When should I move?

imprrh@gmail.com —  July 29, 2014 — 2 Comments

I have moved around 30 times in my life. As a pastor’s kid and then a pastor, it’s part of the deal you sign up for. Some of you that are reading this blog are presently considering a move to another ministry assignment. Please consider the following five things as you make that decision:

1. Not every call is from God, no matter how spiritual the other person sounds.

Sometimes it’s a call from God, sometimes people just want to fill a hole. That’s the truth. I have a friend who is a great pastor/speaker/leader. He told me he gets several calls every year. All of them said they have prayed about it. All of them said he is THE right one for the job. Remember this. It’s seldom about you. It’s about what you can provide and the need the organization has.

2. Be mindful of the history.

I have seen some pastors be called to places that are well known/popular/in and have followed a highly skilled and sometimes personality driven ministry. That usually does not end well for the one who immediately follows the very effective pastor that has left. One, you are not them. Second, you will encounter resistance to change because the church is successful with the model they are presently using. So, unless you are willing to become a clone, be careful. Make it about making God famous, not stroking your ego.

3. Beware of the traps.

There are many reasons to move. These are some traps to avoid:

* “I hate this place”. Present conflict should not determine future decision.

* “It’s a bigger church”. That green grass can turn out to be Astroturf.

* “This will show them”. Doing ministry with a chip on your shoulder only causes splinter injuries.

4. Opportunity for growth.

This principle is not universal, but I have seen it work in the pastors that are healthy and enjoy growth where they are: The older you get in ministry, you should consider assignments that are clearly aligned with your skill/gift set. When I started in ministry I was a youth pastor, but my skill set is not very strong in youth. The moment I had an opportunity to plant (which I enjoy tremendously) I did that. We grow more when we are in our wheelhouse.

5. Ask God to close doors.

When a call came, I always did three things:

  1. Season of fasting and prayer.
  2. Consulted with my WHOLE family.
  3. Consulted with trusted friends.
  4. Asked God, that if this was not my call, to close doors. Sometimes he did. Sometimes he said “come on in”.

6. Respect the no’s.

This is a bonus principle. If the person on the other line pressures you, makes you feel that you are the ONLY one that could do this, makes you feel guilty and does not respect your no’s I would highly question whether that call is from God.

If you are considering a call, and would like prayer, please let me know. I will pray for you and with you.

here are all the Power Points for the presentations this week:

1. Jesus is not enough. (English and Spanish)

 

2. Powerful Presentations  (English and Spanish)

If you are interested in understanding the importance of SERVICE here is a good resource you can share with your church/small group.

Feel free to share:

 

May God bless you as you share.

I had the privilege of visiting this new church (less than 6 months old) on a Sabbath with my family. I noticed the following 10 great things that they are doing. They are not perfect, but the things they are doing right can inspire and teach us.

1. Advertising/signage.

Several blocks before the church I already saw the green signs that were familiar to me as I had looked them up online. Inside the church, there were clear signs everywhere. They rent space, yet manage to pull this off. Why, oh why, do established churches have confusing or nonexistent signage? In this day and age, internet is key. A church with no internet presence is losing potential members.

2. Racial composition.

Young. Old. Black. White. Hispanic. Families. Children. Singles. This doesn’t just happen. Their leadership team reflects diversity and so does the people that participate up front. The world we live in is multicultural, especially in the cities. Our churches should reflect this fact.

3. Attitude of friendliness and service.

I saw CEO’s tear down and set up. I saw volunteers help and was personally greeted several times. Not only was I given the customary hello, I was engaged in conversation by a member who did not know who I was and was very eager to connect with me. Believe me, this does not happen all the time.

4. Tithe envelope.

The tithe envelope is simple and it includes a response card for guest and potential volunteers. This goes along with their core value that we serve God with our money and with our gifts. Each tithe envelope is a good feedback tool. First time I have seen this.

5. Relaxed yet reverent.

Didn’t see many people talking, texting or anxious for the service to be over. People sang, prayed and listened. The best way to describe the congregation was “engaged”.

6. Christ centered/gospel centered preaching.

The pastor spoke on intercessory prayer. His main question was: does it make a difference? His main point was that “Intercessory prayer does not guarantee the other person will change, but it makes it difficult for them to stay the same.” Good, relevant illustrations and biblical application. One important part is that he finished with the gospel. No matter where you start, always finish with the gospel.

7. Intentional.

The connection cards in the seats. The gift bags for guests. The bulletins for the kids. The breakfast items at the welcome table (very healthy!) The signs. Everything said to guests: “what we are doing here today is not for us. It’s for you”. Excellence inspires people and honors God.

