This week on the podcast we share a conversation between Jeff and Rob Tarnoviski, Lead Pastor of Bethel Fellowship, The Church @ Franklin Mills, in Philadelphia PA. They've known each other for 30 years, and have shared countless life experiences together. You’ll get a chance to listen in on the conversation of two friends talking about their life’s passion: ministry.
Rob and Jeff have gone in very different directions in ministry. Jeff left home, Rob returned home. Jeff is in his third full time ministry location, Rob is still in his first. Jeff has moved churches in directions of change and transition. Rob’s church was focused philosophically when he got there. Rob finished a graduate degree early on, Jeff is just finishing his.
But they have also gone in very similar directions. Both have been focused on ministry. Both have invested heavily in their friendship. Both have never stopped learning and growing. Both have failed miserably and succeeded greatly. Both have wives and kids who enjoy(ed) living in a ministry family. Neither has stayed the same, both have grown, changed, transformed, and moved on. Neither would espouse many of the doctrinal and ministry philosophies they were educated in thirty years ago.
Jeff talks with Rob about his journey of beginning in a church of 80, and over 17 long, wonderful, and difficult years growing with that church to see it today at almost 1,500. Rob is a 200church pastor who never stopped, who outlasted the critics and quitters, and who is just too stubborn or stupid to think that his church can’t reach more people in his community!
Rob’s story is not one of meteoric growth. It is one of faithfulness and consistency over time. His story is one of sacrifice and commitment to a community, a staff team, and a body of believers who were willing to join the team, and buy the vision. Rob grew his church in the first 15 years by about 5 people a month. Modest growth by any means, just over a long period of time.
In 2013 America, most of us pastor types want rapid, exponential growth over a very short span of time! We are not patient to wait for results, we want them quickly. If we do not enjoy immediate results, we are too ready to jet, to fly, to bounce. Jeff’s conversation with Rob is about plodding, slow, hard ministry over a long stretch of time. We hope that it encourages you to think about your own ministry and what your expectations are…
Are you ready to quit? It’s probably too soon. Ready to bounce? You’re likely jumping the gun. Looking up U-Haul’s phone number? Don’t do it quite yet. Life, ministry, and results just take time. Don’t quit. Stay put. Love your people. Depend on God. All easy to say, right? But harder to DO. Who ever said ministry was easy? Yeah, that’s right – no one who ever did ministry!
Finally, what’s it all about?
It’s about Almighty God – our Creator and Maker. We serve him.
It’s about our Lord and Savior Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the Living God. The coming King, and current King of the Kingdom. We follow him.
It’s about the Holy Spirit of God, the one who lives within us, counsels us, comforts and empowers us, and gifts us for ministry. We live with him.
Our lives in ministry are about GOD. He doesn't call the fit, he fits the called. We’re the called. Called to love and serve. Called to make a difference in the lives of others and expand the Kingdom of God.
We get to do this! We’re blessed! We hope that this week you are encouraged personally, and vocationally in your ministry. Your leadership, and shepherding in your 200church matter HUGE in the Kingdom of God!
You’ve heard it before: you can’t just accumulate followers, you must also develop leaders. How true that is. If we only accumulate followers, we will wear ourselves out. Followers have needs and demand attention. The more followers we have, the more energy we must put out. In order to build our ministry and multiply our efforts, we must develop leaders. It sounds strategic, businesslike, and difficult – but it need not be!
The reason why we want to develop leaders is to gather a team to help us in the work of ministry. When Jesus fed the 5,000, he had them sit down in groups of hundreds and fifties. He then had his disciples help him pass out the fish and the loaves. There were doubtless leaders in each of these groups of people, who stepped forward and assisted in the serving of the meal.
You had Jesus, his disciples, volunteer leaders in the groups of fifties and hundreds, and then the people themselves (followers). If every pastor of a 200church developed a dozen leaders who would oversee portions of the ministry, so much more pastoral care, ministry training, and outreach could be accomplished. If you are going to develop a team of leaders, you want to make sure you start with people who have potential.
