This post is mostly for bi-vocational pastors. You are a busy group of pastors. You work another job, take care of family, and do as much ministry as you can in your free time.
You already know that the most important work you can do, after loving and serving your family, it to just be there for your church family. There are crises and emergencies that require your attention and attendance, and sometimes message prep time gets used up.
We have a suggestion for you! What if you chose an online option for a short series at your church? There are so many really good messages that could truly teach your people significant spiritual truth – why let them hang out on the Internet, doing your church family no good?! Use them and use them up!
Here is a short list of pastors who have much of their sermon and series libraries online. These messages are available for free, and some of them also have message notes and small group discussion questions to accompany them. Just in this list there are thousands of messages and hundreds of series.
Craig Groeschel at http://www.lifechurch.tv/watch/
Andy Stanley at http://northpoint.org/messages/
Greg Boyd at http://whchurch.org/blog
Bruxy Cavey at http://www.themeetinghouse.com/teaching/sermon-archives/
David Whiting at http://www.northridgerochester.com/Media/Series
Rick Warren at http://saddleback.com/watch/media/series
Bill Hybels at http://media.willowcreek.org/category/weekend/
Kerry Shook at http://www.fotw.org/media
Greg Surratt at http://www.seacoast.org/resources/
Pastors, especially bi-vocational pastors – we could not do this just ten years ago! Today there are more delivery systems than ever before to bring great messages to your church family. This is one way to do it.
If you use some of these messages, let your church family know ahead of time what you are going to do. Let them know that this is for you to get a few weeks rest and renewal, and then just push play.
Jeff & Jonny
We talked to Karl Vaters from NewSmallChurch.com about his blog post titled, It's Time For Small Churches To Become Great Churches. So many pastors, and even church members, intuitively think that if a church is small, it simply cannot be "great". They assume that there are no great small churches.
Do you think that's true? Do you pastor a small church? Is it a great church? Or, are you absolutely too humble to ever claim that your small church is a great church?!
Pastor, when others ask you about the people in your church, does the word "great" ever slip through your lips? It does?! Well then, that settles it, you CAN have a great small church!
We say it over and over, we have great people in our church! We can then go on to describe our leadership, then those who serve in our ministries, those who have been around for decades, some who have been around for just a few months or years and have made a huge difference, etc.
We think that the people in your church would love to be members of a great church - without needing to attend a megachurch to do it. They should be able to know that their small church can do great things for God and be a great church.
Again pastor, it's about self-esteem, perception, and perspective. Who does Jesus say you are? How does the Word of God describe your people? Who indwells the people in your 200church? That's right, Jesus says you're his friends, the Word of God describes your church family as righteous children of the living God, and the Holy Spirit of God indwells every single believer who worships within your walls. THAT, my friends, is a GREAT CHURCH!
We hope that you are encouraged to pastor a great small church. Any church, gathering to worship the Living God, and his Son, our Lord Jesus, in the power of the Spirit - should use no less descriptive a word!
It's all about how you view yourself, and how you understand God's view of you.
Enjoy episode 85 of the 200churches Podcast!
Every once in a while, size is important - like this pizza slice from Two Ton Tony's Pizzeria in New York. While on vacation this month, Jeff took his son and his nephews for lunch - it was reported to be both huge, and delicious!
So many times us pastors end up doing ministry alone. We don’t mean to, we’ve just gotten really good at it.
Here are five reasons why we think you should not do ministry alone:
You are facing a new church/school year. You are planning for the fall. You are ramping up for a new ministry year. For the sake of your people and your community, and for the glory of God, don’t do ministry alone!
Enjoy the company of the Savior who loves you and wants to live his grace through you – into the lives of your people. Paul said, “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20)
You are a pastor, a servant of the Living and Almighty God – an ambassador of the Savior of the world. Whoever you have to minister to this weekend, do so with all of your heart. And do it with Jesus.
Pastor, our prayer for you is “Father, would you use us this weekend, and would you allow each of us to love our people with the love that you have for us? Please encourage each pastor in the way that he or she needs to be encouraged and built up. May they know the confidence that comes from doing ministry with YOU. Amen!”
A DIFFERENT EPISODE
This episode is different from our usual 200churches Podcast episodes. It’s just Jeff and Jonny talking about something near and dear to their hearts – small church pastors, and the future of 200churches. They are busy this week, and I, the 200churches Gnome, am again writing a blog post for them.
