Life

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Dan-Reiland-headshot

Why Ministry Isn’t Paint by Numbers

This might be nerdy, but I’m going to tell you anyway. When I was a kid, sometime in elementary school, I was given a huge paint-by-numbers kit, and I loved it. I told you it’s nerdy. It was big. My memory says the picture was about two feet by three feet.

That’s a lot of paint by numbers. The picture was of the Last Supper, and it contained intricate detail.

I painted for weeks and then quit. Picked it up and painted months later. It took about a year to finish.

Here’s what I noticed: I enjoyed painting by numbers, but as I gained confidence, I began to mix the colors and paint my own colors and even went outside the lines. It was no da Vinci masterpiece, but it was pretty cool. I’m not sure what brought that to mind lately, but as I think about leadership, it rings true. read more

Pastor and kids

Senior Pastor Perspective: Pastor’s Kids and Youth Group

Laura Ortberg Turner, daughter of John and Nancy Ortberg, has some great thoughts on what it means to be (but not really be) known as a “pastor’s kid.” One takeaway is the framework she felt her parents placed her and her siblings into. Turner writes:

“Had we not gotten freedom from our parents to be the people we were—to grow and learn for ourselves and even occasionally embarrass our parents, as good children do (a famed family incident at a church in Southern California that involves my then-5-year-old brother lying on his back, thrusting his pelvis to a children’s worship song called ‘Jumping Bean,’ comes to mind)—we would likely have ended up feeling like our only two possibilities in life were becoming the mantle-bearer or the rebel.” read more

Leading-pastor

How to Help Your Staff Develop Their Gifts

As a pastor, you have a lot of responsibilities. When your task list grows, it’s easy to overlook the need to invest in your staff. However, one of the most important parts of leadership development is helping others understand their gifts.

At some point, most of us worked for or learned from a leader who understood this responsibility. And we wouldn’t be where we are today without them. Even if we didn’t have that help, we all understand the value of it and why we should invest in our people this way.

So for all you leaders, here are three ideas for helping the people you lead develop their gifts: read more

Gina-McClain

3 Worship-Leading Skills for Kids’ Ministry

After the past few years of observing the worship element of our kids’ experiences, I’ve discovered three key skills that distinguish a worship leader from a worship singer. The former leads kids to engage in a worship song while the latter holds a microphone and sings. There’s a big difference between the two.

Skill No. 1: The Art of Prompting

Storytelling and worship leading share this tool in common. Yet it’s assumed in storytelling and taken for granted in worship leading. Providing prompts seems intuitive when teaching kids. read more

Tony-Morgan-candid

Measuring Church Health: How Many Students Should Attend?

Last week I launched a series of articles on measuring church health. We began by looking at average children’s ministry attendance. This week, we’ll focus on students.

For the churches we’ve worked with through the years, the average number of students is 10 percent of the overall church attendance. In other words, for every 9 adults and kids in attendance, there’s typically one student between sixth and twelfth grade.

Again, the factors driving student engagement are similar to those I noted with children’s ministry. Though the capacity of your youth pastor may certainly impact the health of your student ministry, there are a number of other factors to consider. Those include the demographics of your region, the church’s overall commitment and vision for student ministry and the programming in your worship services. read more

Money-tithing

7 Cautions Before You Preach on Money

The worst time to preach on money is when you need some, pastor. The second worst time is when the church needs some.

The best time to preach on money is all the other times.

That said, here are a number of cautions for you to consider before walking into that lions’ den to tame the monster called greed.

1. Get your own house in order. Now, it’s possible to preach on prayer while knowing you have a long way to go in that respect. You can preach on good works and witnessing even if your record is spotty. You can do so because everyone has room for improvement in these areas. But when it comes to giving/stewardship, you can know when you are doing well. read more

Rotary-phone

4 Ways for Youth Ministers to Stay in Touch With Their Students

“Does it work?” one of my children asked.

“Yes. It’s plugged into the phone jack. Of course it will work,” their grandmother responded.

“How do I use it?” They sat wide-eyed.  

“Well, you put your finger in the hole of the first number you want to dial and pull it down until it stops, do that with every number until the call goes through,” she explained.

“Can I try it?” they wanted to know. read more

Hiding-behind-plant-small

Are Churches Isolating Introverts?

Some of you may find this surprising, but I’m an introvert. I first made the confession in this blog post back in 2012.

Now, just because I’m an introvert, that doesn’t mean I don’t like connecting with people. I absolutely love it. However, I have to train myself to balance the opportunity to connect with others with the discipline of taking time to recharge.

While serving in ministry through the years, I’ve had to train myself to overcome some of my tendencies and preferences as an introvert for the sake of making others feel comfortable and welcome. Sometimes it was draining, but I felt that it was essential for my ministry to succeed. read more

Pastor-ignorant-church

Can You 'Fire' a Church Attendee?

Maybe fire isn’t the right word. But can you say no to someone in a way that suggests your church might not be the right church for them? How do you balance loving and caring for a person and not allowing him or her to leverage their personal wants and maybe even their own agenda?

I’ve been reading a great book titled The Orange Code: How ING Direct Succeeded by Being a Rebel With a Cause, by Arkadi Kuhlmann and Bruce Philp. I’ve been reading it slowly and thinking my way through it for a long time now. The chapter on staffing (“The Dirty Dozen”) is worth the book. There is another great chapter titled “You Say You Want a Revolution?” that speaks to the topic of this article. read more

Resentment-frustration

How to Tame Resentment at Church

I recall a time as a pastor when my emotional skin got so thin that I took offense at just about anything anyone said. I knew it was not good, but it was like I could not stop myself.

