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What Items Were on Jesus’ Bucket List?

Somewhere in the councils of the Trinity, a plan was devised for the restoration of the world. Among His other assignments, these fell on the bucket list of the Son of God:

1. Be conceived and born as a human.

2. Live a sinless life.

3. Gather a dedicated following.

4. Equip them. read more


Rick Warren: Character Is the Foundation of Leadership

Plenty of highly charismatic leaders have bombed out and failed because they lacked character, which trumps charisma every time. You don’t have to have charisma to be a leader. You do have to have character—credibility—because leadership is influence, and if you don’t have credibility nobody is going to follow you.

While your reputation is about what people say you are, character is who you really are. D.L. Moody said, “Character is what you are in the dark when nobody is looking.” In 1 Timothy 3:1-13, Paul lays out the necessary characteristics for church leadership. He never addresses having a robust résumé, having gone to the right seminary or having a magnetic public persona. He talks about character traits. read more


12 Game-Changeable and Tweetable Proverbs

"A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare" (Prov. 15:1, NLT).

"A wise person is hungry for knowledge, while the fool feeds on trash" (Prov. 15:14).

"Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success" (Prov. 15:22).

"Greed brings grief to the whole family" (Prov. 15:27). read more


How Can You Tell if a Staff Member Is in Pain?

Recently, a friend told me of a major shift in his home life—one of the life-altering kind. The thing that bothered me most (and the whole thing is an issue for prayer) is that I didn’t sense that anything was wrong.

Sometimes people who care the deepest for others are the best at hiding their own pain.

How can you tell if your staff is in a place of pain?

1. Pacing. Sometimes when our personal lives begin to fall apart, we run to what feels safe. Our work feeds us with constant accomplishments (despite the pain), and when home is too stressful it is easy to hide in work. Think about ways to help your staff take time for their families—not just to fix problems, but to build good memories. read more


How to Give Youth Pastors the TLC They Need

Dear Senior Pastor,

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. read more


The Dumbest Thing We Pastors Do

We preachers sometimes torture the faithful with our complaints about the unfaithful.

We don’t mean to do that. It’s just something that happens, usually as a result of our frustration.

Listen to the typical pastor or staffer addressing the congregation:

“A little rain never hurt anybody! And where is half our congregation? But oh, no, they couldn’t make it today. They had no trouble sitting through the ball game yesterday in freezing temperatures! Or playing a round of golf in the rain. But let a little sprinkle drop out of the heavens, and they can’t make it to church today!”

Or this one: read more


9 Thoughts on Creating Great Partnerships

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: read more

Dark Valleys

Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. — Psalm 23:4

Life in general is filled with highs and lows, but it can especially be apparent for those in Christian ministry leadership positions. Just look at how many pastors, youth ministers, and worship directors eventually leave ministry. The work wears on a person. The constant complaints of doing too little of this or too much of that can drain anyone. As a leader, you are expected to be there for everyone at every moment of the day. No one is able to be there at all times. Still, guilt fills the mind and causes you to doubt your ministry and your effectiveness.

Yet, we are not left alone in this world. Through the darkest valleys of life, through the most difficult times of ministry, God is with us. As we lead his people, we can rest knowing that God leads us. When things get tight, the problems don't seem to go away, and we struggle with guilt--the false guilt of not being able to be there for everyone--God will comfort us. He shields us even during the assaults of bitter people and harsh words. He will always lead us in a path meant to protect us and keep us strong.

When the road is dark and tough, God will guide and protect you. When you feel overwhelmed with loneliness, the Lord is close beside you. When your heart is asking hard questions and you feel beaten down, God will sustain you. We don't need to live in fear, for God is always with you. He is willing to comfort and protect you. He guides you through every mountain and valley of life. He is your true Leader/Shepherd. And the more you trust him as Lord, the more you will experience the wonder of having a Shepherd. read more


3 Ways of Thinking That Are Holding You Back

When Christian leaders become ambitious, things get tough. Often other people will mistake our ambition for pride or presumption.

But Jesus was ambitious about building His church. Paul was ambitious about pressing toward the prize. Joshua was ambitious about taking the Promised Land. The fact is, God responds to bold, audacious vision and ambition in a leader.

So what could be holding your ambition back? read more


7 Ways Satan Tries to Destroy a Church

I’m not a pastor who is constantly looking for Satan behind everything that goes wrong. I concentrate my attention on Jesus and encouraging others to follow Jesus and not to focus on the defeated one.

