Today we are going to send you away… far, far away to read a post by Jonny Craig! Jonny is featured this week on Pastors.com with an article he wrote titled: 5 Things I’ve Learned as a Young Pastor in a Small Church. We know you will enjoy this article and pick up a few ideas for yourself as you manage being a pastor and a human… at the same time!
Jonny represents the best of the millennial generation of church leaders, who are coming of age at what is perhaps the most exciting time to be alive in the history of the world! His ideas, perspectives, and viewpoints are often different than my own (Jeff’s) and mine are different from his. But as we work together, and openly share our hearts and minds on all kinds of different issues in life, ministry, and the society we live in – we make each other better. We learn from each other.
Boomer and millennials make great partners! If you are one or the other, look for a great partner in the other generation – he or she is out there. These two generations complement and complete each other. The Boomers bring experience, passion, maturity, and wisdom – and the millennials bring energy, optimism, creativity, cutting edge perspectives, and a seamless connection to our current society.
The boomers know what worked once, and the millennials know what doesn’t work anymore. Together they make a great team to brainstorm news ways to move forward, and to discover what will work for today!
No matter your age, you should head on over to Pastors.com for some millennial ministry perspectives that are sure to challenge you!
Jonny's article on Pastors.com - 5 Things I’ve Learned as a Young Pastor in a Small Church.
There it is! The very first picture ever released of the luxurious and opulent 200churches Podcast Studio! If you would come to visit or record with us, you would likely end up on this sofa, for the psychological questioning and personality screening that we give to all podcast guests. If you fail the test and screening, as most of our prospective guests do, you would at least enjoy a comfortable seat and a Diet Coke! Seriously now...
Today on the 200churches Podcast, episode 59, we talk with Dan "The Enforcer" Reiland about six big words for small church pastors. Here are those six words, which we unpack with care, humor, passion, and conviction with Dan!
These six words, which are simply basic qualities that every pastor must possess to some degree, are so imperative for us to develop in ourselves. We talk with Dan about what courage looks like in ministry, what it means to invest ourselves in our people and communities, how faith informs our ministry decisions, the reality of competence and leaning into what we're good at, the necessity of patience as a tool to accomplish ministry, and the foundational quality of love, without which we will never be like Jesus!
We hope you ENJOY your time with us and Dan in this episode, and that you leave it ENCOURAGED to engage the ministry of loving people to God.
You can find Dan at his church in Lawrenceville, GA - or at his blog at DanReiland.com!
FEAR: The Great Negotiator
Years ago I met with a staff member for the purpose of reading said staff member the riot act. I needed this staff member to substantially change how he or she was doing the business of ministry in our church. Fear caused me to negotiate my message down to one that was less direct, less drastic, and essentially fruitless and ineffective. After the conversation, they likely walked away thinking that I was proud of them and that I hoped they would have a nice day.
Now, some who know me might read this and think – “Aha! I know who he is talking about!” I’m not worried about it. They would have to guess which one. Like this only happened with one person?! I should be so good.
While prepping for a message I was so liquored up in my office I was almost frothing at the mouth rehearsing my lines! I had scripture, the Holy Spirit, a backbone, conviction, and a God-ordained calling on my side! I would be ready to share this message with all the vim and verve I could muster the coming Sunday morning.
The more I thought about it, the people I would speak to, and the closer Sunday morning came, fear caused me to negotiate on some of the wording, and on the severity of my convictions. Fear negotiated away some of my bluntness and produced a more circuitous route for my words to take.
Thinking ahead about our elder meeting, I began to lay out on a legal pad a vision for our ministry. It was grand, and great. I was going for broke – no half measures this year. Our ministry would gain more ground and score more points than we ever had before. The elders needed to see leadership and vision, courage and direction.
As they began questioning my proposals and expressing doubt about my ideas, fear negotiated away my remaining thoughts, and I tossed out over half of my plans before even sharing them. Fear of opposition, rejection, and abandonment crept into my soul and negotiated with my wiser self – forcing me to retreat, call it a night, and recommit to try again later… a lot later!
Fear is the great negotiator. It strips us of leadership and value. It puts us in the middle of Mediocreville, of Almoston. We get just far enough to stay in our seat, just enough down the road to say we’ve moved forward. But no more. Not enough to claim victory. Not enough even for a first down. Sooner or later, fear causes us to punt, and to give away the ball.
