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Healthy Leadership

9 Things A Pastor Needs To Remember When Someone Leaves The Church

If it hasn’t happened yet it will; get ready. No matter how great of a pastor, leader, preacher, shepherd, or friend you are, someone you swore would never leave is going to leave your church.

I remember my first gut punch. Service had ended on a Sunday morning, and my worship pastor walked up to me and said, “Hey, can I meet with you in your office for a second?” I jokingly responded, “Sure, as long as you’re not meeting to tell me you’re leaving the church.” He gave me a nervous laugh, and I knew.

We went to the office, and he informed me he had taken a job at another church in town as a full-time worship pastor; he was volunteering for me at the time, so it was a no-brainer for him and his family. I smiled, encouraged him, told him how much we would miss him, and that I was happy for him, but when he walked out of the office, I sat in my chair feeling betrayed. ( I wrote a blog about how to tell your pastor you are leaving the church in this post.)

I had not been betrayed, he did nothing wrong. God was beautifully orchestrating his life, but in that moment, and for a few months afterward, I couldn’t catch my breath. That was my first experience with a friend and staff member choosing to leave, and I took it personally— too personally.

Over the years I’ve had lots of people leave for all kinds of different reasons. Most of the time it was God, sometimes it was because I mismanaged a situation, and a few times it was because they were certifiably crazy, but regardless of how it happened, I can honestly say I am a better pastor to the people I have because of the people who chose to leave.

Whenever a pastor friend of mine calls with a painful story of someone leaving, I tell them the same thing they tell me when the shoe is on the other foot. It’s the same thing all your friends told you in college after a bad breakup, “You’re better off without them.” When your college friends said it, they were usually suggesting you’re better off because your ex was a terrible person; that is not what I’m suggesting. I believe you’re better because every challenging and painful leadership moment makes you better in the long run.

It doesn’t make it easier at the moment, but I’ve been through enough “breakups” now to recognize God is always up to something. Sometimes, the big giver is leaving because God wants you to learn to trust in Him more than your benefactor. Sometimes, the close friend is leaving because God needs to elevate your leadership in the eyes of the people, and those who are too familiar can’t honor your leadership position. Sometimes, the talented leader is leaving because as long as they’re around, they will bottleneck the development of future leaders.

Whatever the reason, when families leave the church it can cause a pastor to get defensive or deflated. You wrestle with all kinds of emotions, and if you’re not careful you let your mind go to unhealthy places that hurt your leadership and influence.

It’s important we learn how to manage our emotions and focus on what is true so let me give you 9 things a pastor needs to remember when someone leaves the church.

1. The Person Leaving, Left Another Church to Attend Your Church

I know I know, you’re only reaching lost people and none of your growth is transfer growth, but the truth is most of the people sitting in your church attended another church before they attended your church. I can’t remember when exactly, but there was one night when a few families had left our church over the previous weeks, and I was throwing a pity party of epic proportions. My wife said to me, “I bet this is how Bro. Larry felt a few years ago when all those young families from his church started attending our church.” Bro. Larry had pastored his church for over 30 years and as his church aged several 2nd generation families left to attend my church. They showed up trained, talented, tithing, and ready to serve. It never crossed my mind that our gain was someone else’s loss. I assumed that God was sending us the help we needed to accomplish our mission, and he was, but I never stopped to feel empathy for Bro. Larry.

Flash forward several years later, and all of those families but one are still attending our church. The people who left aren’t bad people (more on that later), but it was one of my earliest lessons learned in pastoral leadership. Most people who come to you from someone else’s church eventually go to someone else’s church; you can’t have it both ways.

In the darkest parts of our hearts, we assume they’re better off at our church because the kid’s ministry is better, the preaching is better, or we’re more equipped to reach their friends. “If their former church did a better job, they wouldn’t have left,” we assume, which is why we come unraveled when someone leaves our church. We convinced ourselves new people showed up because our church was “better,” so when they leave, they must have found something better. It’s a sinkhole to emotional despair.

