As A Small Church Pastor, 3 Day Weekends Can Be Less than Exciting, Here’s How I’m Preparing For It

This weekend we celebrate Memorial Day. Typically this means attendance is at record lows for a lot of churches. As a small church pastor one of the ways you can combat the emotional low that comes with holiday weekends and low attended weekends is to expect it and find a way to enjoy the weekend with your own family. Here’s a quick tip on how I’m going to deal with it and what it will provide for me and my family.

Go out of town, even if it means staying close so you can get back to Church in order to preach. My families going camping with good friends. We are leaving on Friday. It’s close enough for me to come back and feed our dog daily as well as be back for Sunday morning in order to encourage those who choose to attend service. Here’s what getting away does for us even though much of our schedule, especially the weekends, is dictated by my calling as a Pastor. Getting away allows us to be a normal family. We did this last year also, not camping, but we made it a point to get away and come back for the morning service.

You know, without looking I can’t tell you how many people we had in service or how I was feeling emotionally due to that. However, I can tell you my emotional state on that Sunday because of our family time. We had a blast in TN making memories. We stayed at the Inn at Christmas Place, had cookies with Santa (in May). Not only that but we also stayed in a cabin at the top of a mountain with family, went to Ripley’s aquarium, ate at the Apple Barn…etc.

I will be prepared for service but I won’t be down because it was an off day. I’m expecting the off day by preparing mentally and having a blast building memories with my wife, kids, and good friends.

Hopefully this post will offer some encouragement to a Pastor or ministry leader who is looking at this coming weekend and thinking, “I wish I could get away like everyone else and be a normal family.” You can, you need to, you deserve it.

The Hardest Part of My Job Is My Win

Growing is not an option as long as we’re living. All life grows. We either are growing up or growing old, never the less we are still growing. Growth is painful. Growth is beneficial. Growth is necessary.

Yesterday I had the privilege of attending a Pastors and Church Leadership Mentoring Session, in Fort Mill SC with Pastor David Kemp. I have written before on attending conferences etc. so I won’t go into all of that in this post. I will say that I have made a personal commitment to grow by seeking out leaders to meet with once a month for the purpose of identifying and putting into practice disciplines and lifestyles which can help me fulfill my God ordained responsibilities as a Pastor.

For the past good while, months even, the following passage has been at the forefront of my mind. I keep coming back to it and it even ended up in my daily reading this morning.

Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love. – Ephesians 4:11-16 NLT

In the particular translation I am reading right now, as a Pastor and Teacher of Gods word I am overwhelmed by the second sentence of this passage. Basically my responsibility, my job, my win as a Pastor and Teacher is to EQUIP Gods people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. It is Gods desire that the whole body (the Church) is healthy and growing (mature and reproducing.) That happens when each part of the body does its own special work and helps the other parts grow. As a Pastor I can’t depend on people to read my mind and just get it. I have to equip or train them of the desired outcome and help them use their God given gifts and abilities in their respective callings.

I believe the first step in equipping people to do the work of ministry is to help them identify their calling/gifting. For me that is the hardest.

Preachers, God is Watching – Does He Approve

You see, we are not like the many hucksters who preach for personal profit. We preach the word of God with sincerity and with Christ’s authority, knowing that God is watching us.2 Corinthians 2:17 NLT

To this aim we do what we do. Not to make ourselves famous or gain financially. But to strengthen and equip those we serve with the ability to be productive ministers of the faith to which they are called.

God is watching us, does he approve?

A Quick Thought From A Book I’m Reading

Yesterday I picked up a few books which I felt would benefit a few people I know. Instead of just giving these books away having not personally read them, I’ve decided to take the next few days to read them in hopes that I may be able to get a feel for what the books are about prior to giving them away.

In the first book by Dave Anderson, “How to Run Your Business by THE BOOK…A biblical blueprint to bless your business, Dave describes what he calls foxhole leaders. He writes, “Foxhole Leaders are servants.” The following are a few observations which Dave writes regarding foxhole friends.

Foxhole friends are those you want on your side when the going gets tough. You can count on them they have your back. Foxhole friends will pay a price to be with you and be a part of what you’re doing.

Another point that I found convicting and I believe all who are in a leadership position must grasp whether it be Pastor, Teacher, Owner, Manager, etc. We are here to serve. Here is what Dave writes regarding serving.

Serving means you add value to others rather than waiting for them to add value to you. Serving acknowledges that you need your people more than they need you. Serving acknowledges that the good of the team must come before your own comfort level or agenda.

