Administration Mon, 25 May 2015 21:48:42 -0400 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Why You Need a Volunteer Organizational Chart in Children's Ministry

As a ministry leader, higher elevation is critical. We miss a lot when our heads are constantly in the "weeds" of ministry.

Whether you lead in a small church or large church—multiple worship services or single; one location or many—if you lead volunteers, you need tools that help you see things from a broader perspective.

You need tools that allow you to recruit and build a team out of preparation rather than desperation. An organizational chart is critical.

I've led volunteer teams without an org chart. And I've led volunteer teams with an org chart.

Life is simply easier with one.

An org chart is the visual representation of the volunteers on your team and how you lead them. The benefit of putting that information in the form of an org chart is invaluable. It's amazing to me how the perspective is clearer when you get something out of your head and put it on paper.

Needed & Known
We can all agree that your average volunteer wants two primary things ... to feel needed and known.

Feeling needed speaks to our desire to be a part of something significant and to contribute in a meaningful way. Feeling known speaks to our desire to be connected and for others to know what's happening in our lives outside of the time we serve.

I believe an org chart helps a ministry leader meet these desires:

1. First, the chart identifies the roles on the team and who fills them (needed).

2. Second, the chart identifies who cares for each person on the team (known).

Here's how they work together:

If you're anything like me, you can trend toward crazy. I have so much going on in the midst of the seven-day cycle, that simply keeping up with where my "need" is feels like a moving target.

Let me give you an example. Within the past five days, I've had four different conversations with various volunteers that go a little something like this:

Volunteer No. 1: "I think I need to step out for a while. This new job has changed our family schedule and I'm not sure I can continue to fit this into our Sunday morning."

Volunteer No. 2: "My wife and I would like to shift from the third service to serving at the first service so we can be more consistent. Let me know when we can make that happen."

Volunteer No. 3: "I'm so excited to start serving. Where do you need me most?"

Volunteer No. 4: "I'll be out the next eight weeks recovering from surgery. I can't wait to get back to be with my group!"

Can you relate? Do you have similar conversations?

They aren't wrong. They aren't travesties. They simply are what they are. Real life.

How do you keep up with who should be where and when?

If you manage more than a single worship service where you schedule volunteers, then you understand the difficulty. The more services offered, the greater the complexity.

There needs to be a way to clearly see what your needs are, who is filling them, and where you still have gaps. An org chart allows you to define these in specifics.

Let's take the conversations referenced above and look at them from a different angle.

There are a many things to keep up with when it comes to volunteers. It's not just their serving schedules, but with what's happening in their life.

  • Who will check in on the one who stepped out due to a hectic schedule?
  • Who will welcome the couple transitioning from one volunteer team to the next?
  • Who will apprentice the new volunteer ready to serve?
  • Who will reach out to the volunteer recovering from surgery?

You could take on the task yourself. You could even assume that someone on your volunteer team will take care of it. But we all know that our personal span of care can only stretch so far and my dad taught me the definition of assume a long time ago.

Neither are sustainable options. An org chart allows you to visualize how volunteers are loved and cared for in your ministry.

It's important to clarify: An organizational chart is different from your weekly scheduling tool. Whether you use an online scheduling tool (in other words, Planning Center Online) or old-fashioned pen and paper, your weekly scheduling tool helps you keep track of who is here each week and who is not. It's a snapshot of your team from week to week.

An org chart is the bigger picture of your team from a higher elevation.

Your weekly schedule tells you what to expect this Sunday. Your organizational chart tells you how your team is led and equipped.

For helpful tips on how to equip your volunteer leaders to lead your team, check out "5 Things to Help Volunteers Lead Better"

Gina McClain is a speaker, writer and children's ministry director at Faith Promise Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. For the original article, visit

]]> (Gina McClain) Administration Tue, 05 May 2015 21:00:00 -0400
7 Steps to the Church of Your Dreams

Do you have pipe dreams for your church? Visions of what you would like to see, but maybe won't?

My pipe dream would be to see our church so well organized that everyone knows exactly what to do. Our greeters would welcome people just right every time. The nursery workers would have mad baby skills. The student small group leaders would lead powerful, life-changing discussions with teens.

Nah, pop that pipe-dream delusion. People are messy and we're in the people business so churches are going to be messy, too.


Or, maybe that's just an excuse, and the truth is that messy churches are just chaotic, disorganized and less than effective.

How to Get Better

What if a little bit of effort could make your church less messy? Like spending a morning cleaning up the piles on your desk or the stuff in your garage.

If you knew how to get your church more organized, would you do it?

