Archives For Leadership

BurnoutI have the incredible opportunity to interact with pastors regularly. In recent conversations, I have asked two questions. First, have you ever experienced burnout in your ministry? Second, what do you do to prevent pastoral burnout?

Interestingly, every pastor with whom I spoke had experienced some level of burnout. So they spoke from the voice of experience when they shared with me what they do to prevent burnout. I aggregated their responses to seven keys to preventing pastoral burnout, not in any particular order or priority.

1. Remember your call. Ministry can be tough and dirty. It can be frustrating and confusing. But if we remember Who called us and Who sustains us, we are able to persevere. We understand we are not doing ministry in our own power.

2. Pray for your critics. Criticism is one of the most frequently mentioned causes of burnout. Pastors on the other side of burnout told me they have learned to pray for their critics almost every day. It has given the pastors a fresh perspective. A few pastors even noted significant change in their critics shortly after they started praying for them.


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Vision is indeed powerful. However, for those of us who are Christ followers, we don’t believe in vision as much as we do “revelation”. The vision we have for our lives, comes from God! We don’t make up the vision for our life. We get it from Him! It’s a revelation from Him!

Proverbs 29:18 (KJV) “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

Proverbs 29:18 (NIV) “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint.”

When we started Mountain Lake Church, He gave us His mission from His Word!

Our mission: “Giving people a place to belong in a healthy relationship with God and others and become more like Jesus Christ each day.”

This mission comes straight from God’s Word! He said the most important things in life were loving Him; loving each other; carrying His message to others; baptizing people into the family; and helping people follow Jesus daily! (See Matthew 22:37-40; and Matthew 28:19-20).

When we begin to discover and then live out God’s vision for our lives, it becomes the most powerful force in our lives!

1. God’s Vision sustains us. When we want to quit (I want…

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By Mike Goeke, associate pastor at Stonegate Fellowship Church in Midland, Texas.

A friend of mine recently referred to his missionary dad as his “hero.” As I creep into the back half of my 40s, being a hero to my kids holds more allure, and the legacy of my life seems to take on more value to me. I wondered what it would take to be a hero to my kids. What would they say about me at my funeral?

To be honest, great financial success has never motivated me, and I don’t care to leave a legacy of material things. So in my mind I crafted a legacy. I decided that I want my kids to see me walking in obedience to God. I want them to see me serving the church, and serving other people. I want them to see me taking spiritual risks, and living the life of a true disciple of Christ. But as I was thinking of all the things I want my kids to see me doing, something very important literally flooded my thoughts and washed over my heart, soul and mind.

More than any…

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By Mark Coppenger, professor of Christian apologetics at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

When planting a church on Chicago’s North Shore, we hosted a variety of short-term mission teams who joined us in a range of outreach efforts, all with a Gospel witness — from door-to-door surveys to concerts in the park to bottled water handouts along pedestrian and bike paths.

One approach we used repeatedly involved cash handouts to the volunteers. We’d give them $5 or $10 and send them into the community to buy things and to strike up spiritual conversations in the process. They wouldn’t be interrupting business but, rather, piggybacking on it.

The results were gratifying. It gave our workers focus and accountability, knowing we’d all report back in short order. It planted Gospel seeds and surfaced prospects. And despite what you might think, it didn’t cost that much when compared to other projects, where we rented generators and sound systems, printed special T-shirts, and such.

A couple of weeks ago, I tried it with my personal evangelism class at Southern Seminary’s northwest Arkansas extension, and the guys came through. They’d submitted weekly witness reports throughout the semester (with,…

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A letter recently published on my local newspaper’s editorial page helpfully summarized the view of many secular folks when it comes to religious expression in public.

We “stand for separation of church and state,” the letter writer declared. “Pick your religion, believe what you want, pursue greater knowledge toward that end. Do it for yourself — and keep it out of public discourse. That’s where the  left stands.”

I appreciate his honesty, if not his all-too-common misunderstanding of church-state separation. Open hostility toward freedom of speech is better than paying lip service to it while working behind the scenes to silence it. Either approach, however, is wrong.

“Keep your views about God and His commandments to yourself,” society increasingly tells believers — particularly conservative evangelicals, traditional Roman Catholics and Orthodox Jews. “Socially accepted truths and morals have progressed beyond your antiquated theologies. If you can’t embrace the new normal, just keep your mouth shut. If you don’t, we’ll shame you, shut you down, call you a bigot. We might even take you to court and charge you with ‘hate speech.'”

Such responses to religious speech undercut the spirit of the First…

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Bear in mind these three things —

  • One sermon on any subject hardly makes a dent in the problem. People need constant repetition and reinforcement of the great truths of God’s Word. Pastor, be faithful and be patient.=
  • People are at various stages of life and alertness. One will be growing in the Lord and rejoicing in her progress while another will be sleepwalking and a third grousing about being awakened in the middle of his nap. Expect it.
  • As pastor, you must love them all as equally as possible and minister to all impartially. However, you will feel drawn to the few who are responding to the Holy Spirit. Ask the Father to show you how to encourage them further without causing a rift in the barely-alive fellowship.

