Worship

On my very first worship service at my new church I noticed it. The praise team was terrible. They were good people that had good intentions, but they were flat, out of rhythm and all over the place. Especially one of them. He was great at computers but a terrible singer. What would you do? How would you do it? In all honesty, it wasn’t one of my easiest periods as a pastor. It was difficult to transition them to ministries that were a better fit. There were some hurt feelings. There were some grumblings. There were also lots of new people that came and almost to a person said they had been inspired and touched by the excellence in music.

I have two points to make today:

*I’m not trying to advocate for one style over another. I am trying to encourage you to excellence no matter what style your church uses.

*I agree that every church has its unique challenges and my suggestions might not work in every church. It can, however start important conversations in your congregation to make sure we encourage people to minister in their area of giftedness, not preference.

So, you have a mismatch. What do you do?

  1. 100 vs 1. When we have a mismatch, and assuming we have better options sitting in the pews (which we did) we often are hesitant to make a move because of the fear of hurting the 1. What about the other 100? Who cares for them? What about the guests? It seems unfair to save the one, but sacrifice the 100.
  2. Lead. True leadership is about taking everyone forward not keeping everyone happy. Someone has said that the “secret for success I do not know, but the secret for failure is trying to keep everyone happy”. I know confrontation is difficult, especially for some pastors, who entered the ministry because they wanted to help people. One of the most dangerous things you can do as a pastor is take away power from someone. It must be done prayerfully, respectfully and intentionally. (Remember the 100!)
  3. Teach about worship. Many pastors, because of the hot potato that worship is, stay away from the topic. That would be a mistake. Teach about worship with balance, consistently. Bring experts in. By experts I mean people that actually know what they are talking about, not people that make up stuff and use pseudo-science to prove the improvable.

Here is an example of a lesson I taught my worship team and my church:

There are 4 C’s that make an effective worship team:

Character- anyone can sing. Not everyone can lead worship. Its imperative that the people that lead others to Jesus have a connection with Jesus. Perfect, no. Connected, yes.

Competency- can they sing? Can they hold a note? Do children cry and cats miau when they take the mic? Do people cringe when they see them lead?

Chemistry- I don’t know why it is, but worship teams/choirs are fertile ground for drama. Unresolved issues within the worship team will spill over and become a distraction rather than a blessing.

Commitment- do they show up to practice? Do they take it seriously? Are they willing to make the effort necessary to improve in all areas? Are they divas?

Consider this quote:

“A minister should not give out hymns to be sung until it has first been ascertained that they are familiar to those who sing…Singing is a part of the worship of God, but in the bungling manner in which it is often conducted, it is no credit to the truth, and no honor to God. There should be system and order in this as well as every other part of the Lord’s work. Organize a company of the best singers, whose voices can lead the congregation, and then let all who will, unite with them. Those who sing should make an effort to sing in harmony; they should devote some time to practice, that they may employ this talent to the glory of God.

Evangelism p. 506

 

En el primer servicio de adoración al llegar a minueva iglesia lo note. El equipo de alabanza no era muy bueno. Eran buenas personas que tenían buenas intenciones, perose salían de la nota, de ritmo, de todo. Especialmente uno de ellos. Él era bueno en computadoras pero un terrible cantante. ¿Qué harías? ¿Cómolo harías?

Con toda honestidad, no fue uno de mis períodos más fáciles como pastor. Fue difícil hacerles entender que sus talentos serian mejor usados en otros ministerios. Hubo algunos sentimientos heridos. Hubo algunos gruñidos. También hubo una gran cantidad de gente nueva que comenzaron a llegar a la iglesia aseverando que habían sido inspirados y tocados por la excelencia en la música.

Tengo dos puntos antes de entrar a las sugerencias

*Yo no estoy tratando de abogar por un estilou otro. Estoy tratando deanimartea la excelencia, no importa qué estilo utilice su iglesia.

*Estoy de acuerdo en que cada iglesia tiene sus desafíos únicosy mis sugerencias podrían no funcionar en todas las iglesias. Este artículo puede, sin embargo, iniciar conversaciones importantes en su congregación para asegurarse de que animamos a la gente a ministrar en su área de talento, no de preferencia.
¿Qué haces?

1.100vs1.

Cuando tenemos personas ministrando en un área fuera de su habilidad y suponiendo que tenemos mejores opciones en la iglesia (cosa que teníamos) a menudo no nos atrevemos a hacer un cambio por el temor de lastimar al 1. ¿Qué pasa con los otros 100? ¿Quién se preocupa por ellos? ¿Quién se preocupa por el impacto de la mediocridad a los invitados? Me parece injusto para salvar a la 1, pero sacrificar los 100.

