3 Cons of Working at your Home Church

3 cons of working at your home churchBy: David Sheldon

Recently, I wrote about the 3 benefits to working at your home church. You can read the full post by going here. Today, I want to write about the 3 cons of working at your home church.

Every pastor faces numerous frustrations on a weekly basis. From conflict to disappointments, pastors see the worst in people and have to find a way to push forward. Being at your home church is no different, in fact, the frustrations may start sooner. Two cons to returning home that I have noticed are:

  1. Lack of respect

It is often said that if you go back to your home church, people will treat you like a kid. In my experience, that is true. It’s not true of the whole church, but is certainly true of some. Honestly, I do not think they mean to do it, but it is just natural for them to see me as one of the teens or just another church member. I cannot tell you how often I am referred to as “David”, rather than “Pastor David”. The words are not a big deal, I honestly don’t care if they call me “Pastor”; it’s the attitude that comes with it that frustrates me. Because my students remember me from when I was in high school and they were kids, they are more prone to backtalk or criticize. Because parents remember me from being my youth leaders, they like to tell me how to do things.

I often have to remember to take criticism humbly; to think on it long enough to learn from it, but then discard it with the evening trash. If all the church knows you as is a Pastor, it is much easier to be treated as such.

However, I do not want you to think it is all like this. There is a man in the church who encourages me every time he opens his mouth. I grew up with his sons. If anyone has a right to treat me like a kid, it’s Terry. Normally, he refers to me as “Pastor”, but occasionally, he will forget and just call me David, which is totally fine. Every time, he hangs his hand, shakes it in shame, and apologizes. I have told him numerous times that it doesn’t matter, but he continues to hold the office of pastor, even a young youth pastor, in a very high respect. It’s people like that that keep me going.

  1. Conflict of interests

Another difficulty in returning to your home church is that, if your family is still there, there will be conflict of interests. My dad is the audio/visual supervisor and has been for 30 years. He stays current on church media and technology and has done a great job keeping Freedom modern. He taught me church media when I was in seventh grade and I have loved it ever since. I know I am biased, because he is my dad, but truthfully, he is one of the most humble and helpful people I know. He is every pastor’s dream of a tech guy! He does what he is asked, he makes it look and sound good, and he only offers opinions when needed or asked for. He is a true servant.

However, several men work with him in the sound room. They are not as easy to work with and are certainly not humble about their skills. I am not able to confront them, nor to even explain what we are looking for because my dad is up there. The issue is not with him, but I do not want to cause any conflict in our family by possibly upsetting him. If there is an issue, one of the other pastors has to handle it. It just makes things a bit more difficult.

Overall, if you have the opportunity to serve at your home church, you should consider yourself blessed and valued. Understand that if you take the position, there will be unique challenges that you will face, but you will be rewarded with helping your church grow towards Jesus and reach more people.

David Sheldon is currently the student pastor at Freedom Baptist Church in Goldsboro, NC. He has a B.A. in Biblical Studies from Piedmont International University and is currently pursuing a M.A. in Biblical Studies from the same.


3 Benefits of Working at your Home Church

3 benefits of working at your home churchBy: David Sheldon

My experience in ministry is certainly much shorter than many but it is also a unique experience. I am serving as the youth pastor at Freedom Baptist Church. What makes this unique is that I grew up in this church. My family has been members here at Freedom since before I was born. I remember growing up here, being saved here, getting baptized here, and being called to ministry here. During college I served as an intern for my former youth pastor, now my senior pastor. When I first tell people that I am serving at my home church, their reaction is always one of two things. Either they immediately think that it was a terrible idea and will never possibly work or they think that it is really neat that God would call me back to my home. To be honest, I was extremely leery of taking this position. I was scared because I had heard horror stories of people who returned to their home church only to be broken and mistreated until they left or quit the ministry altogether. As I am approaching my two year anniversary of being on staff at my home church, I have learned the pros and cons of this decision. In this post, I want to share a few benefits to serving at your home church.

  1. The church’s trust

One of the hardest parts of ministry is getting adjusted when you are the new guy. Everyone else in the church only has to meet the new pastor, but the new pastor has to meet everyone else in the church. This could be hundreds of people. Furthermore, as a youth pastor, students and parents do not automatically trust you. Before they will ever listen to your sermons or hear your advice, they want to know that you are a guy that they can rely on. Building your relationship with them is a process that can take months or years to achieve.

Coming back to my home church eliminated this problem. I walked into a youth group where I already knew half of the kids. Even though we had never hung out they had seen me around and there was a natural trust. It was easy for me to relate with them because I had grown up in the same schools, had the same teachers, etc. They did not have to get used to an outsider, because I was already on the inside. Within the first few weeks of ministry, students were sharing struggles and parents were asking me to disciple and mentor their teens.

