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small-church
Church, Pastors,

Why our small church gave a megachurch $1000

Every pastor, no matter the size of your church, has experienced the frustration of someone leaving your church for something “bigger and better.”

During those seasons it’s easy to feel like your leadership and church is “less than,” and the rich are getting richer. Before you know it bitterness and jealousy creep into your heart and we start making excuses why other churches are growing and ours is not. We assume that anyone who is experiencing results—results that we secretly wish we were experiencing— has cut a corner or sold their soul; We take cheap shots at the megachurch in our town; or make broad generalizations about growing churches and their lack of biblical commitment. When we’re angry, bitter, jealous, and discouraged, we’ll say or do anything to make ourselves feel better about our insecurity.

pastor-planter
Church, Pastors,

5 Things Pastors Want To Tell Church Planters

I can’t speak for everyone, but I love the church planting revival happening in the church right now.

The stats don’t lie, planting a new church in a community is the best way to reach new people with the gospel. I’ve never felt called to plant a new church, but I love partnering with church planters financially and spiritually to help them get started. Over the past 10 years our church has given away $500,000 to help missionaries and church planters and that has allowed me the chance to talk to a lot of planters.

vulnerable-inception-blog-img
Church, Pastors,

When Vision Is Most Vulnerable

Sarah Blakely owns 100% of a company valued at over $1 billion. The company? Spanx.

Recently in an interview, I heard her share about the start of her company, which actually wasn’t much of a company, it was merely an idea. She had a favorite pair of white dress pants that showed through and couldn’t find any appropriate undergarments, so she envisioned a concept she could only describe at the time as “full-body panni hose.”

series-download-graphic
Church, Pastors,

Download 18 Sermon Series with the Sermon Series Download Bundle Free (67 Weeks of Sermons!)

I'm giving away 18 of the best sermon series I've ever preached. (67 Weeks of Sermons!)

I know the challenge of preaching week after week and I would be honored if these sermon series could help your church or give you a break to recharge and refuel.

Every series includes artwork and sermon notes/outlines. Some series include video promos and sermon bumpers.

Included in the Bundle:
- Jesus Is
- The Happiness Myth (The Book of Judges)
- The White Elephant in The Room (Generosity)
- Why It's called Amazing Grace
- Obey Before You Have To (Jonah)
- Haters Gonna Hate (Joseph)
- Christmas At The Movies
- Emojional
- Plus 10 more...

Provide a name and email address below to receive a link to download your sermon series bundle. I promise not to spam your inbox with constant ads. You will receive occasional blog posts and resource links from me.

5 biggest mistakes I made my first 5 years pastoring
Church,

The 5 biggest mistakes I made my first 5 years of pastoring

Make no mistake, I made a lot more than five mistakes the first five years of pastoring, but there were a few of more consequence to the progress of our church than others.

Here is a list of the five biggest mistakes that I would go back and change if I had the chance.

1. I processed potential decisions by myself instead of with my team

I get a lot done when I’m by myself, and that includes making decisions. The problem is I walk into meeting and inform my team of a decision instead allowing us to process a potential decision together. Even in the times when I would throw out an idea and want feedback, my team can tell when I’ve already made up my mind and am just giving them a courtesy. I’m learning that once you have the right team around you, you need more debate and more passionate conversations to make the right decisions, and more importantly get more buy in.

I get a lot done when I’m by myself, and that includes making decisions. The problem is I walk into meeting and inform my team of a decision instead of allowing us to process a potential decision together. Even in the times when I would throw out an idea and want feedback, my team can tell when I’ve already made up my mind and am just giving them a courtesy. I’m learning that once you have the right team around you, you need more debate and more passionate conversations to make the right decisions, and more importantly get more buy in.

2. I prioritized perfection over development

I am a perfectionist, especially when it comes to church programming. I made the mistake of only putting the best or most talented people on the stage instead of developing future talent and future leaders. I was convinced that any drop in quality would hurt the churches momentum, but I’m learning the momentum created by people being developed and finding a place in ministry endures long beyond the momentum of a good service.

3. I didn’t prioritize prayer and fasting enough

Sunday just keeps coming week after week. Every time we meet a goal we can barely celebrate before setting our eyes on the next goal. We get so busy learning and leading that we forget Psalm 127 “Unless the Lord builds the house we labor in vain.” I know I forgot that, and still do sometimes. We have found that church-wide prayer and fasting does more for our church than any strategy and promotion we can do. When I’m praying and fasting I pastor differently. I pastor more spiritually. More spirit led than strategic. Prayer and fasting brings a passionate spirituality that can’t be manufactured.

