prayer

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!

The Best (re)Action

images-3What is our first reaction to a challenge, problem, or crisis? How many panic or just plain freak out? How many get all “hero” and do something immediately… even if it’s wrong? How many retreat ASAP to get away, process and plan?

What if we did something altogether different? What if, instead of immediately asking, “What am I going to do?” we first asked, “Lord, what do you want to do?”

Pray first. Consider a small but powerful commentary on some of our Biblical heroes found in Scripture, “Abraham prayed…” “Isaac prayed…” “Jacob prayed…” “Moses prayed…” “Samson prayed…” “Hannah prayed…” “David prayed…” “Elijah prayed…” “Elisha prayed…” “Nehemiah prayed…” “Daniel prayed…” “Jonah prayed…” “Jesus prayed…” “Stephen prayed…” “Peter prayed…” “Paul prayed…”

…you get the picture.

Then again, do we get the picture when it comes to prayer? The great theologian, John Bunyon lends perspective, “You can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.” Sure, we can spend a lifetime doing things by pure initiative. But what if, through prayer, we partnered in God’s initiative, His plan and purpose? We won’t know until we try.

The next time something comes up and we don’t know what to do, let’s make our first reaction taking action through prayer. Remember, “Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.” (Oswald Chambers) 

5 Ways to Pray Over Your Sermon

images-1Wonder why your messages have had underwhelming impact? Perhaps one of the most overlooked parts of an impactful message is prayer, both by the pastor and the congregation.

Here are 5 Ways to Pray Over Your Sermon

Peak Thinking: “We have emphasized sermon-preparation until we have lost sight of the important thing to be prepared—the heart. A prepared heart is much better than a prepared sermon. A prepared heart will make a prepared sermon.” – E.M. Bounds, Power Through Prayer

Never underestimate the power of prayer. And, never over-estimate your best preparations without it. Here are 5 ways to pray over your next message…

Pray to be true to God’s Word. Our words are forgettable and sometimes regrettable. It is the Word of God that souls crave and truly need at their core.

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”  – Hebrews 4:12, NIV

2) Pray to stay out of the way. Pride can creep in when we are hoping and working for that “amen,” laugh, cry, gasp, stone-cold silence or any other emotional response we know we can illicit from a crowd.

3) Pray to connect with your audience. Remember… your best connections may come from your worst moments. (See Joseph in Genesis 50:20) Don’t skip the pit and prison… these are the best parts of your story!

4) Pray for brevity. This one is as overlooked as it is underestimated.

“Brevity is the soul of wit.” (William Shakespeare, Hamlet) Most pastors and leaders have little trouble filling the allotted time, and then some. The question is, with what? Add a little “shortening” for just the right recipe.

5) Pray to challenge well. Deep down people want to count for something and someone greater than themselves. What they don’t need is more information. They need challenged to be and do better in Christ.

What suggestions would you give concerning the covering of your messages in prayer? Share your thoughts in the discussion thread below!

How can we partner in a leadership retreat, PEAK Pastors conference or ongoing coaching relationship? Email me at tompelt1@gmail.com and find more information at www.tompelt.com I look forward to connecting with you!

Excerpt from PEAK Pastors – Prayer

Leadership Transitions (7 Ways NOT to Follow a Great Leader)

imgres-7Are you considering following a great (or long-term) leader in a new position? Whether you are a pastor, associate pastor, or business leader, never underestimate the unique differences between the previous leader and you.

There is also an organizational story that needs to be listened to and learned from in order to help you make a discerned decision and lead well if you assume the new position.

Here is the “Cliff Notes” version of a chapter in my leadership story. Call it a “cautionary tale…” Once upon a time I followed a great leader who had a long tenure at a widely respected church. I failed to do many strategic things. It went really bad, really fast, for everyone. The end. Wait, by God’s grace, there was more to the story, there is always more to the story. For now, here is some advice on making healthy leadership transitions and 7 Ways NOT to Follow a Great Leader (and how to do it well!)…

1) Don’t meet with your predecessor when possible and ask them tons of questions throughout the process, even long after you arrive. I met with mine… briefly, pleasantly, over dinner. This was a token meeting at best. We both said we were willing to further the conversation. Neither reached out or followed-up until it was way too late and too much damage was done. Ultimately, this was on me.