2. Losing A Member to Another Church Doesn’t Mean You’re Losing to Another Church

My oldest daughter Sadie loves soccer, but for the first few years of her soccer career she played in a league that didn’t keep score… at least officially. Everyone was still keeping score; the kids, parents, and coaches, knew who won and who lost. Over the years, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say “ministry is not a competition.” No one argues, at least out loud, but I’ve wasted too much time keeping score. You probably have too.

Every week church leaders tabulate to see their ranking; and no matter how many times someone tries to tell you, you can’t let go of the belief that a church with more people is more successful. The more you compare yourself to other pastors and churches, the more you cripple your confidence in the calling God has placed on your life. The fear of losing haunts you. When two families leave your church to attend another church it feels like they’re winning 8-0, but they’re not; you’re keeping the wrong score.

I love the way John the Baptist responded when his disgruntled followers wanted him to confront Jesus because some disciples had left to follow Jesus, and now he was baptizing people which was what John the Baptist was known for. John the Baptist kept the right score…

John 3:26-30
“So John’s disciples came to him and said, “Rabbi, the man you met on the other side of the Jordan River, the one you identified as the Messiah, is also baptizing people. And everybody is going to him instead of coming to us. John replied… I am filled with joy at his success.”

I’m not suggesting you be thrilled when someone leaves for another church but I am suggesting you remind yourself every day that a bigger church isn’t winning and a smaller church isn’t losing.

[clickToTweet tweet=”PASTOR: Losing a member to another church doesn’t mean you’re losing to another church @jasonisaacs” quote=”PASTOR: Losing a member to another church doesn’t mean you’re losing to another church”]

3. They’re Not Leaving You, They’re Leaving Your Church.

I know it feels like someone leaving is an indictment against you, after all, you’re the pastor, you give your life to help them know Jesus, but when someone decides to leave your church to attend another church they’re not leaving you, they’re leaving the church.

When the worship pastor I mentioned earlier took the new job across town, I made it WAY too personal, I allowed it to affect other relationships within the church. I became paranoid, self-conscience and developed a mega-church complex. (I wrote more about my megachurch complex in this post.) Like a boxer who gets TKO’d for the first time or a batter who gets hit by a pitch, I lost my confidence, because I incorrectly assumed what most pastors assume— when someone leaves the church they are leaving me, but they’re not. They’re usually leaving for reasons way less important than the pastor or the preaching.

If you assume everyone who leaves is leaving because of you, then you will assume everyone who shows up, shows up because of you and neither of those things are true; you’re not that important. They have a reason, they may tell you, they probably won’t, but in the end, new people are going to come to your church, and current people are going to leave. It’s the life cycle of a church.

[clickToTweet tweet=”PASTOR: If you assume everyone who leaves is leaving because of you, then you will assume everyone who shows up, shows up because of you and neither of those things are true; you’re not that important. @jasonisaacs” quote=”PASTOR: If you assume everyone who leaves is leaving because of you, then you will assume everyone who shows up, shows up because of you and neither of those things are true; you’re not that important. “]

4. There Are Still A Lot of People Who Love You And Want You To Pastor Them

In the moments of sadness or anger, it’s easy to forget that more people are for you than are “against you.” Pastors are great at noticing who is not at church while they preach instead of who is. We’re great at obsessing over missing families on Sunday afternoon, but if we’re not careful, we overlook faithful people because they require little maintenance. The majority of the people in your church love you and want you to be their pastor. Go back and read that last sentence 2 or 3 times.

King David understood the frustration of feeling betrayed and abandoned, and he allowed those who left to mean more to him than those who remained. That’s when his executive pastor Joab walked into his office with words of wisdom…

2 Samuel 19:6-7
You seem to love those who hate you and hate those who love you. You have made it clear today that your commanders and troops mean nothing to you. It seems that if Absalom had lived and all of us had died, you would be pleased. Now go out there and congratulate your troops, for I swear by the Lord that if you don’t go out, not a single one of them will remain here tonight. Then you will be worse off than ever before.”

