Posts Tagged With: Pastor

Guaranteed Appointments Eliminated

Guaranteed appointments for Elders in the UM Church has just ended.  Click HERE to read more.  And I have noticed an increase in Facebook chatter responding in a negative way, which I don’t understand.  Let me explain…

I worked in the corporate world (or as some church people call it, “The Real World”) from 1993-2002.  I worked for several companies including

State Farm Insurance

State Farm Insurance (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Automatic Data Processing and State Farm.  These were both very “good” and high paying jobs. They also had one thing in common…I was expected to produce and be effective.  If I was not effective and did not produce, it was not long until I knew I would be out of a job.

I was a Fire Claim Representative for State Farm.  I was trained for months before going into the field.  I was sent to Bloomington for 3 weeks one January to learn the policy.  [Believe it or not, if someone failed the policy exam, they were escorted back to the hotel, watched while they packed, put on a plane and sent home (without a job).] When someone’s house burned or was damaged and they filed a claim with insurance, I went out and assessed the damage, took measurements, wrote an estimate and then issued a draft.  I usually worked about 30 claims per month.  Each of those approximate 30 claims had the possibility of being re-inspected by someone. (The Farm actually has a “re-inspector” position and all they do is go out and make sure you did the claim according to standards.)  The re-inspector retook all the measurements and gave us a 1/2″ allowance to be off.

Each quarter, every Claims Adjuster had a performance review in which our re-inspections were reviewed with management.  These quarterly performance reviews determined if and how much of a raise we received.  If the adjuster had consistently bad reviews, it would result in termination.  In other words, my job security was performance based and not guaranteed!

I was dumbfounded when I entered into the ministry and discovered that not only did pastor’s NOT have performance reviews to see what kind of job they were doing but also had GUARANTEED APPOINTMENTS.  We have one of the most important duties and we are not held accountable???  I really could not believe it.  However, in the pulpits, most ministers will preach on accountability yet we don’t seem to want anyone to hold us accountable.

I have and have always had (gonna make some of my teacher friends mad) a problem with tenure.  The biggest problem with tenure is mediocrity.  You have a job regardless if you do it well or not.  (I know some are going to say that it prevents teachers/preachers from being fired over what they say or teach, but let’s be real!  We have way more problem with ineffective teachers and preachers!!)  Can the system of Performance Based Employment be tainted? YES.

To be effective and fair, the United Methodist Church is going to have to institute the following or something close:

  • Clearly defined performance goals so the Bishop, DS, BOOM and Clergy are on the same page.  These goals need to be individualized for each clergy because every church is different.
  • Regular performance reviews.  These means the Bishop/DS/BOOM or other is going to have to be in the business of every local church and pastor on a higher level and more routine level
  • Develop policies for helping pastors who are not performing to expectations and a process leading to termination if expectations are not met.
  • A check and balance system so that one person cannot just arbitrarily fire a pastor.

I know this can be strange and somewhat scary. I like knowing that I’m going to have an appointment no matter what! But tenure/guaranteed appointments are not the answer.  This leads to ineffectiveness, mediocrity, laziness and the stats of the UM church don’t show we as pastors are doing our jobs in reaching great masses of people for the Kingdom.  Right now as it has been, a pastor can go play golf 5 times a week, preach on Sunday and be guaranteed a pulpit.  That’s the larger injustice.

Categories: Church, John's Rant (opinion), Leadership | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

6 HUGE Mistakes a Pastor Can Make

I’m now coming up on my 10th year in ministry and I’ve discovered some mistakes (some I’ve made and some I’ve seen) which can greatly limit a pastors ministry.  Here is what I have found:

  • Mistake 1.  Micro-managing your staff/volunteers.  If there is a need to micro-manage because the job may not get done correctly, then why are they in that position to begin with.  However, most micro-managing is the result of a Pastor’s own lack of self-confidence.  Pastor’s must get over themselves and get out-of-the-way of others.
  • Mistake 2.  Not Empowering staff nor congregation to do ministry.  Many pastors are not handing over the reigns of ministry to the laity.  When you don’t empower others for ministry, the ministry is limited/held back according to what YOU can accomplish.  When others are empowered, the ministry will grow exponentially.  A large role of the pastor is to train others and empower them to do ministry.  I tell me congregation that when someone is sick and in the hospital, I hope I’m the last one to arrive because everyone else has beaten me to the hospital.
  • Mistake 3.  It’s All About Me!  I call this the “Glory Hog” and they want all the glory to themselves.  “Did you see what Pastor_______ is doing at XYZ Church!”  is what they strive to hear.  Ministry is not for our glory but for the glory of God.
  • Mistake 4.  It’s Gotta Be My Way:  A true recipe for failure.  You’re only a leader if people are following you.  This is not a dictatorship and yes there are times when a pastor needs to hold his/her ground especially when there is a doctrine, theological, or moral issue.  BUT some compromise is more often the case.
  • Mistake 5.  Not Maintaining Confidentiality :  Un-ethical/damaging/heartless and DUMB.  The only time confidentiality should be broken is in the case of abuse or fear for someones life.
  • Mistake 6.  Not Setting Goals and Informing Congregation: If a church does not know where it is going and the direction it will be taking to arrive at its destination, how will it know when it arrives?  These goals cannot be the personal secret of the pastor.  Sharing these goals can/should motivate the congregation to achieve the goals IF they are in line with the vision of the church.
Categories: Church, Faith Journey, John's Rant (opinion), Leadership | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

