What Happens When I Put Money in the Collection Plate?

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In most churches around the world, during the service at some point, a collection basket is passed.  Some churches have collection baskets in the back lobby, some pass them from person to person.  But just about every church does this.

My point in writing this is not to argue the need for people to contribute.  That’s pointed out in Scripture pretty clearly in my opinion.

I want to help you realize what your contribution dollars go toward.  What happens when you put that check in the basket?

1.  Salaries – Okay, let’s get this one out of the way.  Yes, your contribution dollars go to pay the salaries of people on staff.  You’ll probably be contributing toward the salary of a main pastor/preacher, an associate (who could have a plethora of various titles), a youth or student minister, an administrative assistant or two, and some sort of custodial staff.  You also may be contributing toward the salaries of missionaries or other various people the church has agreed to support.

Understand this – no two preachers/pastors are paid the same way.  They all are paid differently.  Oftentimes within the same office!  Some ministers get paid just a straight salary with no benefits whatsoever, so if you think your minister is getting paid too much, remember, they pay their own taxes, health insurance, and retirement out of that.  Some ministers get various packages including health insurance, or matching retirement, or other things.

2.  Building – It costs money to maintain a building.  Things need to be taken care of.  Bills have to be paid. Insurance has to bought.  If you don’t stay on top of building maintenance, it can all come due at one point.  Maybe your church building has multiple Heating/Air units.  Often these units seem to fail all at the same time, costing $20K-40K each to replace.  If your church budget is $10K a week, it could take an entire month’s worth of contribution to fix this.  Therefore, it would be smart for churches to save money in an emergency fund of some sorts for situations just like this.

Buildings also have to be updated.  Windows have to be replaced.  Roofs have to be replaced.  Parking lots have to be paved.  All of these things cost money.

On top of that – look at the bills associated with using the building.  Your electric bill at home may average between $100-400 a month depending on where you live.  But for your church building, it could run upwards of $2500-4000 a month!  It sure is nice to have that AC running when you come in on Sunday morning in the summers.

Many church buildings have baptistries.  These are like having a small hot tub in your home.  Electricity is needed to heat them.  Chemicals needed to treat them.

And, if your church has a kitchen, those aren’t cheap either!  What a blessing to have fellowship meals and share with each other, but stoves, refrigerators, sinks, and utensils are needed.

3.  Don’t forget about the children!  If you want to provide a quality education system for your children and teenagers, its going to cost money.  Crayons, markers, paper, scissors, glue – these items don’t just show up.  They cost money.  Also, most churches either pay for curriculum, or use a free curriculum and spend just as much on gathering supplies for the classes.

Then you have things like Vacation Bible School.  Paying for extra snacks, crafts, and other items is not cheap.

Sadly, there are many churches that spend very little on their children’s education fund.  They skimp on supplies, curriculum, and activities for them, and wonder why their children’s program isn’t growing.  You have to put money into it.  No, you don’t have to put a ton of cash into it, but do you really want your church to skimp on the children?

4.  Software/Computers/Electronics – I’m so grateful that I live in a day and age where I can worship by looking at a screen that projects the words and notes for my convenience.  I’m so happy to be able to use powerpoint/keynote while I preach to be able to better teach.  These can’t be used if you don’t have projectors.  If you want them to be effective they have to be good projectors.  And of course the projectors are useless unless you have the computers.  And guess what?  These all cost money!

And not just that – its great to be able to hear our members when they lead prayers, lead songs, lead worship, read scriptures, etc.  You’re able to because you have microphones!  And these microphones have to have amps, wires, mixers, etc. to run them.

Many of the programs we use have to be updated, or renewed, on a yearly basis.

And if your church has a website, well, they aren’t free either.  But its a lot cheaper than those old telephone book ads!

5.  Benevolence – Most churches have some sort of benevolence program.  Some of you may not realize that your church often helps members with problems that may arise in their lives.  The occasional gift card to a local gas station or grocery store is given to walk ups throughout the week.

6.  Outreach – These days, visitors (and members) expect things to look as professional as they can.  You want to put your best foot forward when you look at reaching out to the community.

