Sunday, October 23, 2005

Ten things to do during a boring Pastors' Meeting

It’s no secret that even the best Pastors’ Meeting can have its tedious moments. That’s why I’m offering these suggestions on how to occupy your time during the boring parts of this year’s meeting . . . just so you’ll be awake and alert for the really important stuff!

1. Have a take-out pizza delivered to the meeting. Share it with those around you.

2. Look through your Conference directory, and start dialing the cell-phone numbers of other pastors. If anyone answers, remind them to turn-off their cell-phone during meetings. (Don will thank you for this.)

3. Mentally translate everything the speaker says into pirate-talk. (“Argh, me hearties – treasure there be in the pension plan . . . but not for the likes of you!”)

4. Two words: laser pointer.

5. Announce theme days: on Wednesday, for instance, try to get everyone to dress up like cowboys. On Thursday, come as your favorite Biblical character. On Friday, everyone should wear bunny slippers.

6. Shout “amen!” every time somebody says the word, “Oregon.”

7. Sell popcorn.

8. Sing “Father Abraham” silently to yourself while you’re sitting there – and yes, do all the actions as well.

9. Sit behind somebody who brought a laptop so that you can watch him play “Doom.”

10. Walk out of the room holding a pocket calculator next to your ear. If anyone notices that it’s not a cell phone, tell them “the reception is terrible – but at least there’s no roaming fee.”

Pastor Greg

And remember: "All systems ready. All preparations complete. All pigs fed and ready to fly" -- taken from a wall plaque.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

But is this what God is looking for?

When the Methodist Church did a big study of just what its members were looking for in pastors, here's what they found:

The personal qualities that are valued most:
1. A caring nature
2. Honesty
3. Cooperation
4. Self-control
5. Inspiration
6. Loyalty
7. Intelligence
8. Supportiveness
In short, "nice is good!"

The professional skills that are valued most:
1. Strong preaching
2. Management ability
3. Administration
4. Leadership and vision
5. Education
6. Worship
7. Community involvement
8. Evangelism
In short, "take care of us!"

(Source: Rick Lawrence's TrendWatch: insights that fuel authentic youth ministry. Loveland, Colorado: Group, 2000.)

Pastor Greg

And remember: "There has never been a pastor fired for visiting too much" -- Kyle Childress.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Dealing with dry spells

Even the best church gets old sometimes; even the best pastor goes through dry spells – those long, lonesome times when you don’t much feel like preaching, or visiting, or doing much of anything at all.

“Now if symptoms persist,” as the commercials like to say, “then see your doctor.” Roughly one out of every six American adults will suffer from depression at some point in their lives – and this is one problem where professional help can make a world of difference. (Trust me on this!)

And yes, there are times when a move can help; nothing sucks the joy out of ministry like a church you shouldn’t be pastoring.

But if you’ve just been feeling just a little “flat” lately, then here are some things that you might want to try:

Make sure you're not sick: coming down with the flu can feel just like a spiritual crisis. (So can diabetes!) Give those blues a couple of days, in other words, and see if they cure themselves (or develop into some kind of illness that you recognize). Meanwhile, get lots of rest and drink plenty of fluids.

Exercise: yeah, I know – that’s the last thing you feel like doing just now. (And besides, who has the time?) But when it comes to beating the “blahs,” nothing beats a half-hour walk every day.

Time off: Check the palms of your hands – see any nail-prints? No? Guess what: you are not the savior of the world . . . and it just may be possible that your people don’t need your help all of the time. So take a day off every week, take all of your vacation-time every year, and don’t be afraid to call in sick when you’re not feeling well.

Hobbies: some times are tougher than others; myself, I’ve always had trouble with Sundays, the week between Christmas and New Year, and early October (when the rainy season begins in Lincoln City). These are the times you need to stay busy – but you need to stay busy with something other than work, i.e. photography, carpentry, or that model train layout you’ve been meaning to finish for the past eight years.

Time with other pastors: Pastoring is a lonely job – not only does our job set us apart in the minds of most people, but we move a lot and we know too many secrets. (Then too, the Adventist church has never really figured out how to take care of the pastors it does have.) That’s why it’s always a good idea to meet with other pastors on a regular basis. And no, you don’t need an agenda; just a time to meet for coffee and pie is enough.

More time for devotions: it was Phil Yancey who said, “if your well is running dry, then you need to dig deeper.” Enough said.

Pastor Greg

And remember: “Nothing is impossible for those who don’t have to do it” – anonymous.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

You could already be a winner!

How many times have you taken a call to another church . . . only to find (as Milton Adams put it) that “it may be a different can, but it’s the same old worms”?

That’s why I’ve put together this questionnaire. Any church that’s interested in giving me a call . . . just fill it out, send it in along with a $20 bill, and then we’ll talk.

Ready? Grab a #2 pencil, and start writing!

1. The last pastor of your church [circle all that apply]:
a. was a saint, no matter what the Grand Jury might have said!
b. retired, and now chairs the Church Board.
c. was doing fine, right up to the day he showed up at a Business Meeting wearing high heels and an evening gown.
d. disappeared – and while we don’t really miss him, we do wish he’d come back and show us how to run the church copier.

2. If your church was a TV show, which of the following would it be?
a. Fear Factor
b. Survivor
c. Desperate Housewives
d. Gilligan’s Island

3. Which statement best describes the way your church makes decisions?
a. We have a small group of key people who make all the decisions (whether the rest of us like it or not).
b. We wait until things reach a crisis; then panic.
c. We’ve formed a committee to answer this question – let us get back to you on that.
d. We favor an open-style of decision-making that doesn’t really accomplish anything, but it does make us all feel included.

4. Based on the way your church spends money, what are its real priorities?
a. We’re a historical preservation society that’s dedicated to the maintenance of our church building.
b. We like our peace and quiet; if somebody squawks, we just keep throwing money at them until they shut up.
c. Actually, we’re still trying to figure out where all the money went.
d. One of our previous pastors helped us develop a “mission and goals statement” that we used to set financial priorities. Now if we could just remember where we put it . . .

5. The youth of your church are:
a. Mainly attending another church.
b. The future of our church – but meanwhile, they need to learn the meaning of “reverence.”
c. Largely the concern of an elderly couple who's been working in the Youth Department for 47-years, and has some real issues with co-dependency.
d. We need to talk about this later. In private.

6. When you hear the word “evangelism,” your first reaction is to:
a. Set aside an afternoon to pass out leaflets door-to-door.
b. Take note of which evening they’ll talk about “the mark of the beast,” so that you can be sure to invite all of your Catholic relatives.
c. Schedule a four-week vacation.
d. Suspect that the pastor is using this an excuse to change the Order of Worship and bring in a "celebration" type worship service.

7. We sure hope that our new pastor:
a. Enjoys working with plumbing -- and if he knows how to install drywall, that's a bonus!
b. Straightens out the following people [supply names here]:
c. Does not use words like “paradigm shift,” “emergent,” and “post-modern.”
d. Desn't change a thing – in fact, we've a list of recent changes that we want him to un-do!

BONUS QUESTION: When was the last time somebody got food poisoning at one of your church potlucks?

Pastor Greg

And remember: "The more difficult it is to follow God in any set of circumstances, the greater the obligation to remain in those circumstances" -- William Barclay.