WOULD YOU LIKE TO GROW YOUR SMALL CHURCH?

In America most church attendees go to a small to medium size church. In fact, according to Barna Research, Almost half (46%) attend a church of 100 or fewer members. However, when you ask any small church Pastor, “would you like to grow?” The answer is always a resounding, “YES!”

The path to small church growth is much harder to ascertain when searching for the correct message, method and the means, in layman terms “how do we go about it?” and “how do we pay for it?” Where do we turn? Seminars are most often conducted by mega-church Pastors who wish to share their secret sauce. Denominational resources are expensive and usually don’t fit the need of the small church.

Small church pastors think about family ties, past offences, financial woes and low volunteerism. No matter where you are – if you have a small church – you have hurdles, hurts and “how are we going to afford this?” However, with every hurdle, hurt and “how” there is a message, method and means.

MESSAGE – IT’S HIS WORK According to John 4:34  Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. FIND OUT WHAT GOD IS DOING AND DO IT. When we do our own work we can expect frustration and failure but when we do the work of God, it may be met with opposition and resistance but we will be ultimately satisfied in doing His work. As in this story of the women at the well there was only one woman to preach to and only one woman responded but God had a plan for the future. The increase is NOT in ONE but what is to be done WITH that ONE.

 

METHOD – BE REGIONAL John 4:35 Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. DON’T MEASURE YOUR MINISTRY BY THE SIZE OF YOUR CHURCH BUT BY THE NEED OF THE FIELD. Focusing on the inadequacies of the small church minimizes your ministry, focus on the field and maximize your ministry. You are not the Pastor of a small church but the Pastor of a region. Pray for the Mayor, the Police Chief, the city council and business people in your town. Your method isn’t determined by the size of your church but the size of your ministry.

 

MEANS – SOWERS AND REAPERS John 4:36 And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. Not everyone does the same thing and not everyone has the same gift. Some will respond by volunteering for the project – others will give but not everyone will volunteer and not everyone will give. Some are workers and some are givers – some are sowers and some are reapers – all may rejoice together.

 

One woman responded but she went into town and many more responded, John 4:42  And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.  Counting numbers can be unduly frustrating – seeing people’s potential is rewarding. The complete harvest is waiting behind the one who is listening, learning and loving 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.

 

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THESE GIFTS ARE NOT INTENDED TO BE USED IN THE CHURCH

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 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 ussed 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 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 checker board 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.

THE SMALL CHURCH PASTORS FIRST THREE YEARS

Pastor Smith had pastored for two years in a small church and noticed some startling information. “If you pastor a church for three years, the problems you face are your problems, not your predecessors.” The problem was Pastor Smith was still facing a long-term board who refused his suggestions for change and much of the congregation contently enjoyed their Sunday dinners.

Pastoral statistics and church analysis and armchair coaches admonish Pastors, it will take three years for the church to become your church. Or, another comment, “You won’t notice any significant change until you reach three years or more.”

Under close observation though, a lot is weighing on this perceived “three-year” Nova.

 

A LOT DEPENDS ON THE PASTOR

WHAT IS HIS VISION? Does the pastor maintain a clear and consistent vision? Let’s be honest, your church may not look like the church down the road. Every church has its own personality. It may take two or three years to define the vision for the church. Pastor, you can bring your experience from the last church but you can’t bring your vision from the last church. Each church vision fits the church, the community, the people and by God’s directives.
WHAT IS HIS MINISTRY STYLE? There is a difference in a teaching pastor, a lead pastor or an evangelistic pastor. Each fulfills their gift and calling and each important to the ministry but each style will reveal varied results.
1Co 3:6-9 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.
The ministry style may see immediate growth in much-needed areas and be lacking in other areas of the church health.

 

A LOT DEPENDS ON THE CHURCH

WHAT IS AROUND THE CHURCH? A church filled with older people may have difficulty reaching out without prayerful introspection. Change may not be achievable in a short three-year span. However, if the church saw the need before the new Pastor arrived, the church may be ready to make immediate and significant changes. If the church doesn’t realize the need, it may take three years or more to convince the congregation of changes needed.

