not in category mode for script check
Ronnie Floyd guest post today has some mentoring gold that I know pastors and church leaders will benefit from:
Dear Fellow Ministers,
In recent weeks, I have felt the need to write a special letter to you. Therefore, from my heart to your heart, I share these things with you. May they bring encouragement and remind us we are all in this ministry life together.
First, put Jesus first in your day.
Start your day early with God and if early is not your deal, at least start your day with God first. Yes, first things first. If we do not begin our day with Jesus, then we forfeit the privilege to lead His people. Please begin your day with God; otherwise, defeat in life and ministry will become normal for you. Minister of the gospel, remember this: Deepen your walk and God will expand your influence.
Second, renew your belief in the power of God.
The same God that saves you by grace through being born again by His supernatural power is the same God alive today in your ministry and life. Embrace the power of God! He can do anything, any time, anywhere, with anyone. He can do this with you and through your church. Refuse to dissect what He can and cannot do. Receive what He is able to do with you and through you. Begin to teach and preach about the power of God to your church. They need to begin to believe again.
Third, bring prayer back into the worship services of your church.
Get beyond the “Bless me” prayers and into calling out to the God of Heaven to manifest His presence to the people of God. Weekly, call out to God before your people. Pray for the sick. Pray for the hurting. Your entire church needs to hear you pray with both confidence and conviction. At times, move your people to pray together in groups around the room. At other times, call them to their knees in humility. Pray for revival to come to the people of God and for the next Great Awakening to occur in America. Prayer always precedes great works of God.
Fourth, prioritize evangelism in the life of your church.
Refuse to succumb to persuasions and practices that do not aggressively reach others for Christ. Celebrate the reaching of the lost and the baptizing of new followers of Christ. Discover places in your community where the gospel has never been shared and resolve to take the gospel there. Study the demographics of your city. Strategize how to win your city to Jesus Christ. Then, do not cease evangelizing.
Fifth, call your people to support God’s work financially.
Do not minimize it. This is not simply about the church being blessed, but it is incumbent on you as a pastor to raise up and develop people to practice financial stewardship.
Unashamedly, model and teach God’s people about giving the first ten percent of their entire income to their local church. Call them to give beyond this and challenge them to live life in the lane of generosity. Then, as a church, give sacrificially and generously to advance the gospel across the world exponentially by planting gospel churches and supporting missionaries.
Sixth, stand upon the Word of God courageously.
Our biblical Christian worldview is in constant conflict with the culture. Do not cower down to our culture nor cuddle with it. Stand strongly and courageously upon the Word of God. Always communicate God’s Word in Jesus’ love. Stand strong.
Seventh, value each person in the world. Give respect to every person in the world.
Stop letting things divide you with the people of God and with fellow ministers. We are family! Stand for the dignity of each person and for the sanctity of life. Reject racism in any form. Renounce abortion in every way. Stand for the dignity and the sanctity of human life from the womb all the way to the tomb.
Eighth, learn from criticism.
It will come. Count on it. Determine to outlive it. Refuse to become bitter toward any person who is critical of you. Do not let anyone outside of your circle of love.
Ninth, lead cross-generationally.
Do not be influential with just your generation; develop relationships with the generation before you and the generation behind you. Otherwise, your leadership will be limited and any potential legacy you may have will become short-lived. Invest in all generations. This is biblical. Give respect and love to all generations. We are family.
Tenth, be humble.
When you are humble, God will raise you up. The way up is down. When you humble yourself before God, you can more easily humble yourself before others. God is not attracted to pride, but He is to humility. He lifts up those who are humble before Him.
Fellow minister, thank you for living for Jesus and standing upon His Word. Fulfill the calling God has given to you. Please know I am with you in this battle and praying for you daily.
Now is the Time to Lead,
Ronnie W. Floyd
The loss of a very close friend this summer helped me to realize how important my friends are to me. Craig Miller’s accidental death rocked me to my core. I was hurting and in need of the same consolation I have been dishing out to others for almost thirty years.
