Every day, pastors and other church staff make intentional decisions about what is important in their lives and ministries. Often, the decisions they must make are between competing demands. These decision points are tensions in the lives of pastors and church staff. The directions they choose shape their ministries.
For over thirty years I have been professionally and personally connected to the local church. I have served as a pastor, church consultant, author, seminary dean, and church resource provider. The most painful moments of my tenure have been those occasions where church dissension is great, and where church splits take place.
I recently embarked on a major research project for a new resource I will soon be offering. Part of my research included a long review of thousands of comments made on this site over the past few years. Though my research had another purpose, I became intrigued by the comments related to church traditions.
Many churches have them. They can be found in varying degrees of emphasis from one church to another. They are church memorials, areas of a church designated in memory of someone who was a member of the congregation.
The story is too common, but I hear such stories repeatedly. My most recent conversation was with a church leader where an affluent church member offered to make a large contribution to the renovation of the worship center. He had one stipulation: the worship center had to be named in memory of his late mother. The leader politely declined. The affluent member did not make the donation. To the contrary, he began withholding all of his gifts to the church.
The opinions about the "right" sermon length are varied, but they are typically intense. Several months ago, I conducted a social media poll to find out the preferred sermon length of preachers. Since that time, I have been observing pastors' preaching on podcasts and in person. I have also been asking them directly about their sermon length.
For most pastors, preaching is one of the most important facets of their ministries. It is that time when they get to expound on God's Word. Much of their training has focused on preaching, and they often spend 15 to 20 hours preparing each sermon.
This post may cause some of you to feel uneasy. I have to admit I've had some of those same feelings writing it. I prefer to think of pastoral ministry as a calling more than a job. And I sometimes cringe when I write about seemingly secular solutions to Christian work.
These final eight trends are those I consider to be of greatest magnitude for their potential impact on churches: The beginnings of prayer movement in our churches. The tipping point for small groups.
Some of my trends are called "tipping points." In simple terms, a tipping point here means that something has changed in our churches to the point that it appears to be permanent. With that in mind, I present to you my 15 trends for 2015: The tipping point of churches eliminating Sunday evening worship services. Continued flow of people from smaller churches to larger churches.
It is an old joke, one that is still told too often. You go up to your pastor and say, "I wish I had your job; you only have to work one hour each week." It is likely your pastor will laugh or smile at your comment. In reality your pastor is likely hurt by your statement.
I have written rather extensively on this blog regarding the short tenure of pastors in churches. Of course, many pastors leave churches for very positive reasons. They sense a call to another ministry opportunity. Or they retire from a church with a new phase of ministry in mind.
There has been considerable interest on my previous posts dealing with pastors' salaries. One of the most common questions that I am asked is: "How do churches determine the salary of a pastor?"
Not all Millennials are averse to serving in leadership roles in established churches. But many of them are. And our churches are approaching a tipping point where many are unable to attract Millennial members or leaders. It will likely soon be a crisis.
Several years ago, when I was involved in active church consultations, I assembled data on what I called GFCs, genuinely friendly churches. I set certain parameters for GFCs; then I attempted to measure those churches guest return rates. A guest return rate is simply the percentage of guests who will return to the church for at least a second visit.
I have heard that statement thousands of times. I promise. In over 500 church consultations and thousands of church member interviews, I heard it. Most church members really do think their church is very friendly. But, more times than not, they are wrong. Guests who visit the churches usually have a much different perspective. Here are six things to consider if you really think your church is friendly.
The surprise factor was the number one issue. Many first-time guests really don't like the time of stand and greet one another that some churches have. According to the Twitter responses and comments on the post, many guests really don't like it, so much so that they will not return.
If you attend a church regularly, you've probably noticed the phenomenon. A guest shows up for a worship service, but he or she never returns. It is, unfortunately, a common issue in many churches.
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.