You can follow this series by clicking on the suggested links below.
The leadership crisis of belief.
Every leader faces that point…will this work?
Can I do it? Will they follow? Should I give up? Should I keep going?
The crisis of belief period is real. It’s normal. It’s part of leadership.
In every new venture.
With every bold move.
With every meaningful change.
With every act of faith.
With every major change.
With every new risk.
You will question yourself. You will question your team. You will question the idea, the resources, the outcome.
If it’s a move worth pursuing, you’ll face the crisis of belief. Sometime.
Are you there now?
What you do next will likely determine the outcome!
Praying for you.
You can do it!
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?
This is another guest post by Ben Lichtenwalner (see also “Top 5 Business Professional Confessions“). Ben is a technology executive with a passion for servant leadership. His blog, ModernServantLeader.com, is a platform for spreading servant leadership awareness, adoption and action. You can follow Ben on Twitter at@BLichtenwalner.
I didn’t originally think this was something I was interested in, since I’m saturated with social media. Then I saw my daughter-in-law on Vine. I knew, because of her savvy nature, that it is something to consider. I signed up and instantly had numerous followers, including some in ministry I consider to be trendsetters.
Twitter’s New Vine App
Twitter recently launched the Vine app, currently available only on iOS. The app let’s you record up to 6 seconds of looping video – no more – and share it on Twitter or Facebook. From it’s Twitter origin, hashtags play a key role in the filtering and categorization of content. This enables users to quickly find simple, concise, video content on a topic of interest.
How Vine Works
After installing Vine on your iPhone, you can open the app, click the record (camera icon) button and capture video. Users click on the view finder and hold their finger on the screen to record. Lift your finger to pause recording and simply press and hold the screen again to continue recording. It’s that easy. After you’re done recording, you can add a caption and share the video on Vine only, Facebook and / or Twitter.
Your audience and community can comment and like the video on Vine or provide the usual feedback options on Facebook and Twitter. Like Twitter, the brevity and standard drives the creativity and interest.
Opportunities for the Ministry
The app is new, so most content is still personal or artistic in nature. How can we use this new medium for the ministry? Below are some thoughts to get us started. I’m sure you will have many more – add them to the comments.
1. Favorite Verses – Capture your favorite verses in 6 seconds. Perhaps we could use the hashtag #FavVerse?
2. Pay it Forward – Capture folks doing something good, in the name of Jesus, and post it.
3. Capture Art – Got some great stained glass windows or other art in your church? Capture and share it.
4. Compilations – Why not capture a compilation of baptisms, communion or other sacraments and share?
5. Invitations – Have your congregation capture 6 seconds of themselves inviting others to the service. Use a hashtag and / or share them on your site.
6. Humor – Do you have some great, recurring humorous moments in your congregation or in living the Christian life? Share them and humanize the service for guests.
7. Stop Motion – There’s all kinds of stop motion video examples already. Why not make a project of this with your youth group?
How to get the Vine App
The Vine app is currently available in the App Store for iOs devices. It’s not yet available for Android or other platforms.
Question: What other uses do you see for the Vine app in Ministry?
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:
Watch this video then tell me what you think?
The use of the building…
The funds used to do it…
Is this a good thing or not?
This is a church that some of our college students worked with during the Olympics. They were impressed with the people and their vision for outreach. It impresses me also.
It did raise some questions for me though. For example, is this precedent setting for what we may see in years to come in the United States? I know a lot of churches that are declining in numbers. They have more building space than people to use and upkeep. Could this be a future option here? I know some churches who are getting more creative with how they use their space. I like that part of this.
I love public use of church buildings. I am advocating that more for the church I pastor. It makes sense. It brings people who may never come otherwise into the church building. It gives the general public an appreciation for the church buildings and gives the church people encounters with unchurched people.
I am wondering, however, what happens when outside funds…even government (lottery) funds keep the doors open? I do see concerns with that. Does it make a difference that these are lottery funds? What ramifications do you see? What problems? What opportunities?
Do we treat our church buildings as too sacred…or not sacred enough?
I’m just thinking and wrestling with what these type arrangements mean for the church long-term.
What do you think?
In a tweet and Facebook post recently I said, “The hardest conversation is often the most needed.”
It was as a result of my counsel to another pastor in a leadership setting. I happen to encourage those type conversations often. Apparently, from the retweets and “likes”, it’s a frequent issue. In relationships, there are consistent needs to have difficult conversations. Often leaders, spouses, and friends avoid them, but it’s often to the detriment of the relationship.
I decided to expand beyond Twitter length encouragement. Do you need to have a difficult conversation?
Here are 7 steps to prepare:
Conviction – There first needs to be some sense of urgency towards having the conversation. People who have frequent hard conversations just to have hard conversations are obnoxious at best. Hard conversations, where you challenge someone, confront a situation or address sensitive issues should be rare, not normal. Make sure you know it’s something you must do in order to improve the situation or protect the relationship.
Prayer – You should pray as a part of the conviction process also, but this is prayer after you know you are moving forward. Pray for God’s favor on the conversation, open hearts for you and the other party, and God’s resolution to be realized.
