Church Growth, Health…or Survival?

I came across a quote by a long-time pastor that was in a newspaper and it said this: “In the first five years of ministry I had a sign on my desk that read Win the world for Christ. My second five years of ministry I put up a new sign that said Win one or two for Christ. And then now, later in my ministry I have a sign on my desk that says Try not to lose too many.”

I thought that was kind of funny, but I think a lot of people are facing that reality right now. On the church level, I’ve seen the church go from the Church Growth movement of the ‘90s into Church Health, which I think was actually a step in the right direction. But in a lot of ways, we find ourselves today in Church Survival mode. 

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Self-Care Tips for Stressful Times

What do you do to protect yourself to function at a sustainable level of time and energy when things are unsettled and stressful?

This is a season of unsettledness in the world and in the churches I’m serving in as well. There’s a lot of unsettledness in search process and other churchy kind of things that lead to instability. There are a few things I’ve found that are important to do to maintain my own capacity to function in the midst of the instability, and not be overwhelmed or overtaken by it, and really become a contributor to the instability. 

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What’s Your Default Hammer

There’s an old saying that says, if your only tool is a hammer, you’re going to see every problem as a nail. What is your hammer? What is your nail? What is your default setting when you’re in crisis or under stress? 

Some kinds of personality and leadership tests seek to discern in part what your default operating mechanism is. When you go under stress, do you operate differently than you normally do? There’s a lot of pretty good leaders who are good leaders in normal times, but under stress they become tyrants and really controlling and non-collaborative, which is their default setting. Other people kind of withdraw and get quiet. 

When it comes to crisis, whether it’s a national/international crisis like the Covid-19, whether it’s in business or in church or a family crisis, the same kind of thing happens. But it’s not necessarily just about our personality; it’s about our skill set. As leaders, we have some skills. We have some things that we’re really good at, which are different for each one of us, that when things go sideways, we might fall back on those skills, whether or not that skill is what is needed at the time. It’s our hammer. It’s our default hammer. 

Are you aware of what your default hammer is? 

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Five Habits For Pastors (or Anyone) Working From Home

I’m going to share with you, very quickly, five excellent habits for pastors or anybody working from home. In fact, they work even if you’re not working from home. These really do help you get the most out of your day and help your productivity, your energy level and everything else. We’ll walk through in the order in which they will happen. 

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Scary Question for Ministry Leaders

A few days ago I got the tires on my pickup changed over. And since the tire shop I like to use doesn’t have a branch in the community in which we live, I drove an hour and half down the highway to the nearest shop.

But it’s a beautiful drive, mountains on both sides most of the way, river valley, deer and elk often along the side and in the clearings. Plus I wanted to go to a computer shop and do some price checks on a new tower since my old laptop, which is absolutely perfect for 90% of what I do, really struggles with video production.

When I hit “produce” on a 20 minute segment, or in some cases an entire one hour service, my computer is out of play for 45-90 minutes. Generally I can plan my day around that block, but in some cases, like right now when I am involved in two different churches often producing content for both in the same week, it’s a real pain.

Anyway, on the drive I listened to a few podcasts, one of which was a couple marketers talking about how things are sold online, particularly training and courses- generally referred to as information products. They were discussing the common practice of adding a lot of bonuses to a given product to increase perceived value, and make it seem like a good deal.

One of the marketers then raised an interesting point. He said “What if you simply planned your product- your teaching, training, whatever- around this question: If I only got paid for results, I’d do this?” To put it another way, if you only got paid for results what would your product be?

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