Ministry is too important to be done haphazardly. How we’re leading in the core of our churches has to do with life-changing, eternity-consequential decisions. Therefore, we need to think through what ministry is all about. Sometimes we are more strategic about our grocery lists than our approach to ministry.
"Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but many.
Let me state the obvious: Pastors are human. That means they have preferences, likes and dislikes. So I did an unscientific Twitter poll to find out what pastors really don’t like about their job.
By the way, one pastor cautioned me about calling their ministries “jobs.” I understand, but it’s hard to fit “God-called vocation and ministry” into a 140-character Twitter question.
I was surprised at the variety of responses. Pastors are certainly not monolithic. No one response was greater than 20 percent of the total. And I was surprised at some potential responses that did not show up.
Saddleback didn’t have an organized youth ministry until we had 500 in attendance. We didn’t have a singles ministry until we had 1,000 people in attendance.
And I’m glad we didn’t.
It’s not because those ministries aren’t important. They’re vital! But God hadn’t provided anyone to lead them. Never create a ministry position and then fill it. It’s backwards.
Your most critical component to a new ministry isn’t the idea to start it—it’s the leadership of the ministry. Every ministry rises and falls on leadership. Without the right leader, a ministry will just stumble along. It may even do more harm than good. I could tell you some horror stories about poorly led ministries.
How do you know when God is closing one door in ministry and opening another?
I get this question a lot and have previously addressed it, but recently I have received it more frequently, so I decided to write about it again. (I always note that this post is written about my experiences for people who may currently need it.)
Several times in my ministry, first as a layperson and since then in vocational ministry, God has called me to leave one ministry and begin another. It can be a scary place to face the unknown, yet know that God is up to something new in your life.
Empowering other people on the team to be leaders—delegation—is critical to a successful church or organization. Every leader talks about delegation, but few truly empower others to be leaders.
It’s a frustration I hear frequently from staff members of churches.
Frankly, as one with a strength (StrengthFinders) of command, I can easily take over if no one else takes the lead. It takes discipline as a leader, but I want to create an environment of healthy empowerment. I want to lead a church that produces leaders.
Yours is a tough job. The responsibility buck stops with you, and I get that totally.
The list you’re about to read is said with love and familiarity with both “pairs of shoes,” and it’s nothing new, really. I’m just slipping it across your virtual desk as a reminder.
1. Give loving feedback early on. Don’t wait until staff review time or a board meeting six months later to let your youth worker know you weren’t happy with something. How can they improve if the expectations are unknown? Make sure there aren’t any unspoken/invisible rules.
Partnerships are crucial in today’s culture. Great organizations seem to always have a strong ability to partner well. If you want to grow your organization or project or initiative, finding, building and sustaining great partnerships has to be part of your plan.
Partnerships are not always easy, though. Teaming up with one another can result in true synergy—or, many times, can result in ultimate failure.
Here are a few thoughts on why creating great partnerships is a must for you and your organization:
It is one of the most unpredictable jobs one could have. There will be weeks when there won’t be much taking place out of the ordinary, and the pastor will work a “mere” 40 to 45 hours. There will be other weeks filled with meetings, emergency hospital calls, a wedding, two funerals, and line of members waiting to see the pastor. That workweek could total 80 hours.
So we surveyed pastors on Twitter and asked them a simple question: How many average hours do you work a week, including sermon preparation? Though we asked for an average, most responded with a range. We thus took the midpoint of the range they submitted. We also asked this question only of fulltime vocational pastors.
Habits impact churches much more than they realize. In fact, many churches are stuck because of bad habits.
Charles Duhigg writes in The Power of Habit, “Most of the choices we make each day may feel like the products of well-consumed decision making, but they’re not. They’re habits. And though each habit means relatively little on its own ... over time the way we organize our thoughts and routines has enormous impacts.”
Lately, I have noticed four recurring bad habits developed by teams with no clear ministry strategy.
Feeling under pressure? Overworked? Are you and your team working hard but can’t seem to keep up, let alone get ahead?
You are not alone. This is a very common church staff scenario. What you do about it can be a game-changer.
In more than 20 years of creating new positions and hiring staff, I’ve lived with the tension of needing to know how many staff is the right number, what positions are the right positions and when is the right time to hire more people. The thing that increases the tension is that there are so many different opinions about the answers to those questions.
