Church planting

Peak Pastors Group

Spread Eagle Peak – August, 2019

Nobody “gets” the life of

a pastor like a pastor.

Join a growing group of pastors on the new Peak Pastors Facebook Group page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/peakpastors/

This group exists to #encourageencourageencourage the local pastor, their families and teams in 4 essential areas… heart, soul, mind and strength.

Every post focuses on one of these aspects… the heart is for family, the soul is all about spiritual growth in Christ, the mind is about teachability and growth as a leader and strength is about getting and staying healthy physically.

We have never needed to lead in

community more than today.

Let’s face it, we are all living and leading in a new normal. Let’s make the new normal look more like a collaborative effort than ever before!

I need you. You need me. We need each other and this is a good thing, even a “God-thing!”

Please, join us on the new Peak

Pastors Facebook Group today…

and invite a pastor friend to join

you!

Listen to the Wise

Who are you listening to through this season?

The voices we listen to shape us.

The voices we listen to seep into our minds and then mold our attitude, perspective, and find their way into our conversations and then inform our decisions and, ultimately, our actions.

Are you in an echo chamber of our own voice or very small circle of voices? Would you say that your own biblical world view has been challenged, stretched or grown through this season?

I’ll ask it again, who are you listening to through this unsettled season of crisis?

The way of fools seems right to

them, but the wise listen to advice.

Proverbs 12:15

Here are some voices I have been listening to and recommend to you, not because I agree 100% with everything being said, but because I want to be challenged, stretched and to grow as a follower of Jesus and leader in His Church…

Unbelievable Podcast with Justin Brierley…

Ravi Zacharias on the Ben Shapiro Show…

CNLP Bonus 21 | Crisis Leadership. Special Panel on Best Practices for Crisis Leadership and Finding Hope with Jud Wilhite, Kevin Queen and Tricia Sciortino https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LnaFN7zGTi4

3 Simple Ways to Make Sure You Don’t Break in the Crisis by Carey Nieuwhof https://careynieuwhof.com/3-simple-ways-to-make-sure-you-dont-break-in-the-crisis/

Prayer Partners with Saint Patrick

Guest Blogger: Pastor Steve Rennick

Steve in Hezekiah’s Tunnel

A New Approach to Praying with

a Prayer Partner

This guest blog post comes at just the right time. Share this hope-building perspective on prayer from Pastor Steve Rennick with someone today!

When I came to Christ on my 14th birthday my first pastor told me, “Steve, you’ll never make it on your own. You have to read 5 chapters of your bible every day. You have to kneel beside your bed and pray out loud every day. You have to attend church every time the doors are open. And you have to lean into our youth group. Do you hear me, Steve? You’ll never make it on your own.”

Those were (and still are) sage words of wisdom. I took them to heart. And, my pastor was right. I would not have made it on my own.

Today, some 40+ years later, I still cannot make it on my own. After bible college and seminary — following years of youth ministry, overseas missionary work in rural East Africa, and leading a large multi-service & church-planting congregation — now more than ever…

I cannot make it on my own.

To my surprise God is bringing some “new” prayer partners into my life. At a time when I needed it most I stumbled onto a prayer thought to have been written (or inspired by) Saint Patrick of Ireland.

Pat’s life is an amazing odyssey (kidnapped, human trafficked, converted to Christ, escaped, called back to his captors with the Gospel) which is worthy of your time to read. However, his heart-felt prayer has helped me even more than his life story!

Today, Pat has become one of my

Prayer Partners!

His prayer helps me to pray in the awareness of the living presence of Jesus. I hope he and his prayer might help you, too.

Here is my own “adaptation” of what is popularly known as
“The Breastplate Prayer” of St. Patrick of Ireland.

“I Arise Today” … an adaptation of “The Breastplate Prayer” by Saint Patrick

I arise today through the …

Strength of heaven,

Light of sun,

Splendor of fire,

Speed of lightning,

Swiftness of wind,

Depth of sea,

Stability of earth,

Firmness of rock.

