Busy Work

Some times we just assume things. Like whether something “on our list” really needs to be done. Some times tasks turn in to habits – and we have to ask ourselves whether the original reason we started doing “it” is still viable. It really is a question of value. How much value do I get from doing the task, and how much does it cost me to do it?

Here are some ideas to help you think about busywork in life, career and ministry… Continue reading “Busy Work”

Authority and Church

In my last post, I said “As I read my bible, apostolic authority ended when the full canon of scripture was complete”.  My friend Adam called me out on that – saying that he would like to see where I read that.  (Adam, these are my thoughts, more or less informed by my own bible study, however flawed, and my observations of “church”)

I am neither a theologian, nor a studied church historian.  I am just a regular Christian guy trying to parse this world through the lens afforded by the Bible.  With that disclaimer, here are my thoughts: Continue reading “Authority and Church”

Solo Pastorates Are More Challenging Than Ever

In a conversation with and old friend, discussing the challenges of solo pastorate churches… Years ago, before the advent of the mega-church or the corporate church, I seem to remember seminarians being placed in small pastorates, Solo pastorate churches in established communities.  I was newly saved or not saved yet, so did not understand the dynamics of ministry and expectation.

Perhaps expectations were lower then.  Perhaps the propensity of member or attenders to spectate, rather than participate were lower.  Perhaps we had more common cultural norms and value systems.  I don’t know but I think the challenges of the solo pastorate church were less then.

When I reflect on it now, the challenges of a small urban or suburban congregation are many, and as a much older person, I struggle to imagine a recent seminary graduate having the capacity to lead in this situation without burning himself out.

Here are things that have changed over the last 30-40 years that have made this more (rather than less) challenging: Continue reading “Solo Pastorates Are More Challenging Than Ever”

Leadership Activities – Part II

OK – I promised that I would give some how-to on leadership activities.

1) Cast Vision or Mission (at some level) for the future activities

Vision or mission can start with one person, but often things seem so obvious to that person (who had or received the vision) that it takes other leaders questioning how things work or how things happen to really flesh it out. When you share your vision, you want it to be a relatively complete and comprehensible story. Collaborating with other leaders is a great way to get feedback.

Not suggesting that the vision itself should change, but we need to become better at communication. The communicator is responsible for the content. If you send but nobody receives – that is not communication – that is broadcasting. If you are speaking English but your audience is Spanish speakers – is that going to work? How about if you are speaking martian? Or theological jargon?

Preachers can spend years in seminary developing their ability to communicate biblical truth. Yet when communicating about other things, they don’t practice with the same level or they delegate to other leaders. Leaders should collaborate around the content and communication of vision so that
a) all (leaders) are invested in the vision (there is unity).
b) the communication to the larger community is well thought out and aimed at the target audience.
c) all are able to answer questions and explain the meaning of the vision from the perspective of their role. Continue reading “Leadership Activities – Part II”

Developing Organizational Leaders

In a previous post, I wrote about developing disciplers and shepherds, which accounts for much of the leadership that most churches need. In this post, I turn my attention to describing organizational leaders – and how we can develop them from our own congregation:

Exploring the start of the problem

Lets take as a starting point, that most pastors have no formal training in organizational leadership. Some of them, however, are great organizational leaders. In my conversations with leaders of churches, I have discovered that most learn to lead and manage organizationally by doing. When they got their first pastorate, it came with the expectation that they would be the leader, the executive, the decision maker, the planner, the organizer, the coordinator. Most learned by trial and error. Continue reading “Developing Organizational Leaders”

Leadership Activities

As I said in the initial post in this series on developing leaders, organizational leaders differ from other leaders in ministry because of the activities that they are responsible for.

What do organizational leaders do?

1) cast vision or mission (at some level) for the future activities
2) establish goals
3) create plans
4) recruit and develop staff (including leaders)
5) encourage/influence others to invest (mentally/emotionally) in the vision/mission
6) execute plans
7) achieve goals
8) develop other leaders Continue reading “Leadership Activities”

Leaders or Board Members?

I want to write this post to reflect that ministries require leaders to accept different roles and responsibilities, and people gravitate toward one set or type. God has gifted and talented each of us with a somewhat unique set of qualities and strengths that makes some roles easier and others harder. While there is significant overlap between major role groups, passion is often the determining factor of this gravitation. Continue reading “Leaders or Board Members?”

Developing Leaders

Leaders are different animals. Don’t have leaders if you don’t want to be lead.

Some people lead reluctantly, they are content to be do-ers, but God thrusts them into leadership. Others are born leaders, God has baked leadership into their personality. Still others can be leaders when asked, and can let others lead and be content being contributors.

So how do you develop leaders? What does that mean? What do you mean by a leader? Continue reading “Developing Leaders”

Intentions and Disappointments

Leaders are judged based on certain results of their leadership. Most frequently, they are judged based on whether or not their results matched their commitments. Most of the time, I think this is reasonable. I think leaders are also frequently judged based on whether their results matched their intentions. And this I think is unreasonable if the leader did a good job of articulating commitments.

The problem is that when a leader’s results don’t match commitments or intentions, people get disappointed. Continue reading “Intentions and Disappointments”

Planning and Execution

Execution is a strange word. In different contexts, it can mean killing someone, making things happen, or working intentionally. It is this last meaning that I want to elaborate. Execution is working intentionally. To work intentionally, you must:

1) Establish goals.
2) Determine how you INTEND to achieve those goals.
3) Spend your energy and time in ways that honor your intentions.


This sounds really simple, until we realize that we spend most of our time being distracted by administrivia, our own bad habits, and other peoples issues. Working intentionally, is plain and simply:

“bringing sufficient focus to a goal to justify ignoring the normal distractions enough to accomplish the goal.”


Unless you are one of those completely mission-oriented, type A personalities – you probably find this difficult. Moreover, the further the goal is away from your normal responsibilities, the harder it is to break free from the ordinary rhythm of activity to work on it. A wise man I met at my second employer used to say, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions!” While this isn’t necessarily theologically sound – it sure expresses how things often work out. Continue reading “Planning and Execution”