The Small Church Pastor and Church Attendance

Several pastors this week were admitting failing to maintain steady church attendance. Each one had experienced low attendance over the last few months and were concerned.

“What is wrong with my people, they use every excuse they can find to miss church?”
“We had a great outreach on Saturday but had our lowest attendance on Sunday.”
“Do people even care about faithfulness anymore?”
“We need our musicians, singers, and greeters to be at their post but they continue to miss and don’t even let me know they will be absent – what am I doing wrong?”             “When you pastor a church of less than 100 every person counts.”

Even though pastors have taught on faithfulness, pastors are struggling with a variety of lame excuses. From “the cat had kittens” to “my nose was running.” One person just “needed a day of rest,” after spending the day at a Fall Festival. “It’s like the church is at the bottom of the list,” a Pastor moaned. One light-hearted pastor quipped, “Well, at least this church is going down slower than the last one I pastored.”

But doesn’t attendance, faithfulness and spiritual growth matter? Yes, it does but let’s look at some of the problems with church attendance.

1. THE CHURCH IS LOSING MEMBERS – I started with the worst scenario. When members of your church are leaving disgruntled this is devastating to a Pastor who has been trying to do his best but couldn’t heal the rift. Prayer and fasting are mandated in such moments and a week in a secluded location can sharpen your leadership abilities in this time of crises. Show the remaining congregation strength and security by reassuring your followers and by being honest and hopeful.

2. THE ATTENDANCE IS LOW – There will be seasons of highs and lows brought about by vacations, health reasons, and holidays plus, in rural areas, harvest time. Pray and stay encouraged. Keep in touch with your absentees. No matter where you pastor or who you pastor, there will be absenteeism.

3. UNFAITHFULNESS – There will always be certain somebodies who treat church attendance as a guest instead of a member. Absenteeism is in every church and the unfaithful have the lamest excuses. Not surprising, many Baby Boomers interpret faithfulness as Sunday Morning attendance on every other Sunday. To add to the problem, unfaithfulness hurts the church finances because the unfaithful members rarely catch up on their tithe giving.

4. PLANNED ACTIVITIES – Many events are being planned on Sundays from Family Reunions, Birthday Parties, and Concerts and even, shopping. With the church being live streamed, multiple services throughout the week and online Bible Studies, it has become much easier to stay at home. Reading a devotional has been equated with listening to the Pastor preach the Word of God. Maybe the church needs fewer activities but more mission mandated activities.

5. THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM – Attendance is not the measuring stick of the Pastor’s success level. Many pastors are great men of God but lack a support system around them. Yes, spiritual growth and church health are anemic when faithfulness to the House of God is not taught but a pastor shouldn’t beat himself up because people have lost their desire. Preach the Word, stay in love with Jesus and continue to love people.

What can we do about it? Sometimes, nothing. If we preach about it – we are scolding. If we teach on it – we are critical. And, if we ask where they were, get ready to hear excuses from A to Z. So what is a Pastor to do?

• Realize absenteeism will happen. If it isn’t a habit – don’t make it a bigger problem. Things come up and people will miss for credible reasons.
• Don’t be too harsh but express heartfelt concern when you haven’t seen a member regularly.
• Pray for each of them and send a card or text every time they miss. Let them know you miss them.
• Be willing to change service times or days if you need to make it more plausible. We changed our Wednesday night service from 7:00 to 6:00 and served dinner for those rushing in from work.
• Quit saying, “Where two or three are gathered there am I in the midst of them,” every time you have a low crowd. Don’t excuse unfaithfulness. Preach your best message and worship God. Keep focused on Jesus and not on people who are missing.

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 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.

THE SMALL CHURCH PASTOR AND HIS STRUGGLE

Every Pastor, whether the church is large or small, struggles to some extent with the pressures of performance. Whether we like it or not our attendance and our offerings growl like an angry Doberman at our conscience biting at our credibility, our character and our capability.

Our credibility will be questioned, “Where’s all the money going?”
Our character, “We need to pray more.”
Our capability, “We used to run more people.”