WHAT ARE THE NEEDS OF THE CHURCH? Finding the needs of the church and the needs of the community may be the key to making adjustments in the church. A church that majors on offerings and participants, only to watch both decrease, will complain about the problem but may not be willing to change progressively. Some church changes may be years down the road no matter how hard the pastor has pushed to make things happen. A wise pastor who finds needs and finds ways to meet the needs may have a better chance at making changes within the three-year window.

Causally speaking, three to five years a Pastor needs to make himself known in the community and the church, establishing his style of ministry and finding the needs of the church and community. However, the time for change may be shorter than three years or longer than five years, depending on the leadership and the congregational responses.

To begin the “three-year” process,
First, pray privately for a clear and consist vision for the personality of your church.
Secondly, begin to meet with the church regularly for prayer.
Thirdly, meet regularly with community leaders and your church leaders discussing your five year and ten year needs and goals.
Fourthly, check for funds to be earmarked for outreach and to equip the church for a change.
Lastly, communicate and implement vision with the church team (inner circle).

Three years may not be the turning point. A pastor may be able to baby step into changes before the first year and make one significant change in the second year. You may see the most important changes in your third or fourth year but time is not the deciding factor only God’s directive and calling on your life. Take heart, Pastor, all heaven is behind you.

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.

Do I Have to Forgive?

Max walked in the door and one of the women in the room ducked her head. Two men cut their eyes towards each other. It was obvious from the body language in the room, Max was a difficult person to deal with. Meeting with Max in a group was destined for disaster so he and I slipped into a private room. He sat down roughly and quickly asked, “What is this all about?”

After a brief exchange, I asked, “Max, tell me about yourself.” And for the next twenty minutes Max told me about his feelings of rejection when his father left his mother,and two sisters, He told me about his mother passing away at an early age. His wife, after ten short years, she died in a car accident and about his recent doctor’s appointment. Then I began to understand why Max was rough around the edges.

Before Max walked back into the room I spoke to the group about some of the things Max had shared with me, explaining to them why he needed, love, support and forgiveness. As Max walked into the room, the group stood, each one hugging him and expressing kind and supportive words. The atmosphere in the room changed.

Forgiveness changes the atmosphere. But may not change the circumstances.

When Jesus died on the cross he was:

Condemned by the Mob

Accused by the Religious

Crucified by the Authorities

Mocked by the Soldiers

Tested by the Alcoholic Offer

Dishonored by the Priests

Blasphemed by the Sinners

Ridiculed by the Thief

Tormented by the Nails

Yet, he cried, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”

Praying for you today to be able to forgive and change the atmosphere in your relationship.

*The name and details of the aforementioned story is fictious to illustrate a point.

The People of Israel Raising Children in a Bomb Shelter

Hvat* never wanted to live this day but in her mind, she has relived this day thousands of times. Waking in the darkness, hearing the sounds of exploding missiles, screams piercing the moment, and now, seeing the blood, too much blood.

IMG_2469Hvat* lives in Israel in a small village near the Gaza strip, raising a small family, “This is my home, I don’t want to move, I want to live here, this is my land and this is my people.”  She had mentioned that to leave would to give the terrorists a win,

Standing there with her, within two minutes of the Gaza Strip border, less than ½ mile, the air was tense. The sky was clear, the air was dry and two elementary aged boys were riding their bikes. It was an uneasy feeling. Just a few days before our arrival IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) found a tunnel laden with explosives, motorcycles and several Hamas terrorists.

Terrorists have sent as many as twelve laser guided missiles in one day, “No one ever forgets, it never goes away.” A missile struck a bus, where most of the school child had just unloaded the bus for home but the driver and one teenage boy weren’t so fortunate. Hvat* continues with tears, lots of tears even though that day, that grievous day, was two years ago. “No one ever forgets, it never goes away.”us day, was two years ago.

“No one ever forgets, it never goes away.”

IMG_2455

Hurt feelings turned to compassion, many of the people in Palestine and Gaza are victims of Hamas terrorism just as we are. Her eyes are full of fear, her voice quivering, “I just want this to stop, for all of it to go away.”

It was a warm day, just like many days in the Southwestern part of the country of Israel. Just a few short miles to Egypt’s burning sands. The school was in session, concrete barriers were in place to help deter the attack of missiles. A weather balloon with a heat sensing camera monitors the area without much consolation.

Each bomb shelter received the artistic paint providing a stark contrast of fear with a mixture of hope.

