The Underpaid Pastor: Some Things to Consider

This might be one of the hardest places on earth to be…to be pastoring a church and not getting paid enough for all the work you do.  I know of one man who pastors a very small church and he gets paid nothing. They use their offerings to pay their utilities and that is all that they have. They don’t have enough to pay him anything.  That is as underpaid as you can get. Others get paid very little so some churches help their pastor by giving him produce from their gardens; some can help him with auto repairs or mechanical work. Still others help them pay some of their utilities or help them defray the cost of health insurance.  A large portion of those pastors who are underpaid are also bi-vocational and I know how hard that is. This is not for the spiritually weak or those who are uncertain about their calling.  The man of God who pastors a church for little or nothing has to rely on and trust in God more than almost anyone else, so what advice could we give to an underpaid or non-paid pastor?  What could you tell them?

Treasures in Heaven

It doesn’t help in the present time of course but we know that our full rewards are not coming in this life. I am not saying that there aren’t any rewards or benefits for a pastor who is underpaid or not paid at all today because there is a joy in finding what a man of God is called to do and then being able to do that. What some might call the “little things” that happen in church and among the congregation have been some of the most joyous occasions that I have ever had in my life.  A pastorate is unlike most vocations…it is an unquenchable and irrepressible call from God that cannot be resisted and there is no joy in doing anything else. We work for our Lord but we don’t receive the full rewards until He returns to give to every man his treasure from what he has done for the Lord here on earth.  Sadly, I know of a couple of pastors who are pastoring a church while being at the poverty level but you couldn’t tell that from the way they fulfill their calling or the joy they portray in their lives.  They have already discovered that things do not bring happiness. God’s goal in our life is not happiness but holiness and there is joy in teaching others about the deep things of God.

That Someday is Not Today

Someday Christ will return and say “Well done, good and trustworthy servant! Since you’ve been trustworthy with a small amount, I’ll put you in charge of a large amount. Come and share your master’s joy” (Matt 25:21). Can any amount of money or things compare with the joy of that moment?  No!  Jesus tells us that “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much” (Luke 16:10).  I believe those who will receive the greatest rewards are those who have little to work with…those who labor for the Lord and yet are unseen by most people and doing things for Him in relative secrecy.  Our Lord will tell them “I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me” (Luke 22:29). God proclaims “Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children” (Rev 21:7) and “To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne” (Rev3:21).  The truth is that “Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus” (1 Tim 3:13).

Ask and you shall Receive

There is no shame in asking for help from the congregation. For example, I know of an unpaid pastor who had a mechanical problem with his truck.  He had to swallow his pride and simply ask for help.  There must have been someone in his small church that had mechanical aptitude or skill that they could use to help him.  Maybe they had the tools he needed to fix the problem. Maybe they even offered to work on his truck to fix it.  Maybe an underpaid or non-paid pastor can suggest taking an offering of canned and non-perishable foods, or even a monetary offering.  Many churches that have a non-paid or underpaid pastor could have at least some members who could offer some kind of assistance.  This type of pastor is also likely a bi-vocational pastor.  Maybe someone in the congregation could help him find a better paying job…maybe a place where one of the church members works.  Above all, ask for prayers so you can have wisdom in running a household with little or next to nothing.  James said “You do not have, because you do not ask” (James 4:2b) so why not ask?  What’s the harm?  Who cares what people will think?  Ultimately you answer to God, not that you aren’t responsible or will be held accountable to the church also, but your vocational calling is from God and you are responsible to Him. You can certainly ask for commodities if they are available in your community as they are in many. These are governmental food commodities that are distributed around the nation that are sometimes available for poor or low income families.

New is Better than Used

There is nothing wrong with buying used things like clothing or appliances.  I have found that some of the best clothing, tools, and appliances are found in thrift stores and at garage sales. The old phrase “They don’t make em’ like they used to” is certainly truer today than in the past.  Again, the underpaid or non-paid pastor might have to swallow his pride and consider buying those things that they need that are used.  Newer is not always better but sometimes used is actually better than new.  Maybe someone in your congregation even has a rental home that they can get for you at a lower price. I suggest the congregation knows about the pastor’s financial difficulties and tries to help them out when and where they can. They should remember that the pastor is laboring in the Word for them.  Paul states “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching” (1 Tim 5:17). Paul said “Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you” (1 Thess 5:12). Remember that “the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages” (1 Tim 5:18).

Conclusion

I would do anything to help a man who is serving the Lord and is just getting by on next to nothing.  I know how hard this is.  I have been there. Feel free to add some advice or offer a suggestion in the comments below to encourage the underpaid pastor.  Please pastor, stay in the Word regularly and consistently, be in prayer continually, knowing that you are really fully dependent upon God for all your sustenance, don’t be afraid to ask the congregation for help when you need it because the person giving receives a blessing, and newer is not always better.  Finally, know that you have the greatest reward yet to come.  You can say what Paul said in his final days, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing” (2 Tim 4:7-8) and so it will be “when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory” (1 Pet 5:4).

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

7 Traits Of A Great Youth Pastor

Any Youth Pastor has a difficult job. They are in charge of teaching the Word of God to the younger generation, many of whom do not care about church or Jesus at all. The majority of young people have passion for things like entertainment and their social lives, not Jesus Christ. This makes the youth Pastor’s job very challenging, but their role in the church is instrumental. Not everyone is capable of filling that role; a person who takes up the Youth Pastor job needs to be called by God and have a personality that fits into the group as a whole. But what kind of personality fits? Here are 7 traits of a great Youth Pastor.

