Small Church Pastor and Thank You Notes

In a personal file I have a valuable collection of encouragement notes filled with “thank you” and appreciation, I have collected from over forty years of ministry (I started young). These notes are read from time to time for a jolt of personal joy from remembering the event and the person who wrote the card or note. I have a separate file of notes or letters written by critics or complainers, in comparative size, it is small. I never read them again; because most of them lack the pain, they previously carried.
No doubt about it, the thank you note will be read more than once and still treasured. A thank you note can be written to a volunteer who put together a special occasion. A handwritten thank you note expresses faithfulness, loyalty or hard work.

A THANK YOU NOTE WILL ENCOURAGE A GOOD VOLUNTEER TO BE THE BEST VOLUNTEER

If I enjoy receiving a handwritten thank-you card – it must be true, others enjoy receiving a handwritten thank-you card. If we wrote, more thank you cards and expressed appreciation, we may see a decrease in criticism and complaints. Pastor, we set the atmosphere!

GOD GAVE A GIFT OF 86,400 SECONDS TODAY. HAVE YOU USED ONE TO SAY “THANK YOU?”
–William Arthur Ward

So, let me begin. Thank you, pastor, for reading this brief blog post today. Thank you, for being a man or woman of prayer. Thank you for preaching the Word of God each Sunday. Thank you for your care, love and concern in your pastoral role. Thank you from my heart, for the sacrifices you have made. Thank you, Pastor, for keeping your family first. Thank you, Pastor, for living holy, modest, and revering God. Thank you, Pastor, for your role in the community, your smile and prayers.
Thank you, Pastor, for being a pastor.

Let us get our Thank you note written. Here are some ideas:
1. Thank you for being a friend to the Pastor and Spouse.
2. I know you pray and thank you for keeping your Pastor in your prayers.
3. Thank you for your volunteer work as a Nursery Worker – I know it is not easy giving up a Sunday. Morning Worship Service but YOU are making a difference in the lives of people.
4. Thank you, Youth Leader, I appreciate your leadership and enjoy spending time with you.
5. Thank you, greeters, for your friendly smile, warm welcome and firm handshake every morning, the first 90 seconds a first time visitor comes to our church will cause many of them to return.
6. Thank you, worship team, for practicing often and setting the atmosphere of worship. I could not do it without you.
7. Thank you, (elderly person), for your faithfulness over the past (30) years, I am personally encouraged to keep the faith because of you.

Well, you get the idea; in fact, it may not be a bad idea to write a thank-you card each week or every two weeks. It would do wonders for your spirit and for the spirit of the church. Pray for the person as you write the card, asking God for the spirit of encouragement to envelop them. Thank you cards are inexpensive but are invaluable in encouraging another. Go ahead and write a Thank You card now.

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission of the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. Do not construe this post as medical, legal or professional advice.

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The Small Church Pastor and Tomorrow

Several months ago I gathered every young adult in our rural church and asked them one question, “What will this church look like in seven years?” “In seven years your  children will be teenagers and 10% – 20% of the church will pass away or move away.” We were reminded by reports, “10% of United States churches will close.”

 

Tomorrow increasingly became important to us.

 

One middle-aged woman commented, “We shouldn’t concern ourselves about the future, God will take care of that, we must take care of today.” The statement bothered me, God does take care of today and tomorrow, however, scripture cautions and duty demands us to prepare for tomorrow.
With the input of our young adults, we developed a seven-year plan for teaching, reaching and growing in our rural church. When Joshua crossed over the Jordan River, God commanded, place 12 stones on the inside the Jordan and the outside of the Jordan, as a testimony to future generations. (Joshua 4:6-7). We intended, by the grace of God to create a testimony for future generations.

