Leadership http://ministrytodaymag.com/leadership Thu, 05 May 2016 21:45:42 -0400 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb 7 Reasons Planning Is Important to Pastors http://ministrytodaymag.com/leadership/pastoring/22846-7-reasons-planning-is-important-to-pastors http://ministrytodaymag.com/leadership/pastoring/22846-7-reasons-planning-is-important-to-pastors

Little of any value comes to pass without someone planning it. I like the saying we use in discussing sermon purpose: "Aim at nothing, and you're sure to hit it."

We can use that same idea for planning: "Plan for nothing, and you're sure to accomplish it." Planning is an essential part of the way life works in this world. God created the universe in such a way that planning fits. This includes, of course, planning for every aspect of your preaching.

Here are some reasons for the importance of planning in your preaching program:

1. The lordship of Christ calls for the discipline of planning. Being under the rule of our Lord calls for continual choices on our part. At every point, we want to seek His will. Even so, you and I have great freedom under the lordship of Christ. We are the ones making the choices. His reign will be a reality in our experience to the extent we choose it. This truth applies to our preaching ministry as well. If we are to honor Christ in preaching, we will have to take an intentional approach to it. We never stumble into the will of God or drift into it. We move into it intentionally because we plan to do so.

2. The priority of the preaching task calls for planning. Of all the tasks to be done in ministry, preaching is surely one of the most important. There is no other aspect of the pastoral work that has as much potential good as preaching. What else does the pastor do in any other half-hour that can affect as many people in a positive way? Even though preachers usually rank preaching as one of their most important responsibilities, they usually admit that they do not give it priority in their use of time. That discrepancy can only be corrected by careful planning.

3. Planning is vital to the well-being of the preacher. A positive and enthusiastic attitude toward your ministry can be spoiled quickly by another poor sermon. This discouragement and guilt then affect the preacher's attitude about the whole of his ministry. Preaching is too close to the heart of the preacher's calling and commitments to be done poorly without serious regrets. Planning carefully will change those regrets into rejoicing.

4. The needs of the preacher's family call for careful planning in his preaching ministry. By this, I do not mean our families need to hear good preaching from us. I rather mean they deserve our undivided attention at those hours when "family time" is the agenda. When the family is home in the evening, the preacher should not have to think about a sermon. Careful planning and preparation allow us the freedom to give them our full attention.

5. The needs of the congregation call for careful planning. The pastor is not only a preacher. He is also counselor, chaplain, friend, referee, administrator and teacher. Whatever we do, however, our preaching and teaching will provide the overall conceptual framework for ministry. It is there we interpret the Christian life and the mission of the church. It is there we address the people at the point of their personal needs. Without careful planning, this preaching ministry will not touch those needs.

6. The time pressures of the pastorate require the pastor to plan his preaching carefully. There is always more to do than can be done in any pastoral role. These secondary tasks will dominate the time needed for sermon preparation. The pastor can give adequate time to sermon preparation only if he plans on it. In fact, he must plan for more than he can get by with because of the interruptions and emergencies that will inevitably come. Without careful planning, he will all too often find himself with the "Saturday night panics."

7. The call for excellence in ministry requires careful planning. No one answers God's call to ministry with the intention of doing a poor job. This is the most important work in the world. Lives hang in the balance. A great price has been paid to make the ministry of Christ a reality. We must give it our best. But to do so will call for planning. Again, we never drift into excellence. {eoa}

Adapted from 12 Essential Skills for Great Preaching by Wayne McDill (B&H Publishing Group, 2006).

Wayne McDill is senior professor of preaching at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. His more than 40 years in the ministry include assignments as pastor and other pastoral staff positions, denominational staff for evangelism and church growth and teacher at the college and seminary levels.