How can you determine who has potential? Here are four qualities to look for when searching for leaders to develop:
Spiritual Interest – A man or woman could have outstanding credentials and abilities, but unless he or she also has an interest in their own walk with God, they will not pass the sniff test of leadership in the church. Too many church leaders are organizationally equipped on the outside, but unspiritual on the inside. Look for a spiritual person who loves the Lord and desires personal spiritual growth.
Personal passion – This is not the same as an outgoing personality. Any personality: a phlegmatic, melancholy, choleric, or sanguine can be passionate. They will reveal their passion in different ways. Passion is about drive and determination to reach a goal or desired outcome. It is about someone believing in something so much that it pushes them to do whatever it takes to get it done. Passion picks up when energy runs out.
Natural or spiritual gifting – There must be some natural or spiritual gifting present for ministry to be effective. Ideally a person would have gifting aligned with their desired ministry involvement. An instrumentalist on a worship team would be helped by some natural musical gifting. A worship leader would be more effective if they truly worshiped, and were about to relate well to a crowd of worshippers. Don’t confuse willingness with gifting. What a person wants to do is not always what they are gifted to do.
Mission alignment – Look for leaders who want to take a ministry in the same direction that the church leaders want to take it. Their philosophy should align with the mission of the church. If the church’s mission is to reach lost people, a youth worker who only wants to work with churched youth will not be a fit. Their interests, passion, and gifting should align with the vision and mission of the church.
What leaders are you developing right now? Could you immediately write down three names if you had to? Do those people have the previous four qualities? If you are not developing any leaders right now, could you write down three names of prospective leaders? We would challenge you to develop leaders who could team up with you to work on the ministry of your church with you!
Part of pastoring a 200church is to raise up leaders who can join you in the work of ministry. If we equip people to lead, we can accomplish so much more with them, than if we tried to do it all alone.
Develop leaders to multiply both yourself and your ministry! How are you developing leaders in your 200church?
Today's podcast is Part 2 of our conversation with Dan Reiland. After establishing relationships it's time to engage followers. Engaging followers is the subject of Part 2 of Dan's book, Amplified Leadership. Jonny and Jeff talk on the front and back ends of this about a couple points Dan makes in his book that we don't cover in our conversation with him.
If you don't have Dan's book, we would encourage you to order on Kindle and read chapters 3 and 4 before listening to this episode of the podcast. You would get maximum benefit from it as you engage the material with Dan, Jonny, and Jeff. Click on the book link above. If you don't own a Kindle, no worries, Amazon has a Kindle reader app that works on a PC or MAC.
If you would like to listen to Part 1 of our conversation with Dan, you could go to the Podcast tab above and find episode 33.
Also, Jeff and Jonny mention the new music on the podcast, and talk about their friend Jeremy, who created it. Jeremy lives in Schenectady, which prompts a short story by Jeff about his old 1989 Mercury Colony Park Station Wagon, pictured below. Crazy stuff...
If you enjoy listening to the 200churches Podcast, why not subscribe on iTunes here, and leave us a review? It would help others looking for this kind of content to find it easier. We are thrilled to be able to encourage you in your ministry and want to remind you that your leadership matters huge in the Kingdom of God!!
Here is a quick snippet from The 200churches Podcast, Episode 37 - which will be released on Wednesday...
This week's episode of The 200churches Podcast (episode 37) features Part 2 of our conversation with Dan Reiland, otherwise known as "The Pastor's Coach". Dan is Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY.
I (Jeff) got to know Dan in the 90's when I started getting his email newsletter called The Pastor's Coach. Back then there was very little available by way of leadership material for local church pastors. Of course John Maxwell had his Injoy Life Club monthly leadership lesson, but Dan's articles were extremely practical, dealing with everyday situations faced by pastors. I was encouraged and better trained every time I read his articles.