Future Success is Built on the Past

“The future won’t look like the past, but it will build on the past, on its great history.”Dr. Bob Rhoden

The above quote was stated by interim Pastor at Calvary Assembly in Orlando, FL. Calvary was once a mega church that through the years has declined. It was an article on Ed Stetzers blog that brought me to the story and this quote by Dr Rhoden. Personally, as a young Pastor given the charge to Shepard a church which just celebrated 58 years of ministry, Dr. Rhodes quote inspired me.

Often as Pastor’s, especially young ones like myself, we have so much zeal and vision going into a position for the first time or as we move from one place to another, that we end up doing more harm than good at the place which God has called us. In short, God opens a door and we go. We feel Gods plans for that congregation is __________________. In our zeal and inexperience we push our vision without putting in the time to build trust and learn about the particular place God has called us. Often we hurt our chances of doing the most good because we haven’t taken the time to know the history and people whom God has called us to Shepherd.

With that said, here are a few things that I am in the process of learning and even gleaned from the above quote.

We can’t go back but we can look back.
Here’s the truth, you may have the zeal but the reality is you do not have the tenure. Get to know the past history of the place God has called you to. I am not asking you to go back, but get to know the past successes and failures. Learn who came before you, their tenure and investment in the life of the congregation you Pastor. Remember, early on you may have the title of Pastor but the trust has not been built to be the Pastor.

Build the Foundation of the Future on the Pillars of the Past.
I have come to view Church ministry as multi-level as opposed to single story. A single story building has one large foundation separated by rooms. A multi-level building consist of a base foundation of a certain size in which pillars/supports would go up in order to be a support for the floor above it. As we Pastor, especially in a Church that has been in existence for any length of time with multiple Pastor’s preceding us, it is not our job to tear down the foundations that have been laid. It is our job to go in a build on the pillars that have already been established. Building the foundation for the future it isn’t going back to a certain style but it is proclaiming that you embrace the identity of the past and allow that to be a launching pad for the future. The pillars which have been erected prior to your arrival, if you let them, will give structural support for the foundation you lay today. The pillars you erect are going to be the structural support for the foundation that the person lays once you are gone.

Celebrate the Churches History while Offering Vision for the Future
Celebrate the past but don’t get stuck in the past. You need to know the past in order to build the future. A detrimental mistake is to be a cocky pastor who doesn’t listen to the history. I understand why we choose not to listen, we are arrogant. We think our way is the best way. We may be uncomfortable who God created us to be that we squirm when we here praise for the people who came before us. Please allow me to speak into your life, listen carefully. Celebrate the men and women who came before you in front of the people you serve. The only way to build a future is to celebrate the history.

Maybe you are like me and are serving in a new ministry assignment. It’s been a little over six months at the time of this posting in which North Aiken Church of God has given me the opportunity to be their Pastor. I served at my previous assignment just a couple of weeks shy of two years. I write this with a little under 3 years of Pastoral ministry experience but I want to leave you with 6 things that you can do today which I believe can give you success over the next 6 months. I will expound on how I have put these into practice in the coming days but for the sake of time in this post, here is a short list.

  • Preach the Word
  • Build Relationships
  • Learn the history of the Church, the past success and failures
  • Find out the organization date, former Pastor’s names, length of tenure
  • Remind those you lead of the past success of the Church
  • Don’t just tell the people you serve your vision, preach and live your vision.
  • Helpful links from this post:
    Morning Round Up 9/23/2013Moody’s Policy Change; Megachurch Not For Sale; Ph.D. Perils | Ed Stetzer
    North Aiken Church of God, Aiken SCAn assembly of devoted Christ followers with a passion for God and a Love for people who are reaching upward and reaching outward in order make a difference in their community.

    A Personal Reminder and What Should Follow

    Sometimes we allow other things to take the place of priorities in our life. A priority I have wanted to develop is writing more. Why? I was encouraged, exhorted if you will to make writing a priority by an individual whom I look up to and has been making investments in my life and ministry. So, I started making writing part of my daily routine. For a couple of weeks at least. Matter of fact when I look over my blog that is a constant trend. A few weeks of active posting, then every once in a while, and eventually long gaps of nothing. The cycle then repeats.

    My wife mentioned to me at the beginning part of this week that she has noticed I have slowed down in my posting. Errr, It happened again. I started out with good momentum and I allowed something else to get in the way. While looking over this trend which is evident in my writing/blogging it reveals a bigger issue with my life. Discipline, or in my case a lack of it. We can’t afford to allow lesser things to take place of the main things that we should be doing.

