Archives For pastor

A tale of 2 pastors

Ben Reed —  November 21, 2013 — 4 Comments

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity… – Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

I rode in the front seat while he leaned forward in the back of a cab one night in Dallas on our way back to the hotel. We were speaking at a conference together. I was leading a tiny breakout. He was a main-stage ‘rock star’ preacher.

As we talked, he expressed a genuine interest in the ministry I was a part of. About my family. He was concerned for what concerned me. Genuinely interested in being a small part of the solution. Genuinely interested in encouraging me. In listening, learning, and growing.

Someone at some point in some city at some conference told him he was awesome. Gifted. That he was a once-in-a-generation leader. In that moment, and in a thousand moments since, he reminded himself of his utter dependency on God.

__________________________________

Passing him in the hallway of the church he led, I stole a moment to say hey, and build a relationship.

He was insistent that I know how many speaking gigs he had coming up. About his blog. His book. His endorsers. His mentors. The mega churches he has influenced. The conferences he’s led. The people he’s gathered. The miles he’s traveled. The way I could help him.

Someone at some point in some city at some conference told him he was awesome. Gifted. That he was a once-in-a-generation leader. In that moment, and in a thousand moments since, he reminded himself…that they were right.

Which one do you want to be?

 

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I’m done listening to my pastor.

D.O.N.E. Done.

All this talk on believing the Gospel. Trusting God through pain. Loving my kids with all of my heart. Believing God’s way is better than my way. I’m done.

stop-listening

Will you join me?

Quit listening to your pastor talk about how much he loves you. About how God has a plan for your life. About how you need to link arms with other people and join a small group.

Quit listening to him when he says that it’s good for your heart to give generously.

Quit listening when he talks about turning your back on your sin. About trusting the God who loves you. About your need to repent.

And when he prays for you…stop listening then, too. Don’t listen when he encourages you to step up and serve others. Or to spend a week this summer at student camp. Or going overseas to share the love and hope of the Gospel.

Stop listening. Please.

Stop listening and start doing something.

Take what your pastor says and start living it. Let it resonate so deeply in your soul that it pushes you to action.

Listening alone is worthless. When the act of hearing Truth doesn’t end in some form of action, it’s not done you any good. As James puts it,

But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. – James 1:22

If we listen, and don’t do, we’re a fool. James goes on to compare us to the person who looks in the mirror to make sure everything’s straight…and as soon as they look away, they forget what they looked like. That’s dumb.

So let’s quit wasting our pastor’s time by listening. It’s not doing either of us any good. A storm’s brewing, and we’ve got to be ready. The question is not whether we will have enough knowledge or not. The question will be whether we can do anything about it.

But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete. – Jesus, Luke 6:49

Stop listening to your pastor. And start doing.

 

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Craveable

Ben Reed —  February 7, 2013 — Leave a comment

Is your life as a follower of Jesus ‘Craveable’?

How about your small group?

How about your church? Is it craveable?

Watch this video, then pick up the new book by my friend Artie Davis.

 

Pick up your copy HERE!

 

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We pastors have a lot of meetings. A lot.

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image credit: flickr user universityymca

I should’ve included “How to lead meetings” in my list of things I wish seminary had taught me. Meetings end up eating the majority of many of my ministry days. Whether I’m meeting with current small group leaders, potential coaches, ministry team members, or random church members, I’m in meetings hours and hours each week.

I love people, which means that I don’t hate meetings. But I also value my time and theirs, and don’t want to waste my days and my life in pointless meetings. Throughout the 7 years or so I’ve been a pastor, I’ve learned a few things about meetings that may help save you some headaches.

10 Meeting Rules Every Pastor Should Live By

1. Always bring a notepad.

If you come without something to write on, it shows that you don’t really care about that meeting. If it were more important, you’d have something to jot notes down on.

2. Buying someone a cup of coffee makes them more likely to agree to lead a small group.

Call this a bit of manipulation if you want, but it works.

3. Always be on time.

I used to try to be early to every meeting, but I found that 10 extra minutes here or there was adding up. And that 10 extra minutes here or there that I recaptured helped me get caught up on email, make that phone call I hadn’t yet, or put the finishing touches on a project made those few minutes valuable to me. Be on time, and don’t shoot to be super early.

