Friday, May 30, 2014

Four Big Mistakes that Lead to Ministry Burnout

Coffee Cup
One of the issues that we sometimes address here at is the issue of ministry burnout. And when we do address it, the responses are overwhelming. It’s a big issue. Why do so many Pastors burn out in ministry? It’s because of faulty thinking. Our thinking controls our emotions and our emotions control the way we act.
The problem is, when we’re at an emotional low, we typically make four common mistakes. Next week I want to talk about how to overcome these emotions and prevent burnout, but today I want you to become aware of four of the most threatening internal causes of burnout in ministry.

Mistake #1: We focus on our feelings rather than the facts.

Emotional reasoning is dangerous. Emotional reasoning says, “If I feel it, it must be so.” If I feel like a failure, I am a failure. If I don’t feel close to God, I must not be close to God. If I feel like a lousy pastor, I must be a lousy pastor. The fact is, feelings are not always facts. Your feelings will tell you that you’re helpless and hopeless, but those feelings aren’t rooted in truth.

Mistake #2: We compare ourselves to others.

When we are emotionally drained, we start comparing ourselves. The Bible warns against this over and over again. When you start comparing yourself to other people you are setting yourself up for depression. Everybody’s different. Everybody’s unique. Only you can be you. When you get to heaven, God is not going to say, “How come you weren’t more like Billy Graham?” or “How come you weren’t more like Moses?” or “How come you weren’t more like…?”
He’s really going to say, “How come you weren’t more like you?” We get emotionally burnt out because we start comparing ourselves. When we compare ourselves we compare our weaknesses with other people’s strengths. We ignore the fact that they have weaknesses that we may be strong in. We make comparisons that get us into all kinds of trouble.

Mistake #3: We blame ourselves for things that aren’t our fault.

We tend to blame ourselves and when we’re feeling emotionally low we tend to blame all of the world’s problems on ourselves. If you get in a helping profession like counseling or pastoring or social work, you’re going to discover that the people don’t always respond the way you’d like them to respond. You can influence people but you cannot control them. Yet we tend to blame ourselves when others make choices we don’t approve of or don’t understand.

Mistake #4: We exaggerate the negative.

Have you noticed the fact that when you’re discouraged, everything seems to be wrong? When your life becomes filled with fear and resentment and low self-esteem and anger and loneliness and worry, you’re headed for burnout. Then, if you focus on your feelings, and you compare yourself to others, and you accept responsibility for everybody else, and you exaggerate the negative, you’re only going to make matters worse.
Catch next week’s article for steps to reverse and heal from burnout in your life and ministry!
photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via CreationSwap

Seven Habits of Outwardly Focused Churches

May 28, 2014

It was not a dramatic moment in time. Instead it was subtle, almost too subtle to be noticed. It became evident first in mainline churches. But evangelical churches followed a few years later. The erosion was slow, but it became glaringly apparent after several years.

The change of which I speak is the movement away from outwardly focused ministries in churches. Over time, most of the resources of time, money, and ministries have shifted more toward the members. Churches are now gathering in holy huddles with little intention of breaking out into a world of lostness and loneliness.

How It Happened

How did this negative trend develop? Though many perspectives could be offered, allow me simply to share the practical perspective. There was a time when most churches had an outreach ministry. And more times than not, this ministry was a type of program with predictable patterns.

Read the full story at

Strategies for the Town Parish from the perspective of a liberal denomination (still helpful)

Kevin on Congregations by Dean Kevin 
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How do we presently deal with the aging and declining Town Parish in TEC? 
We send them a part-time or bi-vocational or retired clergy person.  What are the odds that such a strategy will actually grow the congregation? I would say less than 10%.  This means that such models of ministry may be good at maintaining the congregation for a season, but not very good at growing it.

What would happen if a diocese used the following strategy in the redevelopment of a Town Parish?
1.            Reduce the assessment/mission asking to 10% during a stated time of “re-development”
2.            Then train and provide clergy who are willing to make a long-term commitment (at least 5 years)to the parish and community and who are trained in family systems
3.            Create an incentive for the lay members in recruiting new members
4.            Create an incentive for the clergy (in salary and benefits) based on the development and growth of the congregation, this would include outreach ministries (In today’s world.  Most clergy in growing congregations pay the price for much of the growth by not receiving increases in compensation. Most clergy can only get an increase in salary when they move to another parish.

