Archives For Inspi(re)ality

inspireality-navy

“When I was a child I thought as a I child, but when I became a man I put away childish things.” -Paul

When I first started working at a church, I was pretty set on wearing jeans to the office. And I didn’t want anyone to ever use the word “professional” to describe me. Turns out I had nothing to worry about.

And I understand the reasoning for not wanting to be a “professional” in ministry, but too often what we really mean is not being mature. So I’ve asked my friend Steven Hovater to talk about what it looks like to serve a church “professionally.”

Steven lives in Tullahoma Tennessee with his wife Kelly and three rowdy daughters. He values community, discipleship, and the creative work of God, so these things tend to show up in his preaching at the Church of Christ at Cedar Lane

Here’s Steven:

I get it. You didn’t go into ministry for the regular hours, tidy dress code, and opportunities to be an amateur accountant. You don’t see your primary work as being done at a desk, and you hate going to meetings.

Further, I get that there are good reasons for not wanting to let the secular world dictate what ministry looks like. There are good reasons that ministry should look differently than jobs molded by the pragmatic production cultures of twentieth century America. Those cultures don’t have a place for wasting time by lavishing care on widows and orphans. Nor do they honor prophets who speak truth, even when it brings the house down, nor time for stewing over a text, or listening to a problem that will remain unsolved. We cannot allow ministry to become about acquiring respect on the terms of the world. We’re not simply “employees”, and the church is never simply our “employer”. Ministers should always come to work dressed in a little camel hair, with a packed lunch of locusts. We should always be at least weird enough to remind the church that the normal world is broken. I get that, and so I want you to know that I’m with you in your struggle against The Man. Fight on, Brother/Sister. Fight on.

But…

We still need to have a little talk about what it means to be a professional in ministry. We don’t talk about it enough. Maybe it’s because of our desire to avoid being too secular for reasons like those outlined above. Or maybe we have bought into a set of old assumptions. For instance, in some corners of the church, ministers still try to maintain the impenetrable holy facades and suicidal workloads from a set of unquestioned professional expectations inherited from the last century.

For whatever reason, we often fail to engage in balanced discussions of our professional expectations. And yet, failing to describe our professional expectations and ethics never prevents those expectations from existing. Instead, it leaves those expectations to grow wild in all their conflict-generating splendor. Or, having successfully hidden ourselves in unquestionable priestly garments, we fail to meet reasonable, baseline obligations. When we do that, we foster frustrations that can eventually undo our partnerships with God’s people. Worse, we may abuse the church’s willingness to support us, thus wasting decades of holy time and thousands of consecrated dollars doing bad work in the name of God. A healthy professionalism honors our calling from God and our partnership with the church by translating the concept of being good stewards into concrete expectations and behaviors.

And so, the big question is: “What marks a healthy professionalism among ministers?” This deserves a much broader discussion, but let me suggest four commitments that can begin to form the core:

1. The commitment to doing your job with excellence, and improving over time. God has gifted you with raw talents and skills that can be used in your ministry. You are absolutely ethically responsible for making use of those gifts as well as you can. Beyond that, it is important to continually refine your capacities so that you’re not only giving God your best right now, but making sure that your entire body of work will demonstrate intentional growth. Part of ministry is encouraging people to be intentional about growing. Model that. Don’t just be a steward of the gift you already have, but what that gift could turn into.

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On January 17, 2013

Inspi(re)ality: Before You Go

inspireality-navy

One of the conversations I have at least once a week, is with a minister thinking about leaving their church to go to a new church. I always refer them to Wade Hodges ebooks. Wade is the preaching minster at the Preston Road Church of Christ and for this blog series he adapted the following from his ebook: Before You Go: A Few Sneaky-Good Questions Every Minister Should Answer Before Moving to a New Church.

Last week he talked about when the right time to leave a church is, adapted from his book When to Leave. If you’re interested in purchasing both. You can download both When To Leave and Before You Go as one ebook here.

Here’s Wade:

How Do You Know When You’ve Found The Right One?

“Every time I fall in love I feel a little sick to my stomach. I’m going to marry the one who makes me the sickest.”-Someone Funny

“You’ll know when you know.”-A Four-Time Divorcee

In Before You Go, I spend quite a bit of time coaching readers on to how to tell if a church isn’t a good fit, rather than helping them figure out which one is the right fit. My goal in writing it was to help ministers avoid making unwise decisions, due either to lack of information about the church or lack of personal insight.

