How to be ineffective in ministry

I am learning quite a bit about how to be ineffective in ministry.  

Okay, now that I have your attention, let me explain. Effectiveness in ministry is not necessarily what most people would think.  Effectiveness is not measured in how many buildings one can build, or the latest growth in worship attendance numbers, or even how well known your ministry is to people in your denomination.  None of that really matters in the big picture.

What does matter?  Changed lives.  New commitments to Christ.  Fruit.  All of these things matter to the Kingdom, though it is not always seen in the bottom line of a church spreadsheet.

Here’s some principles in how not to be effective in ministry:

  • Stay out of the Word.  Don’t read it unless you are preparing for a sermon or teaching time, and by all means, act like a professional rather than a everyday person.
  • Make your worship a farce by allowing the practice of praising God on one hand and acting ungodly toward a fellow believer on the other (this can be done by either the preacher or the member).
  • Evaluate and design your ministry in a way that makes you look good for the next search team to come around.  Go ahead and estimate high- after all, the people you shepherd are just stepping stones to a megachurch that is just waiting for you.
  • Be political.  Be very political.  Get your name out there so that others may know who you are.  The time spent getting to rub elbows with the “in crowd” evangelicals may pay off dividends.
  • Stop visiting. Just cut it out completely.  Pastors don’t do that anyway, and the ones that do are just “small church,” which is beneath you.
  • Center all ministry on you.  You are more important than training others to replace you.  If you stay vital to the organization, you can never get fired, right?
Okay, most of this is just plain awful.  However, I have either seen this happen or have done it myself.  

So how can you be effective in ministry?  Here are some biblical principles:
  • Be in the Word.  Read it.  Be immersed in it.  Be close to the Lord in your quiet time and pray for His strength and guidance in all things.  Pray for your church daily.
  • Be honest about your faults and sinfulness.  Allow God to cleanse you.  
  • When faced with sin in the church, seek to restore them if possible.  Stand firm on the Word while allowing for some time for them to change from the inside out.  If they don’t change, follow Mt 18:15-17, but do it as a final step, not a first step.
  • Focus your ministry on transformation.  Seek to reach people as they come to Christ, and then help them to grow, serve, and share Christ.  Numbers take care of themselves, and God just wants you to be faithful in what He gives you to do.
  • Stop the politics, ego stroking, and ambition.  This belongs to the world, not to the Kingdom of God.
  • Be heavily involved in visiting your people, loving them at every opportunity.  However, be sure that it does not override your study time.
  • Give away your ministry.  Start a ministry, train your leaders, and hand it off.  In fact, try to train yourself out of a job!
That’s all for now.  Hope that this was practical advice from one pastor to another.  I have learned how to make a mess of things, but I also know how God can use faithfulness for His glory.
Any other ways how a pastor can be effective?
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RE: I need help with my Deacon Ministry!!!

I have had tons of email and visits to my domain name, http://www.deacontraining.com.  After trying to keep up with the website, I decided that it would just be easier to have the website come to this blog.  So if you are visiting this blog because of the deacontraining.com search, no worries.

I am glad to help and share info that I have concerning the ministry of the deacon.  I have access to free videos, training resources, and guides in order to help deacons become “ministers of people.”  Just send me an email or call me by using the button on the side- I will see what I can send you and also give you a free personal consult.

What do I get out of it?  I would love nothing more than to see God glorified in your church and life- and that’s all we ever need!  🙂

The Great Commission Resurgence in a Nutshell

Since the passing of the GCR yesterday, I had multiple people ask simply, “what is it?”  Let me give you a quick run down of the GCR and what it means to Southern Baptists- covering all 7 parts of it quickly.  If you want more detailed info, go to http://www.pray4gcr.com/

