Yesterday I shared the first two, of four ministry lessons I learned by giving blood. They were, 1) Know your people, and 2) Give yourself away. Here are the last two:
Focus on the positive.
When you give blood, the first part of the nightmare process is when they stick that little needle in your finger to check your blood. I hate that. Brushing my teeth is more painful, but I still recoil when they take out that 2 millimeter needle and prepare to stick. I just never look. I look away.
Then, when they actually put the real needle in your arm, after torturously wiping your anti-elbow with a cold towelette for the obligatory thirty seconds, I never look then either. That’s the rule, don’t look. Focus on the other side of the room, and think about puppy dogs and kitty cats, but never, never watch them stab you with “the needle”. You know, the one that is a minimum of two feet long!
In ministry, when the bad stuff happens. Don’t look. Turn away. Focus on Jesus. Think good thoughts. I mean, learn from your mistakes and all, but don’t focus on the negative. When giving blood, as much as I may want to let out a blood curdling scream (no pun intended), I always think about the person who will receive the blood.
One time when I gave, they told me that they had someone right then who was going to get my blood. They said they would be driving it off to the hospital and someone who had my exact “antigen” type needed it badly, whatever that meant. That made me so happy.
So when the tough ministry times come, don’t focus on them. Serve with joy. Relish the love of God for you and freely give it. Focus on the positive.
Go the extra mile.
A couple years ago I went to give blood, and the first blood person asked me, “do you want to give a double?” No kidding, she really did! I cringed as I asked if that meant two pints. I did not think you were allowed to give away that much. She said “No, I mean double reds, double red blood cells.”
She explained that they take a pint out of you, spin it through a disgronificator (maybe that wasn’t the name), and separate out all your red blood cells, then give the rest of what’s left over back to you, along with a little yum yum solution (maybe that wasn’t the name either) to fill your veins. They do that twice, thus the “double reds”. What they end up with is a clear plastic bag filled with very, very red blood. It takes a little more than twice as long as giving the usual pint of blood.
Two days ago I gave “double reds”. I was in and out in an hour. I went the extra mile. Someone is likely happier today, enjoying a little more energy, with all my ironman red blood cells. That again, makes me so happy.
I realized that some weeks go by where I only give my expected pint, my “pound of blood”. But the weeks that make me so happy are the ones where I go the extra mile and give double. It is not that much harder, just a little. It does not require that much more effort, just a little. It does not take that much more time, just a little. It does make a difference in someone’s life, actually a very big difference!
So, go the extra mile in your ministry this weekend. It might mean one more person to encourage, one more hand to hold, one more call to make, one more encouraging email to send, one more affirmation to share, one more confrontation to engage in, or just one more conversation to have – but, go the extra mile. You’ll be so happy you did!
Two days ago, I gave blood. Double, actually…
Yesterday I gave blood. That would be June 27, 2013. No, we are not days or weeks ahead at writing posts here at 200churches. The next podcast has not been recorded yet. Jonny is in Chicago this week on a youth missions trip. We are in full time ministry mode in our own 200church. We are both taking advanced degree courses at Bethel Seminary. We take life-long learning seriously. It will just be nice when that learning does not have to be connected to tuition costs!
So, yesterday I gave blood. Here are four cool ministry lessons that jumped out at me:
Know your people.
When we give blood, the blood people think it’s really important to identify where their blood comes from. They want to connect the blood with the giver. So, they ask you your name and birth-date a dozen times. When I passed out on the floor after seeing the needle go into me, the first thing I remember hearing when coming to was “Name and date of birth?” Okay, not really, but you get the point.
They take all manner of information from you because they want a safe blood supply. The blood people know your name! When our people come to church, do we have a process to know their name, and all manner of other information about them? People want to be known, because to be known is to be cared for. To be known is to have worth. It is to be important… to someone. I want to make as much an effort to know my people as the blood people make to know me.
Do you have a process in place to get to know people this weekend? In your 200church, you may have only one new person in your church every month. They might come this weekend! Do you already know your process to get to know them, to “assimilate” them into your church? If you don’t do it with one, you won’t do it with five, or ten, or fifty. Know your people.
Give yourself away.
When we go to see the blood people, we are giving a part of our very selves to them. They don’t exactly take that proverbial pound of flesh, but worse, they take a pound of blood! And as us preacher types know, the life is in the blood, right?
I want to give as much of myself away to my church family as I give to the blood people. Jesus did. Paul did. Peter did. I want to as well. It’s hard because it goes against the grain of our selfish nature and culture, but it’s worth doing. In fact, it’s the only way to do ministry.
