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  • National Church Planting Month 2013

    Exciting News…National Church Planting Month is upon us!

    Each year at CPA we host National Church Planting Month in October!  National Church Planting Month (NCPM) is a special time where we invite churches and individuals to place an intentional emphasis on the ministry of church planting, pray for the ministry of church planting, and give an offering to CPA to help support and expand the ministry of church planting in America!  We invite you to partner with us in this great endeavor! Our goal this year is $18,000.

    This past year we have been able to assist church planters in South Carolina, New York, Oregon, Missouri, and California with specific and pressing needs!  We need to do more next year…and you can help!

    Please check out our website and click on National Church Planting Month for a list of resources and new video (2 minutes) where I share my heart regarding church planting.

    Send your gift to Church Planting America (P.O. Box 37887, Jacksonville, FL  32236).  You can also give online.  Just click on “donate,” follow the instructions and give your gift.  No amount is too small!

    The need is great.  The time to act is now.  And you can help! Thank you for taking time to read this and for your participation in National Church Planting Month.

    Thank you for helping us “Impact America…one church at a time.”


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  • National Church Planting Month

    October has finally arrived…what’s so special about October, you ask? It’s National Church Planting Month!

    Every October Church Planting America emphasizes the absolute need to plant strong, Biblical churches in the United States. We have a two-fold objective for this special month:

    1.  Raise awareness regarding the need and opportunity to plant churches.
    2. Raise an offering (our goal is $16,000) to help us accomplish the task.

    We have available some great looking and informative resources on our website These may be used to help present the need to God’s people, and to encourage them to pray for this endeavor and to participate financially!

    If every pastor reading this letter would receive a special offering (or designate a gift from their missions fund), we would meet our financial goal.

    Every year in America some 3,700 churches close their doors. It is our challenge to replace these “closed doors” with vibrant, New Testament churches—churches that preach Christ and are true to His Word. Can you help me? Will you help me?

    Please send your most generous gift to Church Planting America P.O. 37887, Jacksonville, Florida 32236. I’m counting on you to help meet this pressing challenge!

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  • Training Christian Workers – Part II


    In the first part of our focus on Training Christian Workers, we addressed the issue of why pastors fail to accomplish this important task.  Today, we will offer a few suggestions—and there are many others that could be mentioned—relative to perfecting the congregation for the work of the ministry.  These are simple, yet effective, practical ideas designed to stimulate your creative thinking.

    1.  Sunday School Staff – Only eternity will reveal the tremendous impact that the work of the Sunday school has had on the cause of Christ.  Souls have been saved, lives have been changed, and families have been edified through Sunday schools all over the world. 

    One great reason for the spiritual success of the Sunday school is the dedication of Sunday school teachers and workers.  Long hours of preparation, prayer, and visitation are but a few of the ways in which godly Sunday school leaders have labored to win souls and teach the Word of God. 

    If any group of servants in the local church deserves special training, it is the Sunday school staff.  Far too long, we have expected teachers to perform their manifold responsibilities apart from adequate instruction.  In some churches it would appear that the only real requirement for one to serve as a Sunday school worker would be a heartbeat! 

    I would recommend an annual Sunday School Clinic.  Conduct the clinic on a Saturday and focus on practical training that will enhance the skills and confidence of your teachers.  Consider topics such as:  lesson preparation, lesson presentation, visitation, the purpose of the Sunday school, etc.

    2.  Deacons – Many pastors have made a hobby out of belittling deacons.  On one occasion, I heard a well-known pastor refer to his deacons as “demons.” For some reason I do not believe that God is pleased or impressed with such “humor.”

    Any wise pastor will admit the importance of godly and dedicated deacons.  In scripture, deacons are servants.  How can we expect these men of God to realize full potential apart from training?  Time spent training deacons is time well spent! 

    When I served as pastor, I conducted an annual Deacon Training Program for all potential deacon candidates.  Seldom did I spend my time more wisely!  Focus on issues such as job description, servant’s heart, relationship with the pastor, etc.

