We don’t have a limited vision. Our best contributions to Christ’s kingdom happen to be in a smaller setting. There are a lot of misunderstandings about small churches and the people who pastor them. 306 more words
“What do you do?”
It is a question that often comes up in some form, as we get to know others in the world around us. What we do is an essential part of the Western mindset. We are defined by our work, and the things we actually do in life. That is why we often get quickly to asking others what they do and share what we do, as we meet.
The way I introduce myself in over twenty years of ministry has changed quite a bit. I used to be enthusiastic about say, “I’m a minister at such and such church.”
However, my experience has been to see people shut-down, close up, or even look with near disgust at me. Many people in secular work look on ministers as lazy, out of touch with reality, not really working, and so separate from reality that their conversation must change around us.
I have been a bi-vocational minister since day one of ministry. I’ve had to work to pay the bills and do what I can to help out the ministries I am a part of. So, I have noticed the difference even more than some full-time minister’s may. You see when I say, I am a writer, or I am a Substitute teacher, or I teach people are far more open to talk with me. They do not look down on my work, or give an attitude that I can’t relate to them.
The reality is that among churches, minister who are not bi-vocational, leaders above, and others within the church I often feel looked down on in other ways. Attitudes that we can’t possibly understand the pressure of parishioner’s needs or the demands of serious preparation. Some even act like I am merely a part-time minister.
Reality check: For most pastor’s there is no such thing as Part time
We can’t be part-time, when our heart and soul ache for the communities we are a part of. We don’t work 9-5 services within ministry, but are ministering at our secular jobs, in our schools, factories, restaurants, and other businesses. Our time in preparation is just as important to us as someone who has the freedom to shut off the phone or hide behind a wall of secretaries and “devote time to study”.
Be encouraged Bi-vocational brother’s and sister’s
You are appreciated. God has given you this calling, and while the world may not understand your ministry calling, and ministers may not understand the work in the world; you are called to this place in ministry. God appreciates your heart and soul. Most of the time your congregations appreciate you far more than they may indicate, many times, because they know you can understand their daily struggles in a world where the majority of people are working two or more jobs.
Don’t be discouraged, or overwhelmed. Don’t let others dictate what God is telling you to do in your heart and ministry. Instead find time to be refreshed in him, in the busy schedules that you live and work in. And, find strength from others who might be going through the same thing.
We may feel alone, but we are not alone.
God is with us. There are many other ministers who are bi-vocational than we likely even realize. So cheer-up and serve the Lord with Gladness of heart.
These are words that we hear when someone has had a great meal. They get up from the table and they may make a statement like one of these. However, in our American society we often over stuff ourselves and we may say we are “satisfied”, but in reality we start to feel miserable from being overstuffed.
In church life sometimes people make statements similar to theses about their church.
“I’m happy here.”
“I’m satisfied with our church.”
“Our church is great, and friendly.”
However, the reality is that while we make such statements we often sense something underneath is wrong.
Complacency by definition: self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies. (Merriam-Webster).
Often we are sitting in a place where we think things are okay, or we are satisfied. Yet, the Holy Spirit calls us to be refocused, revived, refreshed.
How do we get back to where God wants us:
- Get alone with God. All too often we get satisfied or things are going along semi-smooth, and we get soft in our personal time with God.
- Challenge other leaders to pray and get alone with God. You will often find that others are already feeling the pull of the Holy Spirit as well. As leaders we may feel alone, but often God is working in the hearts of others.
- Start a new study on renewal for you and your leaders. You and your leaders may need to be refocused to help you refocus others. There are some wonderful studies on church leadership, revitalization, and refocus. Such studies can be done from online, books, attending seminars, or going to another church for help.
- Start or reinvent a Bible study within the church. Often one reason we get complacent is that we are stuck in routine. While habits can be good, if we are going through the motions without remembering why or just doing it because we have to they can loose their meaning. Sometimes we need to change things up, so that we can see things things from a different perspective.
Remember God is still in control, and the God we follow is able to revive the soul and the church we lead. Focus on God and let the Spirit guide you.
Keep on your journey with Jesus, as you serve,
By R. Duuane Cragun
I was told last evening of a man that during his
churches passion play had been the actor that played the role of Jesus for
several years. This was a big production that always drew people from the
entire area. Within the rural community was a well-known child that was gravely
ill, in fact she was in attendance this performance and this would be her last
Easter season here in earth. The play went on and by all accounts the young
sick believer age 4 loved the program even though she was very weak, she had a smile on her face during the program, then came Jesus turn to enter the city (no
donkey in the church) the other actors ran in front of him yelling “Hosanna
here comes the Messiah” everyone watched as this actor now playing the Lord
walked and waved at the people smiling and loving them, when all of a sudden
the actor felt a pulling at his robe, he turned around to find this frail sick
little child looking up at him and crying “Help me Jesus!” the actor did not
know what to do, he looked down and recognized the child from her pictures
asking for donations at the local store, he could tell she was in very bad
shape and how she was asking him as Jesus to heal her, and he did not know what
to do. What would you do?
