This is an excerpt from my latest book: Naked Man Running: 100 IDEAS that work in a small church. More excerpts coming! Get all 100 ideas here.

Catagory: Outreach, Chapter 75: How to motivate your people to share their faith

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A church, left to itself, will not naturally gravitate towards being outward focused. A church, left to itself, naturally gravitates towards being inward focused. It’s the job of the pastor not to let the church be left to itself. This can be the hardest job a pastor has. If the pastor values outreach and personal evangelism they will need to pound this value into the hearts and minds of their people.

Here are six steps to motivate your people to share their faith.

Model. The pastor has to model this value. It’s great when the pastor has stories to tell of his or her personal experiences in sharing their faith with others. The problem with this is that parishioners expect the pastor to be sharing their faith (that’s their job), so testimonies like this have less of an effect than we would hope for.

Define. A while ago George Barna did a study and discovered that an alarmingly high percentage of churchgoers were unable to define the ‘Gospel.’ Don’t assume your people know what you mean when you use words like: outreach, evangelism, sharing your faith, etc.

Demystify. I believe we need to help people see how evangelism can happen naturally throughout their week. Often when people think of evangelism they think of an ‘Evangelist,’ or walking up to a complete stranger and telling them about Jesus, or knocking on a stranger’s door. Being ‘light and salt’ should be a lifestyle rather than an event.

Equip. Train your people how to explain the gospel in one to three minutes. Give your people ideas on how to recognize opportunities that present themselves to share their faith. Give them examples of how to initiate a conversation about spiritual things.

Celebrate. As your people begin to step out and share, they will have stories to tell. Give them an opportunity to share these stories on Sunday morning.

Celebrate any opportunity someone had to represent Jesus to someone. Remember the principle: Celebrate what you want to reproduce.

Repeat. This process never ends. You keep doing it and doing it and doing it because a church left to itself naturally gravitates away from, rather than towards, an outward focus.

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99 more ideas are waiting for you here.

This is an excerpt from my latest book: Naked Man Running: 100 IDEAS that work in a small church. More excerpts coming! Get all 100 ideas here.

Catagory: Church Health, Chapter 68: How to measure church health

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I have to admit that there does seem to be more talk these days about church health along with church growth. However, sometimes church health is secretly the focus one employs to achieve what they are really after…Church growth. The easy way to spot this is if you hear the person promoting church health make some comment like, “Church health will lead to church growth. A healthy church will be a growing church.” Sometimes this is true, but not always. You can have a healthy church that is not growing, and you can have a growing church that is not healthy. Numbers are not necessarily an indication of health or lack thereof. How then can we measure church health?

Percentages.

A church is healthy if there is a growing percentage of its members involved in things like small groups, serving in ministries, personal evangelism, personal devotions, tithing, etc. For example, a church with an attendance of 100 that has 35% of its members participating in outreach activities would be healthier (at least in the area of outreach) than a church of 1000 that only has 20% involvement. A church of 200 with 40% involvement in small groups and a church of 3000 with 40% involvement would be equally healthy in the area of small groups.

The Pareto Principle

The Pareto principle (also known as the 80-20 rule, or the law of the vital few and the principle of factor sparseness) states that, for many phenomena, 80% of the consequences stem from 20% of the causes. Business management thinker Joseph M. Juran suggested the principle and named it after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who observed that 80% of income in Italy went to 20% of the population. It is a common rule of thumb in business; e.g., 80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients.

If the Pareto principle is true in business, it is certainly true in most churches. Doesn’t it seem like 80% of your giving comes from 20% of your people? Don’t 20% of your people do 80% of the work? Therefore, 20% involvement in personal devotions would be normal (not necessarily good, but normal) and anything above that is movement up the church health scale.

Leadership Team Project:

Want an interesting and helpful activity for you and your leaders? At your next leadership team meeting:

 

  1. Draw up a list of things you would hope your members would participate in, things that you think are healthy for Christians, i.e., small groups, serving in ministries, etc.

 

  1. Figure out what percentage of your adult members are participating in each of the areas you identified.

 

  1. Determine a way to track these percentages so that six months from now you can see if the percentages have grown, remained the same, or declined.

