4 Phrases Every Pastor Should Say Every Sunday

There’s something powerful about repetition. Doing the same thing day in and day out. Over time habits start to form, and those habits play a big role in our lives. If you have good habits, your life tends to go well. If you have bad habits, your life tends to fall apart. In the same way that our lives have habits, your church has habits as well. Sometimes those are good, and unfortunately sometimes those are bad. If the church has good habits, things tend to go well. If the church has bad habits, things tend to fall apart.

When the church I serve was just getting started, it had a lot of bad habits.

We would never get started on time, we let anyone have the floor to speak or sing, and we had monthly business meetings. Yikes!

It took years for us to get out of these, and we lost some people along the way.

You know as well as I do that bad habits are hard to break.

Eventually, we started to develop some good habits in a lot of different areas of our church, but I want to focus on just a few that you can start implementing this week as the pastor.

(If you’re reading this and you’re not the primary communicator at your church, make sure to share this with your pastor. They will appreciate your initiative and your make it better attitude. Who knows? You may even get a raise. Of course, they may not be ready for this just yet, and this could land you in the doghouse. Risk it anyway.)

The habit I want to talk about today is using these four phrases every time you preach.

  1. “If you’re here for the first time…”

Even if you know every person in the room, act like there’s a possibility that someone is visiting for the very first time. Why? Because this communicates that you’re expecting guests to show up, which also communicates that you’re expecting your congregation to be inviting people. Welcome guests to church like you would welcome them into your home.

  1. “Our church exists to…”

Our pastor would say, “Our church exists to share the love of Jesus with everyone, so everyone will fall in love with Him.” We call this our mission statement, and we want everyone who attends our church to join the mission with us. By saying this, you’re letting everyone know what your church is about and how he or she can be a part of it.

  1. “Your next step is…”

Every sermon you preach should end with a next step that you want people to take. If you can’t think of a next step for your sermon, then you need to really ask yourself what’s the point of it. God’s Word should lead us to action. We want people to apply it to their lives. A weekly next step is the most practical way to do this.

  1. “Thank you for…”

You may say this several different times on a Sunday. I want to thank people for giving. I want to thank those who serve. I want to thank those who are visiting for the very first time. I don’t think you can say thank you enough. We couldn’t do what we do without the people we get to serve. Make sure to thank them.

Now, just remember it’s not enough to just do this one Sunday out of the month. You need to make it a habit to use these four phrases every time you speak.


Because most people aren’t attending church every week, and it takes most people several times of hearing something before they will remember it. So, say it, and then say it again, and again, and again.

Are you currently using these four phrases? Why or why not? What would you add to the list? 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.

I’m Not Good with Change

The truth is, I like the idea of change but not the actual execution. Let me give you an example. There’s something that really intrigues me about moving to a new place where I don’t know anyone. That’s really exciting to me, but the truth is I would never do it. I’ve lived in the same five-mile radius for all of my 37 years, and it looks like I’ll be here, God willing, for 37 more. Change sounds fun, but in reality it produces stress and anxiety, which are not fun. Which is why I, along with the majority of your church, don’t like change.

Our brains are wired for certainty. Uncertainty causes us to feel threatened, which makes us want to run away, or lash out, or complain, or resist.

Sound familiar?

It does to me. I’ve been there, done that, and got the scars to show for it. If you’ve been in ministry very long, you have too.

Many pastors have quit the ministry altogether because they felt like the fight wasn’t worth it. Others have chosen to surrender the fight and have buried their hearts instead, serving in churches that have no interest in ever changing and will slowly die.

Then there are the brave few who choose to fight on knowing that countless lives are on the line. This post is for you.

If you’re brave enough to try to implement change in your church, you’re going to need some tactics and strategies to make sure you come out alive.

Here are a few that I’ve learned the hard way.

  1. Cast a compelling vision. The people who have been in your church for years have stayed because they like it the way it is. Believe me, they’re not interested in changing a thing. So, you better get a really compelling vision from God on what He wants to do through your church, or you won’t have a chance.
  2. Get buy in from the influencers. Who are the people in your church, if they left your church today, others would leave with them? Those are your influencers. They may be on the board, they may teach Sunday school, or they may never lift a finger to serve anyone, but their opinion holds significant weight. These are the people you have to convince first. And it may take some time, so…
  3. Don’t rush in. I know when you get a vision for what God wants to do, it’s easy to get excited and go too fast. Don’t make that mistake. Many pastors have failed because they didn’t have the patience to wait for the right time. Take your time building genuine relationships and getting people to buy into the new vision God has given you. If your church has done things the same way for the past fifty years, don’t expect them to change a whole lot in the next five. Sometimes winning the battle means living longer than those who oppose you.
  4. Celebrate the victories along the way. Even the seemingly small insignificant ones. New visitors, new volunteers, new babies born. Find a way to tie them all back to the vision God gave you. People want to be on a winning team, so the more wins you can find, the quicker people will get on board with what you’re trying to accomplish.

Have you even been part of transitioning a church? What would your advice be? Let us know by leaving a comment below, and don’t forget to subscribe the blog and pick up my new ebook, The Basics: 13 Steps to Turn Around Your Small Town Church.

What’s Wrong with Being Nice?

Most pastors I’ve met are nice. My pastor is one of the nicest people I know. It seems to be a part of the job requirement. Sure, there are a few pastors who are jerks, but overall when I think about pastors, I think they’re mostly nice. Which is a good thing…and a bad thing at times. Let me explain…

It’s great for pastors to be caring, kind, helpful, put others first, etc. Those are great traits to have.

Until…it starts to hurt the mission and vision of the church.

You’re probably asking how, so let me give you a few examples.

  1. Nice people tend to avoid conflict. It’s not fun having a conversation with a volunteer who never shows up on time. Trust me. I’ve had a few of these, and people didn’t think I was very nice. I tried my best to explain the importance and be as nice as possible, but feelings still got hurt.
  2. Nice people tend to hire the wrong people. Many times instead of hiring the most qualified, pastors will hire the person they like the most. It doesn’t even have to be a paid position. This happens all the time with volunteers. You have someone in your church that would be a much better worship leader than your current one, but you and your current worship leader have been friends for ten years. That makes it difficult.
  3. Nice people tend to never fire anyone. It doesn’t matter if they’re paid or a volunteer. It’s hard to remove someone from his or her position, especially nice people. So, we’ll leave someone in a position that doesn’t have the capacity to do the work, letting the ministry suffer.
  4. Nice people tend to avoid the facts. This means the church can be losing people, but they’ll find a way to justify it. I’ll give you an example. They’ll say things like, “People aren’t coming to our church because they know we preach the truth.” When the truth is, no one comes to their church because they’re still doing church like it’s 1988.
  5. Nice people tend to sacrifice the flock for the sake of one sheep. This happens every time someone gets up on stage to sing that you and I both know have no business singing. “God laid this on my heart” is not a good enough reason to hand someone a microphone.

Now, don’t get me wrong, as pastors we should be nice. In all honesty I’ve probably became quite a bit nicer as a pastor over the years. In the beginning it was hard for me to be nice because there was so many issues that needed to be addressed.

So, be nice, but don’t sacrifice what God wants to do through you and your church because you’re worried about hurting feelings. Jesus did it all the time.

Is being too nice something you struggle with? In what ways? Let us know by leaving a comment below. If you need help deciding what’s your next step as a church check out my coaching page, and don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to get tips on church growth, leadership, and more delivered to your inbox each week.