preaching

Beat the Summer Slump

Is it possible to grow your teams and the overall health of your congregation during what most church leaders call the “summer slump?” YES!

God set the world up so that most healthy things grow during the summer season.

Where do you begin?

You have to talk about, plan for and provide practical solutions.

This starts around the leadership table and doesn’t end until it is promoted from the weekend worship and preaching platform to all of your social media outlets.

How can you strategically lead your ministry teams during the months when most people, including your team members/volunteers, are tempted to “check out?”

Consider leading a 5R Strategy with your staff & lead teams.

Check out the 5R Strategy posts on this site that offer a plan you can tailor for your teams to Rest, Review, Recruit, Retrain and then Relaunch! Start here – https://peakpastors.blog/2019/04/22/take-a-break/

Who do you talk to?

Like most strategic initiatives, you start with your staff, then engage your lead teams and then your congregation.

If it’s important, it should have both input and buy-in at all levels from start to finish.

Who knows how many creative ideas and willing people are just waiting to get on board! Great leaders are great gatherers of great people!

What should you be talking about?

Here are 5 Summer Subjects to address…

Our Need to Get Away! This is all about rest.

Lead the way in encouraging rest for your staff, teams/volunteers and members. Cultivate a culture that values the health of it’s people beginning with seasons of much deserved rest. Find out more in these posts – https://peakpastors.blog/2019/04/22/take-a-break/ and https://peakpastors.blog/2019/05/14/5r-rest/

Our Need to Gather! This is all about fellowship.

Lead the way in encouraging people to keep gathering when they aren’t enjoying their vacation or weekend get-a-way. Be creative in providing opportunities for this not only in your main weekend worship experiences, but at other times for just getting together for fun and fellowship. Cookouts and/or tailgate parties never go out of style and can be done by churches large and small!

Our Need to Grow! This is all about spiritual growth.

Lead the way in encouraging people to continue in personal and family spiritual growth.

You need to come right out and say it, “We don’t need a vacation from growing in Jesus.”

Start at the most basic place. Talk about having a daily time reading God’s Word and praying and how fundamental this is to us as followers of Jesus. Share from your heart what this has meant to you and/or have others share what it has meant in their lives and families.

Don’t “pound the pulpit” about it. Instead, talk in simple terms and transparent ways about our temptation to do this over the summer. Then, provide some practical ways to grow in a personal/family devotional life.

Here are a few reminders you can give and resources you can offer:

  • Download the YouVersion Bible App and follow a personal daily reading plan. Offer plans for groups and/or as a congregation. https://www.youversion.com/
  • Provide a subscription to RightNow Media. This resource provides an amazing amount of video teachings, messages, conferences, and entertaining choices for all ages! https://www.rightnowmedia.org/

Our Need to Give! This is all about stewardship.

Lead the way in encouraging people to stay out of debt personally and as a family over the summer.

Start with caring about their personal finances and debt so they know you truly care about them, not just what they can give! Then, lead the way in encouraging everyone to continue (or start) tithing and giving.

Here are a few suggestions for your staff/lead teams and resources you can offer:

Our Need to GO! This is all about serving.

Lead the way in serving others, starting in your local community. Provide opportunities to serve as a staff, lead teams, small groups or as a congregation.

Here are some great examples!

  • Landscaping: Gather groups to spruce up the landscaping at Foster Care family and group homes.
  • Provide childcare at your church to Foster Parents to have a “date night.”
  • Clean up a local park, recreation area, beach or other public space.
  • Host a block party for those in your immediate neighborhood.
  • Read and/or sing at a local nursing home or extended care facility.
  • Volunteer at a local homeless shelter.
  • Host a “back to school” supply drive to help parents with the expenses of school supplies. (Check out local school supply lists usually provided)
  • Go old-school with a free car wash hosted by your youth and/or young adults!

Summer Break is an annual reality. Going through the “Summer Slump” doesn’t have to be!

Email us at peakpastors@gmail.com and let’s talk about what a coaching partnership could mean for your health and growth as a pastor, lead team and congregation!