4. Make the sale in person.

If you’re going to recruit someone to lead a small group, or some key role, don’t do it over email. Don’t do it over the phone, or by text message. Make the ask in person.

5. Make meetings count.

People’s time is valuable…yours included. If you’re going to meet with someone, plan on recruiting them for something. Or pitching an idea their way. Or invest in them spiritually. Or something. Make a decision at every meeting you lead. Never walk out of a meeting with your only takeaway being “let’s meet again and decide ____.”

6. Don’t go in to a meeting blindly.

If you can help it, always know what you’re walking in to. Get a general understanding before you meet with someone.

7. Never meet alone.

Either bring along a leader you’re investing in and/or meet with multiple leaders at once. Relationships are key to leadership, and when you have more than one person at the table, relationships can be fostered.

8. Keep a to-do list handy at all times.

Don’t use napkins or the backs of receipts. You’ll lose them. Use a to-do list on your phone. I like Wunderlist and Things.

9. Check your email before you leave the house in the morning.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve shown up for an 8:00 meeting, only to realize that they emailed me the night before to tell me they couldn’t meet.

10. Shut it down.

I’ve got to shut things down when I get home. When I began in ministry, it consumed my life and my family. I’m getting better at shutting off, but I’m still a work-in-progress. Meetings and people are important, but so is your family. And so is your personal time. If you don’t recharge, you’ll have nothing to give in meetings.

Question:

Do you ever feel like your life is just one meeting after another?

 

 

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A plea to pastors: be real

Ben Reed —  October 22, 2012 — 9 Comments

I recently wrote a post that got some folks pretty fired up.

I wrote my 7 reasons for why nobody really likes cats. Turns out, that’ll get some people pretty angry. And how I think that “the only good cat is a dead cat.”

I made it clear that it was just a joke post, and that I was just having a bit of fun. I don’t really want to kill cats. If I see one in the road, I swerve to miss it. If I’m at your house and you have a cat, I’ll sneeze and scratch my eyes, but I’ll pet your cat. And I’ll talk to it in that little baby voice we talk to when we communicate with small animals.

I was having a bit of fun with my post. Why?

Because not everything that comes out of my mouth is a Scripture reference and a word of wisdom.

Confession: I am a real person.

Screen Shot 2012-10-22 at 9.24.05 AM

It’s okay for you, too, if everything that comes out of your mouth is not be spiritual. You have my permission. Especially if you’re a pastor.

In fact, I believe that’s one of the reasons why Grace, where I was on staff, was successful: our pastors were real people. That’s one of the reasons why I believe Long Hollow is successful, too: our pastors are real people. With real struggles. Real pain. Real shortcomings. Real victories. Real families. Real hobbies.

When pastors talk in King James and end their every sentence with, “thus saith the Lord,” it gives the appearance that they’re perfect, inadvertently preaching that they have nothing wrong, struggle with nothing, and have every answer to every question ever asked.

Pastors: please be a real person.

The danger of detachment

You have a different calling, with higher responsibilities. There are certain expectations placed on you by God Himself, and God will hold you accountable for the way you taught and led. But that doesn’t mean you have to abandon everything in life except your Bible. The more you detach yourself from regular life the more you’ll find yourself detached from the people you’re called to lead. If the people you lead are in to football, you need to be in to football. If they’re in to raising pigs, you need to be in to raising pigs. If they’re in to hiking, you need to be in to hiking. Paul says it like this: “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:22)

If you don’t have that thing that you enjoy, you’ll burn out, too. You can’t be a spiritual superhero all of the time. You’ll burn out and break. You need a release, and a chance to unwind. Find a TV show you and your spouse can watch together. Go golfing with the guys. Take your kids to a baseball game. Take off your pastor hat.

The more you share about who you are, even the parts of you that aren’t perfect and polished, the more you’ll be able to show people just how big of a God you serve. If you’re broken, you show people just how much you need Jesus. If you’re a mess, you paint a picture of a King that is full of grace.

It’s easier to relate with a real person that with one who doesn’t encounter regular life issues. It’s easier to connect with a pastor who follows Jesus but admittedly doesn’t have it all figured out. Why?

Because you don’t have it all figured out, either.

There was only one perfect man. And He’s the one I point people towards.

Which doesn’t mean that I don’t like football. Or golf. Or that I’m not going to say something dumb some time.