It’s easy to forget about who stayed and not be able to forget about who left, but it’s imperative as leaders that we celebrate the people who love our church more than we mourn the people who leave our church.

[clickToTweet tweet=”PASTOR: Celebrate the people who love your church more than you mourn the people who leave your church.@jasonisaacs” quote=”PASTOR: Celebrate the people who love your church more than you mourn the people who leave your church.”]

5. Jesus Knows What You’re Feeling

Don’t rush past this point. Jesus had a core leadership team of 12 and after 3 years of mentoring his clerk left for more money. Take comfort in the fact the most significant leader to ever live who performed miracles and literally laid down his life for his followers couldn’t keep 12 people together for 3 years. The next time you feel hurt or betrayed because someone leaves the church talk to God about it, he understands.

6. God Maybe Saving You A Lot Of Trouble Later

Someone leaving your church is not always a bad thing; everyone is not meant to make the journey with you. It doesn’t make them bad or wrong; it just means you need to do your best to pastor them during the season God entrusts them to you. Regardless of why they’re leaving, I’ve learned the hard way that I shouldn’t try to hold on to someone God is trying to move on. The only thing worse than someone leaving your church is someone staying at your church when they need to go.

In my experience, God might be doing you a favor transitioning someone out of your church or team for 2 reasons: #1 is because their responsibility grows beyond their capacity. It doesn’t mean they are a terrible person, or that they are not a talented person, it just means they can’t lead at the level necessary for where God is trying to take your church. If you work too hard to hold on to them when God begins to stir them to do something else you are setting yourself up for a painful, possibly controversial, decision down the road. If they leave on their terms, you can bless them and pastor them to their next season, if you convince them to stay because you don’t want to “lose” them, you will eventually have to fire or remove them, and that is WAY harder with more significant consequences.

The second reason God transitions people from your church is that they can’t view you as the growing spiritual leader that you are. Jesus said it himself, “A prophet is without honor in his hometown.” It’s difficult for people to view you differently than the first version they met; as you change their perception of you doesn’t. They’re too familiar, and it doesn’t make them bad people, but it does make it almost impossible for them to honor you in the way necessary for your church to grow. This exit can be the most painful because they are usually friends or people who started the journey with you, but if you try to hold on to them when God is moving them on you hold back your leadership potential. (I wrote about the painful realization that everyone doesn’t finish with you in this post.)

Some people come for seasons, some people come for reasons, and some people come for life. Don’t expect everyone to be with you for life; they won’t be, and you’re not a bad leader because you have turnover.

[clickToTweet tweet=”PASTOR: Don’t try to hold on to someone God is trying to move on. The only thing worse than someone leaving your church is someone staying at your church when they need to go.@jasonisaacs” quote=”PASTOR: Don’t try to hold on to someone God is trying to move on. The only thing worse than someone leaving your church is someone staying at your church when they need to go.”]

7. Every Person Who Leaves Isn’t A Bad Person

You know how it works. It’s like when you got dumped in middle school, and you tell all your friends “I didn’t really like them anyway!” When someone leaves your church, it’s so easy to revise history and retell every story with a tainted perspective. It’s easy to question their motives, to assume they had agenda, or to assume they’re a terrible person. I’m 99% sure none of those things are true. Yes, there are legitimately mean people who go out of their way to make the pastor’s life hell, but if that’s the kind of person we’re talking about, then it’s time to throw a party. Be careful that you don’t allow your hurt feelings to cause you to rewrite history or feel the need to create a narrative.

I love the way the disciples talked about Judas after his death. It would have been so easy for them to tell awful stories about him, after all, he betrayed Jesus, but that’s not what they did.

Acts 1:17
“Judas was one of us and shared in the ministry with us.”

When it comes to people who leave you, remember them for the good they did. When someone brings up their name, just do what the disciples did. “They were one of us.”