I wonder, who do they see when they look at us? When
the sick, scared, hurt, abused, dying, and lost look at us do they see people,
or do they see the God of the universe in our eyes, in are voice and in our
actions? After all, we who are called into His ministry called to be his
Ambassadors? Who do they see in us and who will we show them? Do we see them
with His eyes or ours? O God, forgive us when we get so involved in ministry
that we forget what it is to minister. It’s not about schedules, programs, or
church numbers, it’s about God, it’s about loving His people.
You see, It’s about the Lord. His love for everyone
and our being obedient when he gives us the opportunity to be Him to someone. I
know your tired and pulled a thousand ways, but please brothers and sister, let
us never again get so wrapped up in life that we won’t stop when someone looks at
us and see’s the Lord upon us and cries for help. I know some can be draining,
but what about the one that maybe hasn’t much time left, or has no one else to
turn to, what well we do? Please allow me to end this with a prayer from my
heart for you. “Lord, please keep us ready to act when the need shows its self.
Keep us all ready to serve you by serving those in need and Lord, please let
each of us be you to someone today. Amen!
Blessings to all of
By Robert “Duane” Cragun
Ok, you have invested a great deal of time and energy in a new family, they get involved, their children develop relationship with other kids in the church, its looking good and then it happens. Maybe in a few months or, in the situation I am thinking about, after two years a separation happens. Despite all of your hard work and caring, your disciplining and loving them, they stop coming. Some times they will tell you why and other times they wont talk to you anymore. You try to discover what happened and how to make it work, but in the end they stop coming. And you feel abandoned. If this is your situation right now don’t feel alone, it happens to all of us! I have seen some devastating effects this can have on the minister and the congregation alike. Lets talk about a couple of them and what to do about it.
The sense of feeling abandoned: Its normal to have these feeling to a point, after all both you and members of your congregation have opened your hearts to these people and now their gone. You know Jesus had the same problem, he shared his heart and some rejected Him as well. This can have a side affect if we allow it to. It can bring you and your congregations willingness to reach out to others down to where fear could stop us in fulfilling the Great Commission. So what do we do? First of all you need to pray over the situation, keeping in mind that their reasons for leaving could be valid. We are not perfect, we can make mistakes. So with this in mind, prayer that the Lord will give you wisdom in this situation, pray for insight and what and how to act in trying to being them back and how to keep the congregation incurred and pray for the Lord t keep you encouraged as well.
Another effect can be a loss of desire to extend ourselves out to others: Yes the pain is real and the disappointment is also, but we are called to be His witness and we cannot allow anyone of thing stop us in the ministry we have been given. So what do we do? Learn from this experience. See what happened and be ready the next time to address it before it become’s a problem. And help the church body to understand that these things happen sometimes let move forward!
To sum up this little blog, if their were no sin in the world, then everyne would see the light and turn to the Lord. Our churches would never do anything wrong and we and this problem would never exist, but sin is here and so are we. If they leave, try to keep them in prayer try to offer help and let them know you are there if they need you, but don’t give up. What we do hase eternal affects. As Dory in finding Nemo says, “Just keep swimming.”
By Robert”Duane” Cragun
Have you ever taken a Spiritual Gifts exam? It seems like when I was going to college and Seminary I took about 100 of them. In fact, it was only three but it sure seemed like there were more. The funny thing to me was that the results came out basically the same each time. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the importance’s of knowing the areas we have gifts from God in and I understand that these areas may change over the years so retaking it I a good idea. But have you ever wondered about how much our attitude has to do with the ministry God has called us to serve in?
The thing here is that if we have a bad attitude we will attract few people if any at all. So, a positive attitude is vital for the minister, as well as for the church body. Who would want to be a part of a church that acts as if you are not welcome? Unfortunate, as it sounds however there are churches that project a bad attitude and they don’t realize it. Yes, they may smile and shake a visitor’s hand and welcome them in, but then later they set and talk about others in front of the guest. I was speaking at one church and was setting on the platform watching as the ushers took the mornings offering. One older man must not have liked that a lady did not give anything as the plate passed down the pew, so when she handed it to him he stood there and refused to take the plat. Finally, a man setting behind her reached up and took it and passed it down the next pew. I bet she never darkened their door again!
But I have also seen this bad attitude displayed by some in vocational ministry as well. This does very little for the cause of Christ. I understand that some people just drag us down. But our attitude may be the only glimpse of the love of Christ they will ever understand.
So, what are some ways to display a better attitude? First it must be real, people can tell of you mean it or not. Second, take time to listen. I understand that right before we preach is not the best time, but saying something like “I want to make sure I fully understand you, so can we talk about this right after service when I can give you my full attention?” In short, treat them like we would want to be treated.