  1. The church’s history

Having grown up here, I remember Freedom in our old building with our former pastors. I remember the mistakes that rocked our church to the core and I remember the successes that catapulted us forward. Despite being the youngest and newest pastor, I have been here the longer than our lead and associate pastors. I remember Freedom in a way that they cannot.

The reason this is so important is that it brings an element to the staff that not many churches have. Most churches have a change of pastors every few years, whether it be the senior, associate, youth, children’s, or so on. In a span of ten years, it is completely possible to have an all new staff that knows nothing of what it was like just a decade ago. Being able to recall the situations that the church has faced in the past is very valuable in making decisions for the future.

  1. The church’s love

This final benefit is absolutely huge but sadly, it is not the case for all churches. I am blessed to serve at a church that loves having me here. The people love the idea that a guy who was raised here has become a pastor and is now leading their students towards Jesus. I do not say this to lift myself up but to say that I am the product of effective discipleship. Because Freedom loves me, my wife, and son we are never lacking for encouragement or support. The church has a natural trust and love for one of its own and they are very easy to get on board with your vision.

However, this is not the case for all guys who return to their home church. Many face struggle after struggle that they would not face had they gone elsewhere. If you are faced with the decision to return to your home church, I would encourage you to genuinely ask yourself the question, “will our church love having us there?” If the answer is anything but “yes”, you should probably say “no”. It would be better to go elsewhere and start fresh, than to go home and be crushed. You know your home church. You know it’s flaws and shortcomings. You know whether or not it would be a good decision.

In Part 2, we will look at several cons that I have discovered in returning home.

David Sheldon is currently the student pastor at Freedom Baptist Church in Goldsboro, NC. He has a B.A. in Biblical Studies from Piedmont International University and is currently pursuing a M.A. in Biblical Studies from the same.

How to React When You Have Been Hurt by the Ministry

How to react when you have been hurt by the ministryBy: Mark Etheridge

During my relatively short tenure in ministry, I can honestly say that it is one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever done while on this earth. God called me to ministry when I was in high school, and to be honest, I was scared to death. I never seriously considered doing something like this with my life, plus I felt totally inadequate. I know my story is not unique, based upon the testimony of others I’ve had the privilege of meeting over the years. I have to say it’s truly a gift of grace to serve Jesus, and commit our lives to something so meaningful.

Yet, just because God has called men and women into vocational ministry does not mean the road will be easy. Success is not guaranteed just because you work hard. Everyone will not like you, even if you’re trying to do the right thing. As I’m sure you already know, there are times where you will be gossiped about, misrepresented, betrayed, or perhaps even fired when you didn’t deserve to be. Wounds develop, relationships are broken, meetings are called, angry emails are sent, and before you know it, you find yourself in a lot more conflict than you’d ever imagined. But what is the best reaction to these types of situations? All of us will be hurt in ministry at some point, so here are a few things to remember for when those experiences do cross our paths.

