Tag: church leadership

It’s like herding pigs

longarm-1Being a pastor is sometimes like herding pigs.  I’m not going for the cheap joke here, although I’m sure there is one.  I’m serious.  Apparently pig farmers have serious difficulty getting pigs to go into the barn in an orderly fashion.  Farmers can use cattle prods and big sticks to drive pigs, but this makes the pigs mad, and if you’re surrounded by 3,000 pigs, you don’t want them mad at you. 

Another tool in the farmer’s arsenal is a longboard.  A longboard, just like it sounds, is a longboard up to 30′ in length and really heavy.  Takes a big burly farmer to swing the board like a moving gate which guides the pigs in the right direction.  

Stay with me now, the payoff is coming.

But, Mary Haugh wasn’t a big burly farmer.  After multiple heart attacks left her husband incapable of swinging the longboard, Mary needed a pig-guide that she could manage.  She noticed that as pigs walked by the red longboards, they hesitated.  Mary thought, “Maybe it’s the color, not the board.”  So she came up with another idea.

Mary bought a roll of red fabric, secured it at one end and held it at the other.  She used the 30′ of fabric like a flexible fence, guiding the pigs through the barn into the holding pens.  

Mary’s solution was soft, light, and effective.  Watch the video to see how this works.  Okay, here’s the payoff:  

Church leadership needs new thinking in times of change.  While you can drive people, they might get mad.  Rigid leadership longboards might also work, but there may be an easier way.  Try soft, easy, and flexible.  It just might work, and then you’ve got happy pigs   members who go where they’re supposed to.  

(HT to kottke.org)

Churches that move from surviving to thriving

We’re in a transition in our church some 4 years after my arrival as pastor.  Our congregation is aging, and younger families have left the church, primarily because we didn’t offer the programs that larger churches in our area offer for children and youth.   We recognize that we can survive with the members we have.  But, surviving is not our goal.  We want to thrive as a congregation.  So, here are some things I’ve told our church leadership about how we can move from surviving to thriving.  

  1. Focus on our community, not our church.  That means we have to engage the community in various ways.  We have made a beginning in doing this, but we have a long way to go.  Old patterns still attempt to draw us back in. 
  2. Unite rather than divide.  I’m really interested in intergenerational ministry.  The biggest success we’ve had in this area is the first year we overhauled Vacation Bible School to include parents and children in the same groups.  Everyone had a great time, and parents got to participate with their children.  If families are so important to us, why do we keep dividing them up at church? 
  3. Do more, talk less.  Churches tend to have too many classes on what to do.  We need to spend more time on doing ministry, rather than just talking about it.  
  4. Lower barriers, expand participation.   Everyone will not join your church, but lots of folks will help you in specific ministry projects.  We collaborate with others on VBS, our senior adult ministry, our community music school, the teen open mic night we help sponsor, and other events.
  5. Let some things die.  We will try to spend more time keeping relationships alive, than in keeping programs alive.  Events and programs are not eternal.  Some have run their course and need to go.   
  6. Take the long view.  We didn’t get where we are overnight.  We won’t effect change overnight either.  We are not desperate or in a panic, but we are committed.  We moving toward our new future deliberately and together, which is a lot slower than any of us might like.   
I’ll keep you posted on how our transition progresses.  We have lots of work to do, but the possibilities to dream new dreams are endless!