Ideas That Work

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I’m about to wrap up my tenth year of coaching pastors. Ten years…that’s a decade…that’s a long time to be listening to, encouraging, and resourcing pastors and church leaders. But I’m telling you, if I had twenty bucks for every time I’ve spoken to a pastor who is dealing with someone in their church that is a gossip…I’d be a rich man. Well, maybe not rich, but I would have a significant amount of discretionary fun-money in my wallet. My point is, if you have a church you will have gossip. Everybody has to deal with it at some time. You might be dealing with it right now. Gossip (and it’s cousin Slander) are two of the most dangerous sicknesses to infect a church.

Let me share with you seven steps to deal with gossip in your church.

  1. Compile a list of all the verses in the Bible where the words ‘gossip’ and ‘slander’ appear.
  2. Come up with a working definition of gossip and slander.
  3. Review the verses on your list and the definitions you came up with and using a scale of one to ten (one being lowest) score the degree of problem you have in your church or with a specific individual.
  4. Clearly identify the guilty party(s).
  5. If you were to confront this person, what response might you expect from them?
  6. What risks are you taking by confronting them and what risks are you taking by not confronting them?
  7. Are you willing to get bloody over this? You probably will. Gossips and Slanderers usually don’t repent, stop, or leave the church without putting up a fight. If the gossip has a great deal of influence in the church you could get in trouble at best, and lose your job at worst.

You might be surprised to hear me say this but my experience in working with pastors is that they fail to deal with gossip early on and this results in the problem growing and growing until they have a much more serious situation on their hands than when the gossip originally raised it’s ugly head.

If you decide to confront the person don’t forget to:

  1. Pray before you go.
  2. Take someone with you.
  3. Don’t sugarcoat the seriousness of the situation to the person.
  4. Don’t be afraid to tell the person to stop it or they will have to leave.
  5. Don’t forget to duck.

 

 

I don’t know which is harder, getting people to come to your church for the first time, or getting them to come a second time. I think a second time is harder.

They tell us (I’m not sure who ‘they’ are) that as soon as someone enters your parking lot they are accumulating reasons why to come back again…or not. Impressions we make on first time visitors is not the purpose of this article. I want to focus on what to do with them when they come back a second time. If someone comes back a second time it’s fare to assume that you have not scared them off yet. They liked what they experienced enough to give you a second chance. There is no guarantee that they will come back a third time, but second time is better than no time. Second time gives us something to work with.

I want to share with you five steps to taking your first time visitors all the way, i.e. from visitor to participant in the life of your church. What you’re about the read is not rocket science. I actually know a bivocational pastor who is a rocket scientist and he assured me that this is not that.

Step One: Actually this is not so much a step as it is a reality check. It’s more than likely that most visitors will not come back. But, hopefully, many will. Don’t be overly discouraged if a guest does not come back. A church could have the best follow-up-to-guests system in place and still experience many first-timers who never become second-timers.

Step Two: Get them through the door. What are you doing to reach new people? Regularly evaluate what is working and what is not working. Are there ways to attract new people that you’ve thought about but have not yet experimented with? And when talking about ‘what to try’ never forget that the most effective way to attract new people is by a personal invitation. What are you doing to encourage and equip your people to be inviters?

Step Three: Gather contact information. Some churches call these ‘connection cards’ or ‘visitor cards.’ I wish I had more time to elaborate more on how best to do this, but you must get their name, email, phone and address.

Step Four: Follow up. Keep this first follow up simple. Send a quick text or email when you get home. In my last church I would take five minutes and mail a short handwritten note. People were always impressed with this. And don’t forget, once you get this information (It’s hard to get some people to fill out a card the first time but they are more likely to do so a second time.) you must file this information in some way that will be easily retrieved and used in the future.

Step Five: Assimilate. How does your church encourage newcomers to get involved, what is your plan? In my last church our assimilation plan was three-fold: 1) get them to come to an orientation night in our home, 2) get them to join a small group, 3) get them to join some type of ministry team. Accomplishing this is easier said than done, but what is your plan?

