Archives For July 2014

When should I move?

imprrh@gmail.com —  July 29, 2014

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!