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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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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.
All too often, our church members don't feel comfortable asking someone if they would like to have a Bible study. One of the main reasons for this, is because they are afraid they won't have all of the answers to all of the questions that the person may ask about the Bible. Many people today want to teach Bible studies to their friends and families, but oftentimes, don't know how to teach a Bible study,what teaching materials to use or lack the experience to feel confident enough to teach one.
One idea to overcome this, is to use the mid-week service to teach your church how to teach a Bible study. In most cases, the people that show up for the mid-week service are the core of the church. They are usually the more "spiritually mature" of your saints. Also, when teaching on how to teach a Bible study, let them know which Bible studies you recommend for them to teach. This will give them confidence to teach a Bible study and when they find one that they feel comfortable sharing with someone, they will be more apt and better prepared to teach.
You can use this outline to teach them how to teach a Bible study:
Psalm 119:89 "Forever O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven."
Psalm 119:161:162 "..but my heart standeth in awe of thy word….as one that findeth great spoil (treasure)"
Psalm 119:11 "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee."
· Establish at the beginning of the study the importance of the "whole" Bible.
1) 1 Tim. 3:16 "All scripture is given by inspiration of God…
2) The Word of God is true! From cover to cover!
A few things to remember when preparing for your study:
· Always bring two Bibles; one for you and one for your student. (Remember, this is a Bible study!)
· Be on time!
· Breath mints are good!
· Choose a Bible Study that teaches on one of these topics:
3) Church History[ read more...]
One of the saddest occurrences is when I spend time trying to mentor an experienced Christian minister who is wrestling with regrets, guilt and self-condemnation after they have given a lifetime to the work of God.
Christian ministry should be satisfying and rewarding. The joy, peace, fulfillment and contentment should be overflowing for anyone who has devoted their life to arguably the world’s most noble profession. Surprisingly instead of entering a time of bliss and contentment, a vast number of ministers and their spouses enter their later years disillusioned, angry, bitter, depressed and saddened over missed opportunities, mistakes, bad judgments, regrets, and a list of similar discouragements.
This simply ought not to be.
What about you? Are you living with regret, guilt, or condemnation right now?
Is it easier for you to quote Romans 8:1 than it is to live it?
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
The word “condemnation” means an adverse sentence (the verdict). There should be no adverse sentence or condemnation but reality says there often is. If so, then the question is what caused it? Or, from where did it originate?
Even if you could identify the point of origin for your feeling of condemnation you cannot change the history that caused it. However, you can learn from history, make adjustments, and not repeat the same mistakes in the future. Another key point is that Romans 8:1 reveals the answer to living condemnation free. It says to, “walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” To state it plainly: the Spirit will lead you to a condemnation free life and ministry whereas the flesh will lead to condemnation.
From a practical standpoint the following suggestions will assist you in building a condemnation free life and ministry.
Plan your finances as though you will live 150 years. One of the greatest tragedies is that many of us have failed to plan for the day of retirement. It is a mistake you will live to regret. Many of those who chose to spend it all because the Lord was coming and they didn’t want to leave it for the antichrist died broke and foolish. They had no oil in their lamps when the day came that they needed it.[ read more...]
Without fail, every time I fly, I am amazed at what I can see from the window of an airplane. Whether it is scenic mountains and lakes or large cities, I love to see the view from above the world.
I live about forty miles from Chicago and I drive the Chicago highways quite frequently. What a horrible mess they are. Often it takes two hours or more to get from one side of the city to the other. Many times I have sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic wondering what the problem is and promising myself that I will never drive that highway again. Yet, when I fly over the city I can see all of the highways at the same time. I can point out all of the trouble spots in just a few moments. I can see the bottlenecks, I can see the accidents. New perspective is gained.
If you have been through Chicago more than once, you have probably heard of the 'Hillside Strangler'. It is a notorious section of highway near the town of Hillside where two interstates and a road merge into a single lane to enter the Eisenhower Expressway. It has long been dubbed one of the worst traffic bottlenecks in the world. It will literally stop you dead in your tracks where you won't be able to move for a long, long time. A few years ago they spent over a 100 million dollars to fix the problem. They widened the entrance to three lanes. However, after all of the time and money they spent to fix this, the traffic flow is only slightly better. People are just as frustrated as before. When you see this area from above, you can see that the congestion has only been pushed further east. The problem is easily seen from the sky, three lanes are not enough for this traffic merger, and they need more lanes stretched out over more distance. The estimated cost to rebuild this section of highway is now well over one billion dollars.
It is amazing how crystal clear the answers are when seen from above. The perspective one can receive from the skies is like receiving new revelation.
During a time of terrible persecution and uncertainty, the Apostle John was banished to the Isle of Patmos. There was no way out. Facing the darkest hours of his life, John had many questions on his heart. He couldn't think his way out. He couldn't see his way out. Though he lived to an old age there, he didn't know he would do so at the time.
However, Jesus knew some things John didn't know. Jesus was about to invite John up into the heavens. Jesus wanted to give John some new perspective and some fresh insight.[ read more...]
1. There are specific, reasonable and attainable growth goals that have been developed. A pastor must see, believe it and work for it!
2. There is powerful Bible-based preaching and teaching, anointed singing, vibrant worship, fervent praying, and generous giving.
3. There is consistent visitation and follow-up on visitors.
4. The pastor recognizes and releases the gifts and callings among the congregation. These gifts include the gifts of teachers, helpers, prophecy, exhortation, ruling, etc.
5. The organization, coordination, and emphasis of the basic departments - Sunday School, Youth, Outreach, Music, New Convert Care - is always on soul-winning and discipleship.[ read more...]