If we want to take our visitors all the way we must:

Get them through the door.
Gather information.
Follow up with the information.
Have an assimilation plan.

How is your church doing in these four areas?

Dictionary

vision:

noun

– the faculty or state of being able to see: she had defective vision.
– the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom: the organization had lost its vision and    direction.
– a mental image of what the future will or could be like: a vision of retirement.

Let me ask you, how’s your vision?

In a couple weeks I’m going to see my Optometrist. It’s been a few years. My glasses aren’t working as well as they should. Well actually, it’s my eyes that aren’t’ working as well as they should. My vision is failing. Nothing drastic, only what’s to be expected as one gets older. Hopefully all I’ll need is a slight adjustment to my prescription, order some new glasses, and I’ll be set. No more squinting.

It’s not unusual for a person to have to stay on top of their vision as they age. The same is true of a church, or a pastor. We’ve all read those articles on ‘vision’. Maybe you’ve attended a conference on “Getting your vision for 2017.” And I know you’re familiar with that often pulled out of context verse, “Without vision the people perish.”

In the church world, when we talk about ‘vision’, we mean the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination, wisdom, or, hopefully, the leading of the Holy Spirit. Vision is the mental image of what the future of your church will or could be. Here are five reasons why your vision might fail.

  1. Multiple vision. I remember hearing someone say, “The problem with the church today is not a lack of vision but multiple vision.” What they meant was that often in a church there will be too many ideas as to where the church should be headed. If everyone is not on the same page you will be frustrated while trying to lead in a direction some don’t want to go in. How unified is the vision of your church. Is everyone on board and paddling in the same direction?
  2. You don’t see it clearly. It’s my belief that vision starts with the pastor. I’m not saying that your leaders don’t play any part in developing and implementing the vision of your church, but I do believe, for the most part, that vision begins with the pastor. If you are not clear on the direction of your church don’t be surprised if what you see (fuzzy as it may be) fails to get traction. Do you see where you want to go clearly?
  3. You can’t articulate the vision in a simple, easy to grasp way. I think it was Albert Einstein who said something like, “If you can’t describe something in a simple way, you don’t really understand the thing you are trying to describe.” Until you can articulate your vision good enough for a fifth grader to grasp you’d better hold off.
  4. You haven’t gained ‘buy-in.” Remember to give your leaders and people at least as much time to buy into your vision as it took you to develop your vision. I see this all the time. The leader has been working on the vision for weeks, maybe for months. Finally they’re done. They’re excited to share it at their next leadership/board meeting, but when they do they are met with blank stares, objections, or initial rejection. They go home discouraged and defeated. But the problem often is not their stiffed-necked, visionless, hardhearted, reluctant to change leaders…it’s simply that they needed more time to process, to think, to question, to chew on things for a while. These things take time.
  5. A failure to program around the vision. You might see it clearly. You might be able to articulate it simply and clearly. Everybody might be on the same page. But if you don’t program around the vision, it will never be anything other than a nice idea on paper. To program around vision, ask these questions:

a) What do we need to start doing to see our vision succeed?

b) What are we doing that we need to do more of to see our vision succeed?

c) Is there anything we need to do less of to see our vision succeed?

Are you suffering from multiple vision?
Do you see your vision clearly?
Can you articulate it simply and clearly?
Have you allowed enough time for everybody to get on board?
Do your programs move your church towards your vision or away from your vision?

Now…where did I set my glasses?

 

 

Well it’s that time again…the beginning of a new year. This is when you feel obligated to announce your ‘vision’ for 2017. It has to happen sometime during the month of January or it is not a legitimate ‘vision.’ So…if you haven’t formulated or communicated your vision yet, you better jump on it.

Here are three questions that will help you and your team evaluate if you should start something in or stop something in 2017.

