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Questions & Responses
Equipping and Mobilizing for Evangelism
It seems that the members of my church are way more inward-focused than outward-focused. Everyone enjoys good teaching and fellowship, but it's rare that my members invite the unsaved to church or express any kind of deep concern for the lost. To be honest, I'm more teaching-oriented than evangelistic myself. What can I do to improve myself in these areas, and what can I do to help mobilize and equip my church members to become more evangelistically-minded? Are there any books, videos, or other resources that we can use for study guides? Help! Click here to read the responses.
As a church grows it becomes more and more difficult for the pastor himself to make all of the home and hospital visits that need to be made. What are some methods that churches employ to communicate to the people that the pastoral staff truly cares even though the pastor cannot personally make all of the visits that are being required of him? Click here to read the responses.
I'm considering joining a local ministerial alliance, and am wondering if that's a good investment of my time. These pastors are from varying backgrounds, and I wonder if the differing beliefs will create a problem. What do other pastors have to say about the benefits and possible pitfalls of being involved with other pastors in the area? Click here to read the responses
Sharing with My Spouse
As a pastor, I don't want to keep secrets from my spouse, but I'm not always sure it's wise to tell her every problem that's going on in the church. Is it ever wise to guard and protect one's spouse from certain information that would be hurtful or discouraging to her? What criteria do I use in deciding which information to share and which information to withhold? Click here to read the responses
What do other churches do to inspire people to become volunteers, to recruit them, to train them, and to appreciate them? Read the responses.
Paul not only said that all Scripture is inspired, but that it is, "...profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16). He also told Timothy to, "convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching" (2 Timothy 4:2). How does a pastor find the right "blend" in his preaching? I want to be positive, uplifting, and encouraging in my preaching, but I know there are times that serious issues need to be addressed. How do you address negative issues without coming across as harsh or "beating the people up?" What tips would you give a young pastor who wants to preach the whole counsel of God without coming across as condemning? Read the responses.
What does your church do to strengthen marriages? What kinds of resources (books, videos, classes, etc.) have you found helpful? Are there any special tools, such as personality inventories, etc. that you've found to be helpful? Does your church offer any type of counseling for couples, marriage retreats, etc.? How often do you teach on marriage and relationships from the pulpit? I'm looking for any and all ideas that we can possibly implement in our church to help our couples have successful marriages. Read the responses.
Connecting with the Community
For some time, I've been feeling like our church is isolated from our community. I know that I've spent so much time focusing on the sheep that I haven't gotten involved in the community as I should. What are some of the ways pastors connect to their communities personally, and how do they lead their churches in having great community impact? Read the responses.
What are the two or three most important skills you've found that are necessary in dealing with people, and how do these skills help you lead? Did these come naturally to you, or did you have to work at developing them? Read the responses.
As a pastor, I find myself having to deal with so many interruptions and distractions that it’s hard to stay proactive with my schedule. It seems like I’m always putting out fires, and then I don’t have enough time for family, study, prayer, etc. The problems I find myself dealing with are legitimate and do require some attention, but how do I keep myself from being completely side-tracked by all these issues? Read the responses.
As a pastor, I'm looking to help facilitate small group fellowship among our people. What are other churches doing with small groups? What formats and approaches seem to work the best? I'd love to hear what types of guidelines, resources, curriculum, etc. that other pastors have used successfully. What are the pros and cons of small groups? Read the responses.
Most Influential Books
Other than the Bible, what two or three books have influenced your approach to pastoring and leadership the most? Can you share a sentence or two about how each of these books influenced you? What is the key thought you received from each one? Read the responses.
Our church really isn’t doing as much for missions as I’d like. What kinds of missions support and missions programs do other churches provide? What do other churches do to reach out to missionaries and their families on a personal level? Read the responses.
We could really use some help in finding good curriculum for all age-levels and for small group ministry. Any ideas? Read the responses.
Staff Evaluation and Coaching
As a pastor, I regularly observe the performance of my staff members and leaders. I don't want to be a perfectionist or a micro-manager, but I want to see everyone given to excellence, thoroughness, and attention to detail. How do I instill these values in my leaders? How can I give them feedback (which sometimes involves correction) without making them feel that I'm always "riding them?" They do alright much of the time, but I get frustrated when they just don't seem to "get it" and miss obvious things that should be done. How do I coach, give feedback, and help our church staff embrace a sense of excellence in all that we do? Read the responses...