8. God May Want To Do A New Thing With New People

Sometimes, people leaving is God pruning. In 2009 researchers at the University of York made a discovery about the science behind pruning. It was always believed you cut the tallest leaves of a plant precisely because they were the tallest, but scientists at the University of York determined that the height or length of the tallest shoot was insignificant. More important than size was tenure. In other words, when pruning, you cut the tallest shoots because they have been there the longest, not because they’re the tallest. There comes the point in the life of a plant that if a shoot is alive for long enough, it dominates the resources of the plant and hinders the newer and lower shoots from flourishing.

I’m not advocating term limits for church membership, but we have all seen churches where a few people dominate all the resources. Sometimes, the people who have been around the longest can become the ceiling. Every situation is different, but there are times when shaking things up, creating a new seat on the pastor’s counsel, or putting young people on the praise team is a good thing, because it helps identify individuals who view themselves as more important than the vision of the church. Sometimes, you have to subtract before you can add.

Before God could take Israel into the promised land he had to remove a generation.

Numbers 32:13
“The LORD was angry with Israel and made them wander in the wilderness for forty years until the entire generation that sinned in the LORD’s sight had died.

They could not move forward until certain people were gone. I’m not suggesting that every person who leaves the church is someone God is angry with. I’m also not suggesting that every person who leaves the church was holding you back, but I am suggesting that sometimes God brings new people because he wants to do new things, and sometimes God transitions current people because in some way they hinder the new thing. For what it’s worth, Moses didn’t get to go into the promised land either. Sometimes God has to transition the leader too.

9. The Chances Are Good You Will Leave Your Church Too.

I know that right now you’re intoxicated with vision, you’re focused on the future, and any hinderance feels like rebellion or betrayal, but before you are too quick to demonize someone who chooses to leave, keep in mind that you will probably leave your church too. Statistically, very few pastors finish their pastoral career where they start. When you decide to go you will probably believe God is transitioning you, so keep that in mind when a member says the same thing to you. Is it God? Maybe. Who really knows at the moment, but if God transitions pastors, he transitions members too.

We’re all trying to follow God and build the church. People who leave aren’t as selfish, deceitful, manipulative, and disloyal as you assume, you know how I know; because you’re not either and there will come a day when you will leave too. Show grace. Talk it out with a counselor or spouse if you have to. Call a pastor friend. But don’t allow someone leaving the church to derail what God is trying to do in you and through you.

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Podcast

Episode 20 – Developing Leaders, Sharing the Spotlight, & Dreaming Bigger Dreams with Dave Ferguson

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Pastor Dave Ferguson pastors Community Christian Church  in the Chicago area. He also leads Exponential a conference and network for church leaders who want to be Heromakers, and he is the founder of the Newthing Church Planting Network.

In this interview we talked Dave’s new book “Heromaker,” how pastors can make a big impact even if they don’t pastor a big church, developing more leaders, sharing the spotlight, and dreaming bigger dreams.

Links mentioned in this podcast:

Hero Maker: https://amzn.to/2tD8uTg
Newthing Network: http://www.newthing.org/
Exponential Conference: https://exponential.org/
July Sermon Series Giveaway: https://excellentpastor.com/july-sermon-series-giveaway/

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Church Growth Podcast

Episode 19 – Lessons Learned from Planting A Portable Church and Merging an Existing Church with Wesley Weatherford

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Pastor Wesley Weatherford leads Oasis Church at Hephziba in Augusta GA. In this interview we talk about the lessons learned over the last 8 years planting a new church from scratch, being a portable church twice, and merging with an existing church.

Links mentioned in this podcast:

Oasis Church at Hephziba: https://www.myoasis.tv/
In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day: https://amzn.to/2IwkRW1
July Sermon Series Giveaway: http://excellentpastor.com/july-sermon-series-giveaway/

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Uncategorized

July Sermon Series Giveaway

This month Excellentpastor.com is giving away a 4-week series, “Worst. Day. Ever.”

