Who or What Controls Your Church Schedule?

Are their things that are controlling your church’s schedule in unhelpful ways?

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The pandemic has had some unexpectedly positive side effects on the local church. One of those side effects is an opportunity for church leaders to assess and adjust the ministries and programs of their church. This brings up the often unspoken yet critical question of who or what controls the schedule of your church? The easy answer is the Bible, but there are some other considerations that usually get added into the mix. Here are 5 things that may be controlling your church schedule in unhelpful ways.

1. Tradition. When asked about why a ministry or program is done the way it is, the traditional response (no pun intended) is, “That’s how we’ve always done it.” There is nothing wrong with familiar habits or established customs, as long as they don’t become an excuses or laziness or lack of creativity.

2. The Calendar. Another familiar response when discussing church activities ends in a day of the week. As in, “We always do X on this day or that day.” I am not trying to resolve the debate between those who prefer to gather “weekly” for worship and those who view Sunday as the appointed day for corporate worship. My point is that apart from a few clear principles in Scripture, there seems to be lot of flexibility for the church to do what works best in their context.

3. The Budget. Like it or not, giving, accounting, and budgeting are a part of today’s modern church. Bible study materials have to be purchased, lights need to be turned on, and staff members need to support their families. At times, a service or ministry must be canceled even if it might have a negative impact on the giving. Other times, churches may see the need to invest in a ministry, like an outreach to college students, that may be a draw on the church’s resources. As important as the church budget is, it should not become the most consideration.

4. Business Meetings. “Business Meetings” is code for the hodgepodge of concerns, interests, and preferences that exist in any local congregation at a given time. These interests maybe helpful, but they don’t always line up in clear and cohesive approach to ministry. To be clear, I believe that church members should alway voice their opinion in a vote, but not everything on the church schedule needs to be voted on.

5. A Denomination. Denominations can provide tremendous resources for church, but they can’t provide an effective ministry schedule. National or regional church leaders can provide opportunities for collaboration, information, or training, but they can’t provide an effective “plug and play” strategy to reach your community or disciple the people in your church.

After reviewing 5 things that may be controlling your church schedule in unhelpful ways, you may wonder who or what SHOULD be controlling your church’s week-to-week schedule. In my experience, the best way to build (or rebuild) a church schedule is by clarifying your outreach and discipleship. strategies. Your church schedule needs to be constructed in a way that will help more and more people come to faith in Jesus Christ and then grow in that faith. As pastor Robby Gallaty at Long Hollow Baptist Church has said, “Discipleship isn’t A ministry of the church, it’s THE ministry of the church.” The most effective church schedules, especially after the pandemic, will be constructed and controlled with this focus in mind.

Exalting Christ in Our Leadership

What does it look like to be a good leader in the church?

Photo by Jehyun Sung on Unsplash

This past Sunday I shared 5 principles about being a good follower in the local church and the greater kingdom of God from Hebrews 13:7-19. Each one of the principles I shared can also be applied to leaders so I promised to share those this week through this blog post. You can find a link to my sermon notes on good followership here.

Jesus Christ is exalted when followers follow and leaders lead. Here are 5 ways that leaders can step up to make a difference in their local congregations based on Hebrews 13.

1. Set an example that others can follow (v. 7). The first generation of leaders may have passed off the scene in the church that recieved the book of Hebrews, but they left behind a pattern that was worth replicating. The best leaders set the tone for others in performance as well as their behavior.

2. Spread the right doctrine (v. 9-14). Like many of the other first century churches, some of the original recipients of Hebrews struggled with false teaching. Christian leaders today would do well by grounding everything they teach in the Word of God. This may seem obvious in theory, but it’s not so obvious in practice.

3. Showcase your sacrifice (v. 15-16). This principle sounds prideful, but it’s not intended to be. These verses describe two practices that believers should engage in regularly, two “sacrifice.” They are the sacrifice of praise and the sacrifice of service. Pastors and teacher in the Church should lead the way in worshiping God and serving others with a spirit of humility.

4. Step up for your sheep (v. 17). Shepherding is one of the most familiar metaphors for leadership in the Bible. Sometimes sheep bite, butt, buck, and wander away (metaphorically speaking of course), but they still need to be cared for. Pastors and elders especially, will be held accountable for the “flocks” of believers under their care.

5. Share your prayer requests (v. 18-19). The writer of Hebrews is transparent about his needs and concerns. His request for prayer in verse 18 should be a model for today’s Christian leaders.

The writer of Hebrews (your guess is as good as mine) was concerned with the believers under his care. He wanted them to be good followers as well as good leaders so that their congregation would grow and flourish. We need good followers and good leaders in our churches today as well.

The Care and Feeding of a Pastor and His Family

Shepherd-prepares-table-for-sheepThe coming of a new pastor can be one of the most anticipated and exciting times in the life of a church.  While the pastor is energized about his new ministry assignment, the congregation is eager to see how their new pastor and his family will fit into the life of the church.  During this time of high expectation, church members are usually willing to do whatever they can to help him settle in and be successful.  So how should a church care for their pastor and his family?  Here are three suggestions

1. Accept your pastor and his family and love them for who they are.

Pastors are called to do just that – pastor or shepherd the flock of God, under the guidance of the Chief Shepherd of the Church, Jesus Christ.  According to 1 Peter 5:1-4, your new pastor has not come to your church because he had to, but because he wanted to come. He did not come to get rich, but to serve.  He did not come to be over your church, but to become a vital part of it.   Caring for a church in this way is rewarding, but it is also very challenging.

Please remember that your pastor and his family are not perfect.  We all have our own struggles and weakness, including your pastor and his family. So don’t put them on a pedestal but embrace them for who they are. Also remember that your pastor and his family are not performers.   They need rest and relax just as much as everyone else.   In the case of your pastor’s family, remember they are not paid.  The pastor’s wife is not a buy-one-get-one-free staff member.  She should be free to exercise her gifts and abilities in the church without the added pressure of filling some official role.

2. Support your pastor.

1 Timothy 5:17-18 teaches that a pastor who leads well and works hard at preaching and teaching God’s Word should be respected and supported by the church. Depending on the size and resources of your church, the cost of living in your community, and the size of his family, your pastor should be offered a salary, housing reimbursement, insurance, retirement, and ministry reimbursements.   Instead of looking to get the “best deal for your money,” make every effort to provide for your pastor in the best way you can.

Financial support is good, but pastors also need spiritual and emotional support as well.  Ask your pastor how you can pray for him and his family and commit to pray for them regularly.   Look for ways to partner with him to build up the body of Christ according the model found in Ephesians 4:11-16.  Encourage and enable him to take time off and time away from your church and community.   A day off during the week and regular vacations will go a long way toward keeping your pastor and his family happy and healthy.

3. Let your pastor lead.

Leadership is inherent in the office and responsibilities of a pastor.  Different pastors lead in different ways, but every pastor is a leader.  Hebrews 13:17 warns churches against resisting the leadership of their pastor.  Your pastor is accountable to God for his ministry in your church.  But he must be allowed to exercise his unique talents, gifts, and abilities in leading your church.

Letting your pastor lead begins with trust.  Trust is built on relationships, so look for ways to get to know your pastor and his family outside of organized church meetings.  Be prayerful and open minded about any changes he may want to bring to your church.  And be aware of the stress and strain his family may be under as they support him in his ministry.

The newness may fade on your pastor’s ministry, but the anticipation and excitement don’t have to.  These are just three ways that you can care for your pastor and his family.   Can you think of more ways to help your pastor have a long and fruitful ministry at your church?