I arise today through … 

God’s strength to pilot me;

God’s might to uphold me,

God’s wisdom to guide me,

God’s eye to look before me,

God’s ear to hear me,

God’s word to speak for me,

God’s hand to guard me,

God’s way to lie before me,

God’s shield to protect me,

God’s hosts to save me.

Afar and anear,

Alone or in a multitude,

Christ shield me today.

Christ with me, 

Christ before me, 

Christ behind me,

Christ in me, 

Christ beneath me, 

Christ above me,

Christ on my right, 

Christ on my left,

Christ when I lie down, 

Christ when I get up,

Christ in the heart of all who think of me,

Christ in the mouth of all who speak of me,

Christ in the eye of all who see me,

Christ in the ear of all who hear me.

I arise today … through … 

the mighty strength of Christ.

May you also arise today through and in the mighty strength of Christ!

Pack Light, Pack Right 2

Part 2: The Pastor’s Soul

“For the soul to be well, it needs to be with God.”

– John Ortberg, Soul Keeping

Soul Keeping, by John Ortberg

Somewhere in the preparing and preaching, in the teaching and training, the visioning and visiting, counseling and caring for the local church is the soul of a pastor… and it needs keeping.

The second essential thing to pack light and pack right for pastors is a healthy soul. We want to help pastors focus on their own soul health, namely, their personal relationship with Jesus.

After all, without a healthy soul, grounded and growing in a purposed relationship with Jesus, pastors simply cannot be who and what they long to be in the home, the church or community. What was it Paul said?

I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:27)

This is where our future Pioneer

Trail Teams will come in!

Be on the lookout for more information about small groups of pastors that will be forming in the months to come. Our first groups will be Pioneer Trail Teams who will help us blaze the trail of these cohorts of pastors, learning together more about what it means to encourage and hold one another accountable in the four essential areas of heart, soul, mind and strength!

Nobody “gets” the life of a pastor like a

pastor (and their spouses!).

Until then, join in our Peak Pastors Facebook Group page by pastors, for pastors! Invite others to join you and encourage, encourage, encourage.

If you haven’t already read Soul Keeping by John Ortberg, you simply must pick it up and put it in your daily carry pack! IT IS A MUST READ AND MUST APPLY. Check it out at http://www.johnortberg.com/book_type/books/ or on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Soul-Keeping-Caring-Most-Important/dp/1491521619

How do you care for your soul, pastor? Share your insights below or on our Peak Pastors Facebook Group page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/peakpastors/?source_id=440477556480460

Simplify Part 2

We live and lead in a noisy world.

For most pastors (and leaders of any organization) there is no shortage of people giving their advice, opinion and, of course, constructive criticism. Add to this a non-stop stream of voices on social media, email and text, it quickly becomes non-stop noise.

How can you get control of this and infuse your life and leadership with less of this noise? Here are 3 simple steps…

Take control of the Who.

Unsubscribe to all email lists, subscriptions, podcasts, youtube channels, social media follows, etc, except those that you actually use weekly. I have unsubscribed some incredibly influential people simply because my leadership “sponge” (and gray matter!) is already on information overload. I think it’s called “too much of a good thing.”

Take control of the What.

You can’t always control what shows up on your news or social feeds, who calls or texts you on your phone, etc. However, you can control whether you are watching or listening to these devices in the first place.

Deliberately plan daily no-device down time. Carve out time for study in the Word and prayer. Schedule time with someone; a family member or core team member. Keep all devices out of sight. You will come to love this time and the world will go right on without you and your world will vastly improve because of it.

Take control of the When.

Whenever possible, choose to do what needs done first and connect with who needs connected with before entering the cyber world in any forum. In other words, prioritize who and what matters to you and your team.

I’ll be honest, I check my email early in the work day, usually first thing when I get to the office. If someone has connected and I need to respond, I can put it on the list. Then, it’s time to disconnect and check in with staff and spend some time doing what needs done. Later in the afternoon, usually after lunch with some core people and some more no-device down time, I check my emails again and respond.

When it comes to social media, writing and scheduling posts like this and checking out whats going on with the few I actively follow, it happens early or late, but the day belongs to people.

