Tag Archives: bless your pastor

Pastors, do you really want lay leaders?

Last week I looked at how Christians can bless their pastor by living out the mission of the church at home, at work, and in service to the church. As I mentioned last week, I’ve never heard a pastor complain about someone desiring to be bi-vocational. To be faithful at their job, while also faithfully serving and assisting in accomplishing the mission of the church.

As I thought through those blogs, I also started thinking through whether ministries are structured and prepared for an influx of volunteers if, like I intended, people magically stumbled upon my blog and they were divinely enlightened to life-changing truth.

While I know many pastors who would love to have more volunteers, there are times it seems ministries aren’t planned or structured in the necessary way to accommodate various commitment levels.

How can pastors help volunteers & lay leaders get more involved? Here are 8 ways I think will help.

1. Affirm the bi-vocational mindset. Be the voice for the priesthood of all believers on a Sunday and beyond. It’s easy for the average church-goer to attend a Sunday service and not see a need because most churches are organized and planned for Sundays.

We need to be reminded and hear that our calling is to be the priesthood throughout the week in addition to helping on Sundays. And I don’t mean mere lip-service of voicing your belief in the scripture that affirms it, I mean backing it up by providing bi-vocational leaders an opportunity for high-level leadership if the Lord has gifted them and equipped them to do so.

Putting a bi-vocational leader in those positions will be the most effective way to convince volunteers that you truly do affirm this calling.

2. Understand the limitations. A bi-vocational leader spends 40 hours a week on something other than ministry. Understand that they may only be able to give 5 hours, but value those 5 hours. Even though there are limitations, don’t shy away from trusting people with responsibility. Consistently ask how they are doing and if they feel overwhelmed.

The limitations actually force you to raise up more lay leaders as opposed to hiring more staff.

3. Plan further ahead than you think. Things take longer when you choose to use bi-vocational leaders. If you haven’t planned for that, you’ll only be frustrated with us and our lack of speed. Most leaders want to be shown that a plan is in place to utilize them and provide them opportunities to contribute.

This will also help you answer all the questions that business minded volunteers typically ask.

4. Delegate and let people learn. It won’t be as “perfect” as you do it the first time, but eventually it will be what you need. You’ll never develop anyone if you do all the work.

5.  Explore various volunteer opportunities

Create Project Specific or Seasonal teams.  Do you have a busy Christmas season or summer schedule? Or are you working on developing a specific ministry for social justice or missions? You could create a team for each specific project or season that is able to work on things long-term allowing you to provide oversight and direction rather than building it all yourself.

Distinguish between short-term & ongoing commitments. Providing a short-term, a few hour commitments allow people to explore your ministry to get a better picture of what you really do. It’s a great entry point for people wanting to get involved.

The ongoing, long-term projects or commitments reveal you’d like them to focus deeply on one ministry instead of spreading themselves thin across 4 commitments.

6. Have a Leadership Path. This is something we just put together for college ministry, but it clearly showed the potential for growth and development within our ministry. Our leaders really responded well to that because it showed them they could commit long-term and wouldn’t have to move to another ministry for deeper responsibilities.

7. Identify training needs and provide ongoing development. What are the essentials theologically and practical needs for leading in your ministry? What are the most effective way to train people in knowledge and abilities necessary for your ministry? Can you get them up to speed within a month?

8. Ask. Personally invite them to be a part of your ministry. The announcement from stage on a Sunday can get people to sign-up, but a personal invitation often leads to greater commitment. And you’ll be surprised to find that many are waiting if only you’d ask.

Pastors, if you’re tired of being overworked, overextended, and making way too many family sacrifices, the long-term sustainable solution is to develop lay leaders and provide them real opportunities to bless you and the church in their service.

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Bless your pastor with your service

This my final post for the series on how to bless your pastor by taking on a bi-vocational mindset as a Christian who views their calling to work as a minister of the gospel both in the “secular” world and in serving a local body.

Humbly Submit to Serve in their ministry

It’s now time to not only change our mindset, but act upon it by volunteering to serve at your church. If you’re not sure exactly what ministry to try, just pick one and start serving. As you start serving and get a better understanding of what you really enjoy when it comes to ministry, you can transition out of your current serving opportunity into a new ministry. But unless you try to serve in ANY of the church’s ministries you’ll likely never discover other opportunities.

I’ve seen this all the time in our college ministry. People come to volunteer in the college ministry and serve faithfully, but then another ministry like Kidstuff starts to interest them. So they start volunteering there and realize that investing in kids is really where they have been gifted and enjoy. It’s always hard to lose a faithful volunteer in our ministry, but we have come to rejoice in the fact that we can build up other ministries in the church and that we’re developing people who will give their energy and time where their passion is.

What do you need to do to start serving?

1. Assess the time you can give. Plan your typical week, if you’re married do that with your wife, and evaluate how much time can you give to serve in a ministry. Are you only able to serve before or after a service? Do you have time mid-week that could be given to help administratively?

