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If your ministry is only one of your jobs, here are 12 tips to make the road a little smother.
In light of the fact that 50 percent of all North American churches have 75 people or fewer, many pastors do not receive full salary from the church they serve. This forces them to consider options such as finding other employment on the side or having a spouse work to help make ends meet.
- Guard your attitudes. Sometimes it is hard for those “called into the ministry” to accept the fact that they may have to work “secular” jobs at times. These are understandable feelings, but will lead to bitterness of heart and cripple our ministries unless we overcome them.
- Look primarily to God. It is easy to become resentful toward people if we look to them as our sources. God is our ultimate employer and provider, not the church.
- Beware of get- rich-quick schemes. A pastor desperate for additional sources of income may be vulnerable to the allure of multilevel marketing and other “easy money” systems.
- Assess the hidden costs of having a spouse that works. After the cost of travel, food on the road, child care, house cleaning etc, you may find that it is cheaper for them to stay home. A job or career is often times more of an outlet or escape. Check all the motives and the real cost involved.
- Make the most of the situation while you’re at it. Working a secular job can actually have many overlooked benefits other than just additional income: contact with unchurched people and experience with realities of work environments.
- Define your ministry. Bi-vocational pastors should beware of trying to have a “full- service” ministry. You need definite limits and boundaries. You cannot do everything, so you must have a clear focus for what you will handle.
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The expression of guarding the gates really has to do with guarding the mind. As noted in the previous message, John Bunyan wrote another classic although much less recognized than Pilgrim’s Progress entitled The Holy War which tells the story of Mansoul being captured and taken over by Diabolus because of the gates being compromised. That same plan is still being effectively carried out in our generation. People of every kind and status within the church have a responsibility to not let this kind of thing take place. This is especially true of those who are actively called into the ministry. If the shepherd can be toppled, the sheep will scatter.
It was explored how that study allows a man who serves a church to guard his mind. While that is a good measure to take up, there is another crucial “guard” that we have to recognize. It is the aspect of prayer. Of all the disciplines involved in a Christian’s life, prayer is the most difficult one to maintain conversely it can be one of the most joyous and powerful tools we can find in our spiritual arsenal. A preacher must maintain regular habits of communion with God in prayer. If a minister is not careful he can come to the place in which he will neglect his place of prayer because of his attention to the Kingdom. He may have all kinds of grand truths rolling through his soul because of the constant exposure to the Word. He can be so busy with various meetings, discipleship of new converts, and counseling of those who are in the throes of some dilemma of life, and obligations to duties of the organizational stripe, that he can entirely neglect his prayer life. In fact a minister is more likely to omit his praying than a new convert who has just come in to the church.
Diabolus loves to get the men involved in ministry to fall to the temptation of substitutes for prayer. Sermons on prayer, reading books on prayer, attending prayer conferences, and hearing sermons on prayer can never take the place of prayer. One can even come under the belief that church attendance, praise, singing, giving, and doing measures of physical labor at church can be a valid substitute for prayer. What soon happens is a tendency to resort to all of these things to move us into a position for revival without true heart-felt prayer.
Pastoral prayer is a great biblical concept and it has great authority. There is an ingredient of spiritual authority that comes to life when a pastor will discipline himself to prayer for his people. From the outset, I have to tell you that this is NOT an easy task to do. Prayer that is truly heart-felt and sincere rarely takes place (for me, perhaps not others) when we just decide to get on our knees and begin to pray. There has to be some stimulus of preparation that is involved in it. There are useful things that you will learn to use to help put your mind into a vein of prayer.
There are times when reading books on prayer will be very helpful to put you into a mindset of prayer. Some of the ones that I have regularly gone back to frequently and year after year are listed below:
E. M. Bounds Complete Works on Prayer—There are eight books in a single volume and are very rich and motivational toward opening my heart for prayer. The Necessity of Prayer, The Essentials of Prayer, The Possibilities of Prayer, The Reality of Prayer, Purpose in Prayer, The Weapon of Prayer, Power Through Prayer, and Prayer and Praying Men.
Leonard Ravenhill on Prayer—Ravenhill’s material is becoming increasingly rarer to find in bookstores these days. He was a staple for many of the preachers who attended the Deeper Life conferences scattered around the nation in the 1970’s. There have been times that I have read just a page or so of Ravenhill’s material and found it incredibly rich in preparing my heart and mind for prayer. Particularly helpful a [ read more...]
There are two essential elements of community. 1) interpersonal commitments and 2) a sense of belonging. True community needs both of these elements in operation. Without interpersonal commitments, a sense of belonging would soon be lost as a sense of belonging is derived from and is a result of the interpersonal commitments. Did I loose you there? Ok, let me break it down.
Bob joins a new church. He is warmly welcomed. He soon receives salvation. Bob likes the people and enjoys what he feels in the church. However, as time goes on, Bob soon realizes that since his only real commitment is to come to church, worship and give in the offerings, his commitment level is not very deep. In fact, if Bob only develops a deep relationship with the pastor there, then the Pastor is Bob’s only real reason for staying there. What happens however, when Bob gets upset at the pastor? What happens if the pastor resigns? You and I know what happens, Bob soon leaves. However, what would happen if Bob were was interconnected in a deep level of community or fellowship with 10-12 other people within the church? (Small Group) What if it were possible that Bob could get upset with the Pastor, yet his love for and interconnectedness with these other 10-12 were so deep that he would stay?