DO seek them out when possible and not only ask for an open dialogue, but get permission to talk about them and their tenure with those you are about to lead. Why? Because their DNA saturates the ministry just as yours does the ministries you have led. Ignore this at your own peril. Besides, if they are the quality leader everyone believes them to be, this won’t be a problem. If they or the present leadership aren’t okay with this, that may tell you all you need to know.

Specifically talk to them, the present staff and leadership about things such as…

  • Differences in personality
  • Differences in leadership style
  • Differences in communication style
  • Differences in role
  • Differences in vision/values

There are valuable lessons to be learned about yourself, the church and the leadership as you discuss these differences. Don’t miss out.

2) Don’t meet with present staff and ask what they really think about the health and trajectory of the ministry. Again, I did do this, but wish I had gone deeper. Actually, I had but a brief phone conversation with the longest serving staff member. Not smart. Agree or disagree with their assessment, they know many people and many things you simply don’t and you need to know where they stand.

DO meet with the present lead team as a group and individually. Specifically ask the following type of questions…

  • What do you love about the church and how things are going/run?
  • What don’t you like about the church and how things are going/are run?
  • Regardless of official polity (leadership structure and process), how do things really get done and through whom?
  • Let’s talk “sacred cows.” What are they and which ones need “tipped.” Which ones are “land mines?”
  • When was the last big staff conflict? What was it over? How was it resolved?
  • How have you been hurt in ministry? How are you going about the healing process?
  • What are the 3 biggest needs of the congregation? In other words, “What’s broke?”
  • What would you do first and/or change if you were me? Why?
  • What would you definitely NOT do if you were me? Why?
  • What are your plans for the future, if any?

Sure, you and everyone else may simply want to look to the future in faith and talk vision, and you should. However, skip a thorough assessment of the past and present and you won’t have a future. At least, not a preferred one.

3) Don’t talk extensively about the local/regional culture. Every area is unique. Not learning about what makes the culture and it’s people special will keep you distant and disconnected. I skimmed the surface on this one and even assumed I might bring more of my culture to them. I’m not saying to start faking an accent… but simply to embrace and even celebrate the culture that is unique to the people there.

Do talk to the staff, lead team and people to find out…

  • What should I do/not do to embrace the culture and “fit in?”
  • What are 3 of the most important cultural traditions/events here?
  • My family and I like to do this… does anyone else?
  • What cultural distinctives come with who we are as a family? How might these translate over time, if at all?

BONUS: Ask around at some local places such as coffee shops and restaurants about the church you may be leading? What do they know about it? What is the church’s reputation, if any?

4) Don’t ask even tougher questions, such as…

  • What do you really want to ask but are afraid to? (You may still want me to come anyway!)
  • What are you hoping I won’t discover or figure out until later? (I may still want to come anyway!)

I know. This sounds a little jaded, right? However, sometimes people’s hearts may be in the right place but they fail to address the critical issues. They are only trying to protect you or someone else. Perhaps they don’t want to overwhelm you? They might even want you to come so much that they forgo some of the finer details and paint a picture of the church (or of you to the church) that isn’t accurate or complete. Dig deeper. Trust the Lord and people enough to go there.

5) Don’t get it in writing. Whether it has to do with your compensation or agreed upon roles, vision, staffing, etc, trust that a general sense of agreement is good enough and clearly understood by all necessary parties. And, don’t follow-up to see if important items have been communicated as agreed upon. I did the first part, but assumed the second. Not good.

DO understand that putting things in writing isn’t a lack of faith in the Lord or anyone else, it’s wisdom. Doing so has a way of involving the appropriate teams in a more specific way and helps to clearly affirm expectations and goals. From a practical standpoint, there is just too much information exchanged to remember it all. And, from an eternal standpoint, this decision involves the lives of too many saints and sinners to take anything for granted. Assume little. Besides, at your prayed up and processed best, you and the congregation will be taking a big step of faith regardless of how thorough you are.

6) Don’t involve an outside coach and a prayer/accountability team. Keep it just between family and close friends who will encourage you and mostly tell you what you are hoping to hear. This isn’t their fault. They genuinely want to support you, but they may be too close to question or call you out when needed.

