Category: Church

Solve 90% of Church Problems Before They Ever Exist




By Joe McKeever, Preacher, Cartoonist, Pastor, and retired Director of Missions at the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans.


The number one reason most church problems do so much damage is that the people in the know, those charged with leadership, have not anticipated these things and done the hard work necessary to head them off.

Good preparation will end most church problems before they arise.

Here are 10 rules–principles, suggestions, guideposts, lifelines, call them whatever you wish (except “laws”)–which, if implemented, can stop the next church split in its tracks and allow this healthy church to go chugging on down the tracks while the devil sits there scratching his head, wondering, “Wha’ happened?” (Old comic book image there).

1. Get your people serious about prayer.

Prayer is not brackets with which we open and close meetings. Prayer is not tipping our hat to the Almighty to let Him know we are aware He is eavesdropping the proceedings. Prayer is not a formality to be gotten out of the way so we can get on with the good part.

Prayer is calling on the Lord of Heaven and earth to help us, to guide us, to protect and fill and use us. Prayer is accessing Heaven’s power and God’s wisdom for earth’s work.

Once a war breaks out, it’s not too late to pray. But it almost is. It’s never too late to pray, but far better to have been earnest in our praying when matters were in hand and nothing ominous loomed on the horizon.

Prayer for believers is like weightlifting for athletes: you do it faithfully in the inner room so when you face the opponent you are strong and ready.

This is not a one-time act by a preacher to turn his church into a prayer/powerhouse. It will require many sermons, his example, changes in the order of worship, constant teaching and reminding, and creative plans and challenging reminders for his people.

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Bivocational Ministry, Part 6:
Bivocational Pastors Must Learn to Delegate

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Bivocational Ministry, Part 6:
Bivocational Pastors Must Learn to Delegate


Dr. Dorsett is a bivocational pastor and church planting missionary in Vermont. He is the author of Developing Leadership Teams in the Bivocational Church and Bible Brain Teasers: Fun Adventures through the Bible. He also serves as a church planting catalyst with the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. He has a passion for helping the next generation discover a meaningful faith and become leaders in sharing that faith with others.

This series looks at the importance of bivocational ministry and bivocational ministers in today’s church. The previous articles in this series are:
Part 1: Bivocational Ministry is a Growing Method for Ministry.
Part 2: Lay People Are Willing to Help Pastors – But Only If They Are Trained.
Part 3: Rethinking Our Perception of Bivocational Ministry.
Part 4: Bivocational Ministry is Normal.
Part 5: Bivocational Ministry Is More Common Than Most People Realize.


There are an increasing number of pastors experiencing burn out. Bob Wells has done extensive research on the health of American clergy. In a 2002 article in Pulpit and Pew, Wells concluded that “doctrinal and theological differences aside, North American churches have in common not only the Cross and a love of Christ, but also a pastorate whose health is fast becoming cause for concern.” Pastors are not as healthy as they should be. This lack of health contributes to the higher burn out rates currently being experienced by pastors.

Though all pastors are prone to burn out, bivocational pastors, who work secular jobs in addition to serving churches, are even more likely than fully funded pastors to experience burn out. Bivocational pastors seldom have as many resources at their disposal to help them recover from burn out, so it is particularly important that they avoid this syndrome altogether. One of the best ways for bivocational pastors to avoid burn out is for them to delegate some of their duties to others. It is simply not possible for a bivocational pastor to work full time at the church and also work a full time secular job without paying the price physically and emotionally. As bivocational pastors learn to share the burdens of ministry with an entire team, they will no longer feel as overwhelmed. Building pastoral leadership teams can help pastors avoid feeling burned out.

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Three Tough Church Situations … and what to do about them.




By Joe McKeever, Preacher, Cartoonist, Pastor, and retired Director of Missions at the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans.


I am not a professional counselor, not an adviser of churches or denominations or pastors as such, and not an expert on problem-solving or conflict management. What I am is a retired preacher and a blogger who sometimes gets asked, “What is your take on this? What do you recommend we do about that?”

Out of that experience, and spurred on by the two most recent situations–one by phone last night and the other from an email this morning–here are three “case studies” or problem scenarios that occur with alarming frequency in our churches. And my suggestions on what the leadership should do in handling them.

As always, I do not claim to have the last word on any of this. But if it turns out this is the first word, something that gets readers to thinking deeply and acting courageously, it will have been worth the effort.

Problem One:

A little group of unelected lay leaders is running the church behind the scenes.

