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Are you struggling to get things done? Are you the one who is usually completing the projects of your church and overseeing every ministry? Does it seem like there is never enough time to get all that you need done, even though you are not doing nearly what your vision would require? Are you feeling used up and exhausted?
You are not alone! Many Pastors and ministry leaders feel this same way. One of the reasons is because we are not very good at utilizing the talents and strengths of others. Here are 10 ways you can begin utilizing the people in your ministry to create a more resourceful and accomplished ministry team.
Cast a vision - The next time you get up to announce a new ministry in your church or the direction you feel the church should be taking, cast a vision. Share with your ministry team the end result. You don't have to tell them all of what it is going to take to get there, just tell them the end result. "I believe our church can be running 200 by next Easter!" Now there will be many facets of ministry that are going to be needed to cause your congregation to run 200 by Easter, but for now all you want to do is give the leadership team a goal. "200 by Easter!"
Ask for help - Acknowledging you need help is liberating for the leader! it is also a grand opportunity for the team to feel like they are coming alongside their pastor. Asking for help is not becoming vulnerable, it is being honest. It is also being responsible. God gave you your ministry team for a reason. That reason is so that you can utilize their talents, knowledge and energy to accomplish the work of ministry God has envisioned you with. "Would you consider working together and with me to cause our church to be running 200 by Easter?"
Allow the Genius of the group to be found - The smartest person in the room is not you. Nor is it any one other person in the group. The Genius in the room is always the sum of all of those who are on your ministry team. If allowed to be heard, there are people on your team who have ideas and experiences that can advance your vision much better than you can by yourself. "What are some things that we could do to cause our church to be running 200 by Easter?"
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In John chapter 15, Jesus lets us know that if we are going to be a part of the vine, we are going to have to be fruitful. Do we truly understand what that means.? Often times we allow ourselves to be overwhelmingly busy with things that will never be fruitful. Much of a minister’s time is spent on things that could be delegated.
People will let you do all the work if you let them. They will smile at you, thank you and tell you that you are the greatest thing that ever happened to their church. Ultimately however, you have to ask yourself, what am I really accomplishing that is relative to my calling.
The scriptures tell us to make our calling and election sure. It’s important that we settle in our minds what our calling is. Yet, this is saying more than that to us than this. It is telling us also to know our job description. I have learned by Pastoring, that people will let the Pastor mop the floors, shovel the sidewalks, cut the grass, and nearly every other menial task of the church if he lets them. There is a certain source of self-gratification that comes with having done some manual labor. It is even good exercise. However, we truly have to ask ourselves, “Is this my calling? Did God call me to this city to mop the kitchen floor and to cut the grass? Did he call me here to teach every single Bible Study?” If you answered yes to those questions, then keep at it. However, you are about to find that the human body is only capable of so much. As well, your mind can only take in so much information.
If however, you were called to that city to Preach the Gospel and Pastor a church, you may need to learn the art of delegation.
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Every so often while reading the Bible, I get flashbacks to my years in Sunday School. Most of those flashbacks come from the 'memory verses' I had to memorize each week for Sunday School. It never ceases to amaze me that thirty years later those verses are still stored somewhere in my memory.
Recently, while reading the book of Jeremiah, I had one of those flashbacks and it led to a deeper study of this story.
You will probably recognize these words just as I did;
11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
12 Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.
13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.
What a powerful verse this has been to me and to many others over the years.
Imagine comforting and powerful this must have been for Judah to hear. Judah had been taken captive by Babylon. They had no future. Their land, their possessions and their children had been stripped from them. They thought God had abandoned them. They thought God was done with them. Then, the prophet Jeremiah brings this promise of hope and deliverance.
As comforting as this was to Judah, most of us overlook an important detail of this prophecy found in the previous verse;
10 For thus saith the Lord, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.
The promise of deliverance was given, but it would take seventy years for deliverance to come. An entire lifetime for most. That meant almost every person who was taken captive would die in captivity. Imagine receiving a promise that your answer has come but then discovering you would have to wait seventy years to receive it. That is like receiving no answer at all.
During Jeremiah's time there were many prophets sharing many messages. In this particular story, there was another prophet named Hananiah. Hananiah shared what sounded like a similar message to Jeremiah's, except for one slight variation;
2 Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, saying, I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon.