I liken that period to having “emotional rug burn.” Rug burn is a painful condition where friction of some sort has rubbed your skin so thin that it becomes highly sensitive to heat or touch. You can get rug burn innocently enough, like when roughhousing with your children on the floor. But when one has rug burn, the hypersensitivity it creates makes things that normally would pass unnoticed become a painful focus of our attention. read more

Distraught-teen

They Cut Because They Hurt

Her name was Randy. She was working in a fast food restaurant in her mid-teens when I met her.

Apart from her nametag, she blended in with the rest of the people she worked with. Same uniform, average height, normal build. But when she turned to reach for the Choco Taco I had just ordered, my attention rested on her arms.

They were scarred.

And not just once, but each arm had dozens—probably 50 or more between the two. read more

computer-small

How to Use the Web to Help People Grow Spiritually

Remember the days when we just duplicated everything in the church bulletin on the church website? Church websites were just online brochures.

Then we started encouraging people to connect. We offered ways for people to sign up for a group, volunteer role or an event through the church website.

Then we started offering the experience online. Churches began to stream their services live to give people a chance to experience teaching and worship without being at a physical location.

What’s next? read more

Thom-Rainer

Pastor’s Perspective: 10 Ways to Be a Better Church Staff Member

After about a quarter of a century of church consultations, I have dealt with a plethora of church staff matters. I continue to hear many of the same themes since I left church consultation.

Today I present the top 10 issues from the senior pastor’s perspective. In an upcoming post, I will offer 10 issues from the church staff perspective. My desire in writing these two blog posts is to offer a positive framework and to allow church staff today, and pastors on Saturday, to have the best possible work relationships. read more

Girl-depression-Small

Can the Church Respond to Depression?

It’s amazing how many Christians are suffering from depression. There are precious people who love the Lord dearly yet find themselves struggling in a day-to-day battle to simply enjoy their lives.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one in 10 Americans take an antidepressant (it’s even higher in women), yet at the same time so many leaders in the church find themselves ill-equipped when trying to understand and minister to those who suffer from this often-confusing condition. read more

Pastor-ignorant-church

Are You Asking Too Much of Your Ministry Team?

Pastor Jason was frustrated about the level of commitment in general within his congregation. He called me to get some advice, and I think just to vent a little.

I told him he was asking for too much from his people and needed to ask for less. And if he did, he would get a far greater response.

Jason responded saying, “What do you mean? Are you saying I’ll get more if I ask for less?  That flies in the face of all that we know about the ‘big ask’ and challenging people to big dreams!” I talked with Jason about the difference between challenging people to a big vision and draining the life out of a congregation by asking them for something every time they come to church. read more

What is God's Vision of Marriage?

Ever met anyone who opened your eyes to something that revolutionized your life? For me, that guy is my ministry friend, David Smith. More than 20 years ago after a game of golf, in casual conversation David unknowingly introduced me to an idea that ever since has been a game changer in my marriage.

Anyone who meets David for the first time quickly discovers he’s married—happily married. David talks about his wife Linda all the time—even on the golf course where many men seldom talk about their wives. I’ve always admired that about him. When I spent time with him, he constantly complimented Linda and went out of his way to build her up in front of others. read more

Marriage Battle: The Frontline of Offense

Have you ever stopped to think and seriously consider that the local church—your church—is the frontline of offense in the battle for marriage and ultimately the family?

It’s a daunting thought. God instituted marriage as one of the foundational principals of mankind, and since the moment of its inception, this sacred bond has been under attack. How is a pastor, whose time and capacity are already spread paper thin, supposed to wage a war for these covenant relationships and maintain a revolution of this magnitude and importancewhen the world is working to make them ever more dispensable? read more

Power of Prayer Trumps Spiritual Formulas

In a recent interview for our daughters’ new school, I was asked some personal, thought-provoking questions about my walk with God. My answers surprised the interviewer a little: “I didn’t grow up in a home that served God,” he said, “so I am fascinated by those who did. I always just assumed their lives were easy and somewhat perfect.”

I am so thankful that not only did I grow up in a home that served God, but that my parents devoted their lives to helping others serve Him as well. However, those of us who grew up in the ministry or who are raising children in it know it’s far from easy or perfect. read more

Stress-overload-small

How Do You Deal With Mental Illness in Church Members?

You know the feeling—you see her coming and you want to turn away.

Mary is in your church. Something isn’t quite right with her. Sometimes she seems balanced, lucid and smart. Other times she is really off. She might have strong mood swings, flow in and out of psychotic episodes, or she could have one of dozens of mental illnesses.

The bottom line is that you (and most everyone else) feel uncomfortable around her, and with that discomfort comes frustration and sometimes guilt. read more

The Day Hope Died

Hope: An expectation of obtainment. To expect with confidence.

I hope that I get that promotion. I hope that my children don’t get hurt. I hope that I find an amazing man to marry.

Everybody hopes in something. For something. It’s as natural as breathing.

I (Cindy) hoped that one day I’d find my knight in shining armor. I didn’t know when he’d arrive on my doorstep, so while I waited for him, I made a list of things that I desired to find in my future husband. Tall. Musical. Loves Jesus. Sensitive. Funny. Respectable. Admirable. Honest. Trusting. Protecting. Handsome.

I hoped for a lot. read more

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