Set the Pace 03 A Step Faster

One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind': US celebrates 50th  anniversary of first moon landing

1% faster is the difference between being first at the Tour de France and 76th. That’s a big difference. A small increment can change a lot of things.

From 1945 to 1954 the world record for running one mile was 4 minutes and 1 second. It seems impossible until Roger Bannister decided it was not! He got specially designed lighter shoes, he started training in a number of different ways, and he broke the 4 minute mile in 1954. Within six weeks, several others had managed it. You see when you speed things up, others are inspired and challenged by that!

Now what does that mean for your church – if you could do twenty things in your church or ministry (or business) 1% better, your whole church would be 20% better. A small increment can change everything, a small step forward can be a giant leap forward!

Two years ago Google changed the shade of their toolbar to a shade that was fractionally lighter, but it increased how many people clicked and it increased their income significantly. A minor change can have a big effect. We are living in a generation where we want to have grand, dramatic gestures that play out on Facebook and Instagram and get views, but really what we need is to just increase our pace slightly, and move slightly faster, and inspire our people to do it. Greg Mohr stopped calling visitors to his church “visitors” and started calling them “guests”. That is a minor change, it takes very little effort to start that change and have your team of ushers and leaders do that – but it meant a lot more people who came to his church stayed and were discipled. A small change often is more achieveable and more fruitful than a grand gesture.

Success in life is not linear. You get 1% more excitement, you get a lot more than 1% more results. Interest is compounded over time! Growth will always in ministry start off slower than you want, but over time if you keep setting the right pace, it will be more growth than you expected or dreamed of (Ephesians 3.20 is still true!). Making a small change is less exciting than winning the lottery or being the next GOD TV sensation, but it is what is going to produce lasting fruit, sustainable fruit and help your people think and grow and be discipled.

I am currently planting churches far sooner than most people think it should be done. There are recommendations on the size of the mother church, and so on, but the way I am doing it, all of our people from the early days of Tree of Life have experience of a family of churches, going to conferences together, sharing pastors and leadership, sharing wisdom, praying for each other. That has been invaluable over lockdown but it is invaluable at any time. That is the power of small increments, small steps forward. Now to do this you need discipline, you need to be making disciples, you need to be raising up people who will say “guests” rather than “visitor”, you do not need ushers who are going to say what they like when they like. You need people who see the bigger picture.

You will also need a lot of patience. Dyson made 5126 vacuum cleaners that did not work. It was model 5127 that worked and made him a multi-millionaire. Persistence and patience are what win! Model those values yourself and impart them to your leaders and you will be able to say “hey, we can change this part of our ministry” – we can do this slightly better – make the changes and watch the growth explode!

Set the Pace 02 Speed It Up!

Bucks Fizz are reuniting for a virtual Eurovision performance

Part of your job as a leader is to speed it up when it needs speeding up. That is something we must have the skills to do. Some people, maybe most people, will go too slow when doing something essential and if we perceive something is going too slow we need to pace set as leaders. Most humans are not good at setting their own pace – they go too fast or too slow, mostly too slow. We need to work out the right speed as leaders, and prepare our people to go at that pace too.

The most important skill in speeding up the pace for a task in your organization is empathy. You have to be able to understand what pace the people around you are going and what speed they would actually be more comfortable going. A super-dooper speeder-upper understands that pace is done by people, so he learns about the people.

Now, he does not take the pace from other churches, other people, other businesses, but from what the Lord is showing him and what the people can do. But if you are needing to change, refocus or handle a problem pace is so important.

When the lockdown started I knew I had to get my people online. I had to get the Word of God into them, I had to get them hearing notices because they were not getting a notice sheet anymore, I had to get them out of panic and walking forward at a dignified pace. I needed to speed some things up for people. You need to speed up some processes!

Amazon Prime can deliver anything you want in the UK next day! So when your team takes three weeks to reply to an enquiry about whether your church is online, you have failed that person in their mind. They are comparing you not just to other churches, but to other companies, and other experiences they have had! If another church had a more streamlined website they might have gone there.

One of the biggest hindrances to the pace of change in any environment, but maybe in a particular way so big in most churches is the history of the group – “this is the way we have always done it”. There are people in your church whose minds must be changed for you to progress, and that can take time. You can go too fast, but often we are going too slow and need to speed things up. I believe nearly every church in the UK should be growing faster, not slower. You need to speed up the pace and inject that faster pace into your people! Be fast, but not harried and hurried! People need your message, they need you to contact them, they need you to have some pace about you. When lockdown started, our team called over a thousand people, at least eight hungred of them twice. I did not make many calls, I was working on technology, I was writing messages, I was sending emails, but as the leader I set the pace for those calls and injected some life into volunteers to get them done. I praised publicly those doing loads, I shared stories on our social media and in sermons about successes, and I increased the pace because that task was essential and time-sensitive. When you have time-sensitive tasks, you need to set the pace.

The only thing that should stop you moving faster is your integrity. Growing responsibly is important too! You should also pause to plan, and pay attention to details. This is all part of setting the pace. If the pause button is pressed, you as the leader should be tbe one pressing it. If something is working, you should be disseminating what is working and letting people know and celebrate that win. If something is not working, you should be stopping it and quickly. These are times you need to set the pace.

