Small Church Pastor and Thank You Notes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

SMALL CHURCH PASTOR DO THIS TODAY

As a small church pastor It is easy to get caught up with the needs of the church. Not enough people, not enough money, not enough volunteers and not enough time. Small church pastors have experienced heartache, hurts and dashed hopes. But there needs to be a clarion call to small church Pastors of the need to change our focus from our subtractions to our multiplications. Instead of looking at what we live without let’s begin to live “out loud” with what we are enjoying and benefitting from every day.

Focus on these benefits today and what your emotional and spiritual zeal revive.

 

BE THANKFUL GOD CALLED YOU AND SENT YOU. God chose a few. “Few are chosen,” Jesus said. You carry the badge of honor responsible for declaring the truth of God’s Holy Word. God has called you to be shepherd the one’s He died for. What a calling! “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest that He would send laborers…” You are the answer to someone’s prayers for a laborer to be in the field for their family, their children and the church. You have been selected to scatter the seed of the gospel. However, the small church pastor is not responsible for their personal response, whether it be positive or negative, you are called to sow the seed. Galatians 6:9  And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

Count the blessings of family, friends and food! Yes, food. Much of the “fun” in small church pastoring is being able to enjoy the surroundings of family, friends and food as you celebrate a graduation, a wedding or “after church.”  You laugh together, sometimes cry together and many times, grow together in the faith. As Charles Spurgeon said, “It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.”

 

WRITE DOWN A LIST OF THOSE WHO CIRCLE YOU For a small church pastor this may be the very best thing you will do today. Be intentional about writing down the names of the people who are closest to you in your church. This circle is the ones who pray for you, stand up for you and appreciate you.

 

THE ENCOURAGEMENT FROM THE INNER CIRCLE HIGHLY OUTWEIGHS THE DISCOURAGEMENT YOU GET FROM OTHERS.

 

Now, invest most of your ministry into them. John C. Maxwell advises, “People require time – your spouse, your children, your co-workers, your friends. If you want to have healthy relationships with the people around you, you have to invest time with those people.”

To write down your inner circle will strengthen your ministry as you develop a team around you. Spending time with critics and controllers drains too much of your time and energy, spend your time developing the strengths of your inner circle.

 

WORSHIP STRONG In the Worship service give it your all. Sing strong, pray strong, worship strong. When a small church pastor scans the worship service crowd for absentees it drains the momentum you had earlier. Watching the complainers and gossips is exhausting but to worship is refreshing, life giving and fulfilling.  Many people in a small church will follow the lead in worship when the platform people worship. Worship from your heart, this is not a performance but a worship service, lift your hands, worship God and enjoy the presence of the Lord.

If you find it impossible to concentrate on worship because of your responsibilities and tasks, find a place later where you can sing and worship unhindered, (possibly the sanctuary when everyone else has left). As a small church pastor a time is needed for private worship and unhindered prayer.

 

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 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.

 

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.