DO invite a coach and/or a group of seasoned leaders to question you and second-guess you as much as they pray with and encourage you along the way. They’ve likely “been there, done that.” You need to know what they know. Stay humble, confess your ignorance. Ask them a lot of questions and listen up! Speaking of listening…

7) Finally, don’t listen to your spouse, kids and their “feelings.” Naively believe only the best in people and their motives throughout the process. Do your best to protect your spouse by seeing things only in the brightest and best of lights. Above all, avoid probing and sharing your true feelings with one another under the guise of faith. On the other hand…

DO listen to your spouse. Trust that they have a perspective and a discernment that you may lack. Listen closely to what they are saying and take it to heart. What are they feeling and sensing about people and the situation in general? Do they honestly feel they can be real with you and you with them? This is too big not to! God put you together for a reason. Besides, if it isn’t healthy for your spouse and kids, it isn’t worth it, regardless of how much the new position may promise. 

Did I forget prayer? No… but prayer goes beyond something you check off the “to do” list. You simply can’t pray over this decision enough privately, as a family, with trusted advisors, with those you may be leading and more. Just be sure not to lead yourself and others in prayers that only affirm the direction you want to go and then blame God for it. Pray to listen and learn, discover and discern. Then, be obedient to what the Holy Spirit is saying to you and through others.

So, there you have it, minus the gory details. Eventually, and by much grace, there was and continues to be healing for the church and for our family. Praise God, He really does “…work all things together for good…” (Romans 8:28). Hindsight has revealed some amazing ways the Lord has used this to mold and make us and others into more effective disciples of Jesus Christ. However, years later, scars are present as reminders of hard lessons learned. I hope they prove valuable to you as you make your own leadership decisions and fulfill God’s will for your life and ministry.

What advice would you give someone considering a new position, especially following a long-term leader? Share your thoughts below in the Reply section…

5 Ways to Encourage Educators

imagesWe all have a teacher, coach, bus-driver, librarian, administrator or other educator who has played a vital role in us becoming who we are. Now, they are playing these roles on behalf of our own kids and grandkids! Let’s pay this forward by practicing… 

5 Ways to Encourage Educators in Your Life

Pray for them daily. Who couldn’t use more prayer. Remember, they face the same stuff of life as you. Pray the Lord blesses and strengthens them for their task. 

Encourage them often. Don’t assume they know how much they mean to you as they mold the very lives of your kids! Let them know… often.

Be kind in your critique. Take the tone and choose the words you would prefer they use if evaluating your parenting skills. 

Be generous at holidays (or anytime “just because.”) Educators aren’t in it for the money. Give them a restaurant gift card, gas card, movie card… or get together with other parents to buy them a new iPad, send them on a paid weekend away at the destination of their choice. Why not? When they are at their best, so will your kids!

Be grateful for their influence on our kids! They are investing in life molding moments with your kids. Think of even more ways you can help them do the job and fulfill the call they have assumed.  

THANK YOU EDUCATORS! 

How do you honor the educators in your life? Share your suggestions in the Reply section below…

9 Things Healthy Churches DO

images-2What is it that healthy churches do that distinguishes them from less effective ministries? Reflect on snapshots of the first century church in passages like Acts 2:42-47 and consider these 9 Things Healthy Churches DO to become more effective in gathering and growing followers of Jesus Christ…

1) Healthy Churches DO less. “What?” That’s right. Healthy churches do less than habitually busy churches. Their vision is focused and guided by values motivated by a passion for making and being followers of Jesus in their communities. They don’t give in to the pressure of following trend or perpetuating tradition. They are brave enough to do what they have been called to do. No apologies. They often choose greater impact while supporting fewer causes or offering fewer ministries. However, when they do what they do for who they do it for… it is a game and life changer! Ask yourself and your team, “Could less really be more?”

2) Healthy Churches Pray. Most of us have overlooked or just plain missed this one. God said through Isaiah, And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord to minister to him, to love the name of the Lordand to be his servants, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant— these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” The Sovereign Lord declares— he who gathers the exiles of Israel: “I will gather still others to them besides those already gathered.” (Isaiah 56:6-8, NIV).

Jesus would quote this passage (Matthew 21:13, Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46) when He cleansed the temple. He seemed to be saying, “You are robbing God and yourselves when you make this thing called church about you.”

DL Moody has reminded us, “Prayer does not mean that I am to bring God down to my thoughts and my purposes, and bend his government according to my foolish, silly, and sometimes sinful notions. Prayer means that I am to be raised up into feeling, into union and design with him; that I am to enter into his counsel and carry out his purpose fully.”

