Pastor Success is Not Your Goal.


If 19 years in ministry has taught me, anything it has taught me that leading  is difficult. There are times where you are on top of the world and other times where you feel the world is collapsing around you. The challenge is not to give in the going gets hard and to not blow up when things are going your way.

In life and ministry success is an amazing by-product but a terrible goal and an even worse master. The challenge for each of us especially those in ministry is to measure our lives by the right yardstick. It is very easy to get sucked into the more is better; leadership fixes everything trap. The modern leadership movement has done much to help pastors and churches, but we must also be aware of the damage it has done and continues to do. There has slipped in this idea of a post-modern, secular identity that we can rise from obscurity to be the church everyone in the nation is talking about. If we allow success to be our goal, business strategies to be our mantra and CEO’s to be our heroes we will be swallowed up by the success we think will earn God’s favor and man’s respect. Tim Keller in his book Making Sense of God says the secular identity brings a crushing burden with it.

The Single Greatest Recruitment Tool for Kidmin


Good now that I have your attention. Of all the ministries in the church, the most volunteer intensive ministry by far is children’s ministry. No matter the size of church you are in if you do kids ministry you never have enough volunteers. If you have done kids ministry for any length of time you will be able to say like Paul “I know what it’s like to be abased and to abound.” These past few months I have lost several volunteers. In my early years of kids ministry, this would have set me to breathing into a brown paper sack to avoid hyperventilation. Recruitment is a way of life for kidmin leaders. I am always looking for tools and tips to do it better.

If you have been to any conference for kids ministry people you will always see breakouts on how to recruit, train, and retain volunteers. They are helpful and instructive I have been to many that have helped think how I structure the ministry I am the chief steward of. For a few years when I was much younger and breathing into a brown paper sack more often than I would like to admit I used to take volunteers leaving as a personal thing. They weren’t moving on because life changed for them. In my mind, they were leaving because of me. While that may be true for some it was not true of all. Growing older in age and deeper in the gospel I have come to the understanding that I am a steward the ministry I lead is not mine I have influence by the grace of God alone for the Glory of God alone.

With that being said I will now give you the secret sauce of volunteer recruitment that I have painstakingly discovered over 20 years of ministry.


There it is my friends. Prayer. I have found prayer to be my best most reliable tool for recruiting people to help in all our children’s ministry. There have been so many times that I was overwhelmed by the empty spaces on my volunteer management system and people would call me or seek me out and tell me they want to help in kids ministry. There have been other times that in times of prayer God will drop names in my mind to ask to get involved. Other times God uses people like my wife to give me suggestions. All those things have this in common they are an answer to prayers I have prayed that God would help me see the unconnected, that He would send people my way who I don’t even ask.

Prayer is one of the most overlooked tools in the arsenal of any Christ follower. Prayer is powerful because we believe the God of Heaven hears and acts when we pray. Prayer is powerful because it reminds us that we are wholly dependent on the grace and the mercy of God in every action we take. So kidmin leader take heart, pray for you have a Father who loves you more than you will ever know who is working all things together for you good and his glory.

I leave you with these powerful words about prayer taken from the great Bishop J.C. Ryle and his short and convicting book on prayer.

Nothing seems to be too great, too hard, or too difficult for prayer to do. It has obtained things that seemed impossible and out of reach. It has won victories over fire, air, earth, and water.

Prayer opened the Red Sea. Prayer brought water from the rock and bread from heaven. Prayer made the sun stand still. Prayer brought fire from the sky on Elijah’s sacrifice. Prayer turned the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness. Prayer overthrew the army of Sennacherib.

Well said Mary Queen of Scots, “I fear John Knox’s prayers more than an army of ten thousand men.” Prayer has healed the sick. Prayer has raised the dead. Prayer has procured the conversion of souls. “The child of many prayers,” said an old Christian to Augustine’s mother, “will never perish.” Prayer, pains, and faith can do anything.

J.C. Ryle

6 Questions Every Communicator Must Ask Before They Preach



We live in an age where there is more information available to us than ever before. When I was a kid I did my research papers using encyclopedias, studied using a concordance. If you are under the age of 30 and are reading this you have no idea what I am talking about. Here is where our world has change for the better and for the worse, we no longer need those study methods because we have the internet. The problem with the internet is that even though you can get lots of good information you can also allow your thoughts and ideas to be diluted and even confused by the diversity of thoughts and ideas available online. One of the ways I try to overcome this is by passing thoughts and information through a series of questions. If you are a bible story-teller for kids church, a youth pastor or on an adult preaching team these questions will apply.