Hey pastor, pssst – yeah, you! Hey mister. Hey Lady. Yeah, I’m talking to you. I know you. I am you. Been there. Done that. And I even know the verses. So do you. You could finish them…
We all know these verses on fear, and many, many more! We know them. Yet we still shepherd, lead, feed, and operate by fear. Some of us all the time, others of us more than we care to admit, and for others we have forgotten what it’s like to operate out of anything but fear.
I HAVE AN IDEA
I have an idea. Want to hear it? Can I admit I preach it to myself too?! Well, I do. I might as well be honest about it. But here’s my idea.
I think we choose fear because we’ve forgotten we can do all of those same things by faith. Faith, not fear. By faith we walk next to God. By fear, he leaves us behind because we stop, afraid to advance, then in our aloneness we have only one fuel to run on – fear.
What if we commit our plans to the LORD, and move forward with Him. What if we simply chose to move ahead by faith, or not at all. We move ahead with God, or we don’t move ahead at all.
LET'S CHANGE THOSE PREVIOUS THREE SCENARIOS
So I arrange with God what I need to say to the staff member, and then walk with God, hand in hand into the room, and in love deliver the goods, trusting God with the outcome.
So I decide my message plan on my knees, asking for wisdom, mercy, and grace to deliver his words through me. I trust in his power, and go for broke with God, trusting Him with the outcome.
So, finally, I do my homework on the front end of the elder meeting, with God, (and perhaps a few wisely planned meetings before the meeting) asking for his wisdom and his heart – then I proceed forward in confidence (in God, not me) asking God to give me wisdom and perhaps move the hearts of my elders.
WHO OR WHAT ARE WE TRUSTING IN?
Pastors, when it comes to our leadership, we either lead from fear (relying on ourselves and our own resources) or we lead from faith (relying on God, his power and his wisdom). Pick one and run with it this week. Hey, it can’t hurt, can it? Not going to get any worse, right?
Been leading from fear? How’s that working for ya? Fear is the great negotiator – giving away all the good we’ve managed to scrape together. Choose faith – it’s the great facilitator – allowing your (plural, you and God) plans to move forward.
If you are the pastor of a 200church, you especially need faith over fear! Lead, live, and love by faith, not fear. Negotiate that!
This week at 200churches we have talked about church boards. On Monday we encouraged you to give your boards some slack, they’re people too. On Wednesday’s podcast episode 58 we talked with Dave Jacobs about what to do with a dysfunctional church board. As we close out the week, we want to share with you what we think is the #1 thing that church boards need, after their relationship with God and His Word.
What is the #1 need of a healthy church board?
You might say it’s unity. You’d be close! Unity is so important. You might also think wisdom, direction, integrity, godliness, and teamwork, and they would all be good characteristics as well. As would courage, decisiveness, perseverance, and love!
But the #1 thing a good church board needs is… (drum roll please…) a good pastor! You want good board members, right? You want good Sunday School teachers, small group leaders, tech people, sound engineers, and worship leaders. And your board members want and need a good pastor!
Finally, what is the #1 character quality of a good pastor, that the board members need? That would be… LOVE! When they look at you, they should see love. When they interact with you, they should experience someone who loves them. Love tells the truth, even if it hurts. Love is patient and kind. Love never keeps a list of wrongs. Love works for the best of the one loved.
When Jeff was a kid he had a pastor who he felt truly loved him. This guy was not the best preacher, administrator, or leader, but Jeff felt loved by him. He invited him to his home for meals, took him fishing, and even asked him to help him in his full time ministry. This man wasn’t the perfect pastor, but his love for the people covered over a multitude of his sins.
Commit to the LORD your church. Trust him to heal and grow your people. All you have to do is love them. Love your board, and love your people.
After all, Jesus said love was the greatest commandment. It’s for the LORD, and for the people. What can you do this weekend to love your boards? How can you model love for them? They need a healthy, godly pastor to encourage them and grow them.
Your leadership and shepherding in your 200church will matter huge in God’s Kingdom!
It’s somewhat of an occupational good-natured ribbing. Pastors complain about dysfunctional boards and dysfunctional boards complain about pastors. Wait, did we say that right?? Oh yeah, we mean… boards complain about dysfunctional pastors! There, that’s better.
Today’s podcast is to help and encourage pastors who have dysfunctional boards. Even as we write this, we realize that we must also importune Dave Jacobs to do an episode with us where we help and encourage board members who have dysfunctional pastors – yeah, that topic!
