As the pastor of a young church, I get to interact with a lot of young people, many of whom dream of doing something significant with their lives. To quote the late Steve Jobs, they long to make a dent in the universe. They want their life to matter. I love getting to spend time with young people who aren’t content to settle for the status quo and who long to make a difference. That said, there are some things I’ve noticed that are common to aspiring young leaders that often get in the way of them actually seeing those dreams realized.
So here are a few pieces of advice I have for aspiring young leaders:
I’ve had the privilege of working with pastors from all kinds of tribes and ministry contexts. Though no two pastors are the same, we do share a lot of the same hopes for our churches. We share a lot of the same frustrations too. And while I obviously can’t speak for all pastors, I’ve spoken with enough to know I’m not alone in hoping I never hear these phrases again.
Can I tell you something about pastors? We didn’t get into this business for the pats on the back. We got into it because we long to see God do in your life what we’ve seen him do in our lives and the lives of so many others.
That’s why we pastor. That’s why we preach.
When someone says “good sermon,” it immediately tells me the sermon was, in fact, not that good.
Like many in my generation, I’ve done some moving around and with each new move I’ve had to begin the difficult process of searching for a new church home. If you’re like most, a day is coming when you too will be on the search for a new church to call home. When that day comes, you may want to think twice before using these all-too-common reasons for making your choice:
1. “The Pastor is Really Good.”
Perhaps no other man apart from Jesus has had a bigger influence on the church than Paul. But here’s the thing: neither you nor I would have been a big fan of his preaching style. Paul had a reputation for being unimpressive in person and giving contemptible sermons (2 Corinthians 10:10). One sermon in particular was so bad it lulled a parishioner to sleep who then fell out the window to his death (Acts 20:9).
There is a special place in my heart for skeptics. You know who they are, right? Skeptics are the ones who are always questioning things. They are always asking questions like, Is this really true? Is that really what happened? Can that leader or organization really be trusted? Are their motives really what they say? Where is the fine print? When is the bait and switch coming, really?
While there may have been a time when skepticism was largely pushed to the cultural margins, that time has long passed. Churches and their leaders no longer get the benefit of the doubt. Instead, doubt is alive and well. Skepticism has become a staple in the increasingly post-Christian West. Sadly, however, many churches continue to go on with business as usual. And many of them continue to shrink and die as a result.
I have the privilege of leading a church that has consistently reached skeptics in the four short years of our existence. What we’ve done is not innovative, but it has been intentional. Here are five things you can do to more effectively reach skeptics:
Yesterday I received a text message from a good friend that caused me to slam my phone down in disgust.
My friend had just delivered a large order of sandwiches to a church here in town to the tune of $1,500. He shared with me that it took he and another employee the majority of the morning to prepare the nearly two hundred box lunches. Although this church has a reputation for never tipping the delivery drivers from the business where my friend works, he thought surely they would tip this time. The order was enormous and the church had requested a discount. Perhaps, if nothing else, the church would tip the 10 percent discount to those who served them.
Have you ever sensed you were supposed to do something? Perhaps it was a hard conversation that needed to be had, an apology that needed to be made, an act of kindness that was yours to make, or something you just knew you needed to stop or start. Have you ever had that nagging sense that you were supposed to do something but when the time came to act you instead tucked tail and ran the other way?
For as long as I can remember I’ve loved the work of Vincent Van Gogh. In college I had a couple of his paintings hung in my cramped little freshman dwelling – his Cafe Terrace at Night displayed prominently between Pearl Jam and Dave Matthews posters. There is just something about the rich color and deep emotive quality of his work that has always struck a deep chord in me. It wasn’t until fairly recently, however, that I learned about Vincent Van Gogh, the man. What I learned was shocking.
Right now I’m looking at mohawks, blue hair, purple hair, gray hair, weaves, flatbills, tattoos, nose rings, lip rings, suits and camou. Man, the church is beautiful.
It’s been several weeks since I’ve sat down and written anything. You could say I have been on somewhat of a hiatus since my last article.
When I wrote “5 Really Bad Reasons To Leave Your Church” I had no idea the article would reach as far as it did. It was originally written to the relatively small contingent of people who read my still very new personal site. I was more than a little unprepared for what was to come when Relevant Magazine, On Faith and numerous smaller sites picked up the article.