Relationships are powerful. A good relationship will build a person up and a bad relationship has the potential to destroy someone. We often fail to realize the value of relationships within the church. We exhaust ourselves with evangelistic efforts and get so excited over the sudden growth or influx of visitors. Yet we then often fail to get those new people into bonding relationships within the church and soon lose them. What we end up with is a person who is easily offended and will have nothing or nobody to stand in their way of an exodus.[ read more...]
The Power of Mentoring
Mentor was the name of the advisor to Odysseus, King of Ithaca and victorious leader of the Greeks in the Trojan War. So respected was he and so valuable was his guidance that his name has been borrowed to mean any wise and trusted counselor.
Most of you have had a mentor in your life at one point or another. Most successful people have benefited from a relationship with an individual who served as a counselor. It is a process that we have all gone through, but what gives a mentor success? What is it that makes him or her someone you should or would listen to?
Lou Tice lists three things that gives a mentor their credibility:
1. Our mentor is like us in some significant way.
2. He or she has achieved a measure of personal success in a relevant field.
3. He or she has mentored or coached others to success in that field.
A mentor is somebody who sees more in you than you can see in yourself. Jesus was a mentor to the twelve in the truest sense of the word. Jesus saw greatness in each of them, but he didn't stop there, He began to lead, mold and shape them into the potential that He saw in them.
Jesus saw them as they could be. Jesus didn't focus on their mistakes and shortcomings. Jesus focused on their strength, their power, and their potential. Jesus told them things that reaffirmed their potential. He showed His confidence in them by building them up and reinforcing His belief that they would go on to do great things.
To Peter Jesus said;
18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.[ read more...]
I love adventure. I like eating at restaurants that I’ve never eaten at before. I like going places I’ve never been before. I will often take a wrong road intentionally just to see what is there that I’ve been missing. I want to see countries, I’ve never seen before. I want to enjoy what is just ahead.
I want to enjoy some things in the spirit realm too. I look into the Bible and I see the Christians in the New Testament having an all night prayer meeting for Peter. The miracle to me was not Peter getting loosed from prison. The miracle to me was a body of believers putting their agendas, and personal motives aside long enough to agree that something had to be done about Peter’s condition.
In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins states "Good to Great companies do not focus on what to do to become great; they focus equally on what not to do and what to stop doing." We are too often seeking the next gimmick or program that will take us to where we’re desiring to go in terms of church growth or revival. The problem with that, is we start new things constantly but never do perfect them, only to go on to start something else without burying what we just gave up on.
As a result of that, we have our interests and labors so divided that many of our churches are dysfunctional with regards to evangelism, instead of being the driving evangelistic force that our Lord desires us to be.
There are a few things we can stop doing that would bring us closer to having Great evangelistic moves instead of simply good moves. I believe we would go from having good church to having Great church if we would stop trying to entertain one another. Are we hung up on trying to entertain the crowd instead of entertaining the presence of the Lord.
We have it all backwards. We think if we sing good enough. We think if the choir ever gets it all together we will really have great church. We think if we hit the right note. We think if we gesture correctly as we sing. We think that somehow the crowd will be impressed enough to give their hearts and lives to Jesus Christ.
We can’t sing good enough to give someone salvation. You can’t sing good enough to heal a broken body. You can’t sing good enough to give deliverance to a drug addict. You can’t sing or play or act good enough to save even one person’s soul, so why don’t we just entertain the Lord with our worship? It might be that we could draw his presence closer with our sincerity and hunger to worship him. If He came closer, there is no telling what could happen.
We don’t have Great church because we have been satisfied with good church. We don’t have Great worship services, because we are satisfied with good worship services. We don’t have Great results from our evangelist labors, because we are satisfied with good results.[ read more...]
L. I. D. S.
Learn - The very first thing that a pastor or spiritual leader should know is that they must learn from the people around them; whether it be staff members, the congregation, or others. We can learn valuable things from the children in the church all the way up to the assistant pastor. How well do you understand your people? Are you willing to learn from them? Successful leaders are constantly open to learning. As leaders, we should always do this before pursuing any goal. Otherwise, we will only be hindering progress. Always be a student. Paul commanded Timothy in:
2 Timothy 2:15
"Study to shew thyself approved unto God..."
Innovate - Creativity should be promoted and never ignored. In the Sunday School department, the youth department, church planning meetings, etc., we should encourage those department heads and staff members to be innovative. If their ideas are not what you would do, so what! Their idea may work better than yours. By using the ideas and the creativity of your entire leadership team, you will keep everyone involved and invested in your vision. Don't be afraid of change. Remember, one of the first things our God did was create.
"In the beginning God created…"
They are not perfect. It’s true that if you wait for people to become perfect, you may be waiting a long time. There is nothing wrong with exercising your own faith and begin using people before they are 100% ready to be used.