Do you preach like Ted?

images-4Hey, pastors! Who do you preach like? Whether you are stylistically from the “big pulpit, suit-wearing, finger-pointing, fire & brimstone” or the “real, relaxed and relevant” schools of preaching (or somewhere in between), I hope you enjoy the parody found at the link below. This one pokes fun at the modern “Ted Talk” style communicator that has clearly influenced many pastors today. And, here are a few simple thoughts on communicating while you’re at it…

Preach like YOU. While all should be grounded in His content, I doubt seriously that even Jesus wants you to preach like Jesus. We don’t even know what that sounded like. Over the years I secretly wanted to communicate just like my dad (the teacher), then my father-in-law (the evangelist) in my 20’s, and then others like Andy Stanley in my 30’s. The problem is, people can always see through this more times than not. Thankfully, sounding like me and being OK with it has been a big relief for the last 10 years. Hopefully it has made me a better, if not more authentic, communicator. It only took 20 years to figure this one out!

We all have influencers and this is not only normal, but often good. However, find your voice, your style, your rhythm and be comfortable with it. Ask others who know you (and a few that don’t) to help you with this and keep you honest.

Know your audience. While you don’t want to change your voice (accent) or even language in an obvious over-attempt to be relevant (like some modern politicians), you do want to understand a little bit about the demographic you are communicating with. How do they learn? What are their likes and dislikes? What is happening in their part of the world? What is important to them?

Add a little “shortening.” This was my father-in-law’s kind way of telling me to cut down on the content early in my ministry. I’m still working on this one. The wisdom of Shakespeare still proves true today, “Brevity is the soul of wit.” This is one of many positive takeaways from the “Ted Talk” style of communication.

In simple terms, be true to God’s Word and true to who He has created you to be as a communicator of His Gospel.

Ted Talk Parody  by “This is That”

Looking for something even better than TED? Check out “Q” at qideas

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6 Ways to Help Your Pastor Preach

images-3Do you want your pastor to preach better, deeper, more relevant, maybe even faster? Good luck with that last one! And, who even knows what “better” means? Still, you can be sure that most pastors genuinely hope to continue to grow as a communicator of God’s Word. This is where you come in! Consider 6 things you can do to help your pastor grow as an effective preacher and teacher of God’s Word…

Give them time. While pastors should be disciplined not to rely on the old “Saturday night special” (and blaming the Holy Spirit for it!), they should also be given ample time to prepare daily. Partner with them to carve out some specific time, preferably early in the week (maybe Monday-Wednesday, 8am-noon), for sermon prep. Make sure this is understood by the congregation and that exceptions are truly the exception. Great sermons aren’t simply downloadable or come via inspiration in between hospital and home visits.

Give them space. Is the church pastor’s office really conducive to hearing from God, going deep in His Word, and weaving in real-world application? It very well may be. Still, consider encouraging them to get out (local coffee shop, park, etc) to avoid what can be the “rut” of weekly study. Inspire creativity and even collaboration by encouraging them to get out there.

Give them resources. Do they have a “book allowance” or “professional expense?” Staying up and well-read on what God is doing and saying in the world (both secular and sacred) is vital to communicating well. Two great resources are LOGOS Bible software and Right Now Media. These are both amazing resources for insight and inspiration for all of your church leadership. Consider them as investments, not as expenses.

Give them a break! This an “insider’s tip.” Anytime before or immediately after preaching is NOT the time to bring up the leak in the nursery bathroom or ask them if they can remember to visit your neighbor’s bankers aunt with a hang nail. Are these really pastoral duties, anyway… or duties you and others are just as “called” and maybe even better skilled to perform? Regardless, your pastor needs to be focused solely on communicating God’s Word when it’s time to do so. If they find themselves in conversation with anyone, may I recommend first-time guests? Keep your pastor in “the zone” before and after they preach or teach.

Give them grace. It isn’t easy to hit a home run every week. If your pastor is being true to God’s Word and doing their best to communicate it well… then encourage, encourage, encourage! Besides, what is was a “swing and miss” to you, may have been a “home run” to someone else. That’s just how the Spirit works. Besides, not every message is all about us.