Is It Essential? Not all good ideas are essential enough to implement. The smaller the church (and this is multiplied if you are a bivocational pastor) the more careful and selective the pastor has to be when choosing what she/he gives their time to. Small Churches, and the pastors who lead them, must become experts at dong a few things well. Is it essential to our mission? Are we currently doing anything that is not essential? You know how to start or stop something by asking, “Is It Essential.”

Is It Effective? Ministries, departments, or programs currently happening in your church, need to occasionally be evaluated. Are they accomplishing what we hoped they would accomplish when originally started? Did we take the time to nail down clearly what it was we were hoping to accomplish? Have you, or someone else, ever asked, “Now why are we doing this?” And before you start something new, don’t be afraid to challenge the idea. By this I mean…ask, “Are we really sure that this idea has the best chance of succeeding or helping us to achieve our objectives?

Can I justify the time and energy it will cost me to do this? I’ve heard some pastors say, “Well if just one person is blessed it will be worth it.” Baloney. What if there was a better idea that would bless three people instead of just one? You have to be careful of overextending yourself. You only have so much time to give to your church without something else more important suffers. Your health, your soul, your marriage, your family are your first priorities. One skill all leaders must learn is when to say ‘no’ to good ideas in order to protect the truly important things in life.

Well I hope this helps some, especially if your haven’t announced your ‘Vision For 2017’ yet. Remember, if you wait until February or March…it won’t count.

IMG_4324I’ve been coaching pastors for almost ten years. In addition to being a coach, I also serve churches as a consultant.

A consultant functions much like a coach to the church. Whereas a coach relates to an individual, the consultant relates to the church board, governing body, or leadership team.

A consultant comes in when a church feels stuck or in need of a fresh set of eyes to help them walk through a challenging situation. The consultant is someone objective and experienced.

A consultant provides honest feedback, practical ideas, and resources that are tailor-made for the current size and specific challenges of the church.

20 Reasons why a church might benefit from a consultant:

When they feel stuck.

When considering a new direction.

When they need a fresh set of eyes.

When considering their first hire.

When considering their first church plant.

If momentum or morale is bad.

When they are in decline.

When they have plateaued.

When nothing seems to be working.

If there is a need for someone to mediate conflict.

When bringing in a new pastor.

When determining the pay-package for their pastor or
staff member.

If they are a new church plant.

When faced with a crisis.

When wanting to do a church diagnostic test.

When considering getting their first building.

When the leadership feels they’re running out of ideas.

When preparing to set new goals for the up-coming year.

When faced with the likelyhood of needing to fire or lay-off someone.

When they have a mutiny on their hands.

 

You might be thinking, “Oh, we could never afford a church consultant.” Yes you can! Because my consulting happens over the phone via conference calls, the cost is kept to a minimum. Even the smallest of churches can now afford a church consultant.

Want to set up a free, no obligation 45 min. phone call to see if this is the right time to team up with a church consultant or to answer any quesitons you might have about consulting? If so, contact me at: dave@smallchurchpastor.com

imagesMy pastor, Brian Boisen, is a good communicator, and recently I’ve noticed that he has become even better at one of the three components that make up a good sermon…the introduction. Brian has been having some great introductions. I’ve actually began to look forward to them.

If you have studied homiletics then this might be old news to you, but still, stay with me, there’s always a place for a reminder.

We’ve all been taught that a good sermon has an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. I’m a preaching coach so I think a lot about these things. I’ve been speaking since I was a new Christian at the age of 16. That’s a lot of speaking. Let me share with you some thoughts I have about sermon introductions.

