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The Pastoral Paradox
By: James Smith
Paradox - "A statement seemingly absurd or self- contradictory, but really founded in truth."
Being a Pastor or Christian leader is not easy. Whoever said it was, was lying. Being a Pastor or Minister is rewarding and satisfying, but it is not easy.
The part that is not easy for me is when I do good for someone and they turn against me. It knocks me back a step when someone who I have really bent over backwards to help, lies against me or without gratitude, throws "it" all in my face. If you've ministered for more than 1 year, I'm sure you will be able to relate. If you've ministered for 10 years, you could probably write a book on the subject.
One thing they never taught us in Bible College was how to take a direct hit in the chops and keep a smile. Don't you just love getting bawled out by someone in the office, 10 minutes before service. It's not easy getting up in front of your church to preach a positive message after an encounter like that. But we do it anyway! Why? Because that's who we are. That's what we do. We are Ministers. We do good when people hurt us. What a Paradox!
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It would be foolish, or at best naive, for any of us to believe or even infer that what works for others will work for you as well. The Vision process, or Visioneering, is included in that statement. There is no cookie-cutter formula that works and produces for everyone. However, there is a common development route, or process, that can be modified to suit your environment, and it will work for everyone if allowed to. There are questions to ponder and ask at the inception of the Visioneering process.
Why is this important? It is important because every leader, church, or organization is not ready to undertake a successful Visioneering process. Before you waste your time and that of others you need to validate that this is the right thing for you to do.
To do this you will have to determine some things. Every church or business has its own unique and distinguishing traits and characteristics, including but not limited to:
· The number people and talents it has available
· The unity it either has or doesn’t have
· The spiritual maturity and understanding level of the people
· The level of commitment to excellence and continuous improvement
· The work ethic
· The corporate attitude
· Financial and resource strengths and/or weaknesses
What are yours? Write them down clearly and concisely. Do the necessary research. Thoroughness and honesty are absolutely essential.
Next, of course there are many other ingredients that must be considered as well, including but not limited to:
· The connection between the leader and the people
· The level of trust and confidence in leadership
· The size and commitment to and understanding of teamwork
· The organizational structure
· Area demographics (white or blue collar/wealthy or welfare/educated or non-educated/innovative or non-innovative/adaptability to change or resistance to any change, multicultural blend and ethnicity traits/ and etc.)
· The culture of the area and of the church
Once again, write these down clearly and concisely as well. Do the necessary research. Thoroughness and honesty are absolutely essential.[ read more...]
One of the most exciting and powerful methods of preaching is to share the story (biography) of a character in the Bible. This method is extremely valuable in building people and moving people from one level of ministry to another. God's desire is to grow His Kingdom. His Word is full of ordinary and less than ordinary people who He used to accomplish this purpose. It would behoove us as pastors and leaders to use this method of preaching a lot more than we have in the past. There is nothing more powerful than the testimony of a life that has been transformed by the power of God.
The proper definition of biographical preaching is;
The method of preaching that expounds a Bible character, based on careful exegesis, to deduce the principles that regulated his or her life and to apply the principles to the modern listener. A simpler definition is; Biographical preaching is preaching that provides a biography of the life of a person from scripture and draws a moral lesson or message from that story.
It is essential to understand that all preaching in its most basic of forms is (or at least ought to be) expository in nature. By that I mean that every scripture you share in a sermon should be exposed and expounded upon. Even when only one verse is used in a topical sermon, there is a degree of exposition that takes place. In the same sense, biographical preaching is a type of expository preaching. You are telling the story of an individual rather than the story of a chapter or a book. Instead of exposing a passage of scripture, you are exposing the life of a person in scripture. Your text may include several passages of scripture about the character.[ read more...]
The word 'pastor', or any other form of it, occurs only nine times in the Bible, and once in the New Testament.
We find this reference in...
11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
The Greek word for pastor is, "poimen," which simply means a shepherd. The Hebrew word for pastor also means shepherd.
In modern day church culture, a pastor has also become much more than that. Unfortunately, the pastor has taken on every part of the five-fold ministry himself, thereby taking on offices not intended for him. This has led to much confusion and frustration for many who are pastors or feel led to become a pastor.
In modern vernacular, a pastor has become ' a one man, do it yourself, even though I am not really qualified to, kind of leader.' As Lee Stoneking stated, we have become a 'pastor driven organization.'
With that in mind, the very first thing that every pastor should consider is:
1. Is my office of pastor fulfilling God's role for a pastor?
A pastor is primarily a shepherd, somebody who cares for, protects and provides for every sheep in his flock.
· He is also the overseer of the flock.
· He is one who has experience.
· He must have a ready mind.
· He must manage the affairs of his flock.
1 Peter 5:2
2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
As the shepherd, the pastor can also serve the role of the teacher. The pastor feeds his sheep through the teaching and preaching of the word.
28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
The Word of God is our 'bread of life', the pastor must be ready and able to teach and relate the scriptures to every member of his flock.
There isn't any one man who can fulfill the modern-day role of a "pastor." You can only fulfill the role of pastor as God designed -- as part of the five-fold ministry. Otherwise you will fail God, yourself, and most importantly, all of the people that you lead.
