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Top Posts of 2017 #2 “7 Indicators that you’ve Found the Ideal Ministry Spouse”

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In ministry your spouse can make you or break you. It may be cliché but it’s true, behind every great Ministry Staff Member is a great ministry spouse…and you can’t have one without the other. So whether you’re already married or you’re still searching for the right person, here are a couple traits you should be looking for in the ideal ministry spouse.

1. They’re Flexible

When you’re in ministry, you’re constantly “on.” Ministry doesn’t always abide by the family schedule. Crisis doesn’t always happen in people’s lives and the church according to plan.

2. They’re Comfortable being Independent

Ministry is a calling (profession) that requires long hours at times, especially during holidays that are traditionally family moments. Finding someone that understands the importance of having you around the kids and the family but is also able to run the household while you’re not available is essential.

3. They Embrace the Church you work at

Great ministry spouses believe in you and they believe in what you’re doing. It’s more than a job to them too. They don’t want to just see you succeed they want to see the church you’re leading succeed. They find creative ways to be involved in the church you’re leading that fit their personality and reach out to the staff and volunteers. They’re an extension of you.

4. They’re Your Biggest Fan

Ministry can really knock the wind out of you at times. Great ministry spouses know how to shoulder your burdens and comfort you in the low moments, and they’re the first ones to celebrate you in the good moments.

5. They’re Assertive with Boundaries

While being supportive they also have the ability to be firm, be honest and clear about what they need from you, and know when it’s time to call an audible for a date night or vacation. They make you want to be “better,” they bring out the best in you, and call you on your stuff.

6. They’re Safe

Even though you’re not going to share everything with them about your job, you’re going to share most things with them. Great ministry spouses are trustworthy, hold sensitive information to themselves well, and act as a stabilizing voice in your life.

7. They Understand the Pressure of Ministry

Ministry carries with it unique spiritual, emotional, time, and social pressures. Great ministry spouses “get it.” They help you carry and even diffuse that pressure.


Posted in Family, Leadership, Spiritual Formation

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Top Posts of 2017 #6 “6 Keys to Motivating Millennial Church Leaders”

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As I already mentioned in this countdown, millennials were a popular topic on my blog this year. This is the second post in this year’s countdown that had to do with millennial church leaders.

If you have any millennials on your church staff you know that they’re different. And while many traditional church leaders are quick to equate a different approach with being a wrong approach, wise leaders know that different just means different. Not necessary wrong. In fact it could even be better. Millennials can, will, and are doing some amazing ministry. Like it or not they are coming into their own in church leadership, and they’re the ones that are going to lead the church forward. So instead of complaining about them we might as well help them. Try these 6 approaches to motivate the millennial leaders on your church staff.

1. Help me Avoid Boredom

Millennials have grown up with the constant interruption of smart phones and sound bites. This has conditioned them to be great at multitasking. So don’t expect them to sit down and work the way you did with tremendous focus on one thing for an extended period of time. Help them avoid that monotony and dabble with multiple things at one time. They’ll have more fun and produce more results.

2. Help me Join a Cause

Everyone knows that millennials are cause oriented. But what most churches haven’t come to grips with yet is that one of the key reasons so many millennials are leaving the church is they don’t view the church as a cause worth giving their life to. Is your church an institution or a movement? Have you turned the Gospel into something to be dissected and intellectually understood or something that is powerful and mysterious? Help them see the church as a cause worth giving their life to.

3. Help me Manage my Heart

Feelings are more important than facts to millennials. While it might not make sense to some previous generations they think more with their heart than their head. That’s not to say they aren’t brilliant it’s just to say their motivation is more centered around the question, “Does this feel right?” Church leaders can help millennials by increasing their emotional intelligence and being more thoughtful about how their actions may be perceived and how they may affect the feelings of others rather than just give way to simple facts and plans.

4. Help me See the Win

Millennials have grown up in a world of instant gratification, access, and results. Anybody who has been in ministry for any length of time knows that’s not how it really works. Life just doesn’t work that way. So we’ve got to help celebrate the small wins of life change that happen along the way. Help them celebrate the first downs along the way and help them make the connection between their day-to-day ministry and the vision.