Children have been trained and retrained, so much it has become a habit for most.

Children have learned to run for the bomb shelter. Hvat* looks out the window for a moment, “You may have 6 seconds to respond, twelve seconds would be considered a blessing. When the siren blows – you run. Several had an app on their phone telling them, not the weather or the news but the alert code. “You decide what pair of shoes to wear based on the intensity of the alert – if it is a high alert you wear something you can run in.” Tearfully she continues, “We painted the bomb shelters because we wanted to make this a better place.”shelters because we wanted to make this a better place.”

IMG_2442
Bomb shelter near a playground

The paintings and the bomb shelters seemed to divide the consciousness, one of joy, the way life was meant to be and the other of desperation and fear. “You never know the next time terrorists may send a missile over, we are just two minutes away from the border. You really don’t have much time to get to the bomb shelter.” She tried to smile for the picture but it was brief.

Two children playing in the living room under a makeshift tent, their mother was too far from her children at the moment, unable to grab the children and run to safety in the 6-second warning. The missile hit in the nearby street, digging a crater hole, shrapnel flying through the air went through the wall of the house, striking the four-year-old boy. “When I got there he was covered in blood – her son was dead.”IMG_2456

Grieving mothers confess when you have multiple children you have to quietly and sincerely decide which child you will grab when the bomb siren goes off.

Michael’s* name is written as a memorable among a gripping list of others, upon the walls of concrete.

She softly cries again and those with us cried with her.

The hole in the wall of the house has been patched and the street repaired. The hot sun has faded the paint on each bomb shelter but the memories are as fresh as today.

Hvat* motioned with her hand, a gesture of despair, “Has anyone heard this story? Does anyone care?”

 

Yes, we have heard and yes, we care!

 

Have you hugged your child today? 

 

*This is a true story but the names were changed for security reasons and personal privacy.

**This is the first of a series of true life stories of the people of Israel

 

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, counseling or professional advice.

 

HEALING FOR HURTING PEOPLE

If you have been in the ministry even a short time, you probably have discovered church, by its very nature, draws and attracts hurting people. Hurting people are described as:

 

  • WITHDRAWN – Hurting people have a tendency to withdraw from the crowd. Usually, find it difficult to be a team player.
  • HURT OTHERS – you have probably heard the phrase: hurting people hurt others. It is hard to kiss a porcupine – their inner pain repels and hurts others by their words and actions.
  • THINK IN TERMS OF HOW IT HURTS THEM – People who carry pain have tunnel vision – defining each moment in terms of how each situation affects them not in terms of how each situation affects others.
  • EXCUSE THEMSELVES – A common statement for a person filled with pain, “You don’t know what I’ve been through.” Or, “You don’t know what I’m dealing with.”
  • TRULY IN PAIN BECAUSE OF PAST OFFENCES – If You Are Still Angry Because of A Past Offence Then It May Be Time To Get Off The Fence. A pain filled person can point to each offense.
  • PUSH OTHERS AWAY – A pain filled person doesn’t want to be hurt again and often pushes others away from them. “I’d rather be alone than hurt by another person.”
  • SEEK OUT OTHER HURTING PEOPLE OR AN ANGRY CAUSE – Like attracts like and hurt people will gravitate to other hurt people.
  • THINK AUTHORITY FIGURES ARE AGAINST THEM OR FAVOR OTHERS – they may do their duty but reluctantly or grudgingly.
  • EMOTIONALLY DRIVEN NOT SPIRIT DRIVEN – “I’m having a bad day” may be their excuse as to why they are treating others around them disrespectfully.
  • OVERREACTIONARY – “You always get an overreaction in an area that has never been healed.” – Russel Hylton
  • WRESTLE WITH THEIR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD AS THEIR FATHER – it is increasingly difficult to accept God’s love for themselves or for others.

THE HOLY SPIRIT IS THE ENCOURAGER, CONSOLER OF THE HEART

Healing and comfort are provided through the working of the Holy Spirit. Read the following verses carefully if you are carrying hurt, past offenses or unforgiveness in your heart.

John 14:15 -21 If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray for the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.  At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him and will manifest myself to him.

 

RECEIVE HEALING IN YOUR HEART AND MIND

 

BELIEVE AND RECEIVE THE LOVE OF JESUS CHRIST God not only loves the world – He loves you. Accept God’s love in a heart cry to God. Know God was with you in your offenses but never intended for you to carry them. God wants to heal you from the pain and enable you to forgive others and forgive yourself. Look at this empowering scripture, Isaiah 53:4-5 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.  But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. This has been largely interpreted as healing for our physical bodies but read the verse again, “He hath borne our griefs.” Jesus carried your pain and hurt – you don’t need to carry it anymore.

 

CHANGE YOUR FOCUS TO JESUS AND NOT OF OTHERS “First Focus” is to magnify Jesus and maximize relationships. FIRST FOCUS enables you to look at Christ hanging on the cross carrying our sin, our pain, our hurt and focus on His love, His forgiveness, and His strength. By watching other’s responses we merely build up our case, we strengthen the stronghold of personal offenses. By looking to Jesus, we recognize He is able to be the “author and finisher of our faith.”

 

SEEK FOR HUMILITY The door to God’s favor is found in humility. You will never reach the top by putting others down. Proverbs 22:4 By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honor, and life. Yes, you have been hurt. Yes, you have been offended. Yes, you were treated wrong. Humbly take it all to Jesus and humbly seek His presence in your everyday life. Humble yourself as a child of God, not because of your offenses but because of God’s enabling ability to carry you.

 

COMMIT TO RIGHT ACTIONS AND DELETE REACTIONS Begin a mental practice of actions when confronted with a variety of possible scenarios where you possibly could see yourself being hurt again. “I will honor and respect those around me despite how they use me, speak to me or hurt me.” You are responsible for your actions but you are not responsible for other’s reactions.

 

ALLOW JESUS TO RELEASE YOU FROM THE OFFENDER’S

POWER TO CONTROL YOUR REACTIONS.

 

PRAY IN THE HOLY SPIRIT Pray through to a breakthrough. Jesus heals and in His presence, there is a refreshing wave of His freedom. Find a quiet place and stay in His presence until you know within your heart and mind you have been freed and the chains have fallen off. Your deliverance is key to your spiritual health. Stephen, a New Testament deacon was stoned for his beliefs. As the rocks hit hard across his head and body, he shouted for all to hear, “Lord, lay not this sin against them.” When he died, witnesses around him saw his face as the countenance of an angel. God can change your countenance in the face of your fiercest opposition.

 

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, counseling or professional advice.

 

How to CHANGE Your Pastor

Have you noticed how many people find it easier to complain and criticize? It is clear some part-time church goers fail to show appreciation for the prayers, phone calls and encouraging messages received from the Pastor. Lifeway.com reports, American pastors are leaving their church after 4 or 5 short years. Conflict, criticism, comparisons and complaining are the four major reasons plus, burnout, financial stress, integrity issues or marital conflict. Pastor’s are facing untold daily pressures adding to the load of their weekly ministry.
CONFLICT When words, attitudes and actions stretch beyond the bounds of Christian behavior the pastor sees no recourse but to leave the church, believing the issue at stake will not settle otherwise.
CRITICISM Sharp barbs are thrown as pastors are expected to live up to people’s unrealistic expectations. When the spiritual level of the church is down and the morale is low, criticisms spike upward as “someone is looking to blame someone.”
COMPARISONS Whether church members are comparing the local church with a neighboring church or comparing their pastor with another pastor the weight of comparison is difficult to manage. Contentment is destroyed by comparison. Comparison will kill a marriage and it will kill a pastor.
COMPLAINING It may not be a direct accusation against another member but it is the consistent static of a grumbling body of believers obstructing the work of God and stifling mission the church. To complain is to decrease the believers walk with Christ and reduce the opportunity for revival. One recorded prayer request from Jesus cries, “May they be one as the Father and I are one.”
Can we reduce the obstructions to change short term pastors into long term pastors? Can we CHANGE the mood from negative behavior to positive actions? I believe the answer is a resounding, “YES!” The following list is not conclusive but will graduate the church to a mature and healthy congregation and change your pastor.
PRAY FOR YOUR PASTOR Nothing will change the pastor’s ministry and change your heart as intentional prayer for the pastor. Nothing will change the atmosphere or the chemistry of the church as believers calling upon God for divine intervention. Beverly Hylton, a pastor’s wife,  posted, “A pastor’s greatest asset is praying people.”
PLAN TO BE AN ENCOURAGER An encourager is a bright light in the darkest nights of discouragement and depression. A believer who allows God to use them to uplift the pastor can be pivotal to the life and future of the church. Anyone can complain but it takes a dedicated man or woman to encourage a downhearted leader. Hur and Aaron were used of God to uphold the weary arms of Moses during the battle, we can do no less for our pastor.
PARTCIPATE IN MINISTRY Sometimes what a pastor needs is someone who will volunteer. Something as simple as mowing the yard while he is gone to a conference or on vacation, washing the fellowship dinner dishes, cleaning up the nursery, preparing for an outreach, watching the children’s class and giving the regular teacher a break. An excited member can turn the anxiousness of the pastor into expectation as he visualizes the vision is being passed on. He has preached vision, planned vision and prayed vision and it is exciting to see a church member meet with the pastor about fleshing out the vision.
PARTNER IN GIVING The statistics are rough – some churches are seeing as little as 25% of the congregation tithing and only 15% giving to missions, youth or other church ministries. Often times the pastor’s salary is cut to accommodate for the rising cost or insurance, utilities or building updates. The pastor’s salary should be reviewed yearly with a cost of living raise, bonuses and special occasion gifts (birthday, Christmas, anniversary and conference expenses). Members should be expected to tithe of their income to the local church but special gifts and offerings to the pastor should be the norm for active church members. We must remember the church operates as a business but lives as a church.
POSITIVE PERSONALITY A believer with a smile and a kind word is a delight to God. Positive people may disagree but they disagree with a kind spirit. A believer who is motivated to please God, assertively promoting the church and joyfully entering into worship will emphatically change the impact of the local church. The first impression of visitors will be one of joyfulness, attracting them to return. Pastors are in a dire need of positive believers to gather in chorus around them. Supporting them to continue preaching and praying, “Your ministry is making a difference in my life.”