Booz & Company just recently completed a study asking leaders about their business strategy. Based on their research, they found that most executives don't believe their company's strategy is understood by their employees and customers. Even more astonishing, 54 percent of executives do not believe their company's strategy will lead to success.
Can you believe that? More than half of businesses are being led by executives who don't believe their organizations have a plan to experience success. I can only assume these businesses are going through the motions today, hoping (and maybe praying) for better future results.
Olan Hendrix once said, “Strategic thinking is like showering; you have to keep doing it.” Many churches are intentional about setting short and long-term goals. Unfortunately, because there is no ongoing process, they quickly get stuck and revert back to previous ways of thinking once goals are accomplished.
Strategic Operating Plans guide teams to clarify their mission, vision and core strategies—and then create the right structure and accountability to realize it through prioritized action initiatives. The process is a continual circle because strategic thinking must always be ongoing.
The May edition of Fast Company recently featured an article by Danielle Sacks that really demonstrates the importance of strategic planning.
The power of accountability sets the tone in any organization.
So, what about when someone completely drops the ball?We all have experienced this as leaders. I know I have. How do you respond?
You give a big assignment or project to someone on your team, and they lay an egg—totally drop the ball and don’t get it done. We’ve all been there. I know I have, both as the goat who goofed up, as well as the one in charge trying to figure out how to handle the situation.
So, how do you handle it? Let’s look at this situation from both sides—both the one who dropped the ball and the one in charge.
Pastors, we tend to share a lot throughout the year. Some of you are preparing two or three messages and presentations every week. When you repeat that process 52 times in a year, life gets exhausting. How do you stay motivated to keep going?
Let me share with you how I’ve managed to motivate myself. Here are 17 things you can do to keep yourself motivated.
1. Put your plans on paper. Write out what you want to accomplish. Spell it out. Dawson Trotman said, ”Thoughts disentangle themselves when they pass through the lips and the fingertips.” If I can say it and I can write it down, then it’s clear. If I haven’t written it down, then it’s vague.
Autumn is coming before we know it! If your church staff is like most, you are gearing up to start your fall planning.
Here are some things to consider as you put your planning down on paper:
1.Why do you do what you do? For every event or series you put on the calendar, ask yourself “Why?” If you answer, “Because we always have the ladies' tea the second Saturday in November,” it might be time to change your traditions.
One of the most frequently asked questions I receive is this: “Do you have any sample performance evaluation forms you can send me?” To be honest, I do have samples, but I never send them.
Why don’t I send them? Well, let me ask you: Have you ever seen a traditional performance evaluation system that actually improves performance? Probably not. To my knowledge, no such form exists. You don’t need a sample form. Instead, you need to lead well.
There’s a perpetuating myth in leadership circles that every good leader does annual performance reviews. That’s not true. You can be a great leader without going through the agony of filling out your annual HR evaluation forms.
In a recent conversation, I was reminded of a set of questions that Marcus Buckingham developed to measure job satisfaction. This list is several years old, but it still provides great insights. I challenge you to consider going through these questions with your team. (My team will.)
1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
2. Do I have the materials and equipment that I need in order to do my work right?
3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
4. In the past seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?
5. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?
6. Is there someone at work who encourages my development?
7. At work, do my opinions seem to count?
8. Does the mission or purpose of my company make me feel that my job is important?
9. Are my coworkers committed to doing quality work?
10. Do I have a best friend at work?
11. In the past six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?
12. This past year, have I had opportunities at work to learn and grow?
Which one of those 12 questions challenges you the most? You can check out the rest of the magazine article originally published in Fast Company.
By the way, Buckingham also has a resource available called The Truth about You (Thomas Nelson, 2008). It’s a toolkit including a DVD, interactive book and a “rememo” pad to help you enjoy higher satisfaction with life and work.
Among other things Buckingham confirms, “You’ll never turn your weaknesses into strengths.” I hope that sets you free.
Pastor, you’ve got a sleeping giant in your church. If you awake that sleeping giant, it’ll change your church, your community and the world.
This sleeping giant in your church is your unengaged lay people.
If 10 percent of your church does most of the work, you have nine entire churches your size sitting on the sidelines each week. Fully engaged, the ministry potential of your church is mind-boggling!