Because of that, we have bulletins, pamphlets, brochures, cards, and pens to hand out to people when they come in the building.  But what about getting them in the building?  You may have a sign outside your building, but you and I know that’s not enough.

We tend to take out ads to promote our churches.  Radio spots, internet advertising, mail outs, and other various methods of outreach are wonderful, but they take money as well.

7.  Transportation – You have people, they need to get places.  Those youth trips need a bus.  Those senior saints outings need a van.  Monthly maintenance, gas, oil, tags, insurance are needed.

8.  Future planning – We’ve already sort of alluded to this, but I think its worth having a category in and of itself.  Most churches I know of would like to grow.  When you grow, you have to be able to do so.  New things must be purchased in order for growth to occur.  A smart congregation will be aware of this and plan ahead for this.

For example, if you’re ordering books for a class, you would be smart to order 15 books, even if you’re only planning on having 12 people.  Why?  Because you plan on the class growing.

Whether you want your current church family to grow, or whether you want to grow by planting elsewhere, you need to plan for that growth.

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There are many things not mentioned here that the contribution goes to help with, but I think you get the idea.  Churches depend on the contribution of their members.

What have I missed?  What else does your contribution help with?

Peter’s Really Awesome 3 Point Sermon

This was a picture of me reading the Sermon Peter delivered on the temple steps in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost.  This was taken while visiting Israel in the summer of 2014.

This was a picture of me reading the sermon that Peter delivered on the temple steps in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. This was taken while visiting Israel in the summer of 2014.  The steps that are worn are the original temple steps – the ones off to the left have been restored.  It was here where Peter preached the powerful sermon found in Acts 2.

The day had finally come.  Jesus had promised this day to this disciples before he was even crucified, although i’m not sure they really understood that the Comforter was going to be the Holy Spirit.  I’m confident they did not know what the Spirit was going to do for them.

They had watched Jesus ascend into the sky.  The angel had told them “Why are you staring into the sky?  He’ll be back.”  They had already lost Jesus once, but this time it was different.  They didn’t run off.  They didn’t go back to their original jobs.  This time, they knew they had to continue the work Jesus started.

They went back to Jerusalem.  They prayed, along with the women, and Mary, and the brothers of Jesus.  To fulfill Scripture, Peter spoke up and said “We need to replace Judas.”  They chose Matthias after casting lots.

Pentecost came.  There was a gathering of Jesus followers in Jerusalem.  They had been together since Jesus ascended to Heaven.  The disciples were hanging out, and suddenly, a violent wind came from heaven, and filled the house where they were sitting.  Something that looked like tongues of fire came to rest on each of them.  This was the Spirit of God coming to dwell in them.

They spoke in other languages – because in Jerusalem there were staying God fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.  And each of them heard the wonders of God proclaimed in their own language.

Peter gave a lesson that day.  He started off by saying “No, we’re not drunk.”  What a great introduction to a sermon!  He then reminds them of what the prophet Joel had said years before – that the Holy Spirit would come and live among them.  And that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord would be saved.

He then proceeded to remind them about Jesus.  Jesus, of Nazareth, proven to be from God based upon all the miracles and wonders he performed – was here on this earth.  He then reminded them that Jesus was handed over to man, and put to death on the cross.  The good news was that God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because death could not hold on to him.

What they had followed, people like the patriarch David, died, and was buried, and still remained buried.  But Jesus – he no longer was dead.  He arose, and now has passed into Heaven, and sent the Spirit to live and dwell among us.

I love his closing lines.  He says “Make sure you know this – God made Jesus, whom you crucified, Lord of all, and the Messiah.”

The people were moved by this thought.  It cut right to the heart.  I love their response.  They didn’t try to cover it up.  They didn’t try to say they didn’t do it.  They didn’t blame it on the Romans.  They said “What shall we do?”

The way Peter responded to them is the same way he would respond to us today.  Repent.  Be baptized.  Live with the gift of the Spirit.