You need your empathy to know what pace people can handle as well. To be a good pace-setter you need to understand the speed your people can be fruitful and not harried. You need to up the pace, but not so much that people cannot have a healthy life-balance. There’s not really a right or wrong answer to this, you need to know that some people are superstars and can do a lot more than you might think possible. There is one volunteer in our church who does so much, and is at the top of his game in business. I have often asked his wife – do you see your husband enough, because if not, I will take church responsibilties off him, but he really is that fast! Other people if I put that workload on them as volunteers it would be unkind of me. You need to understand people to be able to set a pace. It is that simple.

I like being around superfast people – people who can see what needs to be done, people who can set a pace, people who can move things forward. But I am empathetic enough to know not everyone is like that. I am not being judgemental here, I am just remind you that people are not all the same. Some people take a while to catch on, but when they do they will be the most loyal people you have. You cannot burn them out at a pace that for someone else would be fine. Move things faster, and let those people handle things that are less time-sensitive.

In the Bible, there are two words for time: chronos and kairos. Chronos is straightforward time, the hours, days, months and years as they pass. Kairos is an appointed time for something – the moment where things have to be done. We all have kairos moments given to us by God’s grace, our job is to recognize them and get the pace going. If you change things too quickly, no one will ever agree and you will cause resentment. If you change things too slowly you will not be able to do anything of value. You have to learn how to set the pace.

In Jim Collins’ book Good to Great, he said that timing is one of the keys to having a great company. It’s also vital to a great church. You need to know when things are changing and respond in the right timing, you need to know when things are an urgent threat, you need to know what to do. It’s not a question of going at one speed or another, it’s going at the right speed because things are changing.

If it is a time of slow, go slow, let the people rest and heal. In a time of fast, set the pace and make sure people know why it needs to be done fast. Big changes with no time sensitive nature, you can take them slowly. You need to develop this skill.

Next week, I will give you some very solid and practical advice to speed things up just slightly. You would be amazed how much a small increase of pace can change everything.

Set the Pace 01 Leaders Set the Pace!

How long could the hare sleep and still win the race against the tortoise?  | by Krist Wongsuphasawat | Medium

One of the tasks of leadership is setting the pace for the community or group that you lead. For example, as we went into lockdown and came out of lockdown, my job as leader of the Tree of Life Family was to set the pace.

We cannot run off, charging wildly, but we cannot stay where we are. We need a healthy, dignified, safe, but bold, marching pace to advance – and it is one of the essential tasks of leadership that you set the pace in the group or community you are leading. Jim Collins in his book “Great By Choice” (I recommend it!) found out that one of the keys to the top companies in any field was this: they knew when to slow down and they knew when to move fast.

In Alice in Wonderland, the Red Queen says “it takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast!”. Sometimes in life it feels like we are going as fast as we can and going nowhere. That’s the wrong pace, and that sadly is the default pace for many people – but as leaders we can set a better pace.

The key to sustaining a pace in your church, your business, your family, your community is this: you need to build and maintain momentum. Let’s use this introductory blog post to focus on this: what do I mean by setting the pace? Then we can move on and look at aspects of this in later weeks. There I am setting the pace! We are going to grab the basics first then move on. I have just set the pace by the way I am writing today. You can set the pace in your organization with the speed you do things, the speed you release information, the speed you hold meetings and conferences, the speed you move from one thing to another.

You need to deliberately set the pace. Some things need to be done quickly and efficiently and got out of the way. Other things need more time. Working out the difference and setting different paces for these different things will mean you are more fruitful. There are things you can do to speed things up and slow them down – the art is knowing when to do which!

A key point that must be made early on is this: do not look to someone else in another organization to set the pace for your organization. Pace must be individual to your leadership responsibility. Even the six Tree of Life Churches did not come out of lockdown at the same pace in the same way. It was very similar, but we are aware each church is individual. You have different challenges, different people, different gifts within your church or business, so do not set your pace with someone else. Another issue that must be understood early on as a leader is that your church, business or community cannot go at 100% pace all the time on every issue. An unrelenting, driving pace is unsustainable. That’s my polite way of saying it is stupid to push people too hard in every area.

So how can we set the pace? How can we slow down the pace? How can we make sure there are times to pause and reflect and dream? How can we “know when to slow down and when to move fast”?

The first answer is this: dream big. You were reading my blog waiting for me to say this weren’t you?! DREAM BIG! A big dream sets a healthy pace. Dream tiny and you will gather no pace, as it is too easy, so everyone goes slowly. Dream average and people will hurtle at the goal, achieve it and be exhausted. Dream big and people realize this is a marathon, not a sprint, and start to set a good pace from themselves. The second answer is this: give people a nearby target. We all do this almost subconsciously – if you are tidying a room, you go well I am 1/4 done of 1/2 of the room, and I will do the clothes next, then this, then that. We set ourselves sub-goals to keep us moving forward. As a leader we should be setting sub-goals.