3 Within two full years will I bring again into this place all the vessels of the Lord's house, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon took away from this place, and carried them to Babylon:
4 And I will bring again to this place Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, with all the captives of Judah, that went into Babylon, saith the Lord: for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon.[ read more...]
As technological progress continues, it axiomatically leads to increasing rates of stress, overload, complexity, and change, speed, debt, and meaninglessness. Yet how can we protect ourselves, or families and our churches from the exhaustion and burnout of our age? The following suggestions may provide some relief, both for you and for those you minister to.
- Put more control in your life.
- Learn to laugh.
- Generate good will. The greatest thing we can do to buffer ourselves against the ravages of stress is to continually spread good will to those around us.
- Limit negatives. Stop negative self- criticism. Limit your time with negative people.
- Stop digging. If you're in a hole, the first rule is to quit digging. If you're overloaded, start saying "NO!"
- Accept your limitations. God is the author of limitations, and He gave them to us for our protection. We violate them at our peril.
- Defend your boundaries. Establish appropriate boundaries and defend them against the onslaught of an extraordinarily demanding world.
- Prune the activity branches. Like new branches on a fruit tree, additional activities and commitments add themselves to our lives every year, often without our permission.
- Value simplicity. No one ever lived a simpler, more unencumbered than Jesus.
- De-accumulate. Everything we own also owns us. Each possession must be cared for, maintained and paid for.
- Control the "paper tumor." Every year the amount of paper and information it contains seems to metastasize without pity. When at all possible, use the "OHIO" rule - "Only Handle It Once."
- Restrain technology. Maintain a healthy skepticism of any new technology and don't buy it unless you can control it.
- Value traditions. Identify the traditions in your personal, family and church life that have special significance and protect them vigorously.
- Establish stability zones. People generally benefit from having certain areas in their lives where change is kept to a minimum, and stability and reliability are assured.
- Move less often. Church leaders are often called on to relocate frequently. But at a time when the rest of the world continues to change so wildly, leaders who have a choice may want to consider the benefits of greater longevity in one position.
One church may be in a small rural community where it is easy to develop close personal relationships. Another may be in a big city where shallow impersonal relationships are the standard. (In the country they all wave to each other – even to strangers. In the metro areas, they don’t speak to one another even when they walk abreast on the streets.
One town may have a growing populating while another may have a shrinking population. Industry is brining people into one area and as a result the pews seem to fill up all by themselves. Factory shutdowns may be causing another town to be losing its population, hence it looks like the church is not doing a good job since it too is shrinking.
One town may have a wealthy populace while another may be in a poverty stricken area. There is not going to be much need for a food bank in a wealthy area, but it may bring many new contacts and converts to a church in an impoverished area. If a pastor of the wealthy community says, “Hey, we need a food bank.” since he sees the success of the struggling community church, he may be wasting church resources and time.
One church might be a new church and another very established. (Established doesn’t always mean it has arrived, it just means it’s been there for a while.) I have worked in 2 church start ups and in 4 established churches. It is much easier to get things started and rolling in a newer church than one that has been around for 50 years. I could get programs started in one day in that small baby church where it took me months to get the same program started in larger established churches. Because it works overnight in one town does not mean it will work over night in another.[ read more...]
Fourteen years ago I began a career as an investment advisor. After spending weeks studying for the state and federal securities exams, I began a very successful, though brief, career. Successful, because I was landing sales of which most security brokers only dream.
After spending years as a house painter, I felt that I had found my calling. I loved the idea of helping people find ways to invest their money to achieve the greatest amount of profit for the least amount of investment risk. The idea of making money with money thrilled me. Imagine, making money not only during the 9-to-5 work day, but also making money while asleep.
After only a few months in my new career, I attended a securities symposium in Indianapolis, Indiana. For a full week, investment firms presented their funds, boasting their returns as far back as 20 years. For several days, I sat thru presentation after presentation from some of the largest and most prominent investment firms in the world.
Using Power Point presentations, each firm showed annual returns that all seemed to point upward when it came to opportunities for investment. With a room full of some of the most successful sales advisors, these firms worked to convince us that their funds were the best investment for our clients.
By the time I headed home from the symposium, my head spun with excitement. I knew that some of these investments were exactly what many of my clients wanted and needed. That night I went to bed still excited about what I learned and the potential to help my clients increase their savings.
