How To Have A Dysfunctional Church Board


“My church is small.”
“How small is it?”
“My church is so small that our board is me and my spouse.”

That’s pretty small.

Now I know that many of you reading this are blessed with an awesome church board. You couldn’t be happier. Your board is made up of the most supportive, cooperative, generous, spiritual, mature people a pastor could ever hope for. I’m happy for you, I really am. But you’re missing out. You have no idea how faith-stretching and character-building it can be to have a dysfunctional church board. I believe one of the main ways God wants to grow you as a pastor is by using a board that drives you nuts. Therefore, let me share with you some ways you can have a dysfunctional church board.

I’m assuming that you have something to say about who joins your church board. This is not always the case. Many of you have come to an established church and are lucky enough to have inherited a dysfunctional church board. Lucky you. The following tips will relate to both i.e. those that have a say in choosing board members and those that don’t.

First, if you have an opening that needs to be filled try to find someone that’s been in the church since it’s inception. The longer a member the better. You know the type, “I was here before you came and I’ll be here after you’re gone.” It’s board members like this that will say things every pastor loves to hear, “That’s   not the way we do it.” or “Over my dead body.” or “Wal-Mart is hiring.”

When considering someone to join your board don’t worry so much about those who are spiritually mature and have proven to be loyal to you, your family, and the church. The church is a business and the church board needs to run it like they would any business. You don’t need a bunch of monks, you need business-savvy people fluent in Robert’s Rules of Order.

Along these lines, let your board meetings be dominated by one outspoken, opinionated, negative, belligerent person. Every board needs to have one of these. And whatever you do, never confront them and tell them to stop it. If you do this there is a good chance that you will indeed find out that Wal-Mart is hiring.

In your meetings have prayer make up no more than 3% of your time together. More than this will encroach on all the ‘business’ that needs to be addressed. If someone wants to pray they can go to that prayer meeting sister Mabel has that is poorly attended. Win, win.

Never, I repeat, never suggest term-limits. Why would you ever want an easy way to replace a board member who causes you constant frustration?

Finally, don’t worry about reeducating your church or your board as to the role of a church board. This takes a lot of time and you still might end up at Wal-Mart. The bottom line is if it’s not broke don’t fix it. If it is broke…leave it alone. Remember, you’ve been called to be a pastor and that has inherent in it a glutton for punishment.








How To Lose Volunteers In The Small Church

Like it or not, the church is a volunteer-driven organization. Unless, of course, your church is so small (how small is it?) that you are the volunteer. That’s pretty small. In fact, the smaller your church is the less you need leaders and the more you just need helpers or…volunteers. Now apparently some of you are pretty good at losing volunteers because so many pastors want to talk to me about how frustrated they are with their dysfunctional and dwindling volunteer base. There’s always room for improvement. I want to share with you how you can become more effective in helping your volunteers quit.

First of all, over commit the few volunteers that you have. Volunteers love this. If they are good at doing one task they will probably be good at two, or three, or four. And especially if they were stupid enough to tell you “Anything you want pastor, I’m here to help.”, they have to expect that you will not pass up an opportunity like that.

It’s important for volunteers to confuse their commitment to the church for their commitment to the Lord. You see it as one and the same, so should they.

Keep them in the dark as to what exactly it is you want them to do. For example, if you want them to do A, B, C and D, only tell them about A and C. It’s best to spring things on them after they’ve signed on the dotted line. But don’t have them sign anything. Whatever you do, don’t give them a job description (wait, you’d better call it a ‘ministry-description or you’ll be accused of running a church like a business.) The bottom line is…don’t put your expectations down on paper. This way you can add things to their job without them knowing which will give you the freedom to be irritated at them for not doing what you never told them to do.

Whenever you meet with them limit the conversation to how they and their ministry are doing. Don’t check in about their family, their marriage, their soul. You only have so much time…focus on the important things, i.e. how they are helping you grow the church. Volunteers love this.

