Pastors Can Benefit From Being UNDER Leadership

I was viewing a sermon from Apostle Ron Carpenter earlier this month on our need to be UNDER leadership in order to grasp a hold of our inheritance. Of course he was speaking to his congregation. However, I couldn’t help but ask the question if pastors could benefit from being under leadership too.

Mentoring-wht1

In the Bible, a high official came to Jesus asking Him to heal his servant. Jesus was going to accompany the official but the official said, “I am a man UNDER authority; send your Word.”

Balance: Spiritually-Minded and Still Earthly Good

So spiritually-minded NO earthly good

So spiritually-minded NO earthly good

I was in a leadership workshop where we were learning how to run a church board more effectively when the instructor had on one of his slides that we should consider including a 20 minute Bible study AND incorporate “Christian Language” in our meeting format.

He further went on to say that the meeting format should be inclusive of 3-parts.  One part dealt with Call to Community, the other Call to Holy Conversation and the other Call to Serve.

Okay, I could see a need already for a legend and that’s a problem.

Although I understood his intent and as Bible teacher myself, I know all to well the value and impact of the Word, but I could not help but speculate whether this was the right setting for such an elaborate format.

A relevant scripture directly relating to the business of the church and opening prayer, in my mind seemed to be sufficient.

Regarding the Christian language, I just wanted to pack up and run out screaming. I feel like some times with all the Christian lingo – we end up getting “Lost in the Sauce.”

There is a saying that comes to mind –

So spiritually minded that we are no earthly good

Let me give two examples:

Example one:

You have a job description for your custodian, it includes a statement to remind him that he is an ambassador of the Lord and that it is a honor to clean up God’s house and you further say, that like praying, giving offerings, preaching the word; cleaning and up-keeping God’s house is yet another form of worship.

Of course, there are three more paragraph highlighting how spiritual the job is and that it is important for the person to support the ministries of the church.
Then finally, you get to the specifics of the job, which by the way, may only be a three lined paragraph that can be summed up this way, “It’s a part-time job where you will be performing general cleaning and light maintenance tasks throughout the church.”

While we emphasize the spiritual, look what we have missed:

  • Is it his/her job to also clean annex building(s)?
  • Does the cleaning include having to clean windows?
  • Exactly what is part-time 10-20-32 hours a week?
  • Who do they report to?
  • Where’s the vacuum and where’s the trash bags?

Second example:

True story. We had an event at our church where someone cut their head on a shelf in the bathroom.  All we needed was some Neosporin and a band-aid.  It took 15 minutes and having to break through three levels of security just to find a band aid.Practical Spiritual

I’m just saying, we have to balance that which is spiritual with that which is practical and not ignore the specifics of a job or a system lest our church custodians define their own expectations as to what cleanliness is while someone bleeds to death in the church lobby while we try to find a band-aid.

By the way the class was great.  I’m glad I stayed in there for I would have missed out on a lot of good stuff.  And as God is so perfect in all of His ways, I didn’t have to say a thing because a retired colonel from NSA spoke everything that was in my head. Hallelujah!

Plus he added, “Sir, using your recommended model, when do we finally handle the business matters of the church?”

Do you have Bible study before your church board meetings? If so, how long?  And just how much “Christian Language” is spoken at your meetings?

 

 

 

Stealing from the Church

woman stealing

I just read an article about a United Methodist church treasurer who stole over $165,000.

Evidently, this woman had access to the church credit card where she used it to pay for meals at restaurants, rental cars and gas. They even have evidence that she used it for wedding expenses and even for visits to the tanning salon.

This went on over a two year period UN-noticed.  It wasn’t until the bank called the church concerning overdrafts that the church was made aware of a bigger problem. After a three month investigation, the church alerted the police.

There are so many issues with this story:

What would possess this woman to steal from the church?

What was going on with the church that they had to have the bank call them?

If you were to Googlechurch treasurer steals money from the church,’ you would find that this is certainly not an isolated event.

It probably started with borrowing just a little, to which the funds could be easily replaced unbeknownst to anyone else.

Once they have established that it could be done with ease and without a trace, they up the frequency, up the amounts and before you know it, they have lost track of how much they owe back.

After awhile, this repeated behavior may lead to justification on their behalf, especially if the church is not paying them.  They may begin to feel entitled, in exchange for dealing with unrealistic work demands, feeling unappreciated or having to deal  with an increased  work load.

How does this happen?

The simple answer is that this happens where there is obviously no accountability and no checks and balances in place. When there are no system checks, churches, ministries or any type of organization are prime targets for abuse.

I sit on a finance committee and the administrative council which is made up of volunteers, and can certainly see how this could happen especially when churches have a tendency to put all their eggs in one basket, relying on a single person to know everything.

What to do to prevent this from happening?

I stumbled across a site called, ‘www.churchcpa.com.’ There is a FREE course entitled, “Church Finances 101” that I believe all churches, particularly small churches could benefit from.  They teach on what types of systems to put in place so that you do not become ‘sitting ducks’ to abuse.