  1. Valentía de liderazgo.

El verdadero liderazgo se trata de ayudar a crecer a todos, no mantener a todos contentos. Alguien ha dicho que el “secreto del éxito no lo sé, pero el secreto del fracaso es tratar de mantener a todos contentos”. Sé que la confrontación es difícil, especialmente para algunos pastores, que entraron en el ministerio porque querían ayudar a la gente. Una de las cosas más peligrosas que puede hacer un pastor quitarle poder a alguien. Hay personas que sienten que si no tienen un cargo su identidad sufre. Esto debe ser hecho con oración, respeto, pero intencionalmente. (¡Recuerde los 100!)

  1. Enseñar acerca de la adoración.

Muchos pastores, a causa de la papa caliente que la adoración es, se mantienen alejados de este tema. Eso es un error. Enseñar acerca de la adoración con equilibrio, de forma coherente y con bases bíblicas es necesario. Traigan expertos en adoración. Por expertos me refiero a las personas que realmente saben de lo que están hablando, no a personas que se inventan cosas y utilizan pseudo-ciencia para probar sus preconceptos.

Aquí hay un ejemplo de una lección que compartí con mi equipo de adoración y mi iglesia. Hay 5 C que hacen un equipo de adoración efectiva:

  1. Carácter- Cualquiera pueden cantar. No todo el mundo puede dirigir adoración. Es imperativo que las personas que llevan a otros a Jesús tengan una relación con Jesús. Perfecto, no. Conectado, sí.
  2. Competente: ¿Puede cantan? ¿Puede sostener una nota? ¿Los niños lloran y gatos maúllan cuando toman el micrófono? ¿La gente se estremece cuando los ven pasar? Otra vez, todos pueden cantar, pero no todos son bendecidos con el don de dirigir.
  3. Compañerismo- No sé qué es, pero los equipos de adoración / coros son un terreno fértil para conflictos. Cuestiones no resueltas dentro del grupo de alabanza se extiende y se convierten en una distracción en lugar de una bendición.
  4. Compromiso- ¿Viene con puntualidad y constancia a la práctica del grupo? ¿Lo toma en serio durante la práctica? ¿Está dispuestos a hacer el esfuerzo necesario para mejorar en todas las áreas?
  5. Cristo- ¿Es Cristo y su mensaje el centro de la adoración o es mi habilidad o preferencia musical? Levantar a Cristo es primordial. Que brille Jesús. Que brille su gracia. Que sea famoso nuestro Creador, no su creación.

Considere esta cita: “El canto es una parte de la adoración de Dios, sino en la manera torpe en que se realiza a menudo, no da crédito a la verdad, y no honra a Dios. Debiera haber un sistema y un orden en esto, así como cualquier otra parte de la obra del Señor. Organícense un grupo de los mejores cantantes, cuyas voces puedan dirigir a la congregación, y luego dejen que todos se unan a ellos. Los que cantan debe hacer un esfuerzo para cantar en armonía, deben dedicar algún tiempo a la práctica, que se pueda emplear este talento para la gloria de Dios. {Evangelismo 506,2}

 

 

 

This is not a post about Women’s Ordination, but I will use the present debate to illustrate a point, a problem and a perspective that has become too common in our church. I have seen the following statements being made in the past couple of weeks:

*People that don’t believe in women’s ordination are male chauvinist pigs that hate women and want to send all of us back to the Stone Age.

*People that believe that the bible supports women’s ordination are part of a conspiracy from Satan/catholic church/the world (or all of them) to bring down the Adventist church.

Frankly, I’m tired. I have had enough vitriol to last me for three lifetimes. I have diagnosed myself with “I’m fed up with the infighting” disease.

So, whatever your convictions, may I offer three suggestions:

  1. Freedom.

One of my favorite phrases is: in the essentials, unity. In the non-essentials, liberty. In everything love. Even though I have reached the conclusion that there is no biblical command to impede women from serving as fully functioning ordained pastors, I understand that faithful, loving, studious and spiritual people have reached a very different conclusion. We can debate, we can share perspectives, but I am not allowed to name-call or make declarations as to the level of spirituality you possess. In the last week, a person I consider a friend called everyone who believed in WO as people who were deceived, from the devil and Satan’s agents. That grieves me. We can do better.

