Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Much of the first month of my sabbatical has been spent preparing for a couple of DMin classes I'm taking in August and September. The August class is about developing leaders, and the September class is about developing yourself. Both are necessary for effective bivocational ministry.

Bivocational ministers simply do not have time to do all the work that needs to be done in a church. Even if they did, it would not be biblical, and they would be depriving others in the church from the opportunity to use their gifts for ministry. Developing others in the church to do ministry should be one of the top priorities of a bivocational minister. Think about it like this: If you are the only person in the church doing ministry then there is one person doing ministry in one place and any given time. However, if you develop twenty other people in your church to use the gifts God has already given them, and they are doing ministry, your church now has 2o people ministering in 20 different places at a time. Which do you think is better?

It is also important that we continue to develop ourselves. I began pastoral ministry in 1981. I still remember how excited I was to serve God in that way. However, after a while ministry can become routine. The excitement begins to dim. It is very easy for a minister to coast and fall into a rut. Our people may be content with our faithfulness, but deep down we know we could do better.

God calls us to a life of continual growth. We can take the people He's given us only as far as we have traveled ourselves. It is important that we stay on the cutting edge of ministry, but it's even more important that we maintain a close relationship with God. I often say in my workshops that God called us to be something before He called us to do something. Our best ministry will flow out of a growing relationship with God.

Two questions. (1) Are you developing leaders in your church? (2) Are you continually developing yourself through a growing relationship with Jesus Christ?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

New Church Specialties

I am excited to announce that I have accepted a part-time position with New Church Specialties as a Senior Consultant. My primary responsibility will be to develop their ministry to bivocational and small church leaders and the churches they serve. NCS works with over 20 denominations and judicatories to provide consulting, teaching, and coaching services to them and their churches. This is a great opportunity to expand my ministry to bivocational ministers and their churches. You can learn more about NCS at their website.

The research I'm doing on my current sabbatical indicates that most denominations have the same issues with bivocational ministry. Although the denominational leaders with whom I've spoken all agree that bivocational ministry is increasing in their denominations, they have no intentional effort to identify persons who might be called to this ministry. I'm also finding big differences in how training is offered to these persons. Some denominations have very specific requirements for training while others make it available but do not require it. There are also differences between judicatories within the same denominations regarding training. Most denominational leaders also admit they have very poor records concerning their current bivocational ministers. Because there are often various ways a minister can be identified, not all bivocational ministers are identified as such.

It is my hope that my work with NCS can address some of these problems. Nearly everyone agrees that bivocational ministry is growing and that it is difficult to find leaders to fill this need. Believing that God is calling persons to these positions I believe that we must find better ways to help people identify that call on their lives and find better ways to train and develop these persons for ministry.

If I can be of assistance to your church, judicatory, or denomination, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The leadership baton

I have started reading The Leadership Baton and ran across this thought: "At some point, a leader believed in you enough to hand you the baton of leadership."

When I read that I immediately thought of the pastor who first asked if I had ever considered that God might be calling me into the ministry. We were traveling to a conference when I began sharing a thought I had about a sermon. That was when he asked about my sense of call. We discussed it as we drove to the conference and on the return trip. He talked to me about seminary, ordination, and some of what I could expect as a pastor. When we got back to the church he gave me a key to his office so I could use his library to study. Although I did not decide that God was in fact calling me into the ministry until he had left our church, Ron Williams was certainly instrumental in my becoming a minister. He believed in me enough to hand me the baton.

It has been my privilege to be able to encourage some folks to consider that God may be calling them into the ministry. I have also encouraged even more people to remain in ministry when they were going through rough times. These were individuals in whom I could see that they were being used by God. They were persons who seemed to have a passion to serve people and had gifts that God could use to minister to others.

One of the challenges facing the church today is that fewer people are sensing God's call on their lives. Fewer people today are entering pastoral ministry, and many leave soon after graduating from seminary. Even more troublesome is the difficulty in finding people to serve in smaller churches. I am convinced that one way to address this is that those of us in leadership must find others to whom we can pass the baton.

The quote above is true. Most of us are in ministry today because someone believed in us enough to challenge us to prayerfully consider if God might have a call on our lives. Now it is up to us to prayerfully look at people around us who might have the same call on their lives, and then we need to encourage them to consider if God is calling them to ministry. Who will be the next generation of leaders in our churches if we do not do this? To make the question more personal, who will be the next leader of your church if you do not intentionally pass the baton on to someone else?

In my opinion, our first responsibility is to win people to Jesus Christ and lead them into a life of discipleship. Our second responsibility is to raise up the next generation of leaders of the church. It is God who calls a person to this task, but we have the responsibility to help them identify that call and to encourage them to pursue it.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Been away

I'm sorry I haven't posted anything for a few days, but my wife and I have been visiting our son and his family in Philly. We had a great time. Our grandson's baseball team was in a tournement and played Friday and Saturday. Although they ended up losing both games, he played well. Our granddaughter had a dive meet as well, and it was fun watching her do the dives. We had attended a dive meet last year, and it was great to see the improvement she has made. Our youngest grandson scored a lot of points with Granny with his grins and activity. It was a great time. I'll have something to post later this week.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


Greg Ogden writes in Unfinished Business: Returning the Ministry to the People of God:

An equipping leader is fundamentally a player-coach. A coach has a game plan, a vision of how the game can be played. He or she also is vitally concerned that all the players on the team are valued for their contribution and growing in their giftedness so that they can make the maximum contribution to the whole team.

I think this is a very good description of what a pastor is called to do. Our task is to equip the members of our congregations so they can use the gifts God has given them in ministry. As more of our folks use their gifts the ministry of our churches will expand and impact the lives of more of the people in our communities.

Admittedly, this is a different model than many of our churches are used to. They are used to having a pastor who provided ministry while they sat back and evaluated how well we did. It will take some time to turn around the thinking in these churches so that people begin to see that God has gifted them to do ministry and has called them to that ministry the same as He called those of us who serve as pastors. The old preacher/teacher model that many of us were taught will not be able to help our churches make this shift. That is why I think the player/coach model is a much more biblical model for pastors in the 21st century. I also believe it is essential that those in bivocational ministry adopt this model for ministry. To have an effective ministry to our communities we have to have every member serving as a minister.

Ogden's book can help a pastor lead his or her church into the transition to make this happen.