  1. Dream Big
  2. Set Sub Goals

It is not that hard to get a community moving forward if you do this. Dreaming big is a great thing, because it makes people think big, it stops a lot of the pettiness that consumes so many people. I am a pastor running a church and I see it a lot in churches, people get upset over petty things. But if you are dreaming big, it is harder to let those small thoughts dominate. Eric Schmidt, the co-founder of Google, said “If someone offers you a free ride on a spaceship, you will not be asking which seat”. You need to let people realize you are the captain of a spaceship, and you are boldly going where no one has gone before, and that will instantly stop a lot of the pettiness going on in your group!

At the same time, travelling forward in space means it takes a long time to meet your goals. I have goals for 2030 and 2040 and 2050. So, those are a long time to get people motivated for, so I set sub-goals. We are currently aiming for our Dagenham church to be 300 people. That’s a sub-goal. Jack Welch, CEO of GE said “You need to eat while you dream”, and he meant you have to achieve things on the way to the big dream! That’s wisdom right there!

This is your responsibility as a leader – you have to encourage your people to dream big and at the same time give them something they can reach “soon”. Then, if your organization is doing several things – setting the pace across all of them.

You need to take some time to think about how you are going to set the pace in your life and then in wherever you are leading. Next week, I will discuss some ways to immediately add pace to something you want to achieve.

Pastors Behaving Badly 07: Keep Some Discretion!

Stepping Out From Behind The Proverbial Curtain | Women Speakers Association

I am wrapping up this series today with a short post on discretion with your house. This is really important! Let’s jump straight into God’s Word:

12 Soon after this, Merodach-baladan, son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent Hezekiah his best wishes and a gift, for he had heard that Hezekiah had been very sick. 13 Hezekiah received the Babylonian envoys and showed them everything in his treasure-houses—the silver, the gold, the spices, and the aromatic oils. He also took them to see his armory and showed them everything in his royal treasuries! There was nothing in his palace or kingdom that Hezekiah did not show them.

14 Then Isaiah the prophet went to King Hezekiah and asked him, “What did those men want? Where were they from?”

Hezekiah replied, “They came from the distant land of Babylon.”

15 “What did they see in your palace?” Isaiah asked.

“They saw everything,” Hezekiah replied. “I showed them everything I own—all my royal treasuries.”

16 Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Listen to this message from the Lord: 17 The time is coming when everything in your palace—all the treasures stored up by your ancestors until now—will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the Lord. 18 Some of your very own sons will be taken away into exile. They will become eunuchs who will serve in the palace of Babylon’s king.” (2 Kings 20.13-18 NLT)

Hezekiah messed up his life and his son’s lives because he showed off all his treasures to an enemy. Privacy and discretion are actually really important parts of ministry, and I know more than a few ministers who have missed opportunities for advancement and opened themselves up to attack by not showing proper discretion and keeping private things private. I am not saying keep secrets or mislead people, I am saying keep private things private!

  • Keep your house private. Don’t let just anyone wander in at any time. If you let people in your house, like Hezekiah did, someone may steal your treasure! Others will discuss what they saw in your house – the dishes not done, the clothes waiting to be washed. They didn’t think that the reason you were behind with housekeeping is that you were praying and counselling them and others over and over. Your house is not an extension of the church, not at all. And when visitors come over, they do not need access to the whole house. Keep parts exclusive! Maintain some privacy, don’t reveal all the treasures in your home! There is a devil and he will use people to come into your home and attack you – some people are jealous of you and will attack you. People will constantly evaluate how much money they think you have based on your possessions. Eglon, the king of Moab, let Ehud into his bedroom and Ehud took advantage of the invite and stabbed him to death!
  • You do not have to let people into your house without an appointment, sometimes, if the church does not have a permanent venue or office, meeting someone at a coffee shop or cafe is a much better option. You can eat with them and build a deeper fellowship, and you have the safety and accountability of being in public at all times.

Pastors Behaving Badly 06: Behaving Badly with the Money

richness - Liberal Dictionary

In the Genesis song, Jesus He Knows Me, whenever Genesis perform it live, Phil Collins starts with a long drawn out offering for millions. The stereotype of a pastor behaving badly with money sadly has a lot of examples that back it up. We need to realize that the love of money is the root of all evil (1 Tim. 6.10) and that love of money doesn’t stop producing evil just because someone is a pastor or fivefold minister!

Misusing finances is one of the things that can cost you your ministry, indeed even just looking like you have misused the money can cost you your ministry! All ministers need to adopt certain attitudes and principles. You will no doubt be criticized anyway by somebody, especially if you have a lot of money – but you can minimize people speaking against you and protect yourself from damaging words.

