Category Archives: Leadership

Interim No. 7 Coming to a Close

Stanford BC FB BannerInterim pastorate no. 7 is coming to a close.  Yesterday, the members of Stanford Baptist Church in Stanford, KY (Lincoln Co.) overwhelmingly affirmed Bro. Nick Manzie to be their new senior pastor.  I am thrilled for Nick and the church.

This journey has been nearly three years in the making.  I was their third interim pastor in as many years.  I knew from the moment I met Bro. Nick that this was going to be a great fit.  He is perfect for this church.  God has shown Himself to be completely faithful to unite the right shepherd with the right flock.

With this being the seventh interim/transitional pastorate in seven years, I believe I am starting to get a small handle on this type of ministry.  I would never admit to “knowing it all” because every church and every situation are uniquely different, but there are some strategic principles that seem to be essential in every place.

This experience, however, offered me some new lessons that I have needed to add to my ministry toolbelt.  Here are a few of those lessons.

1.  How things start are not going to be how things end.  This particular interim began a bit rocky.  I entered into a church struggling with tension and the first few weeks were not the best.  In the minds of some within the church, I was just another preacher they had thrown in the pulpit to manage while the church was searching.  And frankly, most of the members were quite weary of the process already.  So by extension, I was held responsible.

Thank God the end has been nothing like the beginning.  Around the third month, the ice began to melt and people truly began to let me know them and their lives.  There was a warming of heart and a commonality that formed.  I was here to help, not harm.  I was here to walk alongside, not push my agenda on anyone.

We have come to the end of this journey with much love, appreciation, grace, kindness, and genuine affection for one another.

2.  Keep walking the aisles.  Keep shaking hands.  Keep asking “How’s your week?”  Dr. Ken Hemphill, former president of Southwestern Bapt. Theological Seminary, called the 15 minutes before a worship service began “the most important time in ministry.”  This has been so true for me.

Walking up and down the aisles, meeting people in the pews, shaking hands, asking about their week, making an attempt to enter into their personal space has been critical for my ministry success.  Dr. Hemphill would go onto say, “Anyone can get up in the pulpit and preach; it takes personal time to be a shepherd.”   

In interim ministry, your time on-site can be limited.  You are not going to be the permanent pastor, and everyone knows it.  A relational distance can form, and remain, throughout the duration of the transition.  The only way to breach that distance is to meet people where they are.  To walk the room and ask people to let you into their lives.

3.  Lastly, coach, cheer, and champion the Pastor Search Team till the very end.  There have been interims where the Pastor Search Team did not want anything to do with me; others have been very open to the kind of help I can provide.  The reality is that their job is very hard in this day and age.  This work takes time and the ability to understand very complex scenarios.  Making all the pieces fit together is not easy.

The Pastor Search Team need the transitional pastor to coach them, yet do so in a way where the team members still function independently.  At the end of the day, the decision must be theirs and theirs alone.  Your task is to answer questions, give input when asked, and be their greatest cheerleader before the people.

You have something the PST doesn’t: opportunities to communicate.  You have the pulpit, the newsletter, bulletin, website, social media, email, blog, etc.  Your task as the interim is to champion their work and let the congregation know you support them in everything.

I have gained three new lessons that I am sure will enhance my future in this type of itinerant ministry.  My last Sunday at Stanford BC will be February 15.

The next stop has yet to be determined.  God sends – I go.

Unlike Any Other

one sacredThere are many convictions that make me a Southern Baptist by choice, not by tradition.  I firmly believe in believer’s baptism by immersion as practiced by Jesus himself.  I firmly believe in the full inspiration of the Bible as God’s authoritative, inerrant Word.  I firmly believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the only means of salvation.  For there is no other name under heaven by which men are saved (Acts 4:12).  These convictions, among others, align me perfectly with my fellow Southern Baptist tribe.

Another HUGE conviction I have is that the Gospel of Jesus must go to all nations, to every people group, tribe and tongue.  That we must pray for, support, and go as missionaries, spreading  the Gospel in our Jerusalem, our Judea, our Samaria and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).  The missionary calling is for every believer.  No one is exempt.

For those who have received the missionary call and are burdened by God to live and serve among another people group, they have my greatest respect.  They are my heroes.

They are one of the main reasons I give my tithes and offerings to a Southern Baptist church which supports ministry in my city and state, and most importantly around the world through the Cooperative Program.