For the original article, visit lifeway.com.

shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Wayne McDill ) Pastoring Wed, 04 May 2016 18:00:00 -0400
Kingdom Economics: Confidence Establishes Success http://ministrytodaymag.com/leadership/personal-character/22845-kingdom-economics-confidence-establishes-success http://ministrytodaymag.com/leadership/personal-character/22845-kingdom-economics-confidence-establishes-success

Consumers became more pessimistic during the last month. The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index fell from a March estimate of 96.1 to an April estimate of 94.2.

The index measures the attitudes of consumers regarding current and future business conditions, incomes and employment. Confidence is believed to be related to spending. Since consumption, or consumer spending, comprises about two-thirds of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the index is followed closely.

Confidence is an important indicator of future success in just about anything. It has been shown to be an important indicator of achievement in school, performance by athletes, management success, leadership effectiveness and profitable long-lasting entrepreneurial ventures. Without confidence, too many lack the endurance to complete the task. Others will not put forth the extra effort to make a venture successful. Some will not even start the new undertaking, because they do not believe they will succeed.

Confidence is a belief in victory. Whether on the athletic field, in the classroom, on the job, in a business environment or on a platform, confidence expects that one's efforts will triumph. 

Confidence is the hope that all can be overcome regardless of the obstacles. Confidence creates a peace within oneself and an assurance to others. Confidence is not arrogance or brashness; it is a knowing that things will be OK.

In the world, self-confidence is misplaced. If our confidence is based solely on what we can see, we are limited. We are designed for something more. Specifically, we are called to replace our confidence in ourselves with confidence in God. With Him, no issue is too great.  No challenge is too daunting. Nothing that we face in this life is impossible. All things have a solution. 

"But Jesus looked at them and said, 'With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible'" (Matt. 19:26, MEV).

In the world, our past and current circumstances matter. Childhood abuse and/or neglect, rejection by others, sins, criminal activities, a multitude of debts and few skills can dramatically hinder self-confidence and the abundant life in the natural. But in the kingdom, we are new creatures and everything has become new.

"Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things have passed away. Look, all things have become new" (2 Cor. 5:17, MEV).

In the kingdom, we should be the most confident of all peoples because our confidence is not limited to our abilities. We are sons and daughters of the Most High God. We have the right to use the Name that is above all names. We have the third member of the Godhead residing in us. We have a book of promises that are 100 percent reliable. We have a Father and King who loves us more than we can imagine. We have the full resources of heaven at our disposal. He has promised us the grace to help in time of need.

"Let us then come with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Heb. 4:16, MEV).

We are confident that when we ask according to His will, he hears us and will give us our requests. It does not say that all prayers will be answered. Prayers that are guided by the lusts of our flesh, the lusts of our eyes or the pride of life are not of the Father. There is no promise they will be answered.

"For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father, but is of the world" (1 John 2:16, MEV).

"This is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. So if we know that He hears whatever we ask, we know that we have whatever we asked of Him" (1 John 5:14-15, MEV).

Let us have confidence in our God and pray according to His revealed will. {eoa}

Dr. James R. Russell is professor of economics and chair of the Undergraduate College of Business at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

shawn.akers@charismamed.com (James R. Russell) Personal Character Wed, 04 May 2016 12:00:00 -0400
How to Build a Team of Excellence in Your Small Church http://ministrytodaymag.com/leadership/worship/22776-how-to-build-a-team-of-excellence-in-your-small-church http://ministrytodaymag.com/leadership/worship/22776-how-to-build-a-team-of-excellence-in-your-small-church

If you're a worship leader trying to keep up with today's modern worship sound, you have probably realized it's pretty difficult to recreate the epic orchestral, mesmerizing folk or powerful wall-of-sound qualities that dominate the genre.

You encounter challenges such as a lack of qualified musicians in your church, an underpowered sound system, budget constraints, limited rehearsal time or team member inconsistency. All of these are valid and difficult obstacles to overcome when trying to build a worship team that sounds great, carries spiritual authority and operates in unity.