What is the best way to lead staff meetings; especially with full and part-time staff, or even volunteer staff? What should the staff be expected to prepare for the meeting? How are agendas best established? How often should you have meetings to cover church business as opposed to providing training? Who should attend staff meetings? Do you have different levels of meetings? Pastoral staff only or all staff attending? Read the responses...
I am curious how other pastors today are handling financial responsibilities when it comes to guest ministers. Is it the host church's responsibility to cover all travel expenses in addition to lodging? Do churches generally receive an offering for the guest minister during each service, during certain services, or do they just provide an honorarium? Are expenses taken from the special offerings, or are they taken from the general fund of the church? In the event of conferences, does the church charge a fee for each person attending, or just receive offerings? Read the responses.
Evolution of Ministry
How are you doing ministry different than you were ten years ago? How has your style and structure changed with time? How do you see your ministry changing in the next ten years? Do you have a succession plan in place, and if so, what is it? Read the responses.
When a disgruntled exiting staff member or church member spreads lies about you as the pastor among people in the church what is the best response? Address it publicly, privately with the parities involved, or ignore it? It used to be that lies, gossip, etc. were spread only by word-of-mouth, but now these things can be posted on blogs, etc. and that seems to extend their shelf-life. Any thoughts? Read the responses.
Declining a Gift
I recently returned a cash gift with a polite letter because it came in the same letter as a pastoral referral request for an application to a Christian school. It felt like a potential conflict of interest. I was happy to recommend the person and did so. What clear guidelines can you recommend for receiving or declining gifts/offerings in the future? Have you ever sent back or declined a gift/offering and under what terms? Read the responses.
I wonder which translation pastors preach from the most? Study? If you use one predominant version in preaching, which other translations do you most often refer to in order to provide other shades of meaning? What is it that you like about the translation(s) you use the most, and why do you consider it to be the most effective for you? Read the responses.
Staying on Track
As a young minister, I've noticed how many ministers seem to get off-track in some glaring way during the course of their ministries. I never want to do anything that dishonors God or become someone who brings reproach to the Gospel or misrepresents the Lord Jesus Christ. I've always heard the admonitions about "the gold, the girls, and the glory," but can you share with me what you feel are the root areas of sin (or neglect, disobedience, attitude problems, etc.) that ultimately open up the door to these more obvious sins. I would love to hear from proven ministers how to stay on-track...how to avoid getting into prideful attitudes or wrong behavior. My heart's desire is to serve God with honor and integrity over the course of my lifetime. What are the specific pitfalls and traps I need to watch out for? Read the responses.
Raising Funds for New Facilities
“I am considering entering into a capital campaign for a building project. What are the best ways to raise funds for new facilities? What are the pros and cons of capital campaigns? Is this something we should do in-house, or should we look for an outside company/service to assist us? Everything that we have done until now has been taken care of from the general budget in terms of construction and purchasing land, but our next project is going to be much larger. Thanks for any advice along these lines. Read the responses.
We recently became aware that one of our staff members was using a ministry computer to visit pornographic web-sites. What type of accountability systems do other churches and ministries have to help keep their staff members on “the straight and narrow?” What type of guidelines and education do churches provide to help staff members avoid inappropriate moral and sexual behavior, and finally, how do churches deal with it when a staff member or leader has behaved inappropriately in moral and sexual matters (not just on the internet, but also by inappropriate conduct with other individuals)? Read the responses.
“As a pastor, I feel pretty good about most aspects of my responsibilities (spiritual, preaching, pastoral care, etc.), but I’m recognizing a deficiency in the business-side of ministry. I don’t have a business background, and I realize there’s a lot I need to know in those areas. I’d love to hear seasoned pastors share a few tips about the business lessons they’ve learned relative to their leadership in the church. Could you please share some “business sense” with me?” Read the responses.
We have never had official "membership" in our church, but I'm thinking about initiating it. I'm curious as to what experiences other pastors have had with church membership. What are the pros and the cons? What requirements should we have for people to become members? What is taught in the membership classes and how extensive are they? What reasons are there for having or not having church membership? Read the responses.
As a pastor, I had a situation where a church member confided in one of my staff members about a particular matter (they are friends). Because of the way it was shared, my staff member never conveyed the information to me. I ended up making some church-related decisions and taking some actions which I never would have taken had I known what the staff member knew. Am I wrong to be concerned that my staff member felt more loyalty to the church member than to me as the pastor? How should I address this to this particular staff member, and how should I communicate with my overall staff about what I expect regarding this type of scenario? Read the responses.