Pastor Ray Johnson of the Denham Springs Pentecostal Church shares the characteristics of a growing church.
- There are specific, reasonable and attainable growth goals that have been developed. A pastor must see, believe it and work for it!
- There is powerful Bible-based preaching and teaching, anointed singing, vibrant worship, fervent praying, and generous giving.
- There is consistent visitation and follow-up on visitors.
- The pastor recognizes and releases the gifts and callings among the congregation. These gifts include the gifts of teachers, helpers, prophecy, exhortation, ruling, etc.
- The organization, coordination, and emphasis of the basic departments - Sunday School, Youth, Outreach, Music, New Convert Care - is always on soul-winning and discipleship.
Has it ever happened to you? It happened to me again today. Someone said I said something that I didn’t. They did it to defend themselves and their lifestyle of sin. I guess they figured if they could make me look small, it would somehow make them bigger, or at least more righteous.
Several years ago, I realized that people will (dog) the Pastor or the church in order to make themselves appear better than the church. This way, when someone comes to invite them to church, they can use this as a way of saying, “your Pastor is no better than I am. Why should I come to your church?!” And boy if you did say what they said you said. Or if you did what they said you did, now they have every reason in the world to never come to church. As if by some miracle, you were as wise as Solomon and did everything perfectly.
I believe Jesus understood this. Mary and Martha would have blamed Him for their brother’s sickness and death, but the fact of the matter was it was their own lack of faith that allowed their brother to die. And for their lack of faith, Jesus wept. Adam himself wanted to blame his wife for his own sin. As much as Eve did play some part in tempting Adam, the real one at fault was no one else but Adam.
I’m sure if you have been in ministry long at all, you have counseled people only to have them use your good counsel to try to destroy your character and reputation. Personally, I refuse to allow other peoples sin to affect me. When they want to make excuses and bring my name into the situation, I have decided to quickly turn the conversation around and allow light to come into the problem. “The real reason there is a situation, is you have had an affaire, not that I counseled you or did not counsel you about this.” I think you get my thinking here. There are several examples I could give.
“My brother would have lived if you would have been here Jesus”. No, he would have lived if you would have prayed for him to live. Why bring my name into your faithlessness. “My family would have stayed together if the Pastor would have spent more time with us.” No, your family would still be together if you would have slept in your own bed. “I’d still be in the church if that Pastor wouldn’t have offended me with his preaching.” The only thing that is offended by good preaching, is sin. Why don’t you confess your faults and be healed instead of blaming the Pastor for your unrighteous lifestyle.[ read more...]
Fear can and will keep many good leaders from becoming great leaders. Many mountain climbers have stood at the base camp of Mt. Everest, yet only a small percentage of them have had the courage it takes to actually climb to the top of that mountain.
Fear of the unknown. Fear of what people will say if we fail. Fear of the criticism along the way. Fear of being the only one saying “It can be done.” Fear of our vision being rejected by others.
Fear can kill our God given directive. It can suffocate our dream.
A position or office does not cause a person to become a leader. Though a person be chosen to Pastor a church, they are not truly a leader until they face their fears and actually lead that congregation into the places that God would want it to go. Being chosen to lead is easy. Actually leading is hard.
What defines a true visionary? Is it someone who has a lot of great ideas? Someone who sees the need for change, but never causes that change to take place? About 1 year ago I asked my wife to be very critical of me. I asked her to honestly tell me if I was someone who saw the things that needed to change and caused them to change or if I was someone who pointed out all the areas of needed change and did nothing. Her response though honest, was not what I wanted to hear.
I have determined, that if I am unable or unwilling to cause change in a given area, I will keep my mouth shut. Although I may see a need to change, I will say nothing, unless it is to spark a vision in another person who is capable of creating the needed change.
When I see another person or ministry who is successful, I go to them and find out how/why they are having success. I try to learn from them. Yet, I usually find that the reason they are having success is something I felt the Holy Spirit speaking to me about in the past. I get beat up pretty bad as I realize that God told me to do this same thing several years ago, only I lacked the courage to launch into it. You must admit with me that some of the more successful people around you are doing things that you yourself have considered, only they did it and you didn’t.[ read more...]
Failure – In the business world, this word isn’t an option. But in the church, it almost seems like a requirement. Look at the heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11. While the Bible lauds their faithful successes here, check out their Old Testament stories, and you’ll find that God used people who repeatedly failed and doubted him.
So the next time you feel like a failure or even a hypocrite – encouraging your congregation to live one way when you’re failing in that very same area yourself – remember God’s amazing penchant for using seemingly imperfect, irresponsible, and faithless people to further His kingdom. In fact, here are some specific places where you might be feeling like a failure, along with promises for you to claim.
Correcting and confronting people about sin when you know the pitiful condition of your own heart. Remember that God detests sin, but he already knows that you’ll fail Him. Victory doesn’t come through any power of our own, but only from God’s strength over evil. Approach God and admit your weaknesses. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:8-9)
Preaching on quiet time when you don’t have one. Change the terminology if you need to. A quiet time is just a means of recharging your own spiritual batteries on a semi-regular basis – even if it’s not a daily quiet time. “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) Being still is hard to do if you’re running in the opposite direction. What will happen if you stop and listen to God? “You’ll be made new in the attitude of your minds; and you’ll put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:23- 24)
Speaking on bringing people to the Lord when you haven’t led anyone to Him in years. Double-check your source and motivation. Jesus said that only people plugged into Him could be fruitful. “Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. I am the vine; you are the branches. If[ read more...]