In most cases, the new pastor learned of the existence of this cabal only after he had arrived, set up his office, began his ministry, and then decided to try something. He was told there was a small group of people–almost always it’s a group of men–who would have to clear this before he could proceed.

How those few men came to occupy this lofty perch of “The Church’s Board of Directors” is irrelevant. The issue before us is what to do now.

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What Makes Small Churches Great Churches: Part 5: Faith


Dr. Thomas Douglas
Pastor
Parkway Baptist Church
Kansas City, KS




This is the fifth article in the series on the importance of small churches. The previous articles are:
The Introduction (an overview and rationale for the series)
Part 1: Truth (an overview and rationale for the series)
Part 2: Mature Love (the imperative of having a loving fellowship)
Part 3: Unity (the importance of unity)
Part 4: Joy (the importance of joy)


One of the greatest challenges small churches face is fulfilling the Great Commission. Many members struggle from time to time wondering, “How can so few of us make the huge impact on the world that the Great Commission implies?” Can a church with more members make a larger impact on the world than a smaller church? Yes, but when we look at church size as the definitive measure for eternal impact, we fail to qualify our statements. First, a larger church can potentially have a greater impact if they faithfully share the gospel where they live and send missionaries into the world. Being part of a large church does not guarantee the advancement of the gospel into the lost world, nor does it mean more of their members share with people the good news of Christ. Large churches fill too many American cities with huge church complexes where crowds come to hear and trust others to do the work. When James tells us to consider the high position the brother in humble circumstances possesses (1:9), we can apply that to churches that lack the resources and the manpower. Instead of being envious of what large churches can accomplish with greater resources, small churches should praise God because what they cannot match dollar for dollar or even person for person, they can match in faith.

Second, God calls specific churches to reach specific people. Now, I believe God gives more opportunities to churches that are found faithful in sharing the gospel, but the truth remains that Paul believed the churches he planted had an obligation to reach their communities for Christ. He repeatedly calls them to witness (Phil.1:18) and celebrates their evangelistic footprint (Phil.1:5; 1 Thess.6-8). Small churches do not need the size of other churches to make an eternal impact. Instead, they need faith in God to work through them to reach first the community they are in and then the world.

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Bivocational Ministry, Part 5:
Bivocational Ministry Is More Common
Than Most People Realize

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Bivocational Ministry, Part 5:
Bivocational Ministry Is More Common
Than Most People Realize


Dr. Dorsett is a bivocational pastor and church planting missionary in Vermont. He is the author of Developing Leadership Teams in the Bivocational Church and Bible Brain Teasers: Fun Adventures through the Bible. He also serves as a church planting catalyst with the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. He has a passion for helping the next generation discover a meaningful faith and become leaders in sharing that faith with others.

This series looks at the importance of bivocational ministry and bivocational ministers in today’s church. The previous articles in this series are:
Part 1: Bivocational Ministry is a Growing Method for Ministry.
Part 2: Lay People Are Willing to Help Pastors – But Only If They Are Trained.
Part 3: Rethinking Our Perception of Bivocational Ministry.
Part 4: Bivocational Ministry is Normal.


In part 3, I wrote about the need to rethink our perceptions of bivocational ministry; and in part 4, I followed that up with a post on why bivocationalism is actually the normal, though not the only, way to do ministry. Today, I want to expand that discussion just a bit more and discuss the reality that bivocational ministry is becoming more common in our culture, whether we like it or not.

Though some ministers serving larger churches do quite well financially, a growing number of pastors have to work a second job in order to provide for their families. Though this is becoming more common every year, very few people entering the ministry want to be bivocational. Let’s be honest, it is hard to work two jobs. Add to that the reality that many bivocational pastors are looked down upon by ministers who serve more affluent congregations. Add to that the reality that many denominational meetings are held at times that make it difficult for bivocational pastors to attend. All of that adds up to making bivocational ministry far more challenging that fully funded ministry. But this is the reality that many people entering the ministry will face, so we might as well start talking about it.

Regardless of how pastors and/or church attendees may feel about bivocational ministry, it is a growing practice in North American church life. Patricia Chang is a research professor at Boston College and has studied many denominations and written extensively about clergy issues. Chang has done extensive research on how bivocational ministry is impacting American denominations of all sizes and theological persuasions. In a major study published in the Pulpit and Pew journal of Duke University, Chang concludes that “the majority of congregations in the United States are small, with fewer than 100 regular members and cannot typically afford their own pastor.” This results in a growing need for more bivocational pastors every year.

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