Tag Archives: lay leader

What Francis Chan should force every lay leader to ask themselves

For those of you who do not know Francis Chan, he’s a godly man who is the lead pastor of Simi Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, CA and the author of The Forgotten God and Crazy Love. He’s an incredibly dynamic speaker who travels North America and the world preaching the bible.

Recently, he announced to his congregation that the Lord has led him to step down from his highly successful job and pastoring a large mega-church in the suburbs of Los Angeles. It was the talk of Christian circles because why would a successful pastor leading a large church leave his position? If you have heard him speak in the last few years, it’s easy to see a man willing to do whatever God asks him to do. As he and his wife and family have prayed, they believe that God the Holy Spirit is leading them away from Cornerstone to something new and the crazy thing is, he doesn’t exactly know what it’s going to be.

As I’ve thought through this the last few weeks, I went through a range of thoughts. Mainly centered around my initial thought that “every pastor should have to wrestle with what Francis is doing and consider doing the same”.

But then I had to face the music and question whether I was willing to ask the same question of myself. I think the tendency of lay leadership is to expect a higher standard of their pastors than themselves.

That means that every lay leader, including myself, should have to ask 2 questions of ourselves in light of Francis Chan’s actions.

1)      Are we willing to follow God’s leading in our lives no matter what the cost? Are you willing to seek God and ask Him to lead you even if it means you have to change your life? And I’m not even talking about the big stuff yet, I’m talking about the little things. Are you willing to let God lead you to serve more in a church and sacrifice a night you could be watching Lost? Or are you willing to sacrifice your sports knowledge to spend time investing in your family or your neighbors for deeper relationship? These are small sacrifices that seem big because they’ve become part of our routine.

2)      Are you willing to follow God’s leading out of your job similar to the way Francis Chan did? Now this question just seems crazy to me. It seems irresponsible and foolish.

A thousand questions rush to my mind. How you will you make a living if God leads you away from your job? Are you even in a position to do so? How will you take care of your family? It involves so much fear, and reveals so much about me. You see, I say I believe God is the one who provides for my family in every way. I say I believe that God is in control of my job situation. I say that I believe God when he says that I shouldn’t worry about provisions because He says he provides for the birds and the flowers and I am much more valuable than that.

As church-going Christians, our tendency will be to assume the radical decisions like Francis’ are something pastors have to deal with, but the reality is that all Christians by declaration of faith profess to follow God no matter what the costs or where He leads. Francis’ decision forces us to deal with what we really believe.

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Filed under Church Life, Life, Missional Communities, Verge

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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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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Filed under bless your pastor, Church Life