Several years ago, during his first year of Law School, Jonny talked with his wife, Kayla, and wondered about his future. He wanted to help people, and he was becoming increasingly convinced that the way God would do that through him would not involve the practice of Law. His first year of Law School became his last year, as he decided to transition to Seminary and prepare for ministry. He was ready to up his game as a church leader.
For the past ten years, I had been thinking about pursuing a graduate degree. After a solid four year Bible College degree I got my Master's in Children - four of them! We had children when we were young, because we wanted to be young grandparents. But that also meant I would have to be an old graduate student, which I happily accepted. When my oldest graduated from college, I began my M.Div.
I had decided four years earlier which school I would attend, and knew I needed to up my game if I was going to stay in ministry for the long haul. Now with only a few months until the completion of my M.Div., I already understand that I will have to continue upping my game even after I graduate. Someday I will write some blog posts about attending Seminary after twenty-five years of ministry and four children. So glad I did, and it has been a phenomenal experience!
Jonny and I knew we needed to up our game when we started 200churches. It's funny, the more we up our games, the more we realize we need to! It's like running a race where they keep moving the finish line - the truth is, one never crosses the finish line in the learning race. It's always out there, just over the next hill, just out of reach.
Pastor, what are you doing these days to up your game? I wonder how many of you are in ruts. I wonder how many have just gotten comfortable, or lazy. What you did to get where you are actually is good enough to keep you there. People are happy, everything's fine, no one's complaining. Well? Are you doing anything to better yourself? To get smarter or sharper? Doing anything to think outside the box, color outside the lines, or operate outside your comfort zone?
This is the part in the blog post where the blogger gives you five practices, three disciplines, or eight approaches to growing yourself as a leader, pastor, or whatever. But I resist. I just want to leave you with a simple question - What are you doing to up your game as a small church pastor?
That's all. That's it!
Have a wonderful weekend loving and leading your people!
P.S. Do you have a graduate degree?
Today, on episode 60 of the 200churches Podcast, we talk again with our friend Karl "The Shark" Vaters about his mission statement at NewSmallChurch.com, which is, Encouraging, Connecting, And Equipping Innovative Small Church Leaders. This is the third of his 12 Essentials blog posts, which he tells new visitors to his blog to read first.
On this episode, we really talk about all things small church pastor, with an edge toward encouraging pastors of small churches to stand tall, and understand the impact that is theirs as they pastor their church - NO MATTER THE SIZE! In small churches all across the country people are coming to faith in Jesus, having been loved by his Body. I have two quick stories for you, the first one about me...
[These stories are not included in this podcast episode, you'll have to listen to that for yourself - it's a good one - but these stories are intended to remind you of the importance of small church ministry, one of the things we do in this episode.]
When I was 8 years old, my neighbor lady was in cahoots with a couple in our neighborhood to make an impact for Jesus. The ladies started a Ladies Bible Study, and in the summer they had a kid's club in one of their homes one afternoon a week. My neighbor, Mrs. Bennet, invited me to come. I said no the first two weeks, until I heard about a tire swing, cookies, and red Kool-Aid. That's when I decided I might be able to go!
To make a long story short, I heard the Gospel that summer of 1971, and believed in God, and the message of Christ. That small church is still stumbling along, with about 150 people. It has had some ups and many downs over the decades. But I was reached there before the church was even formed, and I have been a pastor for 27 years. I have four kids who love Jesus and who have and will have families of their own that serve the LORD.
That small, tiny group of adults, that fit into a living room, changed my life forever. Think your church can do the same? I think so!
Story #2 - Several weeks ago I caught two little boys, an 8 year old and a 7 year old, cousins, wandering our lobby. They said they were just "looking around". I told them they could not play in the church when no one was there. They said they weren't playing, just "looking around." I told them that when kids their age "look around" an empty church, it counts as "playing". LOL
As I spoke with them, I was very, very aware that how I related to them could well determine their future relationships with God. They recently moved into an apartment across the street. I invited them to our Wednesday night Kid's Program which would happen in less than an hour. They came, and have been coming for the past five weeks.