5. Help me be True to Myself

Millennials aren’t going to follow someone or be a part of something that feels inauthentic to them. The best gift that church leaders can give millennials is to exercise real leadership and stop leading through position, title, or power and learn to lead with humility and personhood. They won’t simply respect you for your position but instead for who you are and the value you add. In this way millennials are a gift to challenge many church leaders to lead in a way that they may have forgotten.

6. Help me Understand “Why”

In recent years Simon Sinek made the phrase, “start with why” famous. Millennials don’t just want to know your plan. They don’t want to simply know what you want them to do, they want to know the why behind it. They need to buy into the reason behind the plan of action. Help them buy into the why.


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Staffing

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Top Posts of 2017 #8 “When to Invest in a Young Leader and when to Ignore them”

hipster

A lot of people in church world are trying to figure out millennials. How do reach them, motivate them, develop them, and of course how do we hand of leadership of the Church to them? So it’s no surprise that this topic was a popular one on my blog this year.

Like it or not, millennials are making their way into leadership roles in churches across America. As they take their newfound place in church leadership many of them are looking for someone to invest in them and help develop them as young emerging leaders.

Experienced leaders are always going to have more opportunities available to say yes to than capacity to meet them. This is true in leadership and this is true in developing young talent. You have to make a choice. So, choose wisely. How do you know who to invest in and who to ignore?

Young, naïve, and inexperienced talent doesn’t bother me. But young talent that is void of the following four intangibles scares me to death.

Talent

Skills can be trained but talent is developed. Talent is something you have or you don’t have. It’s something you’re born with or is gifted to you by the Holy Spirit. You get the gifts you’re given. For instance, if someone has been given the spiritual gift of leadership, it can be developed and that art can be perfected over time through study and practice. Others without the spiritual gift of leadership may learn leadership skills but they’ll never have the talent to lead at the same level as someone with a leadership gift. I’m looking for young leaders who are very talented.

Capacity

In a world where everyone gets a participation trophy and kids are taught that they can do anything and be anything they want to be in life; what I’m about to say isn’t going to be very popular. But it will be true. While different people may have similar talents, they may have different capacities. The Bible is clear that while many people may get similar or even the same gifts, that they are given in different measure. So, no you can’t be anything you want to be, but you can be the best you that you’re designed to be. That being said, I’m looking for young leaders who have a high capacity.

Teachable

In the book of James, he Bible teaches us that “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.”  You can’t give something to someone who doesn’t want to or isn’t ready to receive it. (both matter by the way). You can’t teach someone who isn’t teachable. I’m looking for young leaders who demonstrate a teachable spirit.

Effort

It’s okay for a young leader not to have an answer, but it’s not okay for that same young leader to not go find the answer. It’s okay for a young leader to fail and not get everything right the first time. It’s not okay for a young leader to not try as hard as they possibly can to succeed. I’m looking for young leaders who demonstrate tremendous effort.


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Staffing

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Why a Teaching Team is a Better Approach to Teaching at your Church

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Although the idea of a teaching team is not a new idea, I’m surprised at the amount of churches across the country that have not embraced this approach to preaching in their weekend worship services.

Don’t hear what I’m not saying:

  • I’m not advocating that you use the “main stage” to develop communicators. Don’t experiment on your church. Instead develop communicators in other ministry venues than the weekend worship services. There can’t be a big “drop off” in gifting from the primary preacher to others on the teaching team. Otherwise internally people are going to be saying, “oh no, not this guy again.”
  • I’m not advocating that you water down or muddy your unique culture. It’s not helpful to have preachers on the teaching team that have completely different styles or theological perspectives. Preaching is the primary way culture is built in a church so keep the same approach and same “voice.”
  • I’m not advocating that your main preacher speaks less than 35 weekends a year (+/-).
  • I’m not advocating that you have too many voices on stage, more than 3 can get confusing.

