Many people love to share their experiences. They leave a review on Yelp sharing whether they would recommend a restaurant, or not, and why. They read a good book, and then go to work the next day and recommend it to a half dozen people. They post on Facebook about the latest home remedy they just tried and now swear by. They may overhear that someone needs a dentist and they are quick to recommend theirs in a heartbeat. Millions of people share their experiences, and reviews of those experiences, every day.
Although reviews come quickly for restaurants, vacation destinations, and good deals on getting a used car, when it comes to sharing about the most important recommendation we can ever give, our faith, many remain conspicuously quiet. If we found the perfect restaurant, that served the most delicious food, and was unbelievably cheap, we would recommend it to every person we knew. In fact, we would probably go into work the next day and literally rave about the spectacular service and fantastic Banoffee Pie. However, for those who believe and follow Christ, who have received the free gift of eternal life, who have literally had their life changed, and who have experienced something far greater than getting great meal at a great price, we rarely share about our experience.
There are not many seminars in New England geared towards helping pastors and church leaders grow their churches. This June, however, there is one conference designed to do just that. The New England Pastors Initiative is hosting it’s second annual conference, featuring guest speaker Dick Hardy. Dick is the founder of The Hardy Group (thehardygroup.org), an organization devoted to helping pastors navigate church growth challenges and remove obstacles to that growth.
This one day local conference, on Tuesday, June 13th, is designed to help pastors and church leaders create fresh momentum and energy in their ministries, promote and market their churches better within their communities, and so much more! In order to make the conference as accessible as possible, the cost is only $30, which includes a catered lunch.
If you are a pastor or church leader in New England you do not want to miss out on this special day! To register, or find out more information, simply go to nepastorsinitiative.org.
Every pastor I know wants to make an impact. They want their churches to grow and to make a difference in their communities. Many pastors, however, attempt to make an impact the wrong way.
Too many pastors go for the quick kill. They are looking for the one big event that will reach their community and bring hundreds, if not thousands, of people to their church. They start a new ministry hoping that it will immediately touch a felt need around them and reach a throng of new people. They are looking for a silver bullet, one that kills quickly all in one shot.
Words have immeasurable power. Yehuda Berg is quoted as saying, “Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate, and to humble.” The Bible says that “death and life are in the power of tongue.” Our words have the ability build up and also to tear down, to divide and to heal. Some words are more powerful than others. There are eleven words in particular that have the ability mend a relationship strained by our own mistakes. Those eleven words are…
Pastors today face all sorts of challenges. They face the emotional strain of walking with people through the most difficult moments in their lives. They face the challenge of leading volunteers, who often have vastly different opinions on how things should be done. Pastors struggle with the tension of being trained in pastoral ministry, but being expected to operate the church with the savvy of a CEO. And of course, there is managing the multiple expectations of parishioners. No doubt, pastoral ministry comes with its unique set of difficulties and frustrations.
George Barna identified the top stressors pastors face several years ago, and I don’t believe the list has changed much at all. Here is what he discovered:
- Thirty percent of all pastors said the lack of commitment from the laity was their number one stressor in ministry. The number one challenge that pastors say they face is the feeling that they are expected to do it all on their own. Regarding the ministry at the church, they often hear verbally or through innuendo, “that’s what we pay you to do.”
Leaders are learners, and one great way to learn is through listening to podcasts. Podcasts give us the ability to listen to leaders speak on topics in just about any area of life. Whether you want to learn more on running, history, cooking, business, music or church ministry, there is probably a podcast just for you. When you are driving in the car, heading out for a run, or even just doing errands around the house, listening to a podcast, on a topic you want to explore, is a great way to use the time. I try to listen as often as I can, typically consuming several hours worth of podcasts every single week.
As a pastor, here are some of my current favorites…
There really is no such thing as a “self made man.” Nearly all of us have had different people influence and pour into our lives. Denzel Washington is quoted as saying, “Show me a successful individual and I’ll show you someone who had real positive influences in his or her life. I don’t care what you do for a living—if you do it well I’m sure there was someone cheering you on or showing the way. A mentor.” To go anywhere significant in life requires some guidance along the way. In fact, here are five types of mentoring we all need in order to grow to be our best:
Upward Mentoring – Upward mentoring is what most people think of when they picture mentoring. An upward mentor is someone you look up to. Many times they are older, been around the block a time or two, and they are able to mentor you because they have been there and done that before. This could be a boss, a parent, a pastor or a good older friend. Upward mentors have learned some lessons in life and want to pass them off to others who are coming after them.
I was always a pretty good student. I wasn’t the best student, but by the grace of God I did manage to graduate from both college and seminary with honors. When tests would come around I would have to study a lot to do well, but for the most part I did in fact do well. I didn’t study like some students though. Many students would head to a study group, Starbucks or a library to hunker down. I would usually go one of two places, outside if the weather permitted or into a room where I was completely alone. I did this for the privacy, but the privacy wasn’t because I needed quiet, it was so I could talk to myself. I’d find a spot where no one was around, and I would repeat and recite aloud my class notes over and over again until I had them memorized down cold. One summer, when I was taking an intensive Hebrew class, I would spend hours a day walking up and down the backroads around the seminary I attended, flipping through Hebrew vocabulary and grammar cards. I probably looked like the town crazy person walking down the street talking to myself, but those many hours alone practicing allowed me to do very well in my intensive summer language classes.
There is tremendous power in going somewhere private to study, rehearse, or practice in solitude. Susan Cain, in her book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, describes a study conducted on violinists. Researchers broke the violinists into three groups: world class career violinists that solo on the international stage, great players that may play in an orchestra or professionally in some capacity, and those that were okay but ultimately would most likely end up teachers rather than actual performers.
Most people don’t invite others to church. Despite viewing their faith as one of the most important aspects of their lives, and despite believing that Christ has specifically commanded them to go into the whole world to tell others about him (Mark 16:15), most Christians still do not share their faith with others. A recent study by LifeWay Research found that eighty percent of churchgoers say they have personal responsibility to share their faith, but sixty-one percent haven’t shared the gospel with anyone in the past six months.
How can churches better equip, train and encourage their people to go out and share their faith? Although the list is no doubt extensive, here are five things that churches can do to get people talking about Christ: