Archives For August 2009

Whenever discussions steer toward the ministries of mega churches (approx. 2000 or more attenders weekly) I find myself waiting for the inevitable slams against “the machine” or the lack of individual attention found in these large congregations or how seeker-friendly focused they are or something to do with consumeristic approaches to programming.

Over time, I started to think about whether or not these are really the right measures for judging these large operations in the name of Christ.

Lo and behold, I came across some research that revealed religious beliefs of church goers based on what size church they attend.

So do smaller church settings produce better discipleship environments?  And by smaller churches, let’s say with the average Presbyterian church worship attendance of 100 or so.

Do these church members come out as Christians that are more involved in serving and using their gifts?  Where do they fall regarding works righteousnessWhat do they think about Jesus…like, was he supernatural and sinless or just a teacher’s pet type-better than average Joe?  How important is the Great Commission regarding their own responsibility as a Christian?

I was surprised to see the results so consistent across all factors measured between the small congregations with under 100 attenders, all the way up to churches with 1000+ attenders.    Perhaps it’s time to let the numbers speak and stop making arguments without real tangible back-up on these issues?

Here’s the data so that you can decide for yourself: Continue Reading…

Are you a pastor in a church that seems to ignore the fact that there’s only 168 hours in a week?

Does it seem like your original intentions to be centered on prayer, go out and build rock-solid deep relationships with your entire congregation and spend enough time studying the Scriptures were all bad typos in the job description?

Perhaps you need to reassess your game plan.

Here’s a quick pop quiz to help figure out your approach to ministry:

If you, as the pastor, have only limited time available during the week, would you prefer to choose (A) OR (B) in each scenario below:

A. Do more visiting to shut-ins?
B. Put more time into sermon preparation?

A. Attend a wedding reception?
B. Go on a retreat with parish staff?

A. Call on prospective members?
B. Conduct a training session for church officers?

A. Visit a bereaved family?
B. Help two church officers resolve a conflict?

A. Make a hospital call on a fringe member?
B. Attend a continuing education event?

A. Engage in pastoral counseling with members?
B. Attend a planning event with officers?

A. Do more parish calling?
B. Recruit leaders for parish events?

A. Attend an activity with parish youth?
B. Critique a meeting with a church officer?

Apparently the correct answers differ largely NOT ON YOU, but where your called to ministry.  The Alban Institute published an interesting article which gives practical insights for how to approach various types of ministry environments.

Surprise! It turns out that a pastor is not a pastor is not a pastor anywhere and everywhere.  One size does not fit all!

Being self-aware of the context first will dramatically increase the odds of success in your role as pastor.  Requirements for leadership style, relationships, and responsibilities all change based on whether you are in a family, pastoral, program, and corporate sized church.

Are you sitting in the right seat?  Is there more than one seat at the table?  It all matters tremendously.

If you read the informative article from the Congregational Resource Guide site, you’ll also learn the landmines of moving down in church size.

What’s the good news in all this? You’ll notice that pastor burnout is largely avoidable by being able to answer the pop quiz questions correctly.

Tim Keller was recently featured as one of the headliners at this year’s Leadership Summit put on by Willow Creek.

Some of the other speakers on the list are favorites of mine too including Jessica Jackley (the best $25 you’ll spend this year if you try out Kiva.org), Dave Gibbons (Monkey and the Fish and if you’re ever in southern CA, you must visit New Song Church) and Chip and Dan Heath (awesome book! Made to Stick from the moment you see the book cover jacket in person you’ll understand why).

tim-keller-redeemer-presbyterian

But back to Dr. Keller. . . Continue Reading…

I recently had a chance to connect again with Mike Kim of Generation Holy Ministries.  Mike is one of those guys that take the stage and just exudes worship.  He loves God and you really see it when you are with him live.   He just released a new album on iTunes which is a project that always calls for digging deep into the creative center that drives you.

Whether you are leading a worship band, facilitating a Bible Study group or a working in any other ministry for the church, you need continuous inspiration.  I asked Mike to share with us some of his current sources for renewal and refreshment in creativity. . . .


One of the things I’ve always wrestled with as a worship leader is marketing and promotion. There’s just something about it that seems paradoxical when the whole point of leading worship is to draw attention to God instead of myself.