1. Fun

A Youth Pastor cannot, under any circumstances, be boring. It will be difficult enough to keep students’ attention, let alone if you’re boring and monotonous with the way you speak. The best Youth Pastor’s I’ve ever come in contact with all had one thing in common: they were fun people. They enjoyed playing games, joking around, and sometimes just being plain weird. This helps them, more often than not, connect with the students and grab their attention. Students love to have fun, so when their Youth Pastor enjoys creating fun studies and games, it makes it all the more enjoyable for the students.

2. Integrity

Every Pastor needs integrity and the Youth Pastor is not exempt. They have to set the example for their students, no matter what that means. They are put under a microscope in all things. If the Youth Pastor isn’t married and starts dating someone, he needs to make sure to have boundaries in place and accountability all over. The students will be following the Youth Pastor’s every move. Ultimately, they will see anything that the pastor does as permission for them to do, too.

3. Know the Word of God

The Youth Pastor needs to know the Word of God incredibly well, allowing them to answer any student’s questions straight from the Scriptures. Kids in Junior High and High School are often full of questions, because they are finally coming to the deciding point in their lives: will they believe in Christ or not? As a much younger kid, they typically believed anything that their parents did. In other words, now that they are older, they are starting to make their faith their own—or not.

4. Communicate Effectively

A Youth Pastor cannot speak over the student’s heads, but he also can’t speak in such a simplistic way that they never grow further. It’s definitely a hard balance to master, but it’s one that every Youth Pastor must strive for. The main goal of the pastor should be to equip the students in the knowledge of Christ, but this won’t happen if they can’t hold the students’ attention and communicate the gospel in a way that will make them understand.

5. Love

It’s really no secret at all — kids need love. No matter their ages, they need to feel like someone values them, cares for them, and loves them unconditionally. The Youth Pastor needs to show the kids he cares by talking with them, texting them, taking them out, and more than anything: listening to them. It’s not always the job for the pastor to speak. Sometimes the best way to minister to anybody (especially students) is to just listen to what they have to say.

6. Patience

If you’re a Youth Pastor and you are very impatient, it may be time to move on from your role. You’re bound to have your patience tested by numerous kids. The fact is, they can deliberately annoy you to get under your skin, or just be rude to you and be ungrateful. When they do this, if you respond in anger or frustration, they may completely tune out any messages that you share or anything that you try to tell them. After all, they may think, why should they listen to the guy who gets angry at them all the time?

7. Creativity

You don’t need the technological know-how to be a Youth Pastor, but creativity definitely helps. From creating new games to fun sermon series, the Youth Pastor should strive to engage the students in any way possible. Kids won’t respond to lectures, but they will respond to fun Bible studies. They may not remember a boring sermon, but they will remember creative things that you do to make Bible studies fun—whether that be reenacting the Bible story they’re teaching, or having some fun videos to accompany the message.

Final Thoughts

I have the utmost respect for Youth Pastors. They have an incredibly difficult, yet rewarding, job. Training up the next generation is no small thing! So, do you have any other important traits that a Youth Pastor must have? Share it in a comment below!

Choosing the best live streaming provider for your church

By Rob Desilets

If you are planning to live stream your church services there are many important factors to consider when evaluating a service provider.

Support Response Time

Whether your viewers are across the globe, at home sick, or on vacation, they will rely on your live stream to be on time and perfect each week. Pricing and features do not matter if your stream is down and no one is immediately available to help you troubleshoot and get your stream back online quickly.

There are a lot of moving parts with live streaming – all of which can fail at any time. The stream starts at your computer or hardware encoder, then over the Internet to the service provider’s data center and ultimately arrives at your viewers’ device. When selecting a provider, verify they have technical support staff that have training with your streaming software or encoder, networking, and web development (for embedding). Confirm they respond quickly – especially on Wednesday night, Saturday, Sunday and Holidays such as Easter and Christmas. During the trial period open a support ticket before or during a live broadcast and start your stopwatch. If you don’t get a response within 5 minutes cross them off the list. Assuming you do get a fast response, verify they can remote in to your computer using commercial support software and properly diagnose the problem. You will have many other tasks during a live broadcast and need to make sure someone from the service provider is ready the moment you need them.

Flat-rate Unlimited Streaming

Live streaming is based on transferring video and audio data (also referred to as bandwidth) from your church to the streaming provider and then from their systems to your viewers. The quantity of data transferred is based on the number of viewers watching and the quality of the stream being distributed. For example, a high definition stream will transfer more data than a mobile stream. Some providers will charge you based on the monthly data transferred (usually per Gigabyte). Others will charge you based on viewer hours (1 viewer watching for 1 hour = 1 viewer hour). This model can get very expensive because as your regular viewership grows so will your bill each month. Choose a provider that has a flat-rate unlimited streaming plan. This will guarantee you pay the same amount each month regardless how many viewers you have. Inclement weather, special events, and a growing online community will all increase your viewership – which is a good thing – but it should not increase your bill.

Full Functionality Trial

Every streaming provider should provide at least a 30 day full functionality free trial. If you need more than 30 days they should extend the trial period as long as you need to thoroughly complete your evaluation. It’s important that the trial period is full functionality so you can properly test all of the features you plan to use in production. The trial should include embedding an advertisement free player in your own web site and app, rapid-response technical support, and unlimited bandwidth. During the trial period some providers will only allow a certain amount of bandwidth and trigger advertisements when exceeded. Others will not allow embedding in your web site, offer limited or no technical support, and restrict features. If any of these are true with your provider, cross them off the list.

