Please forgive me for the morbid and depressing title and content. I don't think posts such as these encourage many of you. I guess the impetus for writing such an article is the work I am doing to finish my next book, Autopsy of a Deceased Church. I have dealt a lot with the death of churches in my research and writing for that book.
I recently wrote the names of 23 pastors that, at least from my perspective, seem to find the greatest joy in their ministries. While such an exercise is admittedly subjective, it was nevertheless enlightening and encouraging.
I confess. I used to hate meetings. In fact I was very vocal about meetings being a waste of time. In most meetings I attended, I daydreamed about a dozen other ways I could be spending my time more productively. Over time I would discover the problem was not the meeting per se, but the way the meeting was managed.
I wish I could respond to every phone call, email, text, Facebook post, Twitter direct message, blogpost comment, and several other forms of communication I receive. Pastors ask me questions, lots of questions. I am both honored and humbled that they would think that I could be a source of information or expertise.
Most churches—more than eight out of ten—are busy. Too busy. These churches need to slim down their plethora of programs, activities, and ministries. They need to go a busyness diet.
For more than two decades I have studied, contemplated, and written about the tenure of a pastor. Why is pastoral tenure relatively brief on the average? Does that tenure contain common and distinct stages? Is there a particular point in the tenure when more pastors leave the church?
In my recent blog post, I noted seven reasons pastors burn out. I was delighted to receive a full response to my post from Lee Haley, executive pastor of Parkview Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I offer his response in full below: With over 40 years in the ministry, nearly 15 in an itinerant ministry, I have seen the challenges of many pastors who burn out. I offer the following seven responses for churches to consider:
I admit I haven't seen recent statistics on pastoral burnout but, at least anecdotally, it's high. It seems that hardly a week goes by that I don't hear another story of a burnout victim in pastoral ministry. Why?
As many of you requested, and as I promised, I am utilizing this article to address possible ways to respond to power groups. My list is not exhaustive, but I do hope these seven suggestions are helpful.
We would soon learn that Dr. Blackaby had a heart attack and became disoriented. Christians around the world were able to hear through social media of his latest purported location according to his credit card charges. Of course, we were praying that he was the one actually using the credit cards—and he was.
This topic will cause some discomfort for many of you. The very thought of the presence of power groups seems contrary to the spirit and grace of the gospel. But power groups are very real in churches.
I have made no secret of my introversion. In fact, being open and honest about it has been a great relief to me. I think a number of people understand me better. One gift I wish I had been given when I served as a pastor in four different churches was a mentor who would share with me how to function as an introverted pastor. I made a ton of mistakes! I hope my experiences, both bad and good, will prove to be meaningful to pastors today. I have written them in the form of seven tips.
The three trends I've recently noticed are not new. What is new is that a relatively few churches embraced these concepts a few years ago. Today, they are becoming normative. These three approaches have moved from the category of "exception" to the category of "mainstream."
In a recent post, we heard from Chris Bonts as he shared the painful story of his difficult church. Today we conclude the conversation as Chris tells us how to leave a difficult church. As a reminder, this story is very personal for Chris. He experienced these pains to the point that he was pressured to leave the church.
There are great rewards in the pastoral call. And there are times that there is great pain. In this post I have asked Chris Bonts to share his experiences in a difficult church, one where he eventually left under pressure. I encourage you to get his newly-released eBook on this topic.
Few people will argue that church attendance in many churches in America is declining. Our own research indicates that the majority of churches in our country are not growing.
Not too long ago, I wrote a post about pastors' wives, and what they wish they had known before they became a pastor's wife. The article struck a nerve. Much to my surprise, I discovered a depth and breadth of hurt of which I was unaware. I was ashamed I had been so oblivious to this pain.
In today's post, I look at the positive side of being a pastor. Most of these leaders love their work and the churches they serve. So I took to the Twitterverse again with my poll question asking pastors what they like most about their work. Here are their top ten responses.
Let me state the obvious: Pastors are humans. That means they have preferences, likes, and dislikes. So I did an unscientific Twitter poll to find out what pastors really don't like about their jobs. By the way, one pastor cautioned me about calling their ministries "jobs." I understand, but it's hard to fit "God-called vocation and ministry" into a 140-character Twitter question.
For now, I have provided four examples of what non-Christians are asking of Christians. They were all comments at different points on my blog. Each section represents a different non-Christian.
In this post, I want to approach the issue from a slightly different perspective. I want to ask the question: How many hours must a pastor work each week to satisfy the congregation? Ultimately, I prefer to hear from pastors and church members and get their perspective.
In my Monday post, I looked at the issue of pastor/staff relationships from the perspective of the lead pastor or senior pastor. In this article we hear from the staff perspective, those other than the senior pastor who serve on a church staff.
I remember well receiving a call from one of my sons. It was his first day on the job as a new pastor. It was also his first fulltime ministry position. His words were amusing: "Okay, Dad. I'm here. What do I do next?"
It is one of the most unpredictable jobs one could have. There will be weeks when there won't be much taking place out of the ordinary, and the pastor will work a "mere" 40 to 45 hours. There will be other weeks filled with meetings, emergency hospital calls, a wedding, two funerals, and line of members waiting to see the pastor. That workweek could total 80 hours.
Okay, I'm joining the crowd. The majority of Americans are tired and angry about political leaders who put off major decisions, often called "kicking the can." It's called breaking the law when I kick the can. It's called politics when they do it in Washington. And they kick the can with billions and billions of dollars at stake.