  1. Fear

Frankly, the arguments based on fear gets us nowhere. I see it in many social media conversations. I see fear that next year the General Conference will vote down not only WO but any type of ordination. I see fear that if we ordain women, then the next day we will be appointing gay pastors. I see fear that this is just opening the door for the Jesuits to infiltrate the church. Fear paralyzes. Fear shuts down rational thinking and destroys discourse. Fear is never the solution. Which brings me to my last point.

  1. Faith.

I believe we give the devil/society/humans too much credit. We act like this is the first time a controversy has stirred the pot in the church. We have selective amnesia and forget that at the end of the day, this church was here before us and will be here after we are gone. Have faith in God, for once! This is not a McDonalds we are trying to operate here. This is a spiritual organization. As such, spiritual solutions are required. Have faith. That doesn’t mean you stop doing, but base your operations from the perspective of faith. Freedom. Not fear.

So, let’s start by praying for our leaders. Followed immediately by specific prayers for people that are “on the other side”. Followed by prayers for yourself, so you are able to remain true to your convictions while keeping an open mind and extended arms.

PS- Keep comments with a tone of Christian love.

Esto no es un artículo sobre la ordenación de mujeres, pero voy a utilizar el presente debate para ilustrar un punto, un problema y una perspectiva que se ha vuelto demasiado común en nuestra iglesia. He visto las siguientes declaraciones en las últimas semanas en la red:

*Las personas que no creen en la ordenación de las mujeres son unos machistas que odian a las mujeresy que quieren enviarnos a todos de vuelta a la Edad de Piedra.

* Las personas que creen que la Biblia apoya la ordenación de las mujeres son parte de una conspiración de Satanás / iglesia católica / el mundo (o todos ellos) para derribar la iglesia Adventista.

Francamente, estoy cansado. He tenido suficiente conflicto para que me duren tres vidas. Me he diagnosticado a mí mismo con la enfermedad “Estoy harto de la lucha interna.”

Así que, sean cuales sean sus convicciones, permítanme ofrecer tres sugerencias:

1. Libertad. Una de mis frases favoritas es: en lo esencial, unidad. En lo no esencial, libertad. En todo amor. A pesar de que he llegado a la conclusión de que no hay un mandato bíblico para impedir a las mujeres servir como pastoras ordenadas, entiendo que personas fieles, amorosas, estudiosas y espirituales han llegado a una conclusión muy diferente. Podemos debatir, podemos compartir puntos de vista, pero yo no estoy autorizado a insultar o hacer declaraciones en cuanto al nivel de espiritualidad que posees porque crees diferente a mí. En la última semana, una persona que considero un amigo declaro a todo el que cree en la ordenación como personas que fueron engañados, del demonio y agentes de Satanás. Eso me aflige. Podemos hacer mejor. Debemos hacer mejor.

  1. Miedo. Francamente, los argumentos basados ​​en el miedo no nos llevan a ninguna parte. Lo veo en muchas conversaciones de las redes sociales. Veo el miedo que el próximo año la Conferencia General votará abajo no sólo la ordenación de pastoras, sino también cualquier tipo de ordenación. Veo temor de que si ordenamos las mujeres, luego al día siguiente estaremos nombrando pastores homosexuales. Veo temor de que esto abrirá la puerta a los jesuitas a infiltrarse en la iglesia. El miedo paraliza. El miedo neutraliza el pensamiento racional y destruye el discurso productivo. El miedo nunca es la solución. Lo que me lleva a mi último punto.
  2. Fe. Yo creo que le damos al diablo / sociedad / los humanos demasiado crédito. Actuamos como que esta es la primera vez que una controversia ha agitado la olla en la iglesia. Tenemos amnesia selectiva y olvidamos que al final del día, esta iglesia estaba aquí antes que nosotros y estará aquí después de que nos hayamos ido. Tengan fe en Dios. Esto no es un McDonalds que estamos tratando de operar. Esta es una organización espiritual. Como tal, se requieren soluciones espirituales. Ten fe. Eso no quiere decir que dejes de trabajar, pero basa tus operaciones desde la perspectiva de la fe. La libertad. No el miedo. Miedo es la fe en reversa.

Por lo tanto, vamos a empezar por orar por nuestros líderes. Seguido inmediatamente por oraciones específicas por las personas que están “del otro lado”. Seguido de oraciones por ti mismo, manteniendo una mente abierta y los brazos extendidos.

 

Recently I got this question from a pastor:

“How can I keep my preaching fresh after being in a church for 4-5 years

and having exhausted my “stock pile” of sermons?”

Believe it or not, most pastors will hit a wall at one point of another, and struggle to keep their sermons fresh, current and engaging. I’ve hit that wall before. As other wall hitting events will demonstrate, it is not fun. So, what do we do?

