Private Worship! DO NOT ENTER!

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What message are we giving to those who pass by our parking lots? Often times we say that we are a warm and friendly congregation, but our actions, words and SIGNS tell a different story.  Here are three things you can do today that will empower you to tell a different story about who you are.

1) Take a good look around the outside of your church. This applies to big and small churches. What signs are posted? No parking? Pastor only? (Yes, pastors, this is about you too. Your reserved spot can be far from the church or get there early enough to get a good parking spot.) No skateboards? What would it look like to have a different kind of sign? What about, “Reserved for visitors.” What about a sign that said, “For Moms with babies?” What would it look like to talk to the kids who are skateboarding on your property and try to find them a place where they can hang? What are your signs telling the world? We might say we are warm and friendly, but often our signs tell a different story. They tell the world that we do not want you here. Our worship is private. Do not even try to come inside.

2) Another good question to explore is, “What signs do you need?” Are there signs that show how to get into the church? Are there signs that show where to find nursery, Bible studies, bathrooms? How are you showing your visitors what to do and where to go?

3) Harvey Carey teaches on leadership. In this video he describes how the outside world views churches as football huddles every Sunday morning. Churches are huddling together and the outside world does not see them doing anything. Is your church in a huddle, or are you inviting people to join you? Is your church in a huddle, or are they going out into the world making an impact?

What are you doing to break down the signs that say you are in a huddle? What are you doing to be in the game?

Time Management- 5 helpful things for church leaders

Whether you lead a small church or a large church, as a church leader time is the biggest commodity you have. On my busiest days my breath prayer is always the same, “Lord you have given me 24 hours in this day. Help me know what you want me to do and what I should lay aside.”

Literally, God knows what has to be accomplished.

1. Seek God’s guidance with your day. Maybe God has plans other than your own.

2. If you have not taken two weeks to literally plot where you time goes, please do so. Use a spread sheet and mark out what happens to all your time. Asses this use with a friend, a mentor or your SPRC chair. Is this what you want to be doing with your time? Do you get on facebook and suddenly see that an hour has disappeared? Has television become your nemesis?

3. Decide where you SHOULD be spending your time. See what can get cut out, and what needs to be beefed up. For example, I know some pastors who spend all day with congregants who are experiencing serious surgery. We need to do pastor care, but there are others who can spend all day. Is that the best use of your time? What about meeting new people in the community? Do you have at least 5 hours a week set aside to meet those in the community? We cannot reach new people in the community if we are not out meeting them.

4. How do you handle new things that come across your desk? One management technique is if it takes under 5 minutes, take care of it right away. If it is a bigger project, then put it on your schedule for a time to take care of it. Make sure you let the sender know the time period in which it will be taken care of.

5. At your most pressing moments, what gets cheated? There are some things that I will not allow to get cheated no matter what happens in my day. Those items set in stone for me are my family, my sermon preparation and my sleep. Choose ahead of time what you will allow to get cheated and what is set in stone. This will help you manage your time as opposed to your time managing you.

In all these things I can tell when I am most stressed as my “white space” the time that is breathing room gets worn away. That is when I know I need to regroup, I need to sit back and rethink how my time is being managed and organized.

How about you? What tricks have you learned that help you in your time management?

Praying for your congregation

This seems like a basic item that should be on our regular agendas, but I am constantly amazed at how frequently praying for our individual congregants and their families is overlooked by the leader of the flock. Pastors should be regularly praying for their congregants, every leader should be praying for those in their classes or on their committees. One advantage smaller churches have over larger congregations is that the pastor can personally know the entire congregation! This is something to be used to our advantage, especially in relation to prayer!

Jesus reminds us time after time that he is in relationship with “The Father”. Read one of the Gospels, very often the disciples could not find him because he was off praying by himself somewhere. Do you ever wonder what or for whom he is praying? Do you wonder what those conversations with “The Father” consist of?

My guess is that he is frequently praying for those he is serving. In John 17 we hear Jesus praying not only for the disciples, but also for the ones who will believe because of their message. Jesus is praying for us!

Take the example from Jesus, pray for the ones you are serving by name and on a regular basis. This is not just a general prayer such as, “God take care of those in the congregation,” but rather this is much more specific. What would it look like to visualize seeing the people you serve where they sit or going through the church directory and praying for each and every one of the sheep by name?

Oswald Chambers says “Prayer is the greater work.” How often can you pray for those you serve: Every day, weekly, monthly? Turning our churches around begins with prayer and praying for those, very specifically, whom we serve in our congregations. Then in turn, we help them become prayer warriors for those whom they serve in the church and for those who are unchurched, and the Holy Spirit moves in and takes over like a wildfire.

How have you seen prayer empower the congregation you serve?

Church Leadership- Empowering Small Churches to BE The Church

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We are at the dawn of a new age which we can no longer ignore. That new age is both exciting and scary at the same time. Church leaders can no longer do “Church the same old way.” We must talk differently, react differently and share differently in order to be relevant in this new age. While we must share differently, the message is still the same, “Jesus Christ, fully God and fully human, came into the world to save sinners like me.” So the Great Commission is still our mandate, but the way we fulfill that mandate has to be different.

Many outside the church believe that church has no relevance in their lives. How can we as the church not only show relevance, but introduce those outside the church to the saving grace of Jesus? Some outside the church might know Jesus already, but if they are outside of the church, then they are missing out on a big part of being followers of Jesus, and that is corporate worship and community.

This blog has been created as a resource for small churches. Small churches still have a huge impact on our communities and STILL can offer something that the large scale churches cannot provide, and that is the “community” that often gets neglected in large scale churches. In order to form that community, we have to provide excellence for those who are part of our community.

This blog will not be a source of new information, but rather it is designed to be a resource of many things in one place. It is my prayer that this will be a place where church leaders can go to centrally find “one new thing” that they can implement quickly and easily which will empower them to be the church that God calls them to be.

Today I begin with an empowering tool taught by Andy Stanley. This was taught at the Catalyst Convention. If you have not attended Catalyst it might be one of the best events you can attend to grow church leaders. I listen to Stanley’s sermons in order to help me learn.

During his teaching at catalyst he told us to quote authors. In other words, do not say, “The Bible Says,” but rather say “Paul says.”
Why? Scripture holds no authority for those who do not attend church. However, it becomes more powerful when you say, “Paul, a person who hated Christians, who actually persecuted Christians says…..” Or you might say, “James, the brother of Jesus…….this man we never heard of before the death of Jesus, but after the resurrection he became one of the leaders of the church, James says….” I have been using this tool ever since I heard the teaching, and find it very empowering in my ministry.

What one thing have you done that has impacted your ministry?