How do you make prayer a priority? Here’s a simple phrase that pays… “Every meeting a prayer meeting.” We’ll break this down in another post soon! (Hint: We will debunk the “attitude of prayer” myth!)

3) Healthy Churches Give (a lot!). There is a generous spirit that marks a healthy church. They give time, talent, and treasure with a sense of excitement and expectation, not obligation. They communicate the impact of their giving creatively and consistently. They challenge still more support of their vision and values to share Christ from the local neighborhood to the shrinking global community. Generosity is celebrated and God is given the glory as tangible needs are met and both lives and destinies are changed, forever. Speaking of celebration…

4) Healthy Churches Celebrate. They celebrate people! They celebrate and recognize “wins” in their community outside their walls and the volunteers, staff and pastors within. Most of all, they lift up Jesus! The worship experience itself is seen as a celebration of God where people are active participants in His praise, in giving and interactive teaching of His Word. These churches have a “buzz” about them as they make much of Jesus.

Let’s face it, people love a party where guests are not only invited, but expected. There is no greater reason to party than joining all of heaven in celebrating these guests coming to know Jesus as Lord and Savior.

5) Healthy Churches Connect. They connect with the community outside and create connecting environments and opportunities to build relationships inside. I would suggest we give much more effort to creating connections in our neighborhoods and cities than within our own congregations. Why? Because few saints need to be reminded to hang out with those that are like them and are already “in.” It’s reaching out to those not like us and not “in” that must be purposed with the passion that motivated Jesus to include us at all in the first place.

The Apostle Paul challenged, For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” (2 Corinthians 5;14-15, NIV)

6) Healthy Churches Equip. Volunteers and staff alike know what they are responsible for and, more importantly, get the training and resources they need to serve and lead with excellence. From conferences to retreats, to on-line simulcasts, podcast subscriptions, to ongoing coaching relationships and so much more, equipping is never seen as an expense to be avoided. Rather, it is an investment in kingdom expansion through well-prepared servant leaders.

7) Healthy Churches practice “Double-honor.” Unhealthy churches and organizations see their leaders like a utility player just called up from the minor leagues. They fill a role (or many roles!) and serve their purpose as long as the team needs them. Far too many churches secretly see their pastoral staff and their families this way. However, healthy (and biblical) churches see them as called of God to serve and lead. They do their very best to invest in them as the “franchise players” or “team captains.” Is it coincidence that these churches often have leaders that serve long term?

Healthy churches fully embrace the reality that John Maxwell described years ago, “As go the leaders, so goes the church.” They encourage, equip, pray for, pay, protect, train and resource in such a way that they can give themselves fully to having healthy personal and family lives and the work of the Lord through the local church… and in that order. This is a joy and a privilege knowing that as God’s people honor His servants, He will honor His people.

8) Healthy Churches Make Disciples who make disciples. There is a simple and purposed process for growing people in the image and knowledge of Jesus. Environments (small groups) and experiences (outreach) are created as part of a step-by-step process. These opportunities encourage individuals and families in their personal walk with Jesus, deep and experiential study of His Word, and their shared responsibilities with the greater family of God. If you have never read “Simple Church,” get it today! If you have, read it again and get back on track. Here’s the Amazon link… http://www.amazon.com/Simple-Church-Returning-Process-Disciples/dp/0805447997 

From the first “Welcome to the Family” or “New Beginnings” lunch, “What we believe” class to “Leadership 101, 201, 301” and personal evangelism training… growing in the Lord isn’t taken for granted. Ask yourself and your team, “Yeah, but are we really making disciples?” If not, what needs undone so you can do this?

9) Healthy Churches love well. No church gets it all right all of the time. We are prone to excess and omission. However, if we love God and love people with a passionate and patient grace, then we will be who we are called to be. The doing of whatever we do will then find it’s proper place. Love is what we should be best known for since the One we represent is love and grace incarnate in Jesus Christ. This is what we are to be known for… not our worship, not our our outreach. Rather, how we love while doing whatever we do.

Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35, NIV)

This is by far not a definitive list. What would you add that describes what it means to be a healthy church?

