One Word That Will Help Focus Your Ministry

As church leaders, we often hear many good ideas to further the mission of the church. And most of them probably are good ideas. The trick is determining which ideas are the best.

In the church, opinions and options seem endless. Everyone has a brilliant plan or groundbreaking idea that should be implemented right away. However, author Chris McChesney said, “There will always be more good ideas than there is capacity to execute them.”

It’s easy to say yes. But how do you decide when to say no?

Author Larry Osborne gives us a clue. In Sticky Leaders he says, “If something doesn’t take us toward our mission, it takes us away from our mission, even if it’s a great idea.” If we say yes to too many good ideas, we quickly lose focus. Too many options overwhelm people, divide attention, and dilute impact.

Saying no can be the most difficult, yet most critically important part of ministry.

So why don’t more churches say no? Why is saying no so difficult? Below are two reasons church leaders find it difficult to say no.

They don’t want to be the bad guy

Christian leaders are supposed to be nice, right? Yet it somehow seems “unchristian” to deny a person’s sincere request or good idea.

Leaders need to decide if they’re called to be nice and fulfill everyone’s wants, or called to be focused and direct people to what they need. An alcoholic wants a drink. But a drink isn’t what he needs. He needs rehab and should be directed there.

It’s easy to misunderstand the difference between needs and wants, and many churches confuse the two. Continue reading

Three Steps To Motivate People To Action

Excellent communication is a highly desired talent in the American church. Most pastors seek to be great communicators yet unfortunately, many pulpits are void of compelling and effective communication.

Some seek to teach complex concepts and be thoroughly understood. Others simply try hard to entertain their listeners. But the most effective communicators seek to influence their listeners to action. Transmitting information is not difficult. But communicating for life change takes a lot more work.

Transformation and action should be the goal of all Christian communication. But it takes intentionality, hard work and focus. Here are three important elements to motivate people to action.

Tell a compelling story

Stories were the videos of New Testament times. Instead of going to YouTube, people in Jesus’ day would go to the city square and listen to people tell stories.

Jesus was a master storyteller. When we wanted to capture people’s attention, he’d tell a story. “There was once a man who had two sons…” When he wanted to teach a lesson, he’d use an analogy. “The kingdom of Heaven is like…” When he wanted to drive home a point, he’d give an object lesson. “Look at the flowers of the field…”

Jesus used stories to engage his listeners. And you should too. Compelling, well-delivered stories will draw people in, make them more receptive to your message, and help them remember the point you’re trying to make. Continue reading

Top 5 Ministry Blog Posts of 2016

My passion is to bring clarity and focus to ministry and mission. I accomplish this by doing church consulting at Interactive Church Consulting, and by blogging. Here are my top 5 blog posts of 2016 that help churches and ministries both honor God and inspire people.

3 Layers of Ministry
Contemplating the importance of three critical aspects of ministry.

Clarifying Church Growth Terminology
What exactly are we talking about when we talk about church growth?

Categories of Beliefs, and Why Separating Them is Important
Which beliefs will you discuss, defend, and die for?

3 Kinds of Church Staff Members
Maximizing the effectiveness of the experts, managers, and leaders on your ministry staff.

Got Clarity? (Part 2)
How creating clarity in systems increases ministry efficiency.

Clarifying Church Growth Terminology

During the past twenty-five years many books have been written, sermons preached, and seminars given about the mission, vision and values of the church. I’ve read, listened to, and attended many of them. And I’ve received practical advice, useful tools and helpful tips that serve to define the mission of the church. The only problem is that no one seems to define things the same way.

Some experts even use the same definition to describe different words, creating confusion rather than clarity. The paragraphs that follow will define several important words that will bring clarity in your efforts to lead your church. Here are seven definitions of critical terms for you to consider.

Foundational Beliefs
Someone once said, “A belief is what you hold. A conviction is what holds you.” Foundational beliefs are stronger than regular beliefs. They are convictions. Some churches have different levels of beliefs. They separate them into discuss, defend, and die for beliefs. Your foundational beliefs are essential to your church paradigm. They define what you believe, and what you’ll die for.
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Maximizing Outreach By Examining The Church’s Three Doors

Every church has three doors. A front door, a side door, and a back door. And every week, people travel through these doors. Typically, they enter through the front door, or through a side door, and they leave through the back door. Simply put, pastors want, and expect, lots of people to come in through the front door. They’re happy, and maybe a bit surprised, when folks come through the side door. And they’re sad to see them leave through the back door.

