Ministry Leaders: A How to Guide

Every pastor knows the backbone of any church is the volunteers. You can’t do ministry without them. These men and women who give of their time each and every week are helping point people to Jesus. They’re awesome…if they’re led well. Without good leadership volunteers may actually do more harm than good, which is why many pastors take it upon themselves to lead them. This is a mistake. You and I both know you don’t have the time needed to lead volunteers effectively, which is why you need ministry leaders.

Ministry leaders are leaders of ministries. I bet you figured that out already.

Sometimes they’re paid, but most of the time in smaller churches you can find more than capable volunteers.

Some examples would be the youth pastor, children’s director, or worship leader.

In the church I serve we drill down even further and have leaders who oversee each kid’s ministry area and each guest services area, like the greeting team, parking team, and ushers.

This allows people to use the leadership gifts God has given them, and frees pastors like me and you up to focus on big picture tasks like preaching and vision-casting.

Get the right ministry leaders in place, and your church has a great opportunity to see big time growth this year.

So, what would that look like? What would you need ministry leaders to do?

I’ve narrowed it down to these six things:

  1. Cast Vision – If you’re the senior pastor, you’re the chief vision-caster at your church, but that doesn’t mean you need to be the only one casting vision. Casting vision reminds volunteers that their serving has a purpose. Spending every other week in a room full of toddlers can become overwhelming, but hearing about a child’s mom getting baptized quickly reminds them what they’re doing matters.
  2. Provide Care – I want my ministry leaders to see themselves as shepherds of the volunteers who serve in their area. I want them to know about their families, what’s going on in their lives, and how they’re doing spiritually. They should be their biggest encourager, and include them in their prayer life. The more volunteers a leader oversees, the harder this becomes. That’s why I recommend a leader not oversee more than twelve volunteers.
  3. Recruit Volunteers – A leader who can recruit volunteers is invaluable to a church. A church can never have enough volunteers, and recruiting volunteers from the stage will have diminishing returns. That’s why it’s so important that you have leaders who aren’t afraid to tap a shoulder and start a conversation about serving.
  4. Train Volunteers – Once you recruit a new volunteer, you can’t forget this important step. You need to train them. Many people have quit serving, not because they don’t love Jesus, but because they feel unqualified because they’ve never been trained. Spend a few weeks training them and making sure they’re comfortable in their new position.
  5. Maintain & Order Supplies – Depending on where you serve, this could be a big part of your responsibility or very small. If you lead the area that serves coffee, you better make sure you have coffee each week. If you lead the nursery, make sure you have extra diapers for the mom who forgot her diaper bag. If you don’t have the authority to order the supplies yourself, make sure whoever does knows what you need in plenty of time.
  6. Deal with Conflict – Hopefully as a ministry leader, you won’t have to deal with this much, but you are serving in a church, so you need to be ready to deal with conflict when it comes. This could be a spat between two parents, a volunteer gossiping about another, or a variety of other situations. Your main priority is deescalating the situation. If that’s not possible let your leader know about the situation so they can help handle it.

I’m sure I probably forgot something, so I’d love to know what you would add to this list. Leave a comment and let us know. Also, make sure to subscribe to the blog to get tips on church growth, leadership, and more delivered to your inbox each week, and shoot me an email if I can serve you or your church in anyway this year.

Seven Deadly Signs of Church Health

No matter where you live, you don’t have to look far to find an unhealthy church. It seems like they’re everywhere. Some were unhealthy from the very start. Others were healthy, even thriving, at one time yet somewhere along the way, warning signs started to show. The signs of an unhealthy church can be subtle, especially in the beginning, but over time I’ve found that these seven signs come to the surface of every unhealthy church.

