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Sunday mornings are a stressful time for pastors. My ministry includes interacting with dozens of pastors each week. It appears to me that there are some common experiences on Sunday morning for many of us.
I also know most people who love their church…and love their pastor…want to help any way they can to make the Sunday morning experience the best it can be. That’s what this post is about.
Here are 7 ways you can help your pastor on Sunday:
Pray – Pray for your pastor. Ask God to open the ears of the people, to guide your pastor’s heart and to bless the services with His Spirit.
Don’t critique – Sunday morning is not the best time to bring complaints. It is very distracting when the pastor is about to speak to hear criticism that will have to be dealt with later. It weighs very heavy on the mind and gets in the way of focusing on the message. Hold those until Monday, but even then, ask yourself if sharing it is personal to you or genuinely helpful to the entire body.
Don’t share something you want us to remember – Most likely we will forget what you told us by the time Sunday is done. Send us an email later or call us Monday morning. If it must be shared on Sunday, please write it down for us so we can remember the details. Our minds are so clouded on Sunday thinking about a million different things. And, we try hard to make our focus about a message we hope God will use.
Be Kingdom-minded – Think of others interests even ahead of your own. Keep in mind the temperature in the room may not be your ideal temperature, but it may be exactly the right temperature for someone else. Your song may not be sung today, but it could be the song that leads another to the throne of grace. The message may not address what you’re dealing with right now, but for someone else, it might be life-changing. Be a part of the crowd that says, “I love what helps another” and you’ll help your pastor and the church greatly on Sunday mornings.
Volunteer – The work of the church can’t function with only a few people. I’ve never met the church that had too many people volunteering in preschool ministry, too many greeters, or too many people willing to do whatever it takes.
Introduce us to visitors – We love to meet visitors, especially those seeking a church home. It is comforting when the church is bringing people with them or meeting new visitors as they arrive.
Pray – It really does begin and end with prayer. More than anything, we want your prayer support. The Spirit of God seems to respond when you do.
Pastor, how else can people help you on Sunday?
I’ve posted a similar answer to this before but in my new role some are asking the question again: Pastor, how are you on Facebook so much?
I honestly think the real question is “Why?” and some think it means I don’t work very much, but if only they knew.
Perhaps, if you follow me online, you wonder the same thing. So, let me try to help you understand.
First things first, I’m probably not on as much as you think I am. If you think so, then the strategy is working. I’ve been doing online ministry since 1996. That’s a long time. I started with a daily devotional that quickly turned into a ministry opportunity. Though they are mostly recycled now, that site is still active. (www.mustardseedministry.com) I learned that if I was going to do ministry with the potentials to reach tens of thousands (the Internet makes the world small), I had to be smart about it.
So, I work smart.
Here are four words to describe my Internet strategy.
Since I’m a pastor, and you’d want me to be pastoral, they all begin with the same letter.
Value – I recognize the value of being online. For the past several years, Facebook has been the most prominent way people reach me in my church. It also gives them a sense that they know me. I hear people every week say they feel they can follow me throughout the week, just by reading my status updates. In addition, I have the opportunity to minister to even a larger group, including hundreds of pastors and leaders around the country.
Vision – I have a vision of not only sharing the stuff I write (which I also see as a ministry), but sharing pieces about my life. I’ve learned it makes me seem more real if you see the person behind the thoughts. That’s why you may read something funny, some random thought, even an encouraging word I have for my wife. I want you to know me, so that when I share something serious, you’re more likely to take it serious because you feel you know me and hopefully I’ve become a reliable source. (Just to be clear, I’m capable of being wrong too, and unless I’m posting Scripture itself, it’s an opinion.)
Velocity – Now as for the frequency. There will always be those who think I post too much and those who wish I posted more. If I’m quiet for a couple days, I’ll hear from people who wonder if something is wrong. I’ve learned people depend on a certain amount of frequency. Plus, for those who are only on once or a few times a day, they may miss some of what I post if I don’t post things periodically throughout the day. The pace of doing so is really easy. I usually have my phone with me. If I have a thought, it takes me only a few seconds to put it out there. You’ll notice I don’t respond to a lot of other comments. I’m usually on and off of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn very quickly. The total time per day is less than it appears. Plus, I can automate many of my posts if I choose to do so. Sometimes I do…sometimes I don’t. I’m not telling which are and which aren’t. The key is consistency and I’ve gotten pretty good at that over the years.
InVestment – (How’d you like the clever use of that V?) I have to believe that online communication is making a difference in people’s lives. I can only judge that based on the feedback I receive, and I receive lots. I’ve been overwhelmed at the responses I have gotten throughout my church and the world. I literally get emails every single day from people saying I was there at just the right time or said just the right thing. I’m not taking credit for that, just pointing out that God uses this avenue in ministry for His glory and I’m thankful to play a part.
Well, that’s my story. Why are you online?