Simplifying is hard.

It won’t ever just “happen.” We have to borrow from the wisdom of sages like the late, great Dr. Dallas Willard who said to Dr. John Ortberg, “Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” When it comes to overcoming complexity and quieting the multitude of voices speaking into our lives, the same advice holds true.

Be ruthless.

Need some more insight into this? Two podcasts that lend some expert advice on this area of personal life and leadership management are interviews by Carey Nieuwhof with Rebekah Lyons https://careynieuwhof.com/episode303/ and Dr. John Otberg https://careynieuwhof.com/episode307/ .

While you’re at it, check out The High Impact Workplace at https://careynieuwhof.com/hiwtools/

Hope this helps encourage and equip you, your family and team!

Pastor Appreciation Month!

Both my wife and I are “PK’s” and we have spent almost 30 years living the highs and lows of life in ministry.

This is no small reason why we love to encourage pastors and the ministries they serve through Peak Pastors!

While we still have so much to learn about life and leadership, and are grateful for the long line of pastors in our family trees, here’s what we do know…

Being a pastor is tough (see stats below). And, being a pastor’s spouse or a “PK” may be even tougher.

From my heart to yours, here are 5 ways you and your congregation can appreciate your pastor and family during this month or anytime of the year

1) Give them grace, a lot of grace. Remember, they are just people.

Your pastor and their family struggle with all the same stuff you and your kids do. They aren’t perfect. They aren’t superheroes. They are human. They need grace.

Be understanding, patient and kind when your pastor and their family struggle deeply along the way.

2) Give them encouragement. Because they are people, too, they need a lot of this.

They are often reminded of their shortcomings, failures and faults in the course of ministry, even while they seek to help others with theirs.

Determine to counter this with a constant stream of compliments and “Atta’ boys!” They need it. Besides, it’s so very hard to be an encourager when you are discouraged.

3) Give them… gifts! Your pastor isn’t in it for the money. Still, they would love to be able to go out and have a good time with their spouses and kids a little more often.

Donate gift cards to restaurants, shopping centers, coffee shops, theaters, sport venues, gas stations, and more.

If you are a Lead Pastor, do what we have done over the years and see to it that there is a table provided where members can give those cards and maybe a note of encouragement.

4) Give them your prayers. Pray a lot for your pastor! Your pastor has a great big “bulls eye” on his chest. The devil would love to discourage or even destroy your pastor and family knowing that so many more are likely to be disillusioned should they stumble.

Pray protection, endurance, discernment and, above all joy in the journey of your pastors and their families!

5) Give them more time. Whether you decide as a leadership team to extend your pastor some extra days off or an extra week of vacation… the biggest pressure on your pastor and their family is time.

No, most pastors don’t have to “punch a clock.” However, they don’t have weekends off. They often spend evenings studying, answering emails, phone calls, at meetings, counseling, at that community event, praying, planning, texting with members and more because their days are so full of, well, church business.

Allow me to offer one more rather bold suggestion on behalf or your pastoral family.

Please, don’t automatically give them an invite for yet another evening with you and a few other couples.

They have likely been visiting with people in and out of the church all week in addition to meetings, etc. While you are no doubt wonderful and fun-loving people, they desperately need to just hang out with their own families without having to be “on.”

This Pastor’s Appreciation Month, pick one or, better yet, all 5 suggestions and encourage your pastor and family all year-long!

ps – Don’t forget your Associate Pastors and families! Same pressures, different roles!

What follows are some stats concerning pastors and ministry life. Some may be anecdotal, but they certainly feel like fact to pastors and their families…

  •  90% of the pastors report working between 55 to75 hours per week.
  • 80% believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families. Many pastor’s children do not attend church now because of what the church has done to their parents.
  • 95% of pastors do not regularly pray with their spouses.
  • 33% state that being in the ministry is an outright hazard to their family.
  • 75% report significant stress-related crisis at least once in their ministry.
  • 90% feel they are inadequately trained to cope with the ministry demands.
  • 80% of pastors and 84% of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged as role of pastors.
  • 90% of pastors said the ministry was completely different than what they thought it would be like before they entered the ministry.
  • 50% feel unable to meet the demands of the job.
  • 70% of pastors constantly fight depression.
  • 70% say they have a lower self-image now than when they first started.
  • 70% do not have someone they consider a close friend.
  • 40% report serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month.
  • 33% confess having involved in inappropriate sexual behavior with someone in the church.
  • 50% of pastors feel so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.
  • 70% of pastors feel grossly underpaid.
  • 50% of the ministers starting out will not last 5 years.1 out of every 10 ministers will actually retire as a minister in some form.
  • 94% of clergy families feel the pressures of the pastor’s ministry.
  • 80% of spouses feel the pastor is overworked.
  • 80% spouses feel left out and under-appreciated by church members.
  • 80% of pastors’ spouses wish their spouse would choose a different profession.
  • 66% of church members expect a minister and family to live at a higher moral standard than themselves.
  • The profession of “Pastor” is near the bottom of a survey of the most-respected professions, just above “car salesman”.
  • 4,000 new churches begin each year and 7,000 churches close.
  • Over 1,700 pastors left the ministry every month last year.
  • Over 1,300 pastors were terminated by the local church each month , many without cause.
  • Over 3,500 people a day left the church last year.
  • Many denominations report an “empty pulpit crisis”. They cannot find ministers willing to fill positions.

Statistics provided by The Fuller Institute, George Barna, and Pastoral Care Inc.

“The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.” (1 Timothy 5:17, NIV)

The Lonely Leader

Loneliness is a part of the human experience.

This doesn’t change when we become Christians nor does it suddenly go away when we answer the call to serve the Lord in vocational ministry.

No one knows this better than the pastors reading this. You know, and, thankfully, so does the Lord. When we feel lonely as followers of Jesus, regardless of our role within His kingdom, we have the opportunity to identify with Him.

No one knows what it is like to not only feel forsaken, but be forsaken, like our Lord.

The Apostle Paul got this and shared this sense of connection to Christ in his letter to His followers in Philippi. (See Philippians 3:10.) 

When it comes to loneliness, we all go there. None of us should stay there.

Pastor, here’s the BIG POINT: DON’T BE LONELY ALONE.

When we stay lonely alone, too long, we risk the real problem, isolation.

Proverbs 18:1, “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.”

The root word in this verse is פָּרַד paw-rad’; to break through, spread or separate: disperse, divide, be out of joint, part, scatter, separate, sever self, stretch, sunder. (Strong’s, H6504)

We all face loneliness. However, isolation is a choice.

How do you know if you are choosing isolation as a leader? Isolation is characterized by numerous symptoms. These symptoms come on slowly but very surely.

Join us in The Lonely Leader – Part 2 coming soon as we uncover these symptoms together.

Until then, check out this great post that deals with the subject of loneliness in leadership by Thomas Rainer. https://thomrainer.com/2013/09/the-lonely-pastor-nine-observations/

Pastor, church leader, whoever you are…

You don’t have to lead lonely alone!

Viral Volunteerism Part 4

Unknown-1Viral Volunteerism Part 4 – Timing is Everything 

It’s been said that, “Timing is everything.” While it may not be everything, it does play a valuable role in gathering and keeping great volunteers in your ministry or organization.

Answer the following questions from the perspective of those you seek to engage as volunteers..,

When is the training? How long will it take? When training is involved, be clear about the investment of time this will take in addition to the actual event.

What is the prep or setup time? Cleanup/tear down? Follow-up? It’s easy to overlook these practical parts of the equation as “givens.” However, factor this in so that people have a realistic view of what they are committing to and how much time it will take.

When does it start? Your event or initiative isn’t likely the only thing people have going. Are other things in your ministry starting at the same time? Be clear about when their commitment begins so they can plan effectively.

When does it end? Remember, people have other places to go and things to do. This one is BIG!!! Create a culture where things “running late” are the rare exceptions.