  1. A New Mission Statement for the SBC– “As a convention of churches, our missional vision is to present the gospel of Jesus Christ to every person in the world and to make disciples of all the nations.”  My comment: nothing earth shattering in the change here, but it is an attempt to focus on reaching and teaching.  
  2. SBC Core Values- eight core values were introduced. Again, no issues here with anyone present at the meeting (of course, there’s always one or two curmudgeons opposed to anything).
  3. Great Commission Giving– this proposal was altered a bit to include an even stronger stance on supporting the Cooperative Program.  This proposal also directed the IMB and NAMB, along with the WMU to greatly increase the offering goals by 2015 ($200 mil for Lottie, $100 mil for Annie).
  4. Change in NAMB- NAMB is to focus 50% of its efforts on church planting, ending cooperative agreements with state conventions, and forging new partnerships to keep on their new task.
  5. Change in IMB– IMB is to be free to enter North America, focusing on people groups living in the US and Canada.  For example, Iraqi immigrants in Detroit will be able to be better reached using the expertise of the IMB and the church planting resources of NAMB.  
  6. CP Promotion- CP education will be taken on by the state conventions, with support from the Executive Committee (EC).
  7. IMB to 51%- 1% will be removed from the EC and given to the IMB.  This brings the EC admin fees from 3% to 2%.
That’s pretty much it.  I pray that we may get down to business of reaching and teaching- may God guide us in His direction!
Fran

The Cruciform Church

When Christ died on the cross, He paid the penalty for sin.  Before the Righteous and Holy God, we are justified through Christ, legally, positionally, and eternally.  Christ’s death on the cross meant that we who are separated from God can now come before Him with confidence, trusting not in our flesh, our birth, our circumstances or our works, but in Christ alone and His sacrificial atonement for us.  And for that, we should be eternally grateful and thankful.

This is the basis for being a cruciform church (thanks to Lee Camp for this term in his book, Mere Discipleship).  The cruciform church is a church of individuals who take up their cross daily.  Worship is priority in all things, as it is first and foremost in all ministry, work, and action.  In fact, a cruciform church does not act without it being an act of worship to a most Holy God.

This act of worship of the Lord is expressed in many ways.  Most people think that worship means corporate worship, as in a Sunday morning gathering.  Actually, it’s often more than that, it can range from an individual/personal devotional and worship time, a small group bible study, a homeless feeding, and even a planning meeting (I know, maybe I’m pushing it)- that is, if the focus is on an expression from the participant’s heart to the Lord.

A cruciform church is formed around the cross.  It is a church with the cross in all its dealings.  It is a people eternally forgiven, eternally saved, and eternally grateful.  It is a people seeking not their own comfort, but the Great Commission.  It’s a mindset and a heart-felt change: all actions are driven by a concern for the non-worshippers of God, as those in the church reach to those who do not know Christ.  Evangelism, missions, discipleship, corporate worship, tithing, prayer, and other spiritual disciplines and practices mean nothing if the goal of expanding the Kingdom of Christ worshippers is not on its radar.

How does a church be more of a cruciform church?  It begins with the leadership.  The leaders must be sold out for Christ and His Kingdom.  They must be humble in their positions of leadership, as there are no professionals in the Kingdom of Christ.  They must be focused, removing distractions of “creature comforts” and self-centeredness from their thinking, centering their lives and minds on the things of the Lord through prayer and the Word.  They must be biblical, pointing the congregation to the principles of the Scriptures, shepherding the flock with patience and great instruction in the full counsel of the Word.  They must be slaves to righteousness, thirsting and hungering after the righteousness of God both inside and outside the walls of the church.  They must be bold and courageous, seeking God’s strength in standing up to the temptations of legalism and liberalism, saving the church from wolves that creep in, and pressing the people of God toward the Kingdom work of God.

Even more, it continues with the church itself.  The church must be willing to submit and to be lead, asking God to direct its paths and allowing God’s leaders to lead them in a direction that they should go.  They should be willing to come, grow, serve, and share Christ daily, in every place they influence: work, home, school, and even the seemingly mundane.  They must be unselfish, remembering the call to the Great Commission instead of the “Great Comfort” they so desire in their lives.  They must be hungry, desiring to see another soul saved, another life changed, and another sinner repentant.

These are the components of the cruciform church- the church with the cross in all its dealings.  Be the church. Expand the Kingdom.  Transform lives.

