustrated.  “Plugging warm bodies into ministry slots in a congregation,” says Pam Heaton, “tends to increase volunteer burnout, dissatisfaction, and departure.”  With the institutional approach to lay…

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CoachingConferences are good–they can be inspiring and helpful. They get you out of your environment so you have fresh eyes to learn. I’ve hosted conferences, and I believe in them.

Workshops or Seminars are also good–you have a bit longer to learn about a specific topic and even interact a bit with the other people who are learning. I’ve taught many workshops over the years.

But there is nothing like coaching.

A coaching environment is way different than anything else. A conference may have hundreds or thousands in attendance…a workshop could have scores…but the right coaching environment is personal and transformative for no more than 20 people. Everyone has a chance to be heard. Every story can be told and unpacked. Coaching happens over a period of weeks or months, so there is enough time between gatherings that life has a chance to happen. You have time and encouragement to roll up your sleeves and let down your guard with peers you grow to trust.

In a healthy coaching group, you find a safe place to discuss the unique circumstances you face without any fear of reprisal or judgment. You establish a network of new…

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