In today’s world communicators aren’t just compared to other preachers they’re compared to other communicators including comedians, late night show hosts, TED talks, and every other great preacher in the world that anyone can listen to on the internet. Developing a teaching team is simply a better approach to teaching.

It keeps Communicators Fresh

Preaching week in and week out, 52 weeks a year is a grind. Very, very, very few preachers on the planet can be great 52 weeks a year, year after year. A teaching team helps great preachers preach great sermons. Not only do they get time to work on their sermons and prepare better content, but they can work together on the content and delivery preparation.

It keeps Engagement Up

No matter how good of a communicator your pastor is, they only have so many stories. More voices on the stage keeps engagement up because your church body hears things different ways from different people. Also, if you do this well, you can engage a younger audience by having communicators on the team who are younger than the primary preacher.

It Teaches the Church it’s not all about One Person

Building a great teaching team teaches the church body that ministry isn’t just about or built around one superstar with a great teaching gift. Rather, the body, when it works together as a body and you lean into everyone’s unique gifting actually takes more ground and functions better. Remember, the team always outperforms the individual, this is also true in teaching teams.

It sets you up for Succession

Every pastor is an interim pastor. One day they will no longer be the leader or the preacher. Someday, somebody else will step in and pick up where you left off. A teaching team helps make this transition easier for the church to embrace.


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Staffing

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Does your Church need to Sacrifice something Sacred?

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Knowing when to end a ministry can be tough, taking the right approach to how to end it can be even more difficult. Starting a new ministry initiative at your church is usually fun, exciting and is often full of new engagement with new people and is typically coupled with momentum.

If your church has been around for a while you’ve probably started some new ministry initiatives over the years. The trouble is, everything you start you need to work to sustain. Then eventually that ministry runs its natural life-cycle and you’ve got to make a decision. Do you kill it or let it die a natural death?

Chances are your church has some “sacred cow” ministries that have been around for a long time, have a great history, have had a great impact in the past, but are on life support now. Does your church need to sacrifice some of these sacred cows?

The Danger Zone

The most dangerous ministry to continue to invest in at your church is a ministry that keeps insiders (people who already know Jesus) happy but doesn’t reach outsiders (new people). These ministries probably still have a lot of people engaged in them and at one point were full of new people and stories of life-change. As the ministry has reached “maturity” now the people engaged in them really enjoy the relationships they’ve built over time. They’re not necessarily bad, they just don’t reach new people. They may not have even started to show decline yet, but you know that they’ve effectually “jumped the shark.” That’s what’s so dangerous. These ministries need careful attention and skill applied to move them back over to the upward slope of the life-cycle or they’ll continue to drift towards decline and eventual death. 

Foolishness

It’s possible that your church is still investing heavily in some ministries that aren’t producing many results. If we’re following the plan Jesus laid out for His Church, the results we’re chasing are life-change. However, many churches are still investing resources like staffing, finances, time, communication horsepower, and emotional energy into ministries that are producing little life-change. The book of Proverbs would call that foolishness.

New Opportunities

If you’ve got new opportunities to help new people say yes to following Jesus but you can’t fuel those new ministry initiatives because you’re still investing heavily in ministries that aren’t producing much life-change it’s probably time to kill some sacred cows. It’s surprising how often church leaders forget that that pruning is a biblical concept. You can’t follow Jesus and stay where you are personally, so why would we think that our churches can follow Jesus and stay where they are at the same time? Something needs to change.

Kill it OR let it Die?

It takes just as much skill and courage to end a ministry as it does to start one, sometimes even more. When a ministry is nearing its end, you’ve got a decision to make, do you kill it or let it die a natural death. The answer is it depends. Is it a barrier to launching and investing in the new ministry initiative you feel led to begin? Is it creating organizational drag? Are you and your team investing a disproportioned amount of time, money, volunteers, and emotional energy into it? If so, it may be time to kill it. If not, then why create unnecessary pain for yourself and everyone else, just let it die a natural death.


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation
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