4. I didn’t have enough meetings

You read that right…more meetings. Because my meetings in the beginning were so bad I assumed the answer was to have less of them. I was wrong! A once a month staff meeting where we tried to address any and everything that needed to be addressed was really inefficient because everything seemed equally important, and people who had no interest in the topics being discussed would check out. We’ve now moved to weekly check-in meetings, weekly one on one meetings, monthly review meetings, and quarterly strategy meetings. When meetings are done right they create amazing momentum and clarity for our team.

5. I didn’t cast enough vision

I assumed I had talked about vision enough that everyone knew and understood why we did what we did, and how we did it. I’ve learned that people with “regular” jobs and “normal” life don’t think about church or church vision near as much as I do, and if I haven’t talked about something 50 times they haven’t really heard it or recognized how important it is yet. I’m also learning to present truly important things in a different way and tone than things that matter but aren’t most important. Labor Day fireworks can’t be as important as Easter, and every sermon topic cant be the most important thing the Bible talked about. I lose credibility when I present what’s next as what’s most important.

Telling Your Pastor You're Leaving Your Church
Church,

How To Tell Your Pastor You’re Leaving Your Church

In a perfect world, you wouldn’t need to read this article, because you’re never leaving your church.

The reality is, though, at some point, you may decide to leave and will want or need to have a conversation with one of your pastors about it.

Before I give you a few tips to make the conversation easier, let me try and explain something almost impossible to explain. When you’re talking to a pastor — especially a senior pastor — about anything having to do with the church, you are not just talking about the church, you are talking about the pastor’s life, heart, and soul. I know you think you love the church as much as they do. I know you even believe that you’ve sacrificed and served the church as much as they have, but you haven’t. I don’t say that to be rude or mean; you just need to know that while you think about the church anywhere from two to ten hours a week (depending on your level of involvement) they are thinking about it all the time. They wake up and go to bed thinking about it. It’s probably unhealthy, but they can’t help it. They’ve invested everything in the church. They’ve sacrificed their family, health, marriage, and life to make the church the best it can be. It’s important you know that because every statement you are getting ready to make is going to be personal. It’s going to hurt, and we are probably going to get defensive.

Knowing that, let me give you some advice on how to tell your pastor you are leaving the church.

1. Don’t say, “It’s not personal.” Instead say, “I know this is going to hurt, but…”

I’ve already explained it, but this is probably the worst thing you can say. I know you don’t think it’s personal, but trust me; it’s as personal as it gets. I can’t tell you how many times someone has said to me, “We’re going to be looking for another church. Please don’t take it personally because it has nothing to do with you, it’s just…” It makes me want to scream. It would be like me saying to you, “I can’t be your friend anymore because I don’t like your kids. Please don’t take it personally because I love you and your wife, it’s just your kids.”

2. Don’t say, “I feel like God is leading me.” Instead say, “I want to leave…”

In all my years of talking to members who are leaving, I’ve never met anyone who started praying about leaving a church and heard a “no” from God. In other words, once you start praying about leaving, you’re going to leave. If you’re completely honest, you probably didn’t hear God tell you to leave; there are just some reasons you want to leave, and God didn’t stop you. The reason people like to use the “God card” is because they feel protected. After all, who’s going to tell you you’re lying about hearing from God?

3. Don’t say, “I’m not getting fed.” Instead, say… actually, don’t even go there.

You telling a pastor you’re leaving because he doesn’t preach deep enough, or you’re not getting spiritual stimulation is like telling your wife you’re leaving her because she’s fat and ugly. It’s the most hurtful thing you can say because the pastor is doing everything he can to help his people experience God. It’s also incredibly arrogant because, whether you realize it or not, what you are saying is, “I’m at a superior spiritual level, and this church isn’t challenging or meeting my spiritual needs. And since you are the one responsible for setting the spiritual tone, I must be more spiritual than you, too.” There is no good way to say this, so just don’t go there.

4. Say you’re sorry

You probably don’t feel like you need to, but it will make a big difference. If you can understand that after meeting with your pastor they probably won’t be able to sleep that night, and will probably either cry or feel like a failure once it’s over, you can understand why an apology is significant. Leave with humility and class. Leave with enough self-realization to admit it’s probably more about something going on in you than it is the shortcomings of your pastor or church. The church you’re leaving is probably doing the same things it was doing when you started attending, and you loved it and talked about how amazing it was.