On the other hand, I am also a songwriter and recording artist; the whole point of these things is to draw attention to my songs and myself. This is an even tougher issue for me personally because I really don’t like attention!

Despite that tension I still want to do what I’m called to with excellence and inspiration. Inspiration channeled through creativity, skill, and excellence glorifies God. I try to draw my main inspiration from the Holy Spirit, the place of prayer, the place of His presence. It’s cliché but true; if I want what I do to give true life to people, it needs to come by the spirit. Any song or sermon I’ve written that “worked” was birthed in the place of prayer and worship.

I also try to be very honest about my strengths and weaknesses. It’s not an arrogant thing to know what we’re gifted in. If we know our strengths, we can hone them and offer them in humility. Conversely, knowing our weaknesses forces us to stay small in our own eyes (check my blog on the Praise of Man) and get others involved in kingdom work. Majoring on the minors will cause me to run thin on doing the things I’m gifted at and prevent others from contributing.

My primary assignment right now is to help pastor a church by developing its worship ministry. I try not to be creative outside of what I’m called to; that just burns time and energy. Jealously keeping the main thing the main thing keeps me focused and allows me to soak up inspiration from other streams of ministry that apply to what I’m doing.

Here’s a quick rundown of some current sources of inspiration to me for what I do:

  • Bethel Church in Redding, CA – my wife and I got to attend Bethel last summer for one of their conferences. My understanding of what is possible in a local church in terms of pursuing and hosting the presence of God was changed here. It inspired me to stay hungry for God and to see worship as a by-product of that pursuit. Jesus Culture is Bethel’s youth ministry; their worship band is quickly gaining mainstream recognition. I love how they press and stretch people in worship. Their songs are uncomfortably long, in a good way.
  • Kent Henry in St. Louis, MO – not many know Kent by name but they know the songs he introduced to the body of Christ. Kent was the worship leader on many of Hosanna! Integrity’s early works and has recorded numerous independent albums. I grew up listening to his tapes (!) and CD’s and my style of leading worship was defined because of him. You can imagine how cool it was for me to get to know Kent personally…we’ve known each other several years now and he is a regular guest at my church. Kent always inspires me because he stays youthful and relevant (it’s pretty fun rockin’ out with a 50+ year old to Hillsong United tunes) and he continually challenges me to intermingle praise with prayer and worship with intercession. That’s had a direct influence on my songwriting as I want my songs to be launching pads for people to pray off of.
  • Ross Parsley/New Life Church in Colorado Springs, CO – Pastor Ross has given me a model of what a worship pastor is. I know a lot of worship leaders and even worship pastors by title, but I had a hard time finding people who took the aspects of pastoral ministry into the worship department. The title of “worship pastor” in some churches is merely another way of saying “primary worship leader.” I knew there had to be more. I got a chance to sit down with Pastor Ross recently and he shared about building a culture in my team and helped me see what ministry in a megachurch looks like-I wanted to know in case mine becomes one! He’s also been at New Life for almost 20 years, which speaks to me of consistency and longevity.

All this inspiration wouldn’t be worth much if I didn’t have an outlet for it. I gear my endeavors towards the needs of my circle of influence. Being honest with myself involves being honest about what field God has me working in. I write songs based on what we’re going through as a community of believers and try to write and record our albums with excellence so other churches can adopt them if so led. I ask God regularly to give me insight and skill to build our people and ministry like a master-builder. If what we’re doing is good enough to “grow wings” and be used elsewhere, that is great. If not, that’s fine.

What’s really important is that I tend to the field I’m in. It’s easy to focus on touching the world that we fail to touch home. God wants to use us to reach the world, but the road that bears the most fruit goes from the inside out.

I encourage you to pray, worship, stay honest about your assignment and field, staff to your weaknesses, and stay teachable. If you do you’ll be bound to be inspired along the way.

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Mike KimMike Kim is a worship leader, pastor, and songwriter.  He currently serves at Church of the Living God and is president of Generation Holy Ministries with the vision to empower and equip all generations through worship and life-transforming truth. Spirit-led and highly congregational, many of Mike’s songs are being sung around the world.

You’ve probably heard of the challenge to always preach as if it’s the last message you’ll ever share.  But I realized recently that this same frame of mind can be applied to everything I am doing in ministry.

Just how much of our daily work is just passing the bar?  Especially things that belong to the daily routine.

