The Family: A Casualty of a Hectic Church Calendar

As I sit in my normal place of writing this morning, my mind is rushing through the multiplicity of church services, activities, Bible studies, dinners, fellowships, trips, meetings, and other events that are on the church calendar.

Here is an honest question: Can all the activities in and connected to the church actually hurt families?

I’ve been on both sides of this. I have been the church member trying to do everything that is “expected” at church while not dropping anything from the juggling act of a busy life.

I am now a pastor wrestling with how much is too much—not  wanting to upset people by eliminating their favorite program, activity, service, or ministry, but also not wanting to see families stretched too thin—driven to the point of spiritual burnout and church abandonment.

The Tension

How do churches offer what Christians need, as presented in Scripture, without the calendar of events becoming a point of stress, burnout, and frustration for families?

The Solutions- What We Must Realize

1- What people sometimes expect may not be what is needed.

2- If you lose the family, you lose the church.

3- Our purpose as a church, as defined by Scripture, should drive our calendars.

4- Activity does not always equal productivity.

5- We need to do less. It’s not really as simple as it sounds, at least not in my context, but I think it is needed.

6- Constantly being at the church building does not necessarily mean the church family is really living in community.

7- It is possible for a church to ‘activity’ and ‘program’ itself to death.

Closing Thoughts

My heart breaks for families that are at a place of spiritual burnout.

Perhaps our lives should be less invested in church events and more invested in the people of the church.

Perhaps in making church events less a part of our schedules we will in reality be making the Church more a part of our lives.

 

5 Cultural Realities that Have Impacted Youth Ministry (as compared to 15 years ago)

I started in youth ministry over 15 years ago, and I loved it. As I think back to those years spent in youth ministry, I am amazed at how things have changed in our world. Here are 5 ways changes in our culture have impacted youth ministry.

1- Social Media has become a primary method of communication

15 years ago no one could have imagined the central role of social media in our culture. Not only is it utilized by teens; it is the primary method of communication. Whether it is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or SnapChat (or a number of others) social media is part of teen’s lives.

2- More non-traditional family structures

There are more and more single-parent homes as well as non-traditional family structures. This can make youth ministry tricky. The home used to be a foundational component of youth ministry. That is no longer the case.

3- Less biblical literacy

When I started in youth ministry, most teens who visited our church (in the Bible-belt) had at least some biblical knowledge. Those who didn’t had at least been taught that the Bible was trustworthy. This provided a common starting point. This is no longer the case.

A youth ministry that seeks to reach unchurched teens, must have an apologetics component due to the biblical illiteracy as well as the plethora of varying religious and secular worldviews.

4- Moral confusion

There is much more moral confusion today than 15 years ago. Homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgender lifestyles are quickly on the rise in our high schools.

Those ministering in our culture must (1) be grounded in truth and (2) be willing to address these issues biblically.

5- Less trust in institutions

This is not just true of teens, but of many in our society today. As a result, we cannot simply sit back and expect people to just show up at our churches. Both discipleship and evangelism must be rooted in relationships. Simply having an activity will not be enough to evangelize unchurched teens.

There are more cultural transitions that have taken place and more challenges that exist, but it all points to the need for quality youth ministries.

 

10 Keys to Making Needed Changes in a Church

There are no perfect churches, which means there are needed changes in every church. How a pastor goes about making these changes will, in part, determine the future health and effectiveness of the church. Here are 10 keys that will help in making needed, God-honoring changes in a church.

1- Pray.

Ask God for wisdom and guidance. Ask God for patience as you lead. Ask God to help those in your church see the needs that exist. Ask God for unity. Thank God for the opportunity to serve his church.

2- View making needed changes as an aspect of discipleship.

 Some people don’t realize what changes are needed because they have not been taught. Perhaps they don’t understand the biblical purpose of a church. Perhaps they don’t really know how to measure health in a church.

When you view making changes as an aspect of discipleship you will be more willing to give people time to grow in their understanding of why the change is needed.

 3- Spend time with people.

 Spending time with people does two things. First, the more you spend time with people the more you will know and care about how change will affect them. Second, as you spend time with people they will get to know you and your heart for the ministry. Spending time with people will make you more caring and the congregation more trusting.

 4- Learn why things are the way they are.

 Someone once told me, “Never take down a fence until you know why it was put up.” There is great wisdom in this. Maybe something is how it is for a valid reason you have not thought about. Or maybe there is no valid reason. Either way you need to know the background.

 5- Know the vision of your church.

 Where is your church going? Changes that are not tied to a vision will frustrate people. If people in your church understand how the proposed changes will help them accomplish the vision for the church, they will be more likely to embrace it.

 6- Start with what you can.

Some things can be changed and no one will care. Start there. The effects of these seemingly small changes will begin to accumulate over time.

7- Continually get feedback from key people.

Every church as these key people who can either greatly help you as you lead or can severely hinder you. Helping these people see why change is needed will help your efforts.

8- Take advantage of key opportunities.

 Sometimes circumstances will open a door for a more significant change without the pastor having to initiate it. Let’s say a staff members leaves. You have been thinking about the need for staff restructuring, but have not wanted to push it too hard. Because of the circumstances that have presented themselves, you now have the opportunity to take a big step forward without it being perceived as something you forced to happen.

 9- Communicate the change clearly.

 I dealt with this in a PREVIOUS POST, but it cannot be overstated. Failing to communicate change clearly and deliberately will undermine everything else you have done to this point.

10- Move slowly but deliberately.

Haphazard changes will destroy trust. Moving too quickly will scare people. However, failing to move at all will frustrate and run off those who see the need for changes.

Move slowly, but move.

Change is never easy, but usually necessary. Following these 10 points will help you make the changes God is leading you to make.