Explore Creative Ways to Educate on Tithing

Giving

Telling people that it is their duty to pay tithes and offering and demanding that they give can be met with some resistance.  Consider some softer and more creative ways and approaches to educate your congregations on the subject of tithing. You can consider a tithing story before taking up your offering.

Here is an example:

The Pastor and the Successful Young Man

The story went similar to this.  There once was a man who was mentored by a pastor at a very young age. The pastor taught him how to tithe, he took him to the altar one day and pronounced a blessing over him that God would always take care of him for his obedience.

When the man was a boy at the tender age of five,  he received his first $1 for an allowance and proudly put in his .10 cents.  As he got older he got $5 and devotedly put in his .50 cents.  He got his first job working yard work and got $50 and without question put in his $5.00.  He then got a job working in a restaurant and received $200 and obediently tithed $20.

Well the story goes on to say the young man  grew up, graduated from college, sought out employment and continued to advance in his chosen profession. The man was well traveled, but still kept in touch with the pastor and remained faithful to his commitment to tithe.

One day the man was about to write his tithe check when it dawned on him just how much he was giving to the church.

He was now making in excess of $250,000 a year – that would be $25,000 to the church!

He quickly got on the phone and asked to meet with the pastor. The two went into the sanctuary.  The man told the pastor how faithful he had been tithing ALL of these years – since he was five  years old and that he never had a problem with giving before.

The pastor listened intently merely saying, “Hmm. I see.”  The man continued, “Pastor, do you know how much that is? It’s $25,000!”  The pastor said for the two of them to go back to the altar to pray.  The two went and knelt down at the altar to seek guidance.

The pastor began to pray, “Lord, this young man has been faithful to you since the age of five when he was given his first dollar.

check writingYou have blessed him with increase all of these years and he has grown up to be a successful young man.  But now, Father, he is having some uncertainties about his giving.  So we ask you God to reduce his pay back to the amount where he had no worries, but…”

Before the pastor could finish, the man jumped up, pulled out his checkbook and wrote a check for $26,000.

Explore Creative Ways to Educate our Congregation on Tithing

This story could be shared as in just story telling from your pulpits or you could even put together a quick skit to give your congregation a visual aid.  It could be as minimal as getting (2) characters and a narrator to as elaborate as getting (7) people – getting a child to represent times the young man had no trouble giving.

The point is this story whether told or acted out in a skit could be done in five minutes before offering and would resonate with your congregation for a lifetime and will most likely yield a better outcome.

Do you use creative approaches in educating your congregation on the subject of tithing? Care to share?

 

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Sermon Sharing or Sermon Stealing

copying

Is it ever okay to use other people’s stuff?

Pastor’s opinion vary on topic of shared sermons. Some believe for a pastor to use someone else’s work is plagiarism. They charge them with stealing and being lazy servants.

They further indicate that a pastor’s sermon is his or her own “intellectual property.”

Other pastors believe the message of God is for everyone and if the kingdom is advancing what is the real problem.

Although, I don’t advise pastors to re-preach another pastor’s sermon verbatim, many pastors base their sermons on the work of others.  In fact, on many occasions I have stumbled across web sites where pastors make their sermons available to others.

For example: www.sermoncentral.com, www.pastors.com, www.sermonsharingservice.com and www.sermon.net.

Not only do pastors offer their own sermon scripts, they also offer program suggestions such as music, skit scripts, and even video presentations. Some of these packages are for free while others are for sale for a nominal fee.

Why do some pastors offer these services?

A  simple answer is to share in order to help their colleagues. It’s their part in demonstrating another way in advancing the kingdom. Many pastors do not mind if other pastors use their stuff.  Some even find it to be the ultimate compliment.

Rick Warren, senior pastor of Saddleback Church was quoted –

“If my bullet fits your gun, then shoot it!” …and if you have a sermon idea that might be helpful to me, feel free to share it! As pastors, we’re all on the same team.

Who are the pastors that use these services?

  • Pastors who respect the writing and teaching of their colleagues.
  • Pastors who acknowledge that this pastor is exceptionally gifted in teaching on a particular subject.  For example: Finance, stewardship, tongues, Revelations,etc.
  • Pastors who may have had a stressful week and were not able to allot adequate time to build a sermon from scratch.
  • Pastors who are in a spiritual rut often benefit from the teaching material of other pastors.
  • Pastors have to prepare sermons for every week of the year, yet there are times we get sick, have marital or family issues and or just stretched because we have overloaded plates.  Gleaning from other pastor’s work can serve as a useful aid in assisting us with putting together a sermon just in time for our Sunday service.

Proceed with caution

Of course using published prepackaged or canned sermons is not to be used as a permanent full-time solution.  Why not? Because we have been called into the ministry, so we need to be confident that on a norm, the Spirit will guides us in our sermon preparation.

Don’t steal

Using someone else’s unpublished material and preaching it verbatim (word for word) while pretending or citing that you came up with the sermon is just downright wrong. This is especially wrong if you tape your services and load it up on the Internet for the public to view.