It may seem like excellence of sound and spirit is reserved for the megachurches with thousands of members and even larger budgets, but that simply is not the case. No matter what size of church you're in, you can have an excellent worship team. Here's how:

1. Excellence starts from the top. Probably the most difficult thing for any musician is gaining a realistic perspective on his ability. You're either your own worst critic or your biggest fan, but I encourage you to evaluate yourself objectively. Discover your actual strengths and honest weaknesses because one of the keys to building a team of excellent members is to be sure you lead by example.

Excellence is not perfection or being the absolute best at a skill. In fact, excellence should never be based on a comparison to anyone else. Don't worry about who is better and who is worse. Excellence is about confidence, maximizing what you do have and being willing to learn. Are you truly excellent? Consider these factors:

Confidence. If you're a little unsure about your song list for the week, that's OK! Don't apologize to yourself or your team for your choice of songs. Even if you think your set list seems a little flat, your team will trust you and give you their best effort if you feel comfortable and confident when making decisions. If you are insecure or hesitant, however, your team will sense that and will subsequently reflect your insecurities with confusion, doubt and, ultimately, poor playing.

Maximization. If you're not an amazing singer with the ability to do mind-blowing vocal runs and hit crazy-high notes, that's OK! Know your limitations. Choose songs that fit your range, and don't push for notes you can't hit. Keep your melodies simple. If you maximize the skills you do have and stay within the boundaries of your capabilities, you will be able to perform with excellence.

Learning. If you're not a strong musician just yet, that's OK! Are you willing to learn? Are you getting into the lessons and practicing your craft? Your team does not expect you to be perfect, but they do expect you to grow. A desire for excellence at your craft and an effort to achieve it will attract excellent team members who can help you improve and pursue growth for themselves.

2. Use a quality sound engineer. There's an old trick in the live music industry when the headliner isn't much better than the opening acts: Replace the sound man.

A great audio engineer can make a mediocre band sound really good, just as a bad audio engineer can make an awesome band sound awful. It's all in the mix. Use the same approach to finding a sound engineer that you would use to find a leader, guitarist or drummer. Don't brush this role off as unimportant. As much as Grandma Jane may want to sit behind the soundboard and serve the ministry, this position requires as much foresight, training and skill as any other position on the worship team—if not more!

Again, you can give an individual the opportunity to grow, but don't settle for someone unknowledgeable who has no desire to become excellent. This role is crucial to creating the kind of sound you are aiming for in your service.

3. Play to a click. A very simple and practical way to get your worship team to a higher level of excellence is to start playing with a metronome. This one simple step will immediately make your band tighter and more uniform. It will help to simplify their parts.

All you have to do is download a free iPhone app called Metronome—it's that easy. If you can't afford to switch your whole stage to in-ear monitors, you can at least get your drummer on a click using a Rolls Headphone Amplifier. They cost about $75 at Guitar Center and work well with wedge monitor systems.

These three points will help you achieve the impact you would like to have with your worship team. {eoa}

Joshua Mohline is director of WorshipU (worshipu.com), the online school of worship from Bethel Music. With a background as a worship leader in settings from small to large, he has been a part of the Bethel Church worship teams since 2012. He facilitates the worship school as it equips and empowers thousands of worship leaders and teams worldwide.

webmaster@strang.com (Joshua Mohline) Worship Tue, 03 May 2016 21:00:00 -0400
Why Your Vision Statement Is Overrated http://ministrytodaymag.com/leadership/vision/22843-why-your-vision-statement-is-overrated http://ministrytodaymag.com/leadership/vision/22843-why-your-vision-statement-is-overrated

Vision statements are a dime a dozen as far as I'm concerned. Everyone these days has a vision statement.

A few years ago, everyone had a "2020 Vision." Soon it will be a "2050 Vision," and so on. At the end of the day, however, a vision statement is just a statement. It has no life on its own. It cannot, nor will it ever, energize, unify or align an organization.

This task falls to the leader. A vision statement is only as strong as the leader is. Vision is only as clear as the leader is. Vision is only as compelling as a leader makes it.

A vision is stewarded and sustained by a leader.

A vision defines why we exist. No matter what we call it, preserving the vision requires we answer one question at the outset: "Why are we here?" The vision is our bulls-­eye.