We really enjoyed producing episode 58! We talk about what a 200church is, especially for those new to the 200churches Podcast, and there are A LOT of you! And, welcome! We talk with Dave Jacobs about how to handle a dysfunctional board, then we spend about eight minutes debriefing from that conversation, and share our hearts with you pastors who find yourself saying, “Yes, that’s me! I have a dysfunctional board!”
This might be the help you need! Click here for Dave's Six Church Board Training Modules!
In this podcast episode, we ask Dave three major questions, which he answers with alacrity and precision:
1. How would you define a dysfunctional board?
2. What is the purpose of a functional, healthy board?
3. What can I do if I have a dysfunctional board?
This week we spent a few hours with nine other pastors in our denomination here in Iowa. We were reminded again that our challenges and joys are shared in common among most of us pastors. For example, did you know that some people think that if other people “like” something on Facebook, that it means they approve of and agree with everything about that “something” they liked!? Yes! It’s true! They really think that, so be careful what you like, you, uh… yeah, you just might get it! Whatever. Anyway, apparently this social media conundrum sometimes causes friction between members who are upset when another member “likes” Budweiser or something…
As we talked with our pastor friends, we realized we all struggle with board members at least once in a while. We found out that we all could use a little more money in our budgets – you know, the filthy lucre. We wish we could drum up a few more volunteers than we have. We also hope that we don’t get gifted another plot of land that has a grain elevator – because the town will demand that we dismantle and remove it at our own expense. (did you know it costs about $15K to take down a large grain elevator??) (In Iowa anyway…)
So, our heart for the mission of 200churches is bigger than ever – Pastors need encouragement! Old pastors and young pastors, tall pastors and short pastors, fat pastors and skinny pastors, male pastors and female pastors, handsome and beautiful pastors and – well, you get the idea! We all need encouragement, advice, a little training, a few reminders, and a healthy shot of inspiration! We want 200churches.com and the 200churches Podcast to give that to you.
We also want 200churches to be the place where you find affirmation and gratitude for your work as a pastor, a shepherd of God’s sheep. We want it to be a place of understanding, and connection – where what you hear you can identify with, and in saying “yeah – me too!” you can realize you’re not alone.
If you receive anything good from 200churches, and the people and ministries we partner with, then share us on the social media of your choice! You’re smart, you know how to do it. Let other pastors know so that they can receive the same benefit and encouragement.
Enjoy episode 58! But don’t worry, there’s more on the way. Every Wednesday…
This week we are talking about a pastor’s church board. I’ll never forget how hard I laughed at a Saddleback conference when Rick Warren asked us if our church was “Deacon-possessed?!” Yeah, some of you were there and heard it too! All in good fun…
On Wednesday Dave Jacobs joins Jonny and me to talk about what to do if you have a dysfunctional church board. However… before we think about the dysfunctionality of our church board – I have three thoughts for you about the men and/or women on your board:
Board members are people too.
The men and women on your board are real people with real lives and real relationships. Sometimes we only see our board members in the board room. We might see them as questioning us (as well they should), poking holes in our ideas, not getting right on board with our programs and initiatives, and generally making our leadership tougher.
What we don’t see are the people they left behind to attend the meeting, or the frustrations they experienced at work, at home, or with the in-laws or neighbors. We don’t see their fears and failures that haunt them more often than they care to admit. We don’t see their past experiences with pastors, who ran an end run around them, failed to consult them when they should have, or simply disappointed the heck out of them when they resigned and left – with the board member left behind thinking they actually had a relationship.
Bob was increasingly irritable and obstinate in our board meetings for the previous few months. I was frustrated with him and wished he were not on the board. He had not been this way, and I assumed that my recent decisions must be angering him. I assumed, until I found out that he and his wife were divorcing. After 24 years of marriage, he just could not stand the thought of another 24 years, and he pulled the plug. He did not want to, but her incessant behavior forced his hand. Oh, that’s why he’s been this way…
Board members overwhelmingly don’t set out to make a pastor’s day harder, meeting tougher, or life more miserable. They are real people who have stepped forward, or been appointed forward – to fill a role for God and his church. Board members are people too.
Board members are often in over their head.
Pastor, do you ever feel overwhelmed, unduly burdened, or stressed out? So do your board members. Ever feel frustrated and perplexed as to how to move the church forward with this board? The board may feel the same way “with this pastor.” (ouch) Do you ever feel like you just don’t know how to move the ball down the field at this church? Your board members may often be in the same place, and feel like they are in over their head.
