A Church You Would Attend

I have always enjoyed meeting visitors on Sundays. I am always fascinated by why families decide to visit churches. I often ask where they live and how they heard about the church.  One common conversation I often have with visitors is about how hard it is for people to find a church that truly fits them. People often talk about how it takes months of visiting churches before they find something they want to attend.

I heard church leadership experts talk about building your church not on who is there, but on who is not there yet.  They often argue that you have all the people you have because of who you are now.  If you want more people, you have to change to try to attract those who are not there yet. Knowing this, I used to  spent a lot of time thinking about how to make our church a place where people would want to attend.

So I decided to spend time and effort focusing on doing things that I thought would attract and keep visitors.  I started to question the format. I worried about aesthetics. I worried about what I would wear.  I worried about who was on stage and what they looked like.  As a Spirit-filled church I worried about what people would think if visitors were to come who didn’t understand the type of gifts we believe in. I put my focus on changing who we were in order to become a church that people would want to attend.  I even found myself making changes that I personally did not enjoy, but I did them to please potential visitors. After all that effort, we didn’t have any more success in keeping visitors. The worst part is, now not only did visitors not want to attend, I didn’t want to go there either!

After exhausting myself trying build a church that some imaginary family would want to attend, I started to think about what kind of church I would want to attend. It was a question I asked our team during our vision discovery process. As our team discussed it, I realized that for the most part, the people who were already there all wanted similar things.  We had similar values and were all there because we wanted to be there. We took those things and made them our core values.   What a freeing decision that was. I no longer had to  worry about whether a visiting family liked us or not. We knew who we were and the type of church we wanted to be. 

This is one of the best parts about being a pastor.  You get build a church you would want to go to.  Its sounds sort of self serving, but it is actually not. As pastor, you should love your church. You should be its biggest fan.  Plus, you will only be effective in doing the things you feel the most passionate about. You can change all you want, but if you don’t love what you have become, what good is it?

Instead of trying to chase the illusive goal of building a church that some imagined visitor would want to attend, why not spend your energies working to build a church culture for the people who have already said this is a church they want to attend.   You can go out of your way to change for the people who aren’t there, but often when we do that, we alienate the people who are there!  While its true, that some visitors may not fit what you are trying to do. But lets be honest, that is happening anyway. There are people out there looking for a church that cares about what you care about. 

If you don’t love your church, start by asking yourself a simple question. If you were to leave your church today and had to search for a church to attend, what would you look for?  Write those things down. Discuss them with your team.  Then put your energies toward building that kind of church.  When you love it, when your team loves it, when your church members love it, others will want to join you.

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What is an Average Pastor?

It was nearly three years ago that I started this blog on the average pastor.  Since that time this blog has been viewed over 7,000 times and has over hundred of followers.    The response to this information has been so humbling and encouraging.  The success of this concept of the Average Pastor has proved one thing:  Average Pastors are looking for resources for the average church experience. This is why we published The Average Pastor book which is being enjoyed by pastors around the US. Here are some of the testimonies from those who have read the book:

  • “I can not put it down. I hope all of my Facebook friends that Pastor a “Small Church” buy it immediately! You will not be sorry.”
  • “The book is phenomenal and I highly encourage every medium to small church pastor to read this book. You’ll laugh, perhaps occasionally tears will well up, but ultimately you will identify with Pastor Isgrigg’s words and experiences.”
  • “Some great stuff packed into a small book – if you pastor a small or midsize church grab a copy off of Amazon today and be encouraged.”

With more and more exposure to this concept of  being an “average pastor,” some people still misunderstand why we use that label.  So as a reminder, I want to share the first chapter in the book to remind people what we are talking about. You are average, not because you are mediocre, but because your experience as a pastor of a church of under 200 is the average experience of the average pastor of the average church in America.

You Are Average

No that is not an insult. It is the data. If you are a pastor of a church of under 100 you probably feel small. The recent trend of mega-churches and multi-site churches has made you feel this way. Not to mention that all the pastors conferences are focusing on these churches. But it is not true. You and I are not small church pastors. We are Average Pastors of Average Churches.