Let's keep it simple. Leadership involves keeping our organization so focused on the vision that people are willing to sacrifice for it. If we get that right, everything else will fall in place.

Then how do we communicate it? How do we get everyone passionate about it as we are? How do we keep everyone aligned around it? How do we protect vision drift? These tasks fall to the leader!

Having a vision statement is just a small slice of the pie. It's one thing to say we have a vision. It's another thing to live it out. {eoa}

Shawn Lovejoy talks about this issue in depth in his new national release Be Mean About the Vision: Preserving and Protecting What Matters. Shawn is founder & CEO of CourageToLead.com, a one­-on-­one coaching ministry for leaders.

For the original article, visit pastors.com.

shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Shawn Lovejoy) Vision Tue, 03 May 2016 18:00:00 -0400
Theological Education or Leadership Development? http://ministrytodaymag.com/leadership/vision/22842-theological-education-or-leadership-development http://ministrytodaymag.com/leadership/vision/22842-theological-education-or-leadership-development

Being a global ministry working in unreached nations, many of our recently ordained Every Nation pastors were raised as Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, agnostics or atheists.

As such, most had zero Bible knowledge before meeting our mission teams. Now, only a few years later, these relatively new Christians are serving as campus missionaries, church planters and pastors.

It did not require vast wisdom to recognize the need to upgrade the theological foundations of Every Nation's global pastors.

One year ago, I was part of an international team that met in Istanbul to make decisions about minimum theological standards for an Every Nation Churches and Ministries pastor anywhere in the world. If someone is an ordained Every Nation pastor in Katmandu, Bangkok or London, what are our minimal biblical and theological educational standards? That Istanbul discussion set into motion what is now called Leadership 215 (inspired by 2 Tim. 2:15).

As part of the Leadership 215 development team, this week I have had a back-and-forth email discussion with Every Nation leaders in Asia, Europe and North America about our need for pedagogical clarification.

As I read the email thread from brilliant and dedicated global teachers, I quickly realized that while I was not the smartest man in the conversation, nevertheless I had a unique perspective that made my ideas matter. So after looking up the definition of "pedagogical" and several other arcane words (commonly used by dead and mostly dead European theologians) I threw in my two cents worth, which addressed two points.

1. One team vs. one genius.  While I am grateful for the teachers who are doing most of the Leadership 215 heavy lifting, obtaining the "pedagogical clarification" we desired, would require the input of teachers and non-teachers. The non-teachers include pushy apostles, mystical prophets, loud evangelists, practical pastors and young, zealous campus missionaries. Being a teacher, I find it much easier to work with a team of teachers.

When I'm with teachers, we almost always agree. But when I add those other people to the conversation, we rarely agree, and it often becomes messy. But despite the messiness, when it comes to leadership development, we are much better together. One team of average minds working together is more productive than one genius working alone.

2. Leadership Development vs. Theological Education. Since the beginning of our Leadership 215 project, I have filed all related documents under "leadership development" not under "theological education." To the untrained eye, this might look like a minor issue, but I think it is an important distinction. My filing label reminds me that the purpose of the Leadership 215 project is not primarily theological education, but leadership development.

Theological education is an important part of leadership development, but it is only a part. It is common to succeed in theological education and fail in leadership development, but it is impossible to succeed in leadership development and fail in theological education. In other words, there are many great theologians who can't spell leadership. But there are no great spiritual leaders who can't spell theology.

We must upgrade our theological standards if we want the kind of leaders who will reach every nation and every campus with the gospel of Christ. But we must remember that our endgame is a leader, not a theologian.

QUESTION: Which is most important, leadership development or theological education?

ANSWER: Both! {eoa}

Steve and Deborah Murrell went to the Philippines in 1984 for a one-month summer mission trip that never ended. They are the founding pastors of Victory Manila, one church that meets in 14 locations in metro Manila and has planted churches in 60 Philippine cities and 20 other nations. Currently, Victory has more than 6,000 discipleship groups that meet in coffee shops, offices, dormitories and homes in metro Manila. Steve is co-founder and president of Every Nation Churches and Ministries, a family of churches focused on church planting, campus ministry and world missions.