  1. Why is it happening?

Usually pastors that run out of sermons have one or more of these issues:

  1. Too busy to read. Leaders are readers. When I go through a dry spell a good book will spark ideas for a series or a sermon. I don’t copy the book, but it points me in a good direction.
  2. Margin-less life. Nothing sabotages your creativity faster than margin-less existence. When you are running from morning to evening, it shrinks your ability to think outside the box and come up with applications and illustrations for your messages.
  3. Lack of a sermonic year. Probably at least half of the churches I attend do not have a sermonic year. That means the vision is short-term and when busy season happens, instead of concentrating on developing the sermon you already know (that is half the battle) you start searching for one and before you know it, Friday evening is here and you got NADA.
  4. What do I do? Here are five proven suggestions.

*Read. Yep. Just one word. Read.

*Attend at least one conference a year. Good conferences allow creativity to flow. They often burst the dam called “routine” and allow the Spirit water the parched land.

*Develop a sermon planning committee. This might not work everywhere, but it serves as a sounding board and advisory on topics and delivery and effectiveness of your sermons. Please don’t pick the crazy people for this.

*Make a sermonic year. Take a survey of topics, books of the bible and beliefs that people in your church feel they need. That is a good start. Then take a retreat to map out a balanced approach to preaching. It’s a drag, especially if you are ADHD like me, but oh so wonderful in august when the week has been crazy, but you already have your topic.

*Survey youth in church, let them pick topics. Preach on that. Tell adults the youth picked topics, they can listen in on them, but you will be preaching to the young. Will probably be one of the best series you preach all year.

  1. Here are some resources I have found helpful.

http://therocketcompany.com/preaching/

http://www.scorreconference.tv/

http://www.ted.com/talks

  1. Slide:ology, Nancy Duarte
  2. Presentation Secrets Alexei Kapterev
  3. Everybody speaks, few connect. John Maxwell
  4. Lessons From the World’s Most Captivating Presenters [SlideShare] by Marta Kagan

This subject is one I am passionate about. If you have any questions write me or call me. Would love to help has many as I can.

 

Avoiding infidelity is paramount to leaders. There are three things you can use here:

Power Point
http://www.slideshare.net/RogerHernandez6/avoiding-the-slippery-slope-power-point

Study Guide
http://www.slideshare.net/RogerHernandez6/avoiding-the-slippery-slope-study-guide

The following industries have mandatory retirement ages:

Air traffic controllers.

Some government employees.

Pilots.

Judges.

Why not pastors?

I was part of a committee that studied/analyzed/evaluated Adventist ministry. Contrary to many other committees I have been a part of, I didn’t feel I was wasting my time. There were several discussions and recommendations that came out of it, and just the fact that we are acknowledging the huge elephant in the room is progress. One of the discussions centered on the reality that in the next 10 years, 50% of pastors will be eligible for retirement. Notice I said eligible. We assume that pastors want to retire. Many don’t. Some do.

One of the solutions/suggestions talked about in some circles is having a mandatory retirement age for pastors at 70. You can retire earlier, but 70 is the limit. At first it sounded like ageism. As I debated it in my mind the pros and cons I decided to write about it. Here are three thoughts I have RIGHT NOW. My mind can be changed with better reflection and evidence, but so far this is my opinion.

  1. Mandatory retirement will give millennials an opportunity, not more lip service.

If you haven’t read this post from Chad Stuart http://www.chadnstuart.com/2014/09/more-than-a-voice/ please do. It is a call to the church to involve millennials at every level. The truth is that everyone wants to keep millennials but no one wants to retire so that they can have a job. Over 150 candidates graduated the seminary this year. How many will find jobs? The answer is…NOT MANY. Older pastors could be mentors, serve in less than FTE required posts, interim assignments, etc. We are not really serious about engaging millennials until we hire millennials.

  1. Implement a career long evaluative process.

Evaluation and pastors have not been great bedfellows. Usually a pastor is evaluated when some disastrous crisis has taken place, when the conference wants to make sure that the discontent coming from the church is real or when the pastor has been in a location for a while and a move might make sense. There is not consistent, intentional, grace and growth oriented in many conferences. That is just a fact. (a topic for another blog). I believe that if we implement a simple yearly evaluative process with a more comprehensive one every 3-5 years, it will determine early on the fitness of pastors for ministry. One of the hardest things to do (save for reasons of adultery or financial inappropriateness) is to fire an ineffective pastor. I’m on the pastors side. Yet I know of some that should have never been one. This way, we avoid ageism, but value effectiveness over purely an age decision.