Still, the question remains: How do you know when you’ve found the right church and can celebrate saying “yes” to a great new opportunity?

It depends on what we mean by the “right” church. “Right” doesn’t mean perfect. It doesn’t mean trouble-free. It doesn’t mean you won’t be in for a few unpleasant surprises a couple of weeks after you’ve unpacked the moving van.

However . . .

If they have a vision based on an honest assessment of their strengths, weaknesses, and history and you can’t help but feel attracted to their vision because of your strengths, weaknesses, and history, then it may be the right church for you.

If it’s obvious they’re not looking for you to be the solution to their problems, but rather are looking for someone like you to come strengthen their team with your specific gifts, then it may be the right church for you…

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inspireality-navy
One of the questions I get asked often is by young ministers who are thinking of leaving their current church for greener pastures. I always refer them to Wade Hodges ebooks. Wade is the preaching minster at the Preston Road Church of Christ and for this blog series he adapted the following from his ebook When To Leave: How To Know It’s Time To Move On (Before You Stay Way Too Long)

Meet Wade:

How I Stayed Way Too Long (Twice)

Once upon a time there was a pastor who moved to a small church when he was 25 years old and stayed there for 40 years until he retired.

No, this isn’t the beginning of a pastoral fairy tale. I can think of several pastors, like Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, and Bob Russell, who have served only one church throughout their distinguished careers. Warren and Hybels started the churches they currently serve. Russell moved to his church as a young preacher and during his forty year tenure helped it grow from 120 members into one of the largest churches in America.

I admire those guys.

For the longest time, I aspired to be one of them.

When I signed on to work with my first church at the tender age of 23, I had Bob Russell in mind as I dreamed of helping a struggling church of 75 people become one of the largest churches in the world during my 40 year career.

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Inspi(re)ality is a series for people who serve/volunteer/work in any kind of ministry setting. It is a year long series about the practical things we face in ministry, as well as why doing these things matter. Today’s blog is a guest post from Jordan Hubbard. Jordan serves as Senior Minister at the Belton Church of Christ in Belton, TX., he spent over a decade in student ministry before stepping into preaching ministry.

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Randy is a local funeral home director and one of the best people that I’ve seen at entering into people’s grief and standing with them. He’s shared tips on how to do funerals with dozens of young ministers, and today he’s going to give some practical tips on the actual funeral ceremony and graveside

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The following is a guest post by Josh Graves on the Theology of Funerals. Josh serves as the Preaching Minister at the Otter Creek Church of Christ in Nashville. He is the author of the Feast and co-author with Chris Seidman of Heaven On Earth, due out in November. Josh is a very good friend and one of the most hopeful people I know. His theology of Resurrection inspires every aspect of his ministry, including how he enters deeply into times of death. Josh blogs at www.Joshuagraves.com

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On September 27, 2012

Inspi(re)ality #5: Hospitals Visits

The following is a guest post by Ben Siburt. Ben served several years as a hospital chaplain and over a decade in full time church work, and is currently the Executive minister (think Old Testament High Priest) at the Highland Church of Christ in Abilene. He’s also a good friend and one of the more gifted people I know at entering into spaces where people are hurting:

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On September 20, 2012

Inspi(re)ality #4: Hospital Visits

There is something about the hospital that takes all the pretense out of life isn’t there? When Leslie and I had our miscarriage last year, we had to spend two days in the hospital, and while I had visited hundreds of people there, and had been there for two previous births, this was different. Because no one really says they’re fine in a hospital do they?

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There are not many things that unchurched people feel like they need from churches. They don’t get haircuts or taxes done at church. But when it comes to Weddings and funerals the church is where a lot of people turn to for help. And it’s easy to try and make that it into some kind of manipulative “Gospel presentation”. But that might just miss an opportunity to not just talk about the Gospel, but to put it on display. Weddings are a Gospel Production.

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So this series is going to be for other preachers and ministers and local church volunteers who are just learning the ropes of day-to-day ministry, as well as those who have done it for a while and want to share and learn other tools people are using in different places. I want to write about some of the things that I’ve learned and am learning. And I want to kick this off by talking about how to write a wedding

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