Perhaps it was because I had never lost anyone that close, except elderly grandparents. Perhaps it was because Craig and I shared a love for Jesus, missions and hunting - all of which we talked about less than three days earlier.
Regardless, I was undone. Out of that season of grief came a few takeaways about friendship that I would like to encourage you with.
Friends will step up when you get down
One of my favorite songs is, "Find Out Who Your Friends Are" - made famous by Tracy Lawrence in 2007:
You find out who your friends are
Somebody's gonna drop everything
Run out and crank up their car
Hit the gas get there fast
Never stop to think 'what's in it for me?' or 'it's way too far.'
They just show on up with that big old heart.
You find out who you're friends are
When the water's high
When the weather's not so fair
When the well runs dry
Who's gonna be there?
I was comforted by the outpouring of compassion from my friends. Their calls and texts meant more to me than they probably knew. I hope to step up for them when they inevitably walk through a dark valley.
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a difficult time. Proverbs 17:17
True friendships will grow over time
Every friendship is susceptible to erosion. Friendships will grow if nourished and given attention. Craig and I became close friends in college and shared a love for music, missions and hunting.
As our families and ministries grew, so did our friendship. We fished and hunted and shared the Gospel in eight countries together in our 30 year friendship. Tanzania was going to be our next adventure together in 2018.
We must always thank God for you, brothers...since your faith is flourishing and the love each one of you has for one another is increasing. 2 Thessalonians 1:3
Two of my favorite bowhunters were King David and Prince Jonathan (Saul’s son). I love how Jonathan gave David his bow as a sign of their friendship. Their true bond was not archery, it was unselfish love.
Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as much as himself. 1 Samuel 18:3
Thank God for the friends He gives you
Perhaps my biggest takeaway from Craig’s death was how thankful I am to have had a friend like him. I have also been thinking lot about another close friend name Jim who has walked into the cruel, seemingly endless valley of dementia. As I grieve a future without both of them on earth, I eagerly look forward to a reunion with them in heaven some day.
In the meantime, I have looked around to discover that God has surrounded me with several terrific friends with whom I am still sharing life with. I see each of them as a gift from Him.
This Thanksgiving, as you thank God for your faith and family, don’t forget to thank God for the friends He has given you as well.
Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
People are tired of politics, but I would suggest pastors address the elephant-elect in the room this Sunday anyway. It would be unwise to underestimate the impact you as a pastor can have on your members in particular, or our beloved country in general. It would be equally foolish of us to overestimate the impact of any new president.
Here are a few practical ways you can help your people move forward this Sunday.
1. Unite Your People in Prayer
It pleases Jesus when we pray for kings and all those who are in authority (1 Tim 2:2). I have been praying for President Obama for eight years, both in private and public. Jesus was clear about what we should be doing in the place Jesus said is a “house of prayer.”
This Sunday, I would you suggest you pray during worship for the Trumps, Pences, and even the Clintons. Why not go ahead and pray for the Congress and Senate while you are at it? Throughout the year, continue to pray for other public servants like the military, first responders, and local leaders.
2. Stay on Script
We always stay on script when we stick to Scripture. Social issues which are based in these timeless truths are always appropriate, but this Sunday I suggest you remind them of Romans 13. It says that our governing leaders are charged with protecting those who do good and punishing those who do evil. It also teaches us to live quiet, peaceful lives and submit to those who govern us.
If our message changes every time the presidency does, we become neo-politicians instead of pastors.
3. Remind Them Who is Really in Charge
Some elections revolve around fear. This one seemed to revolve more around frustration. Many of your members will come to church frustrated and/or fearful, regardless of who they voted for.
I’m not suggesting you become overtly cheerful Sunday, because we as evangelicals have legitimate concerns like the redefinition of marriage and life; lack of support for our military and police... just to name a few. Will all of these social problems be turned around by the newest president on the block? I hope so, but I’m not going to put all my hopes in any politician or party. I’ve pastored through five different presidencies and have yet to press the pastoral panic button on my pulpit.
“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.”
As a dual citizen of heaven and the USA, I feel honored to be an official resident of both. There is only one Throne however, and thankfully we do not get a vote on who occupies it.