Michael Gerber's classic book for small businesses, The E-Myth Revisited, gives us a game plan for organizing our churches. He writes to small business owners challenging them to develop systems in their business that are so finely tuned that the business can be reproduced as a franchise—a la Starbucks.

His lessons hold true for churches: organizing our ministry positions systematically so that our staff and volunteers are able to get their job done right every time. And the result is a church experience that meets expectations and satisfies needs. Every time.

More people would want to come to your church.

7 Steps to the Church of Your Dreams

Translating what Gerber says into church-world gives us seven steps to a church that is organized and reproducible—like in our dreams. Here are the seven steps:

1. Scratch out on a blank piece of paper an org chart of every staff and volunteer position in your church. Include the positions that you wish you had and write a number next to those that require more than one person.

2. Now write in the names of people who are in those positions. Some people will be in multiple boxes. Your name may be in a bunch of boxes.

3. Look it over and add in any new or overlooked positions or any people that you left out until you are satisfied that it is a decent representation of your church.

4. Now pick a ministry position that requires multiple people—like greeting—and think through what kind of greeting you want someone to experience from the time they pull into the parking lot to when they take their seat in the auditorium.

5. Then turn that mental scenario into a list of everything a greeter should do to maximize the experience of people coming in to church. That checklist becomes the training tool for your greeting team.

6. If you aren't the person directly responsible for that team, but you oversee the person who is, then have a meeting with that leader to walk them through what you see as best practices for the greeting team, get their input and buy in, and ask them to equip the greeters with this checklist–every weekend.

7. Then repeat that process with all the other volunteer positions in your church that are easy to do and require a team who all do the same thing.

Work On Your Church

As you make the shift to checklists of best practices for these sorts of tactical positions, Gerber says, you become a manager of the system instead of a doer of the job.  Then you can work in a higher-level strategic role—working on your church instead of in it.

And your church becomes more organized and more able to attract people because they consistently receive a great experience.

Take a few minutes now and start scratching out your org chart. What volunteer position do you want to work on first?

You might also be interested in my husband Hal's Healthy Church Systems ebook: Placing and Keeping Great Volunteers.

Organization doesn't have to be a pipe dream at all.

Lori Seed is the wife of Hal Seed, the founding and Lead Pastor of New Song Community Church in Oceanside, California. For the original article, visit

]]> (Lori Seed ) Administration Thu, 30 Apr 2015 21:00:00 -0400
5 Positive Reasons Why Church Staff Leave

Staff, just like members, come and go in the normal rhythm of church life—20 percent of Americans move every year and that one factor alone affects all churches and staffs.

This may alarm or even scare other staff or members of your congregation. They may wonder, "What went wrong?" Was it a result of sin or incompetence or conflict? Yet this is rarely the case.

In Saddleback's 21-year history only a very small handful of staff have left for negative reasons. Instead we rejoice as staff members step out in faith to follow God's will into new areas.

Where are some positive reasons why church staff members leave:

1. A stage of life. Sometimes staff leave because of a change in their life or family: having a baby, kids entering school, spouse changing jobs or being transferred, having to care for an aged parent, getting married, needing greater income, going back to school or retirement. These are just a few of hundreds of valid stage-of-life reasons.

2. A stirring of God. Sometimes staff leave simply because they sense God wants them to do something else! They feel a "stirring" or restlessness in their spirit, which often indicates that God has other plans in mind for them. Some people feel the pull of God to go to seminary full-time or get more education to prepare for future ministry.

Sometimes the stirring is circumstantial—the job they were hired to do is finished, or the job has changed due to the growth of the church, or the church has restructured and is moving in a new direction. God often has people "serve for a season" in order to benefit His church at that particular moment and also to teach and develop them.

The reality is that almost no one stays with the same job for his or her entire lifetime. In fact, one of the primary ways God teaches us to trust Him is through job changes. If we never had to change, we'd never have to live by faith.

I like to use the illustration of the American Moon Project—thousands of engineers worked for NASA on different stages of the project. But when their part was finished they moved on.

3. A season of healing. Sometimes staff members leave in order to "take a break" and focus on some physical, emotional or relational health issues. Sometimes it is a personal health issue and sometimes it is to care for a family member. Either way, we applaud people for making a wise and healthy decision. Work should never be at the expense of your health.

4. A sense of greater calling. I have said repeatedly "You don't judge the strength of a church on its seating capacity but by its sending capacity." As a purpose-driven church our goal is to "Bring them in, Build them up, Train them and Send them out!" This is true for both staff and members. It has never been our goal to selfishly cling to all the talent God raises up in this church. We want to share it.

