Category Archives: Ministry
Dealing with Rejection in Ministry and Leadership
I’ve heard it from Pastors on five continents. The pain of rejection in ministry and leadership stings and can exact a high price from our leadership and from our lives. What does it look like?
- The nagging memory of a harsh critic of your preaching, ideas, family, etc.
- The pain of trusted people blowing off as unimportant the things that you have worked hard on to grow the church.
- The people you trusted as friends that leave your church for another in town, and with or without knowing it, exact a feeling of rejection in you.
- The weight of expectations placed on you and your family, that could not be carried by even the Apostle Paul.
Now, not every critic or questioned plan or person that leaves or expectation on us as leaders is wrong or without reason. I’ve learned, that most of the time, these can be great blessings and can lead us to personal growth. But whether done in love or in wisdom or whether it proves to be an eventual blessing, the actions or words of those we lead can stab a sharp pain into our hearts and minds. A sense of rejection.
The danger is that we began to see everything through the lens of those actions, or words, or the real failures in our ministry. Our movement forward in Christ and as leaders in his body can slow or cease. We can began to expect rejection when the phone rings (“they’re calling to tell me that they’re leaving the church”) or when people walk in to the office (“they’re here to tell me that they’ve got a problem with something”), robbing us from intimacy in relationships and influence with others. The rejection of others can take on a louder voice than the acceptance of God and of the call He has placed on our lives.
I’ve heard rejection’s voice and it has kept me from:
- Building relationships with others as I’ve feared their eventual disappointment in me.
- Fully sharing the Gospel because of uncertainty about the persons response.
- Dealing with heart issues, as the pain of rejection in the past becomes a sore scab that I want no one to touch.
- Taking risk for the kingdom that requires confidence in God’s call and power.
- Not being able to give love and acceptance to others, who are desperately looking for it, because love and acceptance are not finding a home in my heart and mind.
In worst cases, pastors leave the ministry with deep pain; pastors kids grow up hating the church; the pastors wife feels isolated and alone; the pastors home becomes a cold place because rejection’s voice hardens the heart of everyone inside. Don Wilton once said, “In a room full of pastors, there’s a broken heart on every row.” How do we get free from this nagging voice and painful aspect of leadership and ministry?
Moving Past Rejection in Ministry:
1. Expect Rejection
Disciples are promised throughout the New Testament that they will be hated, persecuted, crushed, abandoned, alone. Jesus said we would be like sheep among wolves. It’s never promised that ministry would be easy. Facing rejection and criticism is a hazard of the calling. To be called to ministry is to be called to rejection. Deny yourself, prepare to turn the other cheek, to forgive, to keep moving forward. When you expect something, you can brace for its impact. How do we prepare and brace for rejection?
Matthew 10:22; 24:9; John 15:18; 16:33; Acts 14:22; 2 Timothy 3:12; 1 John 3:13
2. Live Accepted
Embrace God’s acceptance of you in Christ EVERYDAY. The only acceptance that matters, is the fact that God in Christ has accepted you into his family and thought you worthy to carry His gospel to others. In Christ, you don’t have to fight for acceptance, you fight FROM acceptance. You don’t work for God’s approval, you work FROM God’s approval. You don’t strive for victory over pain, you strive FROM a place of victory in Christ for all eternity. Embrace and remind yourself regularly that God’s love is not BASED on my performance or the opinions of others, it PLACED on me by an all-knowing, loving Father. I am accepted, loved, blessed by God, no matter what happens around me. People may reject us and set us aside as unimportant, but God accepts us and sets us apart for relationship and ministry in his kingdom.
John 6:37; Romans 15:7; Ephesians 1:3-6; Colossians 1:13; 21-22
3. Put your trust in a Faithful God
God is faithful. People are fickle. So, the main voice we listen to must be the voice of God. He doesn’t change his mind about you. His word is forever fixed in heaven. The same cannot be said for any human being, me included. We are fickle. I pray that you have many faithful friends in ministry that stick by you no matter what. But if not, you can count on God’s sovereign faithfulness to comfort you and empower you until the day you die. And for every John (the disciple Jesus loved), there will probably be a Judas, whose actions feel like betrayal. Keep your eyes on Jesus and your trust in God to live free from the pain of rejection.