  1. No vision to reach those who aren’t followers of Jesus. Most churches would never admit this, and some don’t even realize that they’re guilty of this. Somewhere along the way they lost their vision to reach those who don’t know Jesus. Instead they’ve adopted a vision that focuses on meeting the wants and needs of those inside the church. Once attendance starts shrinking, instead of reaching out, they hold even more tightly to the vision and traditions of the insiders.
  2. No signs of spiritual growth. Healthy churches should see signs of spiritual growth, just like a healthy plant should produce fruit. Are there people beginning a relationship with Jesus? Are they being baptized? Are new people signing up to serve? All of these things are rare in unhealthy churches. Many of them aren’t even measuring these things, because if they did, they would have to ask themselves why their church isn’t producing fruit.
  3. No desire to ever change or improve. I believe it takes all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people. With that being said though, if your church is designed to reach an older generation, what do you do when that generation dies off? In most cases, the church dies off too. At some point if what you’re doing as a church isn’t producing the results you want to see, then you need to make a change. And let me say this, if you aren’t focused on making sure children love your church, then your days are numbered.
  4. No one takes ownership. I heard a pastor say this, “Our church has owners not members, because members have rights, but owners have responsibilities.” I love that statement. In unhealthy churches, everybody wants to have a vote, but very few people actually want to do the work required to create a great church. Until you get the church to take ownership, you’ll never get the church healthy.
  5. No real community. Some small town churches do this very well. They have a great family environment where everyone looks after each other. Others offer a fake style of community in which it’s still a family environment, but this family is full of gossip and backstabbing. Have you ever been a part of one of those churches? I think small groups are the best way to foster authentic community, but I’ve also seen other churches use the Sunday School model just as well. The main thing is creating an environment where people can be open and honest about their lives without fear of judgment.
  6. No anticipation of what God might do. Do you remember when you first started reading the Bible? I was twenty years old before I got saved and picked up a Bible, but during that time I was so excited about reading to see how God would speak to me that day. People should come into your church the same way, anticipating what God might speak to them.
  7. No numerical growth. I know there are some circumstances in which numbers don’t tell you the whole story. But in most cases, numerical growth is a great indicator of church health. If the community your church is in is growing yet your church attendance is declining, that’s a sign that your church may be unhealthy. Healthy things are supposed to grow.

Have you ever been part of an unhealthy church? What did that look like? Leave a comment and let me know. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to get tips on church growth, leadership, and more delivered to your inbox each week. Also, if you want to turn around your small town church, make sure to pick up my new ebook, The Basics: 13 Steps to Turn Around Your Small Town Church free to new subscribers.

Five Tips to Grow Yourself this Year

I love the beginning of a New Year. I realize it’s just a date on the calendar, but for some reason it brings excitement. There’s this feeling of a fresh start and endless opportunities that emerge in the month of January. Things you’ve been ignoring for months, like that diet or that budget, all of a sudden become important again.

But the excitement of a New Year can quickly wear off, and if we’re not careful our hopes, our dreams, and our goals will be abandoned before we reach the month of February.

It’s happened all too often in my own life. I’ve never exercised for more than five days in a row. I once stopped drinking cokes for over a year, then I started back up again. I have trouble finishing TV series on Netflix. And I’ve never beaten any of the Super Mario games.

I’m great at starting. I’m terrible at finishing.

And yet, everything that’s worthwhile is uphill. There is no reward without work.

So, with that in mind, let’s look at five tips to grow ourselves this year.

  1. Commit. Not just for a week, or a month, if we’re really serious about growing ourselves it needs to be a lifelong commitment. Success in our lives, will depend on our commitment to learning and growth. You can accomplish great things in your life if you’re willing to commit to the work.
  2. Choose. What are your goals? What do you want to get better at? Pick two or three things in your life to work on. Those who are most successful are those who learn to narrow their focus.
  3. Share. Let other people know about your commitment. The more you share it, the less likely you’ll be to quit it. Avoid spending time with those who don’t get excited about what you’re trying to accomplish. If you’re not careful their negativity will rub off on you and you’ll give up on your goal.
  4. Invest. The only way you get better is by investing your time, and often your money. Growth does not come without an investment. The one thing that separates those who are average at their job, and those who are awesome, is investment. Do you want to rest, or do you want to be the best? (Quick Disclaimer: I’m not talking about burning yourself out. I’m talking about investing, when everyone else is sleeping.)
  5. Invite. Invite others to go on the journey with you. It’s so much easier to stick to a goal when you know you have friends who are doing the same. That’s why groups like Weight Watchers and Alcoholics Anonymous have such a high success rate. We are more likely to keep our commitments when we’re around others who are doing the same.

I hope 2018 is an incredible year for you and your church. If I can ever serve you in anyway, please don’t hesitate to send me an email or visit my coaching page to see the different options I offer. I’d love to connect with you. In the meantime, make sure to subscribe to the blog to get tips on church growth, leadership, and more delivered to your inbox each week.