If I’m in a car, I prefer to be in the driver’s seat. This is more of a confession than a boast. I want to know where I am going, what the most efficient route is, and most of all - I want to be in control.
Our driving preferences are a direct reflection of our personalities. Patient people drive patiently; obnoxious people drive...you get the point. I obviously have a driven personality. (You’re welcome)
Most of my pastor friends are driven leaders too, which is how God designed them. The original Disciples were no different, which is why they were likely frustrated when they were called to COME, then GO, and then WAIT.
Three years after Jesus called the twelve to “come and follow,” He commissioned them to “go and make disciples.” You can imagine how excited they were immediately after the resurrection, ascension and Great Commission to change the world. You can also imagine how less than excited they were about being instructed to go “wait” indefinitely for the Holy Spirit in the Upper Room.
How would you feel if you were suited up to play a baseball or football game, only to be sent back to the locker room immediately after the national anthem was sung?
While reading about Jesus’ baptism in Mark 1 this morning, I noticed that Jesus was directed to do the same thing three years earlier. His baptism was His ordination and commissioning service, which was immediately followed by a 40 day trip to the desert...with the Devil. Bummer.
John the Baptist had recently announced that Jesus was the Messiah, and now was preparing the way for Jesus by baptizing Him. God the Father then affirmed Jesus publicly by opening the heavens and sending the Holy Spirit like a dove.
Then the Spirit then drove Jesus into the wilderness.
Jesus knew when to drive and when to be driven; when to speak and when to listen. Pastors are usually better speakers than listeners, so we can benefit from His example.
And a voice came from heaven: You are My beloved Son; I take delight in You! Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness 40 days, being tempted by Satan (Mark 1:11-12).
Go save the world Jesus, but wait in the wilderness for 40 days first.
Go turn the world upside down Disciples, but wait in the Upper Room first.
I have found at least four upsides to waiting before you go:
1. Waiting on God saves time, energy and embarrassment that come with running enthusiastically in the wrong direction.
2. Waiting saves the other passengers on our ministry bus from frustration.
3. Waiting acknowledges the sovereignty of God in our lives and ministries.
4. Waiting is submitting to the Holy Spirit which bears fruit of the Spirit, such as patience.
Allow yourself to be driven by the Holy Spirit, rather than by your own ambition, or the agendas of others in your life and ministry.
Be silent before the Lord and wait expectantly for Him. Psalm 37:7
Is there a culture of honor in your church? The answer can often be traced back to the relationship between the pastors and deacons - or whatever titles you use to describe your leadership structure. If there is no honor among the leaders, how could it possibly exist in the rest of the church? The good news is that the opposite is equally true.
In a previous post a couple of weeks ago, I asked How Can Deacons Honor Their Pastors?, in light of Pastor Appreciation Month (Oct). Today we will turn the tables by showing pastors six ways to honor their deacons.
If the lead pastor and deacon officers are not meeting together regularly, then their meetings apart will not be nearly as healthy or productive. I usually met with my deacon chairman or officers about once a quarter, whether we had any ministry to discuss or not.
Church members who see you having coffee or lunch together will get a strong sense of security as they observe what healthy unity looks like.
Acts 6 reminds us that it was a group of pastors who initiated the deacon ministry as well as its selection process. Pastors need to set the pace and tone for the deacon ministry, starting in their ministry staff meetings.
Regardless of your staff dynamic or calendaring process, your pastor must give directional leadership to prioritizing and expanding the deacon ministry in your church. Churches need to expand their deacon ministry for the same reasons they did in Acts - church health and growth.
Deacons are called to be catalysts for growth and unity in the local church. They sometimes fall short of their calling, just as pastors do, but they are clearly still part of God’s plan for fulfilling the Great Commission.
The pastor should be more than an “honorary” member of of deacons’ meetings. The deacon chair has an opportunity to initiate honor by asking his pastor for input in front of the other deacons. This is when the pastor is best teed up to reciprocate honor to his deacon brothers.
