Month: December 2006

2007 is going to be a good year!

I read a blog recently that was pessimistic about the small church.  Let me rephrase that — the blogger said, “There is no hope for the small church.”  He cited the following reasons:

  • He had read Good to Great by Jim Collins, and had applied Collins’ business insights to the church, and small churches in particular.
  • He concluded that small churches didn’t have the kind of leadership Collins describes (Level 5 leaders), and that even if small churches could find Level 5 leaders, the “wrong people were on the bus.”  (Collins talks about getting the “wrong” people off the corporate bus, and getting the “right” people on the bus.)

I am not mentioning this blogger’s name or blog because I completely disagree with him, and I have some reasons of my own: Continue reading “2007 is going to be a good year!”

Attractional vs. Missional

The big buzz out there in the “church” conversation is the debate over attractional vs. missional church models.  We know what attractional churches are because that’s what most of us have wanted our churches to be.  The whole attractional thing probably started in the 1950s when the “greatest generation” was settling down, having babies (the baby boom), and filling up schools and church nurseries. 

Continue reading “Attractional vs. Missional”

The Strength of Small Churches

Sometimes I get a little discouraged when I talk to friends in really big churches (did I tell you that Rick Warren and I went to seminary together?  I don’t think he remembers me.) 

Big churches can do some really cool and creative things.  A local large-church TV spot recently advertised their worship featuring “full-stage lighting.”  I’m not sure what full-stage lighting is, but I don’t think my church has it.  Which brings me to my point… Continue reading “The Strength of Small Churches”

A Christmas miracle…of sorts

I am a do-it-now kind of guy.  Patience, long-suffering, and other things that require me to wait, slow down, or otherwise get distracted from the mission of the moment are not my strong suit.  They’re not even my weak suit.  So you can imagine my frustration with our long-range planning process.  To me, long-range is the next 30-minutes. Continue reading “A Christmas miracle…of sorts”

The day everything changed

I just finished reading Jesus and Community by Gerhard Lohfink.  Professor Lohfink reminded me of what Christmas is about, although that wasn’t his intent.   Speaking of conditions in Jesus’ day, he says, “The world has structured itself in such a way that God no longer figures in its interpretation of reality.  The moment that Christ and the community of disciples which follows him lives the true, God-given construction of reality, the deceit of the world collapses.”  Continue reading “The day everything changed”

Saturday night, again

Wow, this has been a busy week!  Here it is Saturday night, again.  Which means Sunday is next!  Fortunately, tomorrow our children present their Christmas musical, Christmas Around the World, so I’m off the hook for a sermon at 11 AM worship, but not at our 9 AM casual worship we call The Gathering.  I just found the final illustration for that sermon for tomorrow morning. 

Continue reading “Saturday night, again”

Give me a sign

Does your church have a sign?  Our church sign in Chatham is a slate marker with the church name, date, and pastor’s name.  The sign complements our Victorian Gothic sanctuary and fits the historic character of our town, but it doesn’t do much in the way of adverstising for us because there’s no place for a message.   Sometimes that’s not a bad thing.

Continue reading “Give me a sign”

Our Town

(This post makes less sense now that I have a new header.  But, you’ll get the idea of the kind of town we live in.) 

That’s our town at the top of this page — Chatham, Virginia.   If you look closely you can see Chatham Books, our local bookshop.  Our weekly newspaper, The Star Tribune is down the block.  M&W Florist is in between.  The space with the striped awnings is where we host Soundcheck, our monthly open mic night for teens.  Continue reading “Our Town”

My Five Rules for Pastoring a Small Church

Most of my ministry has been in small churches and I love them!  But I grew up in a church with over 500 in worship, so my first small church pastorate was almost a disaster.  Out of that experience, I quickly developed some rules for pastoring a small church:

Rule #1:  Realize a small church is not a miniature big church.  Remember “Mini-Me” in Austin Powers — an exact clone of the big guy, only smaller?  I learned quickly that small churches aren’t “MiniMes.”  Worship, decision-making, pastoral care, and just about everything else in a small church is different from large church ministry. 

Rule #2:  Assume all your members are related.  I discovered this rule one day after venting my frustration with one member to another.  His four word reply is still ringing in my head — “Yeah, she’s my cousin.” 

Rule #3.  Don’t underestimate your members.  Small church members can be just as gifted, committed, and excited as large-church members — sometimes more so.  Many people actually prefer a small church because they can find a place of service and get to know people more quickly.

Rule #4.  Don’t overestimate the pastor’s importance.  Lyle Schaller says small churches are member-driven.  Pastors may come-and-go, but members keep the church running.  Plug-in rather than charge-in is my approach now.

Rule #5.  Don’t be in a hurry to leave.  While pastoring my first small church, I couldn’t wait to move up to a larger congregation.  Looking back, I realize that those folks saw my restlessness, but loved me anyway.  I wished later that I had stayed longer.

Today I’m still pastoring a small church.  Small churches fit me, and hopefully, I fit them better now, too.