8. Shorter meaningful worship service.

Short announcements. Music. Prayer. Welcome. Message. Tithes and offerings. Started at 11. Ended at 12. My teenage son loved it. It’s amazing how much worship/word you can fit in 60 minutes when you cut out some of the preliminaries that are just for our benefit and not of guests. Insider language was missing, instead a vocabulary that guests could understand was used.

9. No interminable announcements.

Three announcements in less than 5 minutes. Can we do this everywhere?

10. Small groups.

There are several to choose from, from doctrinal to family or sports. There are many ways to connect to others in the church.

There were not perfect. They still need more hands on deck. There were some kinks to be worked out with a brand new sound system. But they are on the right track. Will you help me in praying for them?

If you would like to visit, or connect with the pastor here is the info:

https://twitter.com/lifespringsda

https://twitter.com/wagenersmith

https://www.facebook.com/lifespringadventist

I am so grateful you are reading this blog, as we conclude our four part series.

1. Comparison is deadly.

Pastors are often caught in this trap. Comparison gets you nowhere. For starters, there will always be someone who is a better preacher, who has better kids, a stronger marriage (at least from the outside) superior preaching skills or a more desirable church. Secondly, comparison puts you in one of two destructive camps:

*You feel superior, which is pride=destructive.

*You feel inferior, which makes you bitter=destructive.

God has called us to love, and you can’t really love someone who you privately wish would fail. Instead of comparing yourself and lamenting your shortcomings, celebrate others blessings.

2. Change is hard, painful and necessary.

I often hear pastors lamenting the fact that “my church won’t change” or “I can’t change anything at my church”. My question is: what are you there for? Lead! We don’t want to be reckless with change, we must change in order to grow. Here are three quotes I found helpful:

“Almost every advance in art, cooking, medicine, agriculture, engineering, marketing, politics, education, and design has occurred when someone challenged the rules and tried another approach.” Maxwell, John C. (2012-10-02). The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth: Live Them and Reach Your Potential (p. 202).

“Your skepticism, which you presume is based on rational thinking and an objective assessment of factual data about yourself, is rooted in mental junk. Your doubts are not the product of accurate thinking, but habitual thinking. Years ago you accepted flawed conclusions as correct, began to live your life as if those warped ideas about your potential were true, and ceased the bold experiment in living that brought you many breakthrough behaviors as a child. Now it’s time for you to find that faith you had in yourself before.” Maxwell, John C. (2012-10-02). The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth: Live Them and Reach Your Potential (p. 230).

“I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order to learn how to do it.” —Pablo Picasso

 

 

 

3. Christ the center.

I heard it when I was a local church pastor. I hear it often still today. It’s expressed by a group of people, that although well intentioned, one has to wonder if they have stopped to think about the implications of their statement. The rational goes like this.

Jesus is best left to the Baptists. We must preach present truth.

Jesus is milk. Prophecy is meat.

Jesus is elementary. Prophecy is deep.

Jesus is basic. There is something more advanced.

Jesus is an opening act. The headliner comes later.

Jesus is an appetizer. An introduction. A prelude.

You can go anywhere to hear about Jesus. You can only hear about prophecy here.

There is an attempt to divorce Jesus from prophecy, and extract and separate doctrine from our Christology. That is a mistake.

And I wonder. Where did we get that from? Where did we arrive at a conclusion that there is anything superior, deeper, or more important than Jesus?

It wasn’t from Ellen White.

“Of all professed Christians, Seventh-day Adventists should be foremost in uplifting CHRIST before the world.” Ellen G. White, Gospel workers, p.156

“There need to be far more lessons in the ministry of the Word of true conversion than of the arguments of the doctrines. For it is far easier and more natural for the heart that is not under the control of the Spirit of Christ to choose doctrinal subjects rather than the practical. There are many Christ-less discourses given no more acceptable to God than was the offering of Cain. They are not in harmony with God.”{VSS – The Voice in Speech and Song pg 342.3}

Truth is that in some churches, Jesus is like the national anthem, sung at the beginning and not thought of much afterwards. Church without Jesus is like a coronation without king.

Emphasizing Christ does not mean we stay away from the tough subjects, from encouraging our congregation to holy living or to just tell everyone they are OK. What is does mean, is that Jesus is center of everything we do. This is specifically important when we preach. I often say when teaching my preaching class that preaching emphasis on sin produces sinners. Preaching emphasis on Christ produces Christians.

4. Take care of your family. Now.

You don’t do ministry with your family. Your family IS your ministry.

Let me know your thoughts!

interview weakness

I am so grateful you are reading this blog, as we continue with the third part of our four part series.