Finally, pray for them. We saved the best for last. If you want your pastor to preach more effectively, pray for them more fervently! Pray for them emotionally, physically, relationally… for their spouse, kids, etc. Pray they will hear from the Lord, gain greater insight into God’s will and Word. How about praying for them to grow as a Christ-follower themselves? The enemy does all he can to distract and discourage your pastor and lead team. Guard them with the power of your prayers! Gather others to pray over them with you throughout the week and before/after they deliver a message to you and others.

Help your pastor preach, teach and lead in the example of God’s Word!

4 “Non-Sin” Sermon Practices

images-7This perspective on preaching is meant to help a few pastors out there breathe a sigh of relief when it comes to effective preaching. Given the amount of attention given and training dedicated to some of these and other preaching methodologies, you would think it was a sin to not practice them. Call it a little mild push-back… here are 4 “Non-Sin” Sermon Practices:

1) Preaching with notes. It’s hard not to sound whiney & pathetic on this one. Here it goes… having 20+ uninterrupted office hours per week, a book allowance, team of researchers, graphic designers, teaching screen, green room & amazing worship team to help prepare, memorize and position you to deliver a 20-30 minute message with solid, relevant content are all very good things! The reality is most pastors, especially marketplace, bi-vocational and small church leaders, don’t have resources like these at their disposal on a weekly basis.

If this is you, stop comparing yourself to those who do (and stop resenting them while you’re at it). Develop a great team of talented volunteers. Use some notes and don’t feel inadequate about it. Don’t preach to your notes, either. Prepare well. There is no excuse not to… none. Know the audience you are trying to reach, connect with them in intentional ways and be true to God’s Word.

2) Not using “buzz” words. I remember about 10 years ago the word “paradigm” was the word of the day. Preachers and speakers seemed to fall all over themselves looking for ways to use it without appearing to try. Today, words and phrases like, “community,” “journey” and “track with me” are favorites as we sit down to preach at a cafe table, sipping coffee so as to be “real, relaxed and relevant.”

Don’t try so hard. People can usually see right through this. Avoid using and abusing terminology simply to sound folksy, professional, country, gospel, hipster, gangster, intellectual or any other way other than you… sharing Jesus with real people.

3) Not showing a video. “Check this out…” we say, as the lights fade and a touching, inspiring, hilarious or otherwise gut-wrenching movie clip or you-tube video seamlessly rolls. (I actually used the phrase, “Roll that beautiful bean footage…” one time. Sad, I know.) While people learn more visually than ever, and videos can help drive some points home, it really is okay if people don’t see a video during every sermon.

4) Getting emotional! The spiritualized “Ted Talk” style of preaching became the “norm,” maybe even the unspoken benchmark for preaching the Gospel to the 21st century audience about ten years ago. I get it… frothing at the mouth and yelling at people for an hour has long since proven less than effective.

Still, if the fate of lost souls, the hope of heaven, and the amazing grace of Jesus isn’t enough to move us a little emotionally, how can we expect others to be moved to any kind of action? (I know, Jonathan Edwards didn’t need emotional hype…) While stopping well short of winning an Oscar for Best Dramatic Performance, we shouldn’t be afraid to display some genuine emotion in the course of a message. 

Bonus material: Don’t get me started on anyone over 30 wearing, let alone preaching in “skinny” anything. 

Preaching has become more of an “art” than ever. This is a good thing. By all means, glean from the latest and most ancient sermon prep training and instruction. After all, the greatest story ever told is worth the effort. At the end of the day, being true to Jesus and His Gospel should be among our top preaching priorities as we seek to warn the lost (and the found) and awaken hope in this age of uncertainty.

What are your thoughts and suggestions when it comes to effective preaching?

31 Ministry Tips for 2016 – #19

Unknown-1Here is Tip #19 for for Ministry Leaders in 2016…

“Get the Message” 

Just because your saying it doesn’t mean your audience is getting it. Whether for a sermon, teaching or leadership training, use this simple Get The Message pdf guide, designed from the perspective of your audience, to help them “get the message” you are sending.