In early July they invested significant extra time creating and producing six summer episodes – so that they could then take some mission trips and vacation time. The last episode they created was this one, Episode 84 - The Future of 200churches - A Personal Podcast From Jeff & Jonny.
This episode was not planned, they had no notes, there was no more than a five minute conversation preceding its recording. They had finished a couple episodes that morning and just felt like they needed to talk to their listeners about what was on their mind, and the future of 200churches. I have already listened to it, and I hope you enjoy it.
This week they are back and busy stepping into the new school/church year with staff and board meetings, administrative work, and ministry to people in the congregation. But they have also talked about the 200churches group of pastors. They’ve heard from many of you this summer and care about how they can help to encourage you in the future.
They will be traveling to the Twin Cities area of Minnesota next week to meet up with some special guests and record several podcasts for you. There are some great episodes coming!
They have also been closely watching the happenings in Ferguson, MO. The Kingdom of God is about all people, and when “God so loved the world,” there was no color ranking. As the 200churches Gnome, I have heard them talking about the issue of race, privilege, and power in our country. They think that as Christians, we really need to attempt to see the world through our brothers’ eyes.
The issue of race is so charged today, and it seems like anything that is said on the subject gets hyper analyzed and scrutinized. But they are just trying to listen, trying to understand what is fueling the passion of so many, and trying to care about a family who has lost a son, and a community that doesn’t feel safe in their own streets, or with their own police.
They know that there are small churches in Ferguson who need the power of the Spirit to minister to the people of the community. Kingdom people must live Kingdom values and care, serve, and love the people of Ferguson. They are praying that through this tragedy, eyes would be open, hearts would be changed, and Christians would live out the heart of Jesus.
Would you join them in praying for the pastors and churches of Ferguson? Would you join them in praying for the family of Michael Brown? Would you join them in praying for peace in their community?
I know, it seems weird that the 200churches Gnome would have to write this post about serious topics, but then again, Jeff and Jonny are pretty weird! So I guess I can write it.
They wanted me to remind you that next Wednesday is the last Wednesday of August and that they will have Dan Reiland on the podcast with them. I’m not sure who that is, personally, but I’ll assume you know him.
Enjoy episode 84, and pray for the folks in Ferguson, MO.
Recently, in the last few months, we have listened to our podcast and felt like it would be easy for a large church pastor to be somewhat stung by some of the things we have said on the podcast. We don’t like that!
WE ARE SORRY
That is not a trick paragraph. We really do not like that. So, we just want to say that sometimes, when we are attempting to encourage and affirm small churches and their pastors, we may inadvertently say things that sound critical of larger churches – and we are sorry! We love all churches. We respect all pastors, of any size church!
Jeff has been on staff in churches from thirty to seven hundred. Jonny has served in large and small churches. We love the church. We never want to be critical of large churches, their motives, or their methods; just as we would not want to be critical of small churches and their motives or methods.
Being critical is like picking all the low hanging fruit – it’s so easy! Of course there are a lot of things to criticize – that’s life, right? So being critical is not our purpose, and not our focus. Our focus is encouragement. Our intention is that you will never hear us being critical of others – except each other, in jest!
Communication is a challenge, and we’ve communicated a lot! So we are going to be extra diligent to screen our language so that we are affirming small church pastors, without sounding down on large churches. The end.
HAVING SAID THAT...
WE MAKE NO APOLOGY for being focused on PASTORS OF SMALL CHURCHES! We will always believe that small church pastors are on the front lines, battling not against flesh and blood, but against the forces of spiritual darkness, and against wickedness in high places (yes, just like large church pastors!).
But, small church pastors often battle on these front lines with little support, few comrades, and great exhaustion. These men and women need encouragement and affirmation, and we love giving it to them, and finding great guests to help us along the way!
Check out a previous post/episode where we say we LOVE large churches - with Karl Vaters!
This week on episode 84, we share from our hearts about some thoughts and dreams we have as we look ahead for 200churches. As we write this, Jeff has just finished his final assignment, less than 48 hours ago, for his Master’s degree. He will have some more time to dream and invest in 200churches.
We look forward to 200churches.com and the 200churches Podcast reaching more and more pastors with encouragement, training, support, of course humor, and tons of affirmation!
Today and tomorrow are like leadership Christmas! It's the most wonderful time of year: Global Leadership Summit at Willow Creek! If you didn't make it to the event or a satellite, you missed out! Luckily, Jeff and I were there to glean some lessons for you!