1. Fat jokes aren’t funny.

I have a “friend” that every time he sees me asks me if I have gained weight. I have in fact lost several pounds, but it’s irrelevant to him. He makes a joke out of it every time. It isn’t funny. You know what else isn’t funny? Having a heart attack. Many pastors don’t take care of their health like they should. This is changing, but not fast enough. Our hours are crazy, we eat out regularly, and if we are not careful we can put on extra weight. I gained around 40 pounds when I became a minister. I added an extra 20 when I went to the conference. I encourage you to get active. I am in better shape now at 46 than I was at 36. Stop laughing. Get moving.

2. Develop your strengths, not your weakness.

All of us are gifted in certain areas more than others. I see far too many pastors and leaders trying to strengthen their weaknesses, instead of discovering their strengths and surrounding themselves with people who are strong at what they are weak at. I discovered pretty early in my ministry that my gifts were in preaching, leading and motivating. Youth ministry was not one of my gifts. I empowered my wife, who is great with teenagers, and then our youth pastor when we got one, to do what they needed to do to make that area a strong one. We planted a 2nd Generation church as a result. Develop your strengths every day.

3. Anyone can fall. Yes, even you.

One of my dear friends in ministry had a moral fall. As we were discussing the issue with a group of pastors, one stood up and stated that you “only need Jesus” and that there is no need for an accountability partner. The implication is that the fallen comrade was weak, and that he would never do the same thing. I worry for him. He is setting himself up for failure. Lack of accountability is dangerous because of three things:

a. We rationalize.

b. We justify.

c. We compartmentalize.

Left to our own devices, we run a greater risk because power is an aphrodisiac. If the devil is anything, he is patient. This is what I do to protect myself:

1. I have a plan. The worst moment to come up with a plan is when you need it, so I know beforehand what I will do. It all starts with my time with God, prayer and worship music.

2. I tell my wife the moment I feel anything out of the ordinary from the opposite sex. I was hit on by a 70 year old deaconess. I told my wife. Those deaconess are dangerous!

3. I mentally review a list of consequences from a moral fall. Very often.

4. I have an accountability partner which I share temptations with. He is mature, male and deeply spiritual.

5. Never counsel alone, never visit alone, never have extended counseling (several sessions) with members of opposite sex.

 

4. When do I accept a call somewhere else?

Most pastors that are in ministry for any amount of time, will eventually get a call. If you have been successful at what you are doing, you will get multiple calls. I have a friend of mine who pastors in the south who got 4 calls on ONE weekend. Everyone tells you they have prayed about it! You MUST be the right person for the job, right? Not necessarily. Before my moves I did three things:

a. I prayed and fasted. This allowed me to make sure I wasn’t leaving for reasons of pride or hurt.

b. I asked God to close doors, if it wasn’t his will.

c. I asked myself: how is this going to benefit my family? Not, how is this going to benefit my ministry?

 

5. Realize what you are not.

Repeat to yourself daily:

I am not the man.

I am not the manager.

I am not the Messiah.

 

Ministry. It’s all about Jesus.

 

I am excited and grateful you are reading this blog, as we continue with the second part of our four part series.

1. You are responsible for your own growth.

I know that I am the only one this happened to. I became a theologian in seminary, then I got to the church and found out I did not have many of the leadership traits I needed. In order to become a better leader, I had to take matters into my own hands. Frankly, I never got much practical leadership and ministry help from conference pastor’s events. So I decided to do the following:

a. Read at least one book per week. I didn’t always make it, but it kept me reading. It’s true what they say, leaders are readers.

b. Go to at least one conference per year that would help me grow as a leader. I remember going to a John Maxwell conference when he was first starting out. If continuing education funds were not available I paid for it myself.

c. Go to at least one church that was doing it right. It inspires you, and shows you it can be done.

2. Publish or perish.

Most pastors that I talk to have a book in them. I listen to many sermons and I am impressed at the level of depth and insight they have. Too bad no one will ever be blessed by it because you are either too busy or too lazy (I am exaggerating, I know) to write it down. I started writing a weekly small group lesson back in 1996. In 2007 and beyond I put many of them in books; more than 30,000 copies have been distributed. If it wasn’t for the consistent weekly writing, I would have never been able to perfect the craft (something I still strive to do). Write something every day.

3. If people don’t give you opportunities, make your own.

In 2007 when I spoke to one of the publishing houses about a small group book I had edited and written along with many of my colleagues I was practically laughed out of the building. The words “who exactly are you?” were not said, but implied. With some help from the conference we published the book ourselves. We found the editor, layout professional, publisher and started making cold calls to pastors and leaders across the NAD and beyond offering the resource. Fast forward 7 years and it’s been over 10 books, including the sharing book of the year (shameless plug) http://www.adventistbookcenter.com/failure-is-not-final.html Now I have access to the publishing houses and have a much higher percentage of probability of being accepted. . But if I had given up, it never would have happened.