This last of these points to a critical issue about many current clergy who are graduates of Episcopal Seminaries who often share some of the following:
1.            They have been trained in self-care, taking their day off, and considering themselves to be a professional person rather than developing a pastoral heart for people.
2.            They expect “church” to be given to them, they do not believe that they must build up a community and know how to recruit people to it.
3.            They  see no relationship between their ability to recruit and evangelize others and their financial remuneration.  They believe they should be rewarded for tenure alone
4.            They expect to move every 4 to 5 years
5.            They tend to devalue the older/long-tenured members of the congregation

I once asked the Bishop of Oklahoma, who revitalized and grew three Episcopal Congregations in Town/Small Cities, what he would do if he found himself serving a congregation with an average attendance of 30 people.  He said, “I would go out and find other people who did not have a church and recruit them to join our congregation.”  Then he added, “That is what I did in each of the churches I served although they had more than 30 people in them when I started. “

The bottom line to all this is simply that to reverse the trends in our current Town Parishes, TEC needs to radical rethink our strategies and the recruitment and training of clergy to serve them. 

Or we can continue to do what we have always done and continue to get the results we presently get!

 In my next blog, I will discuss the training needed for such developmental clergy.

Friday, May 23, 2014

5 Reasons People Have Stopped Attending Your Church (Especially Millennials)

5 Reasons People Have Stopped Attending Your Church (Especially Millennials)
Ever wonder why generating momentum in the local church seems harder than ever for most leaders?
Ever wonder why generating momentum in the local church seems harder than ever for most leaders?

You’re not alone; the conversation about momentum and shifting attendance trends is happening at every level of church, including some of the largest and fastest growing churches in North America.

Everyone is feeling at least two realities:

First, even people who attend church have stopped attending as frequently as they used to (I wrote about how to reverse that here).

Even in communities that are home to growing churches, the overall percentage of the population that attends church continues to drop, especially among under 30s.

Recently, the Barna Group released a new survey citing (among others) five compelling reasons church attendance continues to decline, particularly among Millennials (those 30 and under).

The good news is that once you spot the trends, you can work at reversing them.

5 reasons people have stopped attending your church.

In the study, Barna cites five specific reasons Millennials have stopped attending church that drew my attention:

1. The church is irrelevant, the leaders are hypocritical and leaders have experienced too much moral failure.

Yes, I know. That’s three reasons in one. But the Barna study groups all three reasons together as one reason.

And I think that might be because that’s what most people do in real life. I mean, just have a few conversations with unchurched people.

They will go something like this: The church is irrelevant (why would anyone go) and full of hypocrisy … just look at the moral failure of so many of its leaders.
To some extent, I can’t blame people for this perception. I wince every time I see another headline announcing a new moral failure. And far too many of us have been burned by the judgmentalism of the perpetually self-righteous.

So what’s the antidote?

Just because many churches are like that doesn’t mean yours has to be. It’s more than possible to create a counterculture of integrity and grace. It’s actually a bit strange to call things like integrity and grace countercultural (even within the context of church culture), but they are.

Jesus said that it would be by our fruit that people would recognize us. Live a life of integrity with each other and outsiders, and your church will become a magnet, not a repellant.

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In addition to serving as Lead Pastor at Connexus Community Church north of Toronto Canada, Carey Nieuwhof speaks at conferences and churches throughout North America on leadership, family, parenting and personal renewal.More from Carey Nieuwhof or visit Carey at

The Greatest Tragedy in the Church Today


Thom Rainer: "When evangelism dies as a priority in the church, the church has already begun to die.". Image Info:
Thom Rainer: "When evangelism dies as a priority in the church, the church has already begun to die."


Evangelism is dying in many churches today.
No, that’s not an overstatement. I am not speaking hyperbolically.

Evangelism is dying.

Look at the data. Measure almost any group of churches today versus 30 years ago. You’ll likely find only one person is being reached with the Gospel for every 40 to 60 church members. You will find that conversions have declined precipitously. And where you find numerical growth, you are more likely to find the growth is transfer of Christians from one church to another.

That’s not evangelism. That’s sheep shuffling.

Pastors and other leaders must fall on their faces before God and ask Him to reignite their congregations with an evangelistic passion. When evangelism dies as a priority in the church, the church has already begun to die.

So why should evangelism be one of the highest priorities in your church?

Though the reasons are many, allow me to share seven of them.

1. Because Christ commanded it.

We typically refer to the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20 as our evangelistic and disciple-making command. But there are many other places in the New Testament where the priority of evangelism is clearly evident. Christ commanded it. We must do it.