That day, about 3000 were added to the Jesus movement.  The Church had begun.  And it still stands today.

Tomorrow, believers around the world will gather together.  We’ll sing songs, we’ll pray, we’ll partake of Communion.  But the simple message of salvation still stands true today.  It hasn’t changed since Peter spoke the words thousands of years ago.

Repent.  Be baptized.  Let the Spirit live in you.

Preachers – there is no reason to make the message complicated.  Peter’s lesson was not overdone.  It was not hard to understand.  It was not agenda driven.  It was simply this:  Repent. Be baptized.  Let the Spirit live in you.

The bible does say with other words he pleaded with them.  He reminds them also to “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”  So I guess the 3 point lesson could be this:

  1. Repent
  2. Be baptized
  3. Let the Spirit live in you and guide you instead of the world.

That will preach my friends.  Change your ways, be baptized, let the Sprit guide you instead of the world.

The Small Church is Alive and Well

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I love giant churches.  I remember when I was a little boy, I would go and visit my grandmother at the Charlotte Avenue Church of Christ building during the week.  She was the church secretary there and I loved going to play in the building.  The auditorium was so beautiful.  I remember the curved pews lining the sanctuary, with the balcony hanging overhead.

But there was also a gorgeous chapel, long halls, a huge education wing – this place had it all.  I was mostly jealous, because my family went to a small church.  My father as the preacher for small churches in and around Wilson County.  When I say small, I mean 25-50 members small.

At one location, my mother would take me and my sister to the back corner of the auditorium where they had strung up a curtain so we could have a “classroom” to use.  It was these kinds of places that I grew up in, learning about the Bible.  So when I went to a giant church building, I could just imagine how much they were able to do there.

My other grandparents went to the Vultee congregation on the other side of town.  These two churches served as two of the largest congregations in the city of Nashville.  I often thought, “This just isn’t fair.”

The majority of my childhood was spent in the Bethel Church of Christ near Watertown, TN.  There were at least a few people my age there.  There was another family, the Smith family, who had 4 girls – Jamie, Sonya, Robbie, and Callie.  Sonya was my age, and Jamie was my sister’s age – so at least we had that.  We even had a classroom, and my mom didn’t have to teach us, because Mrs. Fannie Bell Warren was my teacher, and Ms. Dorothy Jean Smith taught my sister.

What I’ve learned over the past few years is that while large churches can do great things, so can small churches.  The memories I have of Bethel are forever etched in my mind.

Jesse Russell would lead our songs.  We had about 15 songs we sang, over and over again.  He wouldn’t have them prepared ahead of time, he would just get up and pick one by flipping through his book.  His wife Fredda, would clip her fingernail every Sunday.

John Clemmons was an elder.  He was bald as a cue ball.  He always had his hat with him.  His wife, Christine, was a very outgoing and friendly lady.

Willard Warren was my teacher’s husband.  They sat right behind us.  I spent many a Sunday morning sitting with them while my dad would preach.

There was the resident business man, who actually lived in a farm behind the church building.  Dan Smith always seemed like a local politician.  His wife, Vondie, was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.

We may not have had large programs, and we may not have supported mission works all over the world.  On Sunday, most of the times my father had to preach, and lead a prayer, and possibly serve Communion as well.  But we were a family, which is one of the many parts of what a church is all about.

Last weekend, I preached for the Fernvale Church of Christ.  Its a small church, just left of the hollow log by the creekbank just past the old Wilson place.  Its a church family that doesn’t have a full time preacher.  They like to bring in students, but didn’t have one for this semester that could come out full time.  I was contacted by one of their elders to see if I could come fill in a bit before we moved on to our new work in Florida.

I walked in, and was smacked with my memories of childhood.  Small lobby, two small wings on the side of the building for overflow.  No microphone needed.  And some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met.  Today, I’ll preach for them again.  We’ll drive 45 minutes to get there, and it will be worth every minute.

Let’s not get caught up in how many people are coming to our church.  Let’s not get caught up in the numbers.  Let’s not be people who ask “How many people go to your church?” – because honestly – that just doesn’t matter.  What matters is that the church exists at all, and that is affecting lives for the Kingdom of God.  Large churches are great – they can do so much for the Kingdom.  But so can the small churches.