Deuteronomy 7:9; Psalm 91:4-6; Lamentations 3:22-23; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; 2 Timothy 2:13; Hebrews 10:23; 1 Peter 4:19.
4. Forgive Quickly
Forgiveness is a vital tool for ministry leaders. We can internalize so many slights, offenses, grievances. And the pain of these WILL spill out into your leadership. Jesus modeled for us the radical forgiveness that God desires for us, when even on the cross as he was brutally and unjustly slaughtered, he sought the forgiveness of those who rejected him in the most vile and painful way possible. Forgiveness is the path of freedom. In forgiveness, we find freedom to continue to risk, to serve, to love and accept others. Without it, the slights and criticisms and actions of others become a burden we bear to the detriment of fruitful ministry. Decide right now, that you will forgive when offended. Ask God for thick skin and a merciful heart. Remembering always, how much we’ve been forgiven and how much mercy God has richly bestowed on us.
Matthew 5:7; 6:14-15; 18:33; Mark 11:25; Colossians 3:13; James 2:13
5. Don’t Walk Alone
“Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed” James 5:16. Find a trusted friend in ministry or two that you can process the pain of rejection with. This pain is known by almost every leader I know. There are understanding fellow travelers along this road that can help you heal through opening up the wounds and allowing the encouragement of friendship to refresh your spirit. Don’t believe the lie that you’re alone in these thoughts and feelings. Open up to a companion in ministry. And encourage your wife to do the same.
Romans 12:10; Hebrews 3:13; 10:24-25; 13:1; James 5:16
The fear of rejection is counterproductive
Allowing rejection to hold you back is so counterproductive. It will cause you as a leader to take less risk, build fewer relationships, bear less fruit, lead to more slow progress for the mission of your church. This paralysis will likely lead to more apparent rejection in your ministry as people sense a lack of vision and leadership from you. Move past it through reminding yourself of God’s acceptance, trusting in God’s faithfulness, forgiving those who have rejected you quickly, and talking it through with faithful friends. You don’t have to be stuck and unfruitful any longer.
There is too much at stake to allow the rejection of a few to keep you from pursuing the high call of God to reach the world. Break free from the fear and the pain of rejection.
How else have you dealt with the pain of rejection in relationships and leadership? Email me if I can help in any way.
Pastors Wives: The Joy, the Questions, and the Tears
Anonymous questions sent in by the wives of pastors reveals the depth of pain, loneliness, and uncertainty that they often endure. At our recent Louisiana Ministers Wives Retreat, a panel sought to answer these and other anonymous questions. The name of the Session was “The Joy, the Questions, and the Tears”:
- How do I continue to show love to people who openly disrespect and criticize my husband?
- How do I deal with the anxiety of always worrying about what my husband may say, not say, do or not do?
- How do I address the many different opinions of what is expected of me as a pastors wife?
- How do I know who might be a “safe” friend for me in my church?
- What can I do to find peace as a pastor’s wife?
- How do I live with my church’s expectations of my children?
- How do I address my troubled / rebellious child’s issues with my high expectation church?
Pastors wives are often stand between the flawed, struggling person that is her husband and the flawed, sheep like people that he desperately wants to lead well. She sees his desperation and wants to help him. She sees their demands and wants to protect him. She wants them to know how special he is. She wants to be herself and feel safe among friends as her husband grows, her children struggle, her pain needs an outlet, and the lost need her savior. I’m grateful for my wife who has walked this narrow road with me. She give me great strength in the vulnerable moments of this dangerous calling. Praying for other Minister’s Wives as they walk this narrow path with the God-called men in their lives.
Making Extra in Ministry
Louisiana Native and founder of FinCon, Philip Taylor shares some good ideas for Bivo / Covo Planters / Pastors on how to make extra money. Over 50% of Louisiana planters in the last 5 years have been Bivo. What are some ways you make ends meet as a minister?
