If you want your church to continue growing in today’s culture, this blog post is for you.
There are tons of statistics of churches across the world that prove how difficult it is to grow a church in today’s culture. We see statistics of the large number of college students leaving the church. Put these two ideas together, and the hope of growing a church is ultra slim. From what I have seen and observed, the pastor is a key component to the growth of the church. I want to share a few traits and characteristics of pastors pastoring growing churches.
- They are Spirit Led – This is the most important characteristic. I have seen to many pastors who are people led. This means that their decision-making is totally up to how it will please or displease the people. Now, this is a huge part of pastoring. I recognize that, but if you allow the people to trump the spirit, do not expect your church to grow.
- They are Risk Takers – Some pastors are afraid to take risk. Look, if you want to grow your church take risk regularly. This should be a regular part of your position. Most of the time when the spirit leads you to do something, it will be a risk. If you play it safe all of the time, your church will not grow.
- They are willing to Engage Students - I have been in traditional churches for the most part of my life, and the reality is that if the church and pastor are not willing to engage students (high school and college), the church is headed for an early death. The growing churches are engaging this age. You may have to change the way you do church, the way you do ministry, and your methods. If the church only seeks to engage the adults, the church will not grow. Look at your congregation, and if you are losing the majority of your college students, that will indicate if you are engaging students or not.
- They are Visionaries – Know where you are going, pastors. If I asked you where are you headed and how are you going to get there, have an answer for that! Most pastors don’t have an answer to this question, and their church is likely not growing. Be a visionary and regularly be a vision caster to the people you are leading.
- They are Learners – Never stop learning. The best leaders of churches do not stop learning. They are constantly reading, writing, and growing themselves. Pastors, you never reach a point where you have all of the answers. You have to continue growing yourself before you can grow others. Lead yourself before you can lead others.
If you really want to encourage and support your pastor, this blog post is for you. As I have observed church life, I have noticed different individuals who really can hurt and even destroy a pastor by the words that they speak. Some I believe do it unintentionally, and others do it intentionally. Now, in my experience the pastors loved their church members and the church, but sometimes church members forget that these pastors are real people.
Here are five things that your pastor regularly needs to hear from his church members:
- Praying for you – This is the easiest and the most important. As a pastor faces the difficult problems that he faces, the most encouraging thing that he can hear is “hey pastor, I am praying for you!” By the way, before you start saying this, make sure that it is true. That you are consistently and actively praying for your pastor!
- Whatever you need – I have heard pastors get up in the pulpit and beg for volunteers with no takers. What I have learned is that church members appear to be craving service, but it is usually is only on their terms. The most encouraging people are the ones who are willing to do whatever to get the job done. Pastors need these type of people in their congregations.
- Our Family Supports You – This phrase is so important, and it can affect the longevity of the pastor’s tenure. Usually when a pastor leaves a church, they feel a lack of support from the congregation. Sometimes, it may be the pastor’s fault, but in my experience, it is more the church members lack of followership to the person God has placed in the position of pastor. Support your pastor. I cannot type this phrase enough. He will be faced with the task of making difficult decisions, and he needs your support to be able to make difficult decisions.
- Let’s Hang Out – One of the major reasons pastors leave a church is because of lack of support, but also a lack of true friendship. Pastors need friends! Oftentimes, it is difficult to create this within the church congregation so pastors are forced to find this outside of the church. Look, it is okay to befriend your pastor. Do not ever allow a close friendship to affect his leadership in your life, but befriend him. Do not make a habit that every conversation you have with him is about the church and its health. Sometimes, pastors need to hang out with church members and discuss life and hobbies.
- We Love You – It is impossible to overuse the phrase “we love you,” when it is speaking directly to your relationship with your pastor. Get in the habit, and mean it. Do not just say it to say it, actually mean it! Live it by the things mentioned above. Pastors need to feel that their congregations love and care about them. By the way, when a church member is down, they expect love from their pastor. Pastors are human and need love demonstrated to them as well.
All pastors want longevity. No Pastor (at least I hope not) goes into a position wanting to leave soon. All pastors want to be in the ministry long term. I am right there with you, but I have learned in my short years of ministry that there are a few things that must happen before longevity happens.
- Separate your work and family- Leave the work at the office. Do not bring it home. If you go home, and are working while at home, this is a sign you are not going to make it. You need your family and your family needs you. Learn to separate the two the best you can or you will burn out.
- Take breaks and vacations- Do not abuse this idea, but it is necessary. It must happen for any leader if they want to experience longevity. Breaks and vacations are a time for you to unwind, to get refreshed, receive vision from God, and to come back energized.
- See the best in the people you lead- The more you do this, the more you will be happy where you are! Leaders and pastors need to improve in this area. Stop criticizing the one thing a person does bad, and start celebrating the many things that person does well. This will keep you energized about ministry and your people.
There is nothing more frustrating than working a job not knowing what the expectations are for you. It always ends in frustrations, because it is impossible to feel like you are accomplishing what is expected of you when the expectations have never been clear to you. I want to share with church leaders, pastors and business leaders 3 reasons why expectations are necessary for positional success.
- Undefined expectations eventually will lead to frustration- This is why every new hire needs to request a written job description that clearly defines the expectations or else it will always lead to frustration. The frustration comes with the tension of being unsure of knowing if you are doing a good job or not.
- Undefined expectations make it difficult to be upset with the performance- Look, if you are working a job, and the expectations have not been defined, it is unrealistic and wrong for your boss to come down on you when they think that your performance is not meeting their requirements. If you are a boss, define expectations clearly or do not expect for what you desire to happen immediately.