It occurred to me that ten years ago, when I arrived at my church, I met a little 8 year old boy in our neighborhood. Now, ten years later, Luis is graduating from high school. I, and our church, have been a big part of his life. He loves the Lord, and has not fallen to the temptations that lure teenagers today. After I met those boys, I thought maybe God is giving me two more for the next ten years?
Perhaps God will use us so that their lives will be changed?? That's what our church, and YOUR small church are all about - CHANGING LIVES as we introduce people of all ages to Jesus!
We hope you enjoy this episode and are encouraged to bring it strong and stand tall at your 200church this week!
FIND KARL VATERS >>>
You can find Karl on Twitter @KarlVaters. You can buy his book, The Grasshopper Myth here on Amazon. You can find him on his blog at NewSmallChurch.com
Monday, Monday. Oh boy. How are we doing Pastors?
Back in the ‘60s, the Mamas and the Papas cut a 45 record with the title: Monday, Monday. Ironically, here are some of the lyrics:
Every other day, every other day
Every other day of the week is fine, yeah.
But whenever Monday comes - but whenever Monday comes
You can find me crying all of the time.
You really should listen to it here while you read the rest of this post!
Some pastors find themselves depleted and drained on a Monday. I think they are the pastors who are more introverted by nature. If you’re introverted, or lean that way, the weekend just drains you. You have to be around people all day on Sunday, likely on Sunday evening – and by Monday, Monday, you’re just out of gas. You need to be alone and recharge.
Other pastors find themselves energized on Mondays. They’re the more extroverted type. They feed off the power of people and relationships and crowds – even small crowds. They have six days until the next Sunday, lots of time to prepare, and they are riding a high from all of the social interaction of Sunday.
This category, the extroverts, would be me and Jonny. In fact, we like being around people all the time. We don’t like being alone. Solitude is draining to us. On Saturdays we are tired. We can’t wait until Sunday morning and evening, when we are going to be with the masses, again, even the small masses.
No matter which you are, sometimes Monday finds us “crying all of the time.” We replay defeats in our mind from the day before – the critical church leader, the disruptive student, the ungrateful, complaining parent, the person who didn’t show up for the third Sunday in a row, the piece of technology that did not work as planned, you name it, you fill in the blank.
These days, these Mondays, these are the times when we remind ourselves of two things:
1. Who we are serving.
2. Why we signed up for ministry.
3. That we wanted a life of significance.
4. And that even Moses and Jesus experienced follower problems!
Okay, so I can’t count. I got inspired. Will you allow me to focus you a bit?
1. You and I are serving Jesus, the KING of all the universe, who called us to make disciples of all ethnicities, and share his GOSPEL OF GRACE with real lost, and real found people every day. Both the believers and the unbelievers need that grace, because Jesus bought it for us, and gave it to us to pass out with reckless abandon!
2. We signed up for this gig because we felt God tugging, yeah, yanking on our heart – to step forward and say, “here I am Lord, send me!” We enlisted because God asked us to, and well, since he asked, we couldn’t refuse.
3. We wanted our lives to be significant! We didn’t want to do ANYTHING ELSE! We could have. We could have gotten a degree in so many different vocational areas, but we chose ministry because we care about people, just like Jesus did, and we wanted to give 100%, our full time effort, to nurturing peoples’ faith.
4. Yes, even Moses and Jesus did not have a 100% retention rate. Why, Moses saw whole crowds of people swallowed up into fiery holes in the earth! Kind of wish you could… I mean, never mind. Anyway, Jesus saw crowds walk away from him and his message, and He was God! Don’t feel bad if people reject you, react to you, or simply walk away from you. You’re in good company.
Oh, Monday, Monday – ya gotta love this day! C’mon, listen to it one more time, especially if you’re over 50, just for old time’s sake – then get up and get to work. You work for the KING, and you’ve got significant stuff to do. Your ministry matters so much in God’s Kingdom as he builds his church and uses you.
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