There is no other missionary sending agency on the planet that does domestic and international missions like Southern Baptists.  We not only affirm and appoint over 10,000 missionaries, but we send them out with a full salary and ministry funds to do the work.

Every other missionary sending agency requires their missionaries to raise their own support and constantly make requests of their supporters back home.  While I believe God has used this method greatly, I personally feel my tribe’s strategy is more focused and purposeful.  It lets the missionary be a missionary and not focus so much on being a fundraiser.

We complete this strategy through giving to the Cooperative Program and through special missions offerings, namely the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering. For these offerings, every single penny goes straight to the mission field.  Nothing is held back for administrative costs.

This is an investment that has an eternal impact seeing men and women, boys and girls from all corners of the world coming to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.   That is an investment unlike any other.

CUTheology Students Host Worship and Tech Workshop

mosaic

Workshop Theme: “Making the Pieces Fit Together”

Nine students and several faculty and staff from @CUTheology and the CU School of Music are hosting a Worship & Technology Workshop, Thursday, November 20, 2014 from 6:30-8:00 pm in the home of the School of Theology, Druien Hall.

Check out the flyer.  Registration is still available.

Worship Tech Workshop Flyer

WORKSHOP OPTIONS

Stage Craft & Set Design – Druien Hall 6
Learn how to build easy and cost-affective staging based on a sermon series or season of ministry.  See examples of materials and ways to utilize lighting and fabric for maximum effectiveness.  Presented by Fred Hoagland.

Worship Presentation Software & Design – Druien Hall 4
Take a quick tour of ProPresenter and Media Shout, the two industry standards for worship presentation.  Discuss how color, font and image impacts what is in the worshippers heart.   Presented by Clayton Brooks & Drew O’Neal

Church Web Design & Podcasting – Druien Hall 2
What can you do to improve your church’s website?  Images, logos, announcements, branding, and media.  This session will help make your website workable and useable for your church’s specific needs.  Presented by Chris Wright & Josh McCoin

Print Publishing – Druien Hall 3
Bulletins. Bulletins.  What can you do with that all-important print piece that takes time and energy to make every week.  This session will show you how to make the bulletin more attractive and appealing for readers.  Presented by Emma Calvert & Mary Kate Young

Social Media Integration – Druien Hall 4
In our world, a church must be present on social media.  This session will explain how to integrate your vision, mission, purpose, and ministry on Facebook, Twitter, and Instragram in a way that honors Christ.  Presented by Jon Kattus & Devan Bishop

Sound & Lighting Design  – Ransdell Chapel
The sound system does not have to be a monster in the corner or the bully in the booth.  Learn from a professional sound technician how to make your sanctuary sound system sing.  Presented by Robert Bender

 

 

5 Things To Do BEFORE You Send Out Your Ministry Resume

My primary work and ministry is with young adults who are about to embark on vocational ministry for the first time.  They have sensed the call of God on their lives and are studying to prepare themselves for real-life ministry in churches and ministry organizations.

For that reason, I get lots of questions about the creation of a ministry resume and how the whole placement process works.

I have written a couple pieces on how to create and improve the standard ministry resume, but I also wanted to add another component that is often overlooked.

What should you do before you send that ministry resume out?  Before you hit send on that email or drop the resume off in the mail, what should you be thinking about and making sure is in proper order.  So here are…

5 Things to Do BEFORE You Send Out Your Ministry Resume

1.  Notify all of your references.   You probably asked several key mentors in your life to serve as one of your references.  You’ve gathered their contact information, titles, current place of service, etc.  Now that the ministry resume is put together and ready to go, send your references a finalized copy and notify them that you are officially on the search.  I also suggest that you notify them if and when you receive a position, thanking them for whatever help they provided and informing them that the search is done.

clean12.  Clean up every aspect of your social media life.  Take down any inappropriate pictures, delete tweets, remove comments that your friends have made on a pic, toss out any controversial status updates, inflammatory remarks about a denomination,  a particular pastor, an author, or a church.  Even Cosmo magazine supports this spring cleaning approach to your social media.

It might sound extreme, as if you are removing a portion of yourself from your online existence, but your digital presence presence is highly evaluated in determining whether you get a first call or not.  Make it G-rated all around.  The more sanitized and clean, the better.

3.  Contact your home church pastor or youth minister.   Your home church leaders are going to be huge advocates for you and the ministry God has called you to.  They will probably have more experience seeing your spiritual gifts and talents on display in the service of the King.  Send them a final ministry resume and share with them what you sense God is calling you to do.  You may find that they are your greatest asset in being placed.

