When 100% isn’t enough

Is this how you hire your staff?


The cartoon is by Josh Mecouch of Formal Sweatpants.

Pastor’s wives… can this be true?

Lisa Takeuchi Cullen writes a piece over the weekend at the Washington Post where she describes six things that she says she didn’t know about pastor’s wives.

Some are pretty true… while others are a little more isolated, I think.  See what you think:

1.  Pastor’s wives don’t exactly love their husband’s work.

I’ve seen this quite a bit.  She sites that long hours, horrible pay, and the stress.  I think this is spot on for many pastor’s wives.  They support the calling, but hate what the job does to their husbands.

2.  They are highly criticized.  She calls it ‘life in the fishbowl’, and in some regards, it is true.  There is an unspoken expectation for the pastor’s wife in many churches.  In fact, in many churches, there is no way one woman could meet the varied expectations of all the congregants.  The bottom line:  many pastor’s wives get abused rather than respected.

3.  Sex is on their minds.  She talks about a pastor’s wives retreat that she attended where the women talked about sex.  I don’t have any idea whether pastor’s wives think about sex any more than the local accountant’s wife.

4.  Pastor’s wives work.  She was surprised by this… but yep… some pastor’s wives work outside the home.  Probably looking back at #1 will tell you a bit why.

5.  Pastor’s wives love Twitter.  Some do, most don’t.

6.  Blogs are their secret outlet.  True for some… but I think that most pastor’s wives don’t blog at all.


What trends do you see with pastor’s wives that didn’t make the list?

Read more here.


Making the Church a Wonderful Place to Work

Making the Church a Wonderful Place to Work

What if you could create the perfect work atmostphere at your church?  One that made your staff really happy and really successful?  An atmosphere that promoted teamwork, taking risk, and enabling leadership?  What if…?

I think much of what your staff thinks about you (personally) and your church (corporately), they’ll learn in the first few months.  It’s important for the senior leader to set the tone and make a great first impression.  In fact, if you don’t get off to a great start in the first few months, the chances of having a well-rounded, long-term staff member are reduced significantly.  They’ll simply find another place to serve after a couple of years.  It happens all the time.

But how do you start off a good relationship with a new employee?  What if you send something like this to your new staff member.  In this case, we’ll call him Bob.

Dear Bob,

I am so glad to have you here with us on staff.  I know that you and your family will be a great addition to our team here at [your church name].  On your first day, I wanted to share a few things that may help you feel a little more at home with us as a church, and with me, personally:

1.  My most important priority is your happiness and ministry here at the church. If there’s anything I can do to make you happier and more efficient, tell me right away. This isn’t idealism, it’s good ministry, because happy and fulfilled people are more productive in their Kingdom work.

2.  I will not burden you with endless rules and regulations. You’re an adult. I trust you to use your best judgment.

3.  You have my full permission to screw up, as long as you own up to it, apologize to those affected and learn from it.

4.  Please tell me when I screw up so I can apologize and learn from it.

5.  Please make sure to hunt down people who do great work and praise them for it. I will do this as much as humanly possible, but I can’t do it alone.

6. If I get it right occasionally, I’d love to hear about it from you, too :o )

7.  I will always have time for you. My calendar will never be so full that my next free time to talk to you is three weeks from next Friday.

8.  I want to know about you as an employee AND as a human being. I DO care about your private life, about you and your family’s health and well-being.

9.  Life is more than work. If you’re regularly working overtime, you’re just making yourself less happy and more stressed. Don’t join the cult of overwork, it’s bad for you and the company.

10. I expect you to take responsibility for your own well-being at work. If you can do something today to make yourself, a co-worker or me a little happier at work,“ do it!

I’m looking forward to getting to know you and your family, and to you having many fruitful years of ministry here with us.  Welcome!

[Your name]

If you sent this letter to a new employee, and actually held to it, would it make a difference?  I think it would.

I’ve seen many a church that didn’t value their employees.  This letter sets the standard that people on staff are valued.  It gives permission to fail.  It expects that the staff person will lead.  And it perfectly balances work and family as well as employee and team player.

A few of questions for you today…

1.  What do you think of the letter?  Could you honestly send this to your new employees?  Does your church practice what this letter preaches?

2.  Would this letter have made a difference in your employment if you had received it?

3.  What would you add or take away from this letter?

4.  Is this type of thing a great or horrible idea?

I’d love hear your input…


This post was inspired by Alexander Kjerulf’s Chief Happiness Officer Blog, who revised it from Michael Wade’s post over at ExecuPundit called Note from boss to employees.

Lot’s daughters

This was too funny NOT to share.


HT:  Scotteriology

“Trying harder makes stuck worse”

Great words of wisdom from the Leadership Freak:

The worst thing forward-facing leaders face is not making progress – feeling stuck. The solution for most is trying harder.

Stepping on the gas feels right, but it’s wrong, when there’s no traction. Spinning your wheels, when you’re stuck, results in more stuck.

The problem: The problem isn’t getting stuck. The problem is trying harder after you are.

Trying harder makes stuck worse.

Working harder, when things aren’t working, drains, frustrates, and distracts.

Uh huh.  Preach it, brother.

You try too hard and persist too long because doing defines you. When doing determines identity, you have nothing when you stop. Circumstances are distractions when you’ve been stuck a long time.


Read more here.  It’s good.

Where are you stuck?

Where are you trying harder but only getting more stuck?

What will you do about it?


How long did it take you to prepare your message for yesterday?

