Someone made a comment that, above all, he needed people praying for him. So I wrote in response, "I'm praying for you. I really mean it." Then I paused. Why did I write "I really mean it"? Wasn't my promise of prayer sufficient? Why did I have to add a child-like "cross my heart" promise?
In an informal survey of pastors, I asked a simple question: What do you wish you had been told before you became a pastor? Some of the responses were obvious. For me, a few were surprises. "I wish someone had taught me basic leadership skills." "I wish I had been given advice on how to deal with power groups and power people in the church."
This issue is not new, but it does seem to be one gaining more attention. A new church is started in a community with many members of an existing church. Unfortunately, the existing church has not blessed the new church start, nor has it been consulted about it.
"Happy" is a nebulous term. It is usually understood better than defined. So I know I am taking a risk when I used such a subjective word. Please allow me to explain. For almost twenty years, I served as a consultant to churches in the United States and Canada. After working with hundreds of churches, I saw several patterns develop.
My generation was the largest generation. And now we are the dying generation. But here is the harshest reality about my generation. We estimate that only about one-third of Baby Boomers are Christians.
But the lack of unity in many churches is a serious manner. Church splits, congregational infighting, and church divisiveness are more common than we often like to admit. Not too long ago, I heard my co-worker at LifeWay, Eric Geiger, make a presentation on church unity. Actually, he largely dealt with training and equipping the saints to do the work of ministry in his presentation, but he beautifully tied that issue with church unity.
I recently asked a few hundred laypersons to write down what they desired of a pastor. Their responses were open-ended, and there was no limitation on the number of items they could list. Among the top 10 responses was "love of congregation."
Is it fair to suggest any relationship between the decline of the malls and the future of the church buildings? I think so. To be sure, most malls are adversely affected by the growth of online shopping. There are not too many brick and mortar stores that don't feel the impact of the Internet.
I am stating the obvious. Indeed I am mirroring the emotions of tens of millions of Americans. My statement? I am fed up with politicians. I am fed up with a congress and executive branch that fails to lead. I am fed up with last minute and dramatic decision-making. I am fed up with "kicking the can down the road" on major decisions. I am fed up with the lack of courage obvious at so many levels.
Pastors are like information sponges. If they aren't studying, they are receiving a regular deluge of information from church members. I asked twenty-two pastors to share with me the most common items they hear from their church members.
I recently interviewed more than twenty pastors who had been in ministry for at least 25 years. Below are the top seven regrets noted in order of frequency. The first, lack of practical training for local church ministry. The second, overly concerned about critics.
An established church develops certain patterns or traditions while simultaneously forgetting its original purpose and passion. By almost any metric, the majority of North American congregations are established churches. They often include discouraged leaders and frustrated members. So how does a church move from an inward drift to an outward focus?
What is the impact on a leader and his or her leadership when he or she is involved in an affair? I have been disgusted as I heard different pundits attempt to answer this question. The typical perspective regurgitated about the Petraeus and Broadwell affair is that, outside of the security concerns, it's really no big deal.
What makes organizations weak? Is it a failure of good strategic planning? Are there cultural issues that preclude good performance? Researchers found that accountability was the weakest link in organizational behavior.
At least in 2008 the Millennials proved to be a generation motivated by a strong centralized federal government. Most every study of the Millennials indicates that the same desire is still alive and well today. It is not unusual to see people look to the government for solutions when few alternatives seem available.
When I led a church consultation company, one of the more common facets of my consultation was an on-site visit to a worship service. The person I hired to conduct the visit could know nothing about the church. What makes for a bad first-time experience? Being asked to introduce yourself and everyone talking in code.
We wanted to know what pastors like about their ministry. Here are their top ten responses listed in reverse order, followed by a comment from a representative pastor. Preaching. "My sense of God's call to ministry was a call to preach. It's still what I love to do more than anything."
The expectations of a pastor are endless. Many members expect them to be omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. But different pastors are wired differently. One pastor may get great fulfillment out of counseling, while another dreads every minute of it.
I don't particularly like the "quick-fix" formula some pundits offer to leaders of churches that are plateaued or experiencing a decline. Nevertheless, I have had the wonderful opportunity to research churches across America. Many leaders are frustrated and seeking God's solution.
The fascination with megachurches is, at least to some extent, related to the sociological impact on the community in which it resides. There continues to be a shift of members and attendees from smaller churches to larger churches, particularly megachurches.
Christians are against more things than they are for. "It just seems to me that Christians are mad at the world and mad at each other." I don't see much difference in the way Christians live compared to others.
Not all the news about pastors is discouraging. Pastors feel privileged to be called to their places of ministry. They have a deep love for those they shepherd. Most of them could not conceive of doing anything else. But please hear me: Many pastors are hurting.
We all know those "energy drainers." They are the people that seem to have a perpetual cloud hanging over their heads. Research shows that exposure to 30 minutes or more of negativity – including viewing such material on TV – actually peels away neurons in the brain's hippocampus. That's the part of your brain you need for problem solving.
In my work with churches across America, I often ask a series of questions that help me assist the church to become more evangelistically focused. Are members more concerned about the lost than their own preferences and comfort?
Let's be fair. Many politicians are good and strong leaders. They have a high ethical standard, care for their constituencies first, and seek to serve. But some politicians are bad. They put self first. They lie. They seek power first.