My favorite ideas from Phil’s list are:
- Census Worker
- Give tours of your city through Vayable.com
Some of the Bivo roles I know our planters have served in:
- City Management
- Hospital Administration
- Hospital Maintenance
- Rocket Science
- Uber / Lyft Driver
- School Administration
- Pest Control
- IT Professional
- Insurance Sales
- 2nd Church Job
- Denominational/Associational Roles
Know of others? What are some other good Bivo jobs?
Rural Ministry Today
This year, our Louisiana Baptist Missions and Ministry Team held 10 weeks of Summer Network gatherings across Louisiana, and we tried to hit some of our more rural areas and associations. Though 75% of Louisiana is considered Urban by the Census Bureau. A few observations about ministry in Rural Louisiana in 2019:
- There is a growing shortage of pastors. There are associations in our state with 20-25% of their churches without pastors.
- There are more retirees entering the ministry. We met several amazing men who had retired from secular employment and are now pastoring churches! We also have several planting churches! How about ministry as an ENCORE career.
- Rural Pastors are finding innovative ways to meet the changing ministry environments they are in. Addiction, homelessness, poverty are major issues in rural areas, just as in urban areas, and on the minds of pastors. Churches are finding ways to address these. Encouraging.
- Rural Pastors are heroes. They do it without fanfare or abundant resources. I have been inspired by the enthusiasm of young and old pastors in rural areas this summer. Their church of 40 people may seem insignificant, but in a community with 600 people, they are a mega church!
- Relationships among churches and among pastors are lifelines for the stresses of ministry in rural areas. Associational coaching networks are forming. Pastors with education are mentoring pastors who did not have the opportunity. Encouraged by the kingdom mindset across our state.
- Smaller, rural churches have suffered from transfer growth as many older Christians choose to drive out of their community to a larger church in another town. Heard this observation several times from rural pastors this summer in relation to the struggle to find mature Christians to lead. There are seasoned Christians giving up on the small, local church.
- Rural communities are attractive to families and are growing in population and income level. From younger retirees to families that want more space and don’t mind a 45 minute to 1 hour commute daily, demographics are changing in many of our rural areas.
I am a product of rural churches. These churches gave me a great foundation of faith. Ministry looks differently, may move slower, but continues to be fruitful for life change and making disciples. Praying for our Rural pastors and churches.
“there arose a complaint” Acts 6:1
For most leaders, including me, that moment when a complaint or criticism arises is like a cloud moving in and potential storm rising. Many church leaders have post-traumatic stress that paralyze us whenever complaints and criticism arise. While complaining is condemned in scripture (1 Corinthians 10:10; Philippians 2:14-15; 1 Peter 4:9) and many complaints are selfish and from power seeking, disgruntled, hurting people; leaders must learn to see the opportunity in every complaint. That’s what the early church did in Acts 6. When “there arose a complaint,” they mobilized people to meet the legitimate need. The result was “the word of God spread”! Conflict is inevitable in relationships, on teams, and in churches. Don’t miss the opportunity!
- Mobilize gifted people to meet the legitimate needs that complaints may reveal.
- Sharpen the mission of sharing with your community through re-prioritizing ministry resources and gifts.
- Make room for new people that God will add as more people are mobilized for ministry and more needs are met.
- Correct, rebuke, teach, and train if complaints reveal prideful, competitive, divisive spirits in the church. 2 Timothy 4:2; Titus 2:15
- Say goodbye gracefully to disgruntled, negative influences that refuse to work for unity and solutions and may hold back the mission of the church. Romans 16:17; Titus 3:10. It’s not about who you keep, but who you reach.
- Be thick skinned. Listen to criticism. Learn from it. Don’t get distracted from the mission of spreading the message of Jesus. Proverbs 15:31-32
- Don’t try to do everything or feel like you must answer everyone’s complaints or try to make everyone happy. Gospel first – Acts 6:2. A clear conscience before God is our first responsibility – Acts 24:16.
