Count with me pastors

Ministry for the One, Not the Masses Found on manofdepravity.com

Two Things You Must Do with Your Sermons Found on christianity.com

3 Reasons Your Staff Should Be Physically Fit Found on churchjobs.tv

4 types of friends every pastor needs Found on blog.lifeway.com

5 Ways To Be Unsatisfied With Your Church Found on shaneblackshear.com

Six Reasons Pastors Should Not Quit Their Jobs on Monday Found on thomrainer.com

Seven of the Greatest Stressors on Pastors Found on thomrainer.com

Eight Ways to Spot Emotionally Healthy Pastors and Staff Found on thomrainer.com

9 Reasons Why Church Leaders Should Read the Daily News Found on thomrainer.com

10 THINGS PASTORS HATE TO ADMIT PUBLICLFound on pastormatt.tv

Think even smaller small group

I have been reading a book by Michael Mack entitled The Pocket Guide to Burnout-Free Small Group Leadership. In this book Mack offers a lot of great insight on how to do ministry in small groups. He sympathizes for the small group lay leader who has 13-20 people in his group yet he alone is responsible for planning the group, calling and praying for his members, preparing the materials and food, hosting at his house, teaching and facilitating the group and all of the other administration tasks associated with this ministry. Not only does Michael suggest to expand the the leadership team to help delegate tasks and share responsibility for each small group, Mack goes further and suggests that each leader should really focus in on only two to four others.

Mack is not the first or only ministry leader to think of this idea. Robert Coleman in his books The Master Plan for Evangelism and The Master Plan for Discipleship, noticed that Jesus “made disciples” of only twelve disciples. Sure there were hundreds of causal followers but Jesus spent the majority of his time with  twelve. Looking even deeper in the Scriptures, Coleman shows that Jesus even focused more on three in particular. Mack agrees. Imagine if in each small group of 15-20 people, there was a leader (or shepherd) for every three or four people?

Imagine sharing life with a respected elder or someone even slightly further along the journey then you…Imagine having weekly time with a few other close friends who also love Jesus. Not only would you be able to dig deeper into the Word together, get personal attention to life’s struggles and questions, intimate prayer, but also serve God together and evangelize together! That is an amazing picture of ministry and small groups!

It reminds me of my days in Campus Crusade for Christ (or Cru) at Ohio University. This ministry is built on Coleman’s ideas. There is a weekly large group meeting for worship and teaching but the majority of the ministry is in smaller group ministry teams and Bible Studies through-out campus. Even more, as a Bible Study leader and leader on some other teams, I had the opportunity to do some one-on-one training/mentoring, we called it “discipleship.” I loved it. I meet with an older student who was discipling me. Then I also meet two younger students individually and discipled them. It is interesting now to think about it, but part of what I was doing as I discipled these young men was spiritual formation life coaching, which is something I still do today. In fact, I’ve made a career out of counseling and coaching.  

Focus on God, not on being a pastor

 Pastors and Christian leaders commonly think, “I have to act like a clergy at all times?” Wherever a pastor or Christian leader is at the store, church, home, with family or in town, they feel that they have to act as a clergy/pastor persona. Part of this is absolutely true. Once you decide to go into ministry, you put yourself and family under fire and your house is a glass house. All that is true.
This is what I like to call the Pedestal Syndrome. It is frustrating, we (as ministers) tend to put on unreal expectations on our own self!  In reality we are human too. We are not perfect people. Worse, we feel guilty for not meeting those unhealthy expectations. Next this can provoke, a “fake” you….you never really feel free to relax and be yourself, because we feel you “have to be pastor.”
Do you remember the call to ministry in your life? Think about your sense of God’s call in your life. What passages in the Bible  describe that call? What was your experience life when you knew that you were called? Which biblical figures/characters do you relate with?  Where were you? Put yourself in that place for a moment. What Biblical passages come to mind in regards to your calling?  Recall those Scriptures that really encourage you, even today in your ministry. Write about this experience. It is important to not censor your writing in the process. You are not trying to compose and essay on the call. You are simply writing without stopping for 10 minutes or so. Then go back and read what you have written and see what that evokes in you. if you need to look something up quickly in your Bible that is fine also. Meditatively and prayfully just write, free-flowingly…Don‘t throw away what seems irrelevant. Save it and see what God does with it later.  
Here are some ideas to boost your spiritual thought this week:
Option 1- One practice that can strengthen your own spiritual life is the silent meal. This is frequently practiced in monasteries. There is a freedom in not being expected to speak and interact with others. It offers you an opportunity to draw within yourself.This can be practiced even at a fast food restaurant. Order an inexpensive meal, choose a table, and enter into a time of silence in the midst of the cacophony of the world around you. As you sit down at the table, before you unwrap your meal, begin your prayer time. Begin with prayers for all those who had some part in preparing the meal before you, taking that as far back in the food process as possible. There was someone who has raised the animal or planted and cared for the vegetables that you are about to eat, who prepared the paper, designed the package, etc.
After about ten minutes of prayer, begin to slowly unwrap your simple meal and occasionally take a bite or sip of my drink as you continue your prayers. As much as possible, pray with your eyes closed and your mind totally focused. You might pray for people or situations in your ministry, or pray for colleagues that you know are having a difficult time. Prayer for at least one-half hour from the time that you sit down at the table.
Option 2- Take short periods of time in the beginning. Determine to take a half-hour break in which you will explore how Scripture can speak to you about the attributes of God. Use a concordance to identify some adjectives that praise God. Gather up several of them and then spend some time exploring the nature of God through these adjectives. That might come in the form of a word study or it might be in the form of contemplation around one or two of these adjectives. Whatever your approach,, the purpose is to focus your attention on the wonder of God.