Average Church Pastors Journey with Jesus returns August 8 & 10, 2017
The busy Summer season has keep us from writing as much. We are planning to return with new articles starting next week. Some of the upcoming discussions we are considering include:
- Our Attitudes
- Frustrations of Ministry
- The Need and the Catch 22 of Ministry Training
- Ministering to those with Addiction
- Changing with Community in Change
Be strengthened on your journey,
Dan & Duane
I hate conflict, with a passion. I have to admit that I try my best to avoid it at all cost. However, conflict comes to all churches in various ways. If you are the pastor that means you will often be the one to manage conflict. I do not have the perfect answer to all problems, but here are some insights of conflict in a small-town church.
1) All conflict involves everyone.
Whether it is a couple going through a divorce, board members in disagreement, or a family dealing with illness bringing conflict from the stress; the conflict affects everyone. It always amazes me that people in a small-town church think their issues and disagreements are private or unknown affairs. The reality is everyone knows something is wrong, and in some way it will have a negative effect on everyone.
2) Most churches live in avoidance, causing small issues to become large issues.
Conflict is considered so evil by most people that any level of disagreement is pushed into the background. Many small issues build until, like a volcano building pressure, things explode. Then people say things they wouldn’t otherwise say and do things they would otherwise not do.
3) The heart of most conflict is an improper view of me, we, and He.
We all are born into sin, and selfishness often rears it’s head and causes us to take up issues that are me verses we issues. When we push our issues against others we forget that in the church, it is supposed to be a we mentality, because we should work in community. Even more important, we forget that in the church it isn’t about me and it isn’t about we because in reality it’s about He. We are not the body of ourselves, our town, our denomination, or our church. We are a part of the Body of Christ, so it is about Him.
Conflict can’t always be avoided, but we can be calmer through conflict if we take a lot more time to pray through issues, and follow the good advice of Matthew 18.
1) Deal with conflict early at the smallest level possible.
Don’t let things build until it explodes. Instead involve only those who need to be. Never drag others into the problem who aren’t involved.
2) Only escalate situations to involve others if necessary.
Jesus said to take a friend if we can’t solve the solution. And, we only involve the leaders if that doesn’t work.
3) If situations come to the point that it can’t be resolved never stop praying.
Jesus says to treat a person lost in their sin, who we have tried to reach as we would other sinners. In history many thought this meant to disown or ignore them. However, when we see how Jesus treated sinners it changes our view. He kept trying to reach them ate with them and gave them dignity. We should never let our conflict keep us from praying and caring for the others we are in conflict with. In the end, if it isn’t about you or me, and it is about Christ we should beware that both sides may be wrong. Praying for others often brings clarity and understanding as the Holy Spirit works on our hearts.
4) Pray, Pray, Pray:
We can never underestimate the power of prayer to change our hearts and to overcome the greatest conflicts. We must pray and take time away from the situation to gain better perspective and direction in all situations. The Holy Spirit can change things in us and in situations that nothing we do can ever overcome. So, it should be our first, continual, and last step in dealing with any level of conflict. Trust God’s Spirit to guide you through.
May God Bless you in your leadership journey.
By R. Duane Cragun
Have you ever done something that was just dumb? I did the other morning. I woke up in my normal morning haze and went to put on my glasses, even though I was reaching to the wrong side of the bed, I did not think about what I was doing. In fact, to be totally honest, I was only thinking about what all I had to do that day. I really wasn’t that excited about what looked to be another routing day. Well that was until I put on my glasses and looked around, WOW! Things looked odd, you see I had put in my wife’s glasses these small things fit very snug on my head and, I thought, she must be blind, I couldn’t hardly see anything through them. As I took them off rubbing my poor strained eyes, and then getting my own glasses on, I thought that’s better and it hit me. Sometimes what we need in our normal routing of life and ministry is to have a change of perspective. Just as looking through my wife’s glasses made me appreciate my own glasses, and vision better, so can taking a different perspective of what we do in the ministry and in our life give us a better understanding of the things we are dealing with.
A good example I knew a man that was a truck driver. He would tell me about his daily life and I would pray for him, but I did not fully understanding the stresses of his occupation that was until one day I sensed the Lord telling me to ride with him for a day So I sked him if I could ride with him and he checked to make sure it was OK, I talked to his employer and signed a release form so they would not be responsible for any accident that may happen to me, then the day came and I got to ride. Through that experience, my perspective of what he life was like changed. I now could better understand the stressors in his life, and I was better prepare in how to serve and pray for him. By the way another aspect of my perspective being changed was that his employer, who was a little hesitant at first, had his perspective changed about ministers, after asking why I wanted to ride along, he was surprised and pleased that out of my being better able to care for his employee, he would have a better equipped person working for him. And the man I road with had a new perspective of my as his minister changed as well.
Maybe we should all be praying for a new perspective on the things we deal with all the time, and see it through fresh eyes. Lord allow us to see through your eyes the need and the importance of where you have called us, even in the seemingly little things in this life Amen.
(Photo Courtesey of Pixabay)