The Big Difference Between Probable and Possible

What if the biggest thing holding your church back wasn’t the lack of volunteers, or the lack of finances, or the lack of systems, or a variety of other things? What if what’s holding your church back is a mindset? A mindset that says, this is the way it’s always been, so it’s probably not going to get any better. What if you stopped looking at what is probable and started thinking about what is possible?

Probable – What’s likely to happen.

Possible – What could be done.

I think too many small town pastors operate with a probable mindset. Maybe it hasn’t always been there, but over the years and through the failures you’ve given up on possible.

And what’s possible could be greater than you can imagine. I know it has been for the church I serve.

If you’d looked at the church I serve in the first couple of years of the ministry, you would’ve said this church would be lucky to ever have more than 100 people attending.

The facility was awful to say the least. The location wasn’t much better. We had two small rooms where we tried to offer a basic kid’s ministry. Our worship music was on par with other churches in our area, but we rarely got started on time. And if you were preaching and looked straight ahead, you would be staring at the door to the women’s restroom. We were on track to probably be an average to slightly below average church in our community.

Then, my pastor picked up a book called The Creative Leader, and that book changed everything. After he read it, my pastor started seeing what was possible, instead of what was probable.

My hope is that this blog will do that for you.

Once our mindset changed, our church began to change, for the better. More and more people started attending. We were able to buy land and then build a facility. At one time over 700 people were attending our church in a town with a population of 2,000.

And just a couple of years ago, we launched a second location in a small town 20 minutes away that is currently growing like crazy.

In our twelve years as a church, we’ve seen close to 1,000 people baptized.

It would’ve never been possible, if we focused on the probable.

When you start thinking about what’s possible, you get active in making it happen.

When you focus on what’s probable, you stay passive.

Thinking about what’s possible creates excitement and passion.

Thinking about what’s probable creates boredom and apathy.

You dream about what’s possible.

You reminisce when you’re focused on the probable.

What’s possible drives you to change.

What’s probable drives you to stay the same.

When you think about what’s possible, you’re willing to take risks.

When you think about what’s probable, you play it safe.

Am I saying if you focus on what’s possible, your church will automatically grow? Absolutely not, there are a lot of other factors to consider.

But what I am saying is that if you keep that probable mindset, you don’t even give your church a chance.

Which mindset do you have? And, how do you think it’s made an impact on the church you serve? Let us know, by leaving a comment below, and don’t forget to subscribe or shoot me an email if I can ever serve you.

Is Student Ministry Dying?

Just a few years ago, I was part of a thriving student ministry that was reaching between 120-160 kids every Wednesday night. Now, that same ministry averages around 25 middle and high school students. What’s changed? For one, our student pastor who was leading the ministry transitioned into a very successful campus pastor. Also, in the three years since then, we’ve gone through two student pastors, with myself being the third. Oh, and we stopped running church vans because of lack of volunteers and safety concerns. That’s what has happened within the church, but what’s happening outside of the church seems just as drastic.

  1. More Practices. Sunday and Wednesday evenings used to be designated church nights that were protected for the most part. That’s no longer the case. Sports and extracurricular activities are now invading that space.
  2. More Homework. The pressure for good grades and higher test scores has never been more prevalent. It’s not unheard of anymore for students to have one to two hours of homework each night.
  3. More Social Media. It used to be that if you wanted to hang out with your friends, you actually had to be in the same room. That’s no longer the case. Instagram and SnapChat provide plenty of community for kids who used to have to go outside to find it.
  4. More Jobs. Parents in small rural communities are financially strapped. It’s very hard for them to pay for their teen’s cell phone, insurance, and vehicle. This means more and more students have to find jobs that don’t always work around their church schedule.
  5. More Freedom. It wasn’t that long ago most Christian parents made their teens go to church. As busy as parents are these days and as much as they’re already running their kids from place to place, church has become much more of an option instead of a requirement.

So, how long will student ministry as we currently know it survive? Five years? Ten? Twenty? And is it being effective?

If not, is there a better way to do student ministry? Perhaps, something that’s led by students and works around their schedules. Maybe something online? Or is student ministry even necessary?

I’d love to hear your thoughts because this is something I’m wrestling with and honestly don’t have any answers. Leave a comment and let me know what you think, and if you enjoy the blog, make sure to subscribe to get tips on church growth, leadership, and more delivered to your inbox each week.

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.

Why?

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.