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Mon, 30/07/2018 - 10:18pm

Why Most Small Churches Don’t Use (Or Need) An Organizational Chart

Fri, 27/07/2018 - 7:15pm

When small churches follow a strict Org Chart, people end up filling positions instead of operating within their talents, gifts and passion.

Does your small church have an Organizational (Org) Chart?

If you don’t, relax. You probably don’t need one.

If you do, brace yourself. You may want to get rid of it because they tend not to work in small churches like they work in large churches. In fact, some of the problems that you think are people related may in fact be Org Chart related.

In small churches, having an Org Chart can cause more frustration than they’re worth.

What Is An Org Chart?

The reason Org Charts tend not to work in small churches has less to do with the nature of small churches than with the nature of Org Charts.

Simply put, an Org Chart is a way of visualizing who does what and who reports to whom in an organization. A typical Org Chart will have a CEO at the top, with VPs underneath them, then department heads, all the way down to the average worker.

In a church, it’s usually the pastor at the top (or we’ll give Jesus that spot) followed by staff, then department heads, then members. Unless it’s a congregational church, in which the members hold a position under Jesus and above the pastor, while those same members are also under the pastor in ministry positions… and my head is already starting to hurt.

Some Org Charts will be arranged in a circle instead of a top-down structure, but all Org Charts have one thing in common: they are relatively static structures, with the positions staying the same, while the people who fill those positions come and go.

An Org Chart becomes more necessary the larger the organization is – whether a for-profit business, or a non-profit church – because it keeps a highly complex system relatively understandable. Employees/church staff can readily see who is supposed to ...

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Why Public Intellectuals Need Their Ivory Towers

Thu, 26/07/2018 - 4:14pm

Ta-Nehisi Coates’s departure from 'The Atlantic' reflects a growing crisis: Our digital age inhibits reliable and enduring insight.

After ten years as a national correspondent, Ta-Nehisi Coates is leaving The Atlantic. In a memo to his staff, Coates’s editor Jeffrey Goldberg explained that “the last few years for [Coates] have been years of significant changes. He’s told me that he would like to take some time to reflect on these changes, and to figure out the best path forward, both as a person and as a writer.”

Coates’s writing for The Atlantic in “The Case for Reparations” and “My President Was Black”—along with his books—has shaped our national conversation on race. Although he's been surprised to find himself famous, his departure from The Atlantic is about much more than unease with sudden fame. Instead, it reflects a growing crisis for public intellectuals in the digital age.

We’re forced to ask: Is our hyper-connected culture driving to extinction the most thoughtful among us? Put otherwise, are the conditions of our times intemperate to the work of public thinkers like Coates?

Alan Jacobs, distinguished professor of humanities in the honors program at Baylor University, traces the postwar history of public intellectuals in his essay “The Watchmen.” Citing the work of sociologist Karl Mannheim, Jacobs explains that a public intellectual is someone whose “special task is to provide an interpretation of the world” and to “play the part of watchmen in what otherwise would be a pitch-black night.”

Coates fits the description, even if he rejects the moniker. In an interview with podcast host Krista Tippett at the 2017 Chicago Humanities Festival, he explained his particular hesitations with being a public intellectual. First, he wants to demarcate ...

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Transitioning from Bi-Vocational to Vocational Ministry: 3 Questions

Tue, 24/07/2018 - 4:12pm

Three questions that can help guide you and your churches if you are considering this transition.

Most churches in America are ‘small churches,’ having less than 100 people. Most of these churches have a bi-vocational pastor; one who does not receive full-time financial support from the church they serve. Having an outside job may be part of a plan.

But there is a growing movement of intentional bi-vocational pastors who will remain so regardless of the future growth of the church. Others take the path of vocational ministry from the start through various means. Still others will start out bi-vocational with the anticipation that at some point they will transition to full-time vocational ministry.

Making the transition from bi-vocational to vocational can seem like a dicey proposition. Faith and obedience will obviously be at the center of the decision, but there are several things to consider, including the make-up of the leadership team and size of the church.

So when should one move into vocational ministry? When should churches make this all-important decision? Three questions can help guide you and your churches if you are considering this decision.

First, “Can we afford this?”

This kind of decision warrants that finances be at the core of the issue. Any conversation that doesn’t include financial feasibility is not helpful. I’m not suggesting that money is the determining factor. God calls us to take steps of faith that involve not seeing the end result. But he also expects there to be wisdom in the transition.

A bi-vocational pastor who believes it is time to move into vocational ministry should figure out the financial number that person needs in order to make the change. Then, it’s best that 75% of the funds should be there. You don’t really have to wait until the church ...