    When we ease up on discipline we become slothful. Life and sometimes even pressing things which are necessary have a way of interrupting some of the most important things which we need to be doing.

    I have deliberately wrote this as a personal reminder for myself. As I review and read over my posts I will be able to gauge how well I am doing at keeping my commitment to write by how far this post moves down the line. My goal, in a years time that there be at least 260 posts in front of this one. That equals out to approximately 5 posts a week. I was reminded yesterday at the Oasis Pastors Conference that as a Pastor and communicator…”You will not improve your speaking skills until you improve your writing skills.” -David Kemp.

    The overall purpose of my writing will fall in line with my goal for this blog, to motivate mobilize, and mentor others to live life in a passionate pursuit of God. However, here is what you can expect to read; I will post what God is specifically teaching me through my alone time with him, as well as my preaching notes and notes from conferences I attend. I will also write about what I am learning about life and ministry while serving and leading in the role of Lead Pastor.

    Any insight or thoughts you want to pass along to me, leave them in the comments.

    Help, My Pastor Preaches too Long #OurCOG

    Have you ever sat through a movie that seemed like it wouldn’t end. Maybe it was a class where after a certain period of time it seemed like you checked out. I am sure that if your a Pastor you imagine each person sitting through your sermon never wanting it to end because it is so engaging and life changing. If I can be so blunt, as a Pastor I feel like I spend too much time on each message. I am sure that many of those who are listening to us feel the same way.

    I am looking for some feedback…

  • As a Pastor when your in the congregation listening to another speaker, how long do you want them to speak?
  • As a Pastor how long do you normally spend delivering your message, do you think those your preaching to wishes you would shorten it up a bit?
  • As a church attendee if you could be open an honest with your Pastor, what would be the ideal time for this Sunday’s sermon?
  • As an attendee, how long does your Pastor normally spend on his message, is it too long?
  • Please take a moment to leave your thoughts in the comments. I look forward to reading your responses.

    My Prayer for the Women of NACOG

    I believe today and tomorrow will be a landmark day in the life of my wife and the other two ladies who are heading to Mauldin for the annual SCCOG Women’s Retreat. Matter of fact, as their Pastor I have a specific prayer I am praying for them this weekend.

    First, that they would connect with God in a way like never before. I believe the speakers have a word from the the Lord and this will be an encounter like never before for each woman attending.

    Second, that God would use this time for them to connect with each other in a way like never before. Each woman has their own set of worries and struggles. Time away like this has a way to encourage and empower one another in their walk with Christ.

    Third, that God would use this time for each of these women to connect with the will that God has for each of their lives. Along with being wives, mothers, employers, employees, etc, sometimes Gods will can have a way of being silenced with all the noise. I believe that this time will prove to be enlightening in regards to the will and desire God has for each of them in all areas of their life.

    He Gave Some, Part 1

    Ministry, particularly that of Pastor can be a hard job. If you add in the culture of the surrounding where your serving, the different needs of individuals you serve, and the assumed needs of what it is going to take in order to “grow” the congregation, not to mention whatever else you may be facing, it can be a bit overwhelming, right?

    I don’t believe God intends anyone serving In His Call for their life to be overwhelmed. We are overcomers.

    Before going any further here are a few scriptures that i believe will encourage you in the event that you are feeling overwhelmed in your present role or assignment.

    Isaiah 59:19 (NKJV) When the enemy comes in like a flood,The Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.

    Isaiah 43:1-3 (NKJV) Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior

    John 10:10 (NKJV) The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

    1 Corinthians 10:12-13 (NKJV) Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

    Know this; God is your stronghold, God is your Redeemer, Jesus came to fulfill your life, and God is faithful.

    I have read over a passage of scripture quite often, prior to, and since serving as a Pastor. It is powerful and helps me to keep things into perspective as it relates to my role and the goals that I need to strive for. I will share and comment on that in my next post.

    Until then, keep your head up and keep pressing forward. We need you.

    My Calling

    I feel that God is doing something crazy wild in our lives at the moment. I have an unsettledness and expectancy for something big. To be quite honest, I feel it is to go into Pastoring. Where, I don’t know. When, that is to be determined but for now there is a peace that God is leading us in that direction. I feel it is my calling. For me, it takes me out of my safety zone in a way. There is much I don’t know, much I wonder about but at the same time there is a peace that this is the path that God has for me. So, as God opens the door I will follow. Until then I will keep on praying, plugging away, and pushing to do the work God has me doing currently.