Over the years we've had many staff be trained at Saddleback and then sent out to plant new churches, and to help existing churches—as pastors, staff members of other churches, missionaries, Christian organization workers, consultants to other churches, seminary teachers and even as volunteers in smaller churches who could not afford staff.

My dad used to tell me "Your first ministry is never your greatest ministry. It is always preparation for what God will eventually do through you." After nearly 30 years in ministry, I have found this principle to always be true. If someone is at their first church, don't be surprised if God moves them eventually.

5. And sometimes it's private. On rare occasions, people leave staff for PRIVATE reasons. In those cases, it is my commitment to protect the privacy of those individuals. So sometimes we don't publicize the reason the staff member has chosen to leave.

Regardless of the reason people leave, your response should always be the same: gratitude for the time God allowed them to serve, along with prayers and best wishes that God will continue to use them in the future.

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times best-seller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of, a global Internet community for pastors.

For the original article, visit

]]> (Rick Warren) Administration Wed, 29 Apr 2015 21:00:00 -0400
10 Signs of Leadership Burnout and 5 Ways to Recover

This past November my wife and I reached 34 years in full-time church ministry. In our day, we have seen many a leader lose their zeal for God and fall away from the work of the Lord.

Often it is due to the fact they did not take the adequate time needed to seek the Lord on a daily basis for self-renewal. Other reasons include not having a balanced life that incorporated things that advanced their physical and emotional health (instead of just focusing on their work and ministry).

The focus of this article will not be how to recover from burnout, but some of the signs of burnout (I will mention a few points at the end that will aid in recovery).

I also have been guilty of not taking enough time off. Having never taken more than 10 days off for vacation in over 34 years of hard grueling ministry, with 95 percent of them only 5-7 days in length and, up until the past year, never taking off one full day per week to rest my mind.

At my present age, I am now being forced to change my patterns because I have exhausted much of my mental energy and I can no longer cheat. (The main reasons I have lasted this long without regular time off are because I keep a strict diet, I exercise regularly and spend time seeking God every morning.)

I knew it was time to stop cheating because of some of the symptoms of burnout I came perilously close to experiencing. Over the years I have done a lot of research on this area and also ministered to many leaders suffering from this.

The following are signs of emotional/mental burnout:

1. You lose focus and clarity of thought. When experiencing burnout, your mind hits a wall and fogginess of thought instead of clarity. Sometimes your short-term memory even deteriorates because of the mental overload. 

2. You lose your passion for work and/or ministry. You dread going to the office and conducting meetings. You do it because of a commitment more than it being a passion in your life.

3. You go from being a leader to being a maintainer. The primary calling of a senior leader is to be a visionary. Visionaries are at their best when they receive instruction from God at the top of the mountain and then come down and give vision to the congregation or organization. When in burnout, the leader does not have the capacity for any more vision.

Hence, all forward motion grinds to a halt and the leader now goes into maintenance mode trying their best to hold everything together all while they hope they will once again get back the energy needed to take their organization to the next level. (Unless they take the adequate steps for restoration, they will only get worse and not better and they will begin to see people leaving their church or organization. Unless there is a compelling vision coming forth from the leader, the people scatter; read Proverbs 29:18.)

4. You have a continual sense of hopelessness. In burnout your hope for the future grows dim, depression begins to set in and you begin to view the world with dark grey lenses because everything negative is highlighted in your mind.

5. You isolate yourself from others. When in burnout, you start creating more and more emotional space from others because you lack the emotional and mental capacity to carry on extensive conversations and/or minister to another person's needs.

6. You run from new challenges. One of the main reasons a church needs to ensure their senior pastor takes regular sabbaticals is because, unless the leader goes away for an extended time to renew and refresh themselves every few years, the vision of the church or organization will be limited because the leader will begin to shy away from new challenges, new vision and forward motion. An unrenewed leader will greatly limit the capacity of the church to expand and grow.

7. You don't want to problem solve. A person in burnout doesn't want to strategize or problem solve because it takes too much mental energy.

8. You dream more about retirement than taking a mountain. I knew I was starting to get too close to the edge because I kept on envisioning the scene in the movie Gladiator when the lead character Maximus is about to die and he keeps envisioning the next life in paradise when he would rest from war and enjoy life with his loved ones. When you are dreaming about laying down your weapons instead of going off to war to defeat your foes, then you know that it is time to get recharged!

Anyone who lives for retirement is a person who has already stopped living! For example, when senior pastors get to the place where they are looking at their own watch on Sunday because they cannot wait till the services end so they can go home and relax, then you know they need to be retro fit and recharged! God has called leaders to minister out of their abundance and overflow, not out of the fumes from an empty tank!