When people know you value them and their investment, they are far more likely to partner with you. Few things say this like valuing people’s time. Create a culture where people can “set their watch” by the way you communicate and stick to the timing you have asked your volunteers to give.

Need some help taking your volunteers and teams to the next level? Let us know the best way to contact you in the thread below. Let’s partner together to take you volunteerism viral in the coming year!

 

Viral Volunteerism Part 3

Unknown-1Viral Volunteerism Part 3 – “Why should I?”

Who wouldn’t love to partner with more great volunteers? Getting and keeping them doesn’t just happen. You have to give great people a great reason to partner with you. Let’s get more specific about this by answering a simple question from the perspective of the volunteer… “Why should I?”

1) Answer the “why?” first. Don’t just show them the need, give them the reason. Paint the picture for them of what their effort means to the the need at hand and, more importantly, the people involved. Show and tell people how their involvement will make a real difference.

2) Crunch the numbers of the need. The more specific, the better. How many people are being affected? How long has the need existed? Where is “ground central?” What will the stats be in 3 or 5 years if nothing is done about it?

3) Set a clear goal. You may not be able to meet all of the need. However, what is your part as a church or organization? Again, be specific with your goal. How much money do you hope to raise? How many homeless care packets do you hope to make?

4) They need to “see it!” in person or at least video (or both). This is all about painting the picture of the “Why?” for those you hope to engage in the effort. Find those gifted at this and enlist their services from your hard-copy literature to your on-line presence, be sure to promote with honesty (don’t oversell it… people will see through this!), excellence and consistency.

 5) Finally, remember that information is inspiration! Consider using some type of graphic that tracks the giving or effort toward the goal and keep it updated. Don’t wait until the end to thank people for their investment of time, resources or money. Thank them for every step achieved towards the clear goal and then… celebrate the win!

Great volunteers will more often respond to a clear call for a worthy cause. Your job as a leader is to give them the reason why they should!

Need help discovering the “Why?” of your next effort or for your overall ministry or organization? Respond below with your contact information and let’s talk about how we can partner to take your volunteerism viral!

How to be a BIG Church

Unknown-12I Love BIG Churches – Part 4

How to be a BIG Church!

Bigger is always better when it comes to some things… but we aren’t talking about mere numbers. Regardless of the size of your ministry and the greater demographic you are hoping to influence, here are some ways you can go BIG for Christ.

5 Ways to be a BIG Church…

1) BIG prayer. You can be certain of this, “Whenever God determines to do a great work, He first sets His people to pray!” (Charles Spurgeon) Fast and pray together in increasingly creative ways… 24hr prayer summits, days of fasting, scripture praying, prayer walls, stations and more. Simply put, you and your ministry family cannot pray enough as you align yourself with God’s unique purpose for you!

2) BIG worship. It doesn’t have to be a large venue or a long service to worship well and dive deep together into the Word of God. Make your times of gathering as a congregation a priority not only for you, but for those neighbors and friends you are inviting to join you. Give your best and make it all about Jesus!

3) BIG service. Who are you partnering with in your community to meet needs and be the hands and feet of Jesus? From a local school’s tutoring program to a homeless shelter, from a foster parenting group to a ministry fighting human trafficking, there are people with a heart for service you can partner with in your sphere of influence!

4) BIG giving. Don’t be afraid to inspire and inform often about the importance of tithes and offerings. Why? Because of the partnership potential it brings to the Kingdom of Christ. Keep the motivations before your people… from missionaries abroad to local and regional ministries, remind often that giving makes it go as God multiplies it for His glory!

5) BIG love. “Love one another.” The most influential thing any church has going for them is their capacity to love each other. People are attracted to people who genuinely care for one another, in spite of faults, failures and sins. Through small groups gathering often to simply being there for each other on a daily basis… leave no doubt in your communities mind that you are love by God and love one another in a BIG, BIG way!

Be BIG and go BIGGER and BIGGER in the ways that truly matter. The numbers will take care of themselves as people come to Jesus and you grow disciples who make disciples!

Here’s a BIG BONUS for small/medium sized churches… check out Breaking 200 Without Breaking You by Carrie Nieuwhof.