Finding the associate pastor you need

bible-reading

The role of the associate pastor or minister is one that many churches think they cannot afford. In reality, the are a variety of ministry callings that do not involve staffing a full-time pastor or minister. In many cases, the associate pastor or minister can be found in their church.

As church budgets get tighter congregations struggle to use lay people to meet the needs of church goers. This model can be effective but there are particular situations where a church needs an associate pastor. The typical indicator of the need for staffing another minister is when the worship or membership begins to approach the hundred mark: 200, 300, and so on.

Typically, the larger the church the more likely that a church can fund a full-time associate pastor. For those churches that hover around the 150-200 membership range, they should make a plan for staffing an associate pastor. Not every pastor or ministry on staff needs to be seminary trained.

I use the term associate pastor/minister interchangeably. In the free church tradition, every member is a minister. Depending on your tradition, the tile of pastor may carry a different meaning. Regardless, most denominational polity allows for a church to empower a person with a specific ministry as “minister of ….”. Your church would benefit from utilizing people in your own congregation for the work of an associate pastor/minister. Here are some ways to staff such a position:

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4 ways to engage Millennial leaders

millenials

As over 40 million Millennials are entering or have entered the workforce, their ability to lead is critical. Baby boomers are exiting the workforce at rapid rates and companies and non-profits must understand how to lead and encourage these young people.  How will employers respond to this demand?

 Nicole Fallon of BusinessNewsDaily offers 4 key ways to engage Millennials:

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Why it doesn’t matter if Noah film is inaccurate

Russell Crowe as Noah

Noah staring Russell Crowe has seen success at the box office with the general public but not everyone is happy about the film.  Some claim that the Noah story was hijacked and is inaccurate.

True, there are parts of Noah that are inaccurate. These inaccuracies would be the things that Hollywood uses to make the story more entertaining, though these facts do not appear in the Bible. I’ll name a few without giving the movie away:

  • Noah is given snake-skin from the serpent in the Garden of Eden.
  • Watchers, fallen angels play a role in Noah’s story
  • Methuselah, the oldest person in the Bible, appears in the Noah story
  • A ruler named Tubal-Cain is the antagonist
  • An army wages battle
  • Several ploys to kill characters in the story
  • Noah experiences recurring dreams

There are many more. If you remember your Bible story about Noah, you know that none of those things are found in the biblical account.

However, it does not matter. It does not matter if Hollywood added or took away facts from the biblical story of Noah. Heresy you say?

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The unraveling church

undone

A close friend of mine over the past six months has said several times, “It might feel like things are unraveling, but at least we know who holds the string.”  The first time I heard it I didn’t really get what he was trying to say.  I understood he was bringing comfort to churches and leaders who feel like their ministries, churches, and whole worlds were falling apart around them.  So on some level I understood, but I didn’t really get it until I thought about it in another way.

My wife is an excellent crafter.  She loves to use cool tools to make things.  Her greatest gift lies in knitting.  By working with yarn and needles she is able to create just about anything she sets her mind toward.  However, sometimes she really likes a particular yarn for its color or texture but has already made it into a scarf and used it as such for some time, then one day decides, “I think I want that to be socks!”  What is she to do?  She simply finds the end, unravels the existing completed project that has served its purpose and begins to turn it into something completely new. 

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Social media reaction to World Vision controversy

world vision

This week World Vision, the para-church organization that fights hunger, announced that they ended their ban on hiring people in a same sex marriage. After considerable blow back from supporters and Christians, World Vision reversed its policy. Some supporters said that they would stop funding World Vision and end sponsorship of children in need. World Vision president Richard Stearns and board chairman Jim Bere wrote,

We have listened to you and want to say thank you and to humbly ask for your forgiveness.

People took to Twitter to express their frustration in this story. Here are a few that are notable:

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Don’t be a Fred Phelps hater

The enigmatic Fred Phelps has died. The church that he founded, the Westboro Baptist Church, made a name for itself by picketing funerals and public gatherings with signs proclaiming hate for soldiers, gays, and Jews – to name a few. At the end of his life his church kicked him out, his granddaughters rejected their family, and was deserted by the very people he led.

What can we say about a man who preached hate and bitterness?

It wasn’t until the 1990′s did America first hear about Fred Phelps, his family, and the Westboro Baptist Church. Millions were shocked to see so-called Christians carrying signs that read, “God hates fags” and “God hates you”. Over time the notoriety of Phelps and his family grew. Perhaps it was fascination. Certainly, as the age of the internet grew, America begin to love to hate them. More stories of this radical band and their message of hate spread through news websites, Facebook, and Twitter.

Fred Phelps and his ministry of hate was bizarre. It was not a message consistent with the message of Jesus Christ. John 3:16 is a common passage to refer to as an easy verse to describe God’s message of salvation. However, many folks do not read the next verse:

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I made Breitbart.com

breitbart

It’s not something I’m bragging about, but this is surprising. In response to my Times Union blog post on why church gun giveaways do not send a postive message, Breitbart.com sited my blog post.

