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How These Pastors Keep Their Marriages Strong

How do you and your wife keep your marriage prioritized above ministry? What is your greatest challenge in keeping your marriage strong? What is and isn’t working in your church to reach couples and strengthen their marriages?

We asked a group of pastors these questions and more. What follows are their insightful responses, as these leaders give us an inside look at how they pursue marriage and deal with the inevitable struggles, as well as how they’re leading their churches to help build marriages. And we are richer for their experience.  read more

Gina-McClain

Is Too Much Asked of Church Volunteers?

I could write a book. But I won’t. If you’ve been in children's ministry for any amount of time, you’ve visited this topic.

What level of commitment do we ask from our children's ministry volunteers? How much is too much? Is a weekly commitment too much to ask?

In kids' ministry, I’ve swung to each of these trains of thought over the years:

  read more

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4 Ways a Pastor Can Show Love

Pastor, you set the tone and atmosphere in your congregation. If you want to know the warmth of your church, put the thermometer in your own mouth.

I’ve visited some churches where the pastor’s lack of love is the main reason the church isn’t growing. Some pastors, by their cold demeanor and lack of personal warmth, virtually guarantee that visitors won’t come back. And in some larger churches, I’ve gotten the impression that the pastor loves an audience but doesn’t like people.

Great preaching without love is just noise in God’s view. Every time I speak to at Saddleback, I repeat a simple reminder to myself. I never preach or teach without thinking this: read more

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George O. Wood: Pastors Should Respect and Love People

I have told my son, who is a young pastor, “There are just two things you need to do: Love God and love people.” If you do these two things, you will not go too far astray.

Many younger pastors immediately try to assert their authority because they feel insecure. They try to change things overnight, do not respect the DNA of the church, and run over people. I did some of that as a younger pastor.

On one occasion an issue came up, and I was out of sorts. Fortunately, there was an older person on the board who would listen to me vent. He sat in my office about 45 minutes before one Sunday evening service while I vented. If the board did not go along with me, I was going directly to the membership. After all, more people had come to the church under my leadership than under the previous pastor. It was going to be the board or me. He did two things: He listened to me without rebuking me, and he kept confidence. read more

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Do You Lean Into Conflict or Step Back from It?

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to lead a breakout session at Lifeway’s Kids Ministry Conference 2012 titled "The Non-Confrontationalist’s Guide to Confrontation."

I thoroughly enjoyed this conversation, primarily because no matter the context, no matter the size, no matter the organizational structure … leading through conflict is one of the most important things we do.

In this session, I unpacked three reasons why you should choose to lean into conflict rather than step back from it. And I shared four steps I use to lead through conflict. I believe everyone can be a better leader by applying these simple steps. read more

Tony-Morgan

The Magic Question: ‘What Do You Think?’

Yes, someone needs to eventually make a decision. But if you want to fully engage the people on your team, you have to routinely ask the magic question: “What do you think?”

People want to contribute to the conversation. They want to be part of the big decisions. Don’t worry if you don’t take their advice every time. That’s not their expectation either. They just want to know their voice has been heard.

People Are Different

There are certainly some folks who appreciate a more directive style of leadership, who say, “Just tell me what to do, and I’ll go get it done.” Those people will value your decisiveness. read more

Gina-McClain

Confessions of a Leader: Words Hurt

Many of us grew up with the chant, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”

I used to believe the person that coined the phrase was an idiot.

Words can hurt—sometimes worse than broken bones.

But the longer I lead in ministry, the more I realize there is truth to this well-known phrase. read more

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How Relationships Can Transform Your Pastoral Staff

“What do I do when the former youth pastor is still attending our church?”

I get this question from time to time and have actually had to work in this environment in both of the churches I’ve served in over the past 20 years.

Sometimes the former youth pastor takes a promotion and ends up a worship pastor or the director of a regional campus. Maybe they were a key volunteer holding together the ministry during transition until you stepped into the role.

In larger churches, he or she might have been promoted to the student ministries pastor and you take over a junior high or high school ministry. In any case, contending with the former head of a youth ministry you are now charged to lead can be unsettling, challenging or even painful. read more

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Do You Unknowingly Exalt Men Above God?

Anytime we exalt the men of God above the God of men, the church has been charmed. I thoroughly and wholeheartedly believe in honoring deserving men and women of God. This is right and well pleasing in the sight of the Lord. Paul instructs us in the Book of Romans to give honor where honor is due. Quite honestly, honor is a rare commodity in many Christian circles nowadays. We would do well if we practiced giving honor to those who merit it more. But trouble is on the horizon when we exalt our leaders as if they are Gods and give glory to them that is due the Lord. Men can and should be honored, but they must never be worshipped. read more

Gina-McClain

Do You See the Best in Your Congregation?

As a leader, have you ever stopped to think about what you believe about those that you lead?

What you believe about their intentions, their dreams, and their desires”

Deep down, what you believe about them influences how you approach them. It impacts how you lead them.

If you’re in a leadership role, it means God has positioned you to take part in the refining work He is doing in those you lead. That means He intends to use you to teach, to guide, to shepherd.

Sometimes that teaching or guidance is easy. It’s not difficult to address and is readily received by the recipient. read more

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Check Your Ministry Team’s Spiritual Compass

When I was learning to drive, I lived in the country. Roads were narrow, one lane in each direction.

One of the first things you learn when driving in tight quarters is to keep your eye on the right edge of the road. The problem is that you tend to steer where you are looking. If your eyes are on the headlights coming at you, chances are high that you will steer your car right into the oncoming traffic.

What does this have to do with church leadership? What your leadership team focuses on and where you spend your energy will impact your entire congregation. read more

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Dan Reiland: Are Good Leaders Happy?

I was out for a run for the first time in months. A “runner’s injury" to my right foot has been slow in healing. It was great to be off the exercise bike and back outside!

While I was out, another runner passed by me in the other direction and greeted me with a cheery “Hey, keep going!” and a big smile. It was a lifting moment and brought a smile to my face. The next runner passed by within inches of me. I offered a cheerful “Hey!” and he never looked up. The difference was staggering.

That moment was a fresh reminder of how much I appreciate people with a positive and cheerful spirit. They bring life! Others steal life. Both options can take place in a moment. read more

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7 Reasons to Start a Pastors’ Roundtable Retreat

I spent three days recently at a cabin with five other pastors, holding what we call a roundtable.

I’m from California. We met in Illinois, where there was a blizzard one day and the temperature hit minus 7 degrees one night. I didn’t care. What we were doing was so important, we didn’t need to go outside. We do this every year. We plan to continue doing it until our last days of ministry.

Here’s why I’m involved in a roundtable:

1. These guys inspire me. They’re my friends, all are pastors, and seeing how they live out their commitment to God inspires me. There aren’t too many people who do what we do. One of the guys lost his wife and best friend to cancer in the same year. Another adopted and is raising four high-risk children. A third runs triathlons. All of them are devoted to their wives and to walking in close quarters with Christ. During dark seasons in my ministry, I think of them and it boosts my determination to keep going. read more

Kim Martinez 2

Relationship Health: Celebrate Our Differences

Our church was in the middle of a building project, and the new sanctuary was almost done. On Sunday morning I overheard a board member: “We should never have given her (the pastor’s wife) the authority to pick out the color. That isn’t white. It’s pink!”

This was my first building project, but it wasn’t my last. There is something about aesthetics that brings out the best and the worst in us. Whether it is the color of the carpet, the style of the pew, the genre of the artwork or angle of the lighting; for every decision there is a myriad of opinions. How can you stay positive when people are lined up on all sides, ready to shoot?

Paul exhorted the Philippians to rejoice in the Lord. When trials, troubles and disagreements come, we have to make a choice to focus on the positive. Disagreement isn’t the problem. read more

Kim Martinez 2

Relationship Health: How to Build Team Respect

God has given you a fantastic team at work. Your team might be small—family members, or a few volunteers. Maybe you are blessed to serve at a church large enough to afford a full staff. Regardless, God has given you a team. Even if you have to search to find them, they are there.

People are unique. If they were all the same, we could just give each one a function and expect amazing results. Instead, personalities get in the way. This person brings the fun, that person is very concerned about details … and each thinks the other is … annoying.

Your job is to help these people become who God created them to be and to help them gel as a team. How can you make the most of this fantastic resource and help these dedicated people reach their full potential? read more

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God Designed Life to Share

Last Monday I walked by this secluded beach in Ko Olina in Hawaii. Without the clean soft breeze, the chirping birds, the sound of waves splashing on the rocks, and the scent of the blue ocean … pictures like these are … well … just pictures.

No matter how beautiful this spot was it is of little value because I had no one to share it with. The Bible is indeed correct when it declares, “it is not good for man to be alone.”

It’s funny how we work ourselves to death and take for granted what actually matters, our closest relationships. I could only wish Marie was with me at that particular moment. Life is meant for sharing.

Life is composed of multiple moments that are here for a while and then are gone. Makes you think of how important each moment we have with the people we love have to be maximized and taken advantage of. Life is meant for sharing. read more

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Rick Warren: Church Family a Lab for Love

“All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.” (1 Cor. 12:27, NLT)

A church family moves you out of self-centered isolation. The local church is the classroom for learning how to get along in God’s family. It is a lab for practicing unselfish love.

As a participating member, you learn to care about others and share the experiences of others: “If one part of the body suffers, all the other parts suffer with it. Or if one part of our body is honored, all the other parts share its honor” (1 Cor. 12:26 NCV).

Only in regular contact with ordinary, imperfect believers can we learn real fellowship and experience the New Testament truth of being connected with and dependent on each other. read more

Kim Martinez 2

Relationship Health: What To Do When You Mess Up

Yep, it happened again. You are in the doghouse, and this time, you really messed up.

The worst part is that you were trying! There are days (and sometimes weeks) when we seem to offend people with surprising regularity. Sometimes, it is because we didn’t have enough information or the skills to handle a situation.

Sometimes we mess up because we genuinely sinned. Sometimes, our “mess-up” is really someone else’s sensitivity. Relationships are important to us, and when we mess up, it is important to deal with it properly.

Remember high school science? Even in the most controlled environment, every scientific experiment result must take into account a plus or minus three percent for human error. This means that, even in the most controlled environment, you are going to mess up at least three percent of the time. Since life isn’t controlled, that number is sure to be much higher.

So, given the fact that you can’t get through life without making a mistake, what do you do when you really mess up? read more

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Learn to Recognize the Enemies of Love

Love is the source of power for our successful Christian life. Galatians 5:6 even tells us that our faith works through love.

Satan is continuously sending situations our way to tempt us to yield to the opposite of love, which is selfishness.

As we study God's Word, we learn what authentic love is and what it is not. First Corinthians 13 reveals its attributes: "Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails" (vv. 4-8, NKJV). read more

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Small Groups Deliver Fellowship, Love

Editor’s Note: Daily during January and February, MinistryTodaymag.com will feature an article from pastor and best-selling author Rick Warren and his staff in conjunction with his new book, What on Earth Am I Here For? Warren is the guest editor for Charisma’s Ministry Today magazine for its January/February issue.

Why we believe the group setting creates the best environment for producing healthy followers of Jesus Christ

In early 2000, our leadership team began asking the question: What does a healthy follower of Christ look like? If we are to be successful in fulfilling Christ’s commission to make disciples, we need to define the term disciple. Through a series of meetings, we determined that such a follower of Christ is someone who is balancing the five biblical purposes in his or her heart and life. A healthy follower of Christ, therefore, is: 

  • Surrendering his or her heart and life to Christ on an ongoing basis.
  • Experiencing fellowship with other Christians.
  • Growing in Christ through “being” and “action.”
  • Discovering and using his or her God-given gifts and abilities.
  • Reaching out and sharing the love of Christ with nonbelievers.

We understood that unless you know what the target is you cannot hit it, so we ade our target health through balance. As believers, when we reflect Christ and become more like Him, the focus of our lives shifts away from self-centeredness toward serving Him through every area of life. That is health and balance. read more

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