4. The power of visitation.

This pastoral trait is not very popular. Timberlake brought “sexy back”. I want to bring visitation back. (never heard the song, just thought it would be a nice pun, so please, no letters). Visiting gave me three advantages:

a. Sermon ideas. I want to preach where it itches. Sitting across the table from a member gave me insight into their lives and needs.

b. Personal touch. I had a 900 member church. I could not visit all of them, but that didn’t mean I could not visit some of them. (see point 5)

c. Realistic perspective. Many times, especially when raising money, we tend to look at the congregation and see a crowd that can contribute. Sitting down with people in their homes gave me a realistic view of our finances.

5. Spend 80% of your time with the top 20% of your leadership.

I wish I had done that much earlier! Since everything rises and falls on leadership, your top influencers need you to look them in the eye and share your life with them.

 

See you all next week. For questions or feedback, please let me know in the comment section.

Estoy muy emocionadoy agradecido que estás leyendo esteblog, hoy continuamoscon la segundaparte de nuestraserie de cuatro partes: 1. Usted es responsable de su propio crecimiento. Me convertí en un teólogo en el seminario, luego llegué a la iglesia y me entere de que no tenía muchas de las características de liderazgo que necesitaba. Con el fin de convertirme en un mejor líder, tenía que tomar el asunto en mis propias manos. Francamente, nunca tuve mucho entrenamiento formal en liderazgo de eventos de conferencia. Así que decidí hacer lo siguiente: a. Leer al menos un libro por semana. No siempre lo logro, pero me mantiene leyendo. Es verdad lo que dicen, los líderes son lectores. b. Ir a por lo menos una conferencia al año que me ayudaría a crecer como líder. Recuerdo que fui a una conferencia de John Maxwell cuando estaba empezando mi ministerio. c. Ir a por lo menos a una iglesia que estaba haciendo las cosas bien. Sales inspirado, y te ayuda a entender lo que se puede hacer.

2. Publicar o perecer. La mayoría de lospastores con los que hablo tienen un libroen ellos. Escuchomuchos sermonesy estoyimpresionado por elnivel de profundidad yvisiónque tienen.Lástima quenadie va aser bendecidopor ellosporque estándemasiadoocupados odemasiado perezosos(estoy exagerando, lo sé) para escribir. Empecé a escribiruna lecciónsemanal para mis grupos pequeños en el año 1996.En el año 2007 puse esas lecciones en libros,más de30.000copiashan sido distribuidas. Sino fuera porla escriturasemanalconsistente,nunca habríasido capaz deperfeccionar la práctica de escribir(algo que todavía me esfuerzo porhacer).Escribe algotodos los días.

3. Si la gente no te dan oportunidades, fabrica tus propias. En 2007 cuando hablé con una de las editoriales acerca de un libro para grupos pequeños que había editado y escrito junto con muchos de mis colegas se rieron de mi. Creo que la frase fue “¿quien eres tu?” Con un poco de ayuda de la conferencia publicamos el libro nosotros mismos. Encontramos el editor, diseñador, casa publicadora y empezamos a hacer llamadas en frío a los pastores y líderes de toda la división y más allá para ofrecer el recurso. En 7 años hemos publicado más de 10 libros, incluyendo el libro del año misionero http://www.adventistbookcenter.com/failure-is-not-final.html

Ahora tengoacceso alas editorialesy tengo un porcentajemucho más alto deprobabilidadde ser aceptado.Perosi me hubieradado por vencido, nunca habría ocurrido.

4. El poder de la visitación. La visitación me dio tres ventajas: a. Idea para sermones. Quiero predicar de lo que la gente necesita. Sentado a la mesa con mis miembros me dio una idea más clara de sus vidas y sus necesidades. b. Un toque personal. Tuve una iglesia de 900 miembros. No pude visitarlos a todos, pero eso no significaba que no podía visitar a algunos de ellos. (véase el punto 5) c. Perspectiva realista. Muchas veces, sobre todo en la recaudación de dinero, tendemos a mirar a la congregación y ver a una multitud que puede contribuir. Sentarse con la gente en sus casas me dio una visión realista de nuestras finanzas.

5. Pasar del 80% de su tiempo con el 20% de sus líderes. !Me hubiera gustado haber hecho esto mucho antes! Ya que todo sube y baja de acuerdo al liderazgo, sus principales líderes necesitan que usted los mire a los ojos y comparta su vida con ellos. Nos vemos la semana que viene. Si tiene preguntas o comentarios, por favor hágamelo saber en la sección de comentarios