Altar Care Ministry
We are looking for guidelines, resources, and training ideas to help make our workers more effective in helping those who have responded to altar calls. What procedures do other churches use to train their altar workers? What process do you take people through who respond to altar calls, and how do they do it? Are there any resources or outlines available for training altar care workers? What materials do you put into the hands of new converts, and how do you follow up on them? We want to see our altar care team better trained, better equipped, and more effective. What suggestions do other pastors have? Read the responses.
Nourishing Yourself and Feeding Others
What do you as a pastor do on a personal level to keep yourself fed and spiritually nourished? What are your personal reading and devotional habits? Also, what do you do in terms of your study and message preparation habits? How much time do you spend reading, studying, and listening to others preach, and how does that integrate into your message preparation? Read the responses.
How does your church operate through the holidays? What kind of special events, services, or outreaches do you have? Do you typically eliminate certain services to give families more time together? What do you and your family do on a personal level to make the season special and to keep yourself rested? Read the responses.
Friendships vs. Professionalism
How does one in a middle management position (associate pastor), foster friendships within the congregation and remain effective in a leadership role with those same people? When relationships develop into friendships it seems to result in a lack of respect (or less effectiveness) when I later have to function as a leader toward them. It seems to be a balancing act that I have not yet mastered. I want to be friendly, but I don’t want to minimize my effectiveness in leadership. What guidelines would you give to a staff minister who is trying to get this area right? Read the responses.
As a pastor, I'm curious as to what other pastors do in terms of providing financial reports to the congregation. Most of the people in our church are fine to simply let our board handle all of that, but a few of the people are from church backgrounds where detailed reports are given to the congregation. How much information do most churches give out, and how/when is that information disseminated? Read the responses.
As a young pastor, I’ve just been preaching about whatever I feel inspired to preach. Sometimes I don’t know what I’m going to preach on Sunday morning until Saturday night. I don’t want to eliminate all spontaneity or being led by the Spirit, but should I have some kind of “preaching overview schedule” to make sure I cover certain topics each and every year? How do other pastors plan their preaching schedule and establish which topics they’re going to cover over the course of a year to ensure their people receive a well-rounded diet? Read the responses.
When I went to Bible School, I learned a lot of great things about Scripture and ministry. However, since becoming a pastor, I’m finding out that there are many other skills that are necessary, and I’m trying to get a handle on those. Is there a major skill you’ve had to learn for your personal well-being or in order to lead well? What is that skill, and how are you implementing it to be more effective? Can you describe it in such a way that will help me understand how I can be better equipped to live and to lead in ministry? Read the responses.
Better Communication Skills
As a pastor, I preach and teach the Bible regularly, but I don’t always feel that I am connecting with the people. I observe other ministers who really seem to communicate and connect effectively with their audience. Can some experienced pastors share some thoughts with me about how to be a better communicator and how to really connect with my people? I know to “preach the Word” and to “be anointed,” but I guess I’m looking for other insightsmaybe even natural thingson becoming a better public speaker. Read the responses.
Leaders Who Don’t Tithe
I just discovered that one of our highly visible leaders (a volunteer) doesn’t tithe, and hasn’t tithed for some time. Should I speak to the leader about this, or leave it alone? Should I have some type of policy in place regarding tithing for our leaders and workers? For our church employees? How involved should I be in setting policies for this kind of thing, in monitoring it, or should I just leave it between the individuals and God? What do other pastors do in this regard? Read the responses.
Receiving an Offering
Are there any techniques or mechanics that I should know to be more effective when I receive the tithes and offerings from the congregation? No one has ever really taught me “how” to receive an offering, and it seems there should be principles that I could benefit from. I don’t want to hype or pressure people, but neither do I want to feel backward or apologetic in receiving the offering. Are there any tips seasoned pastors could share that will help me be more effective? Read the responses.
Proper Protocol for Leaving a Church
Is there a proper protocol for people leaving the church? It always seems difficult when people leave the church. Some are gracious in departing, some are not, and others just disappear. This can be painful to me as the pastor and unsettling to church members when their friends leave. I’d like to be able to teach some reasonable guidelines to people about the proper way to leave the church if that becomes their decision, but what’s reasonable for me to expect of people who depart for whatever reason? Has any pastor taught his people on the proper way to leave the church, and if so, what are the main points or considerations? Read the responses.
Dealing with a Pinch - Our church has been feeling a pinch financially in the light of the current economic conditions. Are other churches being affected by what’s going on economically as well? If so, what types of things do pastors minister to encourage their people during these times, and what types of adjustments are pastors making to keep their churches healthy financially? Read the responses.