 

What is average? When it comes to describing quality, people often think of average as being the middle of the road: not exceptional but not terrible. But in statistics, average is a statement of what is typical. It is not a value statement for quality, it is a numerical statement of quantity. Average is the number that represents the most common result of a given range of data sampled. On a bell curve, the average is where most people are. This means that the most common human experience is the average experience, not the exceptional experience.

One of the first leadership books I remember hearing about was “The Enemy Called Average.”[1] Nobody wants to be labeled as “average”, especially not pastors. Everyone of us believes that we will be the exception to the rule. We want to be the one that starts a church that grows to 10,000 people or who takes over a struggling church and builds it into a mega church. Every pastor I have ever met has always started thinking they were that person. I have come to realize that my experience as a pastor of 100 people is the rule, not the exception.

Consider the data:[2]

  • 8% of churches are 100 people or less[3]
  • 2% of churches are under 250 people
  • Average church attendance is 76 people
  • Only 2.4% of churches are over 1000 people
  • 62% of pastors of less than 100 people are full time
  • Average salary is $31,000 for FT pastor[4]
  • 72% of churches under 100 have an annual income of less than $100,000[5]

The Barna group tells us, “Despite the enormous cultural impact of mega-churches and mega-church pastors like Joel Osteen and his 40,000+ Lakewood Church, the largest group of American churchgoers attends services in a more intimate context. Almost half (46%) attend a church of 100 or fewer members. More than one-third (37%) attend a midsize church of over 100, but not larger than 499. One in 11 (9%) attends a church with between 500 and 999 attenders, and slightly fewer (8%) attend a very large church of 1,000 or more attendees.”[6]

What these stats tell us is that the pastor of a church of 100 is normal. It is average. The truth is the mega-church and the large church are both very rare. They are the exception, not the norm! Yet, have you noticed everyone expects all churches to grow to a mega-church? Have you noticed that the conference speakers are always pastors of the exception, not the norm? Have you noticed all the books written by the 2% and not the 98%? Why are so few resources available for the pastor leading a volunteer staff or the church in the rural community?

Average is the normal experience for most pastors of most churches. It is not a problem to be fixed, its normal.

If you are reading this, chances are you are an Average Pastor. Average is not a sign of poor leadership, difficult people or lack of God’s blessing. Average is the normal experience for most pastors of most churches. It is not a problem to be fixed, its normal. It certainly has challenges, that when compared to the experience of larger churches seem to be huge disadvantages. But those challenges are simply normal challenges. If we continue to compare ourselves with the exception we will always feel like a failure. But if we can compare ourselves to the normal church experience, we will see we are not failures at all. We are normal churches with normal challenges to be faced with faith and courage. You are an Average Pastor with an average size church in America. And that is OK!

 

[1] John Mason, “The Enemy Called Average” (Insight Publishing, 1990).

[2] http://www.thearda.com

[3] http://www.thearda.com/conqs/qs_295.asp

[4] “The 2012-2013 Compensation Handbook for Church Staff” Christianity Today, 2011, p. 35.

[5] http://www.thearda.com/conqs/qs_314.asp

[6] https://www.barna.com/research/state-church-2016

 

Guest Post: Perks and Quirks of the Average Pastor

This post is a guest post of one of my fellow Average Pastors, Jason Byers.  Jason knows what it means to be an average pastor of an average church.  Two years ago, Jason left the comfort of a position in larger church to serve a in the rural church. He is one of my heroes. He is a great pastor, a great leader and a great friend.  

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Perks and Quirks

by Jason Byers

                  A friend of mine was mentored by the legendary youth pastor Jeanie Mayo for a couple years. At his very first meeting with her (along with 20 others from around the nation), she took the group to her bathroom and opened the medicine cabinet. Stuffed inside were many vitamins, prescriptions and some over-the-counter meds needed to sustain proper health for her and her husband (then, a lead pastor). She spoke candidly to her guests and explained that she was a very real person who was just trying to do the best she could with what she had.