After almost three decades of deacons’ meetings, I can attest that some of them are better than others. Pastor, blow the boredom out of those meetings with a sense of vision that synergizes what both the pastors and deacons are working on. Make sure that same vision you cast on Sunday mornings is also caught in staff and deacons’ meetings.
When a pastor gives an occasional shout-out to their deacons on Sunday mornings, it not only blesses the deacons, but also their family and friends. I have often referred to deacons as, “the backbone of our church” from the pulpit.
Honor is best served in public.
Too many pastors are unnecessarily threatened by the allies God sent to help them. Try to catch them doing something right, and then make a big deal out of it in front of the rest of the church.
“I am pleased to have Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus present, because these men have made up for your absence. For they have refreshed my spirit and yours. Therefore recognize such people” (1 Cor. 16:17-18).
A pastor supports deacons by making a big deal out of the entire ordination process. Celebrate their call as you would a pastor’s. Have towels monogrammed for deacons and Bibles monogrammed for ministers. Ordination services are among the rare suit and tie occasions in the 21st century church.
In the church I most recently pastored, my last deacon ordination service was one of my favorites. We showed video testimonies of all seven incoming deacons. Highlights of those testimonies were played during the morning worship services, which not only promoted the service, but also the importance of deacon ministry in our church.
Pastors, why not leverage your deacon ordination service and selection process to bless your deacons with the honor they are afforded in Scripture?
Honor may be best served in public, but it does not replace the impact of personal words of appreciation. I have kept several notes that deacons have sent to me, and I suspect some have kept mine as well. Equally impactful is a simple call, text, or hallway acknowledgment when a deacon visits someone in the hospital or nursing home, etc.
A culture of honor in your church starts at the top, between deacons and pastors. Please forward this article to your pastor, but only after you have made some attempt to honor him first. It doesn’t have to be during Pastor Appreciation Month. For ideas on how to honor your pastor any time of the year, go to 27 Ways to Bless Your Pastor.
“Outdo one another in showing honor” (Rom. 12:10).
This article originally appeared in the Winter 15/16 edition of Deacon Magazine.
by Janet Dance
As a ministry couple, we are surrendered to a life of following God anytime, anywhere. Finding God’s will in ministry can be a challenge of our faith, trust and obedience and can feel a bit insecure for those of us who like to have all our ducks in a row - on a visible shelf - within reach.
I was struggling with that call fifteen years ago as I was reading the book of Numbers. I saw myself with God’s people as He led them into the land He promised. I saw the Israelites time and time again looking at their circumstances, grumbling, and questioning God’s leadership. They displeased God with their lack of trust and set themselves up for God’s discipline.
Perhaps they asked themselves, “Can we really trust God? What if we get there and we don’t like it? What if Egypt is better? Will my kids adjust?”
Following God’s Will in Ministry Can Be Unnerving
When God was leading Mark and me to leave our church in East Tennessee in the early 90’s, we could sense Him loosening our roots there. It was unnerving. I loved our church family, our community, our house. Life was good and God was blessing Mark’s ministry there. One day I asked God, “Since this is a good ministry and we are serving you here, why can’t we just stay? I love this community and I have such good friends (whine whine). Maybe it’s not your first choice for us, but it’s a good choice right?”
Seriously, I asked this - and I meant it.
Life Outside of God’s Will is Meaningless
God spoke to me in that moment loud and clear by withdrawing the feeling of His Spirit from me. I was saved at age 6 so I really don’t remember a life without His Spirit.
It literally took my breath away. A physical pain struck my heart and I had to gasp for air. I looked at the beautiful mountains behind our home and they were a dull green. I thought of my dear friends and the relationships felt empty. Life in that moment felt completely meaningless. I knew right then that the feelings of security, joy, friendships and purpose – the feelings I wanted to stay in East TN for - were all a direct result of being in the center of God’s Will, not being in that specific ministry. I immediately began to plead for God’s forgiveness. I hated the feeling of hopelessness.
The Holy Spirit's presence came back to comfort me. I thank God for the grace of Jesus that I can be forgiven and restored at the moment of repentance so I did not have to wander for 40 years as a consequence.