If we are going to use someone’s material, citing the author’s work is always appropriate.  For example, Rev. Warren cited this example, or Pastor Bob shared this personal story.

All That to Say This

If you elect to use someone else’s material, use published sermons where the author is authorizing the use of his or her material.  If you hear a message where you want to use some of their stuff, be sure you are not preaching their material word for word for this is plagiarism, but be sure to disclose the author.

 

What are your thoughts about using other pastor’s sermons?

 

 

 

 

 

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Sermons: How Long is Too Long?

Alarm clock

Sermons: How Long is Too Long?

Just how long should your average Sunday morning sermon be? There is no real ‘right’ answer to this question because it largely depends on you and the congregation you serve.

I say this because I have heard well-prepared pastors speak over an hour and have left me wanting more. Then again, I have heard pastors speak as few as 10-15 minutes and it seemed like the longest sermon ever.

On-Line Survey Reports

You may find the results of this online survey which reported how long pastors typically preach, of interest, especially in determining where you rate compared to the average.

  • 49% preached 20-25 minutes
  • 44% preached 30-45 minutes
  • 7% preached greater than 45 minutes

Facts About Human Behavior & Response

I thought it would be helpful is sharing some research about human behavior and response in order to assist us in getting a grip on what is reasonable considering the times we live in.

No one knows people like the media giants, especially in terms of what it takes to get people to buy. They study human behavior and responses to a variety of sensory inputs such as sound, sight, color, etc.  Did you know that 40 years ago commercials use to be as long as 90 seconds and now the average commercial is only 15 seconds long? That’s more than an 80% reduction!

Can you guess why?

If you guessed budget you are partly correct, but the main reason they cut the length of commercials is because of the shorten attention span of the public viewers. 

Attention span is the amount of time that a person can concentrate on a task before becoming distracted.

It seems people would glance at the commercial and move on whether it was for a bathroom break, to get a snack or to change the channel.  The media moguls had to make the necessary adjustments based on people’s behavior, and had to come to terms with the approaches which ONCE worked were NO longer working.

As a result, they created more attention grabbing clips, used clever and more innovative ways to attract views to their products all in less time. This forced them to focus on what was important.

Shrinking Attention Span – Growing Epidemic

If the world has determined that the attention span of its viewers is shrinking overall and has made certain adjustments, doesn’t it make sense that the CHURCH would have to do NO less?ADD-Squirrel

We are living in a mobile media technological age where the Internet, smart phones, tablets and computers are all competing for our attention.

Gone are the days where we can even expect people to give us two hours of their undivided attention as we preach long auditory sermons from our pulpits.

I read an article that stated that we are processing information at 400 times the rate of our ancestors. Everything is quick and instant. We text messages in short hand and tweet in 140 characters or less.  It is no wonder that more and more people young as well as old are being diagnosed with ADD or ADHD.

A Different Generation

We are in front of a different generation of people – people who are consumed with social media which, by the way, is ONLY 8 years old.

Don’t let them get bored or believe me they will be Facebooking, texting, tweeting, etc. in your church services or worse yet, you will simply start seeing your attendance decline where they have stopped coming altogether.

That being said, let’s be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. I challenge you to be like the media giants to a degree.  Find creative ways to respond to human behavior.

Here are some suggestions

  1. Always prepare and plan your sermons
  2. Aim for a goal of 20-25 minute sermons
  3. Consider some visual aids (props or video clips) to accompany your sermons
  4. Consider implementing a 2 minute skit before or into your sermon
  5. A good rule of thumb is for a 2 hour service, 25% dedicated to ‘audible’ sermon (30 minutes tops)

How long are your sermons? Do you know many pastors who regularly preach greater than 45 minutes and keep their congregation’s attention?  If so, are they using any of the above suggestions?

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Bible Teaching Pastors are Cursed!

add_toon_info.phpBible Teaching Pastors are Cursed!

Charles Stanley, a very well known televangelist, author and Bible teacher once said that Bible teaching pastors are cursed. Of course he was joking. He merely pointed out how we love to learn.  We are like sponges.  We absorb as much information as we can and get excited about SHARING new facts and information with others.

Do you want to know what the curse is?

It’s wanting to tell the congregation EVERYTHING we know about a subject all at once. We naturally assume because new information get us excited that it will ‘naturally’ get others just as excited.  But the truth is not everyone can endure as much as we can endure. If we are not careful we will short-circuit our members with information overload!

I teach classes weekly and do you know what the most challenging thing for me is?  What information gets CUT and what information will have to WAIT until NEXT week or what information gets TRASHED. When you only have an hour and a half, sifting information becomes a required skill you MUST master.

In particular, televangelists (like the Charles Stanley types) must always be time conscience as they only have, at most, 26 minutes of solid air time for their deliveries, otherwise the network will cut them off in mid-sentence.

Here are some helpful hints to keep in mind.

Be prepared.

The more prepared you are, the more focused you are on staying on point.   You already know the passage, the stories and examples you will be citing AND you will be less likely to ramble.

