The Small Church Pastor and Community

With the many resources and helps available, small church pastors are finding better ways to reach the trust and support of the community and the word is getting out.

As a twenty-three-year-old pastor, an elderly pastor befriended me, mentored me and spent time with me. It was an invaluable education in community and relationships, even though I was a Bible School graduate. This elderly pastor knew the police chief, he knew the banker and the tellers; he knew the owners of the restaurant and I think he knew everybody in town. He remembered people’s names, helped them and cared for many. His church built a wing on to the original church building, the community chipped in. He walked into a restaurant and people would buy his meal. When he walked into the hospital, people would call out his name.

His friendliness, personal contact, prayers and community involvement built a legacy long after his death. Duplicating his personality would prove impossible but developing my personal, community involvement was very much possible.
In the first chapter of the book of Nehemiah, notice a small statement, “For I was the king’s cupbearer.” He served the king, was close to the king and could later request from the king resources to build the wall. This relationship proved invaluable when the wall was built around Jerusalem. Though it appears to be subservient, the role Nehemiah played in the king’s palace was essential to the purpose of the kingdom.

Here are a few practical ideas on expanding your community involvement:
1. Volunteer as a chaplain at the hospital
2. Invite the mayor, city council members, or Chamber of Commerce President to lunch.
3. Attend city functions, city council meetings and ribbon cuttings for new businesses.
4. Take snacks for to the teacher’s lounge at the local school.
5. Give the Police Chief and Fire Chief a special engraved Bible. Ask if a chaplain is available.
6. Go into the convenience store, department store, banks, and business and remember the name of the people you meet.
7. Meet with the school counselor and ask how your church can help needy families.
8. Give grocery sacks out to needy families.
9. Keep your ear to the ground for a family who lost their home to a fire, lost a child in an accident or lost their mother to cancer. Offer to pray and serve them.
10. Involve your church in the local football team, maybe running the concession stand.

This is not a complete list but definitely a place to begin as you serve your community. Believe in your heart, you are the pastor of the community and 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.

When You Have Been Criticized

It was a harsh criticism and mostly undeserving but it struck through the heart. It may not had been taken seriously but it was someone we expected better. Even though it was over 25 years ago, I still remember how the bite hurt for a few months.

When criticism comes your way, it can make you feel devalued, disrespected and unappreciated; however, not all criticism should be treated the same. Criticism comes through various means and varied approaches, so the response to criticism varies; one answer for all does not apply.

Let me suggest a few action steps if criticism bites today:

Examine the criticism. Is it an attack against a decision you made and not all parties are on the same page? If so, no matter what side you are on, criticism will come. Stand for the right and continue to live with a smile on your face. If the criticism attacks an unchangeable feature, understand the nature of the attack, find grace to live without bitterness and continue to live patiently. If the same criticism thrown at you, others have received, most likely, nothing will change to suit the critic, continue to live forgiving.

Evaluate the criticism. Is the criticism coming from a person you love? Did it come at a heated moment? Was it intentional? Did it come from someone who does not know you? Evaluate the person’s value to you, close friend, anonymous source, a person in your group?

 

Rate criticism on a scale of one to ten. One being, criticism from a person I don’t know and ten being a criticism from a person who loves me much?
If one to four, IGNORE,
Five to eight, ADAPT and
Nine to ten CHANGE.
Is the critic a “known” critic? Everyone knows the critic lives with a chip on his or her shoulder or an axe to grind, give them a one.

 

Estimate the criticism. Are you offended? Is the criticism well deserved? Was it a courteous criticism? Are you willing to listen to creative criticism? Estimate the amount of criticism you will accept and the amount you will reject. Can you tell if the criticism is constructive criticism or destructive criticism? Can you accept ideas from others? What do you do when others do not agree with you? How you handle criticism tells a lot about you as a person.

Entertain the criticism. The worse becomes the worst when we engage an army, enlist recruits, play the story over in your mind and entertain the critic by how bad we feel.. Live by the philosophy, “you can hurt my ears but you can’t touch my heart.” Find a place to put your criticism before you go home. Hang up your jacket before you leave the office, placing all the criticism in the pockets, you will feel better when you get home.

Lastly, enlarge your heart by praying for your critic and  praying for yourself. Pray specifically for joy and peace. Pray because God understands criticism. When David was criticized by Shemei in 2 Samuel, he cursed, criticized and cast stones but David responded with an amazing answer, It may be that the LORD will look on mine affliction, and that the LORD will requite me good for his cursing this day. Leave criticism in God’s hands, it may be God will turn it around for the good.

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.

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.

LIFT Living in Fullness Today

The joy continues.

I am so thankful and humbled by the response to my new book, LIFT, Living in Fullness Today, published by Harper Collins Christian Publishing.

Lift is what God does to get people off the ground. Lift is what aerodynamics does to get airplanes off the ground. LIFT is needed in every man and every woman’s life, everyday.

On Launch Day we watched as people posted, “I got mine.” And every new picture and post brought tears to my eyes as I watched my dream come true. I wanted to see people encouraged on a national scale, enough with the blame game, criticism, laughing at others, putting others down and division. People need to be lifted not downgraded. Lifted not scorned. Lifted not shunned.

Launch Day and the day after proved to be amazing. God kept amazing me. On Launch Day, LIFT, went from Amazon’s Best Seller Rating on Spiritual Growth Books #16,698 at 8:30 am to #365 by 9:00 pm. And, Kindle downloads, the day after on Amazon’s Best Seller Rating #55 in Christian Prayer and #283 in Christian Spiritual Growth.

I asked several people, including my congregation, to believe in prayer, specifically on Launch Day, that God would be glorified as the CEO of LIFT. It wasn’t the money because writers don’t get rich but it was a message needed among thousands.

Thank you! To the many people who bought the book, thank you! For the many people who posted their picture with “I got mine,” thank you!  For the many pastors who ordered multiple copies for their staff, thank you! For the many people who prayed and believed with us, thank you!

If you haven’t ordered LIFT here is a link for both paperback and Kindle download. Blessings to you.

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 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.