5 Questions every communicator must ask before they preach

1. Could I preach this message in a synagogue or in a Mormon Tabernacle? If so it’s not the gospel. –
2. Am I being faithful to the text? Am I allowing the text to speak or am I trying to get the text to say what I want it to say?
3. Do I have any practical application?
4. Does my application leave people with a sense that “if I do this then….” or does my application leave people with a sense “That if I do this and trust Jesus then….”
5. What’s my motivation? Will at the end of the message will I have been thought of as a brilliant communicator or will I point those in attendance (myself included) to their daily need for a brilliant savior.
6. Will the end result of this message be the worship and glorification of Christ?

Dear Pastor: Stay Where You Are.

The power of staying where you are in a transient world.


The blog post is part of a two others. My friends Kenny Connely and Carey Nieuwhof both wrote blog posts today around this idea. I wrote about the importance of staying, Kenny is talking how to leave well and Carey is addressing when you should stay and when you should leave. This is a conversation that needs to be had because of the ramifications it has on the local church. I hope you find each of our posts helpful, encouraging and challenging.

We live in a transient culture. The US Census Bureau found in 2007 the average person moves 11.7 times in their lifetime. Growing up in the home of a Bio-Vocational Pastor I moved a bit more than that, leaving your home and your network of friends to start over is not easy it takes courage. I have now lived in the same town and worked at the same church for 19 years and I can tell you staying takes as much courage as moving.

One of the things I missed by moving so often as a kid was seeing people get older. I always saw everyone in one stage of life. We moved every 3-5 years I saw people in snapshots of their lives. I didn’t attend my first funeral until I was 19 years old. I was never around long enough to either see people suffer or know them well enough to know they were suffering. When you have walked through life long enough with friends to both teach them in kids church, watch them get married and then dedicate their babies the relationships are deep. The beauty and the pain of deep relationships is that the further deep the relationship goes the more painful and bittersweet the sorrows of life become. Some would say why invite pain and sorrow into your life? But it’s not that way. Pain and sorrow need no invitation they visit each life those and those who know you see. I have found that more than any conference I have attended or speaking invitation I have accepted what has changed my life most is holding the hand and praying for a dear friend in the last moments of their life. To care for people deeply enough, to allow them in, to walk through life with them and to watch them as Paul says “Be swallowed by everlasting life” is an honor and a privilege. Two weeks ago I held the hand of a dear saint the night before she passed. I told her the beauty of the Christian hope is we never have to say goodbye only see you later. She gave me a hug and told me to keep taking care of the church. I hugged her goodbye, and she looked at me and said: “See you later.” What they don’t tell you in Seminary, in books, and on blogs, it’s moments like that when you see the grace of God in the face of old friends you realize the pain of the courage to stay is worth it.

Young Leader: Gospel


Gospel: What you believe about Jesus and His Church will decide who you become

As a young leader what you believe about Jesus and the church will ultimately decide your success in life and ministry. All of the Young Leader posts I have done find their basis in the work that Jesus has done for us. As a leader how you see God and align your life to his word personally is everything…well almost everything. You need to understand and have a personal relationship with Christ but that personal relationship finds it fulfillment in community. Community without a personal relationship is as unfulfilling as a personal relationship without community, both are lacking without the other.

The problem with many young leaders is in lacking experience they tend to fall into two extremes. They either over-estimate their abilities and push on without seeing the need for God’s help or they pull back because they are insecure about the experience they lack. What I love about the Gospel is it produces a much need humility that we all need. To have a proper view of Jesus you have to see beyond your own weakness and strengths. The is no greater tool at the disposal of a leader than humility. 

Augustine of Hippo said that, for those who would learn God’s ways, humility is the first thing, the second thing and the third thing.

Martin Luther, when asked to name the three greatest virtues replied, “First, humility; second, humility and third, humility.” .

C.S. Lewis describes humility in his Screwtape Letters as not as having a low opinion of one’s talents and character but rather as self-forgetfulness. This entails a radical honesty with ourselves about ourselves that begins to free us from the denials, pretences, and false images with which we deceive ourselves.

Only when we see Christ for who he is and us for who we are can we truly understand the gospel. And when we see Christ for who he is we see the love that he has for the church it must consume and compel us to love, serve and act with the same attitude that we see Christ demonstrated to us in Philippians 2. When all is said and done young leader what you believe about Jesus and what you believe about the church will decide how you will minister it determines the way you serve. You don’t have to be fluent in Greek and Hebrew but you do need to settle what you believe about Christ and His church.

How do you do this?

1. Preach the gospel to yourself. You need Jesus every day just as much as the people you are reaching.
2. Model to those you lead the same attitude of service Jesus modeled to his disciples. Nothing should be below you.
3. You should be more concerned about who you are following than how many are following you.
4. You should have a passion not just to move people to a personal relationship with Jesus but into a life-giving community of believers
5. Ask yourself who is the community that models their faith in your life.
6. Continually ask yourself if you have ever been more passionate about Jesus than you are today.