9. You lack patience for all things mundane. Those in burnout lose their patience for all things petty when dealing with relationship challenges. (In the past they had grace for the immaturity of the saints but in this state they have no patience for it.) They also lack the patience to deal with the average things needed to maintain oversight of their staff and organizational business.

10. You view ministry as work rather than a calling. The greatest privilege I will ever have in my life is to represent the Lord Jesus as the overseer of a local church. It is not a job but a calling. When in burnout, sometimes the only thing that stops a pastor or leader from leaving the ministry is economics (their paycheck). The moment I stay in a church for the salary is the moment I have gone from being a shepherd to a hireling. It is not a job but a holy vocation (1 Cor. 4:1). 


1. Honor the biblical Sabbath. Take time away to pray, study and refresh yourself and take at least one day off a week. For pastors, they cannot count Sunday as a day off because it is a work day. What has worked for some pastors is to take a weekday off or from Friday night to Saturday night (but Saturday is often spent in sermon preparation so that may not work for some).

2. Spend time enjoying the Lord on a daily basis. I believe that burnout comes the quickest when we stop spending adequate time with the Lord. Hebrews 4 teaches us that when we enter God's rest we cease from our own labors; when we attempt to lead in our own strength God allows us to lose our energy because unless the Lord builds the house we labor in vain (Ps. 127).

3. Prioritize the things that are life giving to you. God has wired each of us in a way that certain things we do are life giving and other things deplete us. For example, being around people energizes extroverts and introverts are sapped of energy when with people. Introverts need to schedule regular time alone to recharge in order for them to meet the challenges they face daily.

Prioritize time with God, reading the Bible, and church for spiritual renewal, key friends, family, for emotional strength, exercise for physical health, hobbies, good music and literature for mental renewal.

4. Recapture your original calling and vision. When lost at sea you need to read your compass to get back on course. When we lose clarity of vision and focus we need to read our journals and recapture things God told us in the past that enabled us to recapture our original calling and commission.

5. Stay accountable to others within a leadership community. We all need spiritual mentors and spiritual oversight. If you are a pastor, find a pastoral community of leaders in which you can experience peer friendships, coaching, and accountability. If you are in a local church and you are a leader, attach yourself to the leadership communities that are available to you. Proverbs teaches us that as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens the countenance of another man. Being in a community can hasten your restoration, isolating yourself from other leaders and from the body of Christ is one of the devil's strategies to destroy us because during fragile times in our lives we need wise input from others more than ever!

Joseph Mattera has been in full-time church ministry since 1980 and is currently the Presiding Bishop of Christ Covenant Coalition and Overseeing Bishop of Resurrection Church in New York. He is also serving as the United States Ambassador for the International Coalition of Apostles, and as one of the founding presiding bishops of the International Communion of Evangelical Churches.

For the original article, visit

]]> (Bishop Joseph Mattera) Administration Tue, 21 Apr 2015 18:00:00 -0400
When Church Staff Members Turn Against Each Other

Those who serve vocationally on church staffs are, for the most part, wonderful men and women who desire only to serve our Lord through a local congregation. But these pastors, executive pastors, children's ministers, worship leaders, student ministers, and others are humans.

And when sinful humans work together in any setting, there will be friction and challenging relationships.

While we can never eliminate all difficult issues between co-workers, we can seek to manage the relationships in the most healthy and godly manner. Unfortunately, in some churches, one or more staff members will turn against another in an unhealthy, unbiblical and ungodly manner.

Allow me to share eight thoughts about these bad situations:

1. The unity of the church is compromised when staff turn against each other. Unity in a congregation is a beautiful but delicate reality. When a church is unified, the congregation has "favor with all the people" (Acts 2:47). When the staff break that unity, the church is not healthy.

2. Church staff should pray for each other and with each other. The power of prayer can turn that which is broken into a miraculously healed relationship.

3. Staff should not conspire in darkness. I have heard too many stories of one or more staff working behind the backs of another staff person with whom they have an issue. Such an approach is deplorable and ungodly. That leads to my next thought.

4. Have open and honest conversations. Church staff should have the courage and the fortitude to share their disagreements with each other. Sometimes the problems are more misunderstandings than real differences.

5. Avoid the infamous "people are saying." If you, as a church staff member, have a problem with another staff member, never use this phrase. Speak for yourself and give the names of the parties of whom you are speaking. Anything else is cowardice.

