Monday, April 30, 2007

A Great Lord's Day

Yesterday was such a great day! The weather was beautiful with blue skies and a bright sun. I was scheduled to preach in a small, bivocational church that is seeking a new pastor. They had a nice turn-out, and the youth presented a very well done presentation in honor of Child Abuse Prevention month. Following the service I had a brief meeting with the search committee and gave them a couple of resumes for people who might be good candidates for their church.

After a quick lunch I drove to another bivocational church that was ordaining their pastor. I've never seen an association that loves one individual as that association loves that pastor. For several years he served as the moderator of the association before finally accepting God's call on his life to become a bivocational pastor. The church is growing under his leadership as he provides them with true servant ministry.

When I got home my wife and I sat on our deck and read and just relaxed. I put some hamburgers on the grill for a simple dinner that evening. We played with the dog, read some more, and just enjoyed a beautiful Lord's day. Definitely a great Lord's Day!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Hope is not a strategy

Today I led some church leaders through an all day visioning retreat. We spent the day discussing vision, exploring Scripture, praying, and seeking God for a fresh vision for their church. As we wrapped up the day they identified some possible directions their church could take as they attempt to reach their community for Jesus Christ.

Too many churches are content to drift along from week to week hoping that something good will happen to them. Hope is not a strategy! If we want to see our churches grow and provide quality ministry to our communities we must seek God's vision for our churches and have the courage to pursue that vision. Seldom does anything worthwhile come while we merely drift along without any plan and purpose.

Does your church have a God-given vision? Can every member of your congregation tell others what that vision is? What goals have been set to achieve that vision? Who has been given specific responsibility to see that vision fulfilled? How will you know that your vision has been achieved? These are all excellent questions for the leadership of a church to answer together as they plan the future ministry of the church.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Common Sense

A news report is talking about a children's writer who is in trouble for telling a child to take her clothes off. He insists that they were in a public setting and there were so many people around that it was obvious that he was kidding. Regardless, the school system has cancelled his other appearances.

I don't know if this was said in jest or not, but I wonder if he has ever heard of Don Imus. One must be careful about the comments that one makes, and this is just not something that should be said by an adult to a child.

Ministers must be careful today about the things they say, and the things they do. When I began my pastoral ministry in 1981 no one thought anything about a pastor visiting in the home of a woman or being behind closed doors in a counseling session. That is not the case today. Several years ago I made the decision to not be alone with a woman who was not my wife, and a few years later I decided that I would also not be alone with a child of either gender. If I had an appointment with a woman I made sure my wife was in the proximity of our office and that our door was cracked open. A better option now would be to install a window in the door that would enable a person to see anywhere inside the room.

Some judicatories offer Clergy Misconduct Prevention training, and I would highly recommend every clergy person to go through that training. The suggestions made in the training is all common sense stuff, but we need to be reminded of those things from time to time. If we let down our guard we may find ourselves in a position where we cannot defend our actions, and we may find ourselves involved in situations that will end our ministries and create other problems for ourselves.

I encourage everyone to find a Clergy Misconduct Prevention training session that is being offered and attend. Set down with your spouse and set some common sense guidelines and boundaries that will protect your reputation and keep you from making choices that could lead to problems. Watch the words you say to others to ensure that nothing you say might be misunderstood and cause offense. Let's use the common sense God has given us to ensure a long and productive ministry.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

10 Ways to Keep Me from Discovering Your Church

What happens if someone decides one week to visit your church next Sunday? Are you easy to find, or have you inadvertently put some barriers that make your church hard to find? Church Redone has a great post on 10 Ways to Keep Me from Discovering Your Church. Check it out and see how many of these 10 barriers are keeping people from your church.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


Today my former church had a pre-ordination council for their new pastor, Scott Elston. Several association churches were represented to interview Scott, and everyone involved in the council were very impressed with his passion for ministry and commitment to doing the will of God. Scott is a bivocational minister who has a job that often requires him to work overtime. The council asked the church to ensure that Scott does not over-extend himself and burn out which is good advice for every bivocational church.

The council brought back a flood of memories for me. Twenty-five years ago this same church ordained me to the ministry. It hardly seems possible that I have been in the ministry that long, and I had to double-check my ordination certificate to make sure that was right. I was also amazed to read the names of the people who signed my certificate. Some were at today's meeting as well, although many had gone on to be with the Lord or moved to other minstries in other parts of the country.

Scott will have what is called a local church ordination which is the same that I have. Neither of us meet the educational requirement for an ordination that is fully recognized in our denomination. That's fine with me as I believe that only God can call a person into the ministry and that a church has the authority to recognize that call through ordaining the person. Denominations can only recognize what God and the church has already done. While I disagree with any educational requirement that would have prevented Jesus Christ and the apostle Paul from being ordained (!), that's up to the denomination.

If any denominational leaders read this post, I would encourage you to re-examine your educational requirements for ordination, especially if you recognize the value of bivocational ministers. Many bivos will not meet those educational standards, and even many entering fully-funded ministry are opting for different degrees than seminaries traditionally offered ministerial students.