The trial should also include complimentary setup with knowledgeable technicians who can remote in to your streaming computer and help you get the broadcast software or device configured and tested. They should also assist in embedding the player on your web site and answer all of your questions. When the setup is complete you should be 100% confident in your first production live stream.

Advertisement Free

Someone is paying for the resources your live stream is using – if it’s not you it’s an advertiser. Most, if not all, of the free streaming services online will place advertisements before, during, and after your broadcast. You have no control of the timing or content of these advertisements and much of the content is very inappropriate for church broadcasts. Choose a streaming provider that has absolutely no advertising. It’s better to not stream at all than to stream a series of inappropriate advertisements – it’s a sure way to drive viewers away.

Embedding

Embedding is a term that describes putting another company’s web component/widget on your web site. Example widgets are a countdown timer, a live stream or archive player, or an online donation button. Many of your viewers will watch your live broadcast from a web browser on their computer or mobile device. It’s important that they are viewing the live stream on your church web page and not a 3rd party web page. Once they leave your page you have no control over what they are seeing (advertisements, spyware, etc). If the provider you are evaluating does not provide you the ability to embed an advertisement-free player in your own web site they should be crossed off the list. Some providers will have a low cost service plan but only until you move to the more expensive (and non-refundable) plan will you get to embed the player on your web site. The player should be embeddable with all price plans.

Viewable on All Devices

Your live stream and archives should be viewable from a computer (PC or Mac), mobile device (iPhone/iPad/Android), custom app, and set-top devices such as Roku. Your viewer’s device should be auto detected and the live stream started automatically. In addition, your provider should support adaptive bitrate streaming. Adaptive bitrate streaming is a technology where you broadcast your live stream in varying qualities and your viewer’s device will automatically detect the best stream quality based on their network speed – giving them the best viewing experience without any pauses or buffering.

No Contracts / No Commitments

A live streaming provider should earn your business each and every month. A company should not require you to sign a contract or offer discounted pricing only if you agree to a certain time commitment. You should be able to cancel anytime without any penalty.

Annual Review

Advances in computer hardware, software, and networks all push live streaming technology forward. As these technologies advance your live streaming provider should be rolling out new features that allow your church to stay on the leading edge. Perform an annual comparison between your current streaming provider and other providers in the market to make sure they are staying competitive with respect to features, pricing, and support. Switching streaming providers is as easy as reconfiguring the broadcast software and swapping out the embed player.

Conclusion

Live streaming enables elderly, deployed military, college students, vacationers, and potential new members to stay connected. If you select the correct provider live streaming will be easy to set up and your weekly streaming experience will be pleasant for you and your viewers.

When selecting a provider make sure they have the following features at a minimum: unlimited bandwidth and viewers, adaptive bitrate streaming, live and archive player embedding, custom Roku channel, no advertising, no contacts or commitments, viewing on all devices, automatic archiving, mobile app integration, advanced analytics, Vimeo and YouTube integration, offline video loops and simulated live broadcasts, multi-campus DVR, podcasting and most importantly outstanding support and customer service.

About the Author

Rob Desilets has over 20 years of experience in software development and is one of the founding partners of churchstreaming.tv which  provides affordable live streaming solutions to churches of all sizes with a focus on outstanding customer service. He is well versed in many programming languages, operating systems, and streaming technologies including the Wowza Streaming Engine. Rob holds a bachelor of science in Computer Systems Engineering from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

When Rob is not tinkering with computers he can be found in freefall above the earth as he is an avid skydiver with over 1500 jumps and has participated in many state formation skydiving records. To see some videos check out his web site at skydiving.photography.

Connect with Rob:
Email: rob@yourstreamlive.com
Web: churchstreaming.tv

5 Important Things To Include On Your Church Website

In the digital age, there may be no greater avenue for information than the World Wide Web. Traditionally, however, the church as a whole has done a poor job at adapting towards an online presence. Sure, there are a handful of churches that do an excellent job, but there are thousands that do not. Many churches do not have a website, while others may have one but not utilize it very well. In fact, even seemingly well-to-do churches struggle with what information to put online and how to do it effectively. For churches to get better at creating an online presence, they need to know what kind of content to put on a website. So, here are 5 important things to include on your church website.

1. Statement of Faith

Every church should make their statement of faith visible and easily accessible. If part of a denomination, chances are the information is available on a main website for the whole denomination or network, but it still might be good to summarize what the statement of faith is in an original and unique way that can speak to the specific context that the local church is in. Without a statement of faith, it is hard for people to know the churches official stance on doctrine, which can deter newcomers or enable the pastor to have a free reign of speech in the pulpit with no accountability.

2. Sermons from the Lead Pastor

The Pastor’s teachings should be easy to access on the web. This may be a link to a podcast, but the point is to just make sure that the teachings of the pastor are accessible and preferably free. This helps people go back and listen to past messages, share the link with friends, bring in new attendees, and has the potential to spread the gospel even further. If the church desires to sell the messages in CD or Mp3, that information should be up there, too. But, even if the church decides to do this, it’s a great idea to allow free streaming or a downloadable podcast for the messages.