I’m sorry that I do that. I’m human. I don’t like that I’m still fallen, and still struggle. But offer me some grace.

And laugh at my jokes, even if you don’t think they’re funny. Please? 

 

 

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We pastors say a lot. Most of the time, we’re straight shooters.

At least as far as you can tell.

Screen Shot 2012-08-21 at 8.48.32 AM

image credit: CreationSwap user Bobby Ross, edits mine

Sometimes, though, we don’t really mean what we say. It’s not that we’re speaking an outright lie. There are just subtle, slightly different interpretations that one might make of our words. We’re like a good exercise in hermeneutics…be careful the first time you try to read us. Read us in our grammatico-historical context and it’ll all make sense. Speed-read through an interaction and you miss the fuller context.

Don’t be offended here. Not all pastors mean these things every time. Give us some grace. Allow us the space to love on and minister to our family first. And for crying out loud, quit thinking that paid staff are the only ones to whom the Great Commission was given!

What pastors really mean…

We say: You emailed me? It must have gotten lost in the digital mail.

We mean: I read that thing three days ago. Forgot to respond.

We say: My evenings are booked solid this week.

We mean: I value my family time. Find a way to meet during normal business hours.

We say: Instead of meeting with me, could you meet with one of our small group leaders?

We mean: I’m not the only pastor here!

We say: That’s a great question about amillennialism. What do you think?

We mean: I haven’t thought about that stuff since seminary…help me please, Wayne Grudem!

We say: Saturday morning men’s group? Sorry, my Saturdays are slammed.

We mean: My tee time starts at 8.

We say: Your kid is so cute!

We mean: I love you and your kid, but goodness that kid is not cute… (don’t get offended…if your kid isn’t cute, you know it)

We say: If you want to grow in your faith, you should join a small group.

We mean: If you want to grow in your faith, you should join a small group.

We say: Have you thought about serving?

We mean: Get off your lazy rear end and do something!

We say: I won’t meet with members of the opposite sex alone in private or in public over a meal.

We mean: I value my marriage more than I value meeting with you alone.

Question:

Ever heard a pastor say one thing and wonder if they really meant something else?

 

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Small groups pastor opening

Ben Reed —  July 17, 2012 — 4 Comments

Grace Community Church is a rapidly growing church plant that started with 11 couples in September 2005. We have grown to averaging 2500 Sunday morning attendees over 2 campuses. We are a church of small groups, hovering around 100 adult small groups. We also integrate small groups and the concept of healthy, biblical, authentic community at every age level.

We currently meet in two high schools, rented facilities, with plans in the near future to build our own permanent facility on land that we own and have paid off. Our vision for a building is centered around a facility that is not just used on Sunday mornings, but is used consistently by our community throughout the week. From day 1, we want to intentionally build a space that does not sit vacant throughout the week, and is a blessing to our city.

We have a staff culture that is innovative, creative and relaxed. We have high expectations of our team, and set the bar high for the work that we do; however, you will find our environment laid-back, fun, engaging and collaborative.

Clarksville is a growing city of 150,000 people. It is unique in that it is closely tied in with Ft. Campbell, an Army base, and Austin Peay State University, with ~11,000 students enrolled. Clarksville is a short 35-45 minute drive to Nashville.

We are looking to hire a Connections Pastor to lead the charge of spiritual growth and small groups.

What you need to be:

  • Team Player
  • Team Builder
  • Strong communicator (not necessarily a preacher, but this role will involve communicating with leaders regularly)
  • Strategic thinker
  • Strong recruiter/motivator
  • Have a heart for small groups
  • Value creativity and innovation

What the position will include:

  • Developing processes and pathways that allow people to find and pursue their next step of faith
  • Consistently beating the small group drum for our staff and our church
  • Recruiting and developing high capacity leaders

Interested? Think you might be a good fit on our team?

 

Fill out the form HERE (scroll to the bottom), and we will be in touch soon.

 

 

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There are certain things that pastors should not say out loud. Things that instantly create a damaging culture that’s difficult to recover from.

There are also phrases you should be careful saying to your pastor, and things every pastor wishes they could say.

image credit: Flickr user Pa Gagne

But there are other things that pastors say to themselves that are incredibly damaging. These words point pastors on a dangerous course. In the moment, they seem harmless. They just seem to be the product of a stressful week or a slip of the internal tongue. In time, though, these can shift a pastor’s heart away from authentic, biblical shepherding. Away from their calling. And away from the people they love.