Even though my current ministry prevents me from attending our home church very often my wife and I remain members of our previous church. I am glad to have Scott as my pastor. He is a young man who is sold out to the will of God in his life, and I believe God will use him in a great way. May his tribe increase!

Good Day for a Motorcycle Ride

Saturday finally brought us a beautiful spring day with temperatures in the 70's here in southern Indiana. Usually, when the weather is nice it seems that I have a meeting to attend or some other ministry function, but this day my calendar was completely clear. My wife and I bought a few flowers and a couple of tomato plants to set out behind the house, and I got the yard mowed. One of our neighbors were working in their yard so we spent time visiting with them. After getting the tools put away it was time to get out the motorcycle.

We have a 2002 Goldwing 1800 that we do not get to ride nearly enough. It felt so good to get out on the road and just enjoy the wind and sun. We stayed off the main highways and rode in the country so we could watch the farmers working their fields. Several were out taking advantage of the nice weather. It felt so good to smell the wild onions and the freshly turned dirt.

We've only taken one long ride so far. Three years ago we rode out to Sturgis, SD about three weeks before the big motorcycle rally. I didn't think I wanted to be there for that! We wanted to make it a two week vacation, but after we got there the weather forcasters started predicting some bad storms would move into the area, so we came back home. It was still a great trip. We got to ride through the Badlands, see Mt. Rushmore, and ride through Sturgis and Deadwood. We saw some country we had never seen before, and we're anxious to go back.

Friday, April 20, 2007


Many business leaders have found the value in having a personal coach to help them set goals and develop the action plans necessary to achieve those goals. Some companies provide a coach for their senior leaders to help them lead the company. It is also a great tool when a person gets stuck and isn't sure which way to turn. Coaches can listen to the issues involved and help lead the person being coached to find the best solutions that will enable them to move forward.

Ministers are now finding that having a coach is also a good investment, especially if they or their churches are going through a time of transition. Coaches do not claim to have all the answers. Instead, coaches ask powerful questions to help guide a person to find the answer that is already inside them. Coaches also challenge the person being coached to set specific things he or she will do and then hold them accountable to do them before their next session.

I am in the process of being certified as a Christian coach. Many of the people I have coached are bivocational ministers from all over America. Each of these ministers felt stuck in some aspect of their lives or ministries, and we were able to help them find direction and set priorities for their lives. I would love to work with you if you feel that coaching could be beneficial to your continued growth.

Coaching sessions are normally done over the telephone so it doesn't matter how far away you may live from your coach. I live in southern Indiana, but my coach lives in Atlanta. Some of our sessions have occurred while she was sitting in airports waiting for her flight. My coach helped me find some clear direction regarding some issues that had me stuck, and it is exciting for me to be able to help others experience the same thing in their lives. If you are interested in learning more about coaching contact me at

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Latest Book Now Available

This week Judson Press released my latest book, The Work of the Bivocational Minister, as part of their "Work of the Church" series. This book provides very helpful information on different aspects of bivocational ministry. "This compact volume meets a critical need in the emergent church as it offers creative and practical insight into a time-tested, if not always honored, paradigm for ministry in the twenty-first century." (Back cover) The book should soon appear in Christian bookstores, and it may be ordered through and other on-line book retailers. As soon as I receive my shipment of books it will be available for purchase on my website,

This is the fourth book I have written about bivocational and small church ministry. The first book, The Tentmaking Pastor: The Joy of Bivocational Ministry, was published by Baker Books in 2000. Beacon Hill published The Bivocational Pastor: Two Jobs, One Ministry in 2004 and The Healthy Small Church: Diagnosis and Treatment for the Big Issues in 2005.

Please let me know if any of these books have helped you in your ministry.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

7 Benefits of Being a Bivocational Pastor

Mitch Martin publishes an excellent e-newsletter for bivocational ministers. In a recent edition he listed seven benefits of being a bivocational pastor that is great reading. You can read and subscribe to his newsletter at

Great Training Opportunity for Bivocational Ministers

I serve on the Church Relations Council for Campbellsville University. Today I attended the dedication service for their new chapel. Prior to this the students had to go to a nearby church for their convocations and chapel services. Now they have a beautiful new chapel that will be used for many activities at the school. It will also house the School of Theology.

While at the dedication service I had the opportunity to talk to the dean of the School of Theology who told me they plan to offer a 27 hour Certificate in Christian Ministry on-line starting in August of this year. This will be a great opportunity for bivocational ministers who have not had formal theological or ministry training. I do not have details of the classes that will be offered or the cost, but as soon as that information becomes available I will post it.

Campbellsville University is an excellent Christian school located in the small community of Campbellsville, Kentucky. If you have young people looking at colleges I would encourage you to suggest they check out Campbellsville. Most students qualify for tuition assistance making the school very affordable. For more information about the school check out their website at

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Time to Start A New Blog

Last year I began a blog for bivocational ministers and then stopped it when I began my DMin program. I really missed being able to share my thoughts about bivocational ministry, and life in general, with everyone and have decided to start the blog again. I feel that those of us in bivocational ministry can learn much from one another, and it is my prayer that this blog will become a community of people who can share with one another as we do the ministry God has given us.