3. Contact Info For Pastors

People who come to the website will undoubtedly have questions or concerns that they may want to talk about. For that, it might be good to have the pastors email addresses and phone extensions (if applicable) to provide church members with easy access to their pastors. They will be able to ask theological questions, request prayer, or ask for counseling. If the church decides not to have any pastors contact info, perhaps a specific email address should be made available for any questions.

4. Videos

Nothing spreads quicker around the web than videos and visual media. If at all possible, find a way of creating original content to put up on the website. This can be a welcome video, quick devotionals from the pastor(s), or recap video of church events. This type of media gives members the opportunity to watch and retain valuable information, and then pass it alone to others (even outside of the church) by spreading on social media. If professional videos cannot be done, sometimes a webcam video or iphone can work great. Unless it’s really horrible, something is usually better than nothing.

5. Articles and devotions

Instead of just utilizing the website as a buffet of advertisements for upcoming events, it would be beneficial to consistently put freshly written materials on the site. So long as they are fairly short, there’s a good chance it will be read. If anyone on staff or volunteering in the church is gifted in writing, they may be able to do this. All that is necessary is to write up short (maybe 500 words) devotionals, and once in a while throw in an article regarding a current event topic or recent church event. Doing this will make the website far more valuable; it won’t just be advertisements for upcoming events; it will be things that speak of the gospel and can potentially change lives.

Conclusion

Churches must realize how valuable their website can be. It can foster an online community within the church and enable people outside of the church to see what it is all about. Attendees will enjoy spreading information from the site on their social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and even Instagram. Of course, this can allow the local community to hear about the church and potentially come out to visit. In many ways, an online presence has, in some ways, replaced the power of word of mouth. Have any examples of great church websites? Or, perhaps you’d like to add to this list? Just leave it in a comment below!

A Church’s Guide to Using Twitter

You’ve probably heard of Twitter, even if you’ve never used it. It’s a “microblogging” social media site, where posts stream by in real time and are limited to 140 characters. The site is especially useful for quick updates and news, sharing links, and conversation.

Can you and your church use Twitter effectively in your outreach strategy? I believe the answer is yes. I have listed here a few points to consider if you’re thinking about using Twitter for your church.

Twitter should not be your only online tool

As much as I personally love Twitter, and believe that it can be useful for churches, I think it’s important to use something in addition to Twitter. Your church should already have a website and/or a Facebook page. The reason I say this is because far more people use Facebook rather than Twitter and they are more familiar with general websites than Twitter. Having an online presence in addition to your Twitter profile not only helps you cast a wider net, as it were, but it provides a more effective “home base.” Twitter is not the best place to permanently display your mission statement and core beliefs or a map and parking instructions. Put those things on your website or Facebook page, and then use Twitter for updates and news items that are constantly changing.

Use hashtags

The hashtag symbol # is used on Twitter to search by a particular topic or keyword. Using the # symbol in front of a word or phrase makes your posts easy to find by anyone searching by that hashtag. Do some research on Twitter to find some hashtags that fit with your church’s mission or programs. Some popular Christian hashtags are: #churches, #church, #pastor, #ChurchLeadership, #Bible, #nonprofits, #prayer, #missions.

Follow your congregation and leaders

Of course you want people to follow your church on Twitter, but one of the best ways to do this is to follow other people first. Start with your church family. The church’s Twitter account should be following church members and leaders who are on Twitter. You can promote your new Twitter account on Facebook, in the bulletin, or make an announcement from the pulpit – whatever is most appropriate for your church. But let people know that the church is on Twitter, and if a member follows you, be sure to follow them back.

Follow other churches, ministries, and evangelists

Once you’ve gotten a little bit of a following built internally, start reaching out. Of course you want to impact your community and gain new members, but most individuals still don’t know who you are or why they should follow your church. Start following and interacting with other churches in your area, and other ministries and organizations that your church supports. Many will follow you back, and from there, other people on Twitter who follow these other ministries will then have an opportunity to see your profile.

Interaction

As you’re building your following by first following others, take some time to communicate with them, too. It doesn’t have to be a lot – the occasional retweet or comment on a post goes a long way in establishing yourself as a reputable, follow-worthy Twitter profile. Also, be reciprocal – follow people back if they follow you first (within reason, of course, and in keeping with the image that your church wants to display online.) Reply to those who reach out to you first, and thank people when they retweet one of your posts. Interaction is one of the strengths of Twitter.

Post frequently and consistently

I personally am a big proponent of consistency. I believe that consistency in your social media strategy – whether it’s with Twitter or Facebook or anything else – will ultimately take you farther than inconsistent flash and pizazz. I don’t think that there’s a perfect formula for how often your church should be posting; whether it’s once a day or five times a day, just try to be reasonably consistent about it. Do keep in mind, though, that tweets scroll through the newsfeed very quickly; older tweets aren’t always easily found again, even with a hashtag.

Consistency with your posting and interacting shows people that you’re committed and trustworthy enough to be reliable and predictable on Twitter. And in today’s world, reliability and trustworthiness on social media counts for a lot. It may not be fair, but a lot of people judge an organization first by their representation on Twitter and Facebook and the like, so having a consistent Twitter feed can only benefit you.

Consult others

Finally, if you have questions about how to successfully implement Twitter for your church, just ask around! There are probably more than a few people in your congregation who already use Twitter and would be happy to make suggestions or help out.

Twitter is a powerful social media tool that can boost your church in a new way. If you’re ready to take your church’s online presence to the next level, it’s worth checking out.

7 Traits in a Great Church Secretary

Every church of sufficient size needs a great church secretary.  Here are 7 traits to look for.