6 Things Pastors should Never Say to Themselves

 1. Should I really preach this difficult text?

Consider carefully what passages from Scripture you’ll preach. Choose with wisdom how you’ll lead your people through Scripture. But don’t let “Is this passage too hard for people to hear?” motivate you to not preach a text. If you feel like the timing isn’t right, bump it a few weeks. But don’t let fear and cowardice keep you from preaching Truth.

2. Because they give so much…

Never start a sentence with this. “Because they give so much…

  • I’ll meet with them.
  • I’ll listen to their idea.
  • I’ll give their idea a shot.
  • I’ll not give up on them.

James 2:2-4 warns

For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor”—well, doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives?

3. Preaching is so much more important than ministry throughout the week.

Preaching is important. But don’t grow to the point where you feel your Sunday morning ministry is more important than what you do throughout the week. The way you love people, serve your community, follow up with visitors, shepherd staff, and make key strategic decisions is just as important, and both feeds into and out from, your Sunday morning ministry.

4. Pastoring is more important than my family.

No. No it’s not. If you think this, you’ll end up with no ministry at all.

For if a man cannot manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church? – 1 Timothy 3:5

 5. Should I really tithe?

Giving is an act of faith. It shows a deep trust that God is in control of money, not you. It also shows that you believe in something or someone. If you give money to a political candidate, you show your support of them. Give money to Habitat for Humanity, you show you believe in them. When you don’t give money to the local church you’re leading, you show a lack of support. On top of that, it’s a bit hypocritical for you to ask people to tithe, while you yourself don’t.

6. I think God is done with me.

Never, never say this. God may be done with you in a certain context. A certain type of ministry, maybe. But your pain, frustration, and disappointments can become, if you’ll let them, your unique voice of hope and grace. God’s not done with you. You still have a ministry. God uses men and women every day who have been crushed by life. Don’t mask your pride by thinking God’s done with you. “Your” ministry is so much bigger than you, anyway.

 Pastor: ever uttered these phrases? Ever heard someone else say them?

 

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There are lots of social meda “rules” that form over time. Just as with any product or service, usage often determines the unspoken set of ground rules. And if you’re not careful, those “rules” can pigeon-hole you.

And nobody likes a pigeon hole. Well, nobody but pigeons.

image credit: CreationSwap user Paule Patterson, edits mine

Whether you’re a pastor that’s a casual user or a power user, a rookie or a veteran, there are certain rules that you should adhere to. Rules that will help you with engagement…and help you not come across as

1. Completely out of touch with culture.

2. A self-centered self-promoter.

3.  A person that others unfollow when they read your updates.

So here are 6 rules that every pastor should break daily with social media.

6 Rules Pastors Should Break

1. Only quote the Bible

We know that you’re in love with the Bible. We get it. But there’s got to be more to who you are than random quotes from Scripture, right? Didn’t Martin Luther say anything good? CS Lewis? Can’t you come up with anything worth saying that’s at least remotely original? How about reading your Bible and applying it…and making that an update?

2. Keep up your “professional pastor” persona.

You’re not a walking Christian zombie, are you? You don’t only read Christian books, only watch Christian movies, and only eat at Christian restaurants, do you? There has got to be more to you than the Christian subculture. Building relationships with those outside of the faith isn’t going to happen if you’re tweeting YouTube videos out like this one, of Michael W Smith from the late 80s. Gotta love the vest. I think the song should’ve gone, “Nobody knew I could rock a vest like this…”

3. If you’re frustrated, complain. A lot.

Twitter can become a megaphone for you to voice your complaints about a lot of things: culture at large, politics, “other” pastors, or even your own church. Complaining doesn’t become you, though. In fact, Paul urges us

Don’t grumble about each other, brothers and sisters, especially on Twitter… – James 5:9 (additions mine)

 4. Never update during “work” hours.

Give people an inside peek into who you are and what you do during your normal day. A behind-the-scenes, if you will. Social media can be a great voice for Truth and engagement throughout your week. Don’t have time to update during your work day? Schedule updates when you’ve got a few minutes.