  • Tithe and give big yourself. Never be a stingy pastor. Lead your people as a big giver. If you ask people to tithe and you do not tithe, you are a hypocrite and a con-man. You do not really believe in the tithe, you just want the tithes of other people. This sounds so obvious, but I know many pastors who do not tithe or give!
  • Do not take tithe or offering money. Don’t put it in your pocket, don’t take it into your house, don’t keep it “safe”. Do not count the offering yourself.
  • Do not count the money in public. Some immature people will just see a lot of money and not realize what it costs to run a big ministry. Other people – and I have seen this happen – will be tempted to rob the church!
  • If you get a large personal gift, please consider carefully if there are strings attached to it. Some people give to manipulate you to going their way. Not everyone, maybe not even most people, but it does happen. Do be aware!
  • Do not borrow, especially from someone in the church! Do not borrow from the church account. If you cannot pay it back, and until you pay it back, you have actually stolen from the church. Do NOT borrow money from people in your church, ever! Do not borrow their car, do not borrow their TV, do not borrow anything. They will lend you willingly, but ultimately you will go down in their estimation. Do not covet what anyone in your church has!
  • Be very secretive about your personal prayer requests for money. Do not use a prayer request to manipulate people to give to you personally!
  • NEVER act as a guarantor or such for anyone in your church. This is something people often ask – will you co-sign my loan, please pastor? Listen – if the bank which specializes in money says “this person is not good enough to lend money to”, then the bank is right. You are wrong if you co-sign that loan. You are going to end up paying that money at some point without fail. You may even end up in court! Proverbs 11.15 in the NLT says: There’s danger in putting up security for a stranger’s debt; it’s safer not to guarantee another person’s debt.
  • If someone in the church needs an emergency loan, give them a gift you can give, do not loan to them. That way if they pay it back, it’s just a nice bonus. When you lend money, and you want it back, you may find that person suddenly led “by the Spirit” to another church!
  • Never favour rich people in your church. I saw a guest speaker once in my church fawn over businessmen and doctors in the church. It made me want to vomit! Such relationships will be unstable.
  • Never ever ever ever ever ever ever charge for ministering to someone, for praying for someone or for prophesying over someone. Yes, it happens, it happens all over charismatic Christianity and it is wrong, wrong and more wrong!
  • Don’t ask people in your church how much they earn or own. That’s just rude and people will wonder why you ask.
  • Do not broadcast your salary and benefits publicly. People may get jealous, or angry! People may think a pastor should not have anything or earn anything.
  • Do not preach in a way that implies you need more money. You may gain short-term gifts and pity, but long-term you will lose respect and momentum.

I hope this helps every pastor win financially and avoid financial scandals.

Pastors Behaving Badly 05: Guest Speakers Sometimes Behave Badly Too!

AMC 'Preacher' Showrunner Sam Catlin on Violence, Comedy and ...

Pastors are not the only ministers who behave badly – sometimes guest speakers do too. I have in the ten years I have been running the Tree of Life Family had guest speakers bring their own buckets and receive their own sneaky little offering, preach messages I told them not to preach, lied about other ministers to gain prominence, used my platform to correct my own ministers! So yes, sometimes they behave badly. Sometimes they are awesome in the pulpit, but outside they are difficult, make awkward requests (I mean utterly beyond the realm of reason) and are rude and ungainly. Now please – I don’t think the majority of guest speakers are like this, but some of you reading this will get invited somewhere at some point, so learn how to behave and make it as easy as possible for your host pastor!

We want you to be like the apostle Paul, a great travelling minister going to churches and bringing life and peace and revelation. We want you to be a blessing to every host pastor you visit, being of aware that you an ambassador of the kingdom of God!