My friend got to see a side of Jeanie Mayo that I’ve never seen. To me, she is a legend with very few mistakes and many epic achievements! To those who got close enough, they saw both her PERKS and the QUIRKS.

Everyone has them.

We all have strengths to our personalities that we cater to; and weaknesses that we cover up. Yes, even pastors of congregations less than 150 have both perks and quirks!

Churches expect their pastor to have perks. It gives them something to boast about at company picnics and community softball leagues. The pressure to deliver an ideal version of God’s Anointed can be exhausting! But being perfect simply isn’t realistic; just like your favorite team can’t be the world champions every year.

Since every personality has its drawbacks, the trick is to manage the tension between arrogance and self-loathing. You were created by God to be an instrument for His glory! Don’t think more highly of yourself than you ought. And, don’t put yourself down either.

If you are an average pastor struggling to keep this balance, here are a couple tips about dealing with your own strengths and weaknesses.

 

YOU’RE NOT AS GOOD AS YOU THINK YOU ARE.

You are a leader for a reason. But some of us are tempted to think we deserve to be where God has graciously assigned us. There’s a fine line between confidence and conceit, and I’m not convinced I’ve mastered that boundary.

Paul said, “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’ ” (1 Cor. 13:21)

God has a way of keeping us humble. Try keeping yourself humble first! The ones who say, “I’m not quirky,” are misleading themselves.

         There is a hidden fool inside all of us.

 

YOU’RE NOT AS BAD AS YOU THINK YOU ARE, EITHER.

Do you want to know a secret? You’re pretty awesome. To think that God didn’t create you with something special to offer is an insult to His divine creativity. He didn’t make a mistake! We may be full of flaws and miscalculations – which are quirky – but there are perks in our personalities too!

Paul said, “The weaker [parts of the body] are indispensable!” (1 Cor. 13:22)

Don’t think for a moment that because you’re at a “small church” you must be a “small person.” The royal blood of Jesus Christ covers you! Realize His anointing on your life! Unleash the perks He has strategically placed in your nature.

         In Christ, we are more than conquerors!

 

I want to thank Danny for letting me write this entry as a guest. This blog (from my good friend) serves as an encouragement to the average pastor – the men and women who aren’t in the spotlight of mainstream ministries. The stigma of the “average church” is that it is inferior to the large churches, and as such will inherit an inferior leader. The temptation of the leader is to mask weaknesses as part of a lie that we’re all super awesome and getting better. This is a mistake!

Accept the truth that everyone – including us average pastors – has PERKS and QUIRKS!

Reclaiming the Office of The Pastor

Pastor Banner

What does a pastor look like to you? What images come to mind?

A few weeks ago I called a local business about an event we were doing.  The lady on the phone took my information down and asked me, “so are you the youth pastor?” I replied, “No ma’am, I am the pastor.”  She was surprised that I was THE pastor because she didn’t expect THE pastor to do such menial tasks as make phone calls.  In her mind, she thought surely I must have a secretary, assistant or another pastor who would be more suited to taking care of trivial issues.  Her response is not uncommon in my experience.  Others have responded to me in similar fashion.  This is the way people see pastors today. They have the image more like that of a CEO of an organization than an approachable person in the community.   But as an average pastor, we don’t always have the luxury of having people who take care of things for us. We have to do the little things to keep our churches going.

My experience on the phone that day, and other experiences like it, have caused me to wonder about how the role of the pastor has become more equated with the CEO than the person who cares for the affairs of the household of God.  The reality is that the phenomenon of the mega church and multi-level staff organizations have turned many pastors into CEOs.  Nearly all the pastor conferences are nothing more than leadership conferences that teach organizational leadership principles. Today’s pastors have people to do pastoral care, make business decisions, manage the staff and do all sorts of jobs that used to be the pastor’s responsibility. One of the fastest growing positions in the church is the Executive Pastor who runs the day to day operations and staff of the church.

