Ministry Inside.142

healthyChurch1-732x360Each Thursday I write this post with church leaders in mind.

No matter where you serve, you can contribute to your congregation’s health by the way you behave and function within the congregation.  No, you don’t necessarily have control over whether or not your congregation is healthy.  However, it is important for any church leader to function in a way that contributes to health and not to dysfunction.

As a church leader, how do I treat people in our congregation?

A few suggestions:

Be a person who can be trusted and not a manipulator.  Church leaders who practice manipulation use people instead of loving them.  A minister might use a favorite elder to get his way.  Another might use a “prominent” family within a church to run interference while this person stays in the shadows.  These behaviors do not contribute to the health of a congregation.

Ministry Inside.141

IN67_cover_tweet_BWWorking with a congregation can bring great joy.  Yet, it is also very difficult work.

There are some behaviors which can irritate a congregation and even work to lesson a minister’s tenure with that congregation.

A minister can behave so that his own ministry is undermined and credibility is lessoned.

The following are eight behaviors that can cause a congregation to become irritated with their minister. The continuation of these behaviors over time can even lead to serious repercussions.

Monday Start: Resources for the Week

start (1)Work

See Jeri Dansky’s “Book Review: The Organized Mind.”  You can find the book here. I am always looking for articles/posts/books that help me reflect on how I work.  See also Greg Mckeown’s fine book Essentialism.  I read this book in August and found it to be incredibly helpful.


Don’t miss Kenny Luck’s article in Charisma Magazine “The Deadly Deception of Sexual Atheism in the Church.”


See Maria Popva’s piece “What Books Do for the Human Soul: The Four Psychological Functions of Great Literature.”  Many, many people will say they don’t like to read.  However, for many people, reading good books can be a real catalyst to person growth and change.


I saw this news about one of my favorite writers, Flannery O’Conner.  “Emory Receives Archive of Work by O’Conner.”  See also this piece from Emory University.

Audio Books

Have you considered listening to audio books?  I typically purchase these from (an Amazon company).  Before this year, I did not listen to audio books. However, when I moved from Waco, Tx. to Memphis, Tn. to begin working with Harding School of Theology, I knew I needed to try something different if I was going to keep up with my reading.  I will often listen to a book on the way to or from work. Often, I will listen to a book while working out at the gym.  I still read books (both paper and Kindle).  However, this gives me one more option.  You might consider this.




When You Feel Insignificant

billboard_DiscouragedFeeling insignificant?

I am writing this to you.

You may be a preacher or a minister in some role in a remote area. Or, you may be in an urban area but you feel alone and isolated. There are days when you ache with loneliness. To make matters worse, some of your minister friends talk about getting together regularly with others with a kindred spirit. You are certain they have no idea what this kind of isolation is like.

Perhaps you are an elder. You had hopes and dreams of making a impact. You thought you might have the opportunity to address matters that might make such a kingdom difference. However, the group continues to gravitate toward the trivial. You come home from meetings tired and worn out. You didn’t agree to endless discussions of things that are small and inconsequential.

“Poppy, Can We do Something Fun?”

Brody:RalphI am on the campus of Harding University (Searcy, Arkansas) this week.  This is their annual Lectureship. Christians from across the country have gathered. There are a variety of classes, keynote presentations, etc. I spoke yesterday and tomorrow will gather with others at the Harding School of Theology luncheon.

Monday morning, Christine (our oldest daughter)and her two sons, Brody (four years old) and Lincoln (four months old) were walking across the campus.  At one point, Brody said to me “Poppy, can we do something fun?”

Just as he said this, four students walked by. They appeared to be on their way to the library. They smiled when they heard his words. I said to them, “That does sound like a good idea doesn’t it?” They were still smiling but said nothing. However I sensed they were thinking, “I too would love to something fun right now!”

Ministry Inside.140

erasing-your-VP-mistakesI’ve made mistakes.

Actually I’ve made a lot of mistakes. I do continue to learn.  Recently I was thinking about some of the mistakes that I’ve made that I’m aware of and have tried to grow from.

I have identified five mistakes that I’ve made through the years.  I have attempted to address each one, though I sometimes still revert back to a few of these.  Perhaps you will identify with one or more of these.

1. Far too often I have focused on what I was unable to do instead of what I was able to do. As a result, at times I think I spent far too much time thinking about my limitations instead of my opportunities. Some of my energy was wasted on what I often had no control over instead of what I did have control over.

Monday Start: Resources for the Week

Start1Inspiring Story

See “Homecoming Queen Shares Her Crown With Her Friend Who Was Victim of Bullying.”  This is really inspiring.

Great Quote

“Never forget: This very moment, we can change our lives. There never was a moment, and never will be, when we are without the power to alter our destiny.”  (Steven Pressfield)


See “10 Daily Habits that Will Actually Make You Smarter.”  I like to read lists like this one occasionally.  This is a reminder to think about my daily habits.

A Great Series

This is a series that I don’t miss!  “How I Work.”  See the most recent post “I’m Steven van Wel, CEO of Karma, and This Is How I Work.”  I generally discover a new tool in this series.

Questions for Leaders

See Michael Hyatt’s post “20 Questions to Ask Other Leaders.”  Whether you choose to ask these particular questions or not, I found it particularly helpful to see a least of questions that one leader chose to ask another.

Tim Keller

See Tim Keller’s report “Differently the Same: Redeemer’s Next Twenty-Five Years.”  Tim Keller is a thoughtful Christian leader who makes me think.




Ministry Inside.139

funeralOn Thursdays, I generally write a post for church leaders.  Much of the time, however, this is applicable to Christians in general.

I have done many funerals.  These funerals have been for infants, older people, and all ages in between.   I done funerals for those who died after a slow, lingering illness. I have done funerals for those who died suddenly in an automobile crash.

Years ago, I taught an undergraduate class called Christian Ministry.  As a part of the class, students would tour a funeral home.  A funeral home director would explain everything that would happen with a family in the home.  Students would see the casket selection room, the preparation room, and the chapel.  In the chapel the director would give some suggestions regarding funerals.

The following are eight suggestions I want to make regarding funerals.

Maybe you will find one of these helpful.

Don’t Assume Anything

check-your-assumptionsMy friend said many years ago:

Assumptions will kill you!

My friend was right!  Be careful about assumptions.

1.  Don’t assume I understand what you haven’t explained clearly.  So often we assume that someone coming into our system (church, school, university, workplace) knows exactly what to do. So it is Sunday morning and everyone is talking about the great dinner that took place at the church building on Friday evening. You are not sure what they are talking about.  You are puzzled.  After all, no one mentioned this last Sunday morning.  Finally someone says “Oh yes, we do this every year.  This is our annual going back to school dinner.  No one says much about it.  Everyone knows all about it.”

Monday Start: Resources for the Week


See Shane Parish’s review “The Power of Noticing: What the Best Leaders See.”  Find the review here.


Lately I have been listening to an excellent book “Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter.”  It is excellent!  You can find a summary (pdf) here.

Don’t Miss This

Golf pro Rory McIlroy  hits a shot which then land’s in a fan’s pocket!


See “5 Mistakes to Avoid When Introducing a Speaker.”  Those of us in churches, on Christian College campuses who regularly introduce speakers could learn something from this.  Far too often at lectureships, seminars, etc. we make the setting unnecessarily difficult for a speaker because of the introduction.