Feeling Like An Epic Failure?
Failure is pervasive in life and ministry. In his book Fail: Finding Hope and Grace in the Midst of Ministry Failure, J.R. Briggs vulnerably shares his story and weaves together the stories of others who had experienced great ministry failure. The book provides a healthy framework for understanding failure, provides solid definitions of success for those in ministry, and connects with some pathways out of ministry failure. Briggs reminds us of the facts that inn our failures we experience God’s grace and power, God does not leave us alone, and God shapes our character. Great book to process if you’re going through a dry season or feel an overwhelming sense of failure in your ministry or career. You can overcome, you can fail forward, you can begin again.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes:
- Ministry is fertile ground for failure, and failure is fertile ground for ministry.
- Breakdowns often lead to breakthroughs – and sometimes failure can be the very thing that provides the breakthrough we need to experience true ministry.
- Failure is the crucible of character formation.
- The gospel doesn’t keep us from failing but instead transforms it into deeper meaning and a more hopeful purpose.
- Often it is not a major catastrophic event that brings pastors down but the ongoing, unrelenting, oppressive stress on the treadmill of ministry, where we simply cannot keep up the pace.
- Faithful ministry is meeting people where they are and walking with them to where God wants them to be.
- The business-model approach to ministry is product oriented, a biblical approach to ministry is process oriented.
- When we live as faithful followers of Jesus, we are bound to fail – and yet this is a good thing. Failure can be a gift. Failure can be grace. Failure can yield hope.
- Our lives and ministries will be assessed by congruence, not efficiency. It is not found in productivity, competence or progress as much as in the development of Christlike character and coherence of our stories with the character of God.
- There are few professions more open to attack by vulnerability and shame than ministry.
- For pastors one of the most accepted and encouraged yet dangerous and potentially lethal numbing agents is busyness.
- Failure will define us, refine us or redefine us, but it will never leave us the same.
- How we deal with the brokenness around us depends entirely on how we deal with the brokenness inside us.
- There is no spiritual formation and maturity without difficulty and uncertainty. If we are going to continue to grow in our journey with Jesus, we have to continue to risk, opening ourselves up to the possibility of failing again.
6 Tips for the Bivocational PREACHER
I’ve spent most of my ministry in Church Planting, which has required a bivocational approach. I’ve had side hustles as a fireman and a commercial janitor, and the part-time and now full-time rolls as denominational strategist. For the Bivocational Preacher, time is always a challenge. Here are a few tips I’ve learned from 20 years of Bivocational Preaching:
1. Read through the Bible systematically and make outlines
Your devotional time should be separate from your sermon preparation. However, your devotional time should FEED your sermon preparation. As you follow Jesus, by spending time in His word and prayer, journal your thoughts, outline the texts that jump out at you, and develop a system where you’ll remember where that outline and those thoughts were for when you come to that passage in your preaching.
I love the story of the old preacher that was asked by the young preacher, “How long did it take you to prepare that sermon?” The old preacher said, “About 35 years.”
The older I get, the more my preaching benefits from a systematic reading through the Bible every year.
2. Get a handle on a few solid and simple tools
Sermon prep tools are plentiful. Bible software, commentaries, websites, etc. Most preachers love study, so we can get bogged down with so many tools. As a bivocational pastor I’ve had to cut through my love for the bells and whistles and pull together fewer and simpler tools for each sermon and series. Usually two commentaries, a free online interlinear tool, a Bible Handbook and Dictionary, and my devotional feeds do the trick for me.
This also helps me with one of my goals in preaching. I don’t want anyone to walk away from a sermon I preach and say, “I could never do that.” Simple tools that you can pass along to others for a small costs keeps the preaching ministry of the church reproducible.