The idea of a pastor being a CEO just isn’t the reality of my pastoral experience.  I have to participate in every level of ministry and church life.  Even though I have a staff, they are part time and aren’t always available to me to help with the day to day.  I make my own phone calls, do my own media, sometimes clean the church, run the errands, manage the calendar, preach the sermons, do pastoral care and do many other tasks that people today do not think a Pastor should do.  But, this is the reality for 80% of us that pastor an average church.  That is what average pastors do.pastors-office

I don’t want to be a CEO.  I want to be a pastor.  In the next few blogs I will look at a couple images the Bible gives for the pastor that have nothing to do with being a leader of an organization.  I believe it is time we take back the corporate images of the Pastor and reclaim the biblical model for pastoral ministry found in the images of the shepherd, the levite and the elder.  These images of being a pastor are not celebrated today as they were in years past, but they are still the dominant roles for pastors of average churches like ours.  I will share about each of these images and how they empower the average pastors to embrace our identity and reject the pull toward corporate church models.

Some Observations on Father’s Day

Fathers-Day

Father’s Day is always on a Sunday.  Like many churches, this year I had to wrestle with what we were going to do for fathers on Fathers Day.  I usually try to think of something simple (and cheap) to give to the fathers just like I do on Mother’s day.  Last year I gave out “Dad’s Rootbeer.” This year I chose a small ratchet strap.  It seemed like something Dads would need.  But a day or so later I was talking with a friend.  He said to me, “What does a ratchet strap have to do with being a father?”  It was a good question.  I admitted I didn’t really know.  He went on to say “What do fathers want?  Time with their kids.  Ratchet straps are for men, not dads.”  His words have been resonating with me.  I have been thinking about them for a week now.  I have also been thinking about the pressure I  feel when I see what other churches did for men on fathers day.  Some churches go all out.  And many times I am jealous of what they do for Fathers. But my friend’s comment has me thinking.

What I am about to say is just some observations.  So please forgive me if they come across as critical. Maybe they are, but they aren’t meant to be.  Please just hear my own struggle in these observations.  Pastoring is a tough enough job without having our fellow pastors criticizing each other.  But I think a few things need to be considered when it comes to Father’s Day. These are thoughts about how we celebrate Fathers Day I am struggling with.

First, I question how Mothers day and Fathers day became Christian holidays to begin with.  Its obvious, if they land on a Sunday, everyone expects the church to do something.  Many pastors, including myself, have shied away from the whole “mothers stand up and we will honor you” thing.  I think we all realize that family situations are so much more complicated.  That applies to Dads as well.  My Dad used to alway say that he hated Fathers Day at church because on Mothers Day the Pastor would say how wonderful mothers were. On Fathers Day, the pastors would beat up on the dads for not doing enough.  I don’t think he’s alone in that sentiment.  Being a parent is really hard. And no one thinks they do a good job at it.  Because of these things, I have had to stop making the service about Dads or Moms and just keep our focus on Jesus. I figure the families can celebrate their own parents well enough without me.

Second, it seems Fathers Day has turned into a sort of “man day” or an annual celebration of men.  In the same way that not all women are mothers, not all men are fathers.  It seems to me that car shows, barbecues, tool give aways and manly events are becoming the most popular way to celebrate fathers today.  But so many of those things are stereotypical ”manly” things. But are they ‘fatherly” things?  I wonder how the female children of that father enjoy the car show?  I wonder if that 50 inch TV will encourage a father to spend more time with their kids?  What if the father doesn’t like cars or bacon or doesn’t fix anything around the house?   What if they love to read? What church gives away books?  What exactly are we celebrating about fathers by giving away WD-40 and big screen tvs?  Those seem more like man things (if that is such a thing).  Like my friend asked, “what does that have to do with being a father?”  I even have a friend who has never had kids who won a pressure washer at a Fathers Day service a couple years back.  He wasn’t sure if he should take it.  You see?  Isn’t it confusing?  I think next year I will give away something that will give fathers time with their children.  To me that would honor fathers. I am not sure what yet. But I have to think of something.

