Three Hurdles Every Pastor Faces

To say pastoring is difficult would be an understatement. Yet, it’s not difficult in the sense that the work is hard, although it can be at times. It’s difficult in every other sense, emotional, spiritual, and sometimes physical, because emotional and spiritual stress have a tendency to take a toll on the body.

Don’t get me wrong. There are seasons that can be very joyful, and productive, and motivating, seasons in which you see God’s blessing throughout your church.

Then there can be seasons in which you see no fruit at all, and you wonder why you ever got into this profession. And you start contemplating, is it even worth it?

Then there’s this place you come to as a pastor where the seasons seem to change every day.

On Sunday you are rejoicing because you preached and people gave their lives to Christ, but on Monday you get a call from someone leaving the church, and your rejoicing turns into mourning.

This is the life of a pastor, on the mountain one minute and in the valley the next.

One of the keys to making it in ministry is to not allow yourself to stay in the valley for too long.

You’ll be tempted to stay there. There will be times when you just want to stay in the bed and avoid facing the day.

You have to get past this hurdle and several others along the way.

I’ve found the most common hurdles pastors face fall into these three categories.

  1. Get Past Your Past

You may have been fired from a previous position. You may have had struggles in your marriage. You may have regrets. We all do, but you can’t dwell on the past because you can’t change the past. You have to focus on what’s right in front of you. The greatest stories in the Bible and in life are stories of people who overcame their past and began to live with purpose.

  1. Stop Focusing on Others & Their Opinion of You

Too many of us, myself included, give too much power to other’s opinions of us. If they’re not my God, my spouse, or my kid, then their opinion about me doesn’t really matter. We lose too much time and sleep worrying about what someone has said or thinks about us. You can’t please everyone, so focus on pleasing the one’s that matter.

  1. Don’t Be Afraid to Fail

I blame church boards and terrible bosses for this one. Too many of us are afraid to try something different because we’re afraid of what happens if it doesn’t work out. If you’re in a situation in which you have to fear losing your job if an idea you have doesn’t work out, you need to find a new situation. If that isn’t the case, then take some chances. If it doesn’t work out, at least you learned something.

I’m sure these aren’t the only hurdles pastors face. I’d love to hear yours. So, leave a comment below, and if you like tips on church growth, leadership, and more then make sure to take a second and subscribe to the blog.

Easter Follow Up

Easter is right around the corner and for most churches that means their biggest attendance of the year. In the church I serve, it’s not uncommon for our attendance to double on Easter weekend. That means lots of new faces and lots of excitement. It also means you have a great opportunity to see new people get connected to your church.

But it doesn’t happen by accident.

If you really want to see new people come back after Easter, you have to be intentional with everything you do.

Here are a few areas in which you can capitalize.

Parking

No matter what size your church is, I believe you can see huge benefits by having volunteers in the parking lot. At the church I serve, we have special parking just for first time guests. This does two things: it makes them feel appreciated, and it also helps us identify those who are new. Our parking volunteers greet them and then walk them to our host tent.

Host Tent

You may call this the guest tent, VIP tent, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t even have to be a tent. The important thing is you have a specific area for first time guests to go, where you gather their information, answer any questions they may have, and offer to show them around the church. You gain bonus points if you also offer them a gift. Something as simple as a coffee mug or t-shirt goes a long way in making people feel special.

Stage Announcement

Churches make a huge mistake when they ask guests to stand up or raise their hand. This make them feel uncomfortable, but on the flip side of that, you also don’t want to ignore them. So, make sure you welcome them from the stage. It can be as simple as, “I want to welcome all of our guests today and say thank you for being here. Make sure to stop by the host tent to pick up your free gift before you leave.”

Letter

Once guests leave the church property, most churches don’t really think about them anymore. But that shouldn’t be the case for you. You’re going to write each one of these guests a handwritten note thanking them for spending Easter at your church, and reminding them about the series/message you will be beginning the next Sunday.

Email

Hopefully, if you’ve been savvy enough at the host tent, you’re not only going to have their mailing address but also their email. Email addresses are extremely valuable because they are an open door to communication. So, not only are you sending a letter, you’re also sending them an email thanking them again, and letting them know what’s coming up at your church that they may be interested in.

I know not every guest is going to return to my church or yours, but it would be foolish of us not to try everything in our power to make them feel welcome and invite them back.

What would you add to this list? I’d love to hear what’s been working for you. Leave a comment below, and don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to get tips on church growth, leadership, and more delivered to your inbox each week.

The Space Between the Gates

Session Three - Inside Elevation

In March, I was able to attend the Inside Elevation conference hosted by Elevation Church. It was a great experience for our entire team, and as always, the main sessions led by Steven Furtick were the highlight for me. Steven Furtick is an incredible leader and has great insights for churches of any size. If you weren’t able to be there this year, no worries, I’ve got you covered. If you missed Session One or Two notes, you can find them here and here.

It was told Joab, “Behold, the king is weeping and mourning for Absalom.” So the victory that day was turned into mourning for all the people, for the people heard that day, “The king is grieving for his son.” And the people stole into the city that day as people steal in who are ashamed when they flee in battle. The king covered his face, and the king cried with a loud voice, “O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son!” Then Joab came into the house to the king and said, “You have today covered with shame the faces of all your servants, who have this day saved your life and the lives of your sons and your daughters and the lives of your wives and your concubines, because you love those who hate you and hate those who love you. For you have made it clear today that commanders and servants are nothing to you, for today I know that if Absalom were alive and all of us were dead today, then you would be pleased. Now therefore arise, go out and speak kindly to your servants, for I swear by the Lord, if you do not go, not a man will stay with you this night, and this will be worse for you than all the evil that has come upon you from your youth until now.” Then the king arose and took his seat in the gate. And the people were all told, “Behold, the king is sitting in the gate.” And all the people came before the king. 2 Samuel 19:1-8

The Space Between the Gates

In this session Pastor Steven talked about how many of us have been hurt in ministry and have become passive, letting things go on that we shouldn’t. It’s time for us to get back in our seat at the gate.

  1. Check your Gratitude

Are you still grateful that God called you? We are to enter His gates with thanksgiving. Gratitude is the gateway drug. You can’t be grateful and give a bare minimum effort.

  1. Check your Acceptance

What have you been tolerating in your church that you know you shouldn’t? What tough conversation have you been avoiding? Your leaders take their cue from you, so if you’re letting things slide so are they.

  1. Check your Trust

Have you lost trust in people? Is it easier to just do it yourself? When you lose faith in people, it’s easy to think this way, but you were never supposed to put your trust in people. You put your trust in God.

  1. Check your Empowerment

There’s no way you can do everything God has called you to by yourself. You have to trust the team around you and empower them to do the ministry. That means you have to stop micromanaging, and you may not always know everything that is going on in your church. Secure leaders empower.

I think everyone in ministry has gone through seasons in which they’ve left the gate. The longer you stay away, the harder it will be when you come back, so take a deep breath and get back in there. What would you add to this session? Let us know by leaving a comment, and make sure to subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss out on church leadership tips delivered to your inbox each week.