2. Be willing to help where needed, not only in areas that excite you. You might be needed in the most behind-the-scenes, thankless job of set-up and teardown or holding crying babies on a Sunday morning instead of in the cooler leadership development/discipleship position. But if the goal is to serve the church and be a blessing to your pastoral staff, the means is filling the needs first, learning to serve the church not your own ambitions.

3. Identify the ministries in your church. Do you know about the mercy ministries in your church? The efforts to reach your city or the nations for the gospel? Spend time figuring out the areas your church has to serve. There’s way more than you think, & when you find that out, you’ll realize that all of them need more people willing to serve with the time they have.

4. Ask your pastor where you’re needed and start serving. This should be easier than it is. Simply ask your pastor where the greatest need is and be willing to say yes. Start serving in that position to see if you really are gifted there and think through how you can help the pastor as the develop the ministry further.

How does this bless your pastor?

Freedom from firefighting. Having more leaders gives pastor’s more time. They no longer have to constantly put out “fires” and handle the next immediate need, but can focus on developing people and the ministry. This freedom blesses the pastor, but also blesses the church as a whole.

Less worries about finding leaders & volunteers. There are churches who have to turn people away because there’s not enough leaders to serve in the childcare on a Sunday. In our college ministry we’ve had 40-50 students who need to be mentored and invested in by 15-20 adult coaches, but are sometimes only able to find 10. For the pastor this means spending extra time and energy seeking out someone who is willing to fill the gap. How much greater would it be if Christians came to church to serve rather than to be served? Even sounds a bit like being like Jesus…

More Leaders provides for more and healthier growth. The bible indicates that churches that are built on the gospel and a commitment to biblical truth will grow, but this growth will either be impeded by the lack of leaders volunteering or benefit from a church-wide mentality that is selfless and seeks the benefit of the whole.   

Final Thought

You may be only able to give 5-10 hours a week to assist a ministry, but imagine if 10 people gave 5-10 hours a week. That’s 50-100 hours of assisting your church. You’ve freed them up from hiring more staff all while fulfilling the call God has placed on Christians to be a part of building up the body of Christ.

It’s time for Christians to seek to be a blessing to their pastors and their churches instead of just seeking to be blessed.

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Wrestle with and embrace your pastor’s vision

Continuing my thoughts on ways to Bless your pastor.

In my mind today’s post is likely the most important and best way to bless your pastor. The last 2 have been focused on making sure your priorities are straight. Home must be where you expend your energy and effort first and then God has specifically placed you for excellence at your job next, but Christians cannot hide behind either home or their job as an excuse for not investing in a local body of Christ, a local church.

We are called to faithfully participate in the mission of God and that is primarily seen through being a part of a local body. The only way to effectively get involved is by wrestling with and embracing your pastor’s vision.

From my own experience…

When our community pastor first unfolded a vision for shifting community groups to missional communities, I hated it and I pushed back. “We had spent 2 years in our community group and seen God do amazing things, why would I change?” was my thinking. I then had to decide whether I was going to be a dissenting voice among the congregation or seek to understand my pastor and the vision he had spent months discussing, debating, and praying through. I chose the latter and I am grateful for it. Here’s what I learned through the process.

1. I worship my own mind and thinking. I don’t need success to think that I’m right, but if I see even a little measure of success it creates in me a prideful mindset that declares that I’m the ONE that has it figured out and all should follow. It’s silly. I had to repent and try my best to actually BE humble instead of just look it.

2. There’s a reason he’s the pastor and I am not. If God wanted me to be the one laying out the vision and training others to accomplish it, He’s certainly powerful enough to put me in that situation, but He hasn’t. Will I form a mutiny against the man God has called to lead me or will I trust the Lord and follow him?

3. I have to ask a lot of questions and process semantic and philosophical differences. If you’re ever going to understand your pastor, ask a lot of questions. Also, your pastor is more willing to answer your questions if they know you are trying to be on board with their vision. They won’t know this by you saying it, they will know this by you serving in their church. There’s usually a plethora of service opportunities at a church (i.e. welcome team, usher, communion/tithe person, volunteer in the childcare).

Sometimes your differences are merely semantic or word-choice differences that we have each tied extended meaning to and we have to spend time processing so that our semantic differences don’t cause unnecessary strife.

4. My pastor is more open to my suggestions if I seek to understand him first. I’m no stranger to offering advice, I mean, hello I write on a blog…but I learned that until I had a pretty good understanding of my pastor’s vision and strategy, I wasn’t really able to offer any decent advice and he wasn’t really interested in hearing it. It was because the advice was uninformed and as it became more informed, my voice carried more weight.

5. There is freedom in submitting to your pastor’s vision and seeking to accomplish it. When you stop trying to create your own way that may or may not be against the pastor’s tide of thinking, there grows a freedom inside of you to just pursue accomplishing the mission. You are no longer bogged down by bitterness & frustration, you’re free to live out a godly vision. It’s refreshing.

How does this bless your pastor?

It affirms God’s call on their lives. Expressing your trust by seeking to understand them and accomplish it verifies the vision God has given them and encourages them to pursue it with more passion.

Increase their joy in fulfilling their vision. I’ve never met a pastor unwilling to discuss, expound, or repeat his vision for the church. It’s their calling and it brings them joy. That joy is increased when people back that vision.

