Archives For Leadership

By Polly House

Pastors, do you know what your ministry assistant wishes you knew?

Lana Rose knows. Ministry assistants have told her.

“Most churches have fewer than 200 members,” said Rose, ministry assistant (MA) specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Convention who leads MA training events for LifeWay Christian Resources. “These churches usually have one ministry assistant and maybe one financial secretary. So, these MAs have a lot of work to do.”

As Rose puts it, “Respect, appreciation and common courtesy go a long way in helping an MA feel affirmed in the work.”

When Rose asked the assistants on her email list what they wish their pastors knew, dozens of responses came quickly.

Rose said they seemed to fall into three categories: professional, personal and personality.

Professional:

  • I could be a wealth of information to him. I often stand in the gap between him and the church members, so I have knowledge that could be helpful if he would just ask.
  • I would like to be reimbursed when I use my own car and cell phone for church business.
  • I would like for him to go to bat for me on salary and benefit issues. I deserve…

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Every pastor needs a mentor. No matter what stage you are in your ministry, you need someone to coach you.

All sorts of organizations use the mentoring process to make people better at what they do. In medicine, doctors mentor younger doctors. In music, musicians mentor other musicians. Why? It works. We learn best when we have people who can speak into our lives and ministry. Proverbs 19:20 says, “Get all the advice you can and be wise the rest of your life.”

I will always need a coach – no matter how old I get or how successful I become. Lebron James is one of the best basketball players on the planet. He still needs a coach. You will never get to a point in your life when you can say, “I’ve learned it all. I don’t need anybody else to help me.”

A mentor brings out the best in you in three areas: your roles, your goals, and your soul. Mentors give us perspective. They help us look at ourselves and our ministry from the outside. We don’t always see what we’re doing outside of our own perspective….

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Over a period of months in 2005, God led me to realize that it was time to transition out of my role as pastor. The final confirmation came while I was preaching the last message in a series on Disciplemaking in December. The theme of the message was on obedience.I remember talking about how God called Abraham to leave the land in which he was living to go to a land which God would show him. And Abraham obeyed God.And I had this sense that I wasn’t preaching to others any more – that God was using my mouth to preach to my heart. It’s kind of a weird thing when this happens.
If you’ve ever experienced it, you know what I’m talking about. God had my attention.Then I went to the New Testament where Jesus called Peter and Andrew and James and John to follow Him. And the text says in Matthew 4, “they immediately left their nets and followed Him.” And I started talking about how delayed obedience is disobedience.

When I’d tell my kids to do something, I expected them…

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I’ve made plenty of mistakes, but let me share three lessons I’ve learned amidst the balancing act of leading both a church and a family.

When she finished singing; I strode up to preach.  No words came out of my mouth — but tears flowed freely from my eyes. I stood there speechless.

I later learned that our Children’s Ministry Director was in that service with her young son.  At that moment, he turned and said, “Mommy, Why is Mr. Stone crying?”

Linda candidly replied, “Well son, when the Holy Spirit convicts you of sin, sometimes you cry.”

1. Involve your children in your ministry

The earlier you prime the pump, the greater the likelihood they’ll embrace faith and Christian service.  Now don’t overdo it, be discerning.  We try to make ministry fun.  As a little kid it was fun to come to Dad’s office, each child had a box with their name on it, and every once in a while there would be a surprise in there for them.

In their teen years we had a couple of annual traditions, family campouts IN the church building on the first night of March Madness,…

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LifeWay Research surveyed 7,000 churches in 2008 to discover the principles involved with healthy congregations. Last year, LifeWay’s researchers went back into the field to focus on individual believers, asking more than 4,000 people about their spiritual lives and level of maturity.

The project has identified eight biblical factors that consistently show up in the life of a maturing believer. Those “attributes of discipleship” are:

  1. Bible engagement
  2. Obeying God and denying self
  3. Serving God and others
  4. Sharing Christ
  5. Exercising faith
  6. Seeking God
  7. Building relationships
  8. Unashamed transparency

“Jesus called us to make disciples of all nations, so we wanted to discover the common traits for those maturing in their faith,” said Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, a division of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

“We have collected and analyzed a huge amount of data about how each of these attributes leads to transformational discipleship in an individual believer,” Stetzer said. “Due to the sheer volume of material , it will take several months to complete our analysis and release.”

