“Fulfill your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:5).
“I want to say a word to my pastor friends who say their passion is preaching. May I suggest a better way to say this is that preaching is the expression of your passion for Jesus. Keep the focus on Him.”
I posted that on Facebook earlier today and was surprised at the reaction, all of it positive. Several pastors indicated that coming to this position represented a maturing in their ministry. One said the Lord showed him that he was making preaching his idol. “He delivered me from that idolatry,” he said.
As a senior in college, majoring in history and political science and hoping to teach history on a college level one day, God called me into the ministry.
He did not call me to preach. Not specifically.
Continue reading “God did not call me to preach” »
The title might be a little misleading. To not “worry” about something does not mean the pastor does not know about it.
A good staff will handle the minutiae of the ministry–the problems that arise that they are able to address without the involvement of the shepherd himself–in order to free up the pastor for his major assignment of church leadership.
The pastor who tries to micromanage his church is attempting the impossible and choosing to desert his post.
A wise pastor–who has the resources–can bring on staff capable and trustworthy assistants to free him up to do the three big, big things in his ministry: Preach/teach the Word, give direction to the entire church program, and care for his flock.
Continue reading “Things no pastor should ever have to worry about” »
“Prescribe and teach these things.” (I Timothy 4:11)
“Ladies and gentlemen of the church staff, we your church’s financial leaders have called you together today to inform you of some unfortunate changes we’re going to have to make since our church’s offerings have been running low.”
That’s how the ministers on the church staff regularly learn of cuts being made in the budget, their ministries, their income, their benefits.
The church contributions are running low, so the committee looks for a place to cut.
This is how it’s done. And it has to be the worst way imaginable to deal with a financial crisis in the church.
There are several problems with this machete approach….
Continue reading “The Number 1 failing of church finance committees when money is scarce” »
“My pastor called me in and informed me that the church is hurting financially, therefore my pay would be cut by (so much) and my health insurance is being terminated.”
In the last year, at least a half dozen ministers on church staffs have written to me describing this very scenario.
The first they knew anything was going to change is when the pastor “called them in and informed them.” If you think that sounds like a plantation manager informing a lowly day-laborer, you’d be about right.
What are you thinking, pastor? Where is your heart?
You have just told us far more about yourself, pastor, than about the church or the staff member.
Continue reading “What the pastor owes the church staff” »
Recently when we said on these pages that the church’s pastor search committee should not settle for second best, but hold out for the one person the Heavenly Father has in mind for the church, a friend wrote, “What do we do when the committee is taking so long that people are leaving? Some of our leaders are panicking.”
This is not a rare phenomenon. It happens.
The typical Southern Baptist church can expect the search process to take anywhere from 6 months to a year. If the church has unusual circumstances–a terrible reputation to overcome, poor finances, a history of infighting, or several candidates in a row have turned the committee down–the process could take longer than expected.
When people start leaving the church because no pastor has been found, seizing the first preacher available and recommending him is the worst of all possible options.
The church leadership should consider the following….
Continue reading “Help! Our search committee is taking too long to find a pastor!” »
The letters and comments are pouring in from our recent article on the pastor’s wife.
I suppose it should not surprise me–weirdness is everywhere–but some people were angry that we called the pastor’s wife “the most vulnerable person in church.” One guy gave a long list of people, mostly the hurting seekers who arrive at church hoping to find a word of encouragement or a helping hand, who come before her.
There is no question that churches are filled with seeking, hurting, vulnerable people. Ranking them in order of desperation and need is pointless, since we are to be ministering to them all.
That’s why the Lord wants His people to love one another, serve one another, help one another, and so forth. The “one another” scriptures take up a great deal of the New Testament. Clearly, the Lord sends us forth as wounded warriors to minister to the other wounded.
May the Lord make us servants and helpers of one another, not obstacles in their path or hurdles to be navigated around.
Someone going through a receiving line told the new pastor’s wife if she would be willing to give up her health insurance, it would save the church a lot of money.
Continue reading “For pastors’ wives who are hurting” »
Friend, I’ve been to your church’s website, and the news is not good.
The four most common problems I’ve noticed, and in this order, are:
1) It’s outdated. You’re still pushing last year’s Christmas program.
2) It’s neglected. You’ve got a big weekend coming up (I know, because I’m the speaker!) and there’s not one word on there about it.
3) It’s dull. Who wrote this, I wonder.
4) It’s too hard to find stuff that ought to be easy. On one I looked at this weekend, wanting to read up on their staff, I had to check out all kinds of categories to find where they had buried the photos and identities of staffers. Finally found it under “new to our church?”
Half the pastors of churches where I have spoken recently or am scheduled to speak will read this and “just know” I’m talking about their website and be offended. Was I talking about your website, pastor buddy?
Continue reading “Building a 3-D website for your church” »
“My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism” (James 2:1).
“Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries….” (James 5:1)
Believe it or don’t, but how to preach to the upper crust among us is an issue for some.
At the age of 30, this son of an Alabama coal miner and farmer (same guy) went from pastoring small neighborhood churches to the staff of the largest congregation in the state. Suddenly, the laity I was working with were executives of large companies, politicians in state government, and sons and daughters of old money.
It was a heady feeling, like I was in way over my head.
I recall sending dad a note. “Last night, I went visiting for the church with the vice-president of the Mississippi Power and Light Company and the treasurer of South Central Bell.”
If he had a response, I don’t recall. I suspect he smiled and thought little of it.
I was impressed; dad not so much.
Continue reading “How to preach to rich people” »
“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers….” (Hebrews 13:2)
Recently some fellow wrote to advice columnist Judith Martin, aka Miss Manners, describing a strange situation….
“My wife and I received three unusual invitations. In the first, we were invited to a cocktail get-together (not a formal party) where I was told that since I do not drink alcohol, I should bring something for myself to drink.”
“The second was from a friend who insisted that he and his wife wanted to get together for dinner, but he did not want to have it at his house or at a restaurant. He went on to say he did not care if our house was not in order for a dinner party (construction is going on), but that it would be the best place for us to get together.”
“The third was from a man I have done outdoor activities with who invited me to lunch, told me he would stop by my house, and we could make something for lunch there.”
Gotta love it.
According to Miss Manners, such rudeness mocks the whole idea of hospitality. The couple should reply to these requests with, “I’m afraid that won’t be convenient,” and nothing more.
She has never heard of such before, the columnist says, and hopes she won’t ever again.
Ah, but we in the church get that all the time.
Continue reading “The strangeness of church hospitality” »
I’m reading my journal from over 20 years ago and being reminded of a lot of things–the grace of God and His sovereignty, the sweetness of many of God’s people, and also the sheer hypocrisy of some.
After I left one church under a great deal of duress, the business manager of the church and I had lunch together one day. This is from my notes written that night. I’m eliminating the names, because identifying these people would serve no purpose. Many of them have gone on to their (ahem) just rewards and what’s done is done.
What the business administrator said was stunning.
“You’re no longer the pastor, so I’m telling you this now. So many of the people who worked against you gave almost nothing to the church. If (the chairman of the personnel committee) tithes, then he’s on welfare. And (assistant pastor) gives zero to the church. Not a dime. And his wife a piddling.”
Continue reading “Something we know about the church’s troublemakers” »