  1. Seek to reconcile broken relationships. This is both the most visible and hurtful part of ministry pain. Especially when it’s people that you were closest to are now the ones who oppose you. Whether you were in the wrong or they were, the principle is the same: seek to reconcile the relationship. As a church leader, it’s crucial that we lead by example is this area by taking the initiative, and expressing both our faults and our desire to reconcile and move forward. I would say this is also important even if you have moved on from the ministry and may never see the people again. This is still a crucial step both for you and for them to heal, and it allows for both of you to move forward without anger or resentment.
  1. Extend forgiveness to those who hurt you. When we are hurt, the natural response of our hearts is revenge. We want people to feel the hurt they have made us feel. Usually, it’s not so clearly defined, at least it’s not that way for me. What I means is when I know I need to forgive someone, I experience waves of emotions pulling me different directions. One afternoon, I can tell a friend that I have forgiven my offender, and wish the best for them. Yet the same night I can be lying in bed, infuriated at what they did to me, as I think how I can retaliate. Forgiveness isn’t easy no matter who you are. It’s also not a one-time decision, but a process. It’s a process of continual decisions to renounce the wrongs of another culminating in a heart posture of forgiveness. Don’t hold it in, let it go, and experience the freedom.
  1. If you have to leave, do so quietly. Unfortunately, there are times when ministry conflict runs so deep that you may have to leave your current place of service. Even if you’ve tried to make things right, it appears there appears to be now answer to the problems that have ensued. In these situations, some are asked to leave, while others may even be terminated. This is a harsh reality, but it is a reality. These are heartbreaking circumstances, yet its crucial to respond appropriately and in a way that would most honor Jesus. My advice in a situation like this would be to leave quietly. If you choose to respond in a way that is vengeful or vindictive, it could cause a lot of damage for the people in your church. Some will likely side with you, while others will side against you. Even if you are right, this can quickly stir up controversy within the church body, and lead to more damage than you even hoped it would in your vengeful state. Plus, you will walk away in the coming days and only experience the regret of how you should’ve handled the situation. Sure, you were probably treated wrong, but just because you were treated wrong doesn’t give you an excuse to stop doing what is right. Thank your people for letting you serve them, let them know you will always care about them, and leave.
  1. Above all, promote Christ’s reputation, and don’t worry about your own. One of the biggest fears ministers face in these types of situations would have to be, “What about my reputation? What will people think of me? Who knows what rumors about me will get started!” With this, we feel it’s necessary to protect our own reputation from being criticized and maligned. Yet, the gospel provides both the objective truth and the subjective comfort we need not to worry about our own reputation. By this, I mean that Christ is what’s called our paraclete. This word means Jesus is our Comforter[1], but it also means that He is our Advocate[2]. Not only does Jesus provide peace during conflict, but also He pleads our case for righteousness on behalf of God Himself. The reality is that we have right standing before God, and no one can take that away! Therefore, we don’t have to consumed with worry about what others may say. Instead, we can strive promote the name of Christ through our pain, so that our painful circumstance will be a testimony to His faithfulness and grace. Think about it like this: The way you leave your church may be the last “sermon” your people ever hear from you. Will it align with all the others you preached to them? Make His name your prime concern, not your own.

I do hope and pray this will be helpful to pastors and church leaders who may be going through a hurtful ministry situation, or for those who will encounter one in the future. I have experienced hurtful ministry situations myself, and my prayer is that we will walk through them faithfully when they come our way. Know that God is concerned about the pain you that you feel, and He desires to turn your hurting into healing. Whatever you’ve experienced, God has something for you while you’re there, so don’t miss it! He’s not taking you through any of your pain in vain. He is in you, He is with you, He is working for you, and He is always faithful.

[1]Jn. 14:16, 26, 15:26, 16:7

[2]I Jn. 2:1

Mark Etheridge is currently serving as the student director of the Summit Church’s new Alamance County Campus. He is also enrolled at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in their Master of Divinity program in Christian ministry. Mark is planning to graduate with his MDIV in May of 2016. You can connect with Mark on both Twitter and Facebook.

ICYMI – November 13, 2015

ICYMIIf you are like me, there are so many good articles and posts around the internet every week that it becomes difficult to keep up with all of them. “In case you missed it” is my way of pointing out a few good reads  that are too good to overlook. This list will compile the top five posts of the week that I read.

  1. Five Essential Elements of Transformational Small Groups – Via Jonathan Howe
  2. 7 Things Every Growing Church Struggles With – Via Carey Nieuwhof
  3. One Person No Leader Can Afford to Exclude – Via Michael Hyatt
  4. Ten Diagnostics Questions For Your Marriage – Via Kevin DeYoung
  5. 7 Steps to Thinking Strategically in the Moment – Via Ron Edmondson

Did you read a good article this week? I would love to check it out. Share the link below in the comment section:

Why Grad School Is Important In Ministry

why grad school is important in ministry blog postBy: Andrew Hale

To study or not to study? Completing formal seminary training is one of the constant pressures on the priority list of pastors today. Is it worth the money, time and effort? Can’t I just study theology on my own?

I’m sure you can find many Godly, successful pastors who have never attended graduate school (such as Matt Chandler).  However, are these pastors the exception to the rule? It’s hard to know. At the very least, you have to consider the advantages of seminary training before making your final decision.

Grad School Develops Your approach to Ministry

Theological training—the first thought in most people’s mind when you mention ministry grad school. Unless you plan to be an author or professor, this aspect alone won’t be your greatest benefit in seminary training. However, one of the greatest perks to seminary training (as opposed to independent study) is the opportunity to disagree. If you’re like me, you tend to read commentaries that mostly agree with your theological stance. But seminary will force you to interact with other intelligent Christians that hold completely different theological viewpoints. (Hopefully the disagreement is over secondary and tertiary issues only, otherwise you may have chosen the wrong seminary. Stay tuned for my blog post on how to choose the best seminary/grad school for you.)

Seminary will also sharpen your critical thinking skills. You certainly won’t learn all the answers, but you’ll learn the right questions to ask. Whether online or in person, the material and social interactions will develop your filter for how you view issues in ministry. Graduate school may not be necessary to develop these skills, but you’ll definitely be taking a proactive step in the right direction by starting early in seminary.