- Undefined expectations require more time for performance- When expectations are defined clearly, it always increases the chances that the desired performance happens faster than at a position when the expectations are not defined clearly.
From time to time, I enjoy sharing what I am reading currently. My feedly consists of nearly 75 different blogs so I have a great list to choose from, but there are always those blogs that I m drawn to the most at certain times. Here are the blogs that I am currently viewing the most right now:
- Thom Rainer’s Blog- This could be the most practical pastoral blog out there. I have been reading a few of his post each day for weeks now. He has some great stuff on leadership and pastoring.
- Ron Edmondson’s Blog- This is another ultra practical blog. He has more posts with numbered “how to” ideas on leadership than any blog that I have ever seen. He is great, and you should definitely be reading this blog. He has some great posts on marriage and relationships as well.
- Between the Times- This is a blog by the faculty from Southeastern Theological Seminary. Some of their post are geared directly to toward pastoral leadership, and others are about theology. Great blog all the way around.
- Brad Lomenick’s Blog- Now, I had never heard of his blog until recently. Someone told me about it, and I have been hooked since. Ultra practical. Great blog for you to check out.
- Michael Hyatt’s Blog- Now, this guy is a big time blogger. In fact, he writes and helps others with blogging. He has some excellent stuff when it comes to your leadership and the platform that God has given you. Check his blog out.
Recommend a blog for me to check out.
Oftentimes, it can be difficult to keep growing as leader. We go through difficult times just like everyone else. So, how can a lead maintain consistent personal growth in their lives? Here are a few quick easy ideas:
- Have a strategic plan for growth- Look, the reason we struggle growing consistently is that we probably do not have a plan for growth. If we do have a plan, it is because we failed to work that plan. Have a plan. What do you think growth looks like? How do you think you can grow? Have a plan and work that plan.
- Don’t stop reading- In leadership, there are times where you lose time to read, but never cease to read. Sure, one day I may read for 2 hours, another day, I am may read for 15 minutes. Always be reading!
- Surround yourself with growing people- Surround yourself with the type of people who will sharpen your personal development. Be around people who are growing so that can burn something in you.
- Take risks- One of the things that grow me the most is when I try something crazy for God. Now, make sure He is on board, but do not be afraid to take risk, or you will plateau early in your leadership.
- Schedule your day- I have a schedule. I used to have no schedule, but now I finally am scheduling my life a bit better. Smart phones have created the means to do this in such a helpful way. Schedule your day and be organized about it. When I do not have a schedule, I always tend to get less done.
I have grown up in a very traditional church setting. I have been to church for Sunday school, morning worship, evening worship, and evening Bible study since I was born. I know the drill, and I have been around people who know the drill as well. I recently took a new position where the structure is a bit different from what I am accustomed too. In this model, there is a Sunday morning, but small groups will meet in homes during the week. Many church leaders bulk at this idea, and often criticize these new models of church that so many churches have gone to. I have been in that culture, and understand where they are going from. At one time, I was a bit skeptical of the group method.
Since coming to this new position, I have been going to two Bible study groups. I am blown away at the success of these Bible studies. Now, in this post, I want to clarify what I mean by groups. I am talking directly to a small group of people who gather together outside of corporate worship for Bible study. It can be Sunday school (although many classes are so large, they lose some of what we will discuss), Bible fellowship, or home Bible studies. I want to share through my experience how I believe groups are the best way to move people to true discipleship.
- Groups provide deeper relationships- At church, it is extremely rare that people get down deep into your life. In fact, I am unsure I have actually seen it happen in my past. I am talking the kind of relationship where people know deep even dark things about you. Some of the stuff that I have shared and plan to share in group, I have never shared in the churches that I have been a part of. I was speaking with one of our group leaders, and he shared with me that when the group began a year ago, all of the couples involved did not know each other. He went on to explain how now (a year later), they are best friends, and hang out regularly outside of group. He also said by week 3 of the group, we had some couples share things about them that they have never shared with anyone. Groups are supposed to create a culture of honesty, openness, and trust so that you can be transparent.
- Groups provide weekly fellowship- Church does this too in Sunday school or Bible fellowship. I recognize that so not going against it, but sometimes corporate worship services do not provide deep fellowship. This is why you need to be involved in some type of group. I have been to church services where you speak to 15 people, but never get past, “It’s good to see you. Hope you had a great week.” Groups provide meaningful conversations each week.
- Groups provide Accountability- If you are not in a group, name an accountability partner in your head now. It is more than likely difficult. In a small group, you get a few people who really know you to hold you accountable so that you can become a better follower of Christ.
- Groups demand a response to Scripture- The groups we are involved in have about 10 adults in each of them. After the lesson, there are open discussion questions for the group. It demands a response. Do you know how many church services that I have been to where I have left without responding appropriately to the Scripture that was presented to me? Groups provide application and opens it up for a response to what you just heard.
- Groups allow others to lead- We hear a lot from pastors, but groups allow lay leaders in your church to step up. I have enjoyed seeing two lay leaders step up in the groups we have been a part of. They have done a fantastic job.
Now, if you think I am providing reasons that we should do groups instead of corporate worship services, you have missed the entire purpose of this post. I love going to church worship services. I still go, and enjoy going. I am just saying that groups are where the discipleship happens. If you are not currently in a Bible study group, you need to be. Join a group and start growing with other people.