Thirdly.   I fear that the modern church has turned every holiday into a marketing scheme.  Remember when we used to have big Christmas productions so that we could invite all our friends to church?  Now we do that for every holiday: Christmas, Valentines Day, Easter, Fourth of July, Mother’s Day, Fathers Day, Grandparents Day, Memorial day…you get the point.  I know why churches do it up big on Father’s Day.  Its another opportunity to invite people to come to church.  Maybe it works.  But I am afraid its starting to feel like a gimmick to get men to go to church. We sure brand it that way with all the meat, cars and mustaches!  Plus, it really doesn’t work for the average church. Many times these are our lowest attended services.  We don’t get holiday bumps like larger churches. My father comes to my church on Father’s day, but I am the pastor!  Many of my members go to be with their fathers at their churches on Fathers Day. And most of them go to the big churches who have the big events.

On the one hand I don’t think we do enough to honor both fathers and mothers for the role they play.  I believe parents have a tough job.   Fathers who stay engaged should be celebrated.  On the other hand, I hope the way we go about celebrating fathers doesn’t distract us from the true value of fathers.  I don’t want to celebrate men, I want honor Fathers.  Fathers matter to children.  Especially to the fathers of children who are still in the homes. These are the fathers I want to go out of my way to say thank you to.  Thank you for playing with your kids when you are tired. Thank you for putting down the remote and reading to your kids. Thank you for taking a trip to the park. Thank you for putting your wife’s needs ahead of your own. Thank you for showing up at the doctor appointment.  Thank you for playing barbies and princesses with your girls.  Thank you for teaching your child when they do something wrong instead of just punishing them.  What can I give a Father who does that?  Do you know?  What can I pass out on a Father’s Day that will encourage and honor Dad’s who do that?  Because that is worth celebrating.

Selfishness and the Church Size Debate

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Last week, popular pastor and church leadership expert, Andy Stanley, made headlines over controversial comments characterizing people who like small churches as being “selfish.” During a sermon discussing the benefits of church he offered to let his listeners in on a “secret” of large churches.  His goal, he said, was to have a church big enough to have both a Jr. High and High School ministry.  The benefits of that sort of arrangement are obvious to a large church. However, what he said next got him in trouble.  He said, “If you don’t go to a church large enough to have Jr High & High School ministry…you are selfish.”

You can watch what he said here:

Andy of course apologized, to his credit.

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CT did a story about it and he explained how he doesn’t really feel this way.  Christianity Today Article

I won’t try to speak for Andy on whether or not he actually believes what he said. I can’t know his heart.  However, I am absolutely convinced that the phenomenon of the large church has created a culture that believes exactly that.  “If you go to a small church, you are robbing your family.”  We all know that is exactly what people believe and what large churches believe as well.  The irony of Andy’s comment is, you cannot say on the one hand “Circles are better than rows” and at the same time say “its better for your kids to be in a church large enough” to have everything they need to not “hate church.” If circles are better, are not small churches the BEST environment of your kids? Or is it only the amenities offered in large churches that makes kids either like or “hate” church?  I’m confused!

Andy said what the church world believes:  Bigger is by definition better.  Bigger means more people, more stuff, better quality stuff, better quality people and programs.  We have so bought into the lie that bigger is better we are even willing to guilt trip people into NOT going to an AVERAGE size church.  That somehow, if you chose a small church, you are robbing your child.  If your child hates church its because they didn’t have all the things his friends church had.  Is this what the Kingdom of God has been reduced to?  Is this the church that Jesus established?  Churches big enough to provide the best possible environment for youth to make friends and love going to church?

Nonsense.  And just plain wrong.