What are some ways you encourage your pastor?
Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from 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, counselling or professional advice.

WHAT IS A FACEBOOK FAST?

“Every time I scroll through Facebook, I see an acquaintance bragging about their dynamic spiritual life, perfectly obedient children, and vibrant career. I want that for my life, but I seriously don’t know where they find the time.” (echurch quote)
Facebook has become the idol of many. Facebook is the connection tool from February 4, 2004, created by two Harvard University students to keep the classmates in touch with profiles, posts and pictures. Now some 2 billion people use Facebook, some checking Facebook multiple times per day. Mobile FB has made it easy for users to check their status or their friend’s status many times throughout the day sometimes creating an addiction to “likes” and “shares”.

The problem is, while we connect with others we have found ourselves drowning in a pool of information, an addiction to “being in the loop” and a host of other philosophical dilemmas. Facebook addiction is common and there is even a Facebook Addiction Test online. (Now I know you are secretly going to see how you score on it – aren’t you?).
Maybe it is time for a Facebook fast. Occasionally I will read someone post, “I’m going to be off Facebook for a while.” Or, another will dramatically comment, “I can’t take the drama anymore – getting off FB.”

A Facebook fast is when a time is set aside away from Facebook for vacation, renwed focus or a fresh mental picture of life. Maybe it is time to take a Facebook Fast, let’s look at the next few reasons why a person would want to take a season of time to withdraw from Facebook.

FOCUS ON INVESTING IN INSPIRATION From Facebook to face look. Honestly, we could spend more time in prayer, Bible reading, and reflection, if we prayed to the proportionate amount of time we have been spending on FB we could settle into  peaceful and fulfilling spiritual refreshment.

CREATE REAL RELATIONSHIPS Instead of having platonic relationships via the computer, step into the real world and strengthen a relationship that is waning or fractured. Invite someone to have a cup of coffee or get together with another couple for lunch.

One of the major, hidden mental and emotional dangers of FB is to compare my life with my FB friends. Examine the list below and evaluate how many times we have compared ourselves to someone’s post.

WOW! Look where they went on vacation
My friend’s marriage is more romantic than mine
There children are so much better behaved
They have the dream life – my life is so ordinary
My friends just got a new car – we are still driving a “Junker”
How come they get to do that?
They must have a lot of money

“LIKES” AND “SHARES” DON”T DETERMINE YOUR SELF VALUE If we get minimal “likes” we have a bad day but if we get elevated “likes” it changes our mood and our emotions. There are people who really care for you but don’t express it openly on FB. Value is determined by who you are not a fabricated or perceived lifestyle on FB.

