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.

 

4 Ways Pastors Can Grow Their Leadership Abilities

Leadership is a key component of being a pastor. Regardless of the your church’s governance structure, a pastor must lead well if the church is going to accomplish its mission. While some people are born with an innate ability to lead, it is more often learned. As a result, pastors should intentionally put effort into growing their leadership abilities. Here are 4 ways I try to grow in my leadership abilities that you might find helpful.

1- Read

On average, I read one book a week. How? While I am a fast reader, it is something I prioritize. Most every night before bed I will read for 45-60 minutes. This reading each day is not focused on sermon prep or theological issues. This time is spent reading books that will help me grow and improve in various areas of my life.

If you follow this, you will spend between 5 and 7 hours reading for the purpose of personal growth. While there are usually no dramatic changes that will take place overnight, there is a cumulative effect that, over time, will change how we lead.

2- Write

Writing can do several things. It has a way of helping you formulate thoughts. Writing can force you to determine what you think about a particular topic that perhaps you have avoided in the past. It can help you think through an issue from a number of perspectives. Writing about issues in your field helps you anticipate objections and complaints about a certain course of action.

Writing may not solve an issue that may be present, but it does help prepare the leader to lead through those issues in a more informed way.

3- Learn from other leaders

The best way I have found to learn from other leaders is to listen to podcasts while I am driving. It requires no additional time since I would be driving anyway, but allows me to be intentional with that time. On average, I listen to 5-6 podcasts per week. Four of them are focused on leadership.

Listening to these leaders talk about leadership in the context of the church allows me to grow in my understanding of leadership as well as my practice of leadership.

4- Hire a leadership coach

So, this is not something I have personally done, but it is something that intrigues me. I have been reading and studying about this and have read testimonies of many people who say their leadership has been significantly helped by this. No, it may not be for everyone, but it is worth consideration.

Regardless of which of these you strive to add into your schedule, be intentional about growing your leadership abilities. Over time you and your church will notice the difference.

 

This Week’s Top 5- April 15, 2017

Here are 5 of the best articles I read this week.

Art Rainer   |   5 Bad Excuses for Not Giving to Your Church

Many struggle with the idea of giving to their church. There is a barrier between them and the offering plate (or online giving site). Often the excuses for not giving are based on a misunderstanding of Scripture or a misunderstanding of their church. Here are five bad excuses for not giving to your church:


Juan Sanchez   |   10 Ways to Provide a Welcoming Environment for Your Guests this Easter

On Easter Sunday, April 16, we will welcome many visitors to our worship gatherings. A lot of these guests will step into a church service for the first time. Many, I suspect, do not call themselves Christians. Guests notice and usually comment on how loving a fellowship is (or is not) by their willingness to welcome newcomers. If your church already welcomes guests well, then praise God for His work among you and continue to remind your members about the preciousness of others. The following are just 10 ways we can help guests feel welcome and at home each Sunday, but especially this coming Easter Sunday when so many will visit your church for the first, and possibly, last time.


Brandon Smith   |   5 Reasons You Should Delight in Theology

Theology is the grammar of the Christian faith. We can’t avoid it. We can’t ignore it. And I think it can be mostly boiled down to five foundational concepts.


Chuck Lawless   |   8 Things I DIDN’T Learn in Seminary

I’m a seminary dean who believes in what we do. In fact, I think anyone called to ministry who has opportunity for further training has some obligation to at least consider this option. On the other hand, I recognize some things that are hard to learn in the classroom:


Sarah Piercy  |   What You Never Know You Miss By Skipping Sunday Morning

When I miss a Sunday service, I miss way more than I ever thought.