I am trying to think of what I can say to this phenomenon. I am at a loss.  I am just plain frustrated. Not at Andy or LifeChurch or anyone else. But at the system. Here are some questions I have been asking myself after Andy’s comments and talking to my fellow Average Pastors:

  1.  How many churches have closed because of the large church in your area is offering something better (ie. bigger)?
  2.  How many pastors of average churches are 2-3 families away from being viable, but our culture has told people they shouldn’t go to a small church because they are selfish?
  3. How many pastors, who went to a bible school or university, got credentials and have a call to minister but have no where to go because  another church plants a satellite campus and replaces a pulpit with nothing more than branch manager of a video venue?
  4. How many millions of dollars are used to build foyer areas that have a coffee shop with $30,000 wifi system, when a fraction of that could revitalize and revolutionize an average church in the community?
  5. How many of the 80% of Average pastors who pastor churches of under 150 could receive a salary for serving their church if just 20 out of Andy’s 30,000 member church would be “selfish” and chose an Average church?
  6. How many churches employ full time graphic artists, meanwhile  62% of pastors in Oklahoma are bi-vocational and have to work a second job just to provide for their families?
  7. How many young aspiring minister who in a small church could have the opportunity to be used and gain experience end up sitting as just another attender in a church staffed with “professionals”?

Is this really better?

What Andy described as his vision for the best kind of youth group is the exception, not the rule!  Andy Stanley’s church represents the reality for less than 2% of churches in America.  The church world has bought into that lie that they should be normal.  There is a place for Andy’s church.  But it is supposed to be the minority.  The AVERAGE CHURCH that he is decrying is NORMAL.  Your church, with a small youth group, a hand full of kids, no coffee shop, no HD video cameras, just small circles of people who are becoming more like Jesus, WE ARE THE CHURCH. We are Average Pastors of Average Churches.

In the past two months I have seen Average Churches I know of:

  • 6 people worked all day to put on a relationship workshop for  20 couples from the community, free of charge.
  • A church give an extra 25% of a months income to help another church in our community stay on its feet after a church split.
  • A youth group of 3 kids decide together that will raise money to send the one kid that wants to compete in a fine arts competition.
  • A church give food out to 40 needy families on a weekly basis despite not having enough income to pay the bills this month.
  • A small church full of people organize a city wide festival for its city of 3,000 people.
  • People called to serve Jesus show up week after week to teach 3 kids in a preschool class because those 3 kids are important to Jesus.
  • Pastor’s wives work child care so that the nursery workers could go to a church service.
  • Volunteer staff take elderly members to doctor’s appointments.

Don’t tell me that people who love churches like that are selfish.  Don’t tell me our children are not benefiting from that type of community and culture.  We are the unselfish ones who give our lives, sacrifice our livelihoods to make a difference in the local church.  The ones who will worship in your church this Sunday are not selfish, they are brave. They are going against the tide of our ‘bigger is better’ culture. They are choosing something that is counter to the message our culture is sending them.

This Sunday, take time to thank your people for being unselfish.  Thank them for choosing to worship with you.  Whether the church world believes it or not, you have some of the greatest people in the world that call your church home.

 

Do Unto Others

the-golden-rule

My first few years as an average pastor were pretty tough. I pastor a great church but I wasn’t prepared for the overwhelming feelings of loneliness and inadequacy as a first time pastor of a small church. I was accustomed to a large church with lots of help and lots of resources.   Now as a pastor I had very little resources and very little understanding of the unique challenges of an average pastor. Most of my friends were pastors in larger churches and couldn’t relate to my new situation.  I knew very few pastors of small churches. I felt alone. I felt insecure. I felt ignored.

You have heard the golden rule: Do unto others what you want them to do to you. This is an important principle for believers to live by. But it is a great concept for understanding yourself as an average pastor as well. I have learned that one of my keys to happiness is to do unto other Pastors what I would want them to do for me. This conviction has changed my outlook on my role as an average pastor. My experience has led me to a several convictions that have made a big difference in my life.