  • Respect the church you have been invited to and the pastor who invited you. Say something nice about them – compliment the worship band, the choir, the pastor, the building. Compliment the people for coming. Do not get up there and say “hey, our worship band is bigger than your whole church”, do not criticize anything publicly. Now you have all heard of stories of big name speakers going into a church and saying something like “never sing that song again, it’s not faith, it’s not grace, it’s not good” – you are not them – don’t do that!
  • Don’t patronize the host pastor – you are not his spiritual superior, don’t bless him or give him a word unless you have that mentor relationship don’t do that.
  • DO NOT (notice the big capitals) invite yourself anywhere! There is nothing more off-putting to pastors than pushy people pushing for their pulpit. If you start off by being pushy, all pastors think you will be pushy when you are there. It is really off-putting.
  • Do not go where you think the money is. Do not demand money. Freely you have given, freely give (Matthew 10.8), so do not set a minimum honorarium! You are not a motivational speaker, you are a minister of the gospel.
  • Do not misuse your invite. I had a situation a while ago, a minister I knew asked if I would take a mission team from the USA to come to our church for a short-term mission. We have done similar things before with churches and Bible Colleges, but I had zero peace about this, like a scratching inside me. I know how to be led by the Spirit, so I checked it out. Turned out it was a church in the US planning to plant a church in London – and they were going to use this mission trip as a way of meeting our people to invite them to their new church they were planting. That is a hidden agenda, it is abusive, it is disingenuous! Do not be that person! Someone inviting you to their platform is a good thing, they are doing a good thing for you, and you are repaying evil for good which Biblically is something you should not do (Proverbs 17.13).
  • Make sure you have permission to:
    • Ask for partners. Never ask for partners without the host pastors permission. EVER!
    • Plug your para-church organization. For example, a Bible College or a mission trip. Never ever plug those things, putting people to leave a local church for a season, without explicit permission from the pastor.
    • Raise an offering. Most pastors will want to raise the offering for you. Never raise an offering without permission.
  • It is not wrong to ensure you are treated well, but do it graciously! It is fine to let people know what your expenses will be, especially if you do not know the church. I know visiting speakers who have travelled hundreds of miles, ministered 6 or 7 times in a weekend, and paid for their own hotel and expenses, and got under £100 in offerings. That wasn’t a small church that did that either. It is important to have those discussions up front. As a pastor, I always ask the question “Is there anything that you want to let me know you need when you come”. I like to pay for everything – hotel, food, etc. upfront and in some cases we even give our guest speakers some spending money.
    • Now, often if speakers fly from America, and they travel a lot – then they will have airmiles, favourite airlines and also it is often considerably cheaper to book from America. In those cases, I often ask the speaker if it is ok that they book their flights, and we reimburse them. Sometimes we will ask them to find flights and then purchase them.
  • Do not self-promote! The pastor has probably spent years building a congregation, feeding them week after week – they wouldn’t exist to have a guest speaker without that pastor! The pastor has no doubt promoted you and been favourable about you. Just being a guest speaker means people have more faith in you, less familiarity, more expectations of your ministry. Do not try and outshine the pastor or put them down for your own ego issues!
  • Flow with the conference you have been invited to. Most conferences have a theme – don’t cross it, don’t try and do something different. If you have been invited to do a miracle service, do it and bring some miracles. If you have been asked to teach in a day session, don’t turn it into a miracle service. There is one evangelist I will never invite back because he cannot flow with anyone else or any other service. All the best to him, but I like conferences where we walk in step with each other.
  • Do not build relationships with people from the church behind the pastor’s back. That is outrageous. If you are invited to a family of churches, do not build relationships with the other pastors behind the senior pastors back. Treat the invitee as the mayor of that area, do not go there without his permission, do not contact the people from there without his permission.
  • Promote the host ministry, not your ministry. Let the Lord promote you! When you have finished preaching and ministering, the church you visited should be better off because of it, not divided, not struggling. The pastor should not have to address your strange teaching or odd behaviour or overly controlling comments If people feel hated, or condemned, you haven’t done your job. You are there to uplift that church.
  • You can judge whether you did a good job very easily – if you never get an invite back, you didn’t.
  • Finally, invite the people who invite you to your ministry. You are not the only one with revelations! Invite them too!

Pastors Behaving Badly 04: Putting the “Guest” into Guest Speaker

Youth Guest Speaker - Sermon Series & Sermon Graphics - Ministry Pass

And the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of thee (1 Cor. 12.21 KJV)

One of the places you are going to have to relate to other ministers is when you invite them to come and minister at one of your churches or conferences. As much as you can, build a good relationship with guest speakers, loving and honouring them. Firstly, you need guest speakers! You cannot equip the church all by yourself. Secondly, guest speakers speak to each other. If you treat one of them badly, you will suddenly find no one wants to come and speak for you! Some people ask me why I have such great guest speakers. Well, I never really know why they come in the first place, but I do know why they come back, and this is why:

Guest speakers are just that – guests. And we need to treat them like honoured guests and honour them during their time with us.