 It’s often not what you know, but who knows you.

4.  See if you know anyone on the inside of that particular ministry.  Think long and hard about who leads this ministry, who attends this church, who already serves on that team, and see if you can work through an inside connection rather than sending a cold email.

Again, the internal relationships and networks are far more effective in building trust and establishing a connection than flatly sending a standard email with resume and cover letter attached.  Do some investigative work.  You might be surprise how small the ministry world really is.

5.  Lastly, study the website thoroughly.  Read every page of content.  Read every document uploaded.  Read every blog post.  Like them on Facebook and be a follower on Twitter.  Look at previous newsletters, organizational documents, anything that will tell you what this ministry is all about.

You need to be more than casually informed about their vision and mission, you need to be able to articulate if that vision coincides with your own.  This is what captures attention and moves the process along.

Overall, you might believe this type of intentionality and diligence removes the hand of God or lessens the work of the Holy Spirit in placing His servants in His kingdom’s work.  I would disagree.  I believe taking these steps simply makes you more involved in the process and gives God more room to work in you and in the ministry you are seeking to find.

Blessings on your journey and may God use you greatly for His great name.

 

Grind It Till You Find It

This was not my car.  My car was not nearly this nice. But the same make and model.

This was not my car. My car was not nearly this nice. But the same make and model.

My first car was a black, 2-door, 5-speed 1987 Renault Alliance.  A vintage custom-built French-made automovile…complete with accompanying beret (not really). It was basically a cardboard box on four wheels, but I loved it with all my heart.

The only problem was that the car was a manual and I didn’t know how to drive a straight shift.

So my father set about teaching me how to drive a stick.  I learned a wonderful phrase in those lessons that still rings true today:

“Grind It Till You Find It.”

What he meant was as I was trying to change gears between 2nd and 3rd and couldn’t seem to find the right spot, I needed to grind the transmission until I found the gear.  It would make the car rev up and sound like it was screeching in agony.

In ministry, and particularly in church-based ministry, there are seasons when you have to grind it until you find it.  You get stuck between gears and the ministry seems to be screeching in agony.  Transitioning between one speed to the next can cause everyone to get all out of sorts.  But don’t fret.  Keep the clutch pressed down and find that gear.  Its out there, it might be elusive at the moment, but it is out there.

(…warning honesty alert…)  I am currently serving a church as transitional pastor where we, together, have had to grind it until we found it.

The beginning of our time together was not the best.  It was not terrible, but definitely not smooth sailing.  It was a tough transition on them and a tough transition on me.  There were a few Sundays and business meetings where things were not easy and the church was definitely screeching in agony.

But we had to grind through it.  We had to try and find our gear together, so we could move forward and accelerate smoothly. To the glory of God, over the past three months we have finally found that rhythm.  We found the next gear.

So be encouraged if you are leading a ministry and its seems like a grind.  Be faithful.  Be of good courage.  Be consistent in the Lord and find strength through His Spirit.  Sometimes you just have to grind it until you find it.

Have hope, the gear will come.  It will come and the ministry will smooth out.  Until it is time to shift again.

Building Momentum in Ministry

momentum 2

In the world of business leadership, there is much effort given to building and maintaining momentum.  Momentum is the underlying force that creates stronger morale among employees and customers and makes everyone involved feel excitement and anticipation.

In business, marketers try to create momentum around a new product or promotion.  CEOs and presidents try to create momentum around a new vision or campaign.  Management tries to create momentum around a new person, new assignment, or new department being added.

In the world of ministry leadership, particularly church-based leadership, the same effort is given to building and maintaining organizational and organic momentum.

Organizational momentum is when the church starts gaining small victories.  Small wins, that individually are not overly significant, but collectively propel a sense of “we are going somewhere” and “something good is finally happening around here.”

Organic momentum is when you actually start seeing spiritual growth in people, particularly those you are investing deeply in, and visible growth in a variety of metrics (e.g., giving, worship attendance, baptisms, small groups started, outreach efforts, mission trips, etc.)

The key for gaining organizational and organic momentum is seeing it as a real goal to actively strive toward.  Most pastoral leaders want to build momentum philosophically, but it is not really something that shows up on their week-to-week radar.  They want momentum to build toward their larger vision for transformation and growth, but they are not doing anything intentional to make it happen.  And for that reason, months come and months go and really nothing is gained.

So how do you build momentum on a week-by-week basis in ministry leadership?