Fran

The Church

In an attempt to follow a biblical model for church ministry, I thought that I would mention a few thoughts of mine regarding churches and the prevailing attitudes within various sized churches.  I admit that these are not based on research, but on observations, and there are stereotypes that are inherent in my thoughts.  I will say that I have firsthand experience to varying degrees of least some of these attitudes:

  1. The Family Church- small church (usually 100 or less in worship), run by a few families, heart to grow, but most members desire a pastor that is more of a chaplain than a preacher.  Usually single staff pastor with a part time minister.  Out of necessity to have a continuous ministry, deacons can often be administrative in nature.  However, much of the administration is done by lay persons and through  monthly business meetings, though some churches function as a pastor led “dictatorship.”  
  2. The Transitional Church- small to mid sized church (100-200), some families still influence; heart to grow; most members desire a pastor to hold several duties (chaplain, evangelist, administrator, and preacher).  Deacons are more free to be ministers of people instead of administrators.  Critical time for the church as a lack of infrastructural change (ie. growth in the staffing or worship space) will begin to hinder ministry.
  3. The Expanding Church– mid sized church (200-350), some families that influenced in the past no longer hold as much sway; heart to grow; most members desire a pastor to lead staff, administrate, and  preach (possibly multiple services).  Deacons are ministers of people.  With the addition of full time staffing, much of the ministry is now able to be spread out among several pastors.  A church identity is formed and expressed in a sort of church “branding” to best express the heart of the church to the community.  A culture must developed that emphasizes excellence in ministry, that embraces change, and that emphasizes gifts to be used in ministry. 
  4. The Large Church- multiple full time staffed church with large worship attendance (350-1000); pastoral staff holds sway in ministry decisions; heart to grow; most members desire pastor to lead and preach.  The possibility of an executive pastor might exist to remove some of the administrative burdens off of the senior pastor.  Deacons enhance pastoral ministry through ministry of people.  A church “branding” begins to occur, with a clear identity of the church expressed to the community.  An intentional coordination among staff and key lay leaders might need to occur on a daily or weekly basis in order to best facilitate ministry.
  5. The Mega Church- Large gatherings, often in multiple services (1000+).  Pastoral staff administrates with associates in formed departments.  Many members desire pastor to be a figure head, a visionary, and a preacher.  Multiple preachers may be on staff to preach some of the services.  Deacons are ministers of people.  The church “brand” is recognizable in the community.  Senior staff meet separately, and then information is disseminated through other communications to associate staff.
  6. The Multi Campus Church– In this model, the church goes from multiple services in one location to multiple services in multiple locations.  This is not limited to mega churches, as multi campus meetings can occur in churches sizes from the expanding church model to the mega church model.  The “branding” of the church identity has now expanded to be recognizable enough to impact new locations.  
Again, I know that there are stereotype here as well as generalizations, but there is a sense that much of this occurs.  We can debate the individual thoughts here, but that’s missing my point.  After all, these types of churches all have a heart to grow, and all of these churches have organizational structures.  So what is the missing factor here?  
What we are missing here is the message of the changed life in Christ.  Personally, I think that churches have been overly focused on structure, systems, and resources and not enough on transforming people.  Sorry to say, but mega-church pastors and their methods sell books, but rarely are they models for others to follow.  In our quest to find the magic formula to grow our grandiose kingdoms, we miss the most important part of the reason for the church in the first place.  Converts come to Christ but do not know what is next.  Churches exchange sheep from one church to the next.  Pastors abandon one ministry for the greener pasture of another.  In the meantime, while on this earth, we lose our battle with Satan and his influence on the next generation.  
To our shame, our churches are baptizing less, tithing less, discipling less, disciplining less, and sharing less now than fifty years ago.  Something needs to change.  A discipling church is one that focuses on reaching and teaching.  There are systems, yes, but more importantly, there is a patient focus on changing the culture of the church to the heart of the gospel- that all people might come, grow, serve, and share Christ.  It is a mindset and a heart felt change, followed with action.  It begins with a transformation minded pastor and expands to the church.  And, yes, it will take time.
Let me mention this- building a life-transforming ministry is counter cultural, both inside and outside of the church.  It will not produce quick, immediate, results recognizable by associational and state convention baptismal numbers.  It will not spur the admiration of others in order to stroke your ego, accompanied with calls for speaking engagements and book deals.  It will not bring about offers for denominational positions and teams.  It will instead, bring about changed lives, and as some persevere to the end, it will result in praise and glory to God.  
Now that I have stated my case, I will keep posting on how this can happen.  Stay tuned as I lay out a plan for a biblical, transforming church ministry- one that emphasizes the gospel message to bring people to Christ and transform them to fruit bearing disciples of Christ.
Until next time,
Fran

Mondays…oh Mondays

Monday mornings can be a mixed bag for me.  Sometimes Mondays come and I get “right on it,” eager and ready for the week ahead.  Other times, after looking at my overbooked calendar with regret and disdain, I simply have dreaded Mondays.  Within those dreaded days, a very small percentage of Mondays are like today.  They are a downer.  A discourager.  A drag.  These days don’t happen much, but it does happen.


