Linking Front and Back Doors

I recently read this post by Thom Ranier about “closing the back door”, which is about helping new attenders become long term participants.  It seemed at the time, similar to a post I wrote about serious defections from churches called “Dealing with Leaks“. 

Thom talks about 4 “keys” to assimilation.  They are pragmatic, relatively easy to measure, and relatively well understood by most evangelical church leaders.  The problem I had with them as I read, was that they keys treated all people walking in the door generically – with no concern or understanding of what brought that person to your midst.

My proposal is that you have to tie that back door to the front door. I expect that most people who “bounce” off your church, who don’t stick, stay, or plug in; can be predicted by understanding where they are “spiritually” and practically, when they show up. Continue reading “Linking Front and Back Doors”

Ministry Job Descriptions

Job descriptions are a necessary evil – or at least that is the way many view them.

The thing is, that most ministry or church leaders are not managers. Seminary does not focus on this aspect of ministry leadership. Hiring ministry leaders is not a frequent activity, and most churches go through a calling process that is dramatically different than most executive searches. So what about a job description.

Here is my take on ministry job descriptions – especially as pertain to calling a pastor, or hiring a ministry leader:

What you expect a ministry leader to DO is what belongs in a job description. So start with a list of activities. What activities do we expect the individual to participate in, and what is their role relative to that activity. Continue reading “Ministry Job Descriptions”

Pray For Your Enemy

A few weeks ago, our pastor preached about hanging on to negative emotions caused by hurts suffered. He suggested a simple first step: pray for your enemy.

This is not revolutionary, as Jesus himself urged us to “…love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you…” Matthew 5:44. This is classified as one of the “hardest” sayings of Jesus. It is not a suggestion, but a command. It is not just a higher standard for leaders, but it applies to all of us.

Pastor decribed his own reactions as he took this practice to heart and started daily praying for people who had hurt him.

1) The initial response: I can’t do this – it is hard to pray blessings upon those we resent, or hold grudges against.
2) It gets easier – after a couple of days of this daily practice, you find it becomes more comfortable and less forced. I have a mental picture of praying for someone through gritted teeth.
3) You realize that your “list” was way longer than you thought. – The act of praying for our enemies, helps us to release the hold that our enemies have over us, and our eyes start to open to how much we are really holding on to. Continue reading “Pray For Your Enemy”

Small Group Continuum

How do we take a construct that was designed to be growth oriented, and make it a platform for developing spiritual depth? I have read articles recently from Mark Howell and Neil Cole who take vastly different positions on Small Groups – or do they.

Howell – is a long time church consultant, and currently the small group pastor at Parkview Christian Church in the Chicago area, is all about using small groups to extend the reach of the church into the community. For him, small groups are a tool for outreach – as he is convinced that your friends and neighbors are much more likely to step into your family room, than they are into a church auditorium.

Cole – a church consultant and author – is convinced that small groups are not a vehicle for encouraging spiritual growth. His article Can Groups Be Missional & Make Disciples? is all about how disicpleship is a one-on-one exercise. In his mind, small groups are getting in the way of genuine discipleship.

I think that they are both partly right – and here is why. Continue reading “Small Group Continuum”

Missional? What is it?

This week I suggested that a friend put the word missional on their resume. The response: what do you mean missional? Followed by: well, they (meaning the recipient of the resume) won’t have a clue either. This got me thinking, I have read a bit of missional stuff, lately, and most of it written by some really smart folks who sometimes seem to want to prove how smart they are. That means they didn’t put the cookies on the bottom shelf.

So I was thinking, Missional, what is it? It reminds me of the bit from the movie Airplane!, “This woman has to go to a hospital! A hospital, what is it? It’s a large building with lots of patients, but that’s not important now.”

We want our church to be missional. Missional, what is it? It’s an aspect of the character of God, but that’s not important now. Continue reading “Missional? What is it?”

Difficult Staffing Decisions

At times it is necessary make difficult decisions related to staff positions or staff members. In minstries it is especially difficult to terminate a staff member. Ministry leaders are not usually professional managers, most ministries do not have HR policies that govern these things, and so these things can become quite personal. Ministry is not “business”, so the “strictly business” flavor of separation is not really appropriate. Continue reading “Difficult Staffing Decisions”