For the original article, visit stevemurrell.com.

shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Steve Murrell ) Vision Tue, 03 May 2016 12:00:00 -0400
6 Steps to Finishing Well in Life and Leadership http://ministrytodaymag.com/leadership/22834-6-steps-to-finishing-well-in-life-and-leadership http://ministrytodaymag.com/leadership/22834-6-steps-to-finishing-well-in-life-and-leadership

Everyone wants to be successful in life, but the truth is, many people never really achieve what they set out to accomplish. Many of us fall short of obtaining our dreams and goals. This is true in life and leadership.

After years of observing a lackluster success rate among some of the people to whom I minister and to leaders I coach, I began to examine why some people never seem to succeed.

What is it that keeps people from achieving what they claim to want most in life? Are there some steps that can be taken to enhance our chances of winning in this "game" of life?

If I am asked to coach someone to be a winner, these are some of the steps I will start.

Here are six steps I suggest to win in life and leadership:

1. Get in the right race. Many people never achieve the success they wanted, because they entered the wrong competition. They are aiming for the wrong targets. We should ask ourselves, "Where do I want to go in life and what do I eventually want to accomplish?" Until we know how we want our lives to end, we will never know the steps to take to succeed. This is true for leaders. If you don't have a vision for your leadership—where you're leading people—you're failing before you get started. Of course, I believe that, in life, this starts with a decision to allow Christ to set your path. Proverbs 16:9 says, "In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps."

2. Discipline for the race. Winning happens over time—not in an instant. The greatest athletes work hours outside the game in order to perhaps win even a single game. Victory doesn't often happen without hard, painful work to get there. It takes diligence and consistency to be a winner. Many times, victory was just around the corner, but the people gave up too soon. The best leaders I know also learn their individual skills and continue to develop them and they surround themselves with people who complement them—and cover for them in their weaknesses.

3. Develop character first. People who truly win in life spend a great amount of time on the development of themselves and others around them. Most of the successful business people and church leaders I know set aside time each week for personal development. They are frequently in the gym, reading a good book and attending church on Sunday. They develop their mind, body and spirit. They recognize that they must be relationally, physically and spiritually healthy if they want to have success in life.

4. Accept failure. Most winners are built through brokenness. The greatest leaders have failed many times. Before inventing the light bulb, Thomas Edison failed a thousand times. Babe Ruth had 714 home runs and 1,330 strikeouts. Abraham Lincoln was said to have failed so many times, in business, in his love life and in politics, but he finally became one of the greatest presidents of the United States. People who finish well in life and leadership allow failure to be their friend not their enemy.

5. Ignore unnecessary distractions. Winners don't give up when obstacles get in the way of achieving their goals. They find a way to work around them. They don't waste a lot of time and energy on the wrong things. They build upon the strength of others. Life is full of disappointments and set backs, but those who finish well learn to keep pushing forward—even through the darkest days.

6. Stay in the race. If a person wants to win he or she has to stay in the race. One cannot be a quitter and still win. Many times the winner is the one with the most heart. I know some leaders who need this encouragement—and they will need it many times in their career as a leader. Often we see the underdog team come from behind to win simply because they have more passion. If you want to be a winner—if you want to finish well—stay in the game!

Choose today to be a winner! Finish well! Don't let your "hope to do's" become your "wish you had's." {eoa}

Ron Edmondson is the lead pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky. For the original article, visit ronedmondson.com.

shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Ron Edmondson ) Ministry Leadership Mon, 02 May 2016 12:00:00 -0400
Majority of Pastors Suffer in Silence over Financial Challenges http://ministrytodaymag.com/leadership/finance/22841-majority-of-pastors-suffer-in-silence-over-financial-challenges http://ministrytodaymag.com/leadership/finance/22841-majority-of-pastors-suffer-in-silence-over-financial-challenges

Research released from the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) this week shows that the majority of evangelical pastors in the United States serve in small churches with significant personal financial challenges. Pastors also report that they are not familiar with resources to help them and do not confide in anyone outside their household about financial stress.