Oh…when you do meet with them make sure to list off what needs improvement. Volunteers love this. And whatever you do, never let them tell you what they think needs improvement in your areas of responsibility. Hey…who died and made them the boss.

Don’t bother praising them for a job well done in front of others. You don’t want this to go to their heads, after all, they should be looking for the praise of God, not man. Don’t feed that thing.

Make sure that their commitment is until Christ returns. Jesus didn’t take a break. You don’t get a break. Why should they expect one? Believe me, volunteers love open-ended commitments.

Training? Who needs training? You’re an intuitive leader, they should be an intuitive volunteer. And don’t go quoting Eph. 4:11,12 to me. That was easy for Paul to say because he never had a busy schedule like yours.

And finally…always, always, always expect your volunteers to be as committed to the church as you are. You don’t have a life outside of the church, why should they? And if they dare to admit that they don’t have enough time to volunteer any more than they are you can always resort to guilt and shame. Guilt and shame are very effective motivators. In fact you should plan to regularly preach on how screwed up Christian’s priorities are. Volunteers love this.

I hope you’ve found this helpful. Now go out there and lose some volunteers. God be with you.





How To Scare Away First Time Visitors

Believe me when I say that it’s harder to get a guest to come back a second time than it is the first time. You might argue with me about this, and you might be right, but certainly we agree that it’s hard to get someone back a second time. And…believe it or not, some church members aren’t really that keen on having new people join their church. They would never say this out loud (or maybe they would) but deep down they like the way things are and they don’t cherish the idea of new people messing things up. For those of you that are fortunate enough to pastor a church like this here are some ways to insure that first time guests never become second time guests.

First, you must teach your people that being ‘seeker-sensitive’, or ‘guest-sensitive’ is what those worldly churches do while watering down the gospel in order to tickly people’s ears.

Don’t feel obligated to explain too much, after all…it’s their job to figure out ‘insider talk.’ They should know who Bob is when you announce the men’s retreat he’s planning. If you do a lot of standing up and sitting down…spring it on them. It’s really funny to watch people try to coordinate this with the others so they don’t look like an oddball who’s still sitting when others are standing. If you are one of those ‘Charismatic’ churches…please, please, please don’t explain all the stuff going on when “the Spirit starts to move.” (I can say things like this because I’m a quasi-charismatic.) Oh that was funny, my auto-spell check inserted queasy for quasi. Oh well, that works to.

I’m concerned that so many churches are no longer asking guests to stand up and introduce themselves. We need to bring this back.

Encourage your people to fellowship with one another before and after the service rather than try to strike up a conversation with a visitor. After all, it’s easier to talk to someone you know rather than someone you don’t know. If someone is looking for friends they can be the one to instigate.

If your people insist on being friendly, have them be soooo friendly that it really is more creepy than friendly.

Preach ten minutes too long.

While on the subject of preaching, always preach on holiness, sin, judgment, God’s coming judgment, what’s wrong with this sinful world, what’s wrong with the liberal Christians, what’s wrong with the conservative Christians, what’s wrong with the Christians who can’t make up their minds what they believe.

Have really bad coffee.

Have the volume of your music so loud it will make their ears bleed. People love going to a church that made them bleed.

If you use hymnals, insist on those that have the print so small that the visitor has to squint and struggle to read the words and results in headache. People love going to a church that gave them a headache.

If you don’t use hymnals and are one of those ‘contemporary’ churches that uses ‘choruses’ (by the way, ‘choruses’ is an outdated way to describe those songs…please stop saying that) choose the ones that are poorly written, hard to follow, and have really strange lyrics that even your own people don’t understand, let alone those guests.

Well that’s all I’ve got for now. Maybe you can gather your leaders together and come up with some more ways to scare first time visitors away. Church is for the committed and if those people were committed they would already be in your church. Who needs them anyways…unless they tithe and are willing to work in the children’s ministry. We always need those people.







How To End Your Marriage

Marriages end before the marriage ends. Some stay married after their marriage has ended. Being a pastor has embedded in it the potential of ending ones marriage. Here’s how to end your marriage.

Be warm and friendly and caring and attentive to your congregation but an entirely different person to your spouse. After all, it’s good to have a time and place to let your defenses down. Believe me, your spouse will understand.

Having a day off is all good and fine, in theory, but in reality, a pastor needs to be available to their congregation even if it is ones day off. It’s important to check your email during said day, answer your phone, and read a ministry related book. Your spouse will understand.

Never forget that nothing is more important than the church, not your children, not your marriage, not your mental and physical health…nothing. Church first, then if there is any of you left over it can be dished out to who’s ever left. One of the things your spouse loves about you is your dedication to the ministry. Your spouse will understand.

Whatever you do, never repeatedly make it clear to your church that your marriage and your family will always come first. Never clearly explain the boundaries you have…pastors aren’t allowed to have boundaries. Your spouse will understand.

Don’t establish boundaries. Your spouse will understand.

If you and your spouse are having relational problems…keep it to yourself. You can’t trust anyone. You can correct said problems on your own simply by praying more and reading your bible more. Besides, chances are that the problem is with your spouse, not you. Your spouse will understand.

Have a few unrealistic expectations for your spouse, after all, they are married to ‘the Pastor’ and congregants will expect more from them. Your spouse will understand.

Work more than 40 hours a week. 50+ is better. Your spouse will understand.

Jesus didn’t take vacations, why should you? Your spouse will understand.

It’s best to limit your time reading the Bible to when you are preparing your sermon. This will insure a shallow inner life which effects everything, including your marriage. Your spouse will understand.

Date Nights are highly overrated. Besides, when one is out two or three nights a week, who has time for date nights? Your spouse will understand.

Remind your spouse that driving together to mid-week service is the same as a date night. Your spouse will understand.

Remind your spouse that it is their job to run interference between the children and you. When you come home after a hard day at the church, you need to be left alone and allowed to vegetate in front of the TV without any nagging pressure to pay attention to the kids. Your spouse will understand.

In conclusion, don’t misunderstand me. I’m not suggesting that you actually end your marriage. You can stay married without being married. If this doesn’t make sense to you, ask your spouse. They will understand.





How To Turn Your Children Away From The Church

Pastoring can take a toll. Pastoring can take a toll on your devotional life. Pastoring can take a toll on your marriage. And Pastoring can take a toll on your children. When our children are young it’s easy to keep them interested in church. The test of our parenting isn’t whether or not our children love to go to church, or VBS, or summer camp. The test is what they think about church when they become teenagers, and more so…when they become young adults and venture out on their own. There are too may PK’s out there who want nothing to do with the church. Here are nine ways to insure your children turn away from their faith and the church.

  1. Act differently at church than you do at home.
  2. Be away from your family more than two nights a week doing ministry related activities.
  3. Tell your children that you expect more from them because their father is a pastor.
  4. Invest at least 50 to 60 hours a week in church work so that you will be exhausted and spent by the time you get home, thus insuring that your family gets your leftovers rather than you at your best.
  5. When sharing problems at the church with your spouse, make sure to speak loud enough for your children to hear.
  6. Neglect your personal devotions so that you are handling the pressures of life and ministry in your own strength. Whenever this is the norm the first to suffer is our family.
  7. Don’t worry too much about having a day off (and remember a true day off means nothing happening that has anything to do with ministry) or vacation time.
  8. Give out your personal phone number and let your people know that they can call you any time they want. Remember, you’re a pastor 24/7. When the phone rings, even if you are reading your children a book, stop and answer the phone. Ministry comes first.
  9. Remember your priorities: Church, TV, spouse, children, your soul.

Having said all this, often times a ministry couple can do all the rights things and still have a child that turns from the church and from Jesus. It happens. It’s sad. But do your best and pray, and pray, and pray.

How To Have A Boring Sermon


Never underestimate your ability to convince yourself that you are a great communicator when in reality you are a boring one. Here are my 13 ways to insure that your sermon is boring.