One of our favorite sessions of the day was from Patrick Lencioni, and from what Bill Hybels said, he rates among the top speakers every year!
Patrick's talk was titled "The Three Most Dangerous Mistakes Leaders Make." Here's the list:
1. They Become Leaders for the Wrong Reasons
Patrick pointed out that when leaders lead for themselves, they inevitably destroy people and organizations in their wake. Patrick argued that leaders should instead lead because they believe in sacrificing themselves for others regardless of whether or not there is a "pay off" at the end.
In other words, Patrick believes leadership is about others, not ourselves, and that the ultimate rewards of leadership shouldn't be expected in the here and now, but are eternal in nature.
2. Leaders Fail to Embrace Vulnerability
Patrick said the old adage, "never let them see you sweat" is garbage. People know you're sweating before you even tell them, so why deny it! Leadership is about being open and honest with people and cultivating relationships with healthy give and take.
Someone in the audience asked Patrick if this was applicable for pastors as well, and his answer was kind of shocking:
Pastors should be extra vulnerable! Patrick (just like Jeff!) doesn't believe people will follow a plastic pastor. Get real with people and they'll get real with you!
3. We make Leadership too important!
This was... unexpected. Basically, Patrick argued that all leaders, not just pastors, had responsibilities first to their families and then to their organizations.
Hearing Patrick say this was like a breath of fresh air! Instead of holding up organizational leadership as the ultimate principle, Patrick understands that good leaders lead their families first.
Leading your church is not the most important thing in your life. Your family is!
All in all, the Global Leadership Summit was AMAZING. If you didn't go, we would definitely recommend you register for next year! You won't be disappointed!
In this episode we talk again with Nathan Stob. Nathan is the Director of ATLAS Ministries in Orange City, IA where they work with people who have been sidetracked or sidelined, and help them to get back on the road of life.
In our conversation, two important and essential practices were revealed that will help pastors rid themselves of the scourge of pornography addiction.
The first practice is to make yourself accountable to another. That sounds simple enough, but in the podcast, we break that down and explain what that really looks like. This is not simply a matter of an accountability partner who will ask you the tough questions. It is actually much different than that.
The second practice is that of Scripture meditation. This addresses the need to renew your mind. If you've been viewing pornography for a long time, your mind is warped, and your attitude toward the opposite sex is completely skewed. You need to heal, to become whole and holy in your thinking about sex, love, intimacy, and purity. Meditation is one of the answers.
As you meditate on God's Word and his truth, your mind becomes aligned with the heart of God, and your heart follows.
We will definitely have a part 3 on this issue of pornography addiction in an upcoming episode. There is so much that we did not talk about, and would like to share with you in the future!
We hope you are encouraged as you listen to this episode! Here are two other posts that will be helpful on this topic:
Small Church Pastors and Porn – Some Ugly Stuff
Episode 43 - Small Church Pastors & Pornography Addiction
Do You Carry Pastor Porn Insurance?
**We will do another episode on the practice and benefits of meditation for renewing your mind. We would suggest starting in Paul's epistles...
Pornography. The word causes us to lower our heads, dim our eyes, and feel the communal weight it brings on our society. It’s a great money-maker for some people, a source of shame for others, and at the same time it is ravaging people’s hearts without them even knowing it.
Here’s the tough question: Do YOU struggle with it? Is it something that, if you were to be honest, crosses your path all too often?
Are you ready to rid yourself of it?
You can. You really can. Are you ready? Are you willing to do what it takes to walk away from porn?
On Wednesday, on episode 83, we share with you two essential steps you must take to rid yourself of pornography. Without these two steps, you will likely continue to struggle, alone. Step one will help you turn your back on it, and step two will allow your brain and your heart to begin to heal.
You can heal, you know. You really can. There is a path to healing and wholeness and we are going to share it with you.
Now, there are A LOT of things you could do, and likely need to do, in your flight from porn, but we are going to share two things that are absolutely essential, and are foundational to winning the battle, and healing your heart and mind.
In the meantime, we encourage you to go back, all the way back to Episode 43, where we talk with Nathan Stob about this very subject. CLICK HERE to find Episode 43 – Small Church Pastors & Pornography Addiction. There are some things on that page that will get you started.
But to finish the process, you’ll need to listen to this week’s episode, #83, to really ramp up your flight from porn, and fight against porn.
