4 Ways to Make the Most of Summer

In the famous words of Olaf, “Winter’s a good time to stay in and cuddle, but put me in summer and I’ll be a – happy pastor!” I know spring is awesome because you have Easter and Mother’s Day. Fall is nice because the kids go back to school which means parents go back to church. During the winter, you have Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year’s Resolutions. But for me, personally, I love the summer.

If you’ve been pastoring very long, you know that ministry really never slows down, but summer seems to be the least crazy of the seasons. That doesn’t mean you don’t have to work as hard during the summer; it just means your work may look a little different than normal.

In order to maximize your summer and set yourself up to grow this fall, I would encourage you to do these 4 things.

  1. Continue to encourage your congregation to invite. Yes, your weekend attendance will more than likely be less this summer than it was this spring. People are going to take vacations and enjoy the weather. That doesn’t mean evangelism should take a vacation also. Quite the opposite. You need to continue encouraging people to invite. Families could be visiting from out of town, new people could be moving into the area, and most people have more free time during the summer than any other time of the year. So, invite them to church.
  2. Don’t be afraid to do an attractive sermon series. If you’re not already doing sermon series, you need to be. Here are four reasons why they work. Many times our tendency during the summer is to avoid attractive series because we believe our attendance is going to be down. Life.Church has proven that’s not necessarily the case. Each year they do their “At the Movies” series during the summer, and each year it’s their most attended series.
  3. Get plenty of rest. It’s hard to rest as a pastor, but it’s absolutely necessary if you’re in this for the long haul. There are around twelve Sundays between Mother’s Day and mid-August. I personally believe you should take off at least four of them. Take a couple to spend with family, and take a couple to spend visiting and learning from other churches. A friend of mine said taking a sabbatical saved his ministry. Don’t underestimate the importance of rest.
  4. Don’t cancel your small groups. I really have no business giving pastors advice on small groups because my church isn’t very good at them. We struggle to get leaders, and we struggle to get people to attend. However, some of our best small groups have happened during the summer. The days are longer, which means people have more time to get things done and more time to attend a group. One of the most popular groups getting ready to start is an ING group. They’re going to be grillING, hikING, and kayakING. Summer fun groups allow relationships to form, which hopefully will carry over to groups in the fall and spring.

I hope these four thoughts help you, and I’d love to hear your ideas. What’s worked well for you to maximize summer? Leave a comment and let us know. Also, if you love tips on leadership and church growth, don’t forget to subscribe to the blog.

Seven People You Should Fire Today

I’ve been pretty lucky in ministry. Over the years I’ve only had to fire a handful of staff and volunteers. It’s the least enjoyable part of my job but also one of the most important. And if you’re a pastor, it’s one of your most important jobs. Allowing a person to continue in a role that they shouldn’t be in is incredibly harmful to a church. I see this happen over and over again, especially in small town churches. This needs to stop.

If you’re a pastor who has the power to fire someone and you’re allowing this to happen, then you need to put your “big boy britches on” (Southern Term) and have that conversation.

If you’re a pastor serving in a church that doesn’t allow you to have that power, I feel your pain. Still, you need to do everything you can to convince everyone who needs convincing to let that person go.

If that still doesn’t work, your best bet is to try to convince them to quit. Worst-case scenario: it backfires on you, and you get fired. But hey, now you can go to a church that actually trusts its pastor to make decisions that are best for the church.

If you’re having trouble deciding on who should be fired, let me give you some people I would strongly consider.

  1. The Troublemaker – This person always seems to be in the middle of drama. They create problems, instead of solutions. You constantly have to mediate between them and the latest person they ticked off. If it was one time, you can show them grace. If it’s ongoing, then you better fire them because I guarantee they’re running people off from the church.
  2. The Big Talker – These people can talk the talk but never seem to walk the walk. They make promises they never keep. They may talk super spiritual, but they never actually get anything done. And they always have an excuse.
  3. The Unqualified – I’m afraid the only qualification needed in many churches is popularity. When churches take it upon themselves to vote people into important positions within the church, we shouldn’t be surprised when they fail. It takes a lot more than being popular to lead a ministry. If they can’t or won’t do what’s required of the position, then they need to be fired.
  4. The Faker – In the history of the church I serve, we’ve only had to fire one person because of character issues. That’s one more than I would’ve liked to. They put on a good show and a good face, and we fell for it. I wish we’d fired them at the first sign of character fail. Unfortunately, we gave them a second chance, and they failed again. You better be really careful with this one because not dealing with it early can come back to bite you.
  5. The Unsocial – Ministry is relational at its core. Almost everything we do is for people, with people, and about people. If you don’t love people, you probably don’t need to be leading, because we’re in the people business.
  6. The Entitled – Be leery of those who think they deserve a position. It could be because of their last name or because of the money they give to the church. They will cause you problems, and if you’re not careful, you’ll be the one looking for another church.
  7. The Unteachable – Out of all of these, this one may bother me the most. Here’s why, I’ve had to let really good people go because they just refused to be teachable. People who had tons of potential but didn’t want to listen. I wish I could say that these people could change, but I don’t think they can. If you have someone on your team that doesn’t want to listen to anything you say, it’s best not to waste your breath and just let them go.

What type of people would you add to this list? Are you able to fire people in your church, why or why not? I’d love to hear your comments. Also, while you’re here, don’t forget to subscribe to get my new Ebook “The Basics: 13 Steps to Turn Around Your Small Town Church.”

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.