You can’t give it to them – ALL at once.

Remember the average person will not be able to endure what we can endure.  It may not be that they don’t find the information interesting or exciting;  they just can’t take it in – all in at once.  So it’s a good point to always ‘SAVE SOME for LATER.’  Remember bite size amounts, never try to force feed.

Leave them wanting more.

We learned this fact in Toastmasters, a professional speaking organization where speeches are planned, timed and controlled. We will be tempted to share everything we know on the subject, but we must fight against our ‘curse’ to share it all. If our sermon was really engaging, a short message will, most likely, get us invited back to speak again or get them in their seats to hear our part two.

Speak to the masses, not just the few.

We will always have cheerleaders in the crowd.  These are individuals who will always speak back to you, laugh with you and encourage you to go on.  However, as pastors, we must always pan the room to pick up the mood from the average crowd – “Are we holding their interest?”

There’s always some truth in a joke about our time.

No one, respectful, wants to criticize their pastor. I’ve heard comments masked in laughter like, ‘Wow, pastor you sure gave us a lot this morning, or I guess we know all there is to know about ABC subject’ all the while glancing down at their watch.

Don’t get it twisted, they are not complimenting us. That is their most subtle way in saying, “Our sermon was too long.”

 A little more planning sermons and our classes will go a long way in keeping people interested in what we have to say.

Keep in mind – One of the top 3 reasons why people don’t go to church is that the Sermons are too long.  Hop online to see post entitled, “Sermons: How Long is Too Long.”

How long do you preach? Do you know pastors who preach too long?

 

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Why Pastors Cheat

 

Why Pastors Cheat

Jezebel3I recently read an article entitled, Men: Protect These 7 Women by Watching Yourself,” written by Joe McKeever.  I must say it was a great article. Please take a look at the article. McKeever does an excellent job citing examples.

The article was written to men of the church warning them not to ignore direct and subtle signs. He emphasized for pastors to put up certain boundaries and safeguards to protect not only themselves, but also the women.

The article addresses seven types of women that men pastors need to be aware of.  The author is trying to offer some sound advice so that pastors will go into this thing with both eyes open to the subtle tricks and traps of the enemy.  Take a look at the list:

Watch out for . . .

  1. The other woman who wants to be your wife – (this is the woman who is ‘unhappily’ married; she’s your biggest fan and you are everything she wants in a man)
  2. The other woman who wants to be your mother – (this is the woman who smothers you with attention, cooks and buys you stuff)
  3. The other woman who wants to be your lover (Proverbs 5:1-5 speaks of this woman.  This woman is especially dangerous if the relationship between you and your wife have grown stale; she wants you and will make sure you know it; she will convince you, “no strings attached.”)
  4. The other woman who wants to be your best friend (This woman wants you to confide in her and wants you to confide in her.)
  5. The other woman you want (This woman seems to be everything you want in a woman; in her presence you feel a certain type of way, BUT you’re married…)
  6. The other woman who doesn’t know what she wants (This woman is the mixed up and needy woman.  She is always coming to your office. She may not be anything to look at but the danger is you can become emotionally drawn to her.)
  7. The other woman you work most closely with in ministry (You frequently meet with this woman to discuss ministry matters.  It’s the constant meetings ‘alone’ that shouts, ‘danger!’)

Many pastors have paid the ultimate price for sexual sins.

It is a pride issue when pastors believe they have so much anointing on them that they do not have to put up appropriate boundaries.  It’s like they believe they have so much Holy Ghost on them that it gives them ‘Superhuman’ strength like that given to Superman.  The problem is that the allurement of sexual temptation is a pastor’s “kryptonite.”

Many have fallen.  Think about it, even though King Solomon was the wisest man of all; it was the allurement of sex which brought about the division of his kingdom. Pastors have destroyed their families, marriage ended and have lost their churches.

The price and stakes are just too high to make such a gamble on a game that Satan plays all too well.

She doesn’t have to look like a ‘Bay Watch Babe.’Jezebel2

McKeever also points out in his article, the women that often time trips up pastors is the ‘everyday’ church woman meaning you can’t pick her out of a crowd.

She blends in. In fact, McKeever cites that she doesn’t haven’t look like Jezebel, adorned with makeup and designer outfits.

I always wondered about this how men in general would end up having affairs and their mistresses have nothin’ on their wives in terms of physical attractiveness.  Sometimes the wives are ‘Bay Watch Babes’ and the mistresses are ‘Bay Watch Beasts.

I believe it was Mike Murdock who once said that a mistress has learned to talk to the ‘king’ in a man while the wife insist on speaking to the ‘fool’ in a man.  That is why the mistress can look like the back end of a baboon and he finds himself drawn to her.

The stakes are just too high.

Why take the chance in losing it all: family, spouse, church and reputation? Billy Graham, the Christian Voice of America had a spotless career of scandal because he put up certain safeguards and boundaries.

These days as we hear about preacher after preacher falling from grace, it is imperative that one be intentional in honoring God, one’s spouse, family and church.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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