Grad School Offers Lifelong Ministry Relationships

Mentors and peers in ministry can be hard to find. Seminary has allowed me to meet others from incredibly diverse walks of life and connect in ways we otherwise never would have. I had the benefit of studying at three different institutions (through three formats: residential, online, and weekly seminars) and each afforded me the opportunities to connect with other ministers.

Seminary on all levels and all formats will provide opportunities for you to connect with others.

Grad School Infuses Disciplines into Your Ministry Practice

Do you consider yourself an habitual procrastinator? Believe it or not—seminary is for you. Grad school will set concrete goals and deadlines that you must complete, or else it will cost you. This sort of positive reinforcement has a way of motivating even the worst procrastinator. After eleven years of formal education, I have learned how to work well under pressure, prioritize up-coming responsibilities, and multitask efficiently. These skills have all translated well into my daily ministry tasks.

Even more, seminary requires you to learn how to write well. As you become a better writer, you will become a better communicator. As a result, all of your written and verbal communication will improve through your grad school development.

Is seminary for everyone? Not necessarily. Could everyone benefit to some degree from grad school? Absolutely. Sharpening your theological understanding, developing your ministry outlook, building lifelong relationships, and becoming an effective communicator are just a few of the benefits to weigh when considering grad school. With as many benefits as you will receive in seminary, the decision to begin and complete a degree is still a major commitment. Let me know if I can help guide you through the process.

Andrew Hale currently serves as Associate Pastor of Education and Discipleship at Turning Point at Calvary in St. Augustine, FL. He earned his Doctor of Ministry focusing on church planting and revitalization through Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in May 2015. You can connect with Andrew on both Twitter and Facebook.

How To Raise Your Ceiling As A Church

how to raise your ceiling as a churchRecently, I was asked to expand my thoughts on building a team in ministry. Building a team is crucial to ministry’s success. In fact, your ministry will grow as far as your team grows. For example, if you try to do it all yourself, your ceiling is much lower than if you grow a team of leaders. Every leader you recruit doubles your capacity.

So the secret to raising your ceiling is by growing a large volunteer team.

  • Recruit, Recruit, Recruit! Always be recruiting. I am the director of our volunteer teams at our church. We are a campus plant and launched our church last year. We oversee 120 volunteers and I do the scheduling for them. I speak with 2-3 new people a week and the intent is simply to recruit. I view every person as a potential leader and a future part of our team. Every time I recruit someone, our ceiling as a ministry grows.
  • Have a plan– The more you recruit, the better plan you must have. Have a plan for the team or else they will not want to be a part of it. The plan must be in place before you recruit hard. The plan needs to be a mental job description, clear expectations, accountability, follow up, and scheduling (do not burn them out, schedule them on a rotation).
  • Give Leadership away– When we launched our church, we immediately gave leadership away. So, we developed directors for each team right at launch. We recruited directors for parking, hospitality, security, worship, audio/visual, nursery/preschool, elementary, and ushers. So, I immediately started our team with 7 individuals who were all volunteers. I gave them the expectations and I followed up with them each week. That raised the ceiling of our ministry so much. Do not try to do it all yourself. Find others to lead teams. As your ministry grows, your teams need to stay small. Keep making positions to expand your ministry.
  • Start an internship program– We are a year old, and just now developing this plan, but I wish we had of thought of this sooner. Find volunteers who want to go deeper and give them access to your life and ministry. Create a program for interns who can grow. Hopefully you can find your next hire’s from your interns or you can recommend them for other churches around the world. It is my goal that we start having different tracks (Hospitality, music, student ministry, kids ministry, etc.) for our internship program. So our interns can focus in on a specific ministry of the church.

Do you have an internship program at your church? If so, email me at jevans@tbc.org and I would love to chat with you regarding your internship program.

ICYMI – November 6, 2015

ICYMIIf you are like me, there are so many good articles and posts around the internet every week that it becomes difficult to keep up with all of them. “In case you missed it” is my way of pointing out a few good reads  that are too good to overlook. This list will compile the top five posts of the week that I read.

  1. 10 Differences Between A Boss And A Leader – Via Eric Geiger
  2. Some Perspectives On Millennials Serving In Ministry – Via Jonathan Howe
  3. 4 Tips For Defending Your Trust In The Bible – Via Greg Gilbert
  4. Help, My Small Groups Are Stuck At 50% – Via Allen White
  5. 3 Ways Christians Can Be Like Jesus Amidst A More Polarized Culture – Via Ed Stetzer

Did you read a good article this week? I would love to check it out. Share the link below in the comment section: