The Responsibilities of a Pastor

I recently got the question, “What do you do when it’s not Sunday?”  Before I could answer his first question, my friend asked, “Does a preacher have anything to do when you aren’t preaching?”

I was tempted to say, “No, we just work that one hour (in our case three hours) and then we are done”, but I remembered that typical cliché’ joke aggravates me and this guy was not trying to be funny.  He simply didn’t know.

I tried to explain some of what my average week looks like.  Activities of a normal week include items such as:

  • Preparing to preach…Bible reading, prayer, research…
  • Church administration and budgeting…
  • Counseling, coaching and disciple-making…
  • Managing and leading a staff…
  • Writing…
  • Vision-casting…
  • Planning and dreaming…
  • Networking…
  • Community involvement…

Of course, it is ministry, so there isn’t really a “normal” week.  Each week has its own unexpected circumstances, but these are the things that have to be done in a typical week.  I also realize our church is different from other churches, so other pastors have different responsibilities.  For comparison purposes, we are a mid-sized 4 year old church averaging about 1,500 per week attendance.  The size of the church usually does alter the role and responsibility of the pastor.

What did you think were the responsibilities of a pastor between Sundays?

For more posts on ministry click HERE.

Your Life Can Change In One Day

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One day Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro… (Exodus 3:1)

It began as just a normal day for Moses. That morning, Moses set out, just as he had many years, to tend to his father-in-laws flock of sheep. Shepherding was a dirty, thankless job, but it was Moses’ livelihood and so in typical fashion, he began another day’s work. As the story goes, however, it was not just a normal day for Moses. This particular day would change the course of Moses’ life forever.

If you know the story in Exodus 3, this was the day Moses met God in the burning bush. This was the day God recruited Moses for Kingdom service. This was the day Moses became the chief representative for God to the Israelites. Beginning this day, Moses led the people out of Egypt towards the Promise Land. Along the way, God used Moses to lead the people through a parted sea, deliver the 10 Commandments, and feed the people with manna and quail. Oh yea, and Moses got to speak to a rock and watch as water poured out also. Moses life was never the same from that day forward.

The story of Moses is a great reminder to me of the power contained within a day. In one day, a life can be changed. One change of direction can alter a person’s future for good or bad. One new resolve, one decision to do the right thing (or the wrong thing), or one personal conviction can alter the outcome of a person’s life in positive or negative ways.

That really leaves me with one question for you: How are you allowing your “one days” to shape your life? Is there something in your life you know you need to be doing, some change of direction you need to make, some new commitment, but so far, you have not been obedient to what you know to do?

Could this be a day you surrender to the will of God for your life? Will this be the day you begin to head your life in the direction you actually want it to end? Will the resolve you make today carry you towards the vision you have for your life?

Life altering decisions usually begin “one day”. Is this your day?

For more devotional thoughts, click HERE.

The Value of Community

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I learned to v
alue of community last week…

Cheryl’s father passed away

You can read about him HERE…He was a great man…

I was amazed at how people around us responded…

Our community group reached out…we love them…

Karen in our office did a special slide show for the service…

We received so many texts, emails, visits and phone calls

The APSU community of friends were amazing…

People continued to care even into this week…

People who understand through their own loss reached out to us…

Thank you…

It’s great to be surrounded by people who know how to show love…

Do you have community in your life?

I Am Sorry…Asking Forgiveness…Receiving Grace

I was wrong.

I had a right to be upset and my emotions appeared justified…

But there are two sides to every issue…

And I didn’t handle my reaction well…

It was a friend and I should not have responded the way I did…

I apologized….

He accepted my apology…

We are moving forward…

I am thankful for grace and the amazing way God continues to shape me…

Do you need to say “I’m sorry” to someone so you can move forward again with the relationship?

Office Rampage at the Hand of a Children’s Pastor

I usually find a place to hide out of the office on Wednesdays so I can study without interruption. While I was diligently working on this weekend’s message today my office was ravaged at the hand of our children’s pastor. Here is proof of how abusive a church staff can be towards its pastor. Please pray for me as I deal with this trauma.

BTW, we are accepting applications for our new children’s pastor effective immediately.

Do you have fun where you work?

For more posts about my workplace, click HERE.

Capturing The Best Ideas For Your Organization

team_building_ringA couple times a year we do an extended weekend staff retreat at Grace Community Church.  This weekend we are headed to Nashville for an all staff planning retreat.  An added twist is that our spouses will join us on Friday night for fellowship and then on Saturday morning for a special brainstorming session.  (We think they may have better ideas than we do!)

I was reminded in planning for this retreat of an important leadership principle:

Some of the best ideas for your organization…

Are probably not at a conference…

They are not in a book…

They are not even at your competition or sister organization…

While these are great places to learn new ways of doing things…

Some of the best ideas for your organization…

Are with the people who know your organization best…

The people already on your team…

Your challenge is to draw those ideas out of them….

(The fact is they may have learned their new ideas from a conference book, or from someone in another organization, but the collective knowledge is critical to moving your vision forward.)

How are you capturing the best ideas for your organization?

For more thoughts on innovation click HERE.

Giving God A Blank Page To Plan Out Your Life

and find out what pleases the Lord. Ephesians 5:10 NIV

iStock_000007059074XSmallFor several years I have tried to get my life to the blank piece of paper stage. I have endeavored to present God with a blank piece of paper so He can plan my life.

It started like this. Years ago I was explaining to a friend that I was at one of those “trying to discover God’s will” points in my life. I have been there many times before and will be again. His advice was something like, “Maybe you need to start with a blank piece of paper and give God ample space to plan out the rest of your life. Make yourself completely available to Him.” That made a lot of sense. I left our meeting, however, with a very probing question for myself. Did I really even have blank piece of paper?  Over the next few weeks, through prayer and discipline, I attempted to get there.

Over the years since then, I have periodically continued the self-examination. To do this I have to be honest with myself and the plans I have for my life. I certainly want to follow His lead, but I think many times my page is loaded with my own agenda. If I want my page to be completely blank, then I need to offer it back to God, with nothing on the paper.

Have you given God a blank page to plan your life?

Be prepared.  He loves a challenge and He is great at taking nothing and making something, when you let Him draw the picture.

For more thoughts on determining God’s will, click HERE and HERE and HERE.

My Personal History of Leadership Development

iStock_000008266083XSmallI was honored this week when Jesse Phillips with CatalystSpace blog called me a “seasoned leader”. I feel I still have more to learn than I have learned, but it did cause me to reflect on some of the experiences I have had and people that have influenced me in my leadership ability.

Here are a few of those experiences and people that quickly come to my mind:

When I was in high school I served as student body president of a large, new school. My principal gave me freedom to do things most students never get to do. We wrote the student government constitution, organized clubs, hosted assemblies, and had a load of fun doing so. (I saw my principal recently and thanked him again for his influence. He taught me to release responsibility to people early and be willing to take a risk on others.)

I worked full-time all the way through college. As a sophomore, I became a retail department manager of a large store. Most days I was in over my head, but one of my colleagues was an older, mature, retired businessman. Although he technically “worked” for me, he taught me more about leading people than I could learn in college. (I learned to listen to those with more wisdom than me.)

I remained in retail after college, completed a management-training program for Belk Stores Services, and then served in several positions over a few year period. When my family began to grow, I decided to look for better working hours and so I became an independent insurance agent for Farmers Insurance Group. I was extremely successful in this venture and learned the principles of building something from nothing, marketing, and managing cash flow. (Funny how much those skills are needed in church planting!)

An opportunity to buy a small manufacturing company came available, and I convinced my wife to join me. We closed out successful careers to chase a dream. If it could go wrong, it did, and we sold within 5 years to the first serious buyer to come along. Through that negative experience, however, I learned huge principles of taking risks, leading under pressure, managing stress, to not run when things are difficult, and ways to overcome obstacles.  (Failure sometimes teaches us our biggest lessons.)

When God called me into ministry, He had me begin with nothing, then quickly sent me to an old, historic church seeking to rebuild. That rebuilding experience led to my first church planting type environment and it was there God instilled in me a passion for church growth and ultimately the desire for church planting.  I left this church to become involved  my first church plant and, a few years later, God called me to plant the church where I am today. Today God is still allowing the experiences and people in my life to shape my leadership abilities.

Where did you learn leadership? Who are the people and what are the experiences that have shaped the leader you are today?

For some of my leadership principles, click HERE.

Considering The Afterlife…Questions of the Unknown

In our series “Hot Topics”, where our people were able to text in their greatest questions about God, the Bible, life, etc., one of the biggest areas of questions centered around the issue of the afterlife.  Apparently people want to know what’s next….imagine that.  There is a lot of fear associated with this topic, mostly because of the unknowns. In this message I tried to address some of the most repeated questions we received. (Unfortunately it makes you go to the Truthcasting site after 10 minutes.)

False Assumptions About Our Church

grace-logo-gIn the four years Grace Community Church has been a church we have received much praise from people that love what we do.  Hundreds of lost, hurting people have chosen to unite with us.  We have had some previously churched people join us who felt we were a better fit for them or their family, but mostly we have reached people who previously did not attend church.  Most exciting to us is that we have baptized more adults than children in our four years, indicating to us that we are truly evangelizing and not just helping people swap churches.  It has been a wild, exciting, thrilling time watching God shape us over these first few years.

Along with the praise, however, there have also been many false assumptions and even criticisms made about who we are as a church and who we are not, mostly from people who do church in a different way from us. It seems I hear a new wave of those each time we have a growth spurt, which we are currently in this fall. The fact is that we are not the church for everyone, but that has been hard for some people to understand.

Here are a few false assumptions that come to my mind about who we are or are not as a church:

  • We get many offers to host an evangelist or hold a revival, but if you advertise your speaking ministry in a 3-piece suit, you are probably not a good fit for our church.  For some churches that would work fine, but for our church it’s just not a good fit.  Please don’t be offended by that.
  • We frequently get request from other family or friends of people asking, “Can you send someone to visit _______?” We don’t knock on doors or do home visitation.  It’s not that we don’t care, but it is simply not our method of recruitment.  Again, for some churches this works great, but we are trying a different approach.
  • We get many requests to book groups for special music venues, but if you sing Southern Gospel music exclusively, you are probably not a good fit for our church… I even love some Southern Gospel music, but it’s not the style we have chosen for our church.
  • Yes, it’s true we don’t currently advertise unless it is to support a cause we believe it, but not for the purposes of increasing church attendance. We think that should happen as our people invite their friends and family…
  • Yes, it’s true we allow people to serve in most volunteer positions without first passing a litmus test.  We believe (and have seen) that serving can often help change a person’s life.
  • We don’t have Sunday school, but we do teach the Bible.  We do small group meetings in the homes…
  • If the Bible makes an issue clear, we land on that clarity.  If it is simply a matter of tradition, me may dismiss it if it gets in the way of our vision to reach people for Christ.
  • With the previous said, we do have some traditions.  We meet at the same time and place each week, for example, but everything traditional is subject to change.  We actually like change if it helps us better complete our vision.
  • We haven’t watered down the Gospel…
  • We haven’t tried to alter the way to salvation… (It’s all Jesus for us too!)
  • We aren’t trying to offend you…but if you are offended by how we do church, we are probably not the church for you….
  • We don’t believe we are the only church in town where people can find truth…
  • We are not the church for everyone, but we are a church…
  • We aren’t like every other church.  That in itself doesn’t make us better or worse…

…We just do church differently.  Please do not be offended just because we are different.  It takes all of us working together, even though we look different on Sunday mornings, to do the Kingdom work.  Look at our people, see if they are becoming more like Christ, loving God and loving people more, and make assumptions based on those results.

The great news is that we are a church for many people.  If you are not currently attending a church and maybe have had some false notions about church yourself, come give us a visit soon.  You may be surprised how much fun we have!   And, by the way, everything you hear about how friendly our church is, how much we love our community, and how welcoming we are to others….ALL TRUE!

Are there any false assumptions made about your church?