Showing posts from 2015

How to have a successful 'Friend Day'

Friend Days are an excellent way to boost attendance. More than ‘a one-time shot in the arm,’ these days should be a piece of the growth-strategy-puzzle for your church.

Why Friend Day is successful
Statistics don’t lie – the vast majority of people who visit a church are the result of a friend inviting them. Of those with no previous church affiliation, most (82%) say they would visit a church IF invited by a friendA Clear Objective – Friend Days work because both, the church and those invited to attend, understand the purpose of the event. By making it a bi-annual event on the calendar, the church will focus prayer and energy on the effort. Every time the announcement is made, people begin to think about who they can invite. By having a meal and a special invite, friends think they are painlessly doing us a favor by coming, all the while enjoying the fellowship of a loving, positive congregation.It restocks the visitation “pond” with viable prospects – Culture is forcing a chang…

3 Tips for Preachers

Weekly we are inundated with sales brochures, materials, and conferences promoting some new strategy for pastoral success.  While many of these things are helpful, sometimes the message is lost in all their words.  If I could encourage you to make 3 small changes to your preaching, I would challenge you to:

1.  Preach Passionately - You must feel your sermons before you can expect others to be moved by them.  No, I am not encouraging you to turn on the tears like one might flip a light-switch, but I am encouraging you to ask God to ignite a zeal in your heart for the messages you bring.  Feel it.  Let it effect you emotionally.  Lord, deliver us from dry preaching.

2.  Preach Pointedly - Stay on point.  When your people leave they need to have a good grasp of the 'Big Idea' of the sermon.  What is the one thing you want them to remember?  Could they explain in one sentence what the message was about?  What action or step can they take to apply the message? Without a point, the b…

Why I believe Pastoral Visitation is STILL important

Thankfully I was taught the importance of in-home visitation from my Pastor 28 years ago. I'll never forget how he trained me to approach virtual strangers with the timeless appeal of the gospel, or to share time with a shut-in, or pursue a straying member.  While our culture no longer views pastoral visitation kindly, I still believe it should be a priority for most Free Will Baptist preachers.  Why?

1.  Because visitation allows you to build relationships - and relationship building is key to successful ministry. You will have an opportunity to lead people to Jesus through relationship.  You will be able to minister to hurting, lonely people through relationship.  You will be able to offer that timely piece of advice or counsel that might be life-changing because you took the time to build relationship.

2.  Because so few participate in visitation these days.  Many outside the South are not accustomed to preachers dropping by.  Some don't appreciate it and it would be good t…


Self-scouting is a tool used by football coaches that helps them discover tendencies in their team... weaknesses that can be exploited by their opponent.  Self-scouting is a helpful tool for preachers too. Studying yourself as you preach will be eye-opening... helping you identify those nervous tics, oft-repeated/overused words, distracting gestures, poor grammar.  The more honest you are in your evaluation, the more helpful it can be.

However, there ARE dangers to self-scouting too.  Here are 4 of the most obvious:
1) Perfectionism - You will never be perfect and you are going to frustrate yourself and those who follow you by being too hard on yourself.  Perfectionism will ooze out of your pores when aren't even aware of it - image will become too important - you will call your observations of others "honest," but the people around you will see you as "harsh."
2) Myopia - You might become everything you think a preacher or leader SHOULD be, but your perspectives…

5 gifts every man should give his children

"Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth." Psalm 127:4

I am so thankful for my arrows. They are doing what "arrows" are created to do - inflicting harm to the enemy. Raising children to be used in the work of the Lord is the call of every Christian parent, but oftentimes we father's feel overwhelmed just doing our best to keep our heads above water. The "daily grind" becomes THE excuse for leaving the task of "nurturing" and "admonishing" our children to our wives. In the end, however, God will judge us men for how we have led our families.

God has given us these gifts and expects us to release them (as arrows) into spiritual battle. What are 5 gifts you should give your children that will help them "fight the good fight of faith?"

1) Fair expectations - I owe my children a heartfelt apology for the times I expected perfection - the times I was more concerned with image than integrity…

Developing the Leaders around you

Good leaders aren't just a steady hand in an hour of crisis - they are constantly on the search for potential leaders they can pull into their circle and develop.  Every pastor should have a leadership team through which he runs the business of the church.  What are the benefits to such a team?

1) It will give you an opportunity to share your vision with those who are most likely to help it become reality.  Face it - you can do very little without the help of others.

2) It will foster a spirit of transparency and unity.  Sometimes people are guilty of "leading from behind."  They have a misinformed opinion about where the church is headed or how decisions are made.  Bringing others into the decision making process will quell some of the squawking that breeds division.