It is so important for more than one person to know about the operations of the church.  We need to see how much money is coming into our churches, as well as, be a witness to the amount of money going out.

We need to spot check the credit card statements, bank statements and a have a list of our regular bills to be paid.

Certainly, this should have been an embarrassment to the church that the bank had to call them to alert them that there was a problem.  The good news is that this experience now forces the church to get organized, get In compliance and get control of their ministry’s finances.

Do you have safeguards in place against misuse of church funds?

 

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Declining Church Membership – Do Something Different

lock door

Prevent the Padlock

My friend and I were sitting in a standing room only church hall filled with preachers and lay people. The bishop of the United Methodist Church Conference began to speak about “The State of the United Methodist Church.”  In particular, he addressed the topic of declining church membership.

He rattled off all sorts of statistics.  It was no surprise to hear that membership was declining.  This is something we had heard about with all churches across the United States.

UMC Statistics

To our surprise the bishop mentioned that we had 650 churches in our particular region and that of these churches . .

  • 40% (260) have less than 50 members.
  • 75 churches had 11-25 members
  • 81 churches had 26 to 35 members
  • 91 churches had 36 to 50
  • 4 churches with less than 10 members

I had read stats from groups like PEW Research Organization and the Barna Group that church memberships across the board regardless of denomination or non-denomination were in decline; however, the UMC statistics were alarming.

Face Realities

The survival of the United Methodist Church or any church for that matter have to face some realities, for if over time a church can no longer pay its pastor, its musician, its utilities or its mortgage, closing is inevitable. And just like those dinosaurs, we could look up and face the fact that our church has become extinct, and there is a padlock on our doors.

The message that the bishop told preachers and laity was to take some risks and to do somethings differently. Our survival depended upon it. If your church is barely making it, struggling to keep members and finances are just not enough to cover expenses, you have NO other choice but to explore OTHER options.

Go Visiting

Visit some churches outside of your comfort zone, even visit some churches outside of your own denomination. Visit some large churches.  While you are there, objectively evaluate how they do church. How long is the preacher preaching and what kind of songs is the choir singing? What are you seeing? What are you hearing? What is the energy like? How do the people seem to you? How do they attract new members? How were you greeted when you entered the church. How do they acknowledge visitors?  I am sure you will be surprise to learn that not everybody does church the same way.

Check out online resources, magazine and websites

The Internet is filled with resources to help us do church better.  There are church and ministry magazines you can subscribe to in order to keep you abreast and get ideas.  The whole premise is to obtain ideas and credible solutions to enhance ministry, encourage community, and move toward your vision.

Here is a list of people I believe that will give you a great start.  Go ahead and click on their names and peruse their sites.:

Rick Warren, Thom S. Rainer, Ed Setzer, Michael Hyatt, Kent Shaffer

Recommended Books Include:

Church Growth

Go BIG: Lead Your Church to Explosive Growth – Bill Easum * Bill Cornelius

Church Growth6

The Creative Leader – Ed Young

Church Growth3

The Purpose Driven Church

 

 

 

 

 

 

..to next level. Where You are Won't Get You There

..to next level. Where You are Won’t Get You There

Recommended Magazines Include:

Leadership

Leadership Journal

Ministry Today

Charisma

Christianity Today

 

There really isn’t any point of re-inventing the wheel when there are resources available at your finger tips.  Applying a few tips can be what will make a difference in turning your services around.  Let’s learn from one another.  We are all on the same team.  It’s about the Kingdom.

Can you  think of any church leader or pastor who would benefit from this post?  If so, please share.

 

 

 

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Church Improvement – Just Start Somewhere!

Church Improvement – Just Start Somewhere!

I was at an event and was engaged in small talk with some friends who attend another church.  I asked them, “How’s things going at ABC church?” One of the men replied “Ah… we’re okay.  We’re just trying to make it like every other church. It sure would help if the preacher didn’t preach so long. Our preacher preaches over an hour.  A lot of people are leaving.  I think that is why we are having money issues.”  He ended by saying, “The good news is that other churches seem to be having money issues too.”

I thought how sad. It actually makes us feel good that others are going through the same thing we are.  While it might bring us some comfort to know that we are not the only ones going through dry spells, it actually casts a dark shadow over the CHURCH as a whole.  For example, the church is known for always beggin, wanting things for free, being broke, busted and disgusted.  Well, who would want to join an outfit like that?

Sometimes, all the average church has to do is commit to making some minor adjustments to start yielding positive results or be willing to make an investment into itself.  I’m reminded of the following saying,

Insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results.

Start with Small Steps

Shaving 10 minutes off the sermon time, include a 5-minute skit or 3-minute video in the mix and commit to a weekly 2 minute ‘offering message’ to address the who, what, when and whys of giving before taking up the tithes and offering are just a couple of ideas that churches can begin to implement immediately that will yield them tremendous results.

The above hyperlinks in blue offer sites where you can get free skits, discounted videos and a sample video on the effectiveness of an offering message.

As we embark on a New Year won’t you commit to making some minor adjustments?

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