The small church pastor doubles as janitor, care taker, maintenance worker, and often, bi-vocational. His schedule his full, he feels he doesn’t have enough money or enough time to spend time with his family. Several Pastors, personally confessed of feeling incompetent and discouraged.
Without seeming redundant or condescending, there is, and should be, a relief valve. What we need is more than a day off, a coffee break or a vacation but we do need to see what God sees. To capture the heights of His understanding and to gain His approval. Without sounding simplistic, God’s evaluation of my ministry in incredibly important.
Here are three insights to reveal “Does God understand my struggle?”
THERE ARE SEASONS. 1 Corinthians 3:6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. Not only are there different seasons but there are different ministries. God may have you at your location to plow the field, the next pastor may sow the seed and the next pastor may yield the harvest. Or, one pastor may experience all three seasons – wait for it.
1 Corinthains 3:8 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. Don’t despair in the season of cold, when plowing is tedious and tiresome; plow in anticipation of the harvest.
Take Away: Understanding the rise and fall of attendance and offerings are usually seasonal. Summer slump and Christmas holidays can be devastating to a small church but early Spring and Fall usually provide an upswing. Plan your greatest events during the months you typically see your increase.

THERE ARE GOD MOMENTS Isaiah 43:18-19 Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. A “God Moment” is an unbelievable intervention causes you to celebrate, “It couldn’t have happened unless God did it.” Call it a breakthrough or revival or a windfall but it was absolutely a moment in your ministry when no one or nothing but God could have brought the results you received.
Take Away: Continual and tenacious prayer proceed breakthroughs. Step into the secret closet of prayer. Talk to God about the lows of your ministry. Ask Him to give you strength to go through the nonproductive days. Be willing to wait for God’s intervention.

THERE ARE LOVE LESSONS For me, a love lesson, is when it strikes me with the truth, God loves me and accepts me. In my failures, my lack of performance, and in my insufficiencies, He continues to accept me. There are times of tears and times of celebration, high and lows, success and failure but in each there is God’s love for me. Comparison to others will never solve the ache in my heart for approval. Approval only comes from God. Allowing God to express His love, even, without success, in monumental. You may feel all alone but in those quiet nights of reflection God whispers, “I love you.” Give your ministry to Him and He will see you through.
Take Away: Comparison with other ministries will get you down. Look to Jesus for the church He has entrusted you with. Allow God to reveal the vision He has for your congregation. Understand God’s approval of you is not based on your performance or success.

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 Pastor and His Wife

A small church Pastor is most likely bi-vocational. That means he has two jobs – neither of which pays him enough to do without the other.
A small church Pastor likely feels time crunched with two jobs, ministry duties, visitation, sermon preparation, board meetings, church maintenance, denominational meetings, parsonage repairs, and personal devotion and prayer.
A small church Pastor is most likely financially strained as he leads the church in giving, expected to give to every child who is selling a candy bar at school and pays his denominational dues.
However, if all the above fall short there is one thing and one thing alone that rises to the top of the “you must do this one thing” scale. If you ever leave the church, this will be the one item you will take with you. Your wife is the most essential part of your ministry. Your wife is the one prized possession a small church pastor has above all else.
YOUR WIFE IS A GIFT FROM HEAVEN. Proverbs 18:22 Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD. Respect and honor to your wife in public and in private will “obtain favor from the Lord.”
YOUR WIFE IS HALF YOUR MINISTRY. Eccleisates 9:9 Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun. Many of the ministry duties and responsibilities are directed by your wife.
YOUR WIFE NEEDS YOU. She needs your time, she needs your ear and she needs your heart. Don’t be afraid to give her all three. Take the time, prime time, when it just the two of you, and invest in your relationship. I personally believe, a strong pastoral marriage helps build strong marriages in the church.
YOUR WIFE NEEDS YOUR PRAYERS. Pray for your wife daily. Pray for her physically, mentally and spiritually. She may take a phone call she didn’t need to answer. The snarky looks and penetrating stares are overwhelming. Keep praying for her and keep praying together.
YOUR WIFE NEEDS YOUR LOVE. Tell your wife you love her. Look her in the eye and let her know she still means the world to you. Remember why you married her and repeat it to her. Go on a date, it doesn’t have to be expensive but it does need to be personal and private. Invest in your marriage before you invest in the church.

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 #4

This is the last in our Special June Edition about Fathers.