  1. Have more than five main points to your sermon and let your church know this in advance, after all, this is what an introduction is for, i.e. to cause your people to wish they have followed their earlier idea to stay home.
  2. Seldom smile. After all, preaching is serious business and you don’t want those listening to you to think that you actually enjoy them or preaching.
  3. Make sure that you keep things negative. Focus on God’s judgment, sin, and all the other things that your church (or some other church) is doing wrong.
  4. Convince yourself that you are being spontaneous (or led by the Spirit) when in reality you are going down rabbit-trails and ever returning.
  5. Whatever you do, don’t rely on your notes because this is a sign that your are not led by the Spirit.
  6. Don’t bother rehearsing your sermon, after all, you want to be led by the Spirit.
  7. Design a sermon with just a couple people in mind, that way when they don’t show up the rest of your group can hear something that doesn’t relate to them.
  8. Never check with your spouse whether or not a joke is really funny or just funny to you.
  9. Let your speaking voice be completely different than your normal voice. This way your people will not only be bored but will conclude that you are one person in the pulpit (or whatever it is that you stand behind…or don’t stand behind) and a different person in normal life.
  10. Use outdated sermon illustrations that you found in that sermon illustrations book that you’ve been using since 1982.
  11. Let your people know that you are wrapping things up…and then don’t.
  12. Don’t bother trying to figure out what your people would find interesting and helpful to be taught. After all, you’re in a much better position to know this than they are.
  13. And the most important: Let your sermon run ten minutes too long.






How to Annoy a Small Church Pastor


  1. Offer to pay their way to a conference on church growth.
  2. Give them a book on church growth for pastor appreciation month.
  3. Ask them, “Why isn’t our church growing?”
  4. Ask them, “Why is that other church growing?”
  5. Tell them on Sunday morning, “Looks like a small crowd today.”
  6. Ask them on Sunday morning, “Where is everybody?”
  7. When you sense that your pastor might be discouraged about the size of your church remind them that whenever two or more come together, Jesus is there.
  8. Assure your pastor that you love the fact that the church is small.
  9. Sit down with them and share some ideas you have as to why the church isn’t growing.

 If you are a denominational supervisor…

  1. Make sure they attend your national conference but have all the speakers be pastors of large churches.
  2. Give them great ideas and resources that won’t really work in a church their size.
  3. Ask them, “So…how are your numbers?”
  4. Require them to fill out reports on attendance, conversions, baptisms, etc.
  5. Schedule your pastor’s meetings during the week so that the bivocational pastors can’t attend.
  6. Ask the bivocational pastors, “So…when are you going to be able to go full time?”
  7. Invite them to your building and give them a tour.
  8. Instead of following up with them personally have your assistant do it.

Excommunication doesn’t work. I have a better idea.


This morning I was reflecting on I Cor. 5…you know, the one about incest and excommunication, or as we Protestants like to call it, “disfellowshipping.” Disfellowship somehow sounds more nice than excommunication and definitely sounds better than, “We’re gonna kick you out of the church.”

You don’t hear much about excommunication these days. I’m not sure it really works anymore. Apparently, in regards to the ‘I Cor. 5 episode’ it worked because if you continue to read on into II Cor. it appears this nasty fellow was eventually admitted back into the church.

I think the difference between then and now is that today if you kick…disfellowship someone they can, and usually do, just leave your church and begin attending someone else’s church. There were fewer local churches to choose from at Corinth in the first century. In addition to that, you had this ‘Apostle’ by the name of Paul overseeing this region with, apparently, the power to “…deliver such a one over to satan for the destruction of his flesh.” Yikes!

Today if you ex…disfellowship someone they will do one of four things.

1. Admit their guilt, apologize, and stay put.

2. Hire a lawyer and sue you for defamation of character. Don’t laugh, this happens.

3. Quit going to your church or anyone else’s church for that matter.

4. Leave your church and slip into some other church.

So, I have a better idea, and this is based on the assumption that disfellowshipping doesn’t work. Two ideas that will be costly but would work.

