The naysayers are at full throttle. "Local churches are dying!" "Churches are no longer relevant." "The church is full of hypocrites." "I don't need the institutional church." The naysayer nabobs of negativity are in full force. It's easy to give up. It sadly can be easy to believe God has given up on our churches. But He has not. I am convinced He has not.
For certain, I have learned from other spouses of ministers as well. But the most frequent comments have come from pastors' wives. In this article, I share with you the lessons I've learned from pastors' wives who tell me they have found great joy and meaning in their lives. Here are seven of those lessons:
The "slump" metaphor is used often in sports. The baseball hitter is in a slump because he has not gotten a hit in 15 at bats. The football quarterback is in a slump because he has only completed eight passes in the past two games.
I share the outrage of millions who were stunned when the city of Houston issued subpoenas to five area pastors. I am stunned and angered by this massive encroachment upon local churches by a governmental body. But there is an additional perspective to this horrendous act.
In this article, I share with you the lessons I've learned from pastors' wives who tell me they have found great joy and meaning in their lives. One, they understand and accept that criticisms and unreasonable expectations are a part of church life and leadership.
Too many families of pastors are torn apart because of affairs. And too many churches are left reeling with the consequences in their own congregations. What can a pastor do to affair-proof his marriage?
A toxic church leader, one that is figuratively poisonous to the organization, is rare. But it is that church leader who brings great harm to churches and other Christian organizations. And it is that leader that hurts the entire cause of Christ when word travels about such toxicity.
If you truly believe that established churches have no hope, there is no reason to read this post. I am not, however, among those pessimists. I am an obnoxious optimist about our churches.
The meaning of "slump" is more evident in sports. When a baseball player, for example, is in a slump, we surmise that he is not hitting as well as he was earlier in the season.
It's for you pastors who are frustrated that the church members are not evangelistic. It's for you church members who wonder why the pastor does not reach more people. After all, some may surmise, that is why we pay our pastor.
By "closing the back door," I am referring to assimilating or keeping those who have already become a part of the church. The sad reality is that many churches have less than one-half of their members show up at any one point. They are "walking out the back door."
But in churches with very healthy giving relative to their demographics, something different takes place in the offertory. It is meaningful. It is engaging. And it makes a difference. Here are five ways I have seen it done well in a number of churches.
It is one of those topics that almost always engenders lively discussion. Some church leaders are incredibly and positively excited about the multisite church movement. Others view the movement with many questions if not some level of suspicion. But recent studies tell us that we should not ignore this movement.
Most of you have heard the dire information and statistics about congregations in North America. Indeed, I have been among the purveyors of the negative news. For sure, the overall picture is gloomy. There is no hiding from that reality. But I remain an obnoxious optimist about churches across our nation. And one of the primary reasons I do so is some ongoing research and observations about churches that have truly been revitalized.
The email came to me just as I quoted. Though I didn't think "unleadable" was a word, I knew exactly what the pastor meant. He was in an established church. He had been there for less than four years. And he was frustrated. Very frustrated.
The reality is there are two major trends taking place related to sermon length. I have been following these trends through anecdotal information and social media polls for three years. There are growing numbers of respondents who believe sermons should be longer. There are also growing numbers of respondents who believe sermons should be shorter. And there aren't many people in the middle of those two divergent views.
I am reticent to write this article. I do not want to encourage pastors to leave churches too early. Frankly, many pastors have shared with me that, in the aftermath of their departures, they realized they had made a mistake. They left too soon.
With that in mind I offer a checklist to consider. Here are nine questions you should ask before leading a church revitalization.
One of the greatest signs of hope is the growing interest in the revitalization of churches. While I am encouraged to see the continued interest in church planting, I am also heartened to learn of an apparent upsurge in interest—even passion—for revitalizing churches.
Unfortunately, I did not have to look far to find over 20 current examples of dysfunctional churches. In my quest, I found six recurring themes. In every one of the congregations, the church manifested at least three of these symptoms.
With that in mind, in this article I try to help church leaders look in the mirror if their churches are not evangelistic. And here are seven factors that leaders may see when they get that honest perspective.
If you want a lively discussion, then the topic of the pastor's salary can usually meet that need. I have discussed this issue in the past on both my blog and my podcast. In both cases, the conversation was, well, interesting.
A couple of caveats are in order. First, the idea of "surprising" can vary from person to person. I think you might be surprised at some of these traits, but you might not be. Second, the term "effective" is nebulous. I am not speaking of size of church or level of fame. I have subjectively noted several dozen pastors whose ministries have been consistent and whose impact in their churches and communities has been positive.
If you were attending a church worship service in 1955 and then returned to the same church in 1975, the changes would be noticeable but not dramatic. Churches were slow to change over that 20-year period. If you, however, attended a church worship service in 2000 and then returned to that same church in 2010, there is a high likelihood you would see dramatic changes in just ten years.
Pastors generally don't stay long at churches. The average tenure is between three and four years. But, as our research has shown consistently, longer tenure is needed for church health. Longer tenure does not guarantee church health, but a series of short-term pastorates is typically unhealthy.