Fathers, we must do more. Circling your children with prayer will provide protection for them when you are not there. But, what can we do when a Father is present, where does he start?
First, we must fortify our minds and the minds of our children. Television is now responsible for flooding with a 69% increase of curse words in the last five words. We must be strong enough to turn it off. Our sons see pornography for the first time at 8 years old. We must be strong enough to turn it off. Television shows have seen a 70% increase in sexual content in the last five years. We must be strong enough to turn it off, for our own sake and the sake of our sons and daughters.
By guarding the hearts of the young we can save the next generation from the moral tyranny of the mind. When Fathers take a firm and loving stand against evil in their own heart – children are watching and following.
In a recent survey, if a child is the first person in a household becomes a Christian, there is a 3.5% probability everyone else in the household will follow. If the mother is the first to become a Christian, there is a 17% probability everyone else in the household will follow. However, when a Father is first to become a Christian, there is a 93% probability everyone else in the family will become a Christian.
Secondly, Fathers must plan their inheritance. Not just a financial cash reserve for children to wildly spend after your passing but a spiritual inheritance to leave behind you. I have always appreciated the story of Israel leaving 12 stones in the river and 12 stones on the bank of the river, as a testimony of God’s faithfulness. Fathers who spend time with their sons and daughters building spiritual moorings will watch their children value their Fathers testimonies.
Sharing God’s faithfulness with children builds a level of trust and honor. Your win doesn’t depend on your perfection as much as your faithfulness. God wants Fathers to share their faith with their children. Young boys must see a Father, strong in his faith. Young girls, must see a Father, strong in his faith.
Father, You Have What It Takes

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the 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.

 

Sabbatical for Small Church Pastors

A sabbatical is needed, a sabbatical is refreshing, and a sabbatical is required for those in leadership. Every small church pastor should experience the joy and rest of a sabbatical.

We dishonor the Sabbath Day instead of “honor the Sabbath Day to keep it holy.”

In Israel, the Sabbath, from Friday evening through Saturday evening, is a national observance, except for taxis and emergency vehicles on the streets are clear, the shops and businesses closed. A family meal including scriptures, prayer, and familial blessings begins the Sabbath. No TV, radio, tablets or phones are used by family members but prayer, Bible reading, physical and mental rest and family time emphasized. This happens every Friday evening and all day Saturday.

In America, we use Sunday, as our Sabbath but filled with travel, ball games, church activities and a little relaxation, little mental rest, little recoil from activity, and little family time. For the Pastor, Sunday is our busiest day. For bi-vocational Pastors, Sunday filled with church responsibilities, Monday through Friday is time spent on the job and Saturday is mowing, cleaning, visiting, studying, hospital calls, family activities and much, much more.

The Feast of the Sabbatical year, in the Old Testament, celebrated every seven years as a Sabbath for the land. (Leviticus 25:2). According to Exodus 23:11 and Leviticus 25:4 the surplus of the six previous years provided for the seventh year. It was a festival filled with food, celebration, and cessation of all field labour. All Hebrew servants are released and the public reading of the law was the highlight of the festivities (Deuteronomy 31:10-13).

Drawing from these parallels the small church pastor should deem a sabbatical necessary every seven years, the local church should set funds aside for six years to pay for the Pastor’s sabbatical including his regular salary. The Pastor’s lodging, food, transportation and other expenses paid for by the church. There should be no work; no conference, no camp meeting, no preaching, no pastoral responsibilities.

Positioning: take a Bible, a writing pad, a devotional and a couple books.

Place: secluded and removed from the hustle and bustle of the city, a private and quiet area, with a scenic area to walk, meditate and pray.

Pastor: should not take the week, seven complete days, at least, to work on a sermon series but a time of evaluation, reflection, refreshing and rest. Remember this is not a vacation; plan a vacation with the family at another time.

Sabbath is a time God chooses to slow us down and bring us into spiritual and mental alignment with Him. God chose a six-day work week and a Sabbath as a time to rest, reflect and refresh. The Sabbath reminds us to “slow down,” admit our breakneck speed of doing God’s work by ourselves. A Sabbath is a time of personal evaluation of our limitations, fragility and our ability to hold everything in.

A friend of mine went on a seven-day sabbatical, he takes one yearly, to a mountain hike with several other men. The guide purposely plans every stop as a spiritual quest into the Pastor’s heart, mind, and life, regarding purity, manliness, heart contact with God, devotion, fatherhood, and husbandry.

A small church Pastor should outline the scriptures to present to the local church, expressing the importance of a Pastoral Sabbatical. Meet with the board about the payment of lodging, food, and transportation while explaining this is not a vacation. Practice a “personal revival.” An alone time with God, such as Moses’ three years in the desert, David’s years in the hills watching sheep, Jesus often went alone into the mountains to pray, and Paul was three years in the desert.

Pick a place for lodging having a beautiful view, private paths to walk, and enough food for the week. This is not a time for shopping, boating or mountain climbing but a few hikes, a little fishing or a picnic may be observed. Remember, the Sabbatical is to hear the voice of God, to be spiritually rejuvenating and to rest your mind from the exhaustion of stress.

Bless you and be sure and tell me about it when you get back.

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:

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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.