Tag Archive | Pastoral Leadership

Resolve: A Road Map for Best Practices

by Matt Loomis

It’s a new year and with it comes new challenges, and some familiar challenges. And unless we determine to deal with those challenges this year we’ll continue to see them in the years to come. Some are tensions to be managed, but others simply need to be resolved.

For many churches, updating or writing a comprehensive set of best practices is a daunting challenge that has been delayed for years. Decide to create a church Best Practices Document this year. Remember, starting on any large endeavor looks the same as starting on any small endeavor. Simply take the first step.

Here are some tips to help get those first few steps going:

Don’t do it all yourself. Find a team of gifted individuals who can do the nuts and bolts of the project. Look for individuals who have experience with policy/procedure writing already in your church. Find those who have knowledge specific to the areas you wish to cover. For example, utilize nursery directors, children’s directors, or bus coordinators.

Start and finish one area at a time. Decide where you will start – perhaps the nursery or a bus ministry, and finish it before you move on. Learn from your first experience and apply what you learn to the areas you will address next.

Inform those who will be impacted. Both your volunteers and those who utilize a particular ministry need to know ahead of time why you are changing the way things have been done in the past. Meet with volunteers and train them on the new policy/best practice. Get them on board ahead of time. Send out informational notes to those who utilize the ministry area months in advance of the changes that are coming.

Allow a grace period. Announce and plan a time period where the new best practices will be in effect, yet not enforced. This allows volunteers to practice following the new policy/best practices. It also allows time for those that utilize a particular ministry to learn what changes they may need to make. A bonus during this grace period is that some glitches or problems with the new best practices will be identified and can be corrected prior to its full implementation.

Implement and follow. After you have gone through all the effort to design these systems, make sure you implement and follow the best practices, even as the Lead Pastor. This gives credibility to your Best Practices Document. Only then is it fulfilling what it was designed to do.

Review. Plan into the design a three month review, a six month review and a one year review. At three months you can correct any misunderstandings with volunteers and address any minor changes to the best practices. At six months any major issues will have arisen and can be noted. After a year of the new best practices in effect the original team should reconvene and discuss all the issues that have surfaced. It is at this time that any major changes or alterations to the Best Practices Document should be made.

Once that first area of the church has been tackled and a Best Practices Document is helping to define it, you will be able to use the same template to address other areas in the church.  And if you only get one area of the church done this year, resolve to continue to meet the challenge next year!


December: Not Yet

by Tom Jacobs

I confess. I’ve grown to enjoy mowing the lawn and clearing snow from my driveway.  It may sound a little strange to some people, but I like the feeling of being able to look at what I’ve done and actually see the progress that I’ve made.  In ministry, often that joy eludes us.  It can be difficult to see just how sanctified the people in the church have become.  About the time you think the church has become healthy, you hear that gossip or judgmentalism has flared up again.  The work of ministry is never complete, and sometimes you can find yourself wondering if it has even begun!

During those times of frustration it is important to remind ourselves that Jesus is not done with us yet.  We may not be able to see the progress (especially in the short term), but God’s Word to the Philippians is true for us also:  “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6, NIV).  We live in the kingdom of the “not yet.”  God’s work is being done, but it is not complete yet.

As spiritual leaders, it falls to us to see people through eyes of faith.  Certainly, we see people as they are, but we also see them as the individuals that God has created them to be.

This December, our communications theme is “not yet.” We’ll be talking about what it means to wait for our Savior, to wait to see growth, to value delayed gratification and more. So, join us as we explore the value of living in the kingdom of the “not yet.”

Importance of Process

by Don McGarvey

Have you discovered times when the process is more important than the outcome of the process?

The four-fold mission of Assemblies of God World Missions is reaching, planting, training and touching in the spirit of Luke 4:18 “preach to the poor, proclaim freedom to prisoners, recovery of sight to the blind and release the oppressed.”

Too often we become consumed with how much money we give to World Missions, how many missionaries we support or how many missions trips we can go on, all while missing the heart of our mission.

Raising money, supporting missionaries, and going on missions trips are great! But more importantly, we need to catch the vision for partnering with our missionaries to reach, plant, train and touch.