3. Have a system for recording quotes, illustrations, and ideas
The morning paper for most of us has moved online. Preachers need a system for collecting data, articles, and quotes that we come across throughout our online lives. D.L. Moody did this with newspapers and books, amassing a collection of quips and illustrations that fathoms the mind. There are numerous online clipping tools and places for storing ideas. I like the Evernote Webclipper. It allows you to create categories and tags for easy location by topic later. I also follow hundreds of blogs and feeds daily in Feedly. Feedly allows you to save articles by categories for easy location by topic later as well. I also subscribe to Preaching Today for $69 per year, which includes an archive of illustrations from the news and history. There are other subscription based services that can be utilized as well.
4. Start preparing early
Monday morning is key to a prepared sermon. If I don’t have at least a rough outline by the end of the day Monday, I’m behind on the sermon the rest of the week. Ideally you can get two – four weeks out. And I recommend preaching series of sermons, where a team can be utilized in planning and the big ideas for the series along with the major tools to be utilized are planned out months in advance.
Smoked meat is the best tasting of all. The key to delicious smoked meat is TIME. Like that, I like to get my sermon outlines done far enough in advance (2-4 weeks) to give them time to fill with flavor and soak in thoroughly. A great Sunday for me is actually, a sermon that soaked for at least two weeks and delivered in the power of the Holy Spirit, and then heading home to pull some delicious beef, pork, or turkey out of the smoker. Yes!
5. Commit 30 minutes to 1 hour everyday
When you’re bivocational, often time does not allow for 4-6 hours of preparation at once. I try to budget 30 minutes to 1 hour each day for a “Sermon Look.” Take a look at your outlines, pray over them, consider any current events or news or quotes to include. For me, this mean getting up extra early or staying at the computer for an extra 30 minutes to an hour. I also like to include discussing the passage with my wife and kids, and maybe a few trusted friends, throughout the week to get their perspective and help me in thinking through communication of the truths to real people.
6. Depend on God’s Power
It’s usually when I’m least prepared and when I feel the delivery was the poorest, that someone comes up and says, “This message changed my life!” What?!?! This always reminds me, that it’s God’s work to use his messengers how he sees fit. All the preparation in the world can’t overcome the spiritual war we’re facing when we stand and proclaim God’s word. We need his power, his presence. To depend on ourselves is to fail in this task.
What other tips and tricks do you know that can help us Bivocational Preachers?
Bivocational Pastor / Every Member Ministry
Bivocational ministry is an approach to ministry that includes the pastor or ministry holding a full-time or part-time job, along with a ministry position in a church or ministry of some kind. This has become a big conversation in North America as less money for ministry is available due to less percentage giving by church members, higher maintenance and facility cost, and an emphasis on church planting, which at least 50% of the time requires a bivocational approach. I’ve been bivocational for most of my ministry, holding down side hustles as a fireman, janitor, teacher, and now a full-time denominational strategists. In Louisiana, where I serve, I know pastors and church planters who do everything from rocket science to handy man work. It’s getting to where, talking to a Pastor, the conversation is not IF he is bivocational, but WHAT does he do on the side to make ends meet.
I believe Bivocational ministry will continue to grow as churches decline and new churches are planted. Here’s a few Pros and Cons for Bivocational ministry:
1. It’s Biblical. At least for apostolic, church planting type leaders; a bivocational ministry approach puts you on firm Biblical grounds. The foundation is the Apostle Paul who served as a tent maker, and while he sought and taught the churches the necessity of paying the pastor, did not demand salary for his ministry of church planting and leading the movement that became Christianity in the 1st century.
2. It’s a Reproducible Model. If reproduction is the goal, then accepting a bivocational approach as normative will be necessary. It’s reproducible because there are so many people that already have jobs they love, while wanting to engage in fruitful ministry. So equipping those with the gifts of teaching, leadership, apostleship to plant churches along side their day jobs is something we must aim for.
3. Ministers can serve the church without being dependent on the church for income. Pastors can feel hand tied by the need to make tough decisions and the need to keep people attending and giving. A bivocational minister with a full-time income is freed completely from this arrangement. The minister is also able to be an example of Biblical stewardship from the same perspective as those he leads.