How will you “give yourself” to your people this weekend? Time? Attention? Care? Listening? These are all ways to give ourselves away. Staying after the service for as long as people need is one way. Listening to them is another. I mean really listening with eye contact and an open heart. Caring for them by offering to help, to drive them somewhere, to give them some money, to visit, to share wisdom – these all reveal our genuine love for them. Give yourself away.
Tomorrow, on Saturday, I will share the last two lessons I learned.
Yesterday I gave blood…
In this episode, Jonny and I answer a question sent in by Tyler Eiland. He asked about how to lead people who have been attending the church he pastors for twice as long as he has been alive... Good question Tyler! Many of us younger leaders have to deal with that reality. In this podcast we give eight ideas for leading and influencing the older people in your church.
Jonny and I had a blast talking on this topic. This is a world we live in 24/7. Although I (Jeff) am 50 years old, there are members in their 80’s who have been in our church for 60 years, and Jonny is, well, just young! As usual, there is a lot in this podcast, but here is the general outline. Enjoy the podcast!
Episode 24 Outline:
We are making four assumptions about young pastors in this podcast:
1. Show them respect – in speech and in action
2. Build relationships
c. Shared experiences
3. Ask about their lives and experiences
4. Learn from them
b. Ask questions
c. Learn from their successes and failures
5. Serve them, we mean really serve them in a tangible, helpful way
a. Visit (during life crises or hospital stays especially)
c. Honor requests whenever possible
d. Compromise when necessary
e. Assist them practically as they need it
6. Lead by example
7. Speak your mind
a. With passion and conviction
c. With clarity
d. With patience
8. Do not apologize for your views, and always respect theirs
b. Really seek to understand them
c. Tweak your views if necessary
d. Tell them what you appreciate about their point of view
Each week at 200churches.com we try to focus on one common theme. This week we are talking about the challenge of pastoral leadership – when you are a young pastor. This week’s podcast will answer a listener’s question, which was, “how do you lead people who have been in your church twice as long as you’ve been alive?!” Now, that’s a good question! We will answer that question this Wednesday on Episode 24 of the 200churches Podcast.
Today I want to begin the week talking about common leadership traps that young pastors fall into. These traps are common because, well, many young leaders fall into them. That doesn't mean you are a failed leader, it just means that what you've experienced is common. So rest easy, if you've fallen into any of these traps – congratulations, you’re normal!
Trap #1 – Believing that because you have a position of leadership, your church members should accept and respect you as a leader. Very few leaders will ever get acceptance or respect just by acquiring a position or title. In fact, they might receive just the opposite initially – resistance and skepticism. People want to see what you can do, not what you can say or how good you can look. Looks and words, titles and positions, they’re all meaningless until the action and results start flowing.
Trap #2 – Thinking that because people are excited to have you and are patting you on the back – ministry is going to be easy! There’s a reason they call the first month or two of a ministry position “the honeymoon.” The people patting you on the back are excited about their expectations of what they think you will do. If you fail to meet up to their expectations, they might back you on the back again, only this time, they will be holding a knife! Not literally of course, but figurative. Often the ones cheering your entrance the loudest will call for your ouster the strongest, if expectations are not met. So – no matter what, ministry leadership is not “easy”. Best defense? Under promise and over deliver. That’s a winning formula every time.
Trap #3 – Putting off until tomorrow what you could do today, because you now control your own schedule, and you can! The more you have on your “I will get to it soon” list, the more stress you will experience. Self-discipline is an important quality to leverage if you are going to be able to accomplish your goals and meet your church’s expectations. If you can do it now, get it done, check it off, feel good, and move on! The younger you are, the more apt you are to feel like you've got all kinds of time – trust me, the less you have hanging over your head, the better.
Trap #4 – Resenting push-back on your ideas from church leaders. You toss out an idea to your church board, and they pick it apart like a crow on road kill. You feel rejected, denied, assaulted, and dejected. You take it personally. You become angry. In reality, you want them to pick it apart. You want them to force you to make it better. It’s only when they share ownership in an initiative that they really contribute to your cause. Expect push-back and even be thankful for it, because it will result in better ideas and outcomes.
There you have it, not the “top four”, but just four common leadership traps that young pastors fall into. How about you? What other traps have you dropped into in your 200church pastoral leadership?
Today we would like to redirect you to www.pastors.com for a post that mentions many of the things we've talked about here at 200churches over the past six months.
This pastors.com post will give you some ideas you can immediately incorporate in your 200church tonight or tomorrow! http://pastors.com/13-habits-of-highly-friendly-churches/
This week on the Podcast we want to get practical with 200church pastors about using technology and social media in the church. In 2013 it is foolish for a pastor to avoid technology and social media. We live in a connected world and should leverage that connectivity to be more transparent, better communicators, and to share the Gospel in the world.