One step you can take toward casting this vision to your church is to recruit a missions team for your church. This team doesn’t need to be large. It can simply be a few church members who have a heart for missions and are committed to getting the church involved in missions projects that are consistent with the personality of your church.

Assemblies of God World Missions offers many tools to assist you in this process. You can find sermon resources, monthly videos and much more on their website.

Please feel free to contact me, mcgarvey.don@gmail.com if I can assist you in this important process.

Looking through Broken Glass

by Matt Loomis

Not long ago, I came home to a broken window and immediately began looking for the vandal. It turns out my daughter wanted to get our dog’s attention and slapped the window above our kitchen sink. As her ring struck the glass it cracked completely from one side to the other.

I really wanted to get the window fixed as quickly as possible, but like everyone else, my schedule prohibited a repair in the immediate week, so I slapped some clear tape over the crack to keep the glass from breaking further or falling out. While that proved to be a short-term solution it did nothing to actually fix the window.

Oddly enough after about two weeks I went from saying, “I need to fix that,” every time I saw the window, to looking right through the glass oblivious to the tape and crack. It wasn’t until a piece fell out in mid winter that I again began to say, “I need to fix that.”

This spring I made a list of the things I needed to fix around the house and that window was on the list. It wasn’t at the top, but it was on the list. In early summer I finally removed the storm window, scraped the glazing out, replaced the glass, reglazed the window, waited for it to dry and painted it. What I learned from that broken window is that repairs and improvements are a process. The same is true at the church.

Most would recognize areas around our church or home that are safety or security issues. Some require immediate action, for example broken doors or glass, but those that can receive temporary fixes, or seem like little repairs, often get overlooked. Just as I eventually was able to look right through that cracked glass and tape, many times issues that need attention in our church become invisible to us. We see them so many times our brains simply stop registering them. That’s why it is so important to have a monthly facility review that makes notations of items in need of repair.

The process continues with the board evaluating the monthly facility review at their regular board meetings. They can decide on what actions need to be taken. Based on financial ability, length of time the repair has been waiting and the difficulty of the repair, the board can hire or assign repairs to be made.

It is a process that continues all year long but will help keep the church looking its best and free from unsafe or unsecure conditions.

For more information on keeping your church safe contact Matt Loomis at: matt@loomissafetyandconsulting.com.

The Process of Nominating Board Members – Part 2

by Tom Jacobs

Yesterday, we started a conversation about the process of nominating board members. You can read it here. Here is the continuation of our conversation:

6. Determine the candidates’ willingness to be considered.  This is typically done best via a phone call or personal visit.  It doesn’t necessarily need to be a long conversation at this point.  Simply ask the person to prayerfully consider the possibility.  If he/she doesn’t give you an immediate answer, set a time to get back together in order to get their response.

7. Complete the questionnaire.  If the individual is willing for their name to be considered, ask him/her to complete a questionnaire.  You can get a sample questionnaire through the IMN office.  Set a time when you can get together (include his/her spouse if appropriate) to review the questionnaire and to discuss the possibility of serving on the board.

8. Meet for an interview.  The interview (including a review of the questionnaire) should be a relaxed time, allowing for an hour, to discuss the “job description” of a board member, the vision of the church, the candidate’s feelings about serving, etc.

9. Finalize your list.  Once you’ve completed the interviews, meet again with the committee to finalize the list of candidates.

10. Present the names.  In accordance with your bylaws, present the names to the congregation prior to the business meeting.  You can do this by listing the names in the bulletin or posting them in the church lobby, etc.

11. During the business meeting.  It is inappropriate to allow any discussion about the candidates during the process of election during the business meeting.  You can explain to the congregation that the candidates’ eligibility has been reviewed by the nominating committee and that any questions regarding the candidates should have been addressed to the committee prior to the meeting.  Allowing discussion during the election can take on the appearance of campaigning and can serve to disrupt the voting process.

12. Once the election has taken place, bring the new board members forward for prayer and celebration.  Be sure to thank all those who allowed their names to stand for the election process.

I’ve discovered that an agreed upon strategy is very helpful to guide the candidate process as it moves forward.  I hope that your church will find a process similar to this one beneficial.  Remember to pray at every stage and in-between.  I am praying that God will lead you to your future leadership!