 

We taught our young adults, leadership principles, such as communication, relationships, determination, and giving. Our young adults set up and clean up in the fellowship hall for various gatherings, they served Thanksgiving meals to the homeless and poor, they volunteered for open positions and gave to several projects. IF YOU DON’T TEACH IT – THEY WON’T REACH IT
We planned a Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University program in a large room of the local civic center inviting other young adults to come. The results would be twofold, we would gain information about finances and meet other young adults struggling with the same issues, for the purpose of introducing them to Jesus Christ and to invite them to our church. IF YOU DON’T GET OUT OF THE BOX–THOSE WHO LIVE OUT OF THE BOX WON’T RESPOND.
We created a young adult dinner for fellowship and brainstorming on vision, purpose and planning our outreach calendar, (we desired a regional church instead of a rural church). We became partners with the local school and created ministries to area children. Our Bible Quiz teams grew, almost doubled, when we invited the community to take part. (We chose Bible Quiz to develop a discipleship for future generations). IF YOU ARE NOT EXTERNALLY FOCUSED YOU WILL BE INTERNALLY FOCUSED.
We became more interwoven, instead of compartmentalized. Our children’s groups incorporated the elderly, our young adults and elderly served together, side by side, in various outreaches, fellowships, and ministries. Just like Nehemiah did when they rebuilt the wall, “I even set the people after their families.” (Nehemiah 4:13). IF YOU ARE NOT INTERWOVEN YOU WILL BECOME COMPARTMENTALIZED.

Prayer groups began prayer before every morning service, asking for God’s help and for the Holy Spirit to move in our church and in our community. Even though the group has been small at times, it definitely is one of the most important things we do on a weekly basis.  IF YOU DON’T PRAY ABOUT IT – IT WON’T HAPPEN.
A disclaimer may be necessary:  this took months – not weeks and two families left because the church was changing. Yes, it was, no longer intrinsic but extrinsic. Our missions, benevolence and outreach finances grew, our community outreach to schools, the needy, and the poor expanded. Instead of people asking, “What is the church doing for me?” A good majority of the congregation asked, “What am I doing for God?” This is difficult, not magical and not “bought in” by everyone but it’s part of the seven-year projection. The wins have been substantial and we have just started. It is still a work in progress and may not work for everyone but we are still trying to influence this region for God.

 
Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission of the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal or professional advice.

THESE GIFTS ARE NOT INTENDED TO BE USED IN THE CHURCH 2018 Favorite Post

God has intentionally and appropriately gifted people in the church to fulfill the mission and vision of the church. Some are God gifted people who are able and willing to, with their team, to accomplish the work God has set before them. They are a joy to the leader and are a resource to the church.

However, there are some who are self-gifted. Maybe sensing the need to do something they clamor for a position, desire acclamation and perform for applause. The gift is questionable to the leadership and may reach the level of obnoxiousness to the congregation. Some self-gifted volunteers can be redirected into a more purposeful and God-honoring area of ministry while others simply fade away to “use their gifts elsewhere.”

GOD GIVEN GIFTS exemplify the fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.
SELF GIVEN GIFTS react instead of restore, resign instead of revive and resist instead of respect.

There are gifts NOT intended to be used in the church, in any church.

THE GIFT OF ASSUMPTION
Nothing is more disturbing to the leadership of the church than a person who assumes the worst and ignores the best. The negative attitude is carried through the sanctuary like a carton of rotten eggs. They presume and assume about everything and everybody. No, this gift is not based on evidence and certainly not based on facts but purely on speculation. No gift of discernment is evident just entire and complete fabrication based on “I thought I saw…”

THE GIFT OF INTERRUPTION
The “know it all” has an opinion on everything and everybody. They are often wrong but never admit it. They don’t mind telling you “how I feel about it.” Explanation, examination or exegesis is not a part of the conversation; interpretation is based on an interior motive of being right and winning the argument or the debate. Combustible when losing and celebrates others loses.

THE GIFT OF MAGNIFICATION
Making a “mountain out of a molehill” is the ulterior delight of the “magnifier.” Small is enlarged in their mind before all the facts are known. Taking bits and pieces they construct a castle of doubt and fear. Pastors are trying to deal with problems but the “magnifier” increasingly casts suspicion on the people involved. Making others feel smaller and themselves bigger is the role of the “magnifier.” The personal quest to build their own statue of holiness perceives everyone else as the enemy who is guilty until proven innocence.

THE GIFT OF MANIPULATION
Moving people like games pieces on a checkerboard is the goal of the “manipulator.” A buried desire to “straighten” other church members out is the outcome of most discussions. The motto of the “manipulator” is “do what I say don’t do what I do.” They have a hidden, interior design to have other’s follow their lead without question. Some will come back to the discussion table with manipulative statements, “You can’t make it without my tithes.”