5 Signs Your Church Underperforms

Great article by Mark Howell

Mark Howell serves as Community Life Pastor at Parkview Christian Church in Orland Park, IL. He founded, offering consulting and coaching services to help churches across North America launch, build and sustain healthy small group ministries. He spent four years on the consulting staff at Lifetogether and often contributes to ministry periodicals such as the Pastor’s Ministry Toolbox and


You may want to argue with me (and if you do, please use the comment section), but there are 5 easy-to-spot signs that your church is actually designed to underperform at connection.  What I mean by that is that whether your church is growing or not (doesn’t matter), there are several key factors that predetermine whether people are able to connect.  And very importantly, it’s been conclusively determined that people want to belong before they want to believe.

So what are the signs?  How can you tell if your church is actually designed to underperform at connection?  Here’s what I’ve found.

Top 5 Signs Your Church Is Designed to Underperform at Connection:

Your senior pastor is a reluctant champion of group life.

Churches where the senior pastor only infrequently talks about the importance of being connected are rarely, if ever, easy environments for connection to happen.  Without encouragement from the most visible person in the organization, it is just too easy to remain disconnected.  Trouble is life change most frequently happens where there is dialogue.  Life change most frequently happens where people are known.

Stories about the power of group life are rarely told.

If you want unconnected people to take a baby step and test-drive a group, there is nothing more compelling than a satisfied customer.  While we’re on the subject, stories told by satisfied customers (as opposed to stories about satisfied customers) are much more compelling.  It’s the reason marketers love testimonials.

Your church has no clear understanding of what a win is.

To borrow the phrase from the 7 Practices of Effective Ministry, if it’s not clear to everyone that the goal is to be connected in a group where you can be known, challenged, loved, held accountable, forgiven, encouraged, etc., it will only happen for those people who instinctively gravitate toward community.  (You know who those people are.  They create groups and group life opportunities even without your help).  Everyone else will remain anonymous at their own peril…because they don’t know any better.

Your church thinks programs instead of steps.

Again, to borrow from the 7 Practices of Effective Ministry, there need to be easy steps that lead to connection.  If the hardest step for many people today is to walk into your auditorium for the first time, the next hardest step is to leave the auditorium to join a group in a stranger’s living room!  The steps that are created also need to be obvious.  They can’t be hard to find (like when you have a buffet-style ministry and only one of the menu items leads to group life).  Finally, the steps you create need to be strategic; they need to lead in the right direction without wasted time wandering.

You spend too much time propping up existing groups and not enough time forming new groups.

Although counterintuitive to many, matchmaking (helping unconnected people find a spot in an existing group) is rarely productive.  The easiest time for the largest number of unconnected people to put their toe in the water is when new groups are formed.

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5 Types of Church Visitor

One thing pastors love is church visitors. Really, what we like even more is church visitors who become regular church attendee, but that process begins with visitors. It’s always a mystery why some visit a church and never come back. Those reasons may be the subject of another post, but one thing I’ve learned, much of the chance for return depends on why the person chooses to visit in the first place. I have discovered there are basically 5 types of visitors to a church:

Testers – These visitors are just looking around…perhaps for a new church…perhaps because they are dissatisfied where they currently attend church. They may feel they are not growing at their current church, or they aren’t completely satisfied with the leadership, the programs, or the opportunities for service available. If testers find what they are looking for, they’ll be back, but most likely, there is a specific fit they are seeking. I wouldn’t suggest altering things to keep them, but make sure their questions are answered.

Pleasers – These visitors are usually coming to appease someone who asked them. They have less interest in attending church than they have in satisfying the request of a spouse or friend. This is not a bad way to get them at first, and I’m always happy to have them, but it is harder to get them to stick unless God moves in their heart for attending church to become their personal desire. For these visitors, the person inviting them is just as important as the visitor in keeping them, but help the pleaser feel welcome, don’t make them feel uncomfortable, and you’ve got a good chance of seeing them return. Don’t Miss 7 Checkpoints to a Greater Guest Experience The Church WOW Factor Visitor Assimilation: It’s Not Rocket Science Top 7 Ways to Close the

Back Door Seekers – These are people who know they are missing something in life but aren’t sure what it is. Church may simply be another option, or it may be the only option, but these are the true unchurched. These visitors are a mission field. If we introduce them to Christ, they become forever loyal to the church where they found Him.

Jumpers – These visitors seldom stay long at one church. They get upset at something the church does, the church enters a building program that scares them away, or they simply grow bored. Likely they’ll only stick for a while at the new church, too, so don’t be take it personally if they disappear, as it may not be anything you did or didn’t do. Enjoy them while they are with you.