This week we have 6 ways that we should use social media and technology in the church:
1. Facebook: Facebook has become ubiquitous in our society to the point that not having Facebook is a liability. This is the fastest and easiest way to communicate with the people in your church and also the best way for you to keep up on their lives. Create a page for your church and encourage your congregation to "like" it, then you can use that page to keep everyone up to date and to share important information.
2. Twitter: Twitter is a great way to get information out about your church and events in short and concise messages. Twitter is also an excellent way to share online resources that may be valuable for your congregation. Here's an example of how Saddleback uses their twitter feed to keep people in the loop. We might never have churches that large, but we still have the same opportunity and tools available to us.
3. Email: DITCH THE HOTMAIL ACCOUNT. As pastors we should have professional looking addresses. When someone gets an email from us it shouldn't be from "firstname.lastname@example.org" or "iloveGodsword@aol.com." Stick to first name and last name and use either gmail or your domain name.com. For example, you can email us at Jeff@200churches.com or Jonny@200churches.com
4. Website: In 2013, your website is probably the first impression your church will make on someone. Before they decided to visit your church, they'll visit your website. No website at all screams that you're out of touch, a bad website* makes people think you don't take your church seriously. There are several services online that will guide you step by step through domain name registering and website building. A fresh website makes a big difference.
5. Blog: Blogs give pastors a chance to flesh out ideas that are being taught on Sunday mornings. It's important to write what you're passionate about and write blogs that are helpful to people in your churches.
BONUS: Youtube/Vimeo: Don't use it unless you can use it well. Youtube and Vimeo channels are an excellent way to share media with your congregation and to keep people in the loop on current sermon series and church initiatives. Videos are time consuming to create/edit/download so creating a channel may not be for the faint of heart.
Don't let the small size of your church discourage you from using technology in a big way. Put your best foot forward into the community with fresh content and use technology as a tool to continue to share the message of Jesus.
*All websites/channels/feeds linked to are for example only. We have no relationship to or with any of the churches linked to. With regard to the bad website, we're not trying to pick on them. We could create an entire list of similar sites if it helped make our point.
Thirty years ago when I was a college freshman, less than 1% of college students owned a computer, actually, way less than 1%! It was a net positive if you owned an electric typewriter instead of a manual one. In my first church we did not have a screen in our facility and could not conceive of a computer in the church office.
I don’t have to tell you that times have changed. But, for the better? Well, yes, of course for the better in the area of technology. However, while we can do things now in ministry we would not have dreamed of thirty years ago, there are also things we cannot do anymore because of technology. Here are at least five…
We cannot keep our people in the dark. Thirty years ago our people knew nothing of other churches, unless it was Charles Stanley’s church or Chuck Swindoll’s church. Those two guys were on the radio throughout the country. Other than them, our folks were in the dark as to what was going on in the church in America. All they had was Christianity Today or Moody Monthly, maybe a few others, but you get the point. Today, through the Internet, our people have every piece of information they could ever hope to want regarding the church in America – available instantly!
We cannot be ignorant. As pastors, there is absolutely no excuse for us to stay ignorant for any amount of time on a subject we need to be informed on. While driving down the road, my wife and I often have a question, such as, How many people live in Poland? or What does supralapsarianism mean? or Who wrote Foxes Book Of Martyrs? or What is the temperature in Fairbanks, AK? With our iPhones either of us (her, if I am driving!) can find out instantly. There is really nothing we can remain ignorant about, with credibility.
We cannot find a good reason to not communicate with people. Thirty years ago our phone line might be busy (the party line!) or we might not have been home when someone phoned or visited. Today, nope! Doesn't cut it anymore! We have no excuse to not be informing our people on what is up at our church, or to not be communicating with them regularly. There are actually too many options!
We cannot tell our missionaries “see you in four years”. Again, with technology, we can communicate with virtually every missionary we support. For that matter, we can practically visit every one of them at one time or another.
We cannot ignore new technology. If we ignore things like Facebook and Twitter, the Internet and smartphones, we are like the farmer who did not want a phone at his house, explaining “If anyone wants to talk with me, they can come right out here to the farm and see me!” The printing press made it possible to take the scriptures to the world, and the Internet makes it possible to share information instantaneously around the globe. If we ignore new technology, we are telling the world and the community we live in “we do not care about you!”
This Wednesday, on Episode 23 of The 200churches Podcast, we talk about Five Technologies Every Church Must Engage With. Jonny also tries to bring Jeff up to speed on “The Facebook and The Twitter!”
What is the single most significant way that technology has changed how you do ministry?