Your pastor loves you. That’s why it hurts so much. He prays for you, and even though there are times you frustrate him, God has given him a burden for your soul, and when you leave you are ripping out a part of it. They understand that people are going to leave, their leadership and the church aren’t perfect, and you aren’t trying to be hurtful. Regardless, go about it like you’ve got the tweezers and you’re playing Operation — very carefully.

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Pastor Holding Bible
Church,

9 Things You Need To Know About Your Pastor

I’ve served in ministry for over 15 years, as a senior pastor for 9 years.

I’ve seen people come and go, hate me and love me, but one thing is for sure, I wouldn’t want to and couldn’t do anything else besides pastor, it’s my life’s purpopse. After 15 years of sitting under, working for, and being a senior pastor, I thought you might want to know the truth about your pastor.

1. Your pastor is trying their best

You may not believe it. You may think their just throwing things together, but they aren’t. The results may not be what you want, but I’ve never met a pastor who didn’t want to succeed or make a difference. Their preaching the best sermons they can create, empowering the best volunteers they can find, and doing whatever possible to try and motivate you to be excited about your church. Whatever is bothering you about your church, trust me, they’re more frustrated than you are.

2. Your pastor works harder than you think they do

You may work more hours than they do, but you’re not working harder. Their mind never shuts off. They’re planning sermons, making phone calls, and doing visits. They’re always on call, they’re counseling, providing care, and being a husband and a dad. Every time they gets ready to finally take a break their phone rings with a call from somebody in the church. The emotional strain of pastoring wears them out. Don’t assume that a lack of physical labor means they’re not working hard.

3. Your pastor is rarely 100% confident

They work really hard to come across as confident, but most of the time when they are pitching a new idea or casting vision, thier only “kind of” sure. They hope it works, they hopes it was God speaking, but they’ve learned that waiting to be 100% confident will never come when you are working for God. I wrote more about “the illusion of confidence” in this blog.

4. Your pastor has an ego

I’ve never met a great pastor who doesn’t have a little bit of an ego. They have to. When they walk into a church that hasn’t grown under the last 5 pastors, there has to be part of them that believes they can accomplish something others couldn’t. After enough people tell them “They aren’t getting fed anymore” your pastor has to have something on the inside that convinces them to walk up on the stage and speak again. Yes, some pastors can be egotistical maniacs, but every great pastor has to have a small ego to get out of bed every Monday.

5. Your pastor is worried you’re going to leave

It doesn’t matter if you’ve been attending the church for 20 years, pastors feel like you are just one conflict away from visiting another church. They probably shouldn’t be so defensive, but they have seen too many people walk out the door over small, silly things. The feeling of disappointment when someone leaves the church is impossible to explain to someone who has never experienced it, especially someone who is leaving. If you’re going to leave and choose to meet with them, use these tips I’ve provided in “How To Tell Your Pastor You’re Leaving Your Church”

6. Your pastor takes things personally

Even when you preface your statement with “Don’t take this personally, but…” I know in your mind it’s just a church, or it’s just a service, or it’s just a sermon,  but to them it’s their life, calling, and identity. When you say you don’t like the music, or you’re leaving because no one has befriended you, they take it personally because you’re talking about their family. It would be like if someone said to you, “I really love you and want to hang out with you, but I don’t want to hang out at your house anymore because your kids are crazy. Don’t take it personally because it’s your kids, not you, but we’ll have to hang out somewhere other than your house.” That’s what it feels like.

7. You get on your pastor’s nerves sometimes

Don’t take this personally, but… you can be annoying sometimes. You probably don’t realize how fickle, or temperamental you are, but when you want to meet to talk about something “really important” and tell him you’re frustrated because your daughter didn’t get a solo in the Christmas play, it’s annoying. Sometimes it feels like the loudest people are the least involved, and that’s even worse. Which leads us to the next thing you need to know.

8. Your encouragement matters (especially Monday-Saturday)

You will never know how much your encouragement lifts their spirits, especially during the week. While your encouragement of their sermon on Sunday is nice, encouragement during the week feels like you really care, that during your busy day, you were thinking good things about them.

9. Your pastor would take a bullet for you

They would take a bullet for you, even if you wouldn’t take one for them. They have a burden for you because God gave them the burden. They prays for you, they care about you, and they would do anything they could to make sure you know God. There are times you might feel your pastor doesn’t care about you, but it’s not true; they do. They may not get to speak to you or may miss a visit sometimes, but if they didn’t care about you, they wouldn’t be your pastor, they would choose a profession with less stress, more money, and emotional stability.