THE GIFT OF AGITATION
The agitator has been hurt and they fling hurt wherever they go. “Hurt people hurt people,” and the agitator lives up to it. “Locked and loaded” is emblazoned across their forehead. Harm and hurt are left in the path of destruction. Stirring up trouble, living on demeaning actions and an incendiary attitude describes the agitator.

• Pray sincerely and humbly for direction. God has answers we haven’t seen.

• Slowly approach others who have witnessed this behavior. Others may be willing to agree and others may simply say, “That’s just the way he is.”

• Check their history – has it been an ongoing problem or something out of the clear blue? It may be pressure in his home or workplace or a serious health issue.

• Weigh it carefully before acting. Removing people from leadership is harder than placing people in leadership. And, having people leave your church is easier than gaining people into your church.

• Examine your own heart whether you are acting or reacting, shepherding or fighting; then proceed with the passion of Jesus.

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission of the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal or professional advice.

FATHERS YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES (SPECIAL JUNE EDITION) #3

A father has unbelievable ability to dramatically influence the next generation. If you search the Old Testament in the Bible the Father’s planned on a “generational transfer of faith,” in fact, a biblically repeated statement, “The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,” shouts the value of the “generational transfer of faith.” Exo 3:4-6 And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.
God declares, “I am a God of succession,” God establishes early in the Bible, a “generational transfer of Faith.”
• There are those, like Moses, whose Fatherly image had made an incredible influence and persuasion on a young man, Joshua. Moses’s, at his last days, handed off a 2 million people congregation to his successor, Joshua.
• Evaluate David’s final days, he successfully hands down the kingdom and plans of building the temple, to his son, Solomon.
• Don’t forget the New Testament concept of a Paul to Timothy mentorship illustriously designed in First and Second Timothy.
• Acts 2:38-39 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. A perpetual and “next generation” promise of Spirit infilling and fullness.

Fathers can and will hand down their faith to their son’s (we will discuss daughters in a separate post) when they purposely and intentionally incorporate faith into their everyday life. Fathers who go to church on Sunday but don’t live the faith throughout the week lose their power of influence. Passing down God given personal principles and convictions brings highly effective results in the lives of their sons, when incorporated daily and intentionally.
A Father can provide a generational transfer of Faith by four simple but highly effective methods. Many fathers are already doing this with substantial results.
TIME – Prime, personal and private time with a son is the most important of all aspects of Fatherhood. Going with them to a church service or going with them to a youth camp or going with them to a ball game coupled with prime, personal and private time, results in visual and noticeable outcomes.
Look at the stories boys love; “Dad and I went fishing together, dad and I went on a trip, dad and I went to eat a burger.” The most important stories to your son begin with, “Dad and I.”
TEACHING – Instruction and class room settings are informational and instrumental in developing children but no greater impact can be accomplished in a son than the father who gives the right tools to mature him for spiritual, physical and mental progress. Matt Walsh preaches, “We ask for self-discipline and self-control from the boys while providing him with no tools to develop them.”
Teaching is not to tell them everything to do but to provide tools to show them how to do it. One tool you can give your son is “how to treat a woman.” Some 66% of college males admit their daily struggle is lust, yet, we provide our boys on little or no training on a pure mind, clear conscience or daily victory. Fathers should and must have an honest conversation about pornography, sexual maturity and scriptural “wall building.”
Deuteronomy 6:5-7 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

Build A Wall Of Protection Around Your Son’s Heart
By Speaking The Word Of God Into His Heart And Life

TRYING – Proving a daily example is no doubt one of the most powerful lessons a son or daughter will ever learn. As Dr. James Dobson adequately states, “Boys are not born knowing how to be men. They have to learn that.” Fathers who TRY to be an example are tons better than the Father who never tries.
Indifference is expensive. Not trying is worse than trying and failing. A son will respect a father who admits his mistakes but will dishonor a father who ignores them.

Your WIN Doesn’t Depend On Your Perfection
As Much As It Depends On Your Honesty.