Confidentiality

Every church secretary needs to hold to strict confidentiality.  When someone calls in to speak with the pastor about a sensitive subject that they want to keep private, a church secretary must treat this in the strictest confidence.  They are accountable for the messages that he or she has been entrusted with. There is nothing more destructive to a church than sharing with others those things spoken in private. The secretary is often privy to most of the things that are happening in the church and he or she must keep in the strictest confidence those things that are only between the pastor or church leader and the person asking for help or leaving the message.

Prayer Requests

Too often, prayer requests turn into gossip.  This is the reason that many of our prayer requests are given as “unspoken needs.”  There have been instances where prayer requests sent into the secretary have been passed along a prayer chain but quickly became bits of gossip that spread throughout the entire church.  How sinful it is to have someone send in a prayer request over something that’s very serious to them and then people use that prayer request as gossip.  I am sure there have been instances where prayer requests were sent in to the church secretary and by the time the last person on the prayer chain got it, it had morphed into something entirely different.  When prayer requests are turned in, the last thing they want is for it to end up like “Hey, did you hear about so and so…they have such and such…and I’m not surprised because…”  Church secretaries are privy to a lot of information that no one else is so they must be responsible in how they treat those prayer requests.

Organized

One of the gifts of the Spirit is that of administration.  My wife is such an organized person and that comes in handy when it’s time to do our taxes.  I don’t have this gift and if it were up to me then we’d be in big trouble when the time comes for us to file our tax returns.  Not everyone is well suited to being a secretary.  Not everyone has the gift of administration. Just because someone desires to be church secretary that doesn’t mean that they are qualified.  What if they put off paying the bills or keeping records of expenses?  The church secretary is accountable to the church and so any church secretary, even if they don’t have the gift of administration, must be organized enough to ensure that when need, things get done, bills are paid, and records are easily accessible.   It’s not always the case but frequently you can tell how well someone is organized by looking at their desk or workspace.

First Impressions

First impressions are truly lasting impressions and so when someone calls into the church, the first person they usually speak with is the church secretary.  That’s why it’s vital to have him or her show godly patience, kindness, and mannerisms.  If a secretary is short with people he or she can give the impression that the whole church must be like that.  Who wants to go to a church where the secretary seems bothered by your call?  Why would anyone want to attend a church where they have been treated rudely or as if their time is more important than the person calling in?

Professional Appearances

You might not think that appearances are all that important but if someone walks into the church, the way the church secretary looks can either help or hurt the image of the church. A friendly and professional appearance and attitude can be the make or break decision as to whether someone wants to attend the church or to be associated with it.  Does the secretary smile when someone comes in?  Are they cordial or are they too informal?  Are they pleasant in nature and easy to speak with?  As with the paragraph above, first impressions can make all the difference.

Responsible

A church is not a business but in many ways, the administrative side should be run like one.  A church secretary, if having the responsibility, should ensure that timely payments are made, that all bills are paid when due, that all records are kept in order in the event that a church board or the pastor needs them.  The last thing you want is to have the power shut off or the water bill unpaid with vacation Bible school coming up.  Not only that, there should be accuracy in church bulletins, no spelling or grammar errors in church correspondence, and no mistakes in the church’s financial records or ledgers.

Computer Savvy

This might not seem important at first glance but today’s technology often requires good computer skills, experience, and knowledge.  Many church calendars are kept by a computer software program.  The secretary should also ensure that there is adequate protection from virus’s and malicious spyware and other such computer threats.  It’s so easy for someone to send what looks like a legitimate email when in fact, it contains a dangerous virus. They should be able to have at least a working knowledge of how the church’s computer system works, how to update the software, and make certain that there is always up-to-date internet security protection.

Conclusion

There are other important traits not mentioned here that a church secretary must have.  Maybe you could add one in the comments section below.  They should have good people skills, typing and administrative skills, good communication skills, good computer skills, but also be responsible.  They must be someone you can depend on. Someone that will hold to strict confidentiality and that portrays a professional appearance and makes a good, first impression and one that is organized and accurate.  A good church secretary can be a great help or a huge hindrance to any church.

5 Sermon Illustrations About Change

We are commanded to change and be converted so what are some great sermon illustrations about change?

The Damascus Road

What better picture is there of change than that of Paul who was converted on the Damascus Road?  Paul who had been a former persecutor of Christians became the greatest missionary for Christ.  Is there any greater missionary that has ever lived next to Christ Himself?  I doubt it.  Even his name was changed from Saul (which means destroyer) to Paul (which means small).   When he was struck down on the Damascus Road he was blinded but weren’t we all blind before we could see the gospel?  This shows that salvation is not only of the Lord but from the Lord for no one really seeks after God (Rom3:11) and in fact “God looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God” (Psalm 53:2) because “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Rom 3:10).  It was the Lord Who said “he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15).  It was “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor 4:4) so it must be the God of heaven that must allow us to see the glorious light of the gospel of God. God is the One Who saves and so we have nothing to brag about (Eph 2:8-9).

From Mortality to Immortality

Paul wrote to the church at Philippi that “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself” (Phil 3:20-21) so “just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man” (I Cor 15:49). The fact is “What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body” (1 Cor 15:42-44) and “Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven” (1 Cor 15:49). This change must be because “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor 15:50) “For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting” (1 Cor 15:53-55)?