To those of you who preach and teach at the “small” churches – may God bless you today with and overwhelming sense of His presence.  May God be praised.  Amen.

How Your Saturday Can Affect Your Sunday

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When I was in high school, and then even into college, I lived for the weekends.  “What are you doing Friday and Saturday night?” was a common question.  Often, those nights were spent hanging with friends, playing ball, watching movies, or various other activities.  I was never one to go out and “party” or do anything stupid, but I was one that loved to stay out late.

I would most often find myself, especially in college, staying out till curfew, and then going back to my room, hanging out with my roommate, playing video games, talking, or playing cards till the wee hours of the morning.  It was okay though – I didn’t have class the next day.  On Saturday night, we’d do it all over again.  It was okay though – I didn’t have class the next day.

I ended up sleeping through Bible class, waking up about 10 minutes before worship, and we would run over to the church that met right next door, sneak in, and get settled right before worship began.  I have to tell you – I don’t think I could have told you one thing that happened during any of those services.

I wasn’t encouraged.  I wasn’t uplifted.  I wasn’t happy.  I didn’t feel like I had worshipped.  I knew I had not given it my all.  Sure, I was there.  At least, physically I was there.  But mentally, I was still fast asleep, my mind was not awake, and I really didn’t care about what I was doing.

Fast forward 15 years.  Are things any different?

I’m not suggesting you cease all your Saturday activities, and stay at home meditating with your legs crossed and humming the Old Rugged Cross all day.  I AM suggesting that maybe you make sure that you get home at a decent hour, with time to calm down before bed, and spend some time Saturday evening focusing on the cross.

When you have a big presentation at work, or have a major test at school, or anything else similar – you usually spend the night before preparing.  I don’t think we spend enough time preparing to go and be with our church family on Sunday morning.  For so many of us, we wake up just in time to throw an outfit on, rush the family out, and show up 10 minutes late.  While its great you’re there, and its better you’re there than not there, ask yourself – are you ready to worship?  Are you ready to learn about God’s love and grace and mercy?

On Sunday morning, how prepared will you be to sit in the presence of God surrounded by brothers and sisters while singing and listening and encouraging?  Tonight, make sure you plan your evening around your Sunday morning plans.  It may just make your Sunday morning awesome.

A Super, Huge, Ginormous Announcement

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Today, an official announcement was made by the elders of the Northwest Tampa Church of Christ to their membership that they have asked us to join their ministry team.  I will join their team in Tampa, Florida, as the preaching minister in March.

A few months ago, I had a phone interview with the elders there.  Throughout the course of that interview, I was blown away by the passion, the excitement, and the zeal behind their questions for me, as well as their answers to my questions.  I walked downstairs to my wife, Kristen, and told her – “I don’t want to put the cart before the horse – but I would love to work for this church.  It sounds amazing.”

After our first visit, we realized it didn’t just sound amazing, it IS amazing.  We fell in love with the family there during our first visit, and just as important, our daughter fell in love with them on our second visit to the point where she shed tears when we had to come home.  They have a ton of young children there, and the future is certainly bright.

We believe wholeheartedly that God has brought us together.  As Paul says in Romans 8:28 – “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  As we love God, I am excited about working together with the church family at Northwest Tampa, for the purpose of growing the Kingdom.

We believe that the church is a family, a family where anyone is welcome and everyone is loved. We believe in the mission of this church and we are excited about serving and growing alongside them. We look forward to dedicating many years of service to them. We look forward to working with a wonderful ministry team in place, under the oversight of some amazing elders.

May God bless us all as we move forward, as we all do our part to grow His Kingdom.  We solicit your prayers as we embark on this new and exciting adventure!

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Tomorrow When You Go To Church

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Tomorrow when you go to church, remember to praise God.  Remember that God took time to create the heavens, and the earth, and all the things in it.  Remember he took time to create life – full of emotions, love, friendships, family, and much more.  Remember he took time to create you.