1.  Tell lots of success stories.  Sharing the small victories over and over publicly in worship, in printed materials, on the church website, in small groups, in staff meetings, in leadership circles, wherever, whenever, with whomever you can.  You must keep telling the success stories.  No one will care, or even notice, if you don’t.  And when you start feeling like a broken record, you are not done.  Total submersion is the goal.

2.  Recast the vision over and over.  Along with sharing small victories, you have to keep casting the vision of growth, change, renovation, renewal, and revitalization.  To be a leader, you must take people to a place they would not go by themselves.  We all know Rick Warren’s axiom that vision must be cast every 28 days.  I am starting to believe it needs to be every 7-10 days in this culture.

You don’t have to cast all parts or every aspect of the vision all the time, but momentum is built when the larger body sees how this particular piece fits in with where things are moving and going.

3.  Give other people room to excel and then praise them publicly for it.  Momentum is a shared experience.  In other words, momentum begets more momentum.  When one of your teammates does something well, shout it from the rooftops.  Give them room to succeed and then cheer lead for them.  Cheer lead especially for the ones that often get overlooked like landscaping and maintenance, senior adult groups, benevolence, children’s ministry leaders, and the fellowship committees.

4.  Capitalize on the seasons of newness in the annual calendar.  There are several times a year when momentum can be built as a natural out-flow from the calendar.   Fall is perfect because of the start of school.  January is also strong with the new year.  I personally like the 90 day push of February-March-April because it has huge exclamation point at the end – Resurrection.  If you capitalize on these seasons, you will find momentum easier to gain.

5.  Lastly, don’t be afraid to be happy about what is happening.  Let your emotions show.  We all know there is a proper place for humility and recognition that all good gifts (including momentum) come from the Lord.  But you must let your people see that you are excited.  That you are sense a building anticipation.  That you see things happening and are so thrilled to be part of a move of God.

There is nothing wrong with being joyful that you are not in a dead church going nowhere fast, but God has been so gracious to plant you in a living church that is on the move.

Momentum is a one of those fleeting things that is hard to come by and even harder to sustain.  Here today, gone tomorrow is a very suitable cliché.  But when you do build momentum organizationally and organically, I encourage you to pour gas on the fire because it might be a while before it burns this hot again.

Ministry Nay-Sayers in the Crowd

Jesus fish bread

Image from Expressions from Hallmark

The best birthday card I got this summer had a wonderful image on the front.  The image had Jesus trying to feed the 5000 but a few nay-sayers in the crowd wouldn’t have any of it.

The inside caption read “Avoid complainers and have a great birthday.”  Thanks Mrs. Sherry.  This was a perfect card for me.

We live in a world where even the miracles of Jesus, such as feeding the 5000, would be scrutinized, questioned and scorned by people because of their personal preference and desires.

In all types of ministry leadership, there are going to be people who nay-say everything you do.  They say “it costs too much,” “it won’t work,” or the dreaded, “we have never done it that way before.”

In a very real way these individuals believe their sole purpose on the planet is to hold others back.  To press their unhappiness onto the whole group.  To come across as the wise and prudent, but actually represent the grumpy and stubborn.

I have faced some of these types in my life.  But guess what, so did Jesus.

In John 5, we read that immediately after Jesus healed a lame man at the Pool of Bethesda, the ministry nay-sayers of his day began questioning his methods.  They completely overlooked that a paralyzed man who had been 38 years on his back was now walking about, and instead focused on how Jesus broke a Sabbath law.  The phrase “you can’t win from losin” comes to mind.

True ministry leadership has to rise above the nay-sayers.  True Christ-like leaders have to use the nay-saying as fuel to greater communication and vision.  You have to take their words of disapproval and use them as incentive that you are on to something good and right.  Yet if you linger in their words, you will never do anything for the Lord.  You will become stagnant, withdrawn and scared.

Maybe you have experienced ministry nay-sayers in your life.  If so, I suggest trying two things in response to them.

1.  Thank God for them.  It may seem counter-intuitive to praise God for their nay-saying, but their presence might be the assurance you need to know you are onto something God-sized.

2.  Make it a challenge.  Ask them if they will try something with you.  Ask them to agreed to whatever you are proposing for short-time period and if it works, they must be first to admit they were wrong.  But if they are right and you are wrong, you must agree to be the first to admit your failure and try something else.

With a handshake and a challenge in place, you might discover the nay-sayers will become your greatest advocate and partner in leadership.