Just this month Dan has written two articles at The Pastor's Coach that address pastors of small churches. These articles are called Big Ministry In Small Churches (parts 1 & 2). In Big Ministry In Small Churches Part 1, Dan shares "six words for small churches." In Part 2 he shares "six words for small church leaders". These are great articles and we encourage you to read them. Here are the links:
Big Ministry In Small Churches Part 1 Big Ministry In Small Churches Part 2
These articles give you a sense of Dan's personality and love for the local church and small church pastors.
We are excited to share with you this week part 2 of our conversation with him, where he talks about Engaging Followers. This is taken from part 2 of his book, Amplified Leadership. We talk about chapter 3 - Encouraging people to build them up, and chapter 4 - Inspiring people to follow the vision.
So whether you read Dan's articles from The Pastor's Coach, or listen to Wednesday's podcast episode, or both - we know you will be encouraged personally as you serve your 200church - and minister to real PEOPLE!
You can also subscribe to Dan's Pastor's Coach newsletter here.
DISCLAIMER: We want you to know, Dan has NOT asked us to promote either his book or his newsletter. We get nothing for promoting it, but we hope that you get great benefit from his book, his newsletter, and our podcast! We love supporting, inspiring, and encouraging pastors of small churches - 200churches - and so does Dan! Have a great week, and remember, your leadership matters HUGE in the Kingdom of God!
So again, here we are, 200chuches, all about encouraging pastors of smaller churches – and this week we've been talking about how to break the 200 barrier. Head scratcher, right? Well, no, not really. Because if we are a 200church only because we never realized that we could start another service, or work on any of those other practices that might help move us beyond the 200-stage, then that’s not good, right?! We need to stretch and grow. If we’re not willing to, then maybe that’s a conversation for another post…
But, what if we just aren't equipped to handle the complexity that comes with a 300, 500, or 1,200 member church? What if we’re only 26 or 34 years old, fairly inexperienced yet and we can’t do it? Should we quit and move on, hoping our church can find the “right guy” or the “right lady”? That’s where we say NO.
This is where faith comes in, and a self confidence that comes from believing that God has created you, just the way you are, to serve your church, just the way it is, at just this time in history! None of us is as good as the people who are better than us. (Now, that is a profound statement that you just might have to reread!) Really, we aren't. And that’s okay.
My wife did not choose the most handsome hunk of a man for her husband – she did not choose the best guy in the county. There were better. But she chose the guy God created to be her husband, for the rest of her life! Yes, that would be ME! Thank you very much.
Your church does not have the best pastor in your denomination, or in your state. They don’t. But they chose you, and better, God chose you to serve and love the people who make up your church. Should you do the best you can? Of course! Should you also rejoice that God created the person of YOU to be the pastor to THEM at just this time in all of their lives? Yes!
This is another case where it is a yes and yes. Yes you should get better and be passionate for reaching people in your community with the Gospel! And yes you should accept who you are, serve to your potential, and trust God with the rest. Just do your best, and trust God with the size of your church.
For whatever reason, God chose guys named Jeff and Jonny to love and serve the people of our church for just this time in the life of our church. We GET to serve! We LOVE serving! And we are accepting of our weaknesses, and undulating in our abilities at the same time. (you might have to look that word up!)
Pray this prayer with me, would you? “God, thanks for making me just like I am. I accept your wisdom in my calling here at my church. I also trust in your power in me to shepherd these people, and reach out to this community. My calling is from you and I commit myself to you and these people – in ministry and Kingdom service. Use me. I love you. Amen!”
Last thoughts: We are so excited with the upcoming episodes we have to share with you! We have some great guests lined up, and great content and conversations we know will encourage and inspire you as you pastor a phenomenal 200church! If you haven’t yet, subscribe to both our blog and podcast, and we would be honored to walk alongside you in ministry.
As we said in Monday's post, today's podcast is based on an article by Timothy Keller, New York City pastor and author, titled Leadership and Church Size Dynamics. This article describes churches at each size level, and identifies three things: 1) the character of a church that size 2) How that size church grows, and 3) what it takes for that size church to break through the barrier to the next size category.
Keller says that a 200church's character is highly relational. The people all want to know everyone in the church personally, and they feel responsible to be a part of any ministry or event that takes place. Communication is still informal, and the pastor is in the role of a shepherd.
