Been Away for Awhile

I haven’t posted to this blog in a while. I have been busy trying to get my book ready to publish. The book is entitled: “What Happened to Our Church?” with the subtitle “And where do we go from here? 

I really believe this book will be helpful, particularly to churches facing changing. It is primarily addressed to people in more traditional churches that have not successfully changed with the times. I offer a lot of explanation as to why their church is in the circumstances it is in, and I offer options for change.

This project came out of the many consultations I have with traditional churches in my work. Hopefully, the book will be in print (and digital?) early in 2015.


 

Manage Expectations or Manage Emotions

I just read an interesting blog post by a guy named Mark Behl http://tinyurl.com/oqt649e.  He explains that if we are not good at managing expectations we better be good at managing emotions. This thought got me to thinking about all of the churches I am working with that don’t have a pastor, and all of the pastors I know who don’t have a church. I don’t particularly like playing “match maker” because so often what I think is a great fit doesn’t work out. There are so many reasons things can go bad between a pastor and a church. But, I am beginning to realize that difference in expectations is one of the most critical causes for bad matches. Here are some examples:

I will see a pastor with strong leadership abilities go into a church that doesn’t expect their pastor to lead. They begin to resent the pastor when he makes decisions without “going through the proper channels”.

Or I will see a Youth Pastor who spends most of his energy out in the community trying to reach unchurched teenagers, while his church is frustrated that he isn’t spending enough time with the kids who are already in the church.

I know pastors who put a lot of emphasis on teaching the Word, delivering long well thought out sermons each week, while their people get frustrated that the service always “goes over time” each Sunday.

There are children’s pastors who spend their time developing a leadership team to care for children, while other people in the church can’t understand why that pastor is never down on the floor playing with the children.

I could go on and on. The thing all of these situations have in common is conflicting expectations. And so, a lot of emotional energy is spent dealing with the conflict. Behl is right that if you don’t learn to manage expectations you better be good at managing emotions.

I wish more pastors and more churches knew how to communicate with each other clearly and honestly before entering into a bad marriage with each other. Maybe we need pre-pastoral counseling. A professional counselor could meet with the pastor and church leader before they come together to make sure they are all clear on expectations, leadership styles, time management, etc. just like a pre-marriage counselor does. Maybe then we wouldn’t have so many premature “divorces” between pastors and churches.

 


 

Sequestered!

Ok, I just used that word to get your attention. But really, it is odd when you think about it. How can the most resource rich nation in the world find ourselves in such a financial state?!?  We all know the Sequester is just a stupid attempt to force the different parties to come together on the budget.  But the problem is that it leads us to “deficit thinking”.  We focus on what we don’t have instead of what we have.

I am in churches all the time that operate on the basis of deficit thinking. They focus on the physical resources they don’t have rather than on the abundance of God. When we get caught in a trap of deficit thinking, often the first thing to go is generosity. We begin to think that we cannot afford to be generous.  Churches cut mission giving, they cut benevolence; they pull back on doing ministry. The problem with this way of thinking is that it will never lead to a healthier church.

Your church will only be healthy when you are choosing to act in faith (“Without faith it is impossible to please God…” Hebrews 11.6). Your church will only be healthy when you give expecting nothing in return (“Give to the one who asks you…” Matthew 5.42). Your church will only be healthy when you put more faith in your Lord than in your bank account (“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth…” Matthew 6.19).

We are not sequestered!