6. Hear both sides of a conflict. I recently heard of a church personnel committee that came to the conclusion to fire the pastor largely based on the complaints of two other staff. The committee never asked to hear from other staff, or even the pastor who was forced out.

7. Consider if you should leave before you tear apart the church. If you have a major conflict with another staff person, be willing to pray about your own departure. Our natural first and carnal instinct is to force the other person out. Maybe we need to ask seriously if we should leave before the conflict tears the church apart.

8. Help staff to exit graciously. I am grieved when I hear of a pastor or church staff person who is asked to leave immediately when conflict is taking place. Consider instead the path of giving him or a short period of time to find another position so he or she may exit gracefully.

I recently asked several pastors and church staff about the greatest challenges they face. Near the top of the list was staff conflict. While conflict is inevitable in any relationship, unresolved or improperly handled conflict among church staff can destroy the unity and the witness of the church.

There must be a better way.

Thom Rainer is the president of LifeWay Christian Resources. For the original article, visit

]]> (Thom S. Rainer ) Administration Tue, 21 Apr 2015 12:00:00 -0400
4 Reasons The Pastor Should Hire Other Church Staff

In Jim Collins' classic book, Good to Great, he notes the critical, if not obvious, importance of getting the right people in the right roles in the organization. But Collins describes this function as a leadership task.

Simply stated, the leaders in the organization should have both the responsibility and the accountability for hiring their own team. The organization's health depends on it.

Unfortunately in many of our churches, pastors have little input into the hiring of the staff that would report to them. Many times, this role is handled by a search committee, personnel committee or similar group, and the pastor is given little to no involvement in this process.

This approach is fraught with problems. Indeed, this process is often responsible for staff conflict, low morale, and lack of unity in the church.

There are four critical reasons pastors should hire other staff. These same reasons would apply to first level staff hiring their own staff in larger churches.

1. Chemistry. Only when two people spend time together, such as during an interview process, can each of them get an idea if they can work together. I have seen too many disasters where a highly qualified staff person was imposed upon a pastor. Both were competent people. Both were good people. But they just did not have good chemistry. A committee cannot hire the right chemistry without the pastor's involvement

2. Loyalty. There is a natural tendency to have initial loyalty to the person who hired you. Without the pastor's involvement in the selection process, you can only hope that the loyalty will evolve later.

3. Compatibility. Chemistry involves emotional connections. Compatibility involves cognitive connections. Pastors can best determine if prospective staff will be compatible in terms of the mission, theology, and philosophy of ministry. I once had a student minister on staff who was a great person. But our philosophies of ministry were significantly different. If I had been involved in the interview process, I would have asked that question at the onset, and we could have avoided a lot of pain.

4. Accountability. Like the issue of loyalty, a staff person tends to demonstrate accountability to the person or persons who hired him or her. Similarly, pastors may not feel as responsible for the development and success of a staff person if they were not involved in the hiring.

I am not suggesting all churches change their bylaws and processes immediately. I am suggesting, however, if a committee or group is responsible for hiring staff persons, they should involve the pastor greatly in the process. If the pastor feels that the new staff person wasn't "their" choice, problems could arise quickly.

I would love to hear your perspectives on this issue, particularly as it is played out in your churches.

Thom Rainer is the president of LifeWay Christian Resources. For the original article, visit

]]> (Thom S. Rainer) Administration Wed, 15 Apr 2015 20:00:00 -0400
Communications Stalwart Takes Helm at D. James Kennedy Ministries

Leading influential broadcast ministries is what Frank Wright does best. And as of April 15, the former head of the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) and Salem Communications Corporation, will bring his extensive leadership experience to D. James Kennedy Ministries (formerly Coral Ridge Ministries).

D. James Kennedy Ministries—re-named for its founder the late Christian minister, best-selling author and nationally-known evangelist, Dr. D. James Kennedy—is founded upon Kennedy's passion to communicate the gospel in 'ways yet undreamed of" to the ends of the earth. Wright, an accomplished ministry leader, speaker, Bible teacher and personal friend of Dr. Kennedy, is perfectly positioned to advance the ministry's mission.

"Beyond a shadow of a doubt, God has led Dr. Wright and our ministry to this partnership 'for such a time as this,'" said Jim Carlson, Chairman of the Board. "Along with Jennifer Kennedy Cassidy and the entire board, I look forward to what we will accomplish together for the Kingdom of God under Dr. Wright's leadership, bold vision, and proven experience."

Carlson cites Dr. Wright's strategic experience and success in the field of broadcast management, his knowledge of public policy, and his recognized leadership and influence in Washington, D.C., as accomplishments that make him uniquely prepared for his new role as president of D. James Kennedy Ministries.