Answer these simple questions for greater clarity and impact…

Main Text: What does God’s Word say about it? Don’t lose sight of the eternal truth of the Gospel in the midst of your all too clever anecdotes and/or “real, relaxed and relevant” delivery. (I just threw up a little in my throat… more on this in another tip). Settle on one key Biblical narrative or even singular verse and go deep!

“What’s the point?” Can someone leave and say, “Yeah, the point was…” While you may approach the subject from multiple angles and people always listen from their own unique perspective, make sure there is a focused point your audience can leave with.

 

“How does this change me?” What effect will applying the point of your message or teaching have on people? Did you spell this out in a simple and creative way? Sure, the Lord speaks to individuals in unique ways. However, be clear about how God often uses the lesson in the lives of His people.

“What should I do about it?” Nothing is more frustrating (and likely to discourage return guests) than having a lot of good information that is mostly good for nothing. Did you offer real-world ways people can apply it to their lives and put it into practice? The Gospel is nothing if it isn’t personal and miraculously practical.

“Did you hear the one about…?” People like stories. It doesn’t always have to be about you, either. Jesus was the master story-teller, making the point in parables and stories that captivated, comforted, convicted and compelled. Someone said it well, “People may not remember what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” Remember, stories move emotions and emotions move people.

Quotable Quote. “Have I heard this before?” Don’t be afraid to find out. These days, your audience can ask “Siri,” or Google it almost as fast as you can say it. Someone else has probably already said it… and likely even better. Do your research to discover what insights others have already had into the subject at hand. I made a promise on behalf of the people I am privileged to share God’s Word with week-in/week-out… “I will borrow only the best material!”

How are you helping your audiences “get the message?” Share your insights in the discussion thread!

 

31 Tips for 2016 – #16

Unknown-1Here is Tip #16 for Ministry Leaders in 2016…

Use plenty of “shortening” in the mix. 

“Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead.” (Acts 20:9, NIV) Paul really knocked’em dead with that sermon! (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

Pastors and preachers are not known for being pithy. Guilty as charged. While there are many ingredients in the recipe for a powerful sermon, the “secret ingredient” may be as Shakespeare observed, “Brevity is the soul of wit.” (Hamlet)

Don’t kill Eutychus. Saying it shorter accomplishes 3 things…

It forces you to know your material better. If you know it well enough to say it, illustrate and apply it succinctly, you know it well. If you find yourself “circling the runway,” unable to land, you don’t. The more prepared we are, the less we feel the need to restate and ramble. Don’t blame this on the Spirit or anyone else. Be prepared and make the point.

It makes a statement of value. If time is one of our most valuable commodities, then wasting it is a crime. Create an expectation of respect for people by starting and ending on time. Any verbal presentation lasting more than 30 minutes better be engaging… or most have checked out. See Q Ideas or  Ted Talks for brilliantly brief examples.

Finally, it leaves people wanting more. Better to leave people feeling… “I could have heard more about that…” than, “C’mon. When will this guy be done?” Less is more.

Speaking of…

 

 

31 Tips for 2016 – #12

Unknown-1Here is Tip #12 for Ministry Leaders in 2016…

Be you. This tip is especially for those just getting started in their leadership journey.

My dad’s preaching style has always been didactic, the teacher, and that’s the style I knew was for me. My father-in-law has always been more the evangelist. Hard-driving sermons that plead people to the altar. After a few years under his ministry, I found my style moving more in this direction. Then came leaders like Bill Hybels, then Andy Stanley, then… you get the picture. With each style of speaker and leader I would find myself more than gleaning from the substance of their message, I was “borrowing” a little from their style.  While there is much to be learned from the message and methods of leaders like these, you simply aren’t called to be them. 

Find your voice. Develop your own style. Yes, by all means, listen and learn from some of the best. However, be who God has made you to be. Sure, we should always keep our audience in mind… how they learn, the language they speak. But never let any of this keep you from being, leading and speaking just like you. Why?

Authenticity. My son has been big on this as he has found himself now also in a long line of Christian leaders in his own right. He has taught me (among many things) that his generation can smell a “poser” from a mile away. Hint: If you can remember when Star Wars came out the first time, skinny jeans are not for you… anywhere, anytime. Just don’t. What resonates with people on a deeper level is being genuine about who you and whose you are in Christ, and leading from that simple place of security in Him.