The time limit of one-half hour might even serve the advantage of intriguing you so that you want to set aside another half-hour at another time to continue the experience. Discipline yourself to avoid thinking of how useful your work might be for a sermon, a class, etc. This is time to place yourself purely in the presence of God in a loving way. However you go about it, keep some notes on how it makes you feel. If one aspect of the Sabbath is to step outside of the normal pace of life to nurture relationships, this is a way to begin with a short Sabbath experience of loving God.

Wednesday Links List

I’m implementing a new feature called Wednesday links. Each week, I will post 5 good links related to self-care, stress, mental health, life coaching or other related topic relevant to ministry, coaching, counseling or life as a small business owner.

Today will be the first set of links:

1. Eight Ways Leaders Make Themselves Vulnerable to Spiritual Attack by Thom Rainer

2.Chronic worriers can’t switch brain off by the by the Press- Enterprise

3. Back to Campus Mental Health Resources by Mental Health America

4. 8 Fascinating Facts About Anxiety by Psyblog

5. Keep up with all things “Fully Alive Life Coaching,” with my daily paper that features over 200 contributors but most importantly my feeds on Twitter, Youtube and Facebook. Here is the link: http://paper.li/f-1381598529

My interview on Close up Radio

Discover Motivation Internet Radio with Close Up Talk Radio on BlogTalkRadio

Lancaster, OH – There’s a perception that our clergymen don’t need anyone to talk to – after all they have their faith – but that’s not always the case. Our pastors and ministers are people, too. We all need help and support, especially those who give so much of themselves in service of others.
“Even pastors need life coaches,” says Alex Dolin, a life coach and Christian therapist. “They give, give and give, but they don’t always have someone to watch their back. If you help people but forget to take care of yourself, you will feel overwhelmed. I just think it’s something that’s needed and I wanted to support them.”
Until recently, Dolin specialized almost exclusively in life coaching services for clergymen, some of whom had even experienced a crisis of faith. Dolin now accepts clients from all walks of life using the same coaching techniques and restless enthusiasm that proved so effective with pastors.
“Helping people and wanting to help people has been my whole life story,” says Dolin. “It’s why I became a minister. It’s why I’m taking classes to be a licensed professional counselor. Coaching is just another way for me to help people defeat their obstacles and achieve their best in life.”
According to Dolin, many of his clients experience difficulty identifying their purpose because of negative underlying beliefs. Dolin offers his clients the accountability and encouragement that’s necessary to achieve their goals.
“Everyone has a tape recorder in their head playing over and over,” says Dolin. “It can be really encouraging or it can be negative. It’s about helping people to have healthier thoughts to find their next motivation.”

RCI #25

Recently got home from being a part of Kairos #25 at Ross Correctional. It was an amazing experience. God showed up and started changing people’s lives!

 I am pretty hooked into doing more of this Kairos ministry.You know that the fields are white and ready for harvest right? (Jn 4:35). Well in Kairos ministry, these men are hurting. These men are ready for some life change. The fields are white and the harvest is literally falling off the plants. All we do is bring the Gospel and bring our servant attitudes.
The Kairos weekend is set-up for success. It has been field tested and edited to a science. We know this because it works! We do not try to fix something that is working. God is using Kairos. People are coming to Christ through Kairos. We are just God’s instruments.