Previously, Wright served as president and chief operation officer at Salem Communications Corporation, a leading U.S. radio broadcaster, Internet content provider and media publisher in the Christian industry. He also spent 10 years serving as the president and chief executive officer of the National Religious Broadcasters and as the executive director of the Center for Christian Statesmanship based on Capitol Hill. Wright holds a Ph.D. in Finance from Florida Atlantic University and is an ordained elder in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA).

"But beyond Dr. Wright's professional expertise, he is a decade-long friend and student of the late Dr. Kennedy and he shares an incredible understanding of Dr. Kennedy's biblical perspective, his commitment to the Great Commission of Jesus Christ and this ministry's cultural mandate," Carlson said. "We are proud and excited to welcome Dr. Wright to the D. James Kennedy ministry family."

D. James Kennedy Ministries is headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

]]> (Christian Newswire) Administration Mon, 13 Apr 2015 12:00:00 -0400
8 Values of Teamwork That Keep a Church Healthy

The success of your ministry depends largely on developing a strong team with a deep sense of team spirit. I've witnessed the incredible power of a unified team to create growth and have counseled many churches that weren't growing because their team members worked as individuals and not as a team.

A team spirit is never accidental; it is always intentional. Teamwork is built on three factors:

  • A compelling purpose
  • Crystal-clear communication
  • A code of commonly held values.

At Saddleback Church, we express the eight values of teamwork in a simple acrostic, T.E.A.M.W.O.R.K.:


Trust among your team is the emotional glue that binds them together; it's essential to producing true confidence in each other. There are three factors that create trust within a team:

1. Consistency. People will trust you if, time after time, they see you responding in a consistent and reasonable manner. You also need to be readable, in the sense that they need to know where you are coming from in your decisions and responses.

2. Loyalty. Defend members of your team when they're criticized and then check the facts later in private, always assuming the best until there is concrete evidence to the contrary.

3. Delegation. When you delegate to your team the power to make decisions, you're essentially telling them: "I trust you!" People trust leaders who trust them.

E–Economy of Energy

Even a thoroughbred horse can't run at a full gait all the time. The quickest way to burn-out a team is to never let them relax. The book of Proverbs teaches: "A relaxed attitude lengthens a man's life." (Proverbs 14:30, LB) If you want the people on your team to last, they must have some down time.

Here are some ways you can promote an economy of energy within your team:

  • Anticipate and compensate for personal and family energy drains, such as illnesses and new babies. Your team has a life outside of their area of ministry.
  • Allow people to work at different energy levels on different days. Some days, everyone must work fast and energetic. Other days, it is important to slow the pace a bit. In the long term, slow and steady always outlasts the fast and furious.
  • Plan your year in energy cycles. At Saddleback, we always build in rest periods for consolidation between major growth campaigns and initiatives.
  • Allow flexibility in schedules when possible.
  • Make the work fun!


Everybody is hungry for affirmation. When they don't get it, they get cranky. It's amazing how a smile and a simple word of encouragement can change a team member's entire day. Four practical ways you can affirm your team would be:

  1. Valuing their ideas
  2. Appreciating their uniqueness
  3. Commending their efforts
  4. Praising their loyalty

M–Management of Mistakes

The Bible teaches: "Even though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again." (Proverbs 24:16, NIV) I love that saying because it points out that even righteous people make mistakes and stumble occasionally. Mistakes are not failures, because you're never a failure until you give up. Mistakes teach us what doesn't work. If you're not making any mistakes, it means you're playing it safe and not trying anything new. I tell my staff that I want every one of them making at least one new mistake a week—as long as it isn't the same old one! Mistakes are how we learn and get better.

W–Weekly Staff Meetings

For years, I asked my team to bring me a brief weekly report on a small 3-by-5 card. This kept the reports short and to the point. Then those cards became our weekly meeting agenda. Today we use email. Here are the four things you want to know as a leader:

  • "I've made progress in ______________________________________"
  • "I'm having difficulty with ___________________________________"
  • "I need a decision from you on ________________________________"
  • "I'm thankful for ___________________________________________"

O – Open Communication

Open communication is the cornerstone of great teamwork. Proverbs 13:17 (LB) says "Reliable communication permits progress." There are three common barriers to great communication:

1. Presumption. How many problems have been caused by the phrase "But I assumed ..."? Here are some fatal assumptions: assuming that there's only one way to see a problem; assuming that everyone else feels just like you; assuming that someone will never change (they do); assuming that you can know someone else's motives (you can't).