"The vast majority of pastors do not have their own radio or TV show, robust church staff or megachurch attendance," said Leith Anderson, NAE president. "Rather they faithfully serve in small churches and face financial challenges stemming from student debt, low salaries and medical expenses. And sadly, they often feel they have no one to turn to for help."

The poll, conducted by Grey Matter Research in July 2015, found that of the 4,249 pastors surveyed, 80 percent serve in congregations with fewer than 200 people, and 55 percent have fewer than 100 people in their church.

Half of the pastors serve in churches with annual budgets under $125,000 that must cover the cost of the church facilities, programs and pastor/staff payroll. Fifty percent of pastors receive less than $50,000 per year in compensation, with 30 percent having student loan debt averaging $36,000.

Many pastors also struggle to secure long-term financial stability. Thirty-three percent have under $10,000 in retirement funds. Twenty-nine percent have $0 in personal savings.

Over 85 percent of pastors said they did not receive financial training from their seminary. Many pastors (37 percent) are not familiar with what resources their denomination offers for personal finances. Over a third of pastors said they have no one outside their household in whom they can confide about the things that stress them financially.

This spring, with support from Lilly Endowment Inc., the NAE launched a multi-year initiative to address economic challenges facing pastors. The initiative will focus on connecting and resourcing denominations, churches and pastors in the area of pastor finances.

Download the full report at NAE.net/pastorresearch.

shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Christian Newswire) Finance Fri, 29 Apr 2016 18:00:00 -0400
When Do You Stop Developing a Volunteer Leader? http://ministrytodaymag.com/leadership/administration/22838-when-do-you-stop-developing-a-volunteer-leader http://ministrytodaymag.com/leadership/administration/22838-when-do-you-stop-developing-a-volunteer-leader

One of the very best investments you can make is to coach and mentor your volunteer leaders. A little development can deliver big returns! Most of the time this is a positive and productive endeavor, in fact, the relationship grows deeper and is even more enjoyable.

Don't make leadership development a complicated program. Great developmental coaching is often nothing more than the right words, at the right time to the right person. You know the person well enough, and you are paying attention, so when you see the need and the Holy Spirit prompts, you can speak. I can think of several coaching exchanges between John Maxwell and myself that only took a few minutes, but they were life changing. The process is the same for you and your key volunteer leaders.

But what if the development process doesn't seem to be working?

What do you do?

Here are three indicators that you might need to "press pause" in your developmental process.

1. When you are working harder for the person's growth than they are – On occasion, I've experienced a coaching relationship where it became clear that I was working harder for the leader's growth than they were. My passion for their progress was far greater than theirs. A little of that is OK, maybe even good. My belief in them can help inspire them to grow. But in time, my passion alone is not enough if they do not demonstrate effort. I definitely care—big time—but my responsibility is to guide change, not carry the full burden for change. They have to be in the game too. Have you experienced what I'm describing?

2. When they don't want to change and grow – If it becomes obvious that the person is not motivated to learn, change and grow, you have to make a decision.

I think it's important for us to love and encourage everyone. Jesus modeled that for us. But Jesus also modeled that He invested more focused development into a few key leaders. They were not perfect, but they were in the game! I believe that's one of the qualifiers for development—they want to grow!

3. When there is no progress – Change and growth are measured by progress. The progress doesn't have to be big, grand or dramatic. If a person is moving forward in their leadership even a little (both attitude and skill), I'm in! But if not, and there is no desire, I would say something like:

"It seems to me like I'm working harder for your growth than you are. I care about you and appreciate you, but we need to push pause in our coaching relationship. I'll be right here for you. You just let me know when you are ready to dig in and grow, and I'm all in."

Now the question is, can they still continue to lead?