You need help, you can't do it all alone. If you want to succeed and grow your church you must operate as a pastor in the scope of the five-fold ministry.
11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
As a pastor in this era of the church, you will have to be the one to re-instate the offices of the five-fold ministry in your church, it is up to you, nobody else will do it.[ 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...]
Few people will deny the theory that a local church stops growing as the size of the church building reaches 80% capacity. The reason for this is purely human and not so spiritual. Most people simply will not tolerate feeling crowded in the pews. Using chairs instead of pews helps this problem somewhat, but eventually the congregants feel like their space is being invaded and they soon become uncomfortable. However this is not the biggest reason why churches plateau and stop growing.
We use the analogy that a fish will only grow to a certain size in a small fish bowl but in a larger pond for instance, the fish can grow much larger. I’m not so sure however that God’s church should so easily be compared to a fish. I suggest that the building is not necessarily the problem in most cases. In fact, we have all seen churches who were literally bursting out at the seams. In many parts of the world today, revival is happening at an unprecedented rate. Pews are packed and chairs are in the aisles. Some churches are utilizing 2-3 services per day to accommodate the crowds.
While it is true that most people don’t like to be in a crowded atmosphere, it is also true that people will come when they are being fed. Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me Peter?” Peter responded in the affirmative and when he did, our Lord told him to “Feed my sheep.” He did not tell Peter to house them or get them plenty of exercise. He told him to “Feed Them”.
People who are starving in the natural will do everything they can to get even the smallest amount of food or water. Something within them drives them on as they struggle to find something to fill their belly. It is very sad that much of our world’s population goes to bed hungry and starving every day.
We are also living in a day when people are starving spiritually. People are eating almost anything that comes along spiritually speaking. Truth is often ignored in the famished rush to simply fill the starving spiritual belly. People don’t care what you are preaching, just so it answers some of the gnawing that is in their heart and soul. An alcoholic will receive the five (or is it six) step program and ignore the friend who is telling him about the delivering power of the Holy Ghost. Why is that? He’s hungry. He wants whatever is going to fill his spiritual belly. Mentally he makes the decision to do what is simplest and easiest to fix his spiritual problem. That couple in the divorce court often don’t care if you say God is 3 or God is 1. They are looking for the thing that is going to keep their family together.
What’s the greatest church growth program you could have this year? Feed His sheep. People won’t mind sitting closer to one another when your ministry is holding their family together. When the Holy Spirit is the element that is behind every song and every sermon, people will crowd in to see and hear what is going on.[ read more...]
- Maintain your confidence by being in right relationship with God. You can’t be objective or discerning if you’re not in good standing with God. A strong relationship with God gives you the grace and confidence to deal properly with difficult people.
- Remember over- reacting will only accentuate the conflict and confuse the issue.
- Hold realistic expectations. Make sure the difficult person can reach your expectations. You may be expecting him to do or be something that is impossible.
- Quit trying to change the difficult person. Give up your rights and expectations regarding this person. Accept the fact that you can’t change him, but you can change your reactions to him.
- Refuse to play his games. He may attempt to use you or make you feel guilty or obligated. Recognize the emotional games, and don’t participate.
- Don’t allow yourself to become the difficult person’s slave. Be honest with yourself and learn to say no.
- Keep a proper spirit and attitude. Maintaining credibility is the greatest struggle. Don’t let bitterness, anger, or resentment grow.
Here are a few things to remember when taking up the offering.
Don’t be timid or embarrassed to ask people for money. It takes money to make ministry happen.
Teach your people to give financially to the church. You are robbing them of a tremendous blessing if you are not teaching them to give tithes and offerings. It is the job of the ministry to instruct people how to give financially to God’s work.
Be the first to give. Instruct your ushers to take the offering from the platform first. The Pastor should be the first to give and then anyone who is seated on the platform. Preachers, musicians, singers, everybody should be instructed to be an example in giving in every service. Rule number 1 – If you are on the platform, you must give in every offering. (This serves as an example to the rest of the congregation. You will be amazed at the increase in offerings when your congregation begins to notice the leadership of the church being the first to give.
Tell the ushers to slow down – Recently I visited a church where the ushers went so fast collecting the offering that people did not even have time to get their wallets out before the ushers were finished. Slow them down. People need time to dig deep.[ read more...]
Bi-vocational ministry is an essential weave in the fabric of the church today. It is a common and yet very misunderstood form of ministry, and often even by those involved in it.
The term “bi-vocational” infers that a person has two vocations. If a pastor or minister is bi-vocational it indicates he or she has another source of income beyond the church.
The term “bi-vocational” does not mean “part time”. One may be receiving a partial salary, but in reality he is still a full-time pastor or minister. Perhaps the best way to define a pastor who receives all of his income from a church is “fully funded”, not “full-time”.
In today’s challenging economy many individuals choose the role of bi-vocational ministry over a fully funded one. If you are one of those I assure you that you are not on an island alone. It is important that you accept your bi-vocational role, as a valid form of ministry, but also that you understand its potential limitations.