4. The church can have a higher percentage of funds available for ministry and missions. The cost of personnel and facilities is often 65% to 80% of a churches budget. This leaves small amounts for the work of the church and the needs of the world. Take out the personnel line and it can drastically reduce that percentage and free up money for fruitful ministry.
5. Every member ministry is affirmed. When the pastor and staff are bivocational, every member is needed to make ministry happen. The gifts of the people are not something we consider once per year when the nominating committee is meeting. The gifts of the people are desperately needed for every week. The pastor needs to be freed up to use his limited time (due to being employed 25-40 hours per week) to prepare sermons, seek God’s will for the vision of the church, and reaching the lost. To work, churches with bivocational approaches must mobilize every one for ministry.
What about the Cons? If your pastor is bivocational here is what to expect:
- Things may move slower than churches down the road. Idea implementation may take a little longer because there isn’t people working on implementation for 40 hours each week. Bivocational / Every Member Ministry churches move at the speed of the team, not the speed of the pastor.
- The pastor WILL feel inadequate and struggle with his time. Most bivocational pastors would love to have more time for the ministry and may be working toward that. And they feel the pressure of comparison to larger churches with staff. He must take up the task of mobilization and the people must take up the task of affirmation and servanthood.
- The church must manage expectations of the role of the Bivocational Pastor and the work of the church. The pastor may not be the first one there when something happens. The church may not move as fast as the churches with full-time staff. But if everyone uses their gifts and the expectations are right for the situation, bivocational churches can grow and thrive in any community.
Trends in Church Technology
I was able to teach a session on Trends in Church Technology at the 2017 Total Church Life Conference on August 19th in Baton Rouge. Here are notes from the session:
Why Technology Matters to churches?
- Systems Matter – technology provides us with great systems that run beneath the surface and save time, energy, and resources.
- Deliver the Gospel to more people, more regularly – technology can help us with our main mission of delivering the gospel to everyone in our communities and world.
- Relevance – The language of the next generation is found in technology and social media. When we allow them to engage their faith in that language, we serve them well.
“The technological revolution we’ve seen in churches over the past 30 years is staggering. What’s even more remarkable is the speed at which technology in the church continues to improve.” – Jonathan Howe (Read Jonathan’s great article on Church and Technology Trends HERE).
Technologies Every Church Can and Should Consider:
1. Digital Communication Options – Connecting your church through texting and social media is essential. Examples:
- Email services like Mailchimp allows your emails to have a wider reach.
- Facebook pages for publicity and closed groups for coordinating and inspiring leaders.
- Texting is the preferred way for many to receive communication these days. Check out Textinchurch.com or subscriber services like Remind.
2. Cloud Based Church Management Systems – The church directory is now in your hand. Cloud based means the management of the churches directory, giving, and even bookkeeping is no longer on one computer in the church office, but can be a collaborative tool throughout the leadership community. Check out this article from ChurchTechToday.com that compares the 20 Top Management Systems. Our church has used Church Office Online and now Planning Center for great functionality in volunteer management.
3. Digital Giving Options – Online giving and now text giving can increase your churches giving by 25%. Multiple ways to give are necessary to reach new generations of givers who don’t know what a checkbook is and carry little cash. Check out our churches letter 5 Ways to Give at Bridge Church that is sent out with Quarterly Contribution statement and imagine the possibilities. Most church management systems have digital giving connections or clients that they work with. I’ve also heard good things about Tithely. Here’s a good article sponsored by them about trends in giving today.
4. Computerized Child Check-In – Being on top of child safety makes you more relevant to today’s parents. It was once assumed that the church was a safe place for kids, but not anymore. Child safety is something every church must think about and plan for. Again, most church management systems have digital check in connections or clients that they work with. Here’s a good roundup of possibilities. I’ve also heard good things about Kid Check.