The answer is: "It depends."

I know you don't like that answer, but it really does depend. If the load they carry is not overwhelming, and it's more of a steady ministry than a growing and changing one, they can often continue. Further, if their attitude is good, they love the church and they are loyal to the vision, they can continue. Pushing pause on development doesn't mean you abandon them or no longer care; it just means you invest those precious few moments in someone else who is hungry to grow.

It's only if they are over their head in terms of competency or their attitude has gone sour, that you may need to ask them to step down for a season. If you do, never make the time out punishment oriented. Let them know you still love them. The purpose of a break is so they can "catch their breath," get a renewed perspective and keep loving the church. At the end of that break, you may need to help them find a ministry that is better suited for their passion and skills.

So my first question is: Are you developing your leaders?

And second, how's it going? {eoa}

Dan Reiland is the executive pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as executive pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as vice president of leadership and church development at INJOY.

For the original article, visit danreiland.com.

shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Dan Reiland ) Administration Fri, 29 Apr 2016 12:00:00 -0400
7 Ways Church Members Should Prepare for a Sermon http://ministrytodaymag.com/leadership/preaching/22825-7-ways-church-members-should-prepare-for-a-sermon http://ministrytodaymag.com/leadership/preaching/22825-7-ways-church-members-should-prepare-for-a-sermon

What if church members began their own form of sermon preparation?

For countless decades, we have heard about the role of pastors in sermon preparation. The number of hours they need to prepare. The priority of preparation. The role of prayer in sermon preparation.

But what if church members prepared for each sermon they heard? What if they believed their roles as recipients of the Word are also crucially important?

I can see incredible church revitalization taking place if church members took on their own responsibilities of sermon preparation. Here are seven ways members can actively prepare for sermons.

1. Pray for the sermon. For a few minutes, the church member should pray for the upcoming sermon. That prayer might take place during the week, the night before the preaching or the morning of the preaching.

2. Pray for the pastor who is preaching. Pray that the pastor will understand God's message for that text. Pray that the pastor will have no distractions. Pray that God's Spirit will fill the pastor in both the preparation and delivery of the sermon.

3. Pray for yourself as you prepare to hear the sermon. Pray that God will speak to you through the message. Pray that you will not be distracted. Pray for clarity of mind and an open heart to receive the message.

4. Read the biblical text before the sermon is preached. If possible, read the text from which the pastor will preach. Read it thoroughly. Read it prayerfully.

5. Take notes. Take notes as the pastor preaches. You will have a greater focus and greater retention. Review the notes at least once during the next week.

6. Seek an application to your life. Ask God for discernment to help you understand how the sermon should change your life. Seek to understand the sermon not only in its biblical context, but in your life as well.

7. Share with the pastor "one thing." If possible, share with your pastor one significant takeaway from the sermon. Pastors hear countless "good job, pastor," or "nice message, pastor," but they long to know if God really made a difference in the lives of the church members through the preached Word. If you are able to communicate just one takeaway from the sermon in person, by email or on social media, your pastor will be greatly encouraged.

The preaching of God's Word is central to the life of the church. It makes sense that pastors should give it the highest priority.

But doesn't it also make sense that church members should prepare as well?

Let me know what you think.

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

shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Thom S. Rainer ) Preaching Wed, 27 Apr 2016 18:00:00 -0400
10 Ways For Pastors to Become High-Capacity Leaders http://ministrytodaymag.com/leadership/22828-10-ways-for-pastors-to-become-high-capacity-leaders http://ministrytodaymag.com/leadership/22828-10-ways-for-pastors-to-become-high-capacity-leaders

What do pastors have in common with CEOs? Quite a bit when you think about it: casting the vision, making hiring decisions, setting strategic direction and innovating, just for starters.

These high-level leadership abilities don't come out of thin air. How does a willing servant of the Lord become a high-capacity leader?