The Process of Nominating Board Members – Part 1

by Tom Jacobs

Healthy churches are led by healthy leadership teams.  As pastors and boards work well together, churches function more effectively in achieving their God-given mission.  Therefore, it is imperative that qualified individuals are nominated (and eventually elected) to local church boards.  These individuals will demonstrate a blend of character, competence, capacity, calling and chemistry.  Following are some items to consider when nominating your future board members.

1. Pray.  God has a plan for your church leadership.  This is a spiritual process in which your church enters the process of discovering the will of God for your future leadership.  Prayer should be an integral in every step of the process.

2. Follow your bylaws.  It is imperative that you follow your bylaws in order for this process to be legitimate.  If you feel that your current bylaws do not prescribe the best board nominating process, you must lead the church to consider changing the bylaws.  It is best to consider a bylaw change prior to the nomination and election process, so that it is not influence by a specific election or an individual who has been nominated.  Proposing changes can take time, but it is always best to follow the process.  If you need assistance along these lines, contact our office.

3. Form your team.  Your bylaws may prescribe a process of appointing a nominating committee.  You may be allowed to simply charge your board with the responsibility of serving as a nominating committee.  Whatever the case, you will want to have individuals on this committee who understand the leadership issues that the board will face.

4. Know what you’re looking for.  The more qualified the board members, the more effective the board will be.  Look for leaders who demonstrate Christ-like character, competence (the skill set to provide solid, spiritual leadership), capacity (do they have the time and emotional and relational reserves?),  calling (does he/she believe this role is God’s will for his/her life?), and chemistry (will he/she be a good fit with the pastor and current board members?). A suggested Board Member Ministry Description can be found here.

5. Develop your list.  Meet with your nominating committee to pray and discuss possible candidates.  Prior to arriving at the meeting, produce a roster of eligible church members for the committee to review.  Develop a list of candidates.  If possible, place at least two names for each available position.

6. Determine the candidates’ willingness to be considered.  This is typically done best via a phone call or personal visit.  It doesn’t necessarily need to be a long conversation at this point.  Simply ask the person to prayerfully consider the possibility.  If he/she doesn’t give you an immediate answer, set a time to get back together in order to get their response.

Check back tomorrow for Part 2!


by Tom Jacobs

Sometimes I want to go back in time and simply ask Alexander Graham Bell, “What were you thinking?”  I’m sure he could not imagine digital technology.  Certainly, he could not have foreseen an entire generation constantly connected to a cell phone. I’m sure he didn’t anticipate the communication tether that would wrap us in email, phones, Twitter, e-books, Facebook, Skype and satellite TV.  Whatever Bell’s intentions, faster and more immediate communication can work against personal, spiritual renewal. While I’m certainly not an expert in turning off, tuning out and taking time away, let me suggest a couple of goals that I’m pursuing this fall.

Turn it all off once in a while.

Be sure to turn off all of your devices and electronics and take some time away with your family from time to time.  You may need to schedule this time – even if it’s only in your own mind.  Find a place or two where you simply won’t take your phone (like the dinner table, or on a walk with your spouse).  Maybe you’ll need to designate a day or two per week when you don’t turn on the TV or the car radio.  Some of us may even need to participate in a media fast (if that’s frightening, you might want to simply try shutting off Facebook for a day at a time).

Choose your “renewal media”.

Decide to spend some time engaged with media that will help you reach your goals.  For instance, this fall would be a great time to develop a book list that you will plan to read in the next several months.  You can make a similar plan with podcasts, blogs or audio books.  Even if it is only a book a month or a podcast every couple of weeks, you will be amazed at how much material you will access over the course of a year. (The first person to text “renew” with their name and address to 712.251.5072 will get a copy of Road Trip Leadership by George Wood)

Listen in God’s presence.

Often, when I am inundated with media, my prayer time begins to feel rushed and fast-paced, too.  Be sure to make time to simply be in God’s presence.  It seems that when my heart is quiet, I am most able to hear God’s voice.

In order for our ministry to be most effective, we need times of renewal where we escape the din of constant media, and we need to choose to access the messages that will refresh our spirits and our minds. Healthy, renewed pastors are better able to lead healthy, renewed churches.