  1. Wait to develop your introduction until after you’ve completed the body of your sermon. Once you have a solid body you will be in a better place to decide on the most fitting introduction. One reason why some sermons do not relate to the introduction (“Hey, I thought he said he was going to speak on this, but instead he’s speaking about that.”) is because the pastor began with crafting the introduction first.
  2. Your introduction should accomplish three things: get my attention, make me want to listen to you, and tell me where we’ll be going. People can tune out pretty fast. We don’t have much time to capture them. A good sermon introduction does just that.
  3. Introductions are short but sweet. Depending on how long your sermons usually are should help you decide how long your introductions should be. For example, if you preach 15 to 20 minutes then your introduction should be about three minutes long. If you preach close to 30 minutes then your introduction can be up to five minutes. I just say this because some sermons I listen to take 10 minutes or longer before the speaker actually gets into the body of their sermon. You don’t have much time to get to the meat so offer an appetizer and then serve the main course.

They say that visitors to your church will decide within seven minutes after getting out of their car whether or not they will be coming back. It’s similar to sermons. You’ve got a few minutes to get their attention and make them want to listen to you. Work at developing a great introduction.

I can help you become a better preacher/teacher. To find out more go here.

Recently on my Small Church Pastor Group Page on Facebook, I said, “We have this idea that if you teach on tithing you’ll get tithers. When has that ever really happened?” I forgot how passionate some pastors can feel about tithing, whether they be pro or con. I didn’t intend the thread to go down that road but it did and I should have known better. Anyway…this is the first in a five part series about why teaching on tithing doesn’t work. And, in keeping with my (frustrating to some of you) policy of not stating publicly my position on certain controversial issues, I will try not to show my hand in regard to the topic of tithing.

Before I get to my first reason, let’s remember that Christians can read the same Bible and come to different conclusions about tithing. Some believe that the Bible does teach tithing for Christians today and some disagree. Same Bible, different conclusions. Both love the word of God but both have different positions on this. So…if you don’t teach tithing then simply substitute ‘giving’ or ‘stewardship’ and this series will still relate. Having said that…

The first reason why teaching on tithing doesn’t work is because teaching on tithing doesn’t happen all that often. Oh I know this is why some people don’t like the church, i.e. ‘they’re always talking about money’, and I’m sure there are plenty of those churches out there, but usually when I am talking to a pastor they confess that they don’t like to talk about money/tithing and therefore don’t do so as often as they think they should.

Pastor Bill: Dave, our giving is down. I don’t know what to do. Can we talk about that?

Me: Sure. Is this a three month or a six month trend or something that has been happening for a few weeks or maybe a month?

Pastor Bill: This started the end of last year and has continued to today.

Me: When was the last time you taught on tithing/giving?

Pastor Bill: Oh…let me think about that…Um…it’s been a while.

If you believe in tithing (or stewardship, or whatever word best describes what you think the Bible has to say about giving) but seldom teach on it, how do you expect one sermon a year to do the trick? If tithing (or stewardship, or whatever word best describes what you think the Bible has to say about giving) is such a big deal then why do we teach on it so infrequently? I think one reason is, possibly the number one reason is, fear. That’s what I’ll touch upon in part two, but let me sum up by saying…if you only teach on tithing (or stewardship, or whatever word best describes what you think the Bible has to say about giving) once in a blue moon, don’t expect that sermon, or series, no matter how good it is, to do the trick. My experience has shown me that most churches need to talk more about tithing rather than less and that they can do so without becoming ‘one of those churches that are always talking about money.’

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As a coach, I believe that so much depends on us asking the right questions at the right time. Here are five essential questions you need to ask every Monday morning. Unless you take Mondays off, then ask these questions on Tuesday. 😉

    1. What do I need to follow up on from Sunday? This would be visitors, people you prayed for or counseled, it could mean supplies you noticed you were running low on, i.e. toilet paper, etc.
    2. Who do I need to forgive? Have you noticed how often people disappoint you on Sunday morning? Someone doesn’t show up who is in charge of something. Someone says some discouraging or critical thing to you.
    3. What do I need to accept? For some of us Sunday morning just reminds us how small we are. Our size is something we must learn to accept. Maybe you have limited quality for a children’s ministry. Maybe your music isn’t as good as you’d like. These are examples of things we have to learn to accept.
    4. How prepared am I for my day off? You do have a day off from pastoring don’t you? When will that day be? What do you have to do in order to completely detach from all things related on that day?
    5. When will I take time to be alone with God this week?