2. Impatience ruins open communication because we are more interested in what we are going to say than listening to what others say. Impatience causes you to jump to conclusions.

3. Pride. When you think you know it all, you are resistant to feedback, and you become defensive instead of really listening to others and learning.

R–Recognition and Reward

The more credit you give to others, the more you develop team spirit. It's that simple. The Bible says, "Give honor and respect to all those to whom it is due." (Romans 13:7, LB)

K–Keep on Learning

All leaders are learners. The moment you stop learning, you stop being a leader. As I consult with churches, I've seen that growing churches require growing leaders.

Another proverb says "The intelligent man is always open to new ideas. In fact, he looks for them." (Proverbs 18:15, LB) Do you do that? Do you encourage your team members to keep on growing, developing, and learning?

At Saddleback, our staff is constantly reading books and listening to tapes to sharpen their skills and develop their character.

If you practice these eight T.E.A.M.W.O.R.K. values with your team, you'll experience a new level of teamwork in your church that will take your ministry to new heights.

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of, a global Internet community for pastors.

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Does Your Church Have a Sabbatical Leave Policy?

The role of pastor is extremely stressful. In effect he/she is never off duty. This long-term stress takes a toll emotionally, spiritually and physically.

Churches that want to keep their pastor for many years must provide him/her with a season of rest. I recommend that all full-time pastors and staff receive a three-month paid sabbatical every six or seven years.

The Battle Wounded

Consider the following statistics:

  • 23 percent of pastors have been fired or pressured to resign at least once in their careers.
  • 25 percent of pastors don't know where to turn when they have a family or personal issue.
  • 45 percent of pastors say that they have experienced depression or burnout to the extent that they needed to take a leave of absence.
  • 56 percent of pastors' spouses say that they have no close friends.
  • 70 don't have any close friends.
  • 75 percent report severe stress causing anguish, worry, bewilderment, anger, depression, fear and alienation.
  • 80 percent say they have insufficient time with their spouse.
  • 80 percent believe that pastoral ministry affects their families negatively.
  • 90 percent work more than 50 hours a week.
  • 94 percent feel under pressure to have a perfect family.

1,500 pastors leave the ministry each month due to burnout, conflict or moral failure.

Time for Some R & R

Universities and colleges have given professors sabbaticals for many years. Originally modeled on the biblical cycle of work and rest, professors receive a sabbatical for research, writing, travel and rest every seven years.

Many churches today find that by providing a regular sabbatical for their pastors, they are able to keep them for a longer period of time. And, as I mentioned in an earlier article here, there is a direct relationship between pastoral longevity and church growth.

Two Examples

A number of books, articles and examples are available to help you avoid re-inventing the wheel in developing a policy. Google "pastoral sabbatical policy" and you will find over 3,700 hits. Here are two examples of churches' sabbatical policies:

Example No. 1

Personal development leave is for professional growth that will benefit our church.

  • Leave accrues at 1.5 weeks per year of service.
  • A pastor must serve a minimum of 2 years before scheduling a study leave.
  • All personal development leave must be scheduled and approved by the church Council. The Administrative Committee will make a recommendation based upon a review of all the pastor's schedules and the purpose of the leave with the assurance that all ministries will be properly carried on.
  • A pastor will serve a minimum of 6 months following the use of any personal development leave.
  • Accrued personal development leave is forfeited when a pastor resigns. The church Council may waive this in the case of a tendered resignation.

Example No. 2

Sabbatical leave may be granted to full-time pastoral staff members for the pursuit of activities as approved by the Council of Elders. The following stipulations and requirements will apply:

  • Sabbaticals may be approved for six months at the culmination of each seven years of full-time ministry at the church. Each staff member may apply vacation time earned to extend his/her leave to a maximum of one month.
  • Full salary and benefits will be paid during the leave.
  • A detailed proposal for use of a sabbatical leave will be presented to the Council of Elders at the time of application for leave. Applications should be presented six months prior to expected leave. The council has the right to deny leave for sabbaticals it feels does not meet its approval.
  • The intent of sabbatical leave is to further the ministry of our church.
  • Upon returning, the staff member taking a sabbatical leave will give a report to the Council of Elders on what was achieved during the leave.


Each year your church should put aside an amount equivalent to 1/12 of the pastor's annual salary to cover the salary during the sabbatical leave. The seventh year of a pastor's tenure is often one of mental and spiritual fatigue. By allowing the pastor to take a three-month sabbatical at this time the pastor's life will be re-energized which will have a positive impact on the church's ministry, as well.

Dr. Charles Arn has been a leading contributor to the conversation on church growth/health for the past 30 years. His newest book, What Every Pastor Should Know, is available from Baker Books.