  • You learn about leadership and your leadership thinking develops.
  • You walk with Jesus through daily ministry and your leadership character grows.
  • You choose leadership practices and your leadership skills strengthen.
  • Pick up a new sport
  • Get serious about Scripture memory
  • Join the Chamber of Commerce
  • Mentor a new person
  • Learn a different language
  • Go to a new conference
  • Take the road trip with your family.

Jeffrey Fox wrote a helpful little book for business learners called, "How to Become CEO: The Rules for Reaching the Top of Any Organization." Many of his axioms are practices helpful to church leaders. I've pulled out 10 of Fox's rules and applied them to developing your leadership skills in ministry.

Which one of these axioms is just what you need to be a better leader this week? Which one would the Holy Spirit want to use to make all the difference in your life and ministry?

1. Do something hard and lonely. It might be dark morning workouts. It might be getting your DMin or Ph.D. It might be church planting. It's your choice, but the grit and perseverance you muster will make you a stronger leader.

2. Think for one hour every day. CEO-level people give themselves space to think. Pastors think prayerfully. What does the Lord want to say to you? What warnings is the Holy Spirit whispering to you? Who needs a conversation with you? What is coming down the road that you need to pay attention to? Where is there an opportunity not to be missed?

Give yourself time, more than in the shower, to let thoughts bubble up to the surface. Then write them down.

3. Keep and use an idea notebook. During your thinking time and throughout the day, when ideas float through your mind, capture them. Use an app, send yourself a text or voice message, or in a old-school way that is new again, keep a notebook nearby to record the ideas, thoughts and to-do's the Holy Spirit brings to your mind.

4. Don't hide an elephant. If there is an elephant in the room, bring it up. If there is something awkward, unpleasant or downright shocking, set the tone with authenticity and honesty, and ask the people around you to talk about it. With your staff. With the board. With church members. Clear the air. It's not confrontational. Not gossip. Apologize, if it's your bad. Problem solve. And move forward.

5. Go to the library one day a month. Library days are for you to get all the little things that pile up done. The unanswered emails. The column for the local Christian newspaper. Decisions about your sermon series next fall.

There are no distractions at the library. No meetings. No people stopping by to chat. Just lots of space for you to work and get things done.

6. Add one new big thing to your life each year.

What have you always wanted to do, but didn't think you could make the time? Look down the road to imagine who you will be in 10 years with those 10 new things in your life.

7. Tinker, tailor, try. This is how you develop operational systems that move your church forward. Nothing is set in stone. Everything can be improved. Keep trying new things. Tweak. Change how it's done. Every week, if necessary. It's good for system development, and it's good for church health.

8. Record and collect your mistakes with care and pride. Thomas J. Watson Sr., is known as the Father of IBM. He was the CEO for three decades, and he brought IBM into the computer age. He said this about mistakes: "So go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because that's where you will find success. On the far side of failure."

He also said, "If you want to increase your success rate, double your failure rate."

He should know. He predicted that the world would need five computers, but then again under his watch IBM built the Mark 1 computer that weighed 35 tons and was too expensive to be sold. It was a major breakthrough though.

Your track record of mistakes will be a trail of challenges, risks and growth.

9. Do not get discouraged by the idea killers. Listen seriously to their concerns and refine your ideas, but don't let the idea killers defeat you. Concentrate on being resilient and cheerful. Some of your ideas aren't awesome, and it's wise for you to let them go, but other ideas deserve your persistence. Don't let a little resistance overcome you.

10. Have fun, laugh. Leadership isn't just pressure. It's freedom to do things that matter for the cause of Christ.

Remember Proverbs 15:15, "All the days of the afflicted are evil, but he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast."

Now what?

Pick the one thing from this list that will make the most difference in your life.

How will you apply it this week?

Hal Seed is the founding and lead pastor of New Song Community Church in Oceanside, California. Hal mentors pastors to lead healthy, growing churches. He offers resources to help church leaders at www.pastormentor.com.

For the original article, visit pastormentor.com.

shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Hal Seed ) Ministry Leadership Tue, 26 Apr 2016 21:00:00 -0400