Tomorrow when you go to church, remember how much it cost.  No, I’m not talking about the building you’re in, or the property you’re on, or anything else like that.  Sure you may be in a pretty building – and it may be brand new, or renovated, or old, or dilapidated – but that’s not what I’m talking about.  The church you are a part of cost someone his life.  God almighty, the one who created you, sent his Son to die for you because you messed up.

Tomorrow when you go to church, remember to love.  Love others.  Be kind.  Don’t just love people you know, but love the ones who come through the door that you’ve never met before.  Talk to them, ask them to sit with you, and be genuine.  Ask them out to lunch, and enjoy making new friends over Mexican food.

Tomorrow when you go to church, know that the preacher has worked very hard to prepare a message.  He’s prayed about it, studied for it, practiced going over it, and is excited about it.  The message may or may not directly affect you – so if you’re a single person and he’s talking about marriage – be prayerful that will help the marriages in your congregation, and that maybe it will help you as you search for your soulmate.

Tomorrow when you go to church, remember that the song leader/worship minister did not pick songs out that you don’t like on purpose.  Typically, they pick songs out that go along with the theme of the message that the preacher is preaching.  He did not think “What song does Joe not care for that I could lead so I can annoy him?”  I promise, that’s not what happened.

Tomorrow when you go to church, remember its not just about praising God – but its also about edifying and building each other up.  You can do this by smiling at someone, talking to someone, helping someone around, and making them feel comfortable worshipping as well.

And finally, remember – tomorrow, go to church.  Not just because its what God wants, but because the church needs you.

Huh? (The one about if you were paying attention in church today…)

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What did your preacher teach about this morning during his sermon?  What did you teacher talk about in class?

Since I started working in ministry 14 years ago, I’ve realized that Sunday morning doesn’t just happen – but rather it takes days of preparation.  I have a great respect for those who preach and teach.

Most ministers will spend anywhere from 15-40 hours preparing for the 30 minutes they will preach on Sunday mornings.  For those ministers who work for churches who still have a traditional Sunday evening service, you can add even more time to that.  On top of that, they have to prepare and study for their Sunday morning class if they teach one.  What impresses me even more are those who work a full time job, and still volunteer to teach.

How do you reward your preacher for the time he’s put into the lesson?  How do you reward the teacher who takes time above and beyond their regular job and life to prepare to teach? Do you simply sit there and listen?  Those who teach and preach spend a lot of time preparing so you can learn.  So, let me suggest a few things that will help encourage your preachers and teachers at church, and will in return bless you as well.

  1. Take notes.  Find a good note taking app for your phone, bring an old fashioned notebook.  Jot things down in your Bible.  My wife has been taking notes for as long as we’ve been married, and began long before we got married.  It helps her listen and retain things that were taught.
  2. Embrace what was taught.  How do you do this?  You live it.  You show it.  You bring it up with the teacher.
  3. Share thoughts on social media – facebook, twitter, instagram.  Not many things can encourage a preacher or teacher more than when he’s flipping through Facebook, or sees himself tagged in a tweet – that is someone quoting from his sermon or lesson.  Not only are you encouraging them, but you’re also inviting others to share in what was taught that day.
  4. Thank them.  Let them know you appreciate their lesson.  Even better – send an email the next day, or on a Thursday, to let them know you’re still thinking about what was said on Sunday.
  5. Finally – Remember what was taught.  If I were to ask you all what did your preacher speak on his sermon at your last service, could you answer in detail?  If I asked you what your Sunday morning class teacher taught about, could you answer in detail?  Or is all you remember the fact that you were at church and songs were sung, prayers were prayed, communion was served, and some dude got up to teach?

Sure there are other things that could make a difference, but I believe these 5 things will not only help your preachers and teachers to know you appreciate them, but you will find it enriches your life as well.

So, tonight, take a moment and go on social media and tag your preacher/teacher in a post, sharing how you appreciate them, and the key thoughts from the lesson.