Can you think of any more essential questions for Monday morning?

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My latest book is out. You can order your copy here: https://createspace.com/5993213

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First of all, this could be one of the most important questions for you and your leadership team to ask: What are we doing to reach new people? The second best question is a follow up to the first: So, how’s that working for us?

Have you noticed that evangelism/outreach programs seldom work? And if they do ‘work’ the results are way, way off from what we hoped for. And another thing (boy, I’m really being negative…but stay with me), if our ‘program’ actually results in someone talking to a non-Christian and inviting them to church or getting them to accept Jesus…typically we never see them again. Have you noticed that? Now I hope that many of you will write me back objecting and sharing countless stories of how your evangelism/outreach program worked, still works, and how you couldn’t be happier.

I’ll just sit here and pause.

Okay, you’ve been waiting patiently, here it comes: The absolute best way to reach new people is through renewed people. People, not programs, reach new people.

Every year I keep waiting for a new study that will contradict previous studies telling us that the number one way people come to visit a church is by the invitation of someone they know and trust. I’m waiting for someone to prove that door to door works, that billboards work, newspaper adds work, free car wash works, kitten give-aways work. Nope, what do the experts keep telling us? The number one way to get people to visit your church is to inspire your people to invite their friends, relatives, neighbors, and co-workers to church, or a church event.

You reach new people through renewed people. I wonder what would happen if we spent as much money and time and resources on creating ‘inviters’ as we did on outreach/evangelism programs? I think I know what would happen. We would see a consistent flow of guests and visitors.

What are you doing to reach new people?

 

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My latest book is now available.
To find out more and order your
copy, go here.

imagesI’m into my tenth year of full-time coaching. That’s a lot of conversations with pastors. Occasionally I’m asked about ‘trends.’ For example: “Dave, what are some of the most common problems pastors have, or want to talk about.” That’s a good question. It’s not unusual for pastors to want to talk about problems with their board or a belligerent church member. Sometimes it’s how to develop an outreach or discipleship strategy. Some pastors want to talk about vision or direction for their church. These are just a few examples of common topics that can make up my day.

But there is another subject. This is a really frequent subject. Pastors want to talk to me about it. Pastors talk amongst themselves about it. Pastors deal with this topic all the time. This is something that frustrates and can sometimes suck the life out of a pastor. And it is also a topic that pastors almost never teach on. What is the topic? CHANGE.

One of the greatest reasons why a church does not move forward in it’s mission is due to a resistence to change on the part of the people. But it’s not always their fault. Sometimes pastors don’t understand the dynamics of change, and then couple that with an absence of teaching on change, and you have a perfect receipt for frustration and corporate stagnation.

As pastors we must become experts in how to lead through change. We need to learn how to become effective change-agents. We need to regularly teach our key-leaders and then our congregation about change. Here are some topics pertaining to change that I speak to pastors about all the time:

  1. Never underestimate how much change freaks people out.
  2. Understand the fears behind resistance to change.
  3. Most churches that have been in decline or plateau will not be able to turn things around without accepting and embracing significant change.
  4. Change is a process that requires wisdom and patience.
  5. Often times change is preceded by reeducation. What does that look like?
  6. Identify those in your church who are the most resistant to change.
  7. The role of prayer in implementing successful change.
  8. Resistance to change could be the number one reason why many churches are not effective in reaching new people and creating disciples.

These are examples of ‘change’ conversations I have all the time.

If you are trying to lead your people through change you’re going to need to teach on change, and teach on change, and teach on chance. First you must understand the dynamics of change. Then you need to pass this on to your leaders. Then you need to pass this on to the rest of your people. Then, and only then, will you be in a place to lead into change.

I can help.

 

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