Notes – Jot down your main points you are trying to make. You might read THIS POST. It’s about how to write a sensitive letter, but the points in it will help you prepare for a face-to-face conversation also. (and there are times a letter is best) You want to be prepared. The main issues (but read the post) are to be factual, to the point, but kind, truthful, and helpful. Be willing to assume blame where needed.
Setting – Time and place are critical in difficult situations. You should never “attack” someone in ways that will embarrass them more or add unnecessary stress to the situation. Be strategic with your when and where.
Rehearsal – Go through your notes and your part of the conversation. Imagine if someone was having this conversation with you and how you would respond. You can’t determine how they will respond, but you can rehearse how you will respond. The more you do this the better you’ll be able to control your emotions when the time comes.
Action – Do it. You need to plan the when, as stated above, but the longer you wait the harder and more awkward it will be. Have the conversation while you’re prepared and in a prayerful mindset about the situation.
Follow up – Most likely the conversation won’t end with the conversation. You will need to check in with the person, send them a follow up email, phone call or even another meeting. You may need to reiterate your care for them personally even after the conversation. If nothing more is needed between you and the person, at least take time to think through how the conversation went so you can learn from it and be better prepared for future difficult conversations. You can be assured of additional opportunities.
What steps or advice would you add?
My friend Casey Graham is such a kingdom builder. And, he’s generous. And, he’s brilliant. I wish I could think like him.
He is putting together a free online web event to help pastors. What a deal! I asked Casey to tell you more about it.
Here is what he wrote:
Want to see more people volunteer? Want a better financial situation? Want to grow your church this year?
This free webinar from the Rocket Company will help. It’s called How to Rapidly Grow Your Church this year and it’s happening this Thursday, January 24 at 1pm EST. Here are nine quick reasons you should sign up now.
- You will learn something practical you can implement right away
- Everybody who signs up will get something cool as a bonus.
- Jeff Henderson will talk about his actual sermon prep routine.
- Casey Graham will teach you something that will help you increase giving in your church.
- We will show you how to engage more volunteers, just in time for Easter.
- You’ll be the first to know about the next Rocket coaching program. We’re pretty jacked up about it.
- It will last just over an hour.
- You can watch from your home, in your office, or even in your bathrobe.
- It’s FREE!
To sign up, just click here and enter your first name and email address. You will receive all of the login information via email.
I was meeting with a potential church planter recently and some of the words of wisdom spoken to me over the years flooded my mind. Some of these were given to me by others. Some were learned firsthand by experience.
Here are 7 words of wisdom for church planters and leaders:
Seek approval among people God sent you to minister to – Obviously, we work for the approval of God, not man, but all of us need assurance at times from other people that what we are doing matters. Church planting is unpopular among some established churches. There may be days when you feel like the “church’ community is working against you. Most likely God didn’t call you to plant so you could reach people who already love their church. He sent you to reach hurting, broken people. My guess is they are happy with your efforts. (I wrote about this principle HERE.)
Love God and you’ll love the people wherever God sends you – This happened to me when I just knew I was supposed to plant a church in New York City. I wanted to. I felt “led” to, at times. But, still, there wasn’t the peace or opportunity to do so. While walking the streets of NYC, I asked God to give me a clear heart for the people of New York if that’s where He wanted me to be. This line was one of the clearest words from God to me I’ve ever heard. If I truly love God, I will love the people and have a heart to make disciples among them, wherever I go. By the way, this seemed to take pressure off finding the exact right spot. If I “miss it”, God will still use me.
Don’t ignore churched people – When I was a new church planter, we ran from anyone who had any church affiliation. They weren’t our target. We didn’t want to offend other churches. We felt it was the “best” thing to do. In doing so, we robbed ourselves of potential leaders and kept some people from following the ministry God had laid on their heart.
Your wife may have to trust you – My wife has often known we were supposed to do something, but her heart has often been more tender when it comes to leaving the people we love. Her faith follows quickly, but her heart often lingers with the previous church. At times, I have had to ask her to trust me, and my walk with Christ, when she can’t seem to force her heart to shift. (You actually can’t force a heart to change.) Unless she has a conviction against moving forward, if she’s willing, it is often helpful if she relies on my logic more than her emotions. Her emotional commitment always follows in time.
Peace comes through obedience – I wrote about this HERE, but sometimes the complete peace in a decision doesn’t come until I’ve said “Yes Lord” to what I sense He’s calling me to do. Saying yes, before I have all the assignment or all my questions are answered, seems to open the door for God to bring peace about the move.
God stirs the nest – Deuteronomy references God and the eagle stirring its nest. I’ve been told (and read) that eagles build their nest with the roughest products they can find. Then they cover that structure with the softest, most comfortable material available. A baby eaglet never wants to leave the comfort of home, so to teach them to fly, a mother eagle stirs up the nest, uncovering the roughest part. If things become real uncomfortable where you are, it could be a God thing. He could be “stirring the nest”.
Build DNA slowly – Once DNA is set, it’s going to be very hard to change it. Secure senior leaders slowly. Add staff slowly. Add rules and structure slowly. What you repeat very many times will become tradition quickly and when you try to change it there will be resistance. Make sure it’s something you want in your DNA, before you allow it to get to that point.
Any church planters (or church leaders) out there? What would you add?