3) It will develop in your leaders the importance of teamwork and group-think.  Have you ever thought that some of the "freelancing" people do in church life may be caused by the way they perceive th…

Walking through a minefield

Does your church ever feel like a minefield... like there are explosive issues just below the surface that might cripple your ministry (or worse?)  Need help safely navigating these devices?  Things to remember:

1) Satan is a destroyer and ultimately he is the cause of this.  While people do dumb things and allow themselves to be used by the schemer to hurt God's Church, Paul said, "we wrestle" with principalities and powers not of this world.  Jesus told a parable of a farmer whose enemy sowed tares in his wheat crop.  Satan is the real enemy... not the former pastor... not a deacon who feels called to keep you humble... not a councilman who rejects your plans to build.

It's Satan who is attacking your family with turmoil and strife.  It is Satan who is tempting a board member to disrespect you.  It is the "accuser-of-the-brethren" that attacks through circumstances and people in your life to discourage you.  Put a face on it and remember, it isn't a de…

Sharing your faith... with Christians

Typically we think of those outside the Body of Christ when we talk about sharing our faith - but Christians need to hear "the reason for your hope" too.  Why?

1.  Because Life is Hard - there are believers in every congregation who are on the brink.  Their circumstances are causing them to wrestle with their faith.  Each Christian will have those moments when he wonders, "Where is God in this?"  Parents who helplessly watch their child fight for life... the wife whose husband of 20 years rips their family apart chasing after an invading interest... young people whose professors are ripping apart all things metaphysical... life is hard.  Sometimes our faith is strong and comforting.  Sometimes our faith is like moth-eaten, stale fabric that has spent too many winters in the back of an overcrowded closet.

Broken people need you to share your faith with them.  Many of those "victims of life" are one disaster away from checking out.  Be a lifeline... an encou…

Quiet Time - You need one

Since preachers write studies and sermons each week, we are tempted to forgo a daily devotional life. "It isn't like we aren't in the Word..." but it is important that we find nourishment too - beyond the typical wrestling with a text for others.  We NEED the discipline of a daily quiet time.  What's more, we need the intimacy of it.
Don't fall into the trap of reading the Bible as a textbook.  At the risk of sounding hokey, allow the Word to wash over you.  Invite God to change your thinking.  Ask Him to use His Word to shape you into the image of Christ.  Even ask Him to help you LOVE His Word.
What are the benefits?  A brilliant restfulness in the knowledge of God, His Will, and purposes.  As you confide in God (through prayer) you will find it less important to confide in man.  Your heart will change as God slowly and yet methodically transforms your mind.  You will better minister God's truth to others too - for the insight we need for life is only f…

Second and satisfied

As I enjoyed the fellowship of another Free Will Baptist pastor, the subject of church staff, particularly associate pastors, came up.  We talked about how uncomfortable it is when someone you hired to help you subtly undermines you.  I told my friend, "It would be nice if a prominent associate in our ranks would write a book called 'Second and satisfied... how to flourish in the role of the associate."

Some of us unnecessarily view the role of the associate pastor as a stepping stone to the pastorate. When I graduated Bible College, I chose this path to the pastorate because I wanted to learn, hands-on, from a veteran.  There's nothing wrong with that.  But sometimes the associate gets caught in the cross-hairs of church dysfunction - where lay-leaders begin to promote or prefer the "new guy" (the associate) over the "old guy" (the senior pastor.)  Maybe, as in my case, the associate has definite opinions about the pastorate and doesn't shy a…

Rogue Leaders

Rogue leaders... no matter how "cool" it may sound, being rogue is anything BUT cool.  Chafed by convention, these self-willed men behave as if they are above accountability... that God speaks to them and uses them in ways no one else could understand, and therefore, dare not question. What are some of the common characteristics of rogue leaders?

1.  The Rogue Leader surrounds himself with "Yes men."  Though scripture says there is "safety in a multitude of counselors," the rogue leader has fallen into the trap of Rehoboam - wanting advisers who always agree with him - who never challenge or question. Constructive criticism is always perceived as a personal attack.  Those who differ with them are quickly marginalized and ostracized. 
2.  The Rogue Leader is driven by ego rather than integrity.  He listens to the wrong people. Those who stroke him are those he values.
3.  The Rogue Leader uses the well-crafted apology as if it were a magic-wand.  He would rat…

Basic Organizational tid-bits for a young pastor

When new to the ministry, it is hard to think with "intentionality."  It takes time to think clearly when you are doing your best to survive the daily demands of the pastorate.  Here are a few things you will be glad you got right from an organizational perspective:

1) Catalog your messages - Keep good notes on your sermons, illustrations, and speaking opportunities.  Later in your ministry you will appreciate and benefit from the groundwork you have laid in previous messages.  Date and file every sermon, notate where you have preached it, evaluate each sermon when you are finished (a brief note at the end of your sermon with any observations that will be helpful the next time you use it.)

2) Record statistics - Keep good stats on all your services.  You will be able - at a glance - to analyze the direction of the church, what areas need improvement, what changes need to be made. You will be able to determine patterns in attendance that might encourage you after a low day.  Yo…