If we aren’t connected online, you can find me here:
As a church leader, I realize the popularity and seemed importance of what I do has declined in recent years. Culture no longer values the voice of a pastor as the history of our nation would record that it once did. Even this week, the news of Louie Giglio’s exit as the pastor to pray at the inauguration of President Obama served as a sobering reminder…things have changed.
This is an interview with John S. Dickerson. Dickerson’s new book The Great Evangelical Recession identifies six factors of decline in the American Church and offers six solutions for leaders. Dickerson is a nationally awarded journalist and Senior Pastor of Cornerstone Church in Prescott, AZ. His work has appeared in The New York Times and The Washington Post.
Q: How would you summarize your book, The Great Evangelical Recession?
A: Culture is changing faster and faster. The conflicts around Louie Giglio, Chic-fil-A and Hobby Lobby demonstrate this. Rapid change in American culture is already shaking evangelicalism, but it’s going to worsen because the rate of change is accelerating.
As shepherds we must identify where the Church is struggling to adapt. Then we must look to God’s Word to find solutions for our day. The Great Evangelical Recession does this by documenting factors of decline—and then by building Scripture-based solutions for each area of decline.
Q: Is the homosexual-evangelical conflict an example of this cultural change? And if so, what sort of solutions does your book suggest?
A: Yes, the conflict between the evangelical and LGBTQ communities is case in point. The book documents that in the last 15 years Americans have entirely reversed their views on homosexuality. Furthermore, each younger generation is radically more pro-homosexual, so this trend will accelerate as older Americans pass away.
My solution chapter argues that we need to start treating non-evangelical “tribes” in America the same way our missionaries treat foreign tribes in Africa or New Guinea, by suspending judgment, serving and modeling unconditional love–so Christ can reach their hearts.
The chapter grows from a word study of the Greek word “good” in the New Testament. “Good” is about deeds. It’s more nuanced than this, but here’s the gist of that solution:
1. Take God’s good deeds directly to the homosexual tribe in your life and community. Don’t wait for them to come to you.
2. Refuse to classify the homosexual tribe as some worse class of people. This is unbiblical and showcases poor theology.
3. As with any tribe, don’t focus on changing behavior. Focus on changing relationship to God through Christ.
4. Don’t be surprised when you are hated and misunderstood about this issue. You will be.
5. When you are hated or misunderstood, don’t defend yourself or other evangelicals with words. Instead, let your quiet good actions eclipse any accusations (1 Peter 2:12).
6. Keep on demonstrating God’s good-ness and unconditional love—to the homosexuals closest to you.
The book includes Scripture and examples, but that overview gives you a taste.
Q: Your book identifies six trends of decline in the American Church. Is every ministry declining in these ways?
A: Typical ministries will find many trends of decline apply to them, while some don’t. Take the funding crisis for example. On average, 76 percent of evangelical gifts come from the oldest two generations. Many ministries are unprepared for the decline of donations in the next 15 years. That trend won’t apply to young-demographic ministries—like Reality LA, but other trends will.
This book is really a tool for ministry leaders. It helps leaders identify which negative trends are at play in their specific ministry. The book then gives practical Biblical solutions to adjust course in any areas of weakness.
What do you think? How have your seen the culture and church change in your lifetime?
Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until He comes and showers righteousness upon you. (Hosea 10:12)
As I read the Scriptures, here are 3 things I know about God:
God wants people to seek Him – From the beginning of time, God has been calling His creation into fellowship with Him. Before a person ever seeks God, God has first sought after that person. (John 6:44, Acts 17:26)
God is easily found – Remember the story of the boy Jesus where His parents misplaced Him for a short time. Mary and Joseph found Him in the temple, learning from the temple leaders. When questioned, Jesus responded, “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” God desires that same attitude in our hearts today. I have never known anyone who genuinely searched for God who didn’t find Him, because God is always waiting that we may call on Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you. He will never hide from you. (Jeremiah 29:13, Acts 17:27)
God desires to change our lives – God’s design for us is to be righteous. He wants us to have the mind of Christ so that we might receive the full blessings of fellowship with Him. Being perfectly Holy, God cannot accept sin; any sin. He wants to clean us up and mold us into the image of His Son. He wants to turn over the “unplowed ground” and make it fertile enough to bear good fruit. He wants to change us so we may better experience Him and all of His glory. (Romans 8:29, Ephesians 2:10)
What thoughts does this post trigger about what you know about God?
NOTE: If you’re seeking God today, don’t be surprised if you find He’s already been seeking you!
The volume or tempo of the music determines whether you think it’s a worship song.
A slight change in the order of the service makes you think they’ve harmed “worship”.
You think raising hands or not raising hands determines the depth of a person’s worship.
You believe the “proper” length of a “worship” service is dictated by your lunch schedule.
You think worship has to be in a service or part of a programmed event.
Certain instruments keep you from thinking worship is possible.
You think worship is confined to a certain place or a certain time.
The clothes you wear determines the quality of worship…for you AND others.
You think worship always involves music.
Your attempt to worship has more to do with a personal preference than the subject of worship.