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6 Ways to Control Your Calendar So It Doesn’t Control You

Mark Batterson once wrote, "If you don't control your calendar, your calendar will control you."

Alan Lakein said, "Time is life. It is irreversible and irreplaceable. To waste your time is to waste your life, but to master your time is to master your life and make the most of it."

Scott Peck is credited with saying, "Until you value yourself, you will not value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it."

And, I've heard a hundred preachers say, "Show me your checkbook and your calendar, and I'll tell you what you value."

I agree with all these statements. Leaders who don't have control of their calendars will constantly be spinning out in the dirt without making much progress. Life will seem frantic and hurried, yet it will be difficult to pinpoint what they are actually getting done.

I'm not the king of time management, but I do live and die by my calendar. Everything that is important in my life goes on my calendar.

Here are six principles that help me:

1. Put priority items on your calendar first. Perhaps you've seen the illustration where the presenter tries to fill a jar with a combination of big rocks and little rocks. If the presenter fills the jar with the little rocks first, he is not able to fit very many big rocks in the jar. However, if he fills it with all the big rocks first, then he can add many of the little rocks in and around the big rocks.

The analogy breaks down if you go very far with it, but the foundation is true.

You must put priority things (e.g., time with your spouse and kids, vacation, strategic planning, and vision time) on the calendar first.

Otherwise you'll never find time for those priorities.

2. Stack your meetings. If it's within your control, try to schedule all your meetings on the same day or two each week.

I knew I wouldn't get much productive work done on those days, but I was going to have some great conversations, help move the ball down the field on some projects, and keep my staff moving forward because of our connections.

Stacking your meetings will keep you from getting bitter about meetings ruling your life, and it will leave you with a couple of days where your schedule is relatively open.

3. Schedule your rest. If you don't plan for rest and renewal, it won't happen.

My calendar will always fill up if I don't plan for some down time. I'm always amazed when I hear people say, "I'm going to try to take a couple days off next week. I just have to see how the week goes."

What? Are you kidding? You can't wait for the right time to unwind or take a vacation with your family. It will never happen.

Get the dates on the calendar months in advance. Always be looking at your schedule for busy seasons ahead. Make sure you plan some time in the middle of those seasons to unwind and get centered.

4. Manage your travel schedule. If you don't travel, skip over this one. But many leaders have to be on the road.

A few years ago I noticed my travel schedule was getting out of hand. One year I was gone 18 nights, the next year it was 25, then 32, then 47. This was not a good trend.

Because my kids were younger, and because my wife was not able to travel with me often, I was unwilling to see that trend continue.

So I sat down with my wife and my boss, and we figured out that 30 nights away from home was a reasonable number for me during that season. Any more than that, and my priorities started to get out of whack.

If it was much less than that, it was more difficult for me to get my job done. I don't think the number 30 is magical, but I do think it's important for anyone who travels regularly to find the right amount that balances family, business and personal health.

5. Go home before the work is done. This is difficult whether you are in business or the church world. (In ministry, we convince ourselves someone might go to hell if we go home too soon!)

When you go home before the work is done, it means you are leaving something really good behind. But you can't wait until your to-do list is complete or until the phone stops ringing before you head home to your family.

The work is never finished. Just go home!

(Note: If you are a slacker, then please ignore this point. You actually shouldn't leave until your to-do list is done.)

6. Leave room for people and leave room for God. It is easy to fill up your calendar and not leave room for what God might bring along your path.

I had a friend who called these "Godadents" instead of accidents. If my calendar is booked solid, I don't have the flexibility when someone drops by my office or a crisis comes up that needs attention.

I try to monitor this by blocking more time than is needed for appointments, leaving a buffer between appointments and keeping my door open as often as possible.

This is just as important for Christian business leaders. Part of your calling as a follower of Jesus is to love and care for people—and that begins with the people already in your life. Make room to ask your employees about their lives, their dreams and their hurts.

John Maxwell summed up calendar management this way: "The key to becoming a more efficient leader isn't checking off all the items on your to-do list each day. It's in forming the habit of prioritizing your time so that you are accomplishing your most important goals in an efficient manner."

Tim Stevens serves as executive pastor of Granger Community Church in Granger, Indiana. Tim has a passion for the local church and equipping leaders with practical advice and tools to add value to them. He has co-authored three books with Tony Morgan, including Simply Strategic Stuff, Simply Strategic Volunteers, and Simply Strategic Growth, and most recently published his own book, Pop Goes the Church: Should the Church Engage Pop Culture?

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