  • Invite them to a meeting you know people will attend. Do not invite a guest speaker to a early morning prayer meeting or youth service! Invite them to the big service! If they are coming to your conference, give them the best session of the conference!
  • Be there – unless you absolutely cannot be there. If you are building a new relationship with the guest speaker, be there even if you absolutely cannot be there!
  • Introduce the speaker yourself, do not delegate that task. Ever.
  • Find out how your guest wants to be introduced. They are the guest, treat them like one. If they prefer “Prophet Smith”, don’t get up and introduce “Pastor Smith”.
  • Find out how to pronounce their name properly (this is something I am terrible at, growing up in Scotland has given me a very strange grasp of how names are pronounced).
  • Use the proper and correct name of their church and/ or ministry.
  • You will not be able to get on well with all guest speakers. Some of them genuinely do not like people, some of them just do not like you. Some will be your new best friends, others will not. Some ministers just will never come to you no matter how much you invite them. None of this is a problem. Start to work out what speakers you like and appreciate and ask your pastors and elders which speakers they would have back – the answers might surprise you. Now don’t just go by what they say, but you should listen and know what they think.
  • If the guest speaker is senior to you – older than you, more experienced in ministry than you, has a larger ministry than you then give them freedom to minister. Do not call them forward for you to minister over them. A lot of young immature “prophets” love to make a name for themselves and link themselves to larger ministries by giving them a prophetic word. No, let the Bible stand that the lesser is blessed by the greater (Hebrews 7.7). If you are in the presence of a great minister, shut your mouth and listen and learn.
  • Avoid inter-church politics. There can be rivalry in the town, and don’t invite a speaker to cause grief to another pastor. We had a minister contact us with a very powerful healing ministry who wanted to come to us, but we found out that another local church had just ended the relationship with them. This speaker actually asked me to go to the car park of the other church and leaflet the cars. I refused, I will not deliberately cause strife! Don’t join a ministerial gang in your area – cliques of ministers who go around attacking others!
  • Some guest speakers are far from perfect. John wrote about a man called Diotrephes who loved to have pre-eminence. Some guest speakers want to be honoured far above their station. They insist on the best restaurants, the best offerings. You will soon notice their lobbying for lordship over you, pre-eminence over you, they will not be serving you or your people. They are dictators building their ministry out of your people. If you are uncomfortable, do not let the minister appeal for partners or attempt to draw people away from you. Stand up for your people! Sometimes you need to be gracious during the event, then make a note – that one is not getting invited back. Sometimes it is like the X-Factor, you never know what someone is really like until you see them off-stage. Then you know, do not invite back!
  • If the guest speaker is junior to you, with a smaller ministry, less experience and so on, then show them some respect. Don’t call them “son” or “junior”, give them a decent respectable offering and make sure you use their title if that is their preference. Make sure your church know that you are backing this person! If they mess up, generally it’s less because they are trying to lord it over you and more because of inexperience in discretion, in handling money and so on. Do not correct them in public, have a quiet word with them in private.
  • Always follow up when someone comes: thank them in person, and give them an honorarium that is generous for your church size. If you have to save up a few weeks or months to invite someone, do it. I have over and over, and I get the best guest speakers in the world.
  • Welcome the guest speaker from their point of entry. If they are coming from overseas meet them at the airport. Do not expect someone to make their own way from around a foreign nation! Never ever do that. That’s terrible advice. Do not send a junior minister to meet someone, you make sure they are met by someone of the same level and ilk. If they are the senior pastor, you as the senior pastor of the inviting church go and pick them up. Hire a decent car if you have to, do not drive them around in a banger with the windows missing! If you have to delegate, delegate to the most important person in your ministry.
  • Often I have actually driven a guest speaker to the next location as the pastor has not realized how important it is to come and get them. If they are preaching somewhere else, I will go and listen to them in a context where I am not the pastor, then drive them back to our church. You learn a lot driving some speakers around (some just want to sit and rest, be mindful of that) and besides it is just good manners. Do not delegate that to someone who works in admin or a volunteer!
  • In the church, have a seat so that the visiting speaker is going to sit near you. Keep an eye on them so the more “flaky” Christians do not dominate their time after the service.
  • If the visiting minister has brought his wife, family, or other staff, publically identify them and acknowledge them. Never disregard anyone’s associate – what if they end up being the next Elisha!
  • Treat the visiting pastor’s wife well. For goodness sake, she is a very important person. Even if only because she will be the one deciding if her husband comes back to your church!
  • Give your guest speaker time! Do not invite someone from overseas who flies 8 hours to your church to speak for 15 minutes. Get a grip! Give them an hour!
  • When you introduce your guest speaker – be excited. Do not introduce them as the next apostle Paul or any other flattery, but just genuine excitement about them, and let the church know you are excited to be there and listen. I often hold up my notebook when I introduce a guest speaker and let my people know I am going to be sitting down and taking notes today. That helps them take this very seriously.
  • Be clear and direct with your guest speakers. If you want them to make an altar call, tell them. If they wrote a great book and you want them to speak on it, ask them. One of our best online guest speaker sessions this year of lockdown was Bob Yandian speaking on end-times. I was listening to him preach to his people on end-times and I asked him directly “would you be willing to share some of this with our people” and he was happy to. There is nothing wrong with doing that, and it helps guest speakers to know they are genuinely helping your people. Do not surprise your guest! Let them know everything in advance, let them know they will be taken care of. If a minister likes a topic well enough to write a whole book on it, trust me they will normally enjoy speaking about it.
  • Get them a box of treats for their room. Find out what they like and make sure it is there for them.
  • Discuss finances and other requirements beforehand! You need to know how much money they expect, you need to know how they expect to arrive at your meeting and leave your meeting, you need to know what kind of accommodation they expect. If you are a smaller church, let the speaker know, let them know honestly what you can afford, and let the speaker make a decision whether to come anyway or not. Be upfront, honest and direct.
  • Expenses may surprise you – it is expensive to travel and speak. When I travel to Europe for example, I might fly fairly cheaply, but I may have to get an Uber to the airport for a very early flight, even spend a night at the airport hotel to be there early enough. I know ministers who have flown to the UK, travelled around churches and Bible Colleges and not made enough to fly back without using their ministry savings. That is a very bad reflection of our nation! I never want a minister to return from the UK with more debt!
  • A good honorarium should include both expenses covered and a blessing for the minister. They should be more blessed from coming to you than if they didn’t! Take into account the rank and seniority of the minister, their relationship with you, and so on. Ministers who are fathers to you personally should be especially honoured. Also, let the honorarium take into account the number of days a person ministers. A gift for a single Sunday morning should not be the same as a four or five day conference! Give the offering in person, and to the correct person in person by the senior pastor.
  • You should not take a long time to get that money to the person. I know churches that just completely forgot to give! We had a situation once where a cheque written to an American ministry took over three months to clear, so now I do not write cheques, I use PayPal or BACS internationally. I want them to have that money before they even get on the plane! It is decent to give them a Thank You card too!
  • Do not leave the visiting speaker at the mercy of your least dignified people! Escort them from the meeting and help them yourself to get to where they are going next.

(My next post will put the shoe on the other foot and give keys to be a good guest speaker).