P.S. – this works for all areas in the church – don’t forget about your kids’ teachers, your worship leader, the people leading prayers, and the list goes on and on.  Not only do these things boost their self esteem a bit – but it also helps spread the Good News!

5 Things for Ministers to Consider During Transitions

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God never promises that life will be easy.  In fact, I would say that God promises the opposite.  James 1:2 says “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds” – and by various kinds, that could mean self inflicted, through no fault of your own, random, expected…the list goes on and on.

Job transitions are tough.  In my field of ministry, they have a unique challenge though.  You see, ministry is not a job.  Its a lifestyle.  Its a calling.  We don’t just “go to work” but rather our life is our work.

Recently my life was faced with this very transition.  Its tough.  Its challenging.  I have woken up every day thinking about people in my congregation who were hurting, struggling, dealing with various trials of their own – and its because while I may have left the ministry at that church, I have not left my ministry.  My church family isn’t just made up of the people I work for at a certain time, but rather its made up of ALL the people I’ve ever worked with.

But what do you do when you go through that inevitable transition?  I think it begins before it ever happens.

Make sure that in your ministry, you don’t isolate yourself.  Network, and network some more.  Connect with other ministers, churches, and schools.  Find people you can confide in, share your struggles with, and pray with on a regular basis who are outside of your church family.  That way, when the transition comes, you won’t find yourself alone.

But when that day comes for you to leave your work – what do you?  How do you handle it?  Here are 5 ways to handle your transition time in ministry, whether you’ve been let go, you’re leaving on your own, or you’re moving to another church.

Realize that your church will move on, and probably a lot quicker than you will.  As ministers, we should aim to leave a church just like our mothers told us to treat places we visited – better than we found it.  If we have done our jobs, we have prepared the church for the next step, whatever that may be.  Don’t be surprised or upset when they start posting a want ad for a new minister, announcing guest speakers, and move forward.

Remember that the church belongs to God, not to you.  This is God’s church.  God called you, led you, and put you there for a season.  But, it will be just fine without you.  God will lead a new person there to continue where you left off.

Remember your family is leaving the church as well.  Your spouse has been there for you, supported you, waited up late for you after meetings, gone to events with you, and more than likely dedicated a giant portion of time and energy to the church.  This hurts them just as much as it hurts you.  I count it a blessing that I have a spouse who supports me wholeheartedly, and is always there for me no matter what the situation.

If you have children, remember that they may not completely understand.  Its tough on them.  I know people say that kids are resilient, and I believe that to be true, but saying things such as “God has other plans” don’t always work with a 5 year old, or a 15 year old for that matter.  Be prepared to deal with lots of tears, questions, confusion, and for those of you with older children – resentment.

Don’t let Satan win.  The evil one wants you to feel defeated.  He wants you to feel like you’re not good enough, or that you’ve abandoned the best thing you’ve ever done, or that no one ever liked you.  He will play so many tricks on you to get you to give up on ministry completely.  Remember, he’s pretty good at this.  You’ll begin to question your motives, your calling, your ability, and all of this is natural to a certain extent.Remember when Satan tells you these things, he’s just trying to get you blame God, to doubt God, to question God, or to give up on God.  And the only way you can make sure these things don’t happen is to…

Immerse yourself in prayer.  Pray without ceasing.  Pray continually.  Pray, and then pray some more.  If you left on your own, for whatever reason, pray.  If you were relieved of your duties, pray.  If you were offered a job elsewhere, pray.  Pray alone.  Pray with others.  Pray with your family.  Pray for the church you just left.  Pray for the church where you will be going.  Pray for the church that has yet to be put in your path.  Pray about the bad times.  Pray about the good things God used you for.  Pray, pray, pray.

What Are you Leaving Behind?

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Tomorrow at the Granny White Pike Church of Christ, my lesson will be on what we are leaving behind for future generations.  I will be using this poem at the end of my lesson – entitled “The Sculptor” – author unknown.

I took a piece of plastic clay
And idly fashioned it one day
And as my fingers pressed it still, 
It moved and yielded to my will

I came again when days were passed
The bit of clay was hard at last
The form I gave it, it still bore, 
But I could change the form no more.