  1. If I want to have friends, I must go make them. The pastors around you won’t seek you out.   They are busy with their own troubles and feelings of loneliness. I wished someone would reach out to me. I decided if I wanted to be known, I would have to get to know others. So I did.  I called other pastors and went to lunch. I got to know them.  I went out of my way to make others feel known.  In return, I became known.  I don’t feel alone or insignificant any more. Now I have a great network of pastor friends in similar situations that I can share this journey with.
  2. I won’t let any new pastors feel the way I felt. One of the things I like to do is to keep up on the new pastors in my area.  I don’t want someone else to feel like I did.  So when there is a new pastor, especially if they are going into a tough situation, I will go meet them. I want them to know they are not alone. I call and check in on them.  I make sure that they have at least one person that remembers that they are there.  That is what I wish someone had done for me. So I am committed to making that happen for others.
  3. I will invest in other pastors. What I wished people would have done for me, I am now doing for others. That is why I started this blog. That is why I connect with other pastors, giving them resources or inviting them to go with me to conferences. I get so much joy from being a friend of pastors. When I make them feel important, it helps me with my own feelings of loneliness and insignificance.

This weekend my church is hosting a workshop for rural pastors put on my Rural Compassion. Rural Compassion partners with rural churches to help them reach their community. Its mission is to not let rural pastors be forgotten.  They believe that “small towns have big possibilities.” That mission is meaningful to me. So we are hosting one of their workshops here. We are not a rural church, but I know the struggles I have at my church.  Ministry in the rural church is often even a bigger challenge.  Most of these pastors are in small communities and almost all of them are bi-vocational pastors.  I wanted to help make sure these unsung and under appreciated pastors will be able to be appreciated, encouraged and given fresh ideas for ways they can reach their community. I am so excited to be able to invest in these pastors.

Why are we doing it? Because I have learned the golden rule. This is what I had hoped someone would do for me. I will not wait around for someone to do it for others. When I do for others, what I wish others would do for me, we both have our needs met and the body of Christ is built up.

For more information on Rural Compassion, check out the video here:

RURAL COMPASSION + FACTS from Convoy of Hope on Vimeo.

 

The Expert You Need to Listen To

expertThe Expert You Need To Listen To

The church world is full of experts. Ever since the church growth movement began, there has been a rise in the number of “experts” that church leaders listen to.  For church growth is was Willow Creek. For leadership today the expert is Andy Stanley. For church statistics it is the Barna Group.  For church issues some may say its Carey Neuhoff or Thom Rainer.  For small church issues, I argue that our expert is Karl Vaters and newsmallchurch.com.  Chances are as an average pastor, you are looking to the experts to help you lead and grow your church.  I appreciate these leaders. I have learned from many of them. But I realized this week that there is one expert that we as average pastors tend to neglect.

What is an expert?

I am a bit of an education nerd.  Many years ago God put it in my heart to become a PhD.  So for the past few years I have worked toward this. I have a bachelors and a masters in Theology and I am working on a PhD.  The goal of doctoral work is to become an expert on one small particular point of theology that no one else has studied or published about.  What a PhD says about you is that when it comes to your topic, you are the expert.  People can talk about similar issues as you, but on your particular issue, you are the one who knows best on the subject.

You have a PhD in your church!

Who knows your church the best?  Chances are YOU do!  You certainly can learn about church matters from the experts mentioned above.  But the reality is that you are no different than them.  They became an expert through the process of becoming an expert in their own churches.  All of Andy Stanley’s wisdom comes from becoming an expert in being the Pastor of NorthPoint.   All he is doing is telling his story. Pastor, you are expert on your church.  You know the history better than anyone else. You know the strength and weaknesses. You know the people assests. You know your community.  A great pastor is one who becomes an expert, not on the principles that make Andy Stanley’s church work, but on what makes your church work.  When it comes to the church you pastor, nobody is better equipped to know what your church needs than you.

“A great pastor is one who becomes an expert, not on the principles that make Andy Stanley’s church work, but on what makes your church work.”

It is time for you to start listening to yourself!  You are an expert!  Lead with confidence.  He didn’t pick Andy Stanley to lead your church. He picked you.  Listen to your own heart for what God has for your church. Trust your own instincts and expertise.  Embrace yourself as the person who is best equipped to know what your church needs.  God has made YOU the expert.  He will help you lead your church into what He has planned for you.