5. Never share personal information.

Bologna. Share who you are. Share what you value. Talk about your family. Talk about your struggles. Share your pain. Your joy. Your victories.

6. Only follow other Christians.

If pastors want to bring hope to the hurting, grace to the downtrodden, and Truth to the places where people engage, we’ve got to track along with those outside of our Christian bubbles. And here’s a freebie for you…nobody judges your theology by who you follow on Twitter and Facebook.

 Question:

Do you interact more on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or on your blog?

 

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image credit: CreationSwap user Jordan Wiseman

While I’m preaching, there are myriads of thoughts racing through my head. Some of which include:

Why is that baby crying? Are they crying because I’m too loud? Or because they didn’t like that joke? Or because it’s too dark? Or too bright? Or…oh wait, it’s because they’re probably tired. Good thing they’re not falling asleep during my sermon like the guy behind them.

Why did he just get up to leave? Bathroom break? Am I going that long? Should I call him out right here and now? Nah…or wait. That might be funny. Or offensive. Probably offensive. But probably funny, too.

Why didn’t she turn her cell phone off? Hmm…I wonder who’s calling her? Wait…is she answering that phone? What’s she whispering? I wish she’d speak up so I can hear what she’s saying.

Uh oh…I’m going to go long with this sermon. Should I cut something out? Or make them sweat if I’ll ever be done?

I may be alone in how much my mind can often wander during a given sermon. But somehow, I think I’m not. And I’m willing to bet that most pastors believe these lies while they’re preaching:

9 Lies Pastors Believe While they’re Preaching

1. Man, this sermon is awesome. In fact, all of my sermons are awesome!

Whoa there, Desperado. You’re not as great as you think. Jump on down from your high horse. Some weeks are good and others are, well, not so good. Accept it.

2. The person shaking their head in affirmation is actually listening.

Sometimes they are. But sometimes they’re just trying to keep from falling asleep. Don’t take it personally. And don’t use that moment to slide in your every-other-week “You shouldn’t stay out late on the night before church” points.

3. Everyone likes me.

Not the guy who stands out in the hallway every week. He doesn’t. Never has. And until you preach a message aimed at engaging him, he probably never will. OR…you could just try to have a normal conversation with him in the hallway. Either way…

4. “Amen!” guy is so zoned in to what I’m saying. It’s like we were cut from the same cloth.

I heard an “Amen!” guy at a church I once attended that “Amen”-ed every single point. He didn’t know when to stop. So he didn’t. I think I even heard him “Amen!”-ing in the parking lot.

5. I can do it all. If only I could clone me…

Stop it. Stop it right there. You’re doing one thing in this moment. You’re preaching. If you’re also slated to do the music for the day, every visitor follow-up throughout the week, and every prayer preceding the pot-lucks, it’s time to share some responsibility. You’re not good at everything. And if you think you are, then that might be one of the reasons your church isn’t growing as quickly as it could. (whoops…did I take that one too far? Sorry…)

6. They’re actually taking notes!

I saw some of our handouts from this Sunday. Doodling. A couple of notes. Then they left it under their seat after the service. Don’t kid yourself.

7. If I say this point with more force, you’re more likely to remember it.

Just keep trying. Use a megaphone if you want. Or, better yet, start yelling from the top of the sermon to the bottom. It’s all important, right? Then do your vocal warm-ups and let ‘em rip. And watch ‘em grab the ear plugs on their way in, too.

8. If I go long, people will love me for it.

Nope. If you go long, people will wonder how long you can actually go. And they’ll also be lamenting the fact that the Methodists are going to beat them to lunch today.

9. If I go short, people will judge me and wonder what I did all week.

Nope. If you go short, they’ll be the ones beating the Methodists to the buffet. And you’ll be their favorite preacher.

Why share this? Why smack pastors in the face a bit?

Because we’re humans, too. We’re prone to thinking too much of ourselves, taking ourselves too seriously, thinking everyone cares about intricate theology as much as we do, and prone to spiraling downwards into self-glorification.

The more we can pursue humility, making less of ourselves and our gifts and our talents and our insights and our winsomeness…and make more of the God who gives us life and breath and everything, the better off we are. And the better off our congregations are, too.

Time to quit believing the lies. Time to preach faithfully the message God’s given us. Time to remind ourselves who the King really is.

 

 

 

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