The headline reads, “Pastor Quotes Daily Kos, Apostle Paul Against AR-15 Giveaway”[Read more...]

6 restorative practices for well-being

wellbeing

Leaders constantly give of themselves to those who serve. How can they recharge? Where can they find restorative practices for ministry that build up our well-being?

Today I’m attending the Lewis Fellows alumni gathering at Wesley Theological Seminary and we are engaging in reflecting and reviewing our role as young leaders in the church. This morning, Dr. Matt Bloom led us pastors in examining our well-being. Dr. Bloom and his team surveyed over 1,000 pastors in 8 different denominations in an attempt to learn:

  1. The characteristics of clergy well-being.
  2. What factors or impede well-being?
  3. How well-being changes over a life-span.

Dr. Bloom presented the following guidance for “recharging” our batteries for well-being:

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Church gun giveaways send wrong message

A local church in Troy, NY is promoting a gun giveaway and its not the first church to do so. Churches in Texas and Kentucky have offered gun giveaways.

The practice of a church gun giveaway sends the wrong message.  Is it wrong because it is illegal to own a gun? No. Is it wrong because it is immoral to own a gun? No.

The apostle Paul once wrote to the church in Corinth,

All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify.

It may be lawful for a church to have a AR-15 gun giveaway, but it is not profitable to Christianity. To some, having more guns means more safety. However, studies show no strong empirical evidence to support this. For instance, in the only peer review published study on gun related deaths, the Annals of Emergency Medicine reported:

“…on a case-controlled study in which household were matched on a number of demographic factors, and then incidences of gun violence were compared.  They found that people who keep a gun in their home are almost twice as likely to die in a gun-related homicide.”

In 2004, American Journal of Epidemiology published a study that found:

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Twitter reveals top 100 Lenten sacrifices

In case you were still working on what you are giving up or for Lent, Christianity Today reports top 100 choices according to Twitter:

With about 5,000 tweets analyzed, the new hot topics so far this year are: “Netflix,” “Flappy Bird,” and “Getting an Oscar.” “Social Networking” is currently way out in front, with twice as many tweets as perennial favorites “Swearing” and “Alcohol.” (Last year, Social Networking came in at #4.)

Here is Stephen Smith of OpenBible.info’s running list of the top 100 most-mentioned Lenten sacrifices (both serious and cynical) in 2014, followed by top categories:

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Proof being a pastor is a tough job

As I’m shaking hands with church goers after worship one Sunday, I talk with a congregant about meeting him  during the week. His reply?

“I thought pastors only worked one day a week!”

Truth be told, we full-time (and part-time pastors) do not work one day a week. I work anywhere between 35 and 75 hours a week. My congregation expects a full-time, ordained, college educated, graduate school 90-credit hour trained, and spiritual pastor to lead the congregation. And so, I provide that. However, there are unspoken and unwritten expectations:  my wife and children share in the full life of the congregation, I give 10% (and more) of my income to church, I’m available 24/7, be an excellent preacher, sound teacher, be a chaplain, be a theologian, providing counseling, give financial leadership,  bring people to church, and sometimes even clean up a mess in a common area.

If you ask me or my colleagues, it’s tough being a pastor.

If you think I’m just complaining and think I have cushy job, don’t take my word for it. Take Forbes Magazine’s top 9 toughest leadership roles into consideration:

  • #9: CEO, lots of pressure for profit
  • #8: Congressman/Congresswoman, everyone (sometimes including your mother) hates you
  • #7: Newspaper editor, sorry that your job is almost extinct
  • #6: Mayor, “Unlike most politicians, you actually have to make sure that garbage gets collected, snow gets shoveled, and things get done.”
  • #5: Pastor/minister

Other than #1 on the list, Forbes collected the most cons of being a pastor:

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Bill Nye crushes creationist in debate

What do you get when you put a children’s-educational-scientist-teacher with a Bible-believing-Christian-creationist?

Lot’s of confused adults.

I just finished watching the almost 3-hour debate between humanist Bill Nye and creationist Ken Ham and I’m truly confused. I’m confused not because of the content, but how a Christian answered and responded in a formal debate.

Bill Nye (B.S. degree in engineering) and Ken Ham (B.A.S., applied science) decided to meet in a debate format in Kentucky to discuss the merits of each of their positions. Except, Ham seem to follow an illogical process of his argument which relied on a handful of scientists and his website. Nye, on the other hand, relied on a body of evidence and scientific method that is affirmed by both secular and Christian scientists.

What was clear from this debate is that Ham gave a poor argument for a creationist theory of the formation of the earth. Creationists believe in the creation of the Earth that occurred over a period of 6 days. Nye countered that the earth is much older and we know through carbon dating and stellar age estimation. Ham tried to discredit dating methods as conflicted evidence. Even if you discount carbon dating, Nye used examples of dating by core samples and tree rings.

How did the rest of the debate go?

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