Sermon topics include:

  • What To Do When You Find Out Bad News
  • Why Hard Times Can Be Good For You
  • Finding Friends During Life’s Tough Seasons
  • Learning To Trust God
  • and more

Sermon Bundle Includes:

  • .jpg and .psd artwork files (title slide and scripture background slide)
  • 4-Weeks of sermon notes

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Podcast

Episode 18 – How To Be A Pastor With A Life and Nothing To Prove with Larry Osborne

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Pastor Larry Osborne has pastored Northcoast Church for 38 years and over that time has seen the congregation grow from 70 people to over 10,000 in attendance each week.

In this interview we talked about what almost four decades of ministry has taught him about dealing with problems, getting through difficult seasons, leading his family, and finishing well.

Links mentioned in this podcast:

Lead Like A Shepherd: https://amzn.to/2Ltc1u4
A Contrariants Guide To Knowing God: https://amzn.to/2JAipT0
Thriving in Babylon: https://amzn.to/2Jx0NYe
Sticky Teams: https://amzn.to/2JvMliV
Sticky Church: https://amzn.to/2Jy7LMh
June Sermon Series Giveaway: https://excellentpastor.com/june-sermon-series-giveaway/

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Church Growth Podcast

Episode #17 – Relaunching a Traditional Church, Avoiding Conflict, and Eliminating Excuses with Jerry Lawson

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Jerry Lawson pastors Daystar Church in Cullman Alabama. Any given week several thousand people attend multiple campuses, but it wasn’t always that way. When Jerry arrived at Daystar it was called Glory Hill Church of God and had a handful of people. Over the years Jerry has led the church to relaunch, adapt and grow, and he talks about that process in our interview today.

Links mentioned in this podcast:

June Sermon Series Giveaway: https://excellentpastor.com/june-sermon-series-giveaway/

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Uncategorized

June Sermon Series Giveaway

This month Excellentpastor.com is giving away a 5-week series, “I Don’t Want To Be That Person Anymore.”

Sermon topics include:

  • The Difference Between Regret and Repentance
  • The Difference Between Condemnation and Conviction
  • The Difference Between Religion and Relationship
  • The Difference Between Falling and Failing
  • and more

Sermon Bundle Includes:

  • .jpg and .psd artwork files (title slide and scripture background slide)
  • 5-Weeks of sermon notes

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Developing Leaders

4 Conversations A Pastor Should Have Every Week If You Want To Develop More Leaders

When I became a pastor, I incorrectly assumed my job was to make sure all the weekly “church work” was accomplished. After all, I was getting paid to be at the church while everyone else in the congregation had to go to their secular jobs. (That was my first incorrect assumption… I was being paid to be at the church.) Work needed to be done, and since I was at the church, who better to get the job done than me, right?

My intentions were noble, I wanted to be helpful and provide the most value to my church, but my mistake was believing that my value was determined by my productivity. I confidently believed the more tasks I checked off my “get done” list, the more the church would grow and the more people we would reach. I was wrong.

I know it’s hard to comprehend if you find yourself with a long list of ministry tasks that need to be completed and a shortage of help to get the job done. “If I don’t do it, who will?” you’re thinking. It’s a valid question.

  • Who will clean the church building?
  • Who will put the song lyrics in the computer?
  • Who will print and fold the bulletin?
  • Who will design the sermon series graphic, or make the chord charts?
  • Who will lead the small group or community outreach event?

As contrary as it is to everything we believe about senior pastor leadership, the more you “do” as the senior leader of your church the more you hurt the long-term health and potential of your church. It’s ironic, isn’t it? We work so hard to help our church but instead of helping we hurt our church because we accidentally create an organization that is dependent on us.

This idea is not original with me; it’s from the Bible.

Ephesians‬ ‭4:11-12‬ ‬‬
“Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.”

According to the Apostle Paul, Christ gave you as a gift to your church. I know it doesn’t feel like it, but it’s true. Christ gifted you to your church so that you can equip God’s people to do his work.

