3 Ways to Get to Know Your Congregation…

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For many United Methodist pastors, you’ve just survived your first Sunday at your new church, and are still swimming in boxes as you unpack. Now, you have months and months of getting to know the new congregation you have been appointed to care for. Even if you’re not United Methodist, the process of getting to know a new congregation is daunting.

I want to offer a few insights I’ve learned through getting to know two different congregations. Here are three things for getting to know your congregation better: Continue reading

Mentor For Life: A Book Review

So, I’ve been reading a lot this year. I have a goal of averaging one book per week. But I had a stark realization in the last couple of weeks. The reading has been helpful, but only to me. The books haven’t really begun impacting my congregation or you readers at all.

So, here is a quick overview of the things I took away from ‘Mentor For Life’ by Natasha Sistrunk Robinson. Please note, these are my interpretations and impressions, and so they are subject to my biases.mentor-for-life-book-cover.jpg Continue reading

4 Leadership Lessons from a Piano Bar…

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The other night, I had the chance to go to a dueling piano bar with some colleagues. Here’s how the whole thing works: there are two piano players who take requests. They go back and forth taking the lead on playing these songs. Usually they both play during a song, but sometimes one will take a break.

There were some great lessons in leadership that I watched on display there, and I wanted to share them with you. Continue reading

Swiss Army Pastor…

 

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When I was ten, I got my first Swiss Army knife. It came with a two-inch blade, screwdriver bits, a nail file, bottle opener, and a can opener. It was awesome. I felt like I could do any and everything suddenly. Who needs all of those different screwdrivers from the hardware store? Why even bother getting another can opener? Not only do I have all of those in one tool, but I have all of them IN MY POCKET!

So you can imagine my disappointment when it began to dawn on me that sometimes you do need different screwdrivers.

There are a lot of pastors that try to be a ‘Swiss Army’ pastor. Maybe they feel like the church needs them to be, or they want to be that indispensible, or some combination of both. I think the job of ‘pastor’ is fairly susceptible to developing this ‘all things to all people’ mentality. For starters, there are a wide variety of tasks and skills that pastor need to have in order to do their job well. I mean, a day can consist of researching 6th century Mesopotamia for a sermon, visiting homebound, and helping draft a budget proposal, all before a worship team meeting later that night.

So here are some thoughts on pastors being the churches Swiss Army Knives of ministry: Continue reading

3 Things to Know About Changing Church Culture…

Our desire to feel like we belong is so powerful that we will go to great lengths, do irrational things, and often spend money to get that feeling.”

-Simon Sinek, ‘Start with Why’

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Churches everywhere struggle with the idea of creating or injecting new life into their congregations and communities (commonly called ‘revitalization’). There are a multitude of reasons churches struggle to ‘revitalize’. One of the biggest barriers to adding new life to a church is actually one of the churches intrinsic strengths; a sense of belonging.

The above quote highlights the deep desire that we as human beings have to ‘belong’ somewhere. That desire to belong is why groups, clubs, gangs, and organizations form. We all want a place to “fit in”. And every group has it’s own culture to determine who ‘fits in’. For example, there are organizations where the only criteria to ‘fit in’ is wearing a red hat.

The challenge with revitalizing a church is that to add new life means that you are inviting people who haven’t ‘fit in’ before into the culture. For example, let’s say for decades you only had to wear a red hat to belong to the church (it’s clearly more complicated than this). Over time, the church loses attendance. It turns out that people in the community like wearing green, yellow, and blue hats, so they don’t fit in at the church. (If you change ‘hats’ for any number of things like worship style, service projects, or theology, you can see this principle more clearly).

Continue reading