6 Things Pastors Should Look For In Their Community…

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Every community, from the smallest village to the largest city, has a character all its own. One of the most important things a pastor or ministry leader can do is understand that character. It will tell you what ministries are needed and how your church could go about initiating them. And with so many United Methodist pastors settling into their new appointments, I thought this would be a good time to share 6 things to help you learn about your community. (For the record, you can be in year twenty of your ministry at a church and still benefit from these.)

As a point of citation, the points (in bold) are the work of Michael Mata, and the questions are the work of Michael Frost, who is a professor of Missiology and my additions.

So here are six things you should look at to understand your community: Continue reading

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

Care 101

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One of the core skills of being a church member is being able to offer care and comfort to others. And contrary to cultural precedent, this is not the sole responsibility of the pastor. In fact, most “pastoral” care can be offered by non-clergy or laity.

The problem is that many church goers feel under equipped or ill-prepared for those conversations. (As a side note, so do I, despite having literally hundreds of hours of pastoral care visits). So I wanted to offer a few basic steps to offering care to someone you know in your church. These won’t make you a counselor or therapist, but they should help you be a better friend and church member. Some of them are fairly obvious, but worth restating.  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

God as our Mr Miyagi…

maxresdefaultOne of the most iconic movies of my generation is ‘The Karate Kid’. It’s not just a good martial arts movie; it’s just a great film. The film shows us the life of Daniel, who is a kid who finds himself in a new high school, which comes with a new breed a bullies. Daniel’s situation grows so bad that the maintenance man of his apartment complex, Mr Miyagi, offers to take Daniel-san under his wing and train him in karate.

Daniel shows up excited to learn. His excitement quickly dissipates when he finds out that his training will begin after he does some chores. Daniel’s would-be mentor has him sand his back deck, wash and wax his car, and paint his fence. After three days of hard work and no training, Daniel has had enough. He confronts Mr Miyagi about the lack of training. Just as Daniel is about to walk away from everything, the wise old mentor asks Daniel to do all of the motions that he had over the last three days; painting the fence, sanding the floor, and famously wax on, wax off. With little warning, Mr Miyagi begins to throws kicks and punches at Daniel-san, who instinctively begins to throw near perfect blocks, deflecting the attacks.

Turns out, he had been training this whole time.

I think God is a lot like Mr Miyagi some times. Continue reading