Idea #1

Ellen has worked for three teaching institutions: San Jose State University, Southern Oregon University, and Rogue Community College. Each time before they hired her they ran a background check to see if there was any criminal activity in her past for which she had been charged.

What if there was a national or regional “Church background List?” (Ellen said, “Or a church terrorist data base.”) Ellen is much more cynical than I am.

So let’s imagine this scenario.

Bob and Judy visit your church. They mention that they have been looking for a new church. You run your background check on them. The next Sunday after the service…

“Hey Bob and Judy, could I talk to you for a minute?”

“Sure pastor.”

“We’re really excited about you coming here, but…” Judy interrupts.

“Oh pastor we are also. The worship is so wonderful and your teaching…you really teach the meat instead of the milk like at our last church.”

“Yeah, well that’s what I wanted to talk to you about. You see I ran a ‘church background check’ on you and discovered three counts of gossip, and one count of slander in your most recent church. I’m afraid we can’t let you in until you take care of this.”

Idea #2

You know those metal detectors in airports? What if someone invented something like that to spot trouble-makers who go from one church to the other? Here’s how it would work.

First…invent the technology. (Win Tony Stark to Jesus and get him to attend your church.)

Next, train your greeters to direct your regular church members one way but church-shoppers another way, i.e. through the detector. If an alarm goes off, it looks like this.

“Sir, could you please step to the side?”

You wand them. (Another technology yet to be developed but once you win Tony Stark this will be no problem.) That weird buzzing sound goes off.

“I’m going to have to ask you to empty the content of your pockets (or purse) into this basket.”

Now if they are carrying with them forbidden items such as:

Rebellion towards authority




Unresolved conflict

General and persistent negativity, your greeters say…

“I’m sorry sir. These items are not allowed. You’ll need to either leave them behind or you can’t get on board.”

Give it some thought. Meanwhile I’m going to look for some investors who like my ideas and see if we can’t market this thing.






Lies We’ve Been Told But Have Bought Anyway.

1. The back door can be closed.

2. Teaching on stewardship results in increased giving.

3. If you work really hard you can grow your church.

4. Great preaching and great music will bring great growth.

5. People with a background in business are the best people to have on your church board.

6. “missional” is new.

7. Traditional church models are automatically ineffective.

8. Mission statements are really important.

9. Pastors of larger churches must know something pastors of smaller churches don’t.

10. Formal church memberships result in greater commitment.

11. If you have a clear and well-articulated vision your church will grow.

12. Outreach events result in church growth.

13. The “attractional model” isn’t working anymore.

14. In order for an older pastor to attract a younger crowd he need to look and     sound cool.

15. If a church isn’t growing there must, must be something wrong.

16. Every once in a while it’s good for a pastor to insert a moderate curse word into his sermons. This will communicate that he is cool and contemporary, and radical.

17. Parishioners will follow the example of their pastor.

18. All healthy things grow and reproduce.


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Pastors Never Lie


“Little white lies.” I’ve noticed I’ve said a few of them lately. Little white lies are in contrast to “big black lies.” They are lies, but not big ones.

The logic behind this is that the bigger the lie the more wrong it is, the smaller the lie the less wrong. One is black, the other white. But at what point does the white turn to off-white, then to gray, then to dark-gray?

That’s the danger of little white lies, they tend to lead us towards the black rather than away. I suppose that little white lies are occasionally necessary, the lesser of two evils, at least I’d like to believe that. The Bible has a lot to say about liars but nothing about little white liars.

Jokingly when speaking to my fellow pastors I’ve been known to say, “Pastors don’t lie they just exaggerate.” Have you ever noticed that when we report our Sunday morning attendance we always round the number up rather than down? We tell each other “things are going really good” when really, we’re exaggerating.

Exaggeration, a little bit of truth but inflated, magnified, exaggerated. Could this be, God forbid, a form of “little white lies?” Naw, probably not.