5. Online Leadership Training – Years ago I heard that there were three reasons that people don’t volunteer at your church or why volunteers quit: 1) I don’t have time. 2) I didn’t feel appreciated. 3) I don’t know how. Today, instead of calling another meeting, leadership training is a few clicks away through services like MinistryGrid.com, Trainedup.org, and Rightnow Media. You can still direct and lead people’s training experience through selecting the right videos and clips for your church or making your own training videos and posting them on the above mentioned sites.
6. Live Streaming – Lights, Camera, Outreach! Live streaming can help people who travel out of town stay in touch with your church, as well as spread the message to more people in the community. No need for expensive equipment anymore. You can even live stream from an Ipad or Iphone. Using free streaming services like Facebook Live, Periscope, or pay for services like Live Stream or U-Stream. Here’s a good Beginner’s Guide to Streaming.
7. Video Announcements – Control announcement times and make them memorable and relevant to new generations, as well as make them longer lasting throughout the week as they are shared via social media, web, and email. All you need is a iphone or other camera, creative people, and editing software. Our church plant early on even created an Announcement character that helped capture attention. Check out one of E-Van, the announcement specialists videos. Imagine the possibilities. There is also whispers of services that will offer this to churches in the future.
See Jonathan Howe’s article for other future trends. Follow ChurchTechToday.com for other new technology developments helpful to the mission of the Church. Let me know if you’ve got something else up your sleeve in this regard.
Time Management and Church Planting
The number one answer to the question, “What is the current greatest challenge in your life and ministry?” on our Louisiana church planting growth reports is some version of Time Management. Everyone seems to struggle with time these days, but church planters deal with the added pressures of usually a second or third job, young children at home, clock ticking on outside funding, little to no administrative assistance, continuing education demands, etc., etc. A few thoughts from my failures of time management as a church planter and small church leader:
1. Learn the discipline of turning it off and going home.
The last two church plants I’ve been a part of, centered ministry around our home. The church office, the church phone, the church leadership meetings, the church supplies were all based at my address for the first 12-18 months. This made it extremely hard for me to ever turn off work. Coupled with the fact that it is never all done in ministry. Two ideas I had to get used to: 1) I will not get it all done everyday. 2) To be effective tomorrow, I need to turn it off and do something else today. The quicker you’re OK with these two ideas, the better off you and your family will be.
2. Develop a weekly schedule and stick to it.
Young pastors and church planters get in trouble with time management issues many times because we fail to create the accountability of a weekly rhythm and schedule. THIS STRUGGLE IS REAL!!! A friend of mine in ministry likes to say, “Winging it is not a good strategy.” But many of us wing it when it comes to our weekly rhythms. Your schedule should have flexibility in it because much great ministry happens in the interruptions and spontaneous opportunities, but creating a basic framework for time spent is a necessity. If you start this early, as you add staff and expectations of a growing congregation, you will be better prepared to say no and yes to added responsibilities and interruptions. It will also be beneficial for staff and congregation to know when they can expect to find an open door to your office and when they can call you without interrupting something important. A schedule will also help you make sure you are balancing your time with planting / pastoring priorities – i.e. Evangelism, Discipleship, Leadership Development, Community Engagement, etc.
3. Develop a system for To Do’s, Daily Scheduling, and Keeping up with Contacts.
Whether its Outlook, iCal, Google Cal, Google Docs, an old school Planner system, develop some tools that you can use in keeping the to do’s, appointments, and contacts handy at all times. And the technology out there is amazing in regards to personal productivity. Develop something that works for you and utilize it.
I’ve started accounts with so many different task management and scheduling services online that I’ve lost count. I finally developed my own tool that I print out and fill out each morning or the night before and return to throughout the day. Check it out HERE.
It’s to do’s, appointments on one page. On the back I list contacts throughout the day, with the goal of 20 contacts everyday, which is important to my work and a challenge for my introverted self. This helps me stay organized and focused and goal oriented throughout the day. (An editable Google Doc is HERE. Or Download a Word Doc Here – To Do_s – Editable – to create your own).
What do you use to keep organized and focused? What works well for you in time management? What tips and lessons learned can you share?
Next week I’ll share some lessons learned on managing preaching as a bivocational planter.