Now, please don’t get me wrong- I’m really okay, but it has seemed that today was going to be one of those small percentage Mondays for me.  I do realize that self pity and self centeredness is essentially self worship (idolatry), and certainly idolatry is sinful and repentance must come.  In my repentance of my sin, I first and foremost ran to God.  


I had to spend more time with a healing God.  I went to prayer.  I listened to music.  I especially ran to God’s Word.  As I struggled and pressed through the Bible reading, prayer, and meditation time, I found myself fighting for joy to take over my day and upcoming week.  My priority this morning became to focus on God and not my pity party, on God’s righteousness and not my self centeredness, the Lord’s glory and not my own.  I refused to let discouragement come in and take control, but instead focused on Christ alone, knowing that He brings joy. “Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Ps 30:5).  I trusted that pressing on and pressing forth will result in a joy that goes further than simple happiness. 


This morning was one of those mornings that brought me joy in the presence of the Lord.  Even more, in my prayer and reading time, I ran across a puritan prayer that especially helped me and may may help others.  As a result, let me share it with you:
May I never give Thee rest until Christ is the pulse of my heart, the spokesman of my lips, and the lamp of my feet (Valley of Vision, p. 273).


May His words and His ways be my words and my ways- all for His glory!


Fran

Book review: Where is God? by Dr. John Townsend

                When I first received this book by Dr. John Townsend, I have to admit that I wasn’t too terribly excited.  Although I have heard Townsend on the radio and have glanced through a few of his books in the Boundaries series, I was still not quite sure what Townsend’s approach would be as he dealt with a question often asked by many, “Where is God?”  For example, was I in store to read nothing but Freudian psychology “baptized” with Scripture?  Was I going to hear nothing but heart-wrenching stories aimed at gaining an emotional connection with the reader, but with little dealing in weightier matters?  After reading his work, I was pleasantly surprised that neither was to be the case.
                Townsend begins his book by discussing a two-sided spiritual experience while on a trip to Antarctica.  His experience had him feeling exalted at the snowy scenery, but frightened when his sightseeing team encountered danger.  This experience helped him to identify with those who ask, “Where is God?”
                Townsend tackles the hard issues in this book.  He is brutally honest and open about sin as the cause of some issues and recounts his own life and experiences of those who he has ministered to in the past.  He is extremely biblical.  As he travels from chapter to chapter, however, I began to find that Townsend was not attempting to provide solutions, only observations about struggles and sin.  That is, until I read chapter nine.
                Chapter nine is probably the best one in the book and the turning point for me in my assessment of the work.  This chapter, entitled, “The God Who Transforms You,” brings biblical insight and wisdom to the forefront.  That difficulties and trials bring character to the believer is clearly taught in Scripture, and Townsend expands on this concept to allow the reader to understand this important concept as he moves on to his next concept.  During trials, Townsend writes, one is to do the opposite of what may “feel” right: run to God and His Word.  Build your character in Christ, Townsend rightly claims, and you may be more equipped to deal with the difficulties of life. 
                Even more, Townsend continues from this chapter with the same sort of biblical advice for the various issues he identifies.  He offers Scripture, application, and real life examples.  Finally, Townsend concludes the book with a practical wrap-up of sorts to help the reader apply all of the material to his or her life.  Though it is a bit short in content, the chapter is helpful and useful for the reader. 
                All in all, this is a good read.  For those that are looking for answers to struggles, Townsend brings the reader back to God and His healing power.  I highly recommend this book to those wanting to learn and understand more about their own struggles and how they may turn it over to God.

http://www.thomasnelson.com/consumer/product_detail.asp?sku=0785229191&title=Where_Is_God&author=Dr._John_Townsend

Changing to this blog

In preparation for the decade of ’10, I am consolidating my blog to this spot.

Earlier blog posts can be found at:

http://www.firstmthealthy.org/templates/System/details.asp?id=28539&PG=xCast&LID=2503

and

http://ministryofgrace.lifewithchrist.org/index.html

My plan is to have book reviews and articles on this blog as well as Twitter/Facebook links

Until then,

Fran

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