I took a piece of living clay
And gently formed it day by day,
And molded with my power and art
A young child’s soft and yielding heart

I came again when years were gone
It was a man I looked upon;
He still that early impress wore
And I could change him nevermore.

 

Encouraging the Encourager

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(DISCLAIMER – this does not reflect my situation at my congregation of the Granny White Pike Church of Christ.  This is a response to some discouraging news I got this past weekend from a friend in ministry, who was let go from his job during this holiday season, in the middle of the school year, and doesn’t know what he’s going to do.  I felt called to write this today for those ministers going through a rough season in their lives, and for members in their church on how they can encourage.)

Discouragement.

All of us go through it at times.  Some, more than others.  I suppose when I was growing up, I always looked at our preacher (often times it was my dad) and thought he always had it together.  I never suspected anything was ever a problem.  I thought the Church was a safe haven.  I thought, to be real honest, that preachers were perfect.  It never crossed my mind they would get upset, get discouraged, or struggle at all, because it was there job to build others up.

I now know that is far from true.  Being a minister now, I can vouch that it is extremely easy to get discouraged.  My personal theme for the year is “Encourage One Another in 2014”

I’m part of a few mentor groups with other ministers.  Sure, I have my own struggles, but they are mostly of my own accord and worry.  I love my church family, and I feel loved and encouraged and supported.  However, the stories I hear from other guys in this line of work break my heart.

One guy was telling us about when he and his family were preaching in a small rural church.  The congregation provided a parsonage.  The minister and his family went away on vacation for a week, and when they returned to their home, all of their stuff had been boxed up and placed out on the porch and in the yard – with a note “The elders have decided that it is time to get a new minister.  Please see  Beth (the church secretary) to get your final paycheck.  Good luck in all you do.”

That was it – no “let’s have a meeting about your job” or face to face conversation stating why – just a gutless firing while the family was away.  You may think that’s not the norm, and for the most part you’d be right – however, there are things like this going on all around the nation in churches today.

This past weekend – a friend of mine was called into a meeting by the elders.  With no warning, with no prior meetings about his performance, with no “let’s talk about how you can do better” conversation, he was told to leave.  He’ll have to either weather the storm through the rest of the school year for his kids, or make the decision to move his kids in the middle of the second semester.

Ministers of all types have accepted their job knowing that with it comes certain struggles.  Some guys are one upset person away from losing their job.  Some guys are continually belittled.  Some guys, even though they give it their all, are never told an encouraging word.  And the result – fewer and fewer people are wanting to go into the field of ministry.  In fact, it seems like every week or so I see a friend of mine I know on social media who is getting out of the field.

I have many people here at the Granny White Pike Church of Christ who are encouragers.  People who come up to me after a lesson, and don’t just say “Great job” – but rather they talk about the lesson with me.  They share how “the point you made about” really touched them, or was something they really needed to hear.  I love these conversations.  They motivate me to continue.  I love getting emails and Facebook messages about how my lesson helped people.  It motivates me to better.

I have a group of elders here who show all of our ministers great support.  They provide for us, pray for us, share with us, take us to lunch, are there for us to share frustrations, are wise beyond others I know, and offer words of wisdom.  However, I know that not all ministers have the same luxury.

So this morning – let me share with you some of the things my members/leaders do to help encourage me that you can do for your own ministers:

Encourage your ministers – all of them.

– Support their projects.
– Pray for them.
– Attend their classes.
– Listen to their lessons.
– Write notes to them, thanking them for specific lessons.
– Pray for them.
– Take them to lunch.
– Volunteer to watch his children so he and his wife can go on a date night.
– Share what they talked about in church on social media.
– Pray for them.

In what ways do you encourage your ministers at your congregation?  What are some other ways we can let ministers know how much we appreciate their work?

At this time – I want to send a special shout to my great congregation, the Granny White Pike Church of Christ, for always doing such a great job of encouraging.  My prayer for other ministers is that their congregations will do the same.

Image from kalexanderson via flickr