5 Ways to Pray Over Your Message

imgres-8What difference can prayer make as you prepare for your next sermon, teaching session or presentation? EM Bounds has challenged, “We have emphasized sermon-preparation until we have lost sight of the important thing to be prepared—the heart. A prepared heart is much better than a prepared sermon. A prepared heart will make a prepared sermon.” – E.M. Bounds, Power Through Prayer

Here are 5 ways to pray over your next message…

1) Pray to be true to God’s Word. Our words are forgettable and sometimes regrettable. It is the Word of God that souls crave. Satisfy that craving by sticking close to the script for life that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Resist the temptation to weave the Bible into your story, illustration or object lesson. Instead, prop up God’s Word and point people to the Savior with purposed passion.

We are reminded by the Prophet Isaiah, As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth. It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10-11, NIV)

2) Pray to stay out of the way. Pride can creep in when we are hoping and working for that “amen,” laugh, cry, gasp, stone-cold silence or any other emotional response we know we can illicit from a crowd. We need saved from our tendency to manipulate a group, just because we can. Instead, we need an acute and humble sense of Holy Spirit awareness. What is God wanting to say and accomplish by His Word in the lives of the audience He has seen fit to assemble?

3) Pray to connect with your audience. It is a sobering thought to consider that people are there by the invite of God. They have been gently drawn, lovingly wooed, consistently coxed or stubbornly pressured into coming, often through a friend or family member. Now, how will you honor that invitation? What shared reality, event, experience, pain or joy can connect you at the vital and vulnerable, “felt” level. This can be scary and challenges us at the core of our need to be, or at least be seen, as in control. See Prayer #2 and do what it takes to connect in such a way that they might take the risk, trust you, and the message you are bringing.

4) Pray for brevity. This one is as overlooked as it is underestimated.

“Brevity is the soul of wit.” (William Shakespeare, Hamlet)

Most pastors and leaders have little trouble filling the allotted time, and then some. The question is, with what? People’s time is precious to them. Take advantage of it and most won’t be back. Sure, the Apostle Paul was know to preach all night. Note: You aren’t Paul. Remember, the Spirit of God can move just as powerfully in 20-30 minutes as He can in an hour. If you are going long, you better be going deep and the Spirit better be the One keeping there. Otherwise, stop circling the runway, as it were, and just land the plane.

5) Pray to challenge well. Deep down people want to count for something and someone greater than themselves. What they don’t need is more mere information. They need challenged to be and do better. This can only be accomplished as you courageously bring them to a place of decision and lead them in clear application of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Don’t “let them off the hook” and settle for closing in a way that makes them merely feel bette about themselvesr. If your message doesn’t challenge people to live transformed lives, than it wasn’t worth anyone’s time.

Never underestimate the power of prayer. And, never over-estimate your best preparations without it.

Share your insights in the Reply section below…

This post is part of PEAK Pastors ministry! Email me at tompelt1@gmail.com to partner in a PEAK Pastors retreat, conference or ongoing coaching relationship. Check out the PEAK Pastors link on this site!

images-7

6 Ways to Lead in Limbo

images-6

Are you sensing a change on the horizon but aren’t sure about what, when, where or how? We’ve all been there and will likely be there again in the future. Whether you are considering a big change of location, vocation or vision, how do you lead well when you honestly aren’t sure what’s next?

Here are 6 Ways to Lead in Limbo…

1) Pray about it, but not alone. If the Spirit brought you to your present position, make sure the Spirit leads you to the next. Invite a small group of trusted leaders to pray with you about what you are sensing. Besides, those closest to you are likely already sensing something themselves. Pray through it together.

2) Talk about it, but not with everyone. Beginning with your spouse and extending to a confident inner circle, don’t just think about it, talk about it transparently. There is power and clarity in honestly processing where you are at and where things are headed. Don’t make assumptions about anything.

Perhaps a good question is… what aren’t you seeing? Others possess a perspective you simply don’t. Tap into their wisdom and perspective behind the scenes. For example, my wife has a sense of discernment that is out-of-this-world when it comes to people. I have regretted deeply not listening to her leanings on several occasions… and have been so very grateful I have on others. Listen up and listen well!

3) Don’t withdraw. It will be easy to pull back relationally when your are thinking… “I may be leaving anyway.” Or, “I wonder if people notice I don’t really have a clue?” Resist the temptation to isolate yourself as a leader and distance yourself from your team, ministry or organization.

4) Focus on the fundamentals. In other words, keep leading! What are the essentials of your role and ministry that will continue long after someone else is filling your shoes? Sure up team relationships, focus on the values that are bigger than any one person and the vision that is greater than you. Remember, you are part of a greater team. Run your leg of the race well before the baton is passed or another direction is taken.