001 Three-Doors-small_jpg_pagespeed_ce_IQrytsB-xsOf course, I’m speaking figuratively, but you know what I mean. Pastors often use the “three doors” analogy to talk about how people come and go from their congregations. Since our churches are all about people, let’s take a closer look at the church’s three doors.

 

Front Door

The worship services are the front door in virtually all American churches. You’ll draw your largest crowds through your worship services. Whether you have one or more Sunday services, do additional Saturday services, or use video in a multi-site setting, your services are your biggest draw. People come to hear the word of God being preached, engage in inspiring worship experiences, and celebrate God’s presence in a corporate environment. There’s power in gathering together as a faith community. Continue reading

3 Categories of Beliefs, and Why Separating Them is Important

Beliefs. We all have them. They came from somewhere. They probably started forming in us as young children and have been strengthened through time. Or maybe they’ve changed over the years. Changing a belief or a belief system is a big deal because our minds are wired to think that our beliefs are the correct ones. It’s been said we are creatures of habit. That’s because we believe the way we do things, the way we think, is right.

3 categories of beliefs and why separating them is important GRAPHICObviously, beliefs are very significant in the church. Beliefs are the foundation of our faith. What we believe about God, Jesus, people, the Bible and the Church are of utmost importance. And, as noted, beliefs rarely change. As in the political world, our Christian beliefs, or differences in our beliefs, can be the topic of many disagreements, arguments, and even church splits. That’s why it’s wise to separate our beliefs into three different groups based on their importance. Here are three different categories of beliefs.

Die For
There are several beliefs we should be willing to die for. These are the things that are crystal clear in scripture that are of greatest significance. The nature of God. The work of Christ. The significance of the cross. Beliefs about people, sin and repentance. Beliefs about the Church and the Bible. These are the “die for” beliefs that make us Christians.
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Book Review: Pull – Making Your Church Magnetic

PULL by Bob FranquizOver the past 25 years, there have been many great books on how to make church better. I’ve read many of them and each one offers a unique perspective on the topics of what to do, how to do it and why do it? Bob Franquiz’s book, Pull – Making Your Church Magnetic is a great example of this kind of book.

To give a bit of historical background, there has been much debate in the past two decades on the best way to grow a healthy church. For many years the main method was the invitational approach. In this line of thinking, the “product” at your church is so important and relevant, you merely need to invite people to come and hear the message, and they will show up. And their lives will be changed. Yet more recently, there’s been a different methodology embraced by many. Some suggest an incarnational approach recognizes that people will not respond to an invitation to visit a church. So instead of inviting friends and neighbors, a believer should simply allow God to be formed in him or her, share that experience with others, and they will eventually accept Christ. Volumes have been written about this and other approaches to building God’s Church and fulfilling His Great Commission. This blog entry will not attempt to repeat that.

Additionally, phrases like “externally focused”, “missional”, and “emergent” tend to muddy the water and confuse many. But Franquiz is definitely in the attractional camp of doing church, and Pull gives many specifics on how to make church irresistible. I’ve chosen three themes in his book to point out. Continue reading

Got Clarity? (part 2)

Clarity_3In my last post – Got Clarity? (part 1), – I talked about the need for clarity and gaining an accurate understanding of God, self and circumstance. Today I will address clarity of systems. Ministry systems can get bogged down due to lack of precision, so today I will focus on 3 key areas of ministry that truly need clarity.

Communications
You have a piece of important information you need to run by your superior before a monthly meeting. But it took longer than expected for you to complete. Now you find your supervisor is out of the office until after the meeting. So your project is on hold for a month until your whole team can communicate on this one item.

Sound familiar? In my 29 years of ministry, I’ve often seen poor communication systems slowing ministry progress. Solution: Intentionally formalize your communication strategy. Don’t rely on hallway conversations or last-minute emails to confirm important information. Set up a system to organize your inner-office communications. But everyone needs to participate, or it won’t work.
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