George was named chairman of the board he served on, and assumed the role without objection. His performance was lackluster at best, but he never let on how confused and lost he was. He made decisions he knew would trouble others, trying to find a reason to be asked off the board. Finally, he objected to a routine decision by the pastor and resigned, leaving the church. He could not find it in himself to be honest and admit weakness, and boardroom ignorance. It would have been okay. Really.
It might not hurt to admit your fears and weaknesses Pastor, and ask if anyone in the room can identify with you. Once you knock down the first domino of admission and authenticity, others will fall. The sheer relief people feel when they’re able to admit weakness and struggle is liberating if not exhilarating. After most of you share honestly, you’ll find yourselves on a level playing field and hopefully realize you’re all on the same team. Sometimes board members feel like they are in over their heads.
Board members are looking to you as not just a leader, but also a shepherd.
Your board members want to know that someone is steering the ship, yes. They also want to know that someone cares for their soul. They should have confidence that if they share their honest assessment of an issue with you that you will still love them and shepherd them, and not nurse a grudge or hold them at arm’s length.
If they had to choose between your leading them or your shepherding them, it would only take one life crisis to prove which one is most valuable.
I had been in bed for forty minutes and asleep for twenty when the phone rang and caught me fuzzy headed. Someone asked in a panic if I would come right away. Less than five minutes later I knocked on their front door.
Dave, a board member, opened the door and said, “Pastor, what is going on?! This is not supposed to happen. She’s only 51 years old.” She was his wife, and lay dead right there on the living room floor, her eyes open but vacant. I did not ask him at the time, but I’m very certain that what Dave needed right then was not a leader, but a shepherd.
Those next weeks and months with Dave were a shepherd’s task, not a leader’s. We didn’t get called by God and go to seminary to be a leader, but a pastor – a shepherd. Several years later I got to be Dave’s best man as he remarried. He needed me more as a best man that day than the minister performing the wedding. So cool.
Watch your heart and your attitude toward your board members. They’re people too, with real hurts and real feelings. They may be in over their heads and afraid to admit it, or they may not be willing to be honest, for fear they will forfeit their relationship with you, and they’ll be a sheep without a shepherd.
As one of my board members often says – “We’re all dysfunctional, and everyone’s a study…”
See you on Wednesday for Episode 58 – What To Do If You Have A Dysfunctional Board. It's going to be a good one!
What?! What are you doing reading a blog post today?! Unless you’re currently unmarried without a significant other, you should be spending all your extra time today working on “your Valentine.”
Since you’re already reading this, I have five questions for you, and then you need to get going – and start thinking about You-Know-Who!
Five Questions to consider with your spouse tonight:
Use tonight to spend thoughtful time with your spouse - he or she is your secret weapon in ministry!
I know, this was not an overtly spiritual post. In case you haven’t noticed, most of them aren’t. You’re a pastor – you should already be driving alongside the spiritual. But, tonight can be as spiritual as you want it to be.
Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day.
Episode 57 - Your Church IS Big Enough!
What a great conversation we had with Karl "The Shark" Vaters today - and you get to listen to it on this, episode 57, of the 200churches Podcast! The message of this episode is that your church IS big enough - it really IS!! And as God allows us to reach more and more people in our communities, our church will always be big enough. As I type out this blog post, I am listening to the final cut of the podcast, and laughing. Karl is a riot, and we have a blast with him!
This episode is based on Karl's blogpost titled by the same name - Your Church IS Big Enough at his website, which you should visit and subscribe to: www.NewSmallChurch.com.
Karl makes the distinction between being satisfied and being content. Are we satisfied with how big our churches are? I'm not. I'm not satisfied because there are still people in my community on the outside looking in. They are not a part of the Kingdom, and they are separated from Christ. So, I will never be satisfied, we must keep reaching people as the Spirit and the Savior use us in their lives. But, I am content with my church, because today, my church is big enough.
Whenever we talk about the value of a 200church, a small church, I am always sensitive that we don't mistakenly come across as being critical of large churches and mega churches. Again, to be clear, we LOVE large churches and we LOVE mega churches. The truth is, we simply LOVE churches - they are the Bride of Christ, His Body.
But our passion at 200churches.com is to encourage pastors of small churches so that they don't view themselves as less, simply because they have fewer people. Our mission is to elevate, affirm, and appreciate the pastors, the men and women, who lead our small congregations. So enjoy this episode - it was a really fun one to produce!