DEPRESSION ABATED Deep concern over our Facebook image can bring about bouts of depression. Finding ourselves with “nothing exciting to post” can bring us to a state of withdraw and intense loneliness. Connecting digitally while avoiding personal encounters can be damaging in our psychological and/or physical health. Taking a break and spending quality time with our family, friends or relatives can create healing bonds and emotional outlets. Having a week or month of not comparing weight, looks, opportunities, children, homes and other subjects could lead to a happier and more satisfying life.

FOCUS ON IMPORTANT ISSUES Is it just me or have you noticed how magnetized a person is to their phone, tablet or laptop while missing moments with their spouse, their children, their friends or other acquaintances? Several guests are having an important conversation and they are sitting in a corner sharing a comical post on FB. A FB fast may bring a renewed focus on what is important. Certainly we will have more time to devote to a hobby, family or other activities.

Let’s take a FB Break or a FB fast and give our emotions, mind and family a break. (Even though I’ll be participating in a FB Fast several posts may appear on FB through a Twitter post or with Buffer).Do you think a FB would help your family? What’s your thoughts about a FB Break?

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from 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, counselling or professional advice.

A Different Kind of Book List

If you like reading then you may find yourself admiring the book list of bloggers, pastors, leaders and others who contribute. Often, you may find yourself grabbing one book off the list from Amazon, Christian Books, Barnes and Noble or any of the other myriads of booksellers available.
Life, work, family and ministry are ever changing and finding the right book for the right time is of utmost importance. However, most are lacking in a particular topic of interest. Going through my library it may be difficult to remember the content but remembering the episode of life around the book is clear.
Take for instance, being enrolled in Bible School with a full senior load, newly married and working a fulltime job was excruciatingly painful. My devotional time was nil, prayer was often a sleepy response at the end of the day and emotions were frayed. Someone handed me a book, Ordering Your Private World by Gordan MacDonald. My outside life rambled on in much of a chaotic state but my heart was full. While I may not remember all the content (I rereading it now) I do remember the experience in my life. Here is a compilation of my favorite books in topical preference leaning towards personal experience.

THE BUCKET LIST MENTALITY
I must confess my discontentment with boredom. I want to do it all, experience it all and be it all but in all honesty, I can’t. The book, Ordering Your Private World by Gordon McDonald (as mentioned above), has helped be an anchor to discern between driven and the calling. I can’t always live with a bucket list mentality – it takes a lot of time, it takes a lot of energy and it takes a lot of money, Yes, I have scratched numerous things off my bucket list but Ordering Your Private World has helped maintain sanity and focus. Worthy of mentioning also is, Today Matters by John C. Maxwell.

MY THOUGHT LIFE
Two quotes have arrested my attention, “The mind is an awful thing to waste” and “As a man thinketh in his heart so is he.” Purpose to think right, think well and fill up your mind appropriately. There are two book that have been essential in the area of clear and proper thinking, The Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Myers and Thinking for a Change by John C. Maxwell. One book, that I wholeheartedly recommend, is the classic, Guarding Your Heart by Dr. Gary Rosberg.

HEART AFLAME
Passion must be rekindled and the books are numerous but I have narrowed it down to a few of my favorites but anything by Leonard Ravenhill is worth reading and taking into the prayer closet with you. John Bevere has two books that moved me closer to God, Drawing Near, The Fear of the Lord and A Heart Ablaze. Dr. Bruce Wilkinson’s book, 30 Days to Experiencing Spiritual Breakthrough is a must. I would certainly be amiss if I didn’t mention the classic A. W. Tozer and his works.

CHURCH LEADERSHIP
Just go into any bookstore and the shelves will be filled with church management, church leadership and books for pastors but there are only a few that stand out peering over the shelves. Anything by Thomas Rainer will be attractive but particularly the book that has been read and re-read and alluded to in my congregational messages has been the book by Charles Swindoll, The Church Awakening. A terrific book for pastors burdened by comparison, Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome, by Kent and Barbara Hughes, the title says it all. Last, but certainly not least, for leaders, a personal book for the inner life, The Emotionally Healthy Leader by Peter Scazzero.

