What Effective Pastors Do With Their Time

Jul 17

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Leadership gurus will tell you that a primary skill of an effective leader is the ability to manage time for maximum productivity. Out of curiosity, our research team asked over 200 pastors to provide us an hour-by-hour calendar of a typical 168-hour week for them. Keep in mind that 168 hours represent all the hours in a week, so their reports included such mundane items as sleeping and eating.

Impressed with the Effective Leaders

Our study included 101 pastors that we called effective leaders because their churches ranked in the top five percent in conversion growth in American churches. A comparison group of pastors of similar number were leading churches that did not have significant conversion growth.

Our researchers were impressed with the time management skills of the effective pastors. Perhaps the best way to show their skills is to compare their use of time with that of the leaders of the comparison churches.

Differences in Priorities

Without comment, let us highlight some of the most significant differences between the pastors of the effective churches versus the pastors of the comparison churches. You may be surprised at some of the findings.

  • Pastors of effective churches sleep slightly over six hours per day. Pastors of comparison churches sleep almost eight hours per day.
  • Pastors of effective churches spend twenty-two hours in sermon preparation each week versus four hours for pastors of comparison churches.
  • The effective church leaders spent ten hours each week in pastoral care compared to thirty-three hours for the comparison group pastors. Pastoral care included counseling, hospital visits, weddings, and funerals.
  • Effective church leaders average five hours per week in sharing the gospel with others. Most of the comparison church pastors entered “0” for their weekly time in personal evangelism.
  • Comparison church leaders spend eight hours a week – more than an hour each day – performing custodial duties at the church. The typical custodial duties included opening and closing the facilities, turning on and off the lights, and general cleaning of the building.
  • Leaders of effective churches average 22 hours a week in family activities. The comparison church leaders weren’t too far behind with 18 hours of family time each week.

Priorities and Balance

The time allocation of effective leaders seems to complement the way they describe their own leadership styles. In order to accomplish what they considered priority functions, they had to sacrifice in other areas. The leaders of effective churches spent over 40 hours per week with their families and in sermon preparation time. In order to fulfill these priorities, they obviously had to let some things go.

Thus the effective leaders cannot do many of the responsibilities often expected of them as pastors. They cannot make all the hospital visits. They cannot counsel everyone. And they cannot perform all of the custodial duties that may be expected of them. But as leaders they can see that those things get done.

Leaders of effective churches thus make certain that their family and work life is balanced. And they make certain they have time to be missional and all about the Great Commission.

They also give priority in time to prayer and to preparation in God’s Word for the sermons to follow.

They almost sound like they are following the pattern of the early church leaders: “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the preaching ministry” (Acts 6:4, HCSB).

Biblical. Missional. Evangelistic. And powerful preaching.

How are you spending your time?

 

This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on July 1o, 2014. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

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Seven Ways to Hurt Your Pastor

Jun 23

Seven-Ways-to-Hurt-Your-Pastor

By Thom Rainer

If you really want to hurt your pastor, then this blogpost is for you.

This past week alone, I had conversations with dozens of pastors. These pastors love their churches and the members. They are really committed to their callings.

But they are real people who can really be hurt.

The pastors I spoke with this past week shared with me seven common themes of the things that hurt them the most. So, if you really want to hurt your pastor, follow these guidelines carefully.

  1. Criticize the pastor’s family. Few things are as painful to pastors as criticizing their families, especially if the criticisms are related to issues in the church.
  2. Tell the pastor he is overpaid. Very few pastors really make much money. But there are a number of church members who would like to make the pastor feel badly about his pay.
  3. Don’t defend the pastor. Critics can be hurtful. But even more hurtful are those who remain silent while their pastor is verbally attacked. Silence is not golden in this case.
  4. Tell your pastor what an easy job he has. It can really sting when someone suggests that the pastor really only works about ten hours a week. Some actually believe that pastors have several days a week off.
  5. Be a constant naysayer. Pastors can usually handle the occasional critic. But the truly painful relationships are with church members who are constantly negative. How do you know you’ve succeeded in this regard? The pastor runs the other way when he sees you.
  6. Make comments about the pastor’s expenditures. I heard it from a pastor this past week. A church member asked, “How can you afford to go to Disney World?” Wow.
  7. Compare your pastor’s preaching and ministry unfavorably to that of another pastor. Many times the member wants you to know how much he or she likes that pastor on the podcast compared to you. If you really want to hurt your pastor, you can make certain he knows how inferior he is.

So, if your life’s goal is to hurt your pastor, one or more of these approaches will work just fine.

But, if you are like most good church members, you want the best for your pastor. So just do the opposite of these seven.

And if you are worried that your pastor will not remain humble unless someone puts him in his place, don’t worry. There will always be plenty of those other church members around.

Do you identify with these seven items? What would you add?

This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on June 16, 2014. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

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1,000 Sermon Outlines

Jun 19

1,000 Sermon OutlinesWe have just published F.E. Marsh’s great title, “1,000 Sermon Outlines” on Kindle. This is a great volume to use for Preaching, Teaching, Evangelism, Counseling, etc…. There are 1,000 Outlines in this massive volume covering every Biblical topic you can think of. Marsh provides the bones to build on, and you supply the meat! Just click your Country Code below to purchase:

 

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Free Father’s Day Sermon Outline

May 29

For the full manuscript of this sermon, just subscribe to the Silver or Gold levels at: 

SermonSubscription.com

Title: “How to Be a Godly Father”
Series: [No Series]

Introduction:

[1]A Texas dad (who did not want to offer his name) had some unexpected excitement on his family vacation. After the man and his family spent the night at a hotel in Memphis, Tennessee, they stopped to eat and fill up their gas tank. That’s when the trip got really interesting. When the family hit the road they left dad behind at the gas station.

