Episode 109: Developing Preachers and Teachers

In this episode we sit down to talk about some of the ins and outs of intentionally developing preachers and teachers in our congregations.

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Our conviction is that the word of God has to “go”, but we need to train people up to do this… 

A lot of churches depend only on seminaries to train preachers and teachers… but it’s not until you’re in the soil of the local congregation that you really develop your voice in preaching and teaching… 

The Bible is full of stories of God putting his hand on people, and the church’s responsibility is to call that out of them… 

Developing preachers and teachers need both opportunities and honest feedback… when I was a young pastor, a guy invited me to preach weekly at a truck stop chapel… that was where I got my start, but the problem was that I got no feedback… 

It’s a little like a musician getting started—if you can play in clubs and bars, you’ll get good pretty fast, and then when you’re on the big stage with all the support, it’s easier than if you just got thrown up there… you need to say “yes” to opportunities that come your way… 

Too many preachers are looking for instant success… the hard work of getting better requires a lot of work… after a hundred times—maybe—you’ll begin to find your voice… by two hundred messages you should be comfortable in your own skin… 

We need to create rooms where we review the work (of preaching) that we’ve done, and then preview the work that’s coming up… 

It’s important to surround yourself with multigenerational, multiethnic, and different gender voices… I’m trying to surround myself with people that will help me understand the people I’m pastoring…

We also need to create layers of opportunities… it doesn’t have to be 30-minute sermons from the start… even two to three-minute offering moments are a great place to start… 

Help people understand that preaching is a speech-act… it needs to be something that we can listen to and enjoy… listen to the great storytellers and writers… 

If we’ve got the greatest story that’s ever been told, we ought to be able to handle it beautifully..

Episode 089: When Is It Time To Plant A Church?

In this, the final episode of Season 6, we sit down to talk about how to know when the time and circumstances are right to plant a church. (Note: this episode was recorded before COVID-19.)

Every church that’s in existence today exists because someone felt a tug… it begins in the heart of someone… someone has to say yes…

I think it’s time to plant a church when the right person and the right geographical location are married…

A church planter needs to be sent by a sending church… all the church planting movements and networks say that the highest rate of church planting success is when the planter is sent with the strength and power of a sending church behind them…

The biggest thing that’s going sideways right now in the American church is that most young leaders don’t have permission to bring up the feeling that they are being transitioned…

For senior pastors—you have to create an environment on your team that allows people to talk about transition… there can’t be fear of being ostracized or punished for this… the culture has to be healthy enough for people to bring it up…

Every church regardless of size can develop preaching laboratories… young leaders need these, because Sundays come with an alarming regularity… we need to see if our young leaders can preach to all ages and ethnicities and situations…

There are three things you have to be able to do to plant a church, and you have to be able two well: you have to be able to preach and teach, you have to be able to lead, and you have to be able to pastor… if you can’t preach and teach, don’t go plant a church… but the other two you can supplement…

The right way to come into a city is to make sure you are planting in an area of the city that actually needs a church plant… if there are ten other churches within five minutes of your building, don’t plant there…

Go to an area that needs a good church, and make sure you meet with as many pastors as you can in order to learn how to come alongside God’s work there… 98% of the local pastors will welcome you if you come in to be a blessing to them and to the city…

You need to know how you’re made—some of us are called to innovate and some of us are called to renovate… don’t assume you have to be a church planter…

Episode 075: Creating a Culture of Ongoing Leadership Development

In this episode we sit down to talk about how senior leaders can create a culture of ongoing leadership development—both values and methods.

It’s so important in ministry to never stop growing… oftentimes churches get a bad rap for using and using up people… our hope is to actually leave people better than when they joined our team…   

Pastoral ministry is so diverse and requires a really unique toolbelt… people pick some of those tools up naturally, but struggle with others… if we just assume that they’ll pick everything up on their own, we’re shooting ourselves in the foot…  

We used to do a once a month training time for our staff, but we realized it just wasn’t enough… so not we’ve switched to three, eight-week runs of gatherings where we can spend longer on topics and get more return…  

Part of how we’re deciding on topics is that we’re putting our finger on the pulse of our staff and saying, “What is it that we NEED?”

At a very basic level, culture is shaped by the stories, practices, and language we share… these meetings are not just about information transfer but about learning a shared language and developing shared practices…  

The conversations we’ve had have tended to breed a lot of compassion and connection among our staff… we’re sharing about our stories, our families, and the things that have shaped us… it’s helped develop relationship and connection…  

For our volunteers we do three big events a year… one is a huge celebration, one is a vision event, and one is investment… that model gets replicated at a smaller level across our ministry teams…  

The truth of this is that if you don’t invest in other leaders, it dies with you, or is limited by you… your limitations will become the boundaries of your ministry… if you invest in others, you increase the Lord’s work exponentially…

Start small… find an initial group of key leaders and do what is manageable and life-giving for you… start there and let it build and flow naturally… don’t try to do too much at first…

Episode 021: Healthy Transitions

Transition is something that every church staff will experience. What matters is how those transitions take place. In this conversation, we discuss how to facilitate and enact healthy transitions.

 

Transitions can be beautiful if we’ll embrace them… when I arrived at New Life, I arrived in a healthy condition [because of how I was sent]…

 

A lot of times, transitions get messy when people arrive with a predetermined future… but when you come openhanded, you give people a chance to send you into the next place…

 

No one should be punished for exploring other opportunities… if you’re a senior pastor, you have to lead the way in this way…

 

I have found that the greatest joy I have as a leader is finding out what’s going on in the hearts of the people on my team… I want to call that out so that it manifests for the greater good…

 

If you bring up the fact that you’re thinking about a transition [to your leadership], you’ll be able to transition in a healthy way, or you’ll see that your desire for transition was actually a little bit of boredom and you’ll grow more fond of the ministry you’re doing…

 

It’s important not to stay around too long; once your heart has left an organization, you’re not going to give your best… so agree on a timeline that’s good for you and for the team…

 

The onus is on the leader to create a safe environment for people to share their hearts; the onus is on the young leaders to respect and honor…

 

The church is known more for its divorces than its marriages… in the case of Gateway and New Life, it was more like a wedding… Gateway felt it wasn’t losing a staff member but gaining a family of people in Colorado… 10 and a half years later, I still go back there to speak…

 

When I am willing to send out good leaders, I am sent good leaders… the same way we teach about generosity with resources and time, we need to be generous with leaders…

 

 

QUESTIONS FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM

  • Is your culture one in which an emerging leader would feel empowered to share about their desire for transition? Why or why not?
  • Are you regularly checking in with members of your team to see whether they are thriving in their current roles? Why or why not?
  • What can you do to create an environment where the emergence of leadership gifts and callings is not threatening but celebrated?

Episode 020: Hiring and Firing

In this conversation, we talk about what we’ve learned about hiring well and how to navigate firing people well, too. Maybe you’re leading a church staff and facing a big decision regarding staffing, or perhaps you’re curious about how a church staff might handle a staffing issue at your church. We hope that this conversation leads to greater health and trust among the staff at your church.

You hire people for where you’re going not where you are… many pastors hire out of a panicked need or a felt burden right in front of them… most of the time, when I’ve hired people from that place, I’ve regretted it…

 

You’re looking for people who can train others… if you want to use the Jesus model, the people that Jesus called close to him were able to multiply others…

 

I have found that character, chemistry, and competency are a good litmus test for the people you are looking to hire… Chemistry is the tricky one… I want to work with friends, with people that I like… when you are shoulder to shoulder doing the hard work of ministry, it is almost impossible to do it with people that you don’t like…

 

We’re not promoting tribalism here… we want diversity… but at the end of the day, we have to enjoy being with one another, even if you look and think differently from one another… the relationship has to be good for both parties…

 

The hardest person to fire in the local church is the guy with high character, who everyone loves, who is just terrible at his job…

 

Don’t keep people in a place where they are not going to flourish… I owe it to them and to the congregation to steward the relationship well…

 

If we remember that people belong to the Lord, then “endings” can be “sendings” where people transition to new opportunities in godly ways…

 

 

QUESTIONS FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM

  • Do you tend to hire for where you are going, or where you are? Why? How can you adapt your philosophy of hiring?
  • What criteria do you use in your hiring process? What from this podcast challenged you in that regard?
  • Are you stewarding people’s lives and the culture of your team and church well? How can you improve this through your hiring and firing practices?

 

 

RECOMMENDED RESOURCES

Necessary Endings” by Dr. Henry Cloud.