Marketing and Advertising - As the pastor of a fairly young congregation, I’d like to know what practical, proven methods are effective in growing a church. Should we invest in advertising and marketing, and if so what type of marketing is the most effective? What pros and cons have other pastors experienced in this area? Is there a ball-park figure (percentage) of our church budget that we should designate for advertising? Read the responses.
Pre-Marital Preparation - We're looking to improve how we help couples prepare for marriage. How do other churches help prepare engaged couples? How many times do they meet with them and what topics are covered? What kinds of resources are used (e.g., books, DVDs, classes, inventories, etc.)? Read the responses.
Insights for Building - What wisdom tips do you have for small (growing) churches that are starting their first building program? What wisdom do you have specifically for the pastor to consider before starting and during the building process? Read the responses.
Hiring Inside or Outside? - As a young pastor, I’m in the process of building my staff. I’m deliberating how to fill our next staff position, and am contemplating on whether to hire from inside the church or to look outside. I’d love to get some insights from pastors on the pros and cons of hiring from within or without, and any general guidelines they use in considering and selecting people for staff positions. Read the responses.
A Sense of Humor I know it’s vitally important to keep a sense of humor in ministry, and I know it’s also important to not take yourself too seriously (even though we take our calling seriously). I’d love to hear pastors share some of their funnier moments in ministry, including their bloopers and blunders. Read the responses.
Multiple Services Our church has grown, and our one Sunday morning service is getting crowded. I feel like we’re going to start losing people if we don’t start an additional service. We’re praying about what to do, but I’d love to hear from pastors who have added another weekend service. When is the right time to do it? How do I make sure that we’re ready for another service? How do I prepare the people? Are there any pitfalls I need to watch out for, and what do I need to do to make sure that this really benefits our church? Read the responses.
Confrontation - As a pastor who loves to encourage and nurture others, I find it difficult to confront people. Can you give me some do’s and don’ts and how-to’s (or how not-to)? When do you confront and when do you simply overlook something? Can you give me some advice on how to confront a staff member, a volunteer, or a church member about an issue? Also, are there some preventative, "up-front" types of things I can do so that I don't feel a need to confront issues as often? Read the responses.
Marriage and Ministry It’s been difficult for me to balance ministry and marriage. Ministry seems to have so many demands that my marriage has suffered. Can seasoned pastors share some tips with me about what they’ve done to keep their marriages strong and vibrant in the midst of ministry responsibilities? Read the responses.
Discipleship and Assimilation It seems that the only discipleship format out there that is working is the cell group. Is anyone doing anything different that is working? How are pastors plugging new believers into their churches and assuring that they are getting grounded in the Word and in fellowship? Read the responses.
Handling an Exodus As a young pastor, it’s been difficult for me when people leave our church. At times, I’ve taken it very personally when people leave, as though I have failed. In other situations, I’ve found myself getting angry at people when they leave. I don’t want to be crushed or calloused. How can I process these situations spiritually, emotionally, and even logistically when people leave the church. I have to deal with all of this internally, but I also have to continue to lead my staff and the rest of the church people through these situations. Can you give me some advice on how to handle “departures” both on a personal level and as a leader? Read the responses.
Staff Development - I’m looking for insights on how to work with and develop my staff, not so much what to expect from them, but rather, I’d like to know: “What are a pastor’s responsibilities toward his or her staff?” Read the responses.
A Different Time? - Is pastoring different today than it was ten, fifteen, or twenty years ago? It seems like it is, but I’m trying to define how it’s different. Is society different? Are church members different? Are the expectations and commitment levels of people different? Can you help me understand this? Read the responses.
Generating Outreach - I’m looking for ways to get my people more “outside minded.” What are other pastors doing that inspire outreach and evangelism among their members? What programs are effective? Read the responses.
Unmarried Couples - We occasionally have people come to us who have been living together (outside of marriage) and they want us to perform a wedding ceremony for them. What should a pastor do in that kind of situation, and what kind of policies do churches have regarding this? Read the responses.
Stress and Ministry - How do you deal with stress in the ministry? Do you have hobbies? How much time do you take off, and what do you do when you’re off? What have you learned in ministry that has helped you deal with stress and pressure? Read the responses.
Styles of Ministry - I’ve been considering and exploring various styles of ministry lately. I have certain core values that compel me to hold to an emphasis that is strong in the Word of God and the Holy Spirit, but I’m also seeing many churches that could be termed “seeker sensitive” that are seemingly experiencing a lot of growth. Is it possible to integrate certain principles from other churches without compromising our core values? Are there pros and cons in this area? Read the responses.