    3.  Ministry Employees – Often times pastors possess the mistaken idea that those who surrender and are educated for full-time ministry are fully equipped to discharge their professional and spiritual duties.  I only wish this were true!  All of us need to continue to grow and develop our gifts and abilities for Him.  Consider an annual off-site retreat for the purpose of professional development.  Invite a speaker to address various topics of interest.  Also, schedule occasional in-service workshops targeting special needs, both spiritual and occupational.


    Training should be provided for other groups including, ushers, nursery workers, greeters, disciple makers, etc.  While training workers requires effort, time, energy, money, and prayer—it is a worthwhile investment. 

    Purpose to take your church to the next level of growth by enlisting and equipping dedicated personnel to help you do the Master’s business. 

    (I have many training resources available, including a four-CD series for training Sunday school teachers—each CD comes with a printed outline sheet.  I also have available a resource for training deacons.  I just completed a 210-page book, The Complete Book of Local Church Job Descriptions, containing 111 job descriptions for the church and Christian school.  To purchase these materials, visit my website at

    What Have I Been Reading Lately?

    Basic Budgeting for Churches

    By: Jack A. Henry

    This is another great resource written by Jack A. Henry!

    Budgeting can be a nightmare for pastors and church leaders—particularly if they lack practical “know-how.”  If you struggle in this area of ministry, this is the book for you!

    This volume contains 118 pages, 7 chapters covering subjects such as: 

    • Budget Basics
    • Budget Development
    • Spending
    • Computers and Budgets

    The 3 Appendixes at the conclusion of the book contain examples that will prove to be very helpful as well.

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  • Training Christian Workers – Part I

    According to Scripture (Ephesians 4:11,12), pastors must perfect believers for the work of the ministry. The word “perfecting” refers to equipping and training. In the Greek, the idea is to “add what is missing.”

    When Peter and other fishermen returned from a long day of fishing, they needed to spend time mending their nets. The concept of mending nets is a good illustration of what it means to perfect believers for service and ministry.

    As we think about fishermen mending their nets, several observations come to mind. In the first place, mending nets is an ongoing process. The work is never completely finished because the need never fully goes away. The pastor’s work of perfecting Christians is never done. There are always believers in need of training!

    Peter spent precious time mending his nets because he understood it was for the purpose of work. He and the other fishermen were not wasting time when they mended their nets; they were preparing for work. Pastors need to understand that perfecting the saints is not a waste of time; it is an important part of their ministerial responsibility.

    Though mending nets was not a glamorous aspect of serving as a fisherman, it was required. The wise fisherman invested his time in what might be considered a minor task in order to be more effective. He clearly knew that his fishing efforts would be more productive if his nets were fully mended. Pastors, too, must understand this simple principle. The work of the church is much more effective if dedicated servants are trained and equipped to serve to their full capacity.


    When it comes to the practice of equipping men and women for Christian service, our American churches are falling short! My observation is that American missionaries are doing a much better job of training nationals to serve the Lord than American pastors are doing in their efforts to train laymen here in the States. Why do pastors struggle with this Biblical mandate?

    1.  Some pastors have never understood the command to perfect God’s people for service. In my meetings across the country, many pastors have privately shared with me that they were never taught this truth, even in Bible college or seminary. Consequently, frustration occurs! Something seems to be missing, but the pastor struggles to identify the problem.

    2.  Some pastors prefer to do everything themselves. In their minds, no one can perform the task as adequately as they can. With this mindset, the church will always be limited by the pastor’s level of ability, energy, time, and knowledge. A quick reading of Exodus 18 will reveal the foolishness of this condition.

    3.  Some pastors refuse to take the time required to equip their people for service. More pastors than I can count have told me that training is a waste of time because they can do the task faster themselves. Such a view is very limited! While it is certainly true that a pastor can indeed perform a job faster than an untrained layman, what about the layman who has been carefully trained? At some point the equipped Christian worker can meet, and possibly exceed, the efforts of the pastor. Training is a long-term investment that pays rich spiritual dividends.