One man who was accused by his wife of procrastinating replied, “I’m not procrastinating, I’m just putting it off until later!” What is that one thing you have procrastinated on, but you can put off no longer? Like Popeye, you’re saying “I can’t stands it no more!” As the pastor of a 200church, your church is waiting on you to make the call, they are waiting to take your lead. We cannot afford to be timid.
We want to end the week by challenging you to make a commitment. What is the one thing you’ve thought about for a long time, but have never pulled the trigger on? Is it a financial goal, a fractured relationship that needs mending, a business decision, a personal health plan, or a ministry initiative?
Here are four reasons why you should no longer put it off:
In this episode of the 200churches Podcast, we talk by Skype audio to Pastor Steve Spear, who is literally running, (on foot!) from California to New York, to raise 1.5 million dollars to equip an African community of 30,000 people with water FOR LIFE.
Here is Steve's update from just two days ago, Monday, June 10, 2013. He talks about how difficult it really is to run over 30 miles every day. We see him on Youtube and it looks easy, but...
You will hear our conversation with Steve, who had just completed a 30+ mile run in West Texas, most of which was through a dust storm! Steve explains how a man who hated running, signed up with TEAM World Vision to run across the country for clean water.
He will literally run more than a marathon each day for over 100 days. Don’t worry about Steve though… he takes every Thursday off as a rest day, he only runs 30+ miles a day the other six days of the week!
Here are some links for you to connect with what Steve is doing:
Steve’s Story on Vimeo
Steve’s Daily Report Videos Across America
Donate Here To Provide Clean Water!
You’ve heard this old question before, right? The answer is “one bite at a time!” But who would ever think of eating an elephant?! We treat some BHAG’s the same way, we would just never think of tackling them. The acronym BHAG was coined at an early Willow Creek Leadership Summit and stands for Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal!
Many leaders do not even bother to dream big. They have enough trouble accomplishing today’s tasks, let alone think about large possibilities in the future. Other leaders consider grand goals and lofty plans, but they never pull the trigger on them because they are just too big to wrap their minds around in one sitting.
The “one bite at a time” concept is exactly the right approach to take when tackling a large and lofty goal – that ostentatious objective! If we are to accomplish anything significant in our lives and ministries for God, we will do so in small increments, that add up over time to a great achievement.
Think of it this way:
1. Write down the goal you would like to reach, and please be specific.
2. Now, to navigate from where you are now, to your desired goal, break it down into no more than eight major objectives. These would be the milestones you would have to reach, the tasks you would have to accomplish, or the projects you would have to complete, in order to get to your final goal.
3. In order, list the things you would have to do to get to each goal, reach each milestone, or complete each project.
4. Estimate (and always over estimate) the amount of time each milestone, task, or project would take to achieve.
5. Based on your time estimate, add them up and set a date deadline to reach your goal.
6. Then, just get started on the first task, project, or milestone and work through them one by one, tweaking and adjusting as you go along, until you complete the final task or project, and reach that last milestone, and your goal is achieved.
Perseverance and diligence, working daily, over many days will carry you to your goal. It may take you weeks, months, or years… so get started this week!
What is it that you need to accomplish? Go through the steps above and lay out a plan. Spend some time imagining yourself accomplish it. Spend a lot of time in prayer. Seek the counsel of others. Then, get started! You know, at some point in your life, if you have been waiting to achieve that grand goal, you just have to start!
Jon Acuff wrote a book titled Start. Check it out here on Amazon and you can buy a Kindle edition for only $9.99 here – it’s a great book! Read the reviews on Amazon – very good reviews.
Almost five years ago I laid out a path for myself to go back to Seminary. After 25 years in ministry I wanted to get my M.Div., my Master of Divinity degree. I had a good four year Bible College degree, but I needed more after all those years.
I did all the tasks necessary, and found a Seminary, applied, and got accepted. It took me about eighteen more months to pull the trigger, and at 47 I started, knowing if I started then, I would be glad at age 51 to be done. Now, three years after I started, I am only a year away from completion! The education has been so encouraging and helpful to me, and through me to my church family. You know how I’ve done it? Just two courses at a time. I am so glad I started three years ago!
On Wednesday’s 200churches Podcast, we are joined in our conversation by Steve Spear, a pastor who is running 3,000 miles across the country to raise $1,500,000 to equip an African community of 30,000 people with clean water for life. You can check out Steve’s story here, before you listen to the podcast on Wednesday. Steve is a guy who is eating the elephant one bite at a time. Running one step at a time, literally ACROSS THE UNITED STATES! No shortcuts.
As a 200church pastor, don’t sell yourself short, you can accomplish great things, one day at a time, for God, for God’s people, and for your community! Join us on Wednesday for Episode 22 of the 200churches Podcast.
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