Saturday, May 10, 2008

Chapters 9, 10 & 11

Chapter 9- Saved to Serve
If we are saved, then we are called to serve. And to serve means that we must do whatever it takes to serve God and neighbor in an EXCELLENT way. When you first joined a church as an adult, there were many factors that helped you make a decision. It could have been the amazing and brilliant preaching (;0), maybe you connected with some folks that morning, felt the spirit calling you here, or the overall experience just made you feel you were home. Not everyone who enters a church feels like that. In fact, some statistics say that as much as 50% of people who "check out" a church won't come back because of feeling unwelcome. That means from greeting guests, the nursery, worship, worship space, parking lot, entrances, children's ministry, music, etc...we need to be welcoming, affirming and care about those who are far from God enough to welcome them! The Bill's break it down this way- Pastors equip the church for service, the people do God's work, the church is built up, unity is achieved (Ephesians 4:11-13). What are the areas of space in and outside the building that could use some help? What about the sanctuary?
Chapter 10- Make the Big Ask Yourself
Well, they leave the most difficult to chapters for the last. Wonderful, a chapter about money...or is it? There were three big themes that jumped out at me as I read this chapter. No, not about raising money or praying for our church budget to be met, those are all good and well. What I noticed was this: 1. A church that does not ask does not receive 2. Naming a vision helps achieve the goal financially 3. Everyone in this world is looking leadership, the church need to provide it! Questions for prayerful consideration- Do you tithe? Does the church leadership tithe? Do we thank people for sacrificial gifts?
Chapter 11- Handling Problem People
Well, every church has them and we have to deal with them. I have heard pastor friends say that if they could just get to a big enough church they won't have to deal with problem people anymore...BIG LOL. No matter how big your church is, you are going to deal with problem people. And I am not just talking about lost, hurting and suffering. No, here we are talking about people who cause problems. Sometimes known in the conflict management world as dragons or antagonists. There are people that for some reason or a number feel it is their God given right to complain, cause problems and stir up trouble in the church. I am not going to get into the psychology of it all, but the Bill's give a couple of options that I find very helpful.
1. Confront bullies- This is never a fun thing to do whether you are 18 yrs old, or 34 and serving your dream church. Sometimes you run into bullies. They intimidate, cause problems, hurt people's feelings until they are confronted. I firmly believe that people will act in whatever whey they desire until they are told those actions are wrong. And once confronted, change is required. Matthew 18 helps alot- 1, confront individually, 2. take some people 3. bring them before the church. Wow and yikes.
2. Never take criticism personally- in other words, develop thick skin. When you become a leader in the church, you have a huge bullseye on your back. Those thick and mired in sin tend to lash out at church leadership from their own place of negativity and lostness...DON'T TAKE IT PERSONAL. It's tough and can be hurtful, but dwelling on it and overreacting can greatly diminish your own effectiveness in ministry.
3. Convert, isolate or pastor them out. Converting would help whoever is causing problems join the team and champion the vision. Isolation is keeping problem people away from as many of your leadership and people as possible. And finally, and this is sad one, helping people to find another church. It hurts when people leave, but one more than one occasion I have personally helped people find themselves a new place to worship and experience the presence of God in their life and later they have actually thanked me. Not all who leave go happily, but it's nice to be able to help people who don't fit in one church find a home somewhere else.
Questions- How do you handle problem people- run away and hide or confront? What problems are pressing on your heart this day?