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Renewing Your Church: Growing Together to Discover Our God-Given Purpose

Tue, 17/07/2018 - 4:05pm

I asked if they were ready to see God do something new. When they affirmed that they were, I told them that we would be changing absolutely everything.

November 2014 marked the month of my 32nd birthday and my first week as Lead Pastor of what was then known as Thornville Community Nazarene, in Thornville, OH. I would take the position as bi-vocational, being on a plane three days a week for my corporate job, with the hopes of growing the position into something that might be full-time in the future.

Fifteen adults greeted me that day for my first service, though 30-35 would come in and out of the building during that first month. The church was in decline, in crisis, operating in the red, irrelevant—you throw out the title and it fit. In a town of 1,000, this church once had 200 people in the late 1990s, but then went through two splits and had averaged 25-30 people for over the last decade in a KJV-only environment.

When I sat at my first board meeting with the leaders of the church, I asked if they were ready to see God do something new. When they affirmed that they were, I told them that we would be changing absolutely everything. After they said they were okay with this, I repeated the question, being sure that they knew that I really meant it and qualified the statement by saying that if we were not getting the desired results, then everything had to be up for discussion.

They consented and off we went. I took lesser pay so we could hire a part-time youth pastor. Praise music from the 1980s and 1990s quickly transformed into the likes of Hillsong, Bethel, and Elevation. We put up a new sign, changed the name of the church, and overhauled the foyer, sound system, sanctuary, and the landscaping. We took down every single decoration, award, plaque, and memento that might remind anyone of who we had been.

One of my favorite memories from this time was when the gatekeeper ...

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6 Principles Healthy Churches Use To Deal With Conflict Well

Fri, 06/07/2018 - 6:51pm

We have an obligation as leaders to have a plan in place to resolve conflicts in the healthiest way possible.

Conflict is inevitable. Even in a healthy marriage, family and church.

Like healthy marriages and families, healthy churches don’t avoid conflict, but they deal with it well.

I’ve been in pastoral ministry for more than 35 years. In the early days, I dealt with more conflict than in recent years. Not because the early churches were bad, but because I didn’t know how to deal with conflict as well as I do today.

Unfortunately, I learned how to deal with conflict the hard way – by making mistakes.

Through those mistakes, then through watching and learning from other churches, I have discovered 6 principles that healthy churches use to deal with conflict well:

1. Healthy churches know that conflict isn’t fatal

A strong and healthy human body is able to fight off disease better than a weak and sickly one. It’s the same in a church.

When the church is healthy (not perfect, but healthy) they know that a disagreement between members or staff is like an occasional bought of insomnia or the common cold in an otherwise healthy adult. It’s unpleasant, but it will pass if we deal with it correctly.

When we feel like every conflict is a disaster in the making, we will either refuse to acknowledge them (thus driving them underground only to be bigger and badder when they come back up), or we’ll press the panic button every time a staff member tells the pastor “I may have a better way to do that” and never hear anything fresh and new ever again.

Both ignorance and panic are dangerous.

A healthy church knows that disagreements are normal and survivable.

2. Healthy churches reduce the number of conflicts through better team dynamics and communication

Dealing with problems while they are small ...

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The Illusion Of Pastoral Control In A Small Church

Wed, 04/07/2018 - 6:50am

If you’re a small church pastor who’s been frustrated with your inability to gain control of the church, stop trying. There's a better way.

If you’re a control freak, I have one word of advice.

Don’t become the pastor of a small church. (Actually, I’d advise you not to pastor any church. We have enough control freaks in the pulpit already.)

It’s a common misperception that the smaller a church is, the easier it will be for the pastor to control.

The only people who think this have never pastored a small church.

Small ≠ Controllable

Small churches can be wonderful places in which to serve, worship, fellowship and minister. But because of their size, denominations will often put younger pastors in small churches, thinking they’ll be easier for the novice to lead. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Due to many factors, including the sociological phenomenon called The Law of Large Numbers (which I describe in some detail in my book Small Church Essentials) small groups of people, including small churches, actually behave less predictably than big groups of people (including big churches). This generally makes them harder to manage than most of their larger counterparts and absolutely impossible to control.

Here’s why. Because there are fewer people in the small church, the interplay of the unique personalities of church members has a huge impact. Much more so than they do in big churches.

Making sense of – let alone controlling – the complex and elusive web of personalities and relationships in a small church is much harder than planning a sermon series, hiring staff members, or casting a vision for the future.

Also, history plays a stronger role in established small churches. Traditions are more firmly established. And if the small church is also in a small town, the complex relationships of the dominant members can ...

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