Change still happens relationally and from the bottom up, and is processed by the whole congregation, and the leaders generally won't make a decision if it will cost them any church members.
How a 200church grows is that newcomer's are attracted by having relationships in the congregation. In churches under 100, people are attracted by having a personal relationship to the pastor.
What it takes to move a 200church across the 200 barrier and toward the 300 range is five-fold:
Is there anything in your 200church that is keeping it under 200 people? What is keeping your church from growing?
There it is! The question we shouldn't ask at 200churches, right? After all, we celebrate the small church on this site don’t we? Well, yes and no. We celebrate a small church when a small church has reached its Kingdom potential. But if there is something that is keeping your church from reaching and growing disciples, then we would love to help you discover what that is, so you can continue on your way to whatever is your church’s Kingdom potential!
On this week’s podcast we are jumping off an article by Timothy Keller – Leadership and Church Size Dynamics: How Strategy Changes with Growth. We are talking specifically about the content of pages 7-9 which deal with the character of a 200church, and what it takes to cross the 200 barrier to the next size category.
Jeff and Jonny get into a little conflict on this subject regarding leadership gifting versus leadership capacity. Jeff contends that some pastors simply do not have the leadership capacity latent within them to grow a church past 200 members. Jonny rather sees gifting as the issue, and views some pastors gifting more as shepherds than leaders, and resists the concept of capacity limitations. You will have to decide for yourself when you listen!
Today we would offer two suggestions:
1. You should read Timothy Keller’s article. It is a fantastic and revealing read, that every pastor should take in and consider in light of their leadership.
2. Ponder the concept of a “single cell mentality” in a church, maybe yours? This concept was communicated by Jim Powell from the 95Network. in one of his coaching sessions titled “Breaking the 200 Barrier.” It’s very insightful. Maybe Jim will be offering more free seminars in the future.
Basically the single cell mentality in a church is where the people believe they all need to meet together, at the same time, and in the same room, so that they can all see each other and get to know each other. They mostly view multiple anything as divisive and harmful to the unity of the church. They also thing that if the church doors are open, they need to be there, so they need to participate in most everything.
If they are forced to choose between two equally good ministries occurring on the same night, they are frustrated and wonder why the church is double-booking events. If they have to say “no” to something, they feel guilty and can get angry for being put in such a position.
This single cell mentality is one of the paradigm shifts a church needs to make (says Keller), in order to move past the 200 barrier.
So, read the article and grade yourself as to your acceptance/rejection as a church of the “single cell mentality.” Then, listen to the podcast on Wednesday, and referee the fight between Jeff and Jonny. They both think they are right!
Your leadership in your 200church is a blessing to your people and makes a huge difference in the Kingdom of God!
Talk about being distracted in ministry. Sometimes those of us in ministry need to be reintroduced to Jesus, the Christ – you know, our boss?! Oh, don’t get all sanctimonious on us now. We know how it is – we get busy playing counselor, activity organizer, message preparer, administrator, email answerer, text replier, IT specialist, janitor, or, heaven help us, bulletin stuffer – and we forget who we work for, love, serve, and should be introducing people to!
Last night I (Jeff) was working with some 5th graders in our kid’s program, and one of the questions he was working on said “How can you do that?” It was in the context of sharing the Gospel with another person, and how we should do it. He looked at me and said, “What’s the answer to this question?”
Well again, the question to this 5th grader was, how could he do that? How could he share the Gospel with a friend? Now, just how do I answer that question? Give him the four steps to eternal life? Recite the Roman’s Road and suggest he memorize it canned and parrot it back to his friend? Was he to deliver information to another person? Probably none of the above.
I asked him “What about Jesus is good news to you?” None of his answers were satisfactory. I don’t think he had ever internalized it, the Gospel message, or him, Jesus. What was I doing in that moment? How could I get him to understand just how very much this Jesus, the Son of God, loved him, Jack – with such reckless and grace-filled abandon? And how could I get Jack to understand that until Jesus meant much to him personally, he could never really share him, Jesus, with another?