Here are the results of Thom Rainer’s unscientific (come on Ed, let’s make this official!) poll on how long it takes pastors to write their messages:

1 to 3 hours — 1%

4 to 6 hours — 9%

7 to 9 hours — 15%

10 to 12 hours — 22%

13 to 15 hours — 24%

16 to 18 hours — 23%

19 to 21 hours — 2%

22 to 24 hours — 0%

25 to 27 hours — 1%

28 to 30 hours — 2%

31 to 33 hours — 1%

Where do YOU fit in?

Do you start from scratch?

Do you use outlines/illustrations/series titles from other pastors/churches?

Have you ever take a whole sermon, word-for-word, from another pastor/church?

How does your sermon preparation look this week?

I’d love to hear what your plan is for this week.  Leave a comment!


Read more from Thom Rainer here…

Should it matter to your church what year it is?

Safiyah Fosua writes a great piece, primarily about worship… but I think it fits for other areas of the church as well.

What year is it in YOUR church?

Here’s part of what she writes:

Should it matter to the Church what year it is?  Why, aren’t the music, the language, and the texts of the church timeless?  We who lead churches know that the answer is both yes and no.  Yes, there are some timeless qualities about the ethos of the Church.  But, no, not everything is timeless.  From time to time, the worship aids used by churches must be updated or adapted for new worshippers, while retaining meaning.

The original function of memorized or written liturgy was to give worshippers a tool to enter the presence of God.  I invite you to also view songs sung in worship as a worship aid, atool to help congregants actually worship and come into the presence of a Holy God.  How do we select music for the 21st century?  Consider the following:

  1. There are some songs and hymns that proverbially stand the test of time.  By this, we mean that the texts and sometimes their tunes transcend time and culture and convey meaning for multiple generations.
  2. For every timeless hymn, there are many more hymns and songs with a very limited shelf life.  These songs and hymns were helpful tools for worship for their time, but times have changed and now people either find their texts awkward or their tunes meaningless.  Some of them were born in a spiritual movement.  For example, the genre of Christian music that emerged during the Civil Rights Movement is said to have fueled the movement by inspiring people of multiple races to remember the biblical principles for which they were demonstrating.  Once the movement was over, the music of the movement quickly retreated into history. The same could be said of music that emerged during several of North America’s spiritual awakenings.  These songs were targeted and specific.  While they fulfilled their purpose in their time, times have changed and the people today who need an awakening are often unable to hear their message.
  3. And then, there are a number of songs whose texts continue to convey meaning, while the tunes no longer connect with our times or vice-versa.  What do we do with them?  Perhaps we could take a cue from younger generations who have become skilled in pairing them with different texts or more contextually relevant tunes.  Two important words to remember as you consider using music from another era areremix and mashup.  A remix involves repackaging the text or the tune with either a new set of lyrics or a new tune.  A mashup goes a step beyond to pair the familiar text and tune with a more contextual one.  Charles Wesley’s “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing” (1739), has recently been both remixed and mashed up in very distinct, culturally relevant ways. Mark Miller provides a recent example of a remix


    and the David Crowder Band provides a popular example of a mashup


Read more here…

What do YOU think?

What year is it in YOUR church?


Godless church opens at Cambridge

An hour long service on Sundays with music, announcements, and a message.

But no God.

That’s what’s happening at Harvard’s new Humanist Community.

It’s headed by Harvard’s Humanist chaplain.

(Yes, they have a humanist ‘chaplain’).

It’s his way of building community.

They even us the word ‘congregation’:

“We decided recently that we want to use the word congregation more and more often because that is a word that strongly evokes a certain kind of community – a really close knit, strong community that can make strong change happen in the world.”

And ex-pastor Jerry DeWitt has opened an atheist church called Community Mission Chapel in Baton Rouge.

“When you become a part of this congregation, this community, you are going to become part of a family,” DeWitt told CNN. ”There is an infrastructure there for you to land in. There is going to be someone there to do weddings and to do, unfortunately, the funerals.”

Read more here.



The sermon Warner Brothers wanted you to preach yesterday

OK… so my son went to see the new Superman movie yesterday.  I thought it was great.  Not the best ever.  But great.

But he went to see the movie because he likes Superman, not because our pastor suggested it.

Or preached about it.

Warner Brothers, the studio behind Superman, pulled out all the stops in it’s marketing of the new film (which evidently has some good “Christological parallels”.

They presented free screenings for pastors and church leaders.

And they even provided a sermon that they hoped you would preach from your pulpit yesterday.

Screen Shot 2013-06-24 at 7.58.34 AM

It was called “Jesus – The Original Superhero.

(Nice Title)

It was written by Craig Detweiler at Pepperdine University… especially for you.

What do you think about this?

There is something a little unsettling about this to me.  Not so much that you might speak on a culturally relevant topic, but that you would take your cues (and sermons) from a Hollywood studio like Warner Brothers.

Did any of you take the bait?



3 things you should tell your church often

Here are three things that, as a pastor, Aaron Armstrong thinks you should tell your church quite often.

When was the last time you told your church these things?

1.  Because I love you, I’m going to tell you the truth.

Pastors should never be afraid to express the truth of Scripture and we in the congregation need to be reminded that it’s because our pastors DO care that they tell us the truth—even if it’s something they know we’re going to reject due to our inability to hear it.

2.  Make sure I’m not wrong.

It takes true humility to say to your hearers, “Don’t take my word for it. Check what I say against the Scriptures. If what I’m saying doesn’t line up, don’t believe me.”

3. This is the gospel.

The gospel has the power to bring death to life, to soften the hardest heart and the “fragrance of life” to those who are being saved (2 Cor. 2:16). If there’s one thing a pastor should never leave out of his message on a Sunday or out of his counselling appointments, it’s the gospel. If it’s truly of first importance, the gospel must be clearly shared.


Read more of Aaron’s thoughts here at Blogging Theologically…


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