TRUST – The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago and the second best time to plant a tree is now. Building a son will take a lifetime. Daily lessons of trust in God will create a strong faith to pass onto a son. He will watch his Father more than he will listen to His Father. Trust is never more strongly seen than in a Father’s daily walk with God. When a son sees a father end the evening by reading his Bible, or how he handles critics, or how he honor’s his wife, there will be a foundation built for years to come.
Pray for your son but also, pray with your son. Prayer is the melting place for two hearts to come together. Build a faith in your children reflecting your own trust in God. You can’t make him but you can lead him. In regard to faith, show him what authentic is.

Father, you have what it takes.

 

Some information derived from:
TheFatherlessGeneration.wordpress.com, Fathers.com and FocusontheFamily.com

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission of the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal or professional advice.

 

FATHERS YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES #2 (SPECIAL JUNE EDITION)

Fathers are often misjudged when it comes to motives, when in all actuality, a failed attempt at communication has been made. Most men have trouble communicating their feelings. Identifying their needs and expressing their emotions. Most Fathers are doers instead of instructors. Sadly, many times Father’s try to control instead of lead. Yet, a Father, who gives intentional time to his children is doing an amazing job of directing their lives.
Fathers who spend time with their daughter often will indirectly promote “how a man should treat a woman,” and personally influence their morality in exponential proportions. Daughters of single parents without a Father are:
• 53% more likely to marry as teenagers.
• 711% more likely to have children as a teenager.
• 164% more likely to have premarital sex and,
• 92% more likely to get divorced themselves.

Fathers who spend time with their children often have a significant influence and are seeing astounding results. Compared to “absent father” homes:
• Children do better in school
• Healthier self- esteem and self-worth
• Social skills is much improved
• Emotional development is higher
• Moral norms are stronger
• Overall content and happiness is noticed

The overwhelming support of a Father involved in sports, education, church, and home results in a dramatically and enhanced childhood, adolescent and teenage years. Not a perfect Father but an involved Father makes the difference.
While manhood, masculinity and fathers, in general, are under attack there is a renewed resurgence and emphasis on the need for Father’s to be personally involved in their children’s life.
A list of “good ideas” may be needed, go fishing, play ball together, go on a vacation together, do a daddy daughter date, or attend a school function. One particular school has “DAD and DONUTS DAY” where children and their Dads have a donut together. But of all the ideas listed, there is one overweighing all the others, “LISTEN.” If you don’t listen to your teenager, they will find someone that will. The ability to lead must include the ability to listen. Whoever listens to your teenagers will be their leader. LISTEN to their stories, their dreams, their desires, their loves and their needs.

Secondly, and importantly, TEACH. Deuteronomy 6:5-7 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

Simply, bring principles of life into everyday events. A ball game can be a platform for teaching about self control, teamwork or even anger. School can be a conversation piece on bullying, educational motivation and diversity. At night, read the Bible and pray together, bringing life long truths into the conversation. A hug and “I love you” is indispensable in the home.

Father, You Have What it Takes!

Some information derived from TheFatherlessGeneration.wordpress.com, Fathers.com and FocusontheFamily.com

 

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission of the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal or professional advice.

 

 

FATHERS – YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES (SPECIAL JUNE EDITION)

The problem of fatherlessness is not new but it is dangerously increasing to an epidemic level. Pornography and sexual promiscuity has programmed young men into baby makers but little or no education on being a father. Boys as young as eight are being introduced to pornography through internet searches and phone apps.

When it comes to fatherlessness the statistics are staggering:
63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes (U.S. Dept. of Health).
85% of all children who exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes (Center for Disease Control).
According to the Texas Department of Corrections, a whopping 85% of youths in prison come from a fatherless home.

And that is just the beginning. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said 71% of pregnant fathers were from a fatherless home.
These statistics tragically translate into 24 million homes with children are without their biological father. That’s one out of three homes in America.

When I have spoken to men’s groups across the country, including police departments, I have found most men feel powerless, worthless, incapable and further, feel they are not effective in the family. However, a dad who spends prime time with their children has shown an extreme benefit and amazing influence on the lives of their family.