They will need your help. Don’t expect them to know all that you know. Sit down with them and one on one, explain to them how to do what it is you want them to do. Give them details of what you expect and guidelines on how to do it.
They need someone to tell them they can do it. Most of the people who come into our churches have been beaten down by the world. They need someone to believe in them. The very fact that you believe in them will cause them to do things for God that they never thought they were capable of.
They will make mistakes. You’ve made yours, let them make theirs. Give them room for grace and forgiveness. Let them know that a mistake is not necessarily an end, but rather a place to learn.
They are not mind readers. Don’t expect them to just know what it is you want them to know. Talk to them. Communicate it to them. Send them memos, emails and leave messages.
They want to succeed. Nobody wants to fail. Give them every chance to succeed. Don’t give them a job that is way over their head. Give them small tasks at first and work them into the ministry you want them to have.[ read more...]
In his book, The Turning Point, Malcolm Gladwell describes the work of the connector. The connectors he explains are important to social epidemics. The reason why a new restaurant would become the new hotspot in the community might well depend a great deal on the work of the connector. You see, a connector is the person in the market place who tells all their friends about the great deal they just got at Wall Mart. Or the fantastic food they ate at a new restaurant. Every church has connectors in them.
I have identified my wife as being a connector. Should Natalie find a bargain at say Wall Mart, she will immediately call her mother and sister on the phone and them about the great deal and why they should head over to Wall Mart as soon as they get off work. My wife is a connector. She loves telling people about everything from the newest restaurant, to the store who has a sale on paper napkins.
My life was changed by a connector. I was 17 years old when I came into contact with this person. 95% of the relationships I have today are a direct result of this one connector in my life. Mike was his name. Had this person never told me about and invited me to his church, I never would have met most of the people who I now know as my close friends and colleagues. He was not a preacher. He was a connector.
Something excited him about his church and he could not help himself to share it with someone else. Mike is not an orator. He is not a teacher of God’s word. But he connected me to the people who would eventually change my life.
We all have had the work of a connector in our lives. They introduced us to the church. They introduced us to our spouse. They told us the kind of car we should buy. They work behind the scenes to promote projects, products and agendas and they do it every day without pay or recognition. You might say it’s their personality. I would say it’s more of an obsession with some people.
My wife can’t help herself. She has to share her good fortune. I have told her in the past to keep some bargains to herself. Like the beautiful new dress she just got off a clearance rack for a few bucks. I tell her let people think you paid a little something for it, but no, she has to tell the world where they can get the same deal. She loves to be the connector.[ read more...]
Mentoring Christian Leaders
Leadership is a complex issue in the 21st Century. The Christian leader faces constant challenges whether at home, at work, or in the church. An increasing number of Christian leaders, business owners, and pastors are turning to mentors and coaches for development and assistance . . . and they are wise to do so. The advantages are many.
The word “mentor” is derived from the original Mentor in Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey. When Odysseus, King of Ithaca went to fight in the Trojan War, he entrusted the care of his kingdom to Mentor. Mentor served as the teacher and overseer of Odysseus’ son, Telemachus.
The Merriam-Webster WWWebster Dictionary defines a mentor as "a trusted counselor or guide." A common definition of a mentor is "a wise, loyal advisor or coach."
A mentor is an individual with special gifts or knowledge that helps and guides another individual’s development. Mentoring is used in many settings. One of the most valuable assets your ministry can have is a good mentor.
Christian leaders are besieged with challenges. Who then do they turn to for counsel, verification, and guidance? Quite often confidentiality is a problem among peers. A seasoned and professional mentor or coach is invaluable in helping guide and validate a leader’s choices and decisions.
Many leaders and even pastors do not have a wise or seasoned elder pastor or confidential authority figure to turn to. Quite often finding solace among peers or elected leaders has proven disappointing.
Many have spent fortunes attending conferences and seminars that seldom have long-term results and lasting impact. Most simply offer motivation that quickly fades away as reality rears it head again.[ read more...]
(This is an excellent article for Pastors to share with anyone involved in leadership or ministry in their church.)
Sometimes you just have to say it like it is. This is one of those times. I offer this to you in a gentle spirit and pray that if you share it with others on your team, that you would do so in a spirit of gentleness and meekness.
John Maxwell says “Only do what only you can do.” This is important in the various areas of ministry of the local church. One thing that stops the momentum of a church is various leaders trying to run someone else’s ministry. When God has placed you in an area of ministry within the church, he did not put you there so you could judge other lay ministers of the church. Do your job and let others do theirs.
Focus on your own ministry. What can you do to cause your own ministry to make a greater impact in your church and community? Anytime you spend even a few minutes judging the way another person is running their own department or area of ministry within the church, you are wasting valuable time, energy and emotion that if better used, could be applied perfecting your own.
Too often people criticize the work of others in order to make their own ministry look good. Lazy people usually find time to do this. These people are jealous of other people’s success and try to destroy them in order to preserve their rank or position in a church. This is not a Godly spirit and should be stopped immediately. There is no room in any church for division. If you do not like what other people are doing, mind your own business and do your own job and trust God to take care of the rest. It is His church and not yours after all.[ read more...]