    4.  Some pastors receive ego status from always being needed by everyone for everything! Godly, gifted, trained workers may become a threat to insecure pastors. If believers are not encouraged to serve the Lord fully, the church is going to be tremendously limited in its efforts to carry out the great commission of Jesus Christ. Let’s be spiritual enough to put pride aside and allow the work of God to go forward with full strength, utilizing gifted and godly servants for the Lord’s work. My mentor, Dr. Grant Rice, taught me a helpful principle: do not do anything you can get someone else to do for you! He did not offer this suggestion from a position of laziness—rather, from a position of effectiveness. Bro. Rice helped me understand that when I train others to do some of what I am doing, then I can engage in additional tasks that others cannot do.

    In our next blog, we will look at effective strategies for training key ministry personnel.

    What Have I Been Reading Lately?

    Basic Accounting for Churches

    By: Jack A. Henry

    Most men in ministry are not skilled in financial matters; however, ministry involves money—and we need to know how to handle it appropriately!

    Author Jack A. Henry has done the Lord’s work a great service by writing this practical resource for pastors and church leaders.  Henry has served as executive vice president at Baptist Bible College in Boston, where he also taught business administration.

    This work totals 166 pages, comprising 11 chapters, as well as sample forms, etc. located in the Appendix.

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  • Writing a Philosophy of Ministry

    Dynamic local churches, whether new or years in the making, are intential. That is, they intend to honor God, reach the lost, preach Christ, and obey the Scriptures. To that end, church leaders must develop, write, and refine specific statements which will intentionally move the church forward. In addition to a well prepared and Biblical doctrinal statement and a set of bylaws, local churches need to draft a core values statement, a vision statement, a mission statement, and a written philosophy of ministry.

    The focus of this brief article is on writing a philosophy of ministry. And I emphasize the word written! Consider these words from author Harold J. Westin, “I need not remind you that every church already has a philosophy. The problem is that only the pastor and a few of the leaders may know what it is. Unless it is clearly defined, written out, and communicated to the people, new members who join the church may cause a great deal of conflict among the congregation before they ever find out what that philosophy is. Therefore it becomes important for you to make it preachable, teachable, transferable, and memorable.”

    One final thought: My 37 years of ministry testifies that most church fights and splits occur over philosophy rather than doctrine!


    The famous evangelist, Billy Sunday, remarked, “Men fail through lack of purpose rather than through lack of talent.” For too long men have embarked on the journey of church planting and building, failing to articulate the Biblical and philosophical principles that will become the “DNA” of the congregation. The process—and it is a process!—of thinking, praying, studying, writing, and implementing a philosophy of ministry is critical for five reasons:

    1. It unifies the congregation in matters relating to spiritual focus and ministry direction.

    2. It allows the church leadership to plan activities and schedule events which are essential to the spiritual depth and growth of the congregation—activities and events which are part of an overall strategy, not merely based on tradition.

    3. It provides the church with an acceptable and Biblical standard of success. It allows the church to measure its accomplishments by something other than pure “numbers” or another church in town.

    4. It serves as an effective means of training leaders, deacons, staff, and even new members.

    5. It answers the question that members often ask, “Why is the Pastor—or church leadership—doing what it is doing?”


    What should be included in a philosophy of ministry? The content of a Philosophy of Ministry is very much an individual local church issue. There is no “one right way” to prepare this document. Just as individuals differ, so do good Bible-believing local churches. As a means of stimulating your creative and innovative thoughts, allow me to suggest a few points to consider as you prepare your written Philosophy of Ministry.

    1. Principles relative to the church’s reasons for existence
    2. Principles relative to the church’s pastor
    3. Principles relative to deacons
    4. Principles relative to membership involvement
    5. Principles relative to church discipline
    6. Principles relative to church staff
    7. Principles relative to the church’s public services
    8. Principles relative to the church facility
    9. Principles relative to musical emphasis
    10. Principles relative to finances.