God really worked even just within those 4 days that this Kairos team was at RCI. We now desire to pray for these men, that they will be able to continue their walk with Christ in this institution. They are the church of Christ. They are the community of change at RCI. They are the church! Together and with Christ all things are possible. Even within the walls of the dark prison blocks they can live for Christ! So please pray for them.

This was truly an amazing experience for me for a number of reasons. First I saw gang members find Jesus. Instead of living for themselves, they now want to live for Christ!!!!! It was so powerful.

Second, I got to meet and work in the back room with some of the leaders of this lay ministry. There are some amazing men living for Christ. That alone was so encouraging. I just wanted to eat up every word of wisdom I was hearing from these godly men.

Third, God was there. That was where I wanted to be, in a place I could feel the presence of the Lord!

I have a few more reflections: I found out that as an ordained clergy, I cannot lead Kairos. This is kind of a sad revelation but it is okay. On one hand this is relieving as the stress level will never really be an issue for me. On the other end, I am sad because the leadership track for Kairos looks like a lot of fun. I would enjoy it. But I am ordained and therefor not a lay person, so I have a different calling than leading the lay-driven ministry. I am called to be clergy at a table and/or be spiritual director. I can still do all the behind the scenes leading and serving. So it is actually quite alright.
Well there are so many stories. So little time. The point is that Kairos takes some dedication, although it is completely worth it. It is for Jesus.
God would have it that Governor Kasich loves Kairos and wants it in every prison in Ohio because it really does work.  The difficultly is that we need more volunteers. We need your help. My witness of the program is that it is utterly entirely worth the dedication, to serve Christ in this way.

My First Kiaros

I had the opportunity to be a part of a Kairos Weekend, this past week. I was the table servant for the table of Paul at Pickaway Correctional Institute (PCI) Kairos #1! Learn about Kairos in this post.
It was an amazing experience. I really enjoyed it and was encouraged. Leading up to this weekend, I had been meeting with 40 godly men, for eight weeks, training and preparing for this weekend. At first, this was an odd experience, I did not really know what I was getting into. The first time I went to the training meeting I felt alone. I did not really know anyone very well. As the weeks went by, I had a new family. It was really cool to have fellowship and teachings from these godly men.
In no time, all eight training session had past and it was time for my Kairos weekend! I did not get everything I was suppose to get done accomplished. Each team member was suppose to bake about 100 dozen cookies. With the help of my church, I only contributed about 70 dozen cookies. I was suppose to contribute about $300. I only had about $200 to give. I did contribute some Agape: place mats, posters and prayer chains. I did complete all of my letters to the participants . To learn more about these things check out this post. And check out my Kairos Pin Board.
So as a table servant, I was a for the most part a waiter for the table of Paul. I kept my table clean, full of cookies, beverages and food! I did some other things behind the scene too to keep the weekend going. I was a servant. It was really neat to see the weekend from my perspective. As many of my team member say, the table servant job is the best job. I got to see the participants go from not being used to being served on Friday and hesitant to get involved…to being very involved and friendly on Sunday afternoon. They were hugging us and telling me how I deserved a tip for my hard work. It was nothing really, just service in love.
As part of the weekend, our team distributed cookies to every single staff and resident of Pickaway Correction Institute. I had the opportunity to help distribute cookies to all the residents of one of the dorms. It was really neat but also very interesting. In the dorm I went to, there were five locked bays. In each bay there was about 26 bunk beds or 52 racks. I was allowed into the bay area with the commanding officer and a few porters to help me pass out the cookies. Some of the residents were sleeping, so we woke them up with the cookies. They looked at me with surprise and confusion which quickly turned into curiosity and a smile. Many of the residents quickly said “Thanks” and “God bless you” as I told them “God loves you.” That was fun. But I am sure glad I do not live in one of those bays.
I enjoyed the weekend. I did not get much sleep but it was okay. I really am encouraged by what God is doing there at PCI. I am excited about the future. It is would be tough living in those conditions as a new Christian. So my job is not over. We can all pray for them!
I want to do more of this type of ministry. I have a heart for these men. We all make mistakes. We are all sinners. God loves these men too. They need God’s love a lot in their environment.