2. Because Christ is the only way of salvation.

There is no way around it. Salvation is exclusive. There is only one way. Jesus could not have made it clearer in John 14:6: “Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” Jesus had an urgent message. He had an exclusive message. We must be conveyors of that narrowly defined hope.

3. Because Christ died for the world.

There is a reason John 3:16 is the most familiar and most quoted verse in the history of humanity. Jesus died for the world. He is the only way, but He has provided a way for everyone. That is a message that is urgent and worth telling. Indeed it’s the greatest message ever.
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7 “BE’s” of Effective Leadership and Management

7 “BE’s” of Effective Leadership and Management
Here ere are principles for being effective whether you lead or manage a large or small organization — or church .
One of the chief goals of this blog is to encourage better leadership. In this post, I’m including the term management. I believe the two are different functions, but both are vital to a healthy organization. Whether you lead or manage a large or small organization — or church — there are principles for being effective.

Be aware – Know your team. People are individuals. They have unique expectations and they require different things from leadership. Some require more attention and some less. Use personality profiles or just get to know them over time, but learn the people you are supposed to be leading or managing.

Be open – Let them know you — as a person outside of the role as leader or manager. Be transparent enough that they can learn to trust you.

Be responsive – Don’t leave people waiting too long for a response. They’ll make up their own if you do — and it’s usually not the conclusion you want them to reach.

Be approachable – You can’t be everything to everyone, and you may not always be available, but for the people you are called to lead or manage, you need to be approachable. They need to know if there is a problem — or a concern — you will be receptive to hearing from them. I realize the larger the organization the more difficult this becomes, but build systems that allow you to hear from people at every level within the organization.

Be consistent – Over time, the team you lead or manage needs to know you are going to be dependable. The world is changing fast. It’s hard to know who to trust these days. We certainly need to be able to trust people we are supposed to follow.

Be trustworthy – Follow through on what you say you will do. If you make a promise — keep it. If you can’t support something — say it. If you’re not going to do it — say no. Let your word be your bond. Spend time building and protecting your character. Be the quality of person you would want to follow.

Be appreciative – Recognize you can’t do it alone. Be grateful. Be rewarding. Celebrate. Love others genuinely and display it well.

What would you add? Upon which of these do you most need to improve?

Ron EdmondsonRon Edmondson is a pastor and church leader passionate about planting churches, helping established churches thrive, and assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy and life. Ron has over 20 years business experience, mostly as a self-employed business owner, and he's been helping church grow vocationally for over 10 years.More from Ron Edmondson or visit Ron at


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The 4 Hallmarks of an Authentic Leader

Five Implications for Churches as the Boomers Retire

May 19, 2014

They are the children of the 60s. There was a time they said you couldn’t trust anyone over 30 . . . until they turned 30 themselves. Until the Millennials were born, they were the largest generation in America’s history with over 76 million live births.

They are the Baby Boomers, or the Boomers, as they are typically called today.

On January 1, 2011, the first Boomer turned 65. In fact, on that day, 10,000 of them turned 65. And that pace of aging will continue until 2030, when every Boomer is 65 or older.

Read the full story at

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Assimilation 101 from Michael Lukaszewski of The Rocket Co.

Here are six reasons guests might not be attending as much as you'd like.

1.  You're not teaching your people to invite.  It's not enough to ask them to invite, you've got to teach them.  Really slow down and share ideas for when and how to make the ask.

2.  Your service isn't designed with guests in mind. Don't get caught up in the seeker/believer argument - just look at things through the eyes of a first timer.  Explain what's going to happen and make sure people know where to go.  You have to do this every week.

3.  You're preaching to who IS there, not who ISN'T there.  Make a reference to first time guests, even if there aren't many.  Don't assume people know Bible stories and references.  That's insider talk.

4.  Your small groups are not outward focused.  I have a deep conviction that serving teams need to feel like groups and groups need to feel like serving teams.  You don't have to separate evangelism and discipleship in your small groups.

5.  You don't have a presence in the community. Show up at things that are already happening.  Everyone on staff should be a part of some community organization.

6.  You don't spend money on advertising and outreach. A Facebook promoted post with an automated email follow up sequence is a great way to promote a special event or series in your church.  This is a MASSIVE opportunity for churches.

I'm going to go much deeper into these and lots of other growth strategies in the GROW Online Network. It's 12 months of focus on helping you grow. If you want to see your church grow in size and influence, come be a part.