Pastors Behaving Badly 03: Dealing With Other Pastors in Your Town

Pastors Unity Prayer (4) |

The eye cannot tell the hand I don’t need you! And we, as pastors, are placed in towns and cities with other pastors. They don’t go to your church, they don’t think like you think, they have different ideas than you, your church doesn’t look like their church. Sometimes people who you rely on walk out of your church into theirs! Sometimes people they rely on walk out of their church into yours!

We need to be cordial with these people, and not be pastors behaving badly regarding other pastors. I am not saying all these other pastors will or even can be your best friends, you are unique and doing your thing. In fact, I tend to stay away from local pastor’s gatherings for several reasons:

  • It is not a good use of my time. Those kind of meetings rarely generate useful ideas or plans to help do what the Lord has called me to do.
  • Often there is a lot of conflict in those meetings, pastors can despise other pastors, disregard them, and they are always wary of the new kid on the block! They want to suss you out, and it’s not a nice experience.
  • You get to avoid a whole bunch of interchurch politics.
  • You get to spend time before God and finding out what God wants you to do rather than copying others!
  • A lot of times these gatherings are run under the banner of a control freak of a pastor who thinks all churches in the town are really accountable to him and should do things his way, sometimes even asking for money from the other churches in town!

You are a unique individual and if you are called to your town, then you do not need anyone else to approve or validate your call. If you are part of a movement or denomination, you should be drawing from there more than anywhere else. They opened the door for your ministry and you must honour that and never forget that, not someone who just happens to be closer!

There is a case for these meetings, if you can get the input and ideas of others and learn more about your city from pastors, but this rarely happens, I hate to say. However, we still need to be delicate when it comes to relating to local ministers. We need to not be the badly behaving pastors in our town and we can do that in several ways:

  • Never ever use your pulpit to speak evil of any minister or churc hin your town. If you speak about them, remember what Nana used to say: if you haven’t got anything nice to say, don’t say anything. Remember what Paul used to say to a pastor: speak evil of no man (Titus 3.2)
  • If you need to deal with a practise or teaching in another church that is infecting your church, one that is not encouraging people to walk in victory, is not Biblical or just plain bizarre, address the issue and compare it to the Bible, there is no need to name names.
  • Do not mock or make jokes about other churches or ministers in your church, it will be taken the wrong way by someone.

You need to be like David – don’t kill Saul! If you kill Saul, that’s how other people will treat you. If you get down in the mud for others, they will get down in the mud for you. David acted terribly as king – he failed so badly, and impregnated Bathsheda, murdered Uriah, but hie men never thought “kill him and take the kingship” – why? Because he built that into them. If you never get dirty with others, you build it into your culture and if you fall in the mud your people will not kick you while you are down.

Now as a pastor you must expose your people to other ministry gifts, you must invite evangelists, prophets, teachers to your church to equip your people. Never be insecure, you are still the pastor, you are still the father of the house, but people need the full fivefold to help them grow. Here are some things about guest ministers you must realize:

  • If you are not confident in another minister coming and not sure what they might say or do, do not invite them. Do not let people use your church to start a church near them. We had a group of missionaries want to come to our church to do a short-term mission, and someone asked if I would take them. This person was not normally keen on our church and my radar went off, and I did some research, turns out the missionaries wanted to start a church in London and lacked both the integrity to tell us honestly their purpose and not try and rip our church apart to build theirs. So that did not happen! Do not invite anyone who is looking to build their mailing list from your people!
  • Respect your visiting ministers. I will do a whole blog post on this in the future, it’s so important. So many churches and ministries do not have a clue how to respect visiting ministers, and it is tragic. Invite them with honour, treat them with honour when they are with you and give them an honourarium that is full of honour!

Hope this helps you all!

Pastors Behaving Badly 02: Behaving in the Service

Why Your Church Service Is Awesome –

Sometimes pastors have to go to church when you are not preaching or leading. If you are a travelling minister you have to go to church when you are not travelling, or you are setting a terrible example to people. In these situations I have seen some terrible behaviour from people, who are just terrible guests! In a conference, you should be in the sessions you are not speaking in if you can, and you should be behaving during that time.

So, here are some guidelines for leaders going to services they are maybe not leading, so we can help build the church and behave in the house of God.

  • Turn up on time. That is basic respect, you are showing that you regard the other minister and the other service as important. It amazes me that as soon as someone gets a little experience in ministry, they suddenly disrespect other ministers, rocking up half-way through the worship, making a scene when they come in, even talking during the sermon. That’s not behaving well. And people notice and people talk!
  • Dress appropriately for where you are going. Different churches have different dress codes. They are really formal but if you do not follow them you stand out. I am a jeans and shirt kind of person, but if I go to a jacket and tie kind of church, I will dust off the jacket and put it on. I don’t want to stand out in the church, I don’t want to call attention to myself, I want to enjoy the worship, the Word and the ministration.
  • Take part in the service. I mean you get involved in the worship, you lift your hands and you clap and you join in. When the preacher is preaching, get your amen in, receive the Word with eagerness.
  • Bring your Bible and notebook. Take notes even if you know the subject. Encourage the preacher. Do not go to sleep during the service!
  • Don’t get up and walk out during the service.
  • Do not be aloof, be part of what is going on.
  • The Bible tells preachers not to be afraid of people’s faces (Jer. 1.8). Don’t give the preacher a face to be afraid of. Don’t sit there and give your north wind face to the preacher!
  • If you are asked to minister unexpectedly during a service you are attending:
    • Do not suddenly change the purpose and direction of the meeting.
    • Keep to the time limit you have been given rigidly without fail.
    • This is where arriving on time and being part of the service helps, because you then have a feel for the flow of the service. If you do not have a feel for the flow, you are not going to be able to flow with the service.