God’s Will Brings Peace
Months later, I walked through the house, room by room, where my babies slept, and said goodbye. As we drove to Arkansas through the rolling hills and Smoky Mountains, I heard on the radio for the first time the new single I Can’t Live a Day without You from the group Avalon. I wept as God reminded me that He is the author of my peace.
I really don’t want to live even 1 day without Him. Life without Him is truly meaningless; even when the things I do are good things. I pray I always remember and never go back to Meribah (Num 20:13), a place where I quarrel with God over His plan for my life.
Nashville God? Why not!
Each time a pastor prematurely exits the ministry race, I grieve. I also grieve each time I hear the awful pastor retention stats which are unsubstantiated and sometimes exaggerated. Here are a couple of examples of recent headlines and bylines from usually reliable sources:
Epidemic: Another Pastor Burned Out and Quit Last Sunday: Unfortunately, that pastor wasn't the only one to have such a story last Sunday. Hundreds did. This year, thousands will leave the ministry, burned out and hurting.
Too Many Pastors Are Burning Out: More than 1,700 pastors leave the ministry every month: This staggering number includes some of the brightest, most inspiring pastors in the country.
We have all heard, and perhaps shared, these “staggering” scary stats about pastors who leave the ministry every month. The truth is sometimes worse than myth, but fortunately not in this case.
The prevailing myth = 1,500/1,700 pastors leave the ministry every month
The promising truth = 250 pastors leave the ministry every month
Last September, the results of a groundbreaking LifeWay Research survey of 1,500 pastors of evangelical and historically black churches found only one percent abandon the pulpit each year. I can think of at least three implications from this groundbreaking research.
Pastors Are Not Quitters
I was sixteen years old when I surrendered to the ministry. Soon after I shared that call with my church, my pastor told me that only about 1:10 who start in the ministry will finish in the ministry. I have heard that several times since then. If that is true, how does it sync with this new study?
First of all, many who say "yes" to the ministry never actually started in the first place. As I look back to those I've known who publically shared their call to the ministry, many of them changed their mind along the way in high school, college, or seminary. Career confusion is normal for students, as well as adults.
Current pastors say a change in calling is the top reason their predecessors left the pastorate. We all know pastors who aren't a good fit for that role. For those who do eventually step onto the front lines of ministry, apparently most don't quit...which is awesome.
“Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it” (2 Corinthians 8:11).
Ministry Is Tough, But So Are Ministers
I talk to pastors every day and can attest to the fact that they have one of the hardest jobs on the planet. What this survey says to me is that pastors are not quitters or wimps.
84 percent say they’re on call 24 hours a day
80 percent expect conflict in their church
54 percent find the role of pastor frequently overwhelming
Dr. Rainer loves pastors, and it is a great privilege for me to serve this tough tribe on behalf of him and LifeWay. Our desire is to encourage and equip these brave servants of the church.
“Brothers, do not grow weary in doing good” (2 Thessalonians 3:13).
Ministers Need Encouragement
The results of this survey remind us that those who are still serving on the front lines of ministry need encouragers to root them on. Their race is not over yet.
53 percent are often concerned about their family’s financial security
48 percent often feel the demands of ministry are more than they can handle
21 percent say their church has unrealistic expectations of them
If you are a pastor, encourage your comrades "in season and out of season." Every pastor needs a pastor in his life and ministry. Who can you be a Barnabas to?
If you are a lay-leader in your church, treat your pastor(s) like a friend or family member, because he is both. Provide a listening ear and safe place for your pastor to share his dreams, as well as his nightmares.
October is Pastor/Clergy Appreciation Month which is a good opportunity for churches to say “thank you.” Honestly, most churches won’t participate because either they don't know about it or know how to implement it. Since it is awkward for pastors to initiate honor, repost this on social media or email it to a trusted lay-leader: 27 Ways to Bless Your Pastor
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24).
At the end of the day, most ministers consider it a great privilege to serve the Lord and His beautiful Bride. We understand the price of pastoring and are more than willing to pay it.
“I give thanks to Christ Jesus our Lord who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, appointing me to the ministry” (1 Timothy 1:12).