After I slept several hours, a loud booming voice awakened me saying, “The kingdom of God is the best investment!” The voice frightened me. I looked over at my wife, expecting her to be fully awake and as startled as I was. But she was sound asleep. “Did you hear that? I said, nudging her awake. “Hear what?” she mumbled. I realized it was the voice of God, reminding me that His kingdom was the best place to invest. It pays the highest dividends and interest and, best of all, there are no penalties or risks of investment loss.[ read more...]
There are a number of reasons why a church may decline and confront the prospect of ministry death. Some of the causes are outside the congregation’s control. Others are a direct result of what the people are doing (or not doing) within the church.
Listed are reasons why churches close. The wise leader will recognize where his congregation is and prevent the loss of a church.
- Loss of population base within the community. A significant factor confronting many churches located in isolated rural areas is the decline within the community at large. As the children become adults, there are not enough economic bases to support them. As the population of the community decreases so do the opportunities for the church outreach and growth. New people, having no ties to the community, may travel to a larger metropolitan area to attend a church that has multiple programs.
- Demographic change within a community. Demographic changes alter the cultural setting of the community. Churches that do not adapt to these changes can find it difficult to minister to the new cultural setting. Because small churches tend to be homogeneous, they are often the last to change when transitions occur in the demographic setting. Unwilling to change, they soon become isolated from the mainstream of the community.
- Changes in society. There are several changes within society that have significantly impacted the small church and contributed to the decline of some congregations. In the past, the church was a social center of not only the people who attended, but also the whole community. People came to church to see their neighbors and friends. No longer is the church this social center; instead people have multiple social centers, which draw them away from the church. Consequently the church no longer has the influence within the community it once had. The downside of this is that people no longer attend church for social interaction, making it more difficult to attract new people. Another factor has been the mobility of people. People will drive past many churches to attend the church of their choice. No longer is there the true “community church” where everyone in the community attends because it is the only church available. Now, because distance is no longer an issue, people have multiple choices of which church to attend. A third change in society is consumerism. Previously people attended a church because of their loyalty to the congregation and community. Even if the church was not “ministering to their needs” they remained because of their sense of duty. Now people hop from church to church depending on their particular needs and availability of programs within the church to minister to those needs.
Investing The Talents
The following is an article being shared with the Indiana Trumpet. You might want to place it in your weekly bulletin or in a place where your members can read it.
Mt 25 14-30
Mat 25:14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.
Mat 25:15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey...
This often misunderstood passage of scripture is a key parable for real revival. Revival and growth can only come when we understand and implement the simple factors spoken of here.
The man traveling into a far country is Jesus Christ. His servants are the Pastors of churches and the talents are the saints of the churches. When Jesus placed a shepherd in the church, he was doing more than placing someone there who would watch over the souls of the church. He was also placing someone there who would lead that group of people into personal and numerical growth (Revival).
This parable was not written to the saints, it was written to the Pastors of the churches. As a saint, this is important for me to understand as it allows me to comprehend the burden and psyche of my Pastor.
Every Pastor is under a great burden for the souls of not only those who attend the local church, but also for the souls of those people in the community who do not attend. This burden does not leave a Pastor day or night, the entire time he Pastor’s a particular church. Those who do not understand this burden will usually misunderstand the actions and decisions of their Pastor.
Notice in the parable the Lord gave us, the servant/Pastor pays a great price if he does not invest his Lord’s talents/saints wisely. Saints will wonder why their Pastor is pushing so hard to begin a new program or simply encourage the church to get involved in evangelism. They will grumble and complain because he has asked them to consider a new ministry the church is capable of implementing. Yet, regardless of their lack of cooperation, the Pastor is still under the directive to cause every talent/saint in the church to become involved.
Notice what happened to the servant who buried his talent in the ground. His labor was to hide his talents. This Pastor simply preached to the “Us 4 and no more crowd”. He was satisfied with a lack of growth and had grown weary of trying to get the church to become involved in soul winning. So he stopped trying. He just kept the same old crowd. His burden for the community died and his church had no increase. With this mindset, this servant purchased a harsh judgment.[ read more...]
Most of us worry unnecessarily about too many things.
It's almost as though we search for problems to give ourselves stress. The amazing news is that much of what we worry about doesn't matter at all! Take a look at these statistics about worry:
- 40% of all things that we worry about never come to pass.
- 30% of all our worries involve past decisions that cannot be changed.
- 12% focus on criticism from others who spoke because they felt inferior.
- 10% are related to our health, which gets worse when we worry.
- 8% of our worries could be described as "legitimate" causes for concern.