Be you. Not sure who that is yet? Take the time to pray about it. Get alone and get away to discover it. Ask others who will have the guts to hold you accountable and tell you when you trying too hard to be anything or anyone else other than who God made you to be.

The Lord and this world doesn’t need another Francis Chan or Steven Furtick. It needs you.

 

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

4 Essentials of Sermon Prep

imgres-6Whether you are a seasoned veteran of the pulpit or are sweating your first sermon series, solid sermon preparation doesn’t simply happen. I am still surprised by the temptation in the busyness of church leadership, and by my ability to procrastinate one of the most important and sacred responsibilities. Okay, not so surprised by the latter… you get the point.

Here are 4 Essentials of Sermon Preparation that help keep pastors purposed about preaching…

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” – Paul

(2 Timothy 2:15, NIV)

Purposed Time. Plan your optimal time of day. This is when your brain is most active and your spirit most open to what God wants to say through you.

Purposed Place. Plan your optimal environment. This is where you are at your creative best. Hint: Get out of the office!

Purposed People. Partner with your optimal team. This is who you can partner with to communicate the message best.

Purposed Prayer.  Prepare with your optimal source. This is what it takes to add the essential intangible that is the Holy Spirit’s presence.

Peak Thinking: “People have an idea that the preacher is an actor on a stage and they are the critics, blaming or praising him. What they don’t know is that they are the actors on the stage; he (the preacher) is merely the prompter standing in the wings, reminding them of their lost lines.” ― Søren Kierkegaard

Peak Pause: How much preparation time do you spend on each sermon or teaching session? 1-3 hours ____  4-6 ____  7-10 hours ____ 11+ hours ____

What is your best source of inspiration when it comes to preaching/teaching preparation?

Share your thoughts in the Reply section below.

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

Excerpt from PEAK Pastors – Preaching

PEAK Pastors – From the Pit to the Palace

imgresWhat is like to live the life of a pastor? Joseph’s story (See Genesis 37-50) is a good example of the journey most of us (and our families) take as pastors. We travel spiritually, relationally, emotionally, mentally and physically from the pit to the palace, to the prison, back to the palace and just about every place in between.

Like Joseph, we sense the power and presence of God in profound ways one day, and feel very much alone and rejected the next. Our calling is sure, our gaze is fixed and, “I can’t believe I get paid for this!” Still, we would give just about anything to do almost anything else on some Monday mornings. Our every move can feel scrutinized as our motives are judged and our thoughts, words and actions (and teaching) are live-streamed, Facebooked, Tweeted, Instagrammed, Snapchatted and are otherwise on display for all the world to see via our church websites. These images are either far better or worse than the reality, but not often a measured, balanced view of the pastor’s heart and overall ministry.

Most pastors lead, not from a position of authority, but of influence, inspiration and a grounded sense of gratitude for all those taking the journey with them. What an amazing privilege to be called, “Pastor!” This is as it should be. Still, I imagine most secretly wish to have authority sufficient for the responsibility. We seek to give God all the glory and His people all the credit when things are going well, while often taking more than a share of the blame when momentum stalls or plans simply fail. We are shepherds who guide and guard the flocks we love while often only provided a portion of the needed “staff” and resources to do so. Still, pastors lead on, following the lead of the Good Shepherd that goes before us all.

Why Peak Pastors? Because our wayward world has never needed the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the local church more than today. Because the health and influence of our local churches and collective movements are directly linked to our well-being and ability to lead with equal parts vision, integrity, wisdom and humility as pastors.

This is why I share this PEAK Pastors series with you… to give a glimpse of the pastor’s world and to come away with a renewed commitment to live and lead well as pastors, or to come alongside them with purpose as lay-persons.

“To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.”  – Peter (1 Peter 5:1-3, NIV)

What would you add concerning the journey of a pastor? Reply in the thread below and help me develop this series through your insights! Email me at tompelt1@gmail.com if you would like to learn more about how to bring a PEAK Pastors conference to your ministry or organization. Check out the Core Values of PEAK Pastors at https://tompelt.wordpress.com/peak-pastors/