Finally, before we give you the links to Karl Vaters' stuff... we want to encourage you to share the podcast with every small church pastor you know. So many men and women are out there serving in small churches who are lonely, discouraged, and feeling like failures. Our prayer is that this podcast will lift their spirits, lighten their load, and let them laugh! So whether it's through Facebook, Twitter, or even Pinterest - spread it around!
Karl Vaters is the pastor of Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Fountain Valley, California. He's the author of the recently published The Grasshopper Myth and founder of NewSmallChurch.com, a site dedicated to encouraging, connecting and equipping innovative small church pastors. Karl is a rabid defender of small churches and has a passion for resourcing the often-overlooked pastors of those churches. You can follow Karl on Twitter: @KarlVaters.
Have you ever written a blog post, and started with the Title? Yeah, me too. Today. I started with the Title, for the purpose of attracting attention. Did you really think that I had those five secrets?? LOL! Of course I don’t! I do have a couple secrets, but there’s no guarantee… still want to hear them? Read on…
In case you still haven’t gotten it – the Title is a joke. It’s a ruse, a fraud, an apparition, a bait 'n switch! There are no five secrets and there are no guarantees. No one could really give them to you. They don’t exist, unless of course you wanted to pay people to come to your church. But again, here are some secrets I could share with you…
Well, those five things may or may not be secrets, but they are thoughts for you as you start this week.
You know, we say it all the time, but do you really understand how important and valuable you are to the Kingdom of God, as you pastor your small church? Your 200church? Can you comprehend the import of God calling YOU to serve and love at your church? It's huge!
You are very valuable. So go for it! LOVE those people, TRAIN them to serve, RELEASE them to love and give in the name of Jesus. TRUST in Jesus to lead and grow your church to its Kingdom potential, whatever that is. Enjoy the grace, light, joy, and love of Jesus this week.
Karl “The Shark” Vaters is with us on Wednesday, as we talk about the topic – Your Church IS Big Enough. We can’t wait to be with you on Wednesday for Episode 58 of the 200churches Podcast!
Jonny and I were talking this week about how different mentorship is today from thirty years ago. I had listened to a podcast episode on Entrepreneur On Fire, episode 467. John Lee Dumas talks with Norm Bour about how the generations interact. It’s a fascinating conversation that you could listen to here.
As I listened to it, I thought of Jonny and me. I am a baby boomer, and he is a millennial. We have forged a wonderful partnership. We both have strengths and weaknesses. Hopefully we complement each other, at least generationally. He has an understanding of his culture and a desire to change the world. I have experience and wisdom, and a desire to change the oil every 3K miles. Okay, and the world!
But seriously now folks… there are some very obvious differences between mentorship today and mentorship thirty years ago. Here are three:
The first of the obvious differences in mentorship between today and thirty years ago is the ability for mentoring to go both ways. When I was twenty, my mentor would tell me what was up. He would tell me how things were, what I should think, do, say, and how I should act. He told me what to believe and, if I was lucky, why. I was the mentee, the newbie, the greenhorn, the Mr. Wet-Behind-The-Ears. I was just supposed to listen, and learn.
Today, millennials can mentor up. We allow that. We let them. The boomers know that they don’t know everything, and they allow the millennials to mentor them in areas where they themselves are sharp. This humility on the part of the mentor is a very good thing. It allows both parties to go, as Andy Stanley says, further faster.
A second difference is that we don’t expect millennials to be perfect. We want them to make mistakes. Doggone it, we expect them to! We know they will, and when they do, it’s okay. And they don’t expect us as mentors to be perfect either. It’s all good here – we learn from each other’s successes and failures. It’s okay, we don’t even have to take a chill pill! Thirty years ago weakness and failure was a bad thing. You wanted, and needed, to get it right. That kind of pressure is much less today.
A third difference is that the Internet has leveled the playing field. We both have enormous access to unlimited information. We don’t have all the special tapes, workbooks, and handouts in our office waiting to let them out piecemeal to our mentees. Nope. They have it all already. It’s all online. So the playing field is quite level in terms of information access and appropriation.
So, mentoring goes both ways, neither of us has to be perfect, and we both have unlimited access to information and growth.
How about your mentoring relationships? Maybe you don’t even use the “mentor” vocabulary, and that’s okay. How are you doing training and raising up the next generation of leaders? Can I encourage you to engage the millennials? Get to know them, work with them, and learn from them. It’s truly a great partnership – one that will keep your 200church from stagnancy and complacency, and if you're like Jonny and me, it will provide a few fireworks as well!
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