That sounds like a different job description than most pastors I know. Yes, according to Ephesians pastors have a responsibility, but it’s not to “do” the work of the church, it’s to equip people to do the work of the church. Here’s the best part, when you do your job, and they do their job, the church of Jesus Christ is built up. You build the church when you build people.

If I was to interrupt your tireless work one day and ask you, “why are you doing all those tasks?” You would probably say, “I’m trying to build a church.” I get it, I want to build a great church too, but great churches aren’t built by a talented senior pastor, great churches are built by an empowering senior pastor. Talent doesn’t hurt, but it’s not the main criteria or responsibility of the pastor. The main responsibility is to equip people. And before you think the senior pastor is getting out of work, it’s way harder to empower someone else to do a job than to do it yourself. Way. Harder. (I wrote more about how your talent hurts your church in this post.)

[clickToTweet tweet=”PASTOR: Great churches aren’t built by talented pastors, great churches are built by empowering pastors” quote=”PASTOR: Great churches aren’t built by talented pastors, great churches are built by empowering pastors”]

A Pastor’s Job Description

So if you’re job isn’t to complete tasks, what is your job? There are many different ways to answer that question, and the answer can vary depending on the various spiritual gifts of the leader, but at its core, I believe every senior pastor (or team leader) has one job more important than any other. Your job is to be the CCO, the chief communicating officer.

When I say communication, don’t just think of preaching, or talking from the stage, what I’m talking about is WAY more important than that. Empowering leaders are always communicating: vision, expectations, encouragement, and correction.

One of the reasons it’s easier to get the job done yourself is because it doesn’t require communication; you know what you want, and you know how to get it done, or at least you can figure out how to get it done. To equip and empower someone else requires instruction, patience, and probably settling for a finished product of less quality than you could have done, and that’s hard. But when you help someone do something you could have done yourself you are doing what God called you to do: you are building the church.

[clickToTweet tweet=”PASTOR: When you help someone do something you could have done yourself you are doing what God called you to do: you are building the church.” quote=”PASTOR: When you help someone do something you could have done yourself you are doing what God called you to do: you are building the church.”]

How Do I Do That?

One of the best ways to gauge how effectively you are equipping and empowering your church is to look at your calendar. As you review your previous week or plan the week ahead, how are you spending the majority of your time? Are you accomplishing tasks by yourself or are you meeting with people? Are you spending most of your time on a laptop computer or sitting across the table having a conversation with someone. Of course, you need time to study and invest in yourself, but in general how often are you communicating with people?

To identify, recruit, train, and empower leaders to do the work of ministry requires intentional leadership. Think of it as being the lead car of a caravan on the interstate. You are leading the way, but you can’t drive so fast that you leave everyone, and you also can’t drive so slow that it takes you too long to arrive at your destination. When you are the lead driver of a caravan, you are regularly checking the rearview mirror. Are the people who need to be with you, with you? Is anyone falling behind? Did anyone exit without telling you? Does anyone need to stop and take a break? In a way, pastoring is continuously checking the rearview mirror. You set the pace, but a great leader makes sure he is being followed.

In a perfect world you would cast the vision, ask for help, empower the leader and never need to check back in, but ministry is not a perfect world, it’s messy because people are messy. The leaders you empower need to be challenged and celebrated. They need clarity and correction. That’s where your job as CCO comes in. A pastor should have at least 3, maybe 4, kinds of conversations every week. These conversations help to reinforce vision, provide clarity and instruction, and show care to the people you lead. There’s no hard and fast rule for how many meetings you should have; you get to decide, so pick times and formats that enable you to be at your best and make sure to have these conversations every week, so everyone arrives at the final destination together.