    A written Philosophy of Ministry is not a cure all. It is simply a means to help prioritize beliefs and organize time, resources, and energy. It is a very useful tool in helping the congregation to focus on essentials rather than incidentals. It is a means to help edify your flock and prepare them for the work of the ministry. It is the foundation for strategic thinking, planning, and acting.

    One final thing to remember. Just like an automobile or computer, your written Philosophy of Ministry is only useful if it is put to work. A well-written document is of little value if it does not assist you in your ministry for Jesus Christ.

    (If you would like to purchase a sample Philosophy of Ministry, you may do so at, or contact me at

    What Have I Been Reading Lately?


    The Outline Bible

    By: Harold L. Willmington

    Every preacher I know is constantly in search for a good outline.  This massive work (775 pages) will prove to be an invaluable resource in assisting with your sermon or lesson preparation.

    It is advertised as “the most comprehensive outline of the Bible available—it covers every chapter and verse.”

    Dr. Harold Willmington is not only a brilliant scholar, a former pastor, and an educator—he is my personal friend of some 40 years.  Do not pass on this incredible resource.

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  • Growing Up In a Blended Family

    It was a beautiful spring morning when I awoke to the news that my father had married the woman he had been seeing. In fact, it was my new stepmother who made the announcement as I lay in bed. Her exact words still ring in my mind, “your father and I got married last night.” Those eight words changed my life.

    A little of the back story may be helpful. I was born the fourth child, the only male, to my birth mother and father. When I was only four years old my mother died from a surgery that went wrong. My father, a truck driver with a very limited education, was left with four children to care for. My eldest sister was 19 and soon to be married, the remaining three of us ranged from age 15 to 4.

    Life without our mother proved difficult, as it would with any family left in similar circumstances. My dad worked hard and long and I was left in the care of my older sisters and a neighbor lady who had a large family of her own.

    When I heard those eight words on that spring morning, I was excited and happy. While as a young child I did not understand all of the dynamics of family life, I knew that after the death of my mother things were not complete. My hope was that the presence of my new stepmother would make life better. Sadly, that wasn’t to be!

    Along with my new mother—whom I called by her first name—came her two children, a son and a daughter. Both were older than I, and they were as eager to have stability and a father as I was desirous of a mother.

    It did not take long to determine that blending two families was an enormous challenge! In the first place our house was a modest structure with three bedrooms, comprising just over 1000 square feet, with only one bathroom for seven people. Beyond that, there were many differences in the foods we ate, the churches we attended, and the values we possessed. The reality was, we had just injected three strangers into our family, and as it turned out, I did not like any of them!

    One by one my older sisters left the home nest as quickly as possible. When I was 16, I too, moved out, primarily staying with my sister and her husband.

    Since I started working when I was in the 8th grade (busing tables at a hotel restaurant near O’Hare airport in Chicago, and later at a Pizza joint), I knew how to work and essentially cared for all of my needs since I was 13 years of age. Life was not easy “being on my own,” but it was far better than the alternative: living as part of our blended family!

    With the benefit of time (I’m 58) and some element of spiritual maturing, I now can enunciate a few of the reasons why our blended family struggled:

    1.  We started with unrealistic expectations!

    From a personal perspective I was searching for a new mother just like my birth mother—and that did not happen. In fact, every member of the family had their own idea of how this new family was to work. Each of us had a personal agenda or objective. In retrospect, I do not believe any of our personal expectations were truly realized. The dreams we each had vanished over a very brief period of time.

    2.  We did not know how to communicate!

    When differences arose our reactions were, for the most part, unproductive and unbiblical. We never had family meetings to discuss—openly and honestly—our frustrations. My Dad’s reaction to conflict was to become loud, angry, and aggressive. My stepmother’s practice was to “clam up.” For the most part we kids simply went into mental and emotional seclusion. To withdraw was the most convenient strategy. Conflicts were simply ignored, regardless of the hurt and pain that almost always accompanied them.

    3. We lacked Biblical guidance!

    While my birth mother was a true Christian believer, my father was lost, and with no visible interest in God. My stepmother was a Lutheran, possessing no clear testimony of a personal salvation experience. