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Posts tagged ‘Leadership Network’

10 Things Church Volunteers Wish Their Pastor Knew About Them.


What are the volunteers serving in your church thinking? What are their hopes, dreams and needs? During the last 26 years, I have had the privilege of serving on two church staffs, but the vast majority of my time has been as a volunteer.

To assist pastors and church leaders with better connecting with those who have made the strategic choice to leverage their marginal time and talent to serve others, the following are 10 things volunteers wish their pastor knew about them:

1. We desperately want to make a difference with our one and only life. Everyone wants to live a life of significance. We have decided the best place for that to take place is our local church.

2. Our time is valuable, so be organized and tell us what to do. We live very busy lives. When we show up to serve, please have us something important for us to do, and be well organized.

3. We want to serve in the context of community. People begin serving at a church for two reasons: first, to do something significant; second, to make friends. Pastors and church leaders need to always build a time of community into every volunteer effort.

4. Our opinion matters. We make important organizational decisions in the marketplace every day of our lives. We build teams and leverage resources. We are also at Ground Zero in regard to what is happening at the church. Smart pastors seek out and value our thoughts and insights. Don’t marginalize us.

5. We want influence, not position. It is a common misconception that if you give someone a title, it will please them. Titles are not bad things, but they fail in comparison to influence.

6. We want our efforts to be an integral part of making the church’s vision a reality. Volunteers want to know what they are doing makes a difference in the overall scheme of things and is not just a busy task.

7. We want to grow spiritually. The core desire of our hearts is to be connected with the heart of God.

8. All we want is for someone to say, “Thank you. You made a difference today.” Everyone wants to be told they are pretty. A simple expression of genuine thanks deepens the relationship with the church and inspires our continued efforts.

9. We want you to ask us to serve. The No. 1 reason a person joins a cause or team is because someone asks them. There are dozens, maybe hundreds, of qualified volunteers at your church who would love to serve if someone would just ask them.

10. We want the freedom to take a break when we need one. This is critical. There are seasons in your life when you are just tired or have little margin. There must be freedom to take a break for a season. If not, when a volunteer leaves a ministry position, they often leave the church as well because they feel they have no other options.

Pastors and church leaders, I know you appreciate and love your volunteers. We all know you could not get by without them. I trust this post will help you better connect with them and serve them in the way that you wish to.

Brian Dodd’s daytime job is as a generosity architect and leadership consultant for INJOY Stewardship Solutions. During the last 10-plus years, he has spent each day having one-on-one conversations with many of the greatest church leaders in America. He also has more than 25 years of church volunteer and staff experience. Check out his blog: Brian Dodd on Leadership.

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Written by Brian K. Dodd

How Are Children of Church Planters Affected?.

Children-playing-hal-seedAs our church ramps up to plant a church a year for the next several years, I’ve had conversations with five of my key guys about becoming church planters. Church planting is one of the most challenging sub-categories of pastoral ministry.

One of my guys confessed recently, “I’m struggling with this potential call. I don’t know if I’m willing for my son to grow up hating the church.”

His statement took me back to dozens of pastoral nightmare stories of pastors’ kids (PKs) who have walked away from God and the church because they felt forgotten and forsaken by parents who loved the church more than they loved their children.

Do children of church planters suffer for their parents’ sacrifices? I’m sure some do. Church planters, like all ministry leaders, can get caught in the tug-of-war of time competition between home life and church life.

After all, we who bear the mantle of ministry are human. We’re often underpaid compared to secular professions with similar hours, responsibilities and education. And we have the same desires—desires to succeed at our life’s work, desires to impress our peers, desires to please God by the work of our hands.

We’re Human
In our first two years of church planting, I was so tired that, every time we went on vacation, I got sick. It was the only time I dared let down, and when I let down, my immune system stopped fighting. The turning point came when Lori said, “If you’re going to get sick tomorrow, I don’t want to go on this vacation.” I kept my resolve up all week, and when I felt a sore throat coming on, I fought it off. No more vacation colds for me!

In those early days, whenever we left town, a weight was lifted off my soul. Whenever we came back into town, I felt it again within twenty-four hours. Some might think it was all psychological. I’m convinced it was spiritual. We know from the book of Daniel that there are territorial demons. If Satan can stop a church in its infancy, he’ll have saved himself a lot of grief in the decades to come.

In my humble opinion, church planters are the Green Berets of the pastoral profession. Starting a church with few (or no) people and few (or no) resources while battling the forces of hell for the souls of men is about as challenging an assignment as there is. In church planting, the highs are higher and the lows are lower. One day someone comes to Christ, the next day your best donor departs for greener pastures. On average, the core of a new church plant turns over three times during the first three years. Navigating a start-up church to maturity can be like riding a roller coaster on the underside of the tracks!

Faith Missionaries
So, do kids suffer? They can. Do they have to? I’m convinced they don’t.

Amazing Vacations
During our church’s first 10 years of ministry, I took a significantly smaller salary than my peers in similar-sized existing churches. Most church planters do this. After all, we’re the most committed members of the church, so we make the largest sacrifices.

Did my kids suffer because of this?

Soon after New Song went public, a long-lost friend happened to be in town and heard about what we were doing. He called me up and took me to lunch. He ran a Christian camp. I said to him, “Ron, I’m sorry we’ve never come to your camp. As faith-based missionaries, we just haven’t had the money for a vacation like that. I promise, we’ll make it there one day.”

He responded, “Hal, the money we raise for scholarships is the easiest money we raise all year. I’d love to have you come, and you can come for free.” That summer we had an amazing vacation!

That vacation was superseded only by the free trip we took to Disneyland, and the two free trips we took after that to Disney World. Oh, and the free trips to Yosemite, Yellowstone and Puerto Vallarta. The truth is, God provides in incredibly loving ways for faith-based missionaries! I not only know this personally, but I’ve seen it in the lives of my faith-based friends. As a result, our children grew up experiencing the generosity of God, which they know is better than a substantial paycheck.

Time Flexibility
I have a friend who says, “The great thing about being self-employed is that you can work whenever you want. The bad thing about being self-employed is that you can work all the time.”

When you work 60 to 80 hours a week, your church should give you the flexibility to take a few hours off whenever you need to. Mine did (and does). As a result, I went on field trips with my kids. I attended all their soccer and T-ball games. I even helped coach a soccer team one year. If you surveyed my kids today, they’d say they love the work I’m in because it enables us to do so many things together.

Serving Together
A few years ago, Eric Swanson (of Leadership Network fame) showed me a study that said that the number one factor in determining whether children will grow up to love God was whether or not they saw their parents serving at church, and served beside them.

My kids have served beside Lori and me from day one. Five days after the church went public, they were walking neighborhoods with me, dropping invitations on doorsteps. Bryan was five. Amy was four. Amy dropped one on the doorstep of a professional bass player. His wife has led our drama team for the last twenty years.

They both served in PromiseLand as soon as they were old enough. Bryan started our middle school worship band. Amy painted the high school room. I could go on, but you get the point. Both of my children are in their twenties now, and they love God more than I do!

Further Proof
Three years ago, my son married the daughter of a missionary. This summer my daughter is marrying the son of an Old Testament professor. Both of my kids’ fathers-in-law have “Reverend” in front of their names. Both of my kids’ mates grew up in ministry families. Both of their mates love God deeply.

Does a child of a ministry parent pay a price for their parents’ ministry? They can. But they don’t have to. And in my experience, the price paid causes them to love God more.

Written by Hal Seed

Dr. Hal Seed is the senior pastor of New Song Community Church in Oceanside, Calif. He and his wife, Lori, planted the church in 1992, leaving behind a ministry in Longmont, Colo. Over the past 25 years, New Song has seen more than 10,000 people come to Christ, has planted four daughter churches, has launched one satellite, and has helped launch four parachurch ministries—Outreach Inc., Dynamic Church Planting International, Church Community Builder, and First the Kingdom.

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Report: Megachurches Thriving in Tough Economic Times.


Why do megachurches keep thriving?

Despite the tough economy, many of the nation’s largest churches are thriving, with increased offerings and plans to hire more staff, a new survey shows.

Just 3 percent of churches with 2,000 or more attendance surveyed by Leadership Network, a Dallas-based church think tank, said they were affected “very negatively” by the economy in recent years. Close to half–47 percent–said they were affected “somewhat negatively,” but one-third said they were not affected at all.

The vast majority–83 percent–of large churches expected to meet their budgets in 2012 or their current fiscal year. A majority of large churches also reported that offerings during worship services were higher last year than in 2011.

Even though some churches have ministries that provide other income, such as schools or wedding chapel rentals, an average of 96 percent of their budget comes from members’ donations.

All of the large churches reported that they receive some of their donations electronically, including online, via bank transfer or through a lobby kiosk. One in five of them receive between 31 and 60 percent of their offerings electronically.

Most megachurches surveyed spend 10 percent or more of their budget beyond their congregation on causes ranging from local soup kitchens to world missions.

Another sign of economic well-being: Most large churches report that they expect to give staff at least a 1 percent raise in the next budget cycle. Most also expect to modestly increase staff, and hardly any–just 6 percent–expect to reduce the number of staffers.

The survey of 729 church leaders was released Tuesday (Feb. 19).


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