We had a guest speaker at one of our churches a number of years ago. They preached a good message and people were blessed. The next Sunday this same guest speaker was on social media with pictures of themselves walking on a beach. They posted some critical remarks about “stupid Christians” (their words) who feel they should be in church every week, when you can walk on a beach and meet God. Think about that – the same Christians who came to hear them preach first week were good and holy, but they come the second week when the guest speaker is not there, faithful, servant, loyal saints who set up the meeting, made teas and coffees, ushered, played in the band are now stupid. Why? Because the guest speaker clearly only valued their ministry rather than God’s kingdom. They were incapable of going to church, sitting down and learning something. That is someone who has not and will not be invited back!

I have had to take ministers out for lunch and say “do not do that in my church”, “don’t talk all the way through the sermon”, “don’t hand out your prayer letters to people leaving the church”, “don’t grab the mic and suddenly turn a teaching service into a healing meeting”, “don’t preach 1 hour when I asked you to speak 10 minutes”, “don’t attack my people from the pulpit”. Why? Because sadly not every minister knows how to behave in church. We can do better.

Pastors Behaving Badly 01: It’s Important Pastors Behave!

C S Lewis: when we Christians behave badly, or fail to behave ...

Having just finished the series on thriving in the battle, I was praying about what to say to all you wonderful leaders and pastors and I heard one word in my spirit very gently spoke: behave! We as leaders must behave! What chaos has happened in the world, how many people have given up on the Lord, how many churches have died prematurely, how many marriages have failed because pastors have not behaved? We who are in Christian leadership should behave like it is so.

Paul wrote a letter to the pastor of the thriving church in Ephesus and said “you must know how to behave yourself in the house of God” (1 Tim. 3.15). All pastors should know how to behave in the church! If you don’t know, no one will. Pastoring is hard work and there is a temptation to take short cuts – with money, with relationships, with information. There is pressure on pastors, but we can stand those pressures and behave. And as leaders we need to behave circumspectly, what for someone else is just a bit of foolishness, can lead to people failing to understand what we stand for. Little foxes can spoil the vines! (Song of Songs 2.15).

When Jesus called the apostles, His primary calling for them was not to raise the dead, plant a church and do great meetings. No – it was to be with Him (Mark 3.14). Why did they have to spend time with Him? A whole host of reasons – but one of them was to learn how to behave! We need to be with Jesus to learn how to behave like Jesus! Ministry is hard work and a lot of pressure, but we still have to behave.

And we must as ministers never stop learning, never stop growing, never stop developing our character! Learning does not stop when we get the job or graduate Bible College, we need to keep learning. One of the best ways to learn is to have Pauls in your life – ministers with proven track records of behaving. I have learned so much from men like Dave Duell, Greg Mohr, Robert Maasbach, and they have helped me learn how to behave in the house of the Lord.

How can we behave in the house of the Lord? There are definite Biblical principles we can follow to help us behave, there are also other principles which might not be straight out of the Bible but will help us stay safe and keep wise and keep our ministries pure and upright. I don’t have all the answers but I have some, and such as I have I will give to you.

  1. In any church, there can only be one head. So every time you plant a new church aim to quickly and clearly appoint a pastor and let everyone know who that pastor is. I have seen people try and run a church by committee and it is a dreadful thing. The head has the eyes – it has the vision, but it also feels the pain when any part of the body is in pain. The head of the church must be the head of the church and be confident that he or she is the head of the church.
  2. The head must raise up a team and train them. The more people in the team the more can be produced and the more fruitful the ministry can be. However, you must be careful to only appoint people who are credible, capable and compatible. Anyone who cannot receive your instructions should not be appointed a leader. Anyone who thinks they are indispensable should not be appointed a leader.
  3. Never be a weak leader, someone will come along and take advantage of you. This is true in any church in the world – if the pastor is not strong and leading clearly, someone else is. It’s that simple. You let people know that you are the head and you know it. You set the pace, and do not let anyone dominate you or take advantage of you hesitating and being cowardly.
  4. Let everyone in your team (I mean associate pastors, assistants, elders, deacons, ushers – everyone who serves is team) know what you expect from them. Never have a hidden agenda, pastor, let people know what you want and where you are going! Let them know what kind of church you intend to pastor.
  5. Praise in public, correct in private.
  6. Always take the blame, you are the leader. 100% of the blame. Somehow it is your fauilt and it is your job to put it right.
  7. Never ever complain about any of your team. Ever.
  8. Give your team opportunities. See yourself as the coach of a winning team and let others make the plays! Even the important things!
  9. When you are with your team, do not treat them as servants, but as friends. That’s how Jesus did it.
  10. Eat with your team every chance you get (see Matthew 26.26)