 

  1. Score each area based on the Pareto principle. Below 20% is below normal. 20% is normal. Above 20% is better than normal. The higher the percentage, the higher degree of health.

Sometimes smaller churches are healthier than they realize. We must discover ways to determine health, ways other than merely looking at attendance. ‘Percentages’ is an objective and accurate way to measure the health of your church.

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99 more ideas are waiting for you here.

 

This is an excerpt from my latest book: Naked Man Running: 100 IDEAS that work in a small church. More excerpts coming! Get all 100 ideas here.

Catagory: Church Health, Chapter 64: How to have an effective small church

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Smaller churches lack the resources of larger churches. This does not mean they will not be able to provide meaningful ministry to their members and community, but it does mean they will have to be more selective in what they offer.

In 1948 the first In-N-Out Burger was founded by Harry and Esther Snyder in Baldwin Park, California. Harry’s idea of a drive-thru hamburger stand where customers could order through a two-way speaker box was unique. In that era, it was common to see car hops serving those who wanted to order food from their car. Harry’s idea caught on, and California’s first drive-thru hamburger stand was born.

The Snyder’s business philosophy was simple: “Give customers the freshest, highest quality foods you can buy and provide them with friendly service in a sparkling clean environment.” These principles have worked so well over the years that they are still the company’s fundamental philosophy.

In-N-Out Burger has three items on their menus: burgers, fries, and drinks. There are no salads, no burritos, no chicken sandwiches. Think of the huge variety most other fast food chains offer. You would think In-N-Out made a mistake in limiting what they offer, but they continue to be one of the most popular food chains in California, Nevada, and Arizona.

I think smaller churches need to follow the example of In-N-Out…do a few things well and, “Give customers the freshest, highest quality foods you can buy and provide them with friendly service in a sparkling clean environment.”

What do you have the resources to do? By adding more ministries prematurely are you running the risk of providing a poor product, and equally as bad, burned out workers? It would be better to do a few things well than a bunch of things half-baked that wear your volunteers out.

If you can’t do multimedia well, don’t do multi-media.

If you don’t have the human resources to do a full-on children’s ministry program, don’t do one.

If there are no resources and interest for doing small groups, let it go and wait until the time is right.

You get the point.

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99 more ideas are waiting for you here.

This is an excerpt from my latest book: Naked Man Running: 100 IDEAS that work in a small church. More excerpts coming! Get all 100 ideas here.

Catagory: Pastor’s Personal Life, Chapter 54: How to have realistic vs. unrealistic expectations

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You’ve heard it before, “Set the bar high. People will rise to the level of your expectations.” Or, “Expect great things from God.”

To be honest with you, and please don’t burn me at the stake for heresy, I’m not sure such statements are always true.

One reason why we experience frustration and disappointment in the ministry is due to unrealistic expectations. You can have unrealistic expectations for your people, and you can have unrealistic expectations for God. Let’s start with God.

An unrealistic expectation for God is when we expect God to do something that He hasn’t clearly promised to do. Now, granted, Christians will differ on what God has promised in the Bible and what He hasn’t. Based on your theology, or hermeneutics, or denomination, you might think one thing is a promise to expect God to fulfill, while another pastor might think differently. But what I’m referring to are the many voices (usually pastors of large churches) that tell us things like…

God wants your church to grow.

God wants to use you to reach your city for Jesus.

If you want to grow your church, so you need to focus on _____ or _____ or_____.

God wants to do great things in your ministry and through your church.

I kind of believe those statements, but the problem is that such statements revolve around formulas and numbers. Formulas don’t always work. Numbers don’t always indicate church health.

There are more ways for a church to grow than merely by numbers. A church might grow in numbers but very, very slowly. I haven’t heard of a church that has successfully “reached its city for Jesus.” Why is it that “great things” are seldom “small things?” If formulas work, then why are there so many churches that have implemented the formulas and still are not experiencing numerical growth?

What are you believing God for? What are you expecting Him to do for you? What are you basing that on? If you are convinced that your expectations are based on the scriptures then fine, hold on to those promises. But if not, rethink your expectations.

And what about the expectations we have for our people?