From Dead to Living

When Jesus heard about Lazarus being sick He waited and many must have wondered like Mary and Martha did, why He didn’t immediately come. When He finally arrived after Lazarus had died He told Martha “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this” (John 11:25-26)?  Martha believed in the resurrection but what Jesus was trying to tell her was that for one thing, Lazarus would be raised again.  No, not at the resurrection at this point but Jesus was about to raise him from the dead, even though he had been dead for 4 days.   When Jesus said “Lazarus, come forth,” Lazarus came out of the grave still wrapped in burial cloth.  I believe that if Jesus hadn’t specified Lazarus by name, all who were in their graves would have come forth.  Jesus as God has the power to bring the dead to life and it is all a work of God.  Jesus didn’t ask Lazarus to participate or say “Lazarus if you’ll move your little toe I’ll do the rest” so we understand that salvation is 100% of God and not of man.  We couldn’t make ourselves come to life any more than Lazarus could. Just like Lazarus, we were dead in our sins as Paul wrote “even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ-by grace you have been saved” (Eph 2:5) because “you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses” (Col 2:13).  Since all of us had earned the wages of eternal death by our sins (Rom 6:23) we had to be made alive by Christ’s supernatural work of redemption on the cross because “in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor 5:22).  That is one of the greatest changes there is.

The Renewing of the Mind

The natural man cannot see or understand the things of God and “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor2:14).  That is because “The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit” (1 Cor2:14). This is why we need our minds renewed by God’s Spirit.  Paul tells the church at Rome to “be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom 12:2).  The Greek word for “transformed” is “metamorphoō” which means “to change into another form, to transform, to transfigure” and is the exact same Greek word used at the transfiguration of Jesus Christ.  Can you guess the root word for “metamorphoō?”  It is where we get the English word “metamorphisis” from.  When our mind is transformed, it undergoes a metamorphosis just like a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. It is the same insect but there is a profound change. So too does the person who has repented and trusted in Christ.  They become a new creature or new man or woman in Christ (2 Cor 5:17).  They change from a child of the Devil to a child of God.

From Fishermen to Fishers of Men

There is not much to compare with the changes that made a few, uneducated fishermen into bold witnesses for Christ. After Jesus had been crucified, the disciples were afraid and went  into hiding but after the resurrection and they received the full measure of the Holy Spirit, they became bold witnesses for Christ and were unafraid of persecution or even death.  What changed these men from being fearful for their lives and deniers of Christ at His mock and illegal trial? It was the fact that Jesus was raised from the dead and Jesus opening up the Scriptures to their understanding.  Who was bolder than Peter on the Day of Pentecost when he proclaimed the gospel and told those who were witnesses of Jesus’ crucifixion that it was they who murdered the Lord?  Peter declared “Therefore let all the house of Israel know beyond a doubt that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ” and “when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:36-28).  Peter went from denying Jesus three times to proclaiming Jesus as the Christ to all who would listen.

Conclusion

God is the agent of change in our lives and this change comes when we repent and trust in Christ.  Unless we change our mind or repent, we cannot be saved. Make sure if you preach the gospel you tell people that they are cut off from a holy God and have the wrath of God abiding on them (John 3:18, 36b) unless they believe for there is no other way for them to be saved (Acts 4:12) than to believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (John 3:16-17).

Here are some more sermon ideas: Sermons on Grace

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

5 Ways Your Church Can Help Feed the Poor

Have you ever considered different ways that you can feed the poor in your community?  Here are five ways that your church can do that.

Potluck Saturday

We have a lot of great cooks in our church. We are very blessed so I want to share with you an idea on how you can feed the poor in your community.  Post flyers in the local thrift shop, the local laundry mat, or any place that you believe most of the community will see them and invite them to come to a potluck dinner on a certain Saturday or even a Sunday afternoon.  You could also find people on the street and personally hand deliver them.  Ask your church members to consider signing up for this and have them fill out a signup sheet for what they plan to bring.  It’s a great way to share the gospel too because you can talk to them about how they can never hunger or thirst again (John 6:35).

Clothing Giveaway

Every once in a while we have a clothing giveaway but the thought had never occurred to me that we can offer them a meal too.  Most of us have closets full of clothing that we will never wear or haven’t worn for a long time.  I heard the rule of how to know what to give away and what to keep. Take a look in your closet and if you see anything that you haven’t worn in the last 12 months then you probably won’t wear it in the next.  Now, publicize this event and offer a hot meal to go alone with it.   In many parts of the nation there is always the need for winter or fall clothing.  Some of those who are hungry today and are homeless have to find shelter where they can and they probably can’t remember the last time they had a hot meal.   Offering a hot meal at the clothing giveaway will warm their insides and outside at the same time and it’s a great opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Bar-B-Q in the Park

Our church elder is one of the best cooks I know and he loves to bar-b-q so what better way to bring in those who don’t have much to eat than to have a cook out in the city park (if its allowed).  Our local city park has several outdoor bar-b-q grills already and so all we need to do is to buy the briquettes and starter fluid and buy some hamburgers or hotdogs and the smell may draw people in.  Many of the poorest of the poor live outdoors or if they do have a home they have a limited income so put out some flyers or advertise in the local paper about a bar-b-q in the park that’s open to the public.  You could even ask other churches to help participate in this and make it a broader, more comprehensive community event.