  1. Retirement does not mean loss of effectiveness of lack of appreciation.

If it seems like I am wavering and kind of schizophrenic with my thoughts, you are probably right. I have seen some older pastors just biding time. Maintenance mode, without any new ideas and in fact resisting any new ideas. I have also seen some young pastors make extremely poor decisions that split churches and think they are the second coming of TD, Andy, Alejandro or Dwight. I have also seen older pastors that grow their church and younger pastors that do the same. So, where is the balance?

For me, a great example is Alejandro Bullon. Served his church masterfully for 40 years, to the day. When he retired he was extremely effective and could still do great things. Yet he retired. Now in retirement he is still busy, has produced several movies, holds stadium size crusades and writes extensively. All from the vantage point of retirement. Retirement is not the end. It’s more about providing an opportunity than a rejection of your ministry.

 

I want to know your thoughts on this topic. Especially I would like people that think differently than me to respond. It’s always good to hear all sides before forming an opinion.

Write me or comment below. Keep comments respectful but honest. Let’s talk about it.

“When I was interviewed by the Michigan conference to come to PMC I was 30 years old. The person doing the interviewing asked me: So, Dwight, how long do you think you will stay? Since our previous pastoral assignments had lasted an average of 2.9 years, I was at a loss for words. I looked at my wife and neither of us knew what to say. I thought about it for a moment and responded: I’ll stay 7 years. They all looked at each other and said: Yes. We’ll take it.

It’s been 32 years since that day. Dwight Nelson continues to pastor (and thrive) in a university campus church. I sat down with him for part 2 of the series on pastoral longevity. Here are 5 principles I gleaned from him:

  1. “Ministry is like holding a butterfly in your hand.”

Ministry is like holding a butterfly. You can look at it, enjoy its beauty, but if you squeeze it you will destroy it. It’s not yours. It’s not about you. You are just a steward of its beauty for a season. You are successful at the same location for over thirty years for the same reason you are successful for one year. Understand it’s not about you. You have been given a gift. Enjoy it while you have it, how ever long that is.

It all starts with your relationship with God. If the pastor is not connected to God he can fool the people for a while but not for long. Your decision making when considering a call is also rooted in that relationship. One of Dwight’s mentors and prayer partners taught him a valuable lesson: “Unless you hear otherwise, His previous order still stands.”

  1. “I get to reinvent myself. That’s great!”

Two advantages of long term pastorates:

-Life cycles. I get to minister to people from cradle to casket. Getting involved in people’s lives and seeing them mature, grow, cry, laugh, and a host of other experiences that I can enjoy over the long haul.

-Opportunity for reinvention.  This is probably the one he got the most excited about. There is a common denominator I have seen in pastors that thrive. That is the desire to pace themselves but not to settle. They are always asking the questions: what’s next? How can we be more effective? What’s missing?

  1. “I get to reinvent myself. That’s hard!”

The best things in life are often the worst things in life. The activity/person/occupation that causes you the most joy can also cause you the most pain. I sensed that for Dwight it was difficult to see a part of his congregation leave and establish very close by a ministry which stated desire was to connect more effectively with the same demographic Dwight was trying to reach, namely young adults. That was probably one of the times in his life that he had to do some real deep soul searching and process emotionally what he already knew intellectually: this is about Jesus. Not you.

Out of those difficult, soul searching times, came (as it often does for all of us) a renewed vision, compacted worship service, and a clearer understanding of mission and growth.

  1. “Speak to 20 something’s. Let the world look in.”

I asked Dwight how does he balance the need to speak to his local congregation while at the same time using the platform he has been given to speak on important issues of the day. More than 20 years ago when the TV ministry started, they made a conscious decision: They were going to minister to the college community, and let the world look in if they were interested. They were. His primary focus is his local flock and if what he has to say addresses the larger issues, then that is an added benefit.

  1. “Criticism. If it hurt your pride, it means you had pride to begin with.”

Dwight has managed to reach countless people. Among them are critics. He has received criticism from some regarding his position on Women’s Ordination, and others for believing that Ellen White was in fact a prophet who was inspired by God. After a sermon on the Sabbath he received 2 notes. One congratulated him for the message, the other one believed it was terrible. He showed the notes to an Elder who told him: “Didn’t they teach you in seminary not to read the fan mail till you get home?”

 

I hope the principles gathered here can help us become better pastors where the butterfly has landed now, whether it be for 3 years or 30. And never tell a conference president how long you will stay. I bet God got a few chuckles out of that one… “He said 7 years? Ok. Let’s keep him there for…”

 

Take look at the ministry of PMC: http://www.pmchurch.org/