1. Clarifying Conversations

Clarifying conversations do exactly what it sounds like they do, they provide clarity. You have staff members, volunteers, and church members who need clarity this week, and you can give it to them. Maybe you need to clearly define their role on the team or their responsibility on the weekend. Maybe you need to clarify the vision because they’re not sure why you’re so committed to how you do do what you do. You probably have a new Christian in your church who needs clarity on spiritual questions. They need answers to Bible questions or instruction for how to overcome a spiritual battle. Does one of your volunteer leaders need a solution to a recurring problem, could you provide a solution that would help them stay committed and encouraged?

Think of clarifying conversations as releasing a small amount pressure from a kettle so that frustrations, hard feelings, or confusion, don’t build up and blow up one day. Great leaders are continually reinforcing values, vision, and expectation.

Go ahead and write down 3 names of people on your team or in your church who would benefit from a clarifying conversation this week. Set up a time to meet. By the way, don’t invite them to a “clarifying meeting,” invite them to coffee. Talk about their job, their kids, their hobbies. Have a 30-minute conversation and spend the last 5-10 minutes clarifying. Your agenda is not the material it’s the person sitting across the table from you. Invest in them and then clarify for them. Over time you will see them develop into an equipped and empowered leader.

2. Challenging Conversations

Challenging conversations are exciting because it gives you the chance to challenge someone to be more than they are settling for. A challenging conversation may be a hard conversation, but it doesn’t have to be. Maybe there is a person in your church who has been faithfully serving in a minor role, but you see potential leadership in them, take them to coffee and challenge them. Do what Dave Ferguson calls an ICNU conversation. It sounds something like this, “Sarah, I’ve watched how you’ve faithfully served the last few months in the kid’s department, and you’ve done such a great job. I want you to know that I see potential in you. I believe God has more in store for than just serving as a teacher’s assistant.” A challenging conversation may be out of concern. “Hey Joe, I’ve noticed you’ve been distant lately. Is everything ok? Is there anything I can do to help? I get worried when people get distant because I’ve seen too many people fall away. I want to challenge you to stay committed. God has big plans for your life.” You’re not confronting them; you’re challenging them. I bet you are the leader you are today because someone who loves you had a challenging conversation with you.

Think of challenging conversations as coaching. Every great coach knows how to motivate their players and push them to perform at their best. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable, but the coach always has the players best interest at heart. I think one of my favorite and most awkward examples of a challenging conversation is found in Acts 16 when the Apostle Paul invites his new pupil Timothy to join him on his ministry trip.

Acts 16:2-3
“…so Paul wanted him to join them on their journey. In deference to the Jews of the area, he arranged for Timothy to be circumcised before they left, for everyone knew that his father was a Greek.”‭‭‬‬

Ouch! Can you imagine that conversation? “Timothy I know you’re not a jew, and you’re already in college, but I see great potential in you, and I think if you got circumcised it would grow your influence.” Now that’s a challenging conversation.

Go ahead and set up 1 or 2 challenging conversations this week. Is there someone who doesn’t realize the call God has on their life yet? Is there someone who is underperforming and needs to be motivated? When you take time to intentionally challenge them you are leading them to fulfill their God-given potential; it doesn’t get any better than that.

3. Confronting Conversations

Hopefully, you don’t need to have confronting conversations often, but if you’re leading people, you will undoubtedly be required to confront people and issues at times. No one likes confrontation, not normal people anyway. The fact that you don’t want to confront someone lets you know that your heart is in the right place to help them. Is there a team member who has consistently underperformed even after challenging conversations? Is there a church member who is living in blatant sin and needs to be confronted by their pastor who cares about them? Is someone being divisive or leading people astray. When you agreed to be the pastor you agreed to have the hard conversations. If you don’t, who will?

Even the apostles had to confront each other at times. According to Paul, he had to confront Peter for the way he was acting towards the Gentiles.

Galatians‬ ‭2:11‬
“But when Peter came to Antioch, I had to oppose him to his face, for what he did was very wrong.”

If I told you I had a genie in a bottle and you could confront someone with the guarantee there would be no fall out after your meeting, who would you confront? I don’t have a genie in a bottle, but now you know who you need to meet with. The problem won’t go away, and you’re not kind by ignoring it, you’re selfish. You are probably one or two incredibly painful, hard conversations away from your church growing to the next level; you just have to get the courage to confront what everyone knows is a problem but refuses to address. You can do it!