If you expect your people to be as ‘into it’ as you are, then you are setting yourself up for disappointment. If by raising the bar of commitment, you have seen your people leap up and over that bar like Superwoman (or man), then good for you, congratulations, you’ve accomplished something most pastors never experience. I’m not exactly suggesting that we lower our expectations…but maybe I am.

Maybe it’s more about having realistic expectations than unrealistic ones. And to be honest with you, some of the pastors I interact with have unrealistic expectations, and that is why they are so discouraged, frustrated, and lack peace and joy in the ministry. In regards to goals, I have a saying, “Set the bar so low that you can’t help but step over it.”

Don’t stop praying and planning to reach new people for Jesus. Ask God to do great things with your church, just be careful how you define ‘great.’ Be content without becoming complacent. If you want to have more peace, discover those unrealistic expectations you have with God and your people, and adjust them accordingly.

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99 more ideas are waiting for you here.

This is an excerpt from my latest book: Naked Man Running: 100 IDEAS that work in a small church. More excerpts coming! Get all 100 ideas here.

Catagory: Pastor’s Personal Life, Chapter 36: How to see your blind spots

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A while ago I gave up the fight and made an appointment to see an optometrist. As much as I hated to admit it, it was time for me to get some real glasses instead of those cheap reading glasses I had relied on for the past few years.

I found the whole experience interesting. The doctor checked my vision far and near. He checked out my peripheral vision and the general health of my eye. And then he checked me for blind spots, which, to my surprise, he found. One tiny blind spot in each eye. He assured me that this was normal and almost all people have these tiny blind spots. They are just so small that you never notice them unless you’re an optometrist. I would never have known that I had these blind spots unless my doctor had told me. But then again, that’s the nature of blind spots; you don’t see them.

We all have blind spots. Blind spots, left undetected, can be one explanation for relationship-breakdown and ineffectiveness in some areas of our ministries. It’s essential that we become aware of any blind spots we might have.

One of the most important, gutsy, and helpful questions a pastor can ask someone is, “What blind spots do I have?” Now you don’t want to ask this question of just anyone. But who do you know and trust? Do you know someone that loves you enough to be honest with you? I dare you to sit that person down and ask them, “In your opinion, what blind spots do you think I have?” Or, a similar question that works very well with a leadership team is, “What do you see that I don’t see?”

The answers you get may be a bit hard to hear, but they will be worth it. Never underestimate the likelihood of personal blind spots, and for those blind spots to sabotage your relationships and ministry.

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99 more ideas are waiting for you here.

This is an excerpt from my latest book: Naked Man Running: 100 IDEAS that work in a small church. More excerpts coming! Get all 100 ideas here.

Catagory: Pastoral Skills, Chapter 8: How to make great decisions in five easy steps

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Pastors are always making decisions. Some decisions are minor, “Should we offer donuts or bagels or both on Sunday mornings?” Some decisions are major, “Should I ask Bob to become a board member?” Whether the issue is big or small, minor or major, pastors are faced with decisions. Learning how to make great decisions is a skill. I’ve discovered five essentials for making great decisions.

 

  1. Great decisions are preceded by great thinking. Leadership guru John Maxwell believes that the hardest thing to get people to do is, “…to think, and to do things in order of importance.” My experience in working with leaders would cause me to agree. Thinking must precede decisions.

 

  1. Thinking needs to be thought of as a spiritual discipline. For me, thinking is not simply some mental exercise, but a spiritual exercise. When we sit down to think, we need to invite the Holy Spirit to come and help us think.

 

  1. Time must be set apart for thinking. Usually, we do our thinking on the run or in the midst of distraction. This is not an entirely useless way to think, but it will not result in the best thinking. We need to set apart specific time for the sole purpose of thinking. Think-time should be scheduled into our week and show up in our calendar like any other appointment.

 

  1. We must make sure we are thinking about what we should be thinking about. This is where the Holy Spirit comes in. We set apart thinking time, but we don’t rush into it. We pause, we wait, we pray, “Holy Spirit, I think I know what I need to think about, but I wait upon You. Show me what I need to be thinking about.” This cautious and reflective approach will often lead us into areas of thinking we might not have anticipated.