Even the most mundane tasks can be done with excellence or with such dynamic creativity that it leaves people breathless.

I saw this video clip and was reminded that even the most mundane handful of sand can be used to witness to God’s glory in the world he created for you and me.  All you need is some movement, rearrangement and creativity.

“We all leave footprints in the sand, the question is, will we be a big heal, or a great soul.”

So are there any parts of your ministry that can use some movement or rearrangement so that you can be a beacon of light to everyone that watches?

The Gospel message is about relationships, right?

And I think you’ll agree that our world is undergoing a fundamental shift in how we relate to each other due to the undeniable impact of technology (Internet) and the social media that has evolved out of it.

The Google generation doesn’t email, they Facebook.  It is just a fact now that people check Facebook first and more often each day than their email.  People are learning the ins and out of syndicating their lives through FB status updates, Twitter and other social media platforms.

But note that I recently sat in a mandatory seminary workshop for the graduate program at Princeton Theological Seminary where the facilitator actually proposed that pastors NOT get involved with Facebook, Twitter, etc in their methods of communicating with their congregation 24/7 – specifically with youth.

But if the ways in which we (meaning humans in the 21st century and beyond) now meet, connect and relate to each other is changing in seismic ways, why isn’t the Church following suit?

If you’re not convinced that social networking / social media is changing our lives, check this video out:

This is not about pushing Twittering during worship services.

What I’m talking about is for the Church to be visible and available in the places where the people are already.  Today’s that’s online and on social networking platforms.

It’s also about creating volumes of first class content that is able to be shared and given exposure where millions and millions of people are already tuning in.

What is your church doing with social media / social networking?

Robert Wright (meaningoflife.tv) wrote The Evolution of God, which considers what brings out the best or worst in religions based on a view that understands a moral growth of the Abrahamic God.

He is interested in the circumstances that brought out the best in religion in ancient times so that we can extrapolate to modern times to see what we need to get the best out of our religious landscape today.

Wright and and Tyler Cowen (George Mason Univ) duke it out in an interesting video interview.  Watch it and let me know what you think.

Does Wright’s non-zero sum God allow scenarios for peace and expanding horizons of hope for Christians today?  Please leave some comments below of anything that hit you while watching these two blogging heads discussing these issues.

The New York Times Religion Brief recently highlighted a survey by the American Religious Identification Survey that focused on the state of Judaism in the United States.

Of the 5 1/2 million people in the general Jewish population in the US, the majority consider themselves religious.

survey_says

But the big surprise was the significant rise in one category of response in the landmark survey.  The finding makes Judaism and Christianity more alike than never before from one specific point of view. . . Continue Reading…

What if I said, I can give you front row access to the following ministry leaders’ and pastors’ teaching:

  • Scott Williams (www.LifeChurch.tv)
  • Perry Noble (New Spring Church)
  • Dan Kimball (Vintage Faith Church)
  • Nancy Beach (Willow Creek Church)
  • Leonard Sweet (Author/Futurist)
  • Mark Batterson (National Community Church)
  • Reggie McNeal (Leadership Network)
  • Ed Stetzer (Lifeway Research)
  • Dave Ferguson (Community Christian Church)
  • Alan Hirsch (Forge Mission Training Network)

Well, the truth is, you can have access to their priceless content and much more actually.

free-tickets-to-the-nines-conference

At what price?  How about: $FREE?

I just registered and you should too .  .  . Continue Reading…

Are you “ON” with respect to your ministry 24/7?

Rick Warren talks about the critical reasons for scheduling your Sabbath.

It is so important to make sure you attend to the energy you have available for Christ’s work so that you can fulfill the motivations you have for your ministry.

Rick Warren points to 2 Corinthians 4 to explain his own source of motivation – and why it will keep you going when the going gets tough.

Listen to what Rick Warren says in this video clip about being aware of your ability to focus and how it should impact your work:

Do you plan your work and then work the plan without regard to the person that’s doing it — YOU?

This was such a great reminder on how to best use my talaents in kingdombuilding work.   For example, it allows me to take a different look at Mondays, not as a drag getting back to the desk or as the beginning of a long week ahead, but perfect for the things that I schedule for that day now.  Having clarity for knowing what stuff I should push or schedule for Mondays in this example makes me look forward to that day.

Hope you found some nuggets to help you recenter your approach to your daily work today!