[clickToTweet tweet=”PASTOR: You are probably one or two incredibly painful, hard conversations away from your church growing to the next level. Confront what everyone else around you already knows is a problem. You can do it!” quote=”PASTOR: You are probably one or two incredibly painful, hard conversations away from your church growing to the next level. Confront what everyone else around you already knows is a problem. You can do it!”]

4. Celebrating Conversations

I saved the best for last. Celebrating conversations are the simplest but most powerful tool you have to build unity, morale, and reinforce vision in your church. You are surrounded by team members and church members who need encouragement. They don’t believe in themselves the way you believe in them. They don’t think they’re doing a good job. They don’t think you notice what they’re doing. I don’t know who coined the phrase, but what gets celebrated get’s replicated, so find people doing what you wish everyone else was doing and make a big deal about it! At our staff meeting, every team member writes 2-3 thank you cards for someone on their team. It’s such a simple thing, but based on the reaction of the people who receive the thank you cards you would think we attached $100 bills. They feel appreciated and motivated to work even harder to build the church.

Clarifying, challenging, and confronting conversations need to be done face to face, but celebrating conversations can be in any format. Go crazy with it. Send 20 text messages today. Write a few thank you cards. Post on someone facebook timeline. You will be surprised how something so small makes such a big difference. You will never celebrate the people around you enough.

It’s counter-intuitive to think that a day with a breakfast meeting, a coffee meeting, a staff meeting, and a lunch meeting is more productive than a day where you cross tasks off your list, but you’re not the help anymore, you’re the pastor. God didn’t put you at your church to be the best musician, designer, small group leader, or handyman, he put you there to equip and empower people, and there’s no substitute or shortcut for building people. As you plan your schedule make sure you prioritize conversations; communicate, clarify, challenge, celebrate and confront if necessary. For a while, you will drive home at the end of the day, and wonder “What did I really accomplish today?” You will feel guilty. You’ll think you should be doing more, but you’re doing what only you can do: you are consistently communicating from the top down. The more you equip God’s people to do the work of ministry the more the church and your leadership will flourish. You got this!

[clickToTweet tweet=”PASTOR: God didn’t put you at your church to be the best musician, designer, small group leader, or handyman, he put you there to equip and empower people, and there’s no substitute or shortcut for building people.” quote=”PASTOR: God didn’t put you at your church to be the best musician, designer, small group leader, or handyman, he put you there to equip and empower people, and there’s no substitute or shortcut for building people.”]

Categories
Church Growth Podcast

Episode #15 – Running from the Spotlight, Healthy Leadership, & Social Media Dangers with Pastor Brady Boyd

Click Here to listen and Subscribe on iTunes

Pastor Brady Boyd is the pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs Colorado. Brady followed Ted Haggard at New Life and has spent the last decade preaching integrity, humility, and protecting your heart.

In our interview we talk about the dangers of the spotlight and social media for every leader, along with how to last and finish well in ministry. This is a great interview for any leader looking to lead long term.

Links mentioned in this podcast:

Addicted to Busy by Brady Boyd – amzn.to/2LgTNMZ
Speak Life by Brady Boyd – amzn.to/2IDcsRt
Pastor by Eugene Peterson – amzn.to/2LjZmu8

Categories
Uncategorized

May Sermon Series Giveaway

This month Excellentpastor.com is giving away a 6-week series, “How To Hear God’s Voice.” This series will help your congregation gain confidence communicating with God.

Sermon topics include:

  • How To Read The Bible
  • Following God’s Promptings
  • The Purpose of Pain
  • How to walk through open doors
  • How to know the difference between a good idea and a God idea
  • and more

Sermon Bundle Includes:

  • .jpg artwork files (title slide and scripture background slide)
  • 6-Weeks of sermon notes