Dry Goods Donations

We have a lot of food in our church’s pantry and probably more than we will ever use.  We have a lot of canned goods and dry goods too so I thought that we might try to give away some canned goods along with our clothing giveaway every year.  I thought that we might even offer to give them a can opener too if they didn’t already have one.   Anyone who is struggling financially usually comes to our clothing giveaway but maybe the next time we should offer them some canned goods to go along with their clothing.  The Boy Scouts usually take collections during the fall for one of their campaigns to feed the poor so why can’t we do this and as they do? We can publicize this event by going door to door in the community. Tell them that these items are going to be given away to local citizens who have a need and tell them where and when it is in case they want to come and participate.

Invite Someone

About every other month our church has a potluck meal after services.  It allows us to have fellowship in the dining hall and to get to know one another better so the next time your church has a potluck, challenge each member to invite at least one person to it.  Even if they can’t or don’t want to make it to church services, invite them to come at a certain time to enjoy a hot meal.  If they don’t have a ride then offer to pick them up and bring them.  If everyone in our church invited at least one person to a potluck meal, I believe we’d have more people coming to enjoy the fellowship.  Even if they don’t accept, at least we are being generous enough by going out of our way to invite them.  This shows that we at least care enough to try and include them.

Conclusion

Jesus equated doing for others as doing it for Him when He said “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Matt 25:35) because “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matt 25:40).  James brought attention to this area when he wrote “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?  If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food,  and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?  So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:14-17).  Talk is cheap but actions speak louder than words so make your actions speak into the hearts of the poor the fact that God is being shed abroad in your hearts and that you want to help those who are unable to help themselves.  Maybe they’ll come and be filled and by chance, take in the Bread of Life which satisfies forever.  As Jesus said “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).

More things your church members can do: Get Involved in Church

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

How to Address Dangerous Behaviors in Good Kids

By Drew Read

“Not my child.” “I did everything right.” “We’re a good family.” Good intentions should produce good results. At least, as parents, that’s what we’d like to believe. No parent thinks that our son or daughter could deviate from the path we have laid out for them. We assume that if we discipline our children and take them to church, they will turn out the way we had always hoped. At the very least, they will be well-behaved. But it seems that is not always the case. Between culture, technology and a natural propensity toward rebellion, our well-intentioned formulas sometimes result in less-than-perfect outcomes. So, what’s the solution? What do we do when our very best efforts just aren’t good enough?

The reality is, good kids can make bad choices. Today’s teens are caught in a quandary of a desire for individuality and a need to fit in. The added effect of seeking affirmation through likes and retweets creates a culture where our teens’ identities are tied to a number displayed under a photo or post. The need to be “liked”—literally and figuratively—can launch our adolescents into a dangerous pursuit of acceptance that ends in emptiness and despair, a reality every child faces.

If this were just about a popularity contest, parents wouldn’t have too much to worry about. Who doesn’t want to be wanted? Who doesn’t like to be liked? However, when the desire for others’ approval escalates to the point of motivating a teen to make unwise and dangerous decisions, we as parents have a problem. That’s why proactive parenting, not just well-intentioned parenting, is more crucial than ever.

High-risk behavior in teens, such as the use of alcohol and drugs, sexual activity and violence, is many times not a result of bad parenting or reserved for kids labeled as bad, but rather unintentional parenting. Here are some tips to become more informed and involved in the lives of teens you parent, lead or teach. These pointers will help you love them well and prevent them from harmful life choices:

1.  Know the warning signs. Indicators include showing little regard for parents’ rules or feelings, talking back, association with questionable friends and a love for music with lyrics that feed rebellion.

2.  Set and stick to your expectations. If a child is able to get away with disrespectful behaviors, the disrespect will only progress. A lack of deference for a parent’s authority will lead to rebellion to all authority figures: teachers, bosses, and, ultimately, to God.

3.  Keep an open dialogue. Start a conversation by asking open-ended questions. These questions cannot be answered with a “yes” or “no” and allow children to give spontaneous and honest answers.

4.  Affirm his or her worth, courage and the challenges they might be facing. Affirming statements show your understanding and appreciation. Use statements like “I know how hard this is for you,” “You showed a lot of courage,” “I am proud of you” and “I love you.” These demonstrate to your children that you are paying attention when they are making progress and that you don’t expect perfection.

5.  Foster a safe environment. Teens often look outside their parents for identity and acceptance. By creating a judgment-free environment, parents and youth leaders can can navigate this development process without labeling teens as rebellious or asking them to change. Teens need parents and mentors to lovingly affirm their strengths. This helps encourage youth to pursue their talents and interests, thus facilitating a healthy development of a child’s self-image.

6.  Encourage an expanded worldview. A healthy identity is based on a strong sense of self-awareness and God’s Truth. To challenge teens to think for themselves, understand the life challenges and live out personal convictions by pursuing a relationship with Christ, parents need to ask careful questions and create meaningful dialogue. Such intentional conversations train teens to think critically about the world around them. Discussing current events, the healthy and unhealthy uses of technology, and dangerous trends spotted in society or among their friends, equip our teens to adequately approach these issues head-on.

7.  Study scripture together. Perhaps the most significant contribution parents and youth leaders can make in helping teens make good decisions is to point them to the truth of God’s Word. Affirm who they are in Christ by telling them:

“In Christ, I am…”

– Created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27)
– Fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14-16)
– The light of the world (Matthew 5:14-16)
– A child of God (John 1:12)
– God’s workmanship (Ephesians 2:10)

Steering teens in the right direction can be extremely difficult. It is never too late, however, to begin the conversation. Now is the time to be the positive voice in your teens’ lives.

