We have a great week of reading for you in Church Leader Insights. We know you will enjoy it!
If you’ve been in ministry for any length of time, you know the challenge of trying to move the mission forward and handle the pastoral needs of a congregation at the same time.
One of the most perplexing problems pastors and church leaders face is how to handle ‘pastoral emergencies’—the crises that come up in the lives of people that they look to you to help solve.
The challenge in many churches is that more people = more crises.
This dynamic stresses many pastors out, and it’s hard to know what to do. You’re working on your sermon or some long-term planning and your phone buzzes, letting you know that someone just got admitted to hospital or that a couple needs to see you NOW for marriage counseling.
What do you do?
Most leaders respond immediately to the need (because we’re pastors, after all). And that leaves the sermon prep or project to the next day.
Which also gets interrupted by a new crisis. Which moves your work to the evening, or the weekend, or into family time. And soon, you only write your sermons on Saturday night.
The Pastoral Care Trilemma
And this is what breaks many church leaders.
Eventually, you just can’t keep up. And, predictably, three things happen.
1. You get completely overwhelmed, and maybe even burnout.
An Executive Coach’s perspective on how communication tactics can drive permanent change and develop future leaders
There is a simple, yet strategically significant difference in the communication styles of leaders and managers. Managers and leaders both use different forms of influence and direction at different times. Leaders, however, demonstrate a bias to influencing by inspiring and enabling, while managers are more likely to command and control.
For dynamic organizations to remain competitive, they must foster a culture of growing tomorrow’s leaders. That is a tough feat, considering about 70 percent of employees promoted into leadership positions aren’t qualified. The very trait that gets many individuals promoted is their ability to communicate and contribute as individuals, not because of their ability to manage, let alone lead. A key tweak in communication style can help turn managers into the empowering leaders their organizations so desperately need.
Have you ever had a boss ask you a question that started out with “Why?” “Why did you do that?” Think back to the emotion that elicited in you the second that bad “W” word slipped off their tongue. Your guard likely came up, and you might have become a tad bit defensive. So how does this play out in a professional setting?
Enter the concept of ego states, as discussed in the book “Coaching as a Leadership Style” by Robert Hicks. We have three possible ego states: Parent, Child and Adult. All ego states play an important role in life and business. The key is to appreciate the difference and know which to use when. (Note: Contrary to what the word “child” might suggest, many adults operate out of the Child ego state a fair amount of the time).
The days of finding or creating a discipleship program, then using it for years, is over. Especially in a small church.
Our church created and implemented a great a discipleship class last year. In our church of 180 (average Sunday attendance) more than 60 adults took the class and got a lot out of it.
It’s been a huge win for us.
But I’m not going to tell you what our idea was. For two reasons.
First, because it was very specific to our church, our needs, our teaching style and our current circumstance, so the likelihood of it working elsewhere is slim.
Second, because, even though it worked really well, we’re not going to do it again.
What worked last year won’t work next year. Especially if you’re producing growing disciples, not just frequent attenders.
The Small Church Discipleship Dilemma
Our church doesn’t stick with any specific discipleship program for very long any more. Most of them are one and done.
We became aware of this challenge back in the in the 1990s, when we adapted the base path model from Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Church. We did it one year and it worked. A lot of people took Classes 101 through 401. So, when we restarted them the next year we expected a similar response and got … crickets.
Parents face huge obstacles in trying to get their kids excited about reading the Bible. For starters, very few kids are reading anything at all. There are so many distracting (and seemingly more exciting) alternatives to sitting quietly with a book. The pressure of school activities, sports, and the social whirl are not conducive to finding a quiet time to read.
On top of that, the Bible is not an easy read. Sure, there are some well-known sections that many kids are familiar with through Sunday school and VBS, but the vast majority of it is unchartered territory. It’s not a multimedia fest; it’s black words on white pages. It’s not a world that most kids are familiar with; the culture, history, and geography of the Bible seem a million miles and years away from modern children.
And worst of all, we have two enemies fighting with all their might against children reading the Bible. There’s the devil, who opens the gates of hell whenever a child opens a Bible. And there are our children’s hearts, which are turned away from the truth from birth (Psalm 51:5; 58:3). No one naturally and normally delights in the Word of God without being given a new heart by regeneration.
Despite these discouraging impediments, I still believe we should and can encourage our children to see Bible reading as a delight rather than a drudge. And the most powerful way of doing that is by conveying our own delight in God’s Word. We have to demonstrate that the Bible lights up our life. If we’re not excited about this book, we can’t expect our children to be.