Remember, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, and firstname.lastname@example.org are always available to you, to help you and encourage you in your ministry struggles.
Don’t drown in the tumultuous sea of pornography. There is a way to safety; you can reach the shore. Have hope.
Find Episode 43 – Small Church Pastors & Pornography Addiction right here, and then stay tuned this week for Episode 83 – Two Crucial Steps To Breaking Your Pornography Addiction.
We love you! May God bless you, the men and women who serve as shepherds of God’s sheep, and may you find HOPE in the Gospel you so often preach to others!
This week we talked with Dave Jacobs about being more outward focused as a church. Easy to talk about, but challenging to actually do! We might need to ruffle some feathers in the pews in order to focus more on people in the streets.
As we were reflecting on that conversation, we thought – what could we do, as a church, that would surprise our community? We mean a good surprise now, not the usual, “Well, that’s surprising!” of a scandal or split.
Usually organizations and businesses look out for their own members’ needs, desires, or demands. Clubs serve their membership, and service companies try to keep their customers happy and coming back. The police and fireman are looking for donations, the youth organizations want sponsors and volunteers, and the fitness centers want more annual memberships.
What Would They Say?
What do churches want, from a community’s perspective? How do people in our town or city view us? What would they say?
“They want to be left alone.”
“They want a lot of property, tax-free.”
“They want more land for parking, or parking privileges from their neighbors.”
“They want us in the community to be for what they’re for, and against what they’re against.”
Churches are usually against homosexuals and same-sex marriages, gambling establishments, bars and nightclubs, gangs and drug dealers, and the overreach of local government.
Churches are normally for more donations and charitable giving, more members, volunteers, and baptisms. They want to add services, parking, staff, facilities, and technology.
A New Year!
Well, we have a new school/church year upon us. What in the world could YOUR church do that would surprise your community – in a very nice way? What could you do that would be counter-intuitive and that would bless your neighbors/community/community leaders?
What Do They Need?
What are the greatest needs in your community? What do single-parent families need? What do single parents need? What do the children need? What do the teenagers need?
What are the greatest needs of the new people moving into your town or city? What do the business owners in your neighborhood need?
What do the elderly need in your community? What do the poor or social outcasts need? What do the people in your hospital, retirement center, or long term care facility need?
What do the same-sex couples in your town need? What do the alcoholics, drug addicts, prisoners, or homeless people need?
The Answers Might Be Your Opportunity!
What are the answers to those questions? The answers might provide you an opportunity to surprise your community in a way that spreads the love of Jesus and the message of the Gospel?
What could you do this fall and during the coming school/church year that would surprise your community? Talk to your leaders and the people in your church. Have a brainstorming session. Sit and talk around a dinner or lunch. Here’s a thought – go ask them! Elevate the discussion. Find answers.
Make a difference.
Next week: Episode 83 – Two Crucial Steps To Breaking Your Pornography Addiction.
(Editor’s Note: Jeff and Jonny are both on vacation this week, but they prerecorded this episode with Dave Jacobs just for YOU! Enjoy!)
For episode 82 we talked with Dave “the Coach” Jacobs from SmallChurchPastor.com about how to help our churches be more outward focused. It’s a tension that we always have to manage as pastors.
We care for our people, we put them in small groups so that they can develop deep and significant spiritual relationships, and we train them to discover their gifts for service. Then we also try to get them to think about others and look outside the church. We don’t want the old “us four and no more” to be true of our churches.
Also in this episode we talk about the difference between having an outward focused church, and simply designing our worship services with outsiders in mind. Those are really two separate things, related, but separate.
A church service is not the same as a church. One is an event; the other is a group of people. So while we might fashion our services to be thoughtful of outsiders, we want to shape the hearts of our people to care deeply about the people who live in their community.
Dave shares some examples of churches being outward focused. He talks to pastors every day, and he’s heard of some things recently that they’ve done to reach out to their communities. Again, this is an episode you just have to listen to – print just does not do it justice!
When Jonny asked Dave what things pastors should focus on to help their churches be more outward focused, Dave shared four things:
We hope that you enjoy this episode – that it is both encouraging and helpful.
Recently Jeff talked with Dave about what he has to offer small church pastors and their boards, as a professional small church pastor coach. He is one of the few people who has vast experience coaching both pastors and their boards. You can hear that conversation here on Episode 77 - How Pastoral Coaching Could Really Help You.
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