5) Seek more advice. Ask some open and honest questions of those who have been down this road. These may not be in your immediate circles or part of your prayer team. Find out what some seasoned veterans in your field wish they would have asked, said or done if they had it to do over again. Invite them to ask you the hard questions. Answering them now will save a lot of regret later.

The wisdom writer reminds us, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” (Proverbs 15:22, NIV)

6) Take your time. The tension of feeling torn will tempt you to make a premature decision. Don’t. Besides, you might be settling for something less than God’s best for all involved, whether that means staying or going. Change will come soon enough. Take the time to make sure it is Spirit-led.

Transitions are inevitable. They are challenging even in the best of times. However, you can lead well through them in these healthy ways and more. What would you add? What advice can you give others leading in limbo? Leave your suggestions in the Reply section below!

National Day of Prayer

images-1“…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

The need has never been more urgent. The call never more clear. Pray the following prayer wherever you are in unison today at noon on this National Day of Prayer 2015. Then, renew a personal. family and ministry commitment to interceding for our country before God’s throne each and every day. See http://nationaldayofprayer.org/ for more information.

“Heavenly Father,

We come to You in the Name that is above every name—Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Our hearts cry out to You.

Knowing that You are a prayer-answering, faithful God—the One we trust in times like these—we ask that You renew our spirits, revive our churches, and heal our land.

We repent of our sins and ask for Your grace and power to save us. Hear our cry, oh God, and pour out Your Spirit upon us that we may walk in obedience to Your Word.

We are desperate for Your tender mercies. We are broken and humbled before You.

Forgive us, and in the power of Your great love, lift us up to live in Your righteousness.

We pray for our beloved nation. May we repent and return to You and be a light to the nations. And we pray for our leaders and ask that You give them wisdom and faith to follow You.

Preserve and protect us, for You are our refuge and only hope.

Deliver us from all fears except to fear You, and may we courageously stand in the Truth that sets us free.

We pray with expectant faith and grateful hearts.

In Jesus’ name, our Savior.

Amen.” – 2015 National Prayer by Dr. Jack Graham

6 Things Effective Board Members Do

imagesIf you are a pastor or lay-leader hoping to lead well through a season of BIG change, you are going to need an effective team. The wisdom writer reminds us, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” (Proverbs 15:22, NIV) 

By whatever name you call your leaders (Elders, Deacons, Directors, Trustees, Team Leads, etc), the good ones are far from perfect, but do have a few things in common.

As we continue our “Small Church BIG Change!” series, here are 6 Things Effective Board Members Do in churches of any size…

1) Pray. Effective board members are passionate, persistent and prevailing in prayer. They intercede for everyone from guests who filled out the latest “Connect Card” to the Children’s pastor’s wife who has a job interview. They pray and fast with the team for major decisions and that routine meetings will be anything but.

2) Prepare. Effective board members don’t just show up. They are read up, prayed up and pumped up. Their reports are on time and to the point. They prepare both insightful comments and probing questions to add value to the greater discussion.

3) Promote. Effective board members help get the word out about the latest and greatest via social media and good old-fashioned word of mouth. They don’t wait for it… they create the “buzz” that get’s everyone else talking about the vision, value or event. (They never use social media to question or critique… but are free to do so one on one or in team meetings.) 

4) Present. Effective board members are ready to give their 2-cents (report, presentation, proposal, etc) in clear, concise and creative ways. They are well aware that they aren’t the only one’s who will have the floor, nor are they the “main event.” They do have a grounded understanding of the importance of their area and contribution to the greater team.

5) Protect. Effective board members are the first to confront negativity, critical spirits or gossip. They guard the vision and values of the organization almost as passionately as they guard the people in it… especially fellow leaders and their families. They have little tolerance for bad attitudes and non whatsoever for seeds of discord.

6) Praise. Effective board members set the example in giving God the glory and others the credit when things are going well, and shouldering the blame when they aren’t. They intentionally create a culture of praise, gratitude and celebration.

Bonus: Effective board members know when to listen and when to speak. They will wait and watch or stand up and be counted whenever it is appropriate to do so. In other words, they are both patient and proactive. How do they know when to be one or the other? See #1 above.

These are just a few… what do great board members do in your ministry or organization? (And, no, it doesn’t have to start with “P.”) Share your thoughts in the Reply section below…