Today I thought about how much Jesus means to me. Yeah, that’s the ticket, just how much does Jesus mean to me? Then I was reminded how very much I fear forgetting Jesus in all the hustle and bustle of ministry details, people, events, tasks, deadlines, and worship services. Usually during the song/music time in the service I focus on Jesus… mostly. But I want to be focused on him all week long.
It’s a challenge to remember Jesus in everything and at all times. He bled and died to call us to heaven, and make us fit to enter. A friend of mine once said, many years ago, “God doesn’t call the fit, he fits the called.” That’s true from the moment of salvation to the last message I’ll ever preach on this earth. Jesus fits the called. And you and I as 200church pastors are among the called, and are specifically, the “called to ministry.” And Jesus fits us, the called, for ministry. Thank God!
So, Jonny and I wanted to take this opportunity to say, “Grace and Peace to you this weekend!”, and to remind you about Jesus. Jesus.
Jesus. That’s all.
We all know what it feels like to get some momentum going in our 200church. Things are going smoothly, we have buy in from our people, leaders are stepping up and making things happen. Life is good. Then, inevitably, something happens that distracts us. A squeaky wheel needs some grease. A fire gets started that needs to be put out. Right when we think things are going as well as they possibly can, distractions arise that threaten to knock us off course.
Sometimes, the distractions that come up happen because of the momentum. Some people don't like to change or move and they cause a little friction. But more often than not, the distractions are completely unrelated. Out of left field. Those distractions are the worst. When you're focusing your energy at moving toward a particular ministry or goal, the last thing you need is a peripheral problem dragging you away. So what can you do?
First, recognize that distractions are always people related. As pastors, our job is to care for people, so in some ways distractions are part of the deal. But we still have to be effective in our handling of those situations by not letting them fester. If someone has an issue in your church, the worst thing you can do is leave it alone and hope that it goes away. It never goes away. Deal with distractions quickly and efficiently, don't leave them for later.
Second, don't waste time with sideways energy. We have to be decisive with our handling of distractions. Spending too much time worrying over them or plotting out how we might deal with them is just sideways energy that is being taken away from the momentum. Maintaining momentum requires the vast majority of your energy, so don't spend any more than you need to on dealing with distractions.
Finally, remember that you're doing God's work. If you have momentum at your church, it's momentum toward something God has placed before you. That's too important for you to get distracted from! If these were your own plans or purposes it would be okay to pull back and slow down, but they're not! When God places something in front of us, we don't want to let distractions knock us off course.
As 200church leaders, the responsibility is on us to maintain momentum. A church that is actively moving toward a mission is a beautiful thing and something we should never squander. It's hard work getting a 200church going, so don't let the distractions push you off course!
Pastor Steve Spear just finished running from California's Pacific Coast all the way to New York City - for real! This guy ran one step at a time all the way across America. No marathon ending injuries, no one ran him over, no flooding swept him away, and no blisters halted his pace. He did this all to raise money for clean water for life in an African community of 30,000 people.
"I hate running! I only had four goals: to hate running less each time I ran..." Yet, this man ran 120 marathons, coast to coast, with a goal to raise 1.5 million dollars to provide clean water for life to 30,000 people in Kenya! He's not there yet, but you can help...
Perhaps others have done this, but not many. Steve is in an elite group. He just finished his foot trek a few days ago, having spent the entire summer running about 35 miles daily, taking only one day a week off, and wearing out ten pairs of Asics running shoes in the process!
We interviewed Steve on the 200churches Podcast. You can find that interview, and links to Steve and the organization he’s partnering with, World Vision, RIGHT HERE. If you skip over to our Podcast page by clicking the tab at the top of this page, you can download the mp3 of Episode 22 and listen to it anytime. (Right click on the "download the mp3" link and select "save link as...")
Jonny and I want to say CONGRATULATIONS to Steve and encourage you to consider watching his story here, and giving to his cause – to provide clean water for life to men, women, and children in Africa.
God bless you Steve. And… you da man!
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