When men gather they always ask three major questions:
• How can my family become financially secure?
• How can I make my wife happy?
• And, how can I be a good Father?
God brings life and healing to the home when a Father turns his heart towards his children. Malachi 4:6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. The curse has been smitten: rapes, imprisonment, drugs, and suicides. But we can change the moral climate of our community by father’s turning their heart towards their children. I dream when there will no longer be a generation of children trying to live a balanced life without a father.

FATHER, YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES!

Here are three things a father needs to know today.

THERE ARE NO PERFECT FATHERS – start where you are today. Be willing to admit to your child your mistakes, even to the point of asking for forgiveness for past failures. Admit you have not spent enough personal time with them. You can’t compare one child to another – they each have their separate personality and gifts, allow them to be themselves.

THERE A NO FATHERS WHO KNOW EVERYTHING – allow your children to make mistakes. Let your children know you are their greatest fan. Coach them in their particular gift. A father doesn’t have all the answers but is learning how to be a father while their children are growing up. Embrace their personality rather than resist it and try to change it – it will only pull them further away.

THERE ARE NO FATHERS WHO HAVEN’T FAILED – while my children were still young and I was pastoring a church with growing pressures upon my shoulders I angrily took it out on my children. They sensed my frustration and lack of understanding, then a horrible realization came to me, my children were getting on my nerves instead of being in my heart. I humbly confessed before God, it wasn’t my children had gotten increasingly worse but I had become increasingly frustrated with the ample stress of my ministry. I had failed.
I wrapped both children in my arms, looked them in the eyes and confessed my failure and my frustrations, I cried. They hugged me and forgave me. I hated that moment so much that I committed to God to not allow myself to get into that position again. I knelt and prayed, “God, help me to be a good father to my children.”
Fathers, you have what it takes. Now do it.

Some information derived from TheFatherlessGeneration.wordpress.com, Fathers.com and FocusontheFamily.com

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission of the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal or professional advice.

 

Small Church Culture differs from Large Church Culture

Most people don’t have to really think about it because it is obvious that small church culture will be dramatically different than large church culture if for nothing else, money, methods and the masses. The money for large church budgets are largely different that small church ministries, the methods will greatly differ and the masses, well, a 1000 compared to 60. But with that money, method, masses difference there comes a totally different vision and outcome when a person examines the two side by side.

Church is being defined by the culture it emulates, copies and produces. Many large churches have made dramatic changes to adopt to the cultural changes basically among millennials. Mass marketing has now been replaced with target marketing – an intentional hit at those who don’t fit the demographics. Everything from design, to music, to ministry, to platform dress, all has been intricately planned to attract an energetic group of millennial worshippers. While it is very important each church find its uniqueness and fingerprint of their community, the emphasis on “big,” in my opinion, has overhauled some meaningful discussion on doctrine and discipleship.

According to the American Culture and Faith Institute survey, conducted March 2018, 74% of “born again” millennials believe it is morally acceptable for sexual intercourse between unmarried adults. And, of the same group, 66% said, “intentionally looking at pictures or videos that display nudity or explicit sexual behavior” was morally acceptable.

Has our adaption process led to the demise of “born again” behavior? Has the culturally magnetic church promoted grace, mercy and love at the expense of purity, holiness and biblical principles? Without sounding too judgmental isn’t it about time for us to reexamine our discipleship or lack of it? Some said, “We can change the method without changing the message,” but we did change the message. Motivational sermons and self-help series are not giving “seekers” an opportunity to accept Jesus Christ as Savior and certainly not as Lord of our lives.

We may have to discuss this subject in greater detail later but here is how the small church culture and the large church culture differ:

Publication1

In many small churches the church is the culture and reflects most people around them. Those with the vision have to ask if Betty is working, has a school function or can find a baby sitter for the major outreach the church is having this summer. Why, because she is the main giver and/or the main volunteer. Large church plants give the thumbs up to a new coordinator, specializing in organizational skills, and the meetup determines who is chosen for each mission.

Small churches continue filling the countryside and are often attracting people from their community. They may not be big but they are mighty. Is cultural change needed? Maybe. But, many are still doing a great job of reaching people for Jesus and doing the work of the Father. Could we all do more? Yes.

 

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission of the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal or professional advice.