While this list is far from complete it does provide a small list of books for the avid reader to check out for his or her self. However, there is one book, I must mention, which covers all of the above scenarios, The Holy Bible, and I wholeheartedly endorse its contents.

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from 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, counselling or professional advice.

 

 

Seven Steps to Subdue Conflict

Conflict is inevitable. It is not our intention to cause friction but leadership, by its own rite, will have disagreements, varied opinions and even abrupt disapproval. People are people and will always be people. People who know people will collide with people.
We may not have the ability to avoid conflict but we do have the ability to subdue conflict. Let’s look at Seven Steps to Subdue Conflict:

Communicate Carefully Thoughtless words quickly turn against us. Carefully chosen words can be the most influential method of avoiding undue criticism and conflict. To stir up conflict because of our negative tones, overbearing demands and blatant arguments are unnecessary. Weigh out your words, carefully think it out and in difficult situations, check your statement with someone else to get their opinion.

Affirmation In negative environments it may seem impossible to give affirmation to an offending party but it can be done. “Before we begin our discussion, I would like to say how much I appreciate the hard work of X in our Children’s Department last Friday, the decorations were excellent and I commend you.” This affirmation can cool off the hot heads, catch the opposition totally off guard and may quell the conflict to a point.

Stick With The Facts Conflict only gets worse when you neglect to solve the problem and it becomes a personal assault. A personal attack is the most difficult of all conflicts. We should resolve early in the disagreement, it is not Bob’s problem or Sally’s problem – it is A problem. Shred gossip with facts, dismiss fairy tales, silence all lies and stick with the facts. Stay on course with the issue without naming individuals – most often, people will rally around a truth before they will rally against a person.

Attitude is Everything When everyone has lost their cool they have already lost the argument. Stay cool. Dismiss any illogical thoughts of gaining ground by raising your voice. A quiet, calm steady voice may not win the argument but it will win people. Claim meekness but never intimidation. My friend, Jim Durham states, “Your convictions combined with your humility may even attract others to your viewpoint.” Stand firm with a right spirit. “I know where I stand, I know what I believe and I can do it with the right spirit.”

Negotiate Some may think compromise in any position is a sign of weakness but negotiation to an agreed position is a sign of mature leadership, not weakness. You have the power to create a win-win situation by a carefully and well planned strategy. Again, Jim Durham suggests, “Be willing to compromise on nonessentials… Let go of what isn’t important.” Performing under pressure doesn’t necessarily means “someone blows up,” but actually the opposite – performing under pressure keeps someone from blowing up. When we try to demeanor a person(s) until all submit to a strong leadership style you may have subjects but you won’t have disciples.

Respect Before meeting with antagonistic opposition set the ground rules. Let’s suggest a few.
• “The meeting will begin at 7:00 and will end by 8:30. If we aren’t finished with business we will set another time as soon as possible.” Then look each person in the eye and ask if they agree before the meeting begins. This gives the meeting STRUCTURE.
• “We will respect everyone in the room. No name calling, raising our voice or expressions of anger will be tolerated or that person will be asked to leave the room.” Then look each person in the eye and ask if they agree before the meeting begins. This gives the meeting SANCTITY
• “We will stick with the problem and stick with the facts. Gossip and hearsay will not be allowed and personal attacks will not be tolerated – we are here to discuss the major problem not personality problems.” Then look each person in the eye and ask if they agree before the meeting begins. This gives the meeting STABILITY

With looking each person in the eye and asking for agreement you are building consensus and a mutual feeling of respect for everyone in the room. It is essential for a leader to respect people – even when they disagree. A mature leader will never lower their integrity to the oppostitions lack of it.

Pray Personally I believe we should pray before and after the meeting and occasionally the leader may want to bring the group to prayer in the heat of the meeting. Pray for wisdom, respect, brotherly love and God’s purpose be fulfilled in the meeting.

Personally, the leader must find a secret place with God and pray for wisdom, understanding and the presence of God. Oswald Chambers writes, “The reason the battle is not won is because I try to win it in the external world first. Get alone with God, fight it out before Him, settle the matter there once and for all.”

You won’t always win everyone and you won’t always win in every conflict but walking away with a clear conscience is the major win of all.

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from 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, counselling or professional advice.