At Paul Anderson Youth Home, we believe change is possible. That belief is the seed of hope for every one of the young men who come through our home. We help them take ownership of their mistakes, and we seek to positively and holistically change their lives from one of emptiness to one of meaning. We partner with parents and mentors to set every teen on a path to success by navigating this difficult, yet hopeful, process together.

Drew Read, COO of the Paul Anderson Youth Home in Vidalia, Ga., is a passionate advocate for youth and strongly believes that the home is the foundation of society. Drew frequently speaks and writes on the topics of identity, technology, culture and high-risk behaviors affecting today’s youth. Learn more about the services PAYH provides and its familySTRONG resources at http://payh.org.

5 Great Places for Pastors and Church Leaders to Getaway

What are 5 great places that your pastor or your church leaders and their families could go?  What ones would you suggest?

Pastors and church leaders are no different than those in the church that they serve.  They need to get away from the world and “unplug” from the frantic and hectic life of a pastor and his family. Now we must understand that when I say a pastoral getaway, this includes the pastors’ wife and his children.  The pastor’s wife and children are just as big a part of the pastor’s ministry as the pastor is for no one could do all that a pastor does without the loving support and encouragement of his wife and his family and his wife is just as entitled (maybe more so) as is the pastor.  So when I identify places for the pastors to go for a retreat or getaway, I mean to include the entire family.  Also, I strongly advise pastors to not make this a working retreat or sign up for a pastoral retreat, ministry retreat or something that’s like a ministry counseling retreat. Now if a pastor and his family need that, that’s fine, but that’s not technically a getaway. That’s an entirely different issue and a “get away” is just that…it is getting away from the duties of the pastorate for a time.  Who else do you know that takes a vacation but makes it a working vacation or a workshop related to their job?  I hope you see my point.

Lake of the Ozarks Missouri

This is one that I have been to before I was a pastor. I highly recommend finding a cabin near the lake where you can rent a canoe and go out into the serene waters or just drop a line a catch a few fish in the lake.  You can find two and three-bedroom cabins that sleep as many as eight people. Some options have decks and patios and are either lakeside or have great views of the lake.  It is centrally located in the United States and has easy highway access but the heavily wooded areas dampen the sounds at night to where you can almost hear a pin drop.  Quiet is a good thing for a time.

The Passion Play in Eureka Springs Arkansas

This place has so many areas to walk or take a trolley to and of course one of the most remarkable portrayals of the Passion Play of Christ. It is extremely inspirational and the casting of the actors is absolutely perfect for the biblical event of the last week of Christ’s ministry leading up to Calvary.   Every person that I know that has seen it has said it was just an incredible experience. This is a very family friendly place but the rustic, old time, antique shops and cobble stone streets make it a very romantic getaway and there are no shortages of activities for children of all ages.  Most can be traveled to on foot.

Vail Colorado

With some of the best skiing available and the cleanest facilities you can find, this Colorado getaway is one that I had personal experience with. This was where my wife and I had our honeymoon.  You can find many that have hot tubs, jacuzzis, and there is a nearby driving range where, in the thin air of Colorado, you can hit that ball a lot farther than you can about anywhere else in the nation. Makes you feel like you’re a lot better than you really are on the driving range.  The variety of restaurants, ski areas, and family-friendly activities are just incredible. The only real problem was when we finally had to leave…I didn’t’ want too because I just love the Rockies. The good news  for pastors is that cell phone coverage is not that great but isn’t that the point!  Besides, they have land lines if you feel you must touch base with your church.

Myrtle Beach South Carolina

This place has it all and they offer great discounts for the pastor and his family.  All you need is verification of your pastorate.  This place is surrounded by lush fairways of the Myrtlewood Golf Club and is near Broadway at the Beach, Barefoot Landing, Planet Hollywood, Hard Rock Cafe, Myrtle Waves water park, a great miniature golf course, and almost every one of the area’s most popular attractions can be reached without going on the highway and are less than 1 mile away so you can walk about anywhere you need to go.  And the weather is almost always chamber of commerce weather about 9 months out of the year. There’s even a nearby theater, an aquarium, nearby swimming and if you’re in the mood, a NASCAR Speed Park.  This place’s got everything for a couple or the entire family at its “kid friendly.”

Big Sky Bible Camp in Montana

If you love the mountains and not a lot of people, you’ll love Big Sky Montana resort.  The cabins are very isolated but they still have all the comforts of a motel.  Imagine horseback riding in the mountains and Big Sky Bible Camp offers two free nights for pastor’s families.  The serenity of this place is amazing. Talk about a secluded place to get some rest and relaxation. These cabins have a deck directly overlooking Peterson Lake. Crater Cottages have queen size beds, fully furnished cabins, refrigerator, stoves, toasters, coffeemakers, and a full size bathroom unlike most cabins or hotel rooms. They offer what is called Big Sky’s Wilderness Program where you can camp out if you like and the hiking trails are outstanding.

Conclusion

The truth is that most pastors and their families don’t get away often enough from what for most a 24/7, 365 day job. Pastor, do yourself a favor by getting away…and sometimes far and away is best.  Everyone needs time to rest, relax, and rejuvenate and you are no exception.  You and your family need it and it’s really in the best interests of your congregations.  A pastor that doesn’t take great care of himself and his family is less likely to take great care of the flock to which he is the under-shepherd to the Great Shepherd.  Even Jesus got away to a quiet place. Why? “because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31).

Related Reading: Pastoral Burnout