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:
God is not enough for you. He can’t care for you as much you need him to. He can’t support you as much as you need him to. Why? Because that it is the way he designed it.
In Genesis 2 we read, “The the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.'” Think about that verse for a minute. When God uttered those words, Adam was living in the Garden of Eden. His relationship with God was perfect. God wasn’t just nearby, but apparently even used to walk around the garden with Adam. Adam and God enjoyed an intimate relationship that is beyond something we have ever experienced. Yet, even in the midst of this perfect relationship, something was still missing, and this was not good from God’s point of view.
One of the most fundamental ministries that the church performs is visitation. A church, no matter how big or small, will have people who are sick, in the hospital, shut-in and in need of a visit. As a result, pastors spend a significant amount of time visiting people from their church and community. As the church grows the amount of visitation required can bury a pastor unless structures and systems are put in place to spread the load of visitation out. Developing systems ensure that the pastor does not burn out, but at the same time ensure people receive the care that they need. There are no doubt a variety of ways that a church could set up a visitation system but here is how one church takes on this need:
Visitation & On-Call Pastors – Every day there is one pastor that is assigned to do all the hospital visitation for that day. If the church is aware going into the day that someone is in the hospital, and in need of a visit, then this is the pastor that goes. Additionally, there is another pastor that is on-call each day. This pastor handles any pastoral care that cannot be planned ahead. This would include anyone who is rushed to the hospital or anyone who calls or walks in wanting to talk with a pastor.
We live in a world where people often struggle with various needs. As a result, most churches are presented with requests for financial assistance on a very regular basis. A church that does not have a plan for addressing these needs can easily find itself saying no to people who truly need and deserve help, or find themselves saying yes to people who are taking advantage of the churches good nature. So, it is important that churches have systems in place to fairly and adequately address the various needs they are presented. There are no doubt lots of ways to go about setting up a benevolence ministry in a church, but here is what my church does:
Funding – Every week my church transfers 1% of the general tithes and offerings to the church benevolence fund. This fund is then used to help provide financially for those that are a part of our church family and who are in need. We also provide free food through our churches food bank to anyone. The food bank is provided for through our church, but also through a partnership with the Greater Boston Food Bank and grants from other agencies.
This week our church had our four summer interns arrive. We’re privileged to be near both a seminary and a Bible college, so we always have interns coming and going, but I especially love when the summer interns show up. What makes our summer interns extra special is that they are full-time, which means they are able to see nearly everything that goes on behind the scenes. It is an amazing time of mentoring and growing for every student that is able to participate. But how exactly do we set the summer up so that every intern is able to learn as much as possible?
First, we have a formal application process. We are only able to take on four paid summer interns, despite the fact that we always have far more apply. To help us decide who gets to spend the summer with us, we have them fill out a preliminary application that asks them about their ministry goals, where they are at in life, and where they see God leading them. We only allow individuals who are pursuing full-time vocational ministry to be a part of our summer intern ministry. (To see the application that we use feel free to check out https://lccc.wufoo.com/forms/calvary-christian-church-internship-application/.)
Many pastors steer clear of teaching on giving as they don’t want the churches they serve to appear to be all about money. The Bible has much to say about our stewardship, however, and to ignore this teaching would be to ignore a large portion of what scripture has to say. So how does a church teach on money without turning people off? Here is how my church addresses this topic of giving:
Yearly Tithing Message – Every January we do a “Month of Personal Commitment.” We preach and teach on a commitment to prayer, reading the Bible, ministry service, and giving. This annual message on tithing is an opportunity for the whole church to hear about the importance of honoring God with their finances. This one message is enough to teach and remind people about the importance of giving, but not enough overwhelm them or turn them off.