The vision and mission actually start getting accomplished. A house divided against itself cannot stand, nor can it make it headway in accomplishing anything. When people unite around mission, great things can be accomplished and worship of Jesus tends to increase with it. It’s more exciting than in-house debating and gives greater joy to all involved.

One Final Thought

If you can’t get behind the vision your pastor has laid out for you and your church, go somewhere else. It’s not worth the bitterness, frustration, debates, and time wasted in your life and your pastor’s life. If you’ve tried to get a good understanding and still can’t get behind it, it’s obviously time to move on.

Any additional thoughts from my pastor friends or fellow volunteers at churches? Any comments or questions?

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Bless your pastor with your home

Last I week, I posted a blog titled “Want to bless your pastor?” and listed 4 practical ways you could do that and this week I’m hoping to expand on each of those 4 practical ways. The 4 ways I listed (obviously not comprehensive) were 1) Treat your home as a mini-church, 2) Go to work as a missionary, 3) Wrestle with and Embrace your pastor’s vision, 4) Humbly submit to serve in their ministry.

My hope is to provide practical advice on how to accomplish them and also how it can bless your pastor and your church.

Treat Your Home as a Mini-Church

Christian culture has centered itself around a Sunday gathering for centuries and somewhere along the way we began compartmentalizing our Christian lives by making Sunday really special, the only place where worship occurs, even utilizing at as THE ONE place of learning from the Bible through listening to a sermon.

This has resulted in the hypocritical living Christianity has grown to be known by in the world. That we love to look good on a Sunday, but don’t enjoy living it out Monday thru Saturday. Jesus and the scriptures clearly taught an entire way of life centered and ordered around faith lived out through love and obedience, but the question is how can this really be lived out if we’re only being spiritual for 2-3 hours on a Sunday or 30-minute at the drive thru church in Waco…

I believe the answer is transforming our home into a mini-church. A place where worship, living in the community of fellow believers, learning from the Word of God, prayer, and welcoming those who don’t believe that same things as you occur regularly.  When Paul writes to Timothy he says only choose leaders who can lead their families as a mini-church well to lead the larger church (1 Timothy 3). It seems our home-life is the primary indicator of how well we are truly believing the gospel and faithfully obeying it.

Our home is where we spend most of our week, but it is often the place where we are laziest and most selfish. It becomes a retreat from the world into our own pleasures instead of a place where the gospel can be clearly lived out.

So what are the things we enjoy about a Sunday and how can they be brought into our mini-church?

1.       Worship thru song and prayer – Every church you go to spends at least half the time singing and songs tend to be a great expression of our thoughts, prayers, and emotions toward God. They don’t have to be left at church, as anyone with a CD player, DVD player, computer or iPod/iPhone can listen to the music at their home. Maybe instead of the TV being on 24/7 you let your house be filled with worship music and if you’re really crazy you can sing along…

What about prayer? Is prayer something that only occurs at meals? You can set aside specific times and topics to pray for by developing a prayer calendar. Sometimes a little planning is all it takes to transform your home into a church.

Sidenote: If you have kids, learn from the kid’s ministry at your church. Let worship be fun with motions and dancing, read your kids stories at mealtime, and let them see your spiritual life.

2.       Living in Community with Believers – One of my favorite aspects of church is seeing fellow believers who I love and have become my family, but why wait until Sunday? Everyone eats dinner, so why not invite your fellow believers into your meal times and let your home and dinner table become a place of meaningful conversation over the meaning of a passage of scripture, over the joys and sorrows of life, and simply enjoying each other’s companies.

We have a group that meets each week at our home and we eat dinner together.  It’s some of the sweetest times in our weeks as we catch up, debate and discuss the meanings of scripture and learn from each other. I love it and it helps me to believe in Jesus and live for Him.

This can also be a time where communion can be taken together as a family of faith (obviously my Catholic friends would disagree, but that’s a whole other discussion for another day).

3.       Welcoming people of other or no faith – For too long, Christians have viewed a Sunday service as the place where missions happens, but when you bring someone who believes differently from you to church you have to convert them twice. Once to Christianity and then once to your church’s style. And besides, this only gives you one chance a week to explain Christianity to someone. It’s incredibly difficult for someone to comprehend an entire belief system in 3 hours.

Your home is better than a church since it can be a more welcoming and open environment to make friends with your neighbors and anyone who doesn’t believe as you do. Again, everyone eats so why not invite your neighbors into a meal and let them into your life and discuss the same things with them as you would with believers.

How will this bless your pastor?

Removing Undue Burden – When we view Sunday as our primary means of spiritual activity, we put undue burden on our pastors by relying on them for our spiritual lives. We then have the tendency to become dependent on the pastor’s spiritual life rather than on Jesus and the bible.  They have been tasked with equipping us for ministry, but often we just ask them to DO ministry to and for us on a Sunday.

Partnering Gives Them Joy – If our homes were mini-churches, we would bless them by reducing undue burden, but also by giving them joy as we partner with them for the mission of Jesus and the church to each other and the world.

What else have you done to help your home become a mini-church? How else do you think this blesses your pastor?

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