 

  1. When thinking, be begin by asking the right questions, rather than looking for the right answers. Questions always result in answers. Great questions get great answers. No questions get no answers. For example, if I am faced with the decision whether or not to ask Bob to become a board member. I need to think through questions such as:

 

1) What am I looking for in a board member?

2) How did I come up with these criteria?

3) Why do I feel Bob is a good fit?

 

These are great questions that will result in a great decision.

Let me challenge you to write into your calendar think-time. Find a place relatively free from distraction. Bring along a yellow-pad or whatever you use to jot down notes and ideas. Sit down and pray; invite the Holy Spirit to invade your thinking. Ask questions; write down the answers that come to you.

If you follow these five simple essentials, you’ll find yourself making great decisions.

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99 more ideas are waiting for you here.

This is an excerpt from my latest book: Naked Man Running: 100 IDEAS that work in a small church. More excerpts coming! Get all 100 ideas here.

Catagory: Pastoral Skills, Chapter 5: How to increase ‘Delegation-Success’ by 70%

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For most pastors, the idea of delegation is not new. We’ve all heard sermons about Jethro, Moses’ father in law, who advised Moses to release others to help him bear the load of leading God’s people.

It’s essential for the busy pastor to not only delegate, but also delegate well. You don’t want the task you’ve delegated to be handed back to you later.

Here are seventeen questions to ask before you delegate that will increase ‘Delegation-Success’ by 70%.

1.Have I adequately prayed and asked the Holy Spirit to lead me to the right person?

  1. What type of skills, giftings, and passions am I looking for in the person I choose?
  2. Who can do what I do at least 70% as well as me?
  3. Have I sought a second opinion from someone about delegating this task to this person?
  4. When will I set up a meeting to attempt to recruit this person?
  5. What information will I need to bring with me for my meeting once it’s scheduled?
  6. Who will be affected by this person’s new task?
  7. Will any of those who will be affected need to be informed ahead of time?
  8. What training will be needed for this person to succeed?
  9. What time commitment will need to be made to get them ready?
  10. What resources will they need to carry out their responsibilities?
  11. Have I communicated to them that this will be on a trial basis with a review after an agreed upon period of time? (If it’s not working for them, or for you, then they can get out gracefully.)
  12. Have I built an off-ramp? An off-ramp provides a way out. (see question 12)

Side Note: We need to provide training as to how one resigns from a ministry responsibly.

  1. How much time will I give this person to get back to me with an answer?
  2. Do I have a second choice in case this person decides against taking on this task?
  3. If the person says yes, how much time will this free up for me?
  4. Do I have a prioritized list of remaining action steps I will need to take?

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99 more ideas are waiting for you here.

 

This is an excerpt from my latest book: Naked Man Running: 100 IDEAS that work in a small church. More excerpts coming! Get all 100 ideas here.

Catagory: Pastoral Skills, Chapter 2: How to be more productive and move your people in the right direction

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Pastoring sometimes feels like being on a treadmill, you’re exerting a lot of energy, but you’re not going anywhere.

Just because you’re busy does not mean that you are productive. The trick is not to work harder, but smarter. In fact, the smarter you work, the less number of hours you need to be productive. It is possible to be a better pastor in less time.

To be more productive and ensure you’re moving your church in the right direction, you need to focus on ‘The Three P’s.’

Product: Your product is people. But not just any people, you’re trying to produce followers of Jesus. Few pastors would argue with this. However, if you get a group of pastors together and ask them what a ‘follower of Jesus’ looks like, you will get different answers. That’s okay. What’s not okay is having some vague idea of what it looks like to be a follower of Jesus.

I suggest you draw up a list, don’t make it too long or it will end up being unattainable, of what practices, attitudes, and focus, a follower of Jesus should have. Is it clear to you what your product is?

Preaching: Too many pastors preach without purpose. There is often no rhyme or reason to the things they decide to teach on. Whatever you are trying to produce needs to be reflected in your preaching. You preach on ‘this’ to produce ‘that.’ Are you preaching with a purpose?

Programming: Just as there needs to be a purpose to our preaching, there also needs to be a purpose to our programming. We do ‘this’ because we are trying to produce ‘that.’ Ministries or programs in your church that do not reflect or produce your ‘that,’ need to be evaluated and sometimes eliminated.

Is there anything your church does that is not producing your ‘that’?

Do you know what your product is?

Are you preaching with a purpose?

Do your programs help produce the product you want?

 

This might be a great topic for discussion at your next leadership team meeting.

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99 more ideas are waiting for you here.

 

 

A pastor wrote:

“What are good ways to accomplish “learning new skills on the job? I formed a team of lay people who were tasked with visioning a new avenue of ministry for our congregation, which would (and has) included a hiring process. None of us had any prior experience on this front and so we’ve spent a great deal of time “muddling through.” Everyone has been okay with this, but I personally have found it frustrating at times.”

Reinventing the wheel takes a lot of time. It’s much easier to go to the store and buy a wheel, slap it on whatever it is you’re trying to move, and get moving!

If I were coaching this pastor I would ask them:

Who do you know that has already done what you’re trying to do?

Solomon told us that there is nothing new under the sun. How true. The longer I coach pastors and church leaders, the more I see that that there is seldom a challenge the church faces that somebody has not already faced it, navigated it, and come out the other side.

Identify one or two such people and either buy them lunch or a cup of coffee. If they live out of town arrange a phone call. Connect with them and describe what is it you’re trying to work through. Ask them questions like:

1. What did you do right?
2. What did you do wrong?
3. What would you do differently?
4. How was your situation different than ours?
5. What advice would you give me?

Take the result of this meeting back to your team and develop a new plan based on experience, not guess work.

Finally, it is situations just like this where it is good to bring in a coach or church consultant. Check out: 20 Ways I Can Help Your Church.

 

A pastor wrote:

How do you balance pastoring the current flock and evangelizing in your community? How do you recruit people in your church to help with both?

Certainly, no one would argue that it is the pastor’s job to pastor, but what we can’t agree upon is whether or not it is also the pastor’s job to evangelize in the community. In other words, is evangelism inherently embedded in the call to pastor. Some pastors would say yes and some no.

If I were coaching the pastor who asked these great questions I would begin by asking:

  1. What does ‘evangelizing in your community’ look like to you?
  2. Where did you get the idea that this is part of your call?
  3. On a scale of one to 10 (one = lowest), how gifted are you as an Evangelist?
  4. On a scale of one to 10 (one = lowest), how passionate are you about evangelizing in your community?

I’ve spoken to many pastors who are laboring under an expectation that it is their job to reach new people and grow their church. Some actually have this written into the job description they agreed to when they accepted the call to their current church.

Let me briefly comment on each of these questions one at a time.

  1. How do you balance pastoring the current flock and evangelizing in your community?

I don’t think this is a problem unless your gift-mix includes Evangelist. Some pastors have this mix…most, in my experience, don’t. Now…every believer (pastors included) has a responsibility to know how to share their faith and to do so when an opportunity presents itself. If my understanding of Eph. 4: 11,12 is correct, the pastor’s job is to train and equip the believers to do the work of the ministry. This probably would include how to share their faith, which I will comment on with the second question.

If, however, your gift-mix includes Evangelist, you will want to make room in your week, or month to exercise that gifting. This may or may not look like you spending time in the community getting to know people, etc. but it must look like something. Perhaps a starting point would be to set apart 10% to 15% of your time to this.

2. How do you recruit people in your church to help with both?

This is the hard part, isn’t it? Discover this, bottle it, sell it, and your phone will not stop ringing with people wanting you to speak at the next “How to grow your church” conference.

Once again, if I were coaching the pastor who sent me this question I would begin by asking:

  1. Are you aware of anyone in your church who has the gift of Evangelist or is passionate about people coming to know Jesus? If your answer is, “I don’t know.” then how might you find this out?
  2. On a scale of one to ten (ten being high), how certain are you that this is a matter of re-educating or re-envisioning your congregation about evangelism, personal evangelism, church-growth, who’s job is it to reach new people, etc.?
  3. If it is, where or how might you begin the re-educating process?

If I were coaching this pastor I would suggest:

  1. Saturate this in prayer asking the Father to stir up the people for reaching the lost.
  2. Gather together those who are passionate about this, even if only a few. Pray together, dream together, brainstorm together on how to reach new people.
  3. Begin a process of re-education.
  4. Be patient.
  5. Be willing to start small.

 

 

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