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I am reading a new book that I’d recommend to you called Barefoot Church by Brandon Hatmaker. He writes…

When we say we are to live incarnationally, we mean we are to “put on” Jesus and represent him by focusing on being his hands and feet to our world. To live on mission. This includes but is not limited to serving the least. It might be a sending toward your neighbor or to a complete stranger in need. Either way, the focus is essentially on the church becoming missionaries to our culture. (p. 26)

That’s it – becoming missionaries to our culture!
Today’s Missional Challenge: Put on Jesus – focus on being His hands and feet in your community!
[Here is a quick understanding of the word MISSIONAL – “being a missionary everywhere you are!”
It’s being Jesus to everyone everywhere!]

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By guest columnist John Garner

The boy came to the altar during invitation time with a simple salvation tract and told the inquiring pastor, “I did what this book said — I asked Jesus into my heart.”

The boy had participated in a basketball league and learned of salvation during each week’s practice as the volunteer coach utilized basketball terminology to introduce the Gospel. The boy, having learned that we are all sinners and God forgives our sins through Christ, accepted Jesus.

What’s more, he asked if he could give his testimony during the banquet at the end of the season. He stood in front of that large gathering and shared the booklet with fellow players, their parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, clearly explaining the plan of salvation.

Only God knows the eternal impact the young boy had.

America is sports-crazy — crazed enough to spend billions each year on everything from Frisbees, fishing, golf, softball, water and snow skiing to tickets to all kinds of sporting events. Athletics and athletes command a huge influence — both good and bad — on our culture.

Consequently, churches have an exciting, culturally relevant opportunity to…

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Leadership and vision go hand in hand. Therefore, leadership must begin with a clear vision: whether it be for our personal life, our family, our church, or organization.  If people around us don’t know where we’re going and where we’re trying to take them, they will have a hard time making the journey.

A clear vision communicates three things:

1. Why we’re here: our purpose.

What “business” are we in? Why do we exist? Why am I married? Why do we have children? What is the purpose of our parenting? Why is our church here? What is the ormiary goal of this company?

A clear vision should express a higher purpose for a greater good that gives meaning to each person’s efforts. A clear purpose provides direction.

2. Where we’re going: a picture of the future.

Where are we going? What will our future look like if we accomplish our purpose? A clear picture provides motivation.

3. What guides us along the way: what we value. 

What do I stand for? What’s important around here? What governs our character and relationships?  Values protect and provide guard rails.

Without clear vision, we’ll never end up where we want to be, much less where we need to be; and neither will anyone else!…

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Some churches view the staff as hired workers. If that is the case in your church, respect your leaders and don’t blame any rebellious attitudes on what I am about to say about this. Other churches view the staff as interdependent creative thinkers and leaders. In the first case, the usual mentality is “anything you aren’t doing for the church should be done ‘off the clock’.” In the second case, the mentality is “everything you do as ministry and mission benefits us as long as your priorities are in order.”

When I was at Saddleback, I learned some pretty great lessons about systems, structures, and staff leadership. In spite of our blessed chaos and the “fast, fluid, and flexible” environment of the southern California megachurch, I learned a ton about leadership and how a church staff can function in a healthy way.

One of the principles Pastor Rick often shared was that every church staff member is expected to fulfill three different ministries, on or off “the clock.”

1. Every church staff member has a ministry to the lost. And our ministry to the lost trumps our other responsibilities every time. We…

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Abandoned ChurchWe are looking at the scary reality that you church, if it follows the pattern of practically every other church on the planet will die. (thank you to those who have pointed out that your church hasn’t died…yet) Before we get too depressed, however, let’s take another look at the life stages of a healthy church. As I mentioned it looks like the life stage of many people:

Stage 1: Birth

This is where the excitement is. Whether a church launches large, forms from a small group or splits another church (not the ideal, but it happens) the beginning is crucial. This is where the DNA and future trajectory of the church is set. The cool thing is that today there are a plethora (you get five points every time you use plethora in a sentence today) of resources for leaders who want to birth a church.

Stage 2: Child

This is the make or break period for most churches. Will the new congregation be able to support itself? Will they be able to make an impact in their community? Will the…

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Any healthy church must have some level of inward focus. Those in the church should be discipled. Hurting members need genuine concern and ministry. Healthy fellowship among the members is a good sign for a congregation.

But churches can lose their outward focus and become preoccupied with the perceived needs and desires of the members. Dollars spent and time expended can quickly become focused on the demands of those inside the congregation. When that happens, the church has become inwardly obsessed. It is no longer a Great Commission congregation.

In my research of and consultation with churches, I have kept a checklist of potential signs that a church might be moving toward inward obsession. No church is perfect; most churches will demonstrate one or two of these signs for a season. But the real danger comes when a church begins to manifest three or more of these warning signs for an extended period.

1. Worship wars — One or more factions in the church want the music just the way they like it. Any deviation is met with anger and demands for change. The order of service must remain…

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