Yet, I’m fully aware that Satan loves to destroy—or attempt to destroy—a church. Obviously, Satan is a limited being, and God’s church is secure. The gates of hell shall never overcome what God started, but Satan certainly loves to disrupt what God’s church is doing: “Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour” (1 Pet. 5:8).

Here are 7 way Satan tries to destroy a church: read more


3-Step Assimilation Process: Fill In the Blanks

A simple assimilation process is absolutely vital for any church to see sustained growth. Here’s the one I’ve seen work so well, and you can customize it for your church quite easily. It covers the three things we’re called to do as the church, but it lets you fill in the blanks according to your culture, community and context.

It has three steps ...

  read more


3 Tricks to Juggling in Your Ministry

Juggling is an art.  And it’s fascinating to watch.

My role in ministry is a constant juggle.  There are always projects, special events, team building, volunteer recruiting, personnel conversations, refining conversations, encouraging conversations and “I’m frustrated!” conversations. The plate is always full.

Should it always be this way?  Great question. This is all I’ve ever known, so I’m going to say yes. The trick to navigating all of it is in the juggling.

Here are 3 things I do to juggle well: read more


Is Your Church Burning Bright or Burning Out?

Consider this quote by Thomas Edison:

“Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment, and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.”

That is so true. It seems that we latch on to every get-rich-quick scheme and promise of a quick buck yet don’t want to put in the time, the thought or the perspiration to make our busyness really count.

The same can be said of the church.

For all of our programs … read more


How Many Hours Does a Pastor Work Each Week?

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. read more


Is Church Draining You?

Years ago, I realized that I was different than the rest of my staff. When they took vacation, they looked for a big church to celebrate at (and learn from).

I love learning from other churches. Every conference is a great opportunity for me to learn how other people communicate with their members, follow up with visitors, structure their services, etc.

But when I’m on vacation, I want to get alone with God and not hear another human being. read more


3 Ways to Continually Affirm the People You Lead

We affirm people when we treat them with dignity, knowing that they matter to God. If you want to stand out in your leadership, one secret puts you head and shoulders above everybody else—be an encourager.

Encouragement is very difficult to find today. The Bible says, “Encourage each other and build each other up.”

In America, we live in a very negative culture. Most people get far more jeers than cheers, far more pokes than strokes. We live in a society where the No. 1 form of humor is put-downs.  People are put down, criticized, maligned. read more


What Does Restoration Look Like?

For some time now, the ministry of Heal Your Servant has worked with ministers, their wives, elders, congregants and participants in a myriad of infidelity situations.

We have seen and heard multiple stories. Finding your way through spiritual landmines is seldom easy. We all desire to see God glorified in the midst of life’s most challenging situations.

I am continually asked, “What is the ideal way to navigate these situations in order to minimize casualties and bring about true healing and restoration?" read more

How to Make Your Marriage Ministry-Proof

My wife Tammy and I first met while she and her family were missionaries in Germany. I later proposed to her in a little café just outside of Hamburg. Now 27 years later, we’ve been in full-time ministry together the entire time and have five kids. We’ve lived life—and ministry—together. 

Just like any other married couple, we’ve had our ups and downs. But I can honestly say that other than my relationship with Jesus, my relationship with my wife continues to be the best part of my life. When others ask for our “secret sauce,” I give the credit to God, to Tammy and to the principles our parents taught and modeled in front of us. Amidst the many demands of ministry and family life, over the years five principles have become especially important in sustaining our relationship. On the next few pages, I share them, prayerfully hoping that these insights can help you make your marriage ministry-proof. read more


Hal Seed: A Dangerous Prayer

Many years ago I prayed a prayer that has changed me more than any other. It changed my vocation, location, orientation and just about every other “ation” in my life. What was the prayer?

“God, I don’t ask you for much today. I just ask that You give me Your heart for lost people.”

Twenty words. Twenty-one syllables. Seventy letters. One request. read more


35 Low-Risk Changes Churches Can Make

One of the reasons churches get stuck is that they’re unwilling to change. They don’t want to rock the boat. Leaders are afraid. People may leave. People may stop giving.

Over time, the culture becomes reticent to change. The status quo becomes the driving value.

When churches stop changing, people get comfortable. It’s impossible for Christ-followers to get comfortable and be sold-out to Jesus at the same time. Comfort is not the goal.

This is probably obvious, but let me offer this advice: If you want to be in a church that embraces change, you have to begin to make some changes. read more

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