Investors – Most likely, these people moved to your community or some major issue caused them to leave their current church. These visitors are active church attendees looking for a new long-term home. They are ready to quickly commit and serve. It’s important to plug these people in as soon as possible. Again, churches love visitors. In fact, we like any of these five types. Knowing why someone is visiting your church, however, often helps the way you respond to them and gives you a better chance of keeping them. I wouldn’t recommend you ask them which of these they are, but it’s good to have in the back of your mind as you get to know them.

This article was written by Ron Edmonson. Ron is a pastor and church leader passionate about planting churches, helping established churches thrive, and assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy and life. Ron has over 20 years business experience, mostly as a self-employed business owner, and he’s been in full-time ministry for over 8 years.

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Why You’re Needed

One of my goals as pastor which has been set by the North Alabama Conference is to increase the average worship attendance of Union to 145.  I have heard many people say that all we’re doing is concentrating on numbers and there is some truth to that.  We are concentrating on numbers because each number is a soul.  An individual who is loved by God.  So, shouldn’t we concentrate on numbers?  Yes!  Numbers are important.  As with most goals, I cannot achieve this goal alone.  It’s not something that I can do without the help of the congregation, plain and simple.  BUT beyond my goal, here are some reasons why YOU ARE NEEDED and You’re ATTENDANCE is IMPORTANT.

  • People who are visiting feel uncomfortable in a church that seats 300 and has only 75 people sitting in the pews.  There is an emptiness that is felt.  There is a huge difference in the feeling of walking into a 300 seat church with 200 people in it than the feeling of 70 people.  Guest are left wondering, “where are all the people?”  “Have all the people left?” and other questions.
  • When starting a church, new church pastors are told not to start corporate worship until the have a CRITICAL MASS of 50-70 people.  Having people in the pews is vital to getting new people to come back.  We also made a point to have all of our people park in front of the building.  It’s important to “look” like there is something exciting happening when new people arrive.  If someone is making a first time visit, pull into the parking lot and there are 15 cars in a lot with 70 empty spaces…it doesn’t look like there is anything “happening”.
  • We need each other.  There is something spiritual about worshiping with others and we grow in our spiritual journey because of it.  We are a COMMUNITY OF FAITH.
  • We have vowed to support the church with our PRESENCE.
  • How can you minister to someone else if you’re not here? And how can you be ministered to?

As we continue into 2011, please remember how important your presence is to the life of the church and make every effort to be here on Sunday’s.  You need the church and the church needs you.

Categories: John Personal | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Why? Simple Question/Big Answer

Last night we had our annual Charge Conference and it was one of the best that I have ever attended.  Instead of it being a “business meeting” that bored everyone to tears, it focused on the work of the Body of Christ.  An hour was spent talking to the leaders of our churches about making disciples.  The guest speaker was Dr. Rudy Guess who is the Sr. Pastor at Gardendale/Mt. Vernon UMC.  He spoke on several different issues but the questions he raised are what got my attention the most.  Simple questions that mean so much and have such a big answer.  I struggled with these questions last night, not for the right answer but more of why have we not been asking these simple questions.  Maybe we’re scared of the answers.  Maybe it’s because we know the right answers but don’t believe it.  Or, is it that we just don’t care.  Three simple questions:

  1. Why does Jesus matter?
  2. Why does the Church matter?
  3. Why does your local church matter?

Have you ever given thought to these three questions?  They go hand in hand.  They deserve to be asked and more importantly deserve an answer.  However, if we ask that first one and answer it according to what we say we believe, it holds our feet to the fire on the other two.  Maybe we don’t want to answer the questions?  Do we truly believe our answers to the first question and if we do, how are we going to answer the second and third question?

Categories: Church, Church At Chelsea Park, Faith Journey | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Connectional Giving

As a pastor, I have heard many people’s opinion on Connectional Giving (apportionments) within the United Methodist Church.  (For those who are not UM, we are a “connectional” church, which means that all of our churches are connected under the banner of the District that the church resides in.  The District is part of the Conference and the Conference is part of the General church.)  The opinions have ranged from being unfair and to a tax on local churches.  I believe that some of these opinions are formed due to not having an understanding about what Connectional giving actually entails.

As a pastor, I believe that ONE of the signs of spiritual maturity is giving of one’s resources (money, time, resources) to God.  It is Biblical that as disciples we give at least 10% of our earnings back to God.  Is this because God needs our money?  NO!  It’s because money can so easily become lord of our lives and God’s desire is to be first in our life, not our money.  I believe Connectional Giving is one of the signs of spiritual maturity in the life of a church.  It’s a way for us to give back to God a portion of the blessings He has given to us.  That reason alone should be reason enough for all UM churches to strive for 100% connectional giving.  However, I want to (over the next several weeks) share with my readers how what we give is used.

One of the ways that our givings are used is to fund the Ministerial Education Fund (MEF).  The MEF is used to help people who are called to go into the pastoral ministry fund their seminary education.  In my own career as a minister I can tell you that there would have been no way for me to go to seminary without MEF.  Not only was I able to go, I was able to graduate with next to no student loans.  Praise God and thanks to all the churches who paid their apportionments.  I owe a great deal of my seminary education to them.

Categories: Church, Leadership | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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