The father explained what happened: “Somebody had been sleeping all night in the back and they were going to drive and I was going to get in the back and sleep. I went inside to get my change for the gas and they thought I was already loaded up and closed all the doors and took off.”

The dad tried to call his own cell phone, which was still in the van, but nobody answered it. He said, “Six different cell phones and nobody answers and my phone is in there because it’s on the charger and nobody answers it and then it starts going straight to voicemail. I mean, that’s odd.”

The father called the police, but it was social media that saved the day. The frantic dad borrowed a computer from a local motel and got in touch with his family through Facebook. The van was about 100 miles away by the time he finally reached his family. The story had a happy ending: the family turned around, picked up dad, and continued their vacation. The dad indicated to reporters that he’s confident the entire incident was just a huge mistake.

Fathers, can you relate to this man? I know we don’t like to say much about it, but the truth is many of us feel like we have been forgotten. We know that if Mom was gone for more than two minutes the whole house would fall apart, but some of us get the feeling that we dads could be gone for a week and no one would notice, unless something got broken and they needed us to fix it.

Today we want to discover how to be a Father that is remembered for more than just being available when something needs fixed. We are going to be looking at Philippians 2 where Paul tells us about Timothy and Epaphroditus, two examples of men who followed God’s instructions for being a godly man that will help us in our quest to be good fathers. So let’s discover five characteristics of God’s model man.

1. COMPASSION: MEN WHO PUT RELATIONSHIPS BEFORE RESULTS

Philippians 2:20-21

2. CONSISTENCY: MEN WHO PUT CHARACTER BEFORE CONFORMITY

Philippians 2:22; Proverbs 10:9

3. COOPERATION: MEN WHO PUT COOPERATION BEFORE COMPETITION

Philippians 2:25

4. COMMITMENT: MEN WHO PUT CHRIST BEFORE COMFORT

Philippians 2:25-27

5. COURAGE: MEN WHO PUT SERVICE BEFORE SECURITY

Philippians 2:29-30; Mark 8:35

 

——————————————————————————–

[1]WMC-TV, “Kids leave dad at gas station, realize mistake 100 miles away,” (6-25-13)

For the full manuscript of this sermon, just subscribe to the Silver or Gold levels at: 

SermonSubscription.com

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Millennials and the Demise of Print: Five Implications for Churches

May 19

Thom Rainer

As the president of an organization that has huge investments in both print and digital assets, I watch the trends related to the two closely. Current discussions focus on a few basic issues. First, digital communication is pervasive and growing. Any metric will affirm that reality. Second, print as a form of communication is suffering in most areas. Third, print will have occasional rebounds that will give print adherents hope that it is not going away. In the past couple of years, for example, print book sales have stabilized.

But a recent article by Henry Blodget in Business Insider shed some fresh perspectives on this issue. He notes the allegiance to print media is highly influenced by the age of the readers. Simply stated, the older you are, the more likely you are to like, or even prefer, print. Of course, that information is really stating the obvious.

The Stark Reality of the Future of Print

But Blodget notes recent research that is almost breathtaking. The research looked at media preferences for different age groups. The stark reality of the future of print is most noticeable in the 16-to-24 age group and the 25-to-34 age group. The Millennials have absolutely no loyalty to or preference for print media. Blodget’s words are worth repeating:

“Media consumers in the 0s, 10s, 20s, and 30s have no such print alliances. To them, the idea of printing on a dead tree and then trucking it to houses and newsstands seems ludicrous, old-fashioned, inconvenient, and wasteful. To these folks, paper-based publications are a pain to carry and search, easy to misplace, and hard to share, and the information in them is outdated the moment it appears. For those who weren’t raised on paper, digital is superior in almost every way.”

Wow. Those words are painful for an old print adherent like me. But facts are our friends, and I would rather deal with reality than deny reality.

Five Implications for the Church

Of course, after I read the article, my mind traversed quickly to implications for local churches. I see at least five at this point.

  1. Churches not fully acclimated to the digital age need to do so quickly. It’s a matter of gospel stewardship. There is no need to compromise biblical truths, but there is a great need to be relevant.
  2. More of our congregants will be turning on their Bibles in the worship services rather than opening them to a print page. Some pastors view this practice as troublesome. One pastor recently commented to me: “How do we know if they aren’t looking at sport scores or something else?” We don’t know. And we don’t know where their minds are wandering if they don’t have a digital device with them.
  3. Church leaders should view this change as an opportunity to be more effective missional leaders. We would not expect international missionaries to go to a place of service without learning the language and the culture. The language and the culture of the Millennials are all digital.
  4. Leaders must keep current with changes in the digital revolution. While old guys like me will never be as conversant with the digital culture as our children and grandchildren, we must do our best to understand this ever-changing world. What is current and relevant today may be dated and irrelevant tomorrow.
  5. Social media is a key communication form for the Millennials; churches and church leaders must also be connected. I recently wrote an article on this issue. For now, a church not involved some way in social media is neglecting a large part of the mission field.

Implications and More Implications

I recently was reading a print magazine article to one of my grandsons who was cuddled in my lap. He saw a photo on the page and tried to swipe it like he would on an iPad. When nothing happened he declared my “picture was broken.”

That is the age and the era that are quickly approaching. The implications are many and staggering. But we in churches cannot be complacent. The very communication of the gospel is at stake.

This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on May 14, 2014. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

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