Stetzer said the project’s purpose is to assist church leaders in discovering how to help their members grow, because “spiritual growth does not happen by accident.”

“God…

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ServeOne of the best ways to include more people in ministry is to create a rotation for your ministries that alternates weekly.  At present, we have a 6 week ministry rotation at our church.  This was started because as we continued to grow, we began to notice two things.  First,  the people who were involved in ministry were getting burned out from serving every week.   Second,  it was becoming harder to find valuable ministry opportunities for people to become involved in as they began to come to the church.  We started looking for solutions.  We realized our Children’s Ministry Director already had a 6 week rotation in place for her ministry that was working effectively.  It didn’t take us long to see that this was something that needed to be implemented into every ministry.  Instantly we had more opportunities to serve than we had people to fill the opportunities.  But this also gave us room to continue to grow and develop.  We also saw that people were able to serve in 2 and 3 ministries without conflict because of this style of rotation.  This helped them to be able…

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He didn’t have time to encourage a confused kid, but he did anyway.

He was Hoffman Harris, the busy pastor of fast-growing Briarlake Baptist Church in Decatur, Ga. The confused kid was me.

I was a new member of his church back in the ’70s. I was finishing college and struggling with a call to serve God. Pastor Harris had sermons to write and things to do. He had hundreds of other people and priorities clamoring for his attention. But he made time on a regular basis to talk to me, patiently answer countless dumb questions and connect me to key people he knew from his many years in ministry.

When I became a Mission Service Corps volunteer with the Home (now North American) Mission Board, he persuaded an understandably doubtful mission committee at Briarlake to provide partial support for an untested, untried young man. After I left the Atlanta area to join the IMB staff in Richmond, Va., he kept in touch with me — more faithfully than I kept in touch with him.

There was something about “Hoff.” When he preached or talked to you, he…

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Mean people suck, especially when you are forced to work with them.

Mean people (aka Toxic) come in various forms … passive-aggressive, jealous, forceful, rude, loud, selfish, hateful, & so on.

Think organization morale is the only problem you have with a toxic employee? Guess again. What about loss wages in productivity? Added wages in “dealing” with the problem person. Why are you keeping people like that on your team? Whatever reasons you have … you’ve likely never considered the other side of their toxicity on your other employees.

Look at this research … here’s how employees respond to toxic co-workers:

  • 80 percent lost work time worrying about the offending employees’ rudeness
  • 78 percent said their commitment to the organization declined
  • 66 percent said their performance declined
  • 63 percent lost time avoiding the offender
  • 48 percent decreased their work effort

Worse yet, when you keep people like this on your team, that need to go … you demonstrate to your team that you are sanctioning incompetence. And, the impact of that … (people perceiving you as scared and an inadequate leader who won’t act) … will cost…

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In the context of serious theological discussions, it may seem trivial to write about first impressions of guests when they visit your church. But if we could understand that a returning guest has more opportunities to hear the Gospel and experience Christian love and fellowship, we might take the issue a bit more seriously.

Prior to assuming the presidency of LifeWay Christian Resources, I led a church consulting company. One of our first steps in the consultation was to send one or more first-time guests to the church. Those individuals would then report back to us on their experiences. Many times those we enlisted were unchurched non-Christians.

As I write this, I am working at home because a handyman is working on several small items around my house. I love his approach. When he first enters our home, he asks for permission to take a quick tour. Within minutes, he commented on several items that might need his attention, items that weren’t on the list I gave him. I appreciated his thoroughness, and it was good for his business as well.

The handyman did something very basic and very simple….

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Guest column by Dave Miller

I had a shocking conversation with an old friend recently. He told me that his wife, whom I had known as a vibrant, passionate, committed Christian, had abandoned her family, her faith and embraced a life of sin with wild abandon. I would have never believed that it was possible. I’d preached to her, talked with her about deep spiritual matters, and watched her grow. What happened?

As I pondered that chilling event, my mind cast back to a pastors’ conference I attended nearly 20 years ago. The prominent pastor who hosted the conference was discussing the ongoing problem of moral failure among pastors. And then he said something that shocked me: “That is never going to happen to me. It is not in me to cheat on my wife, to commit adultery. I just do not have that in me.”

To my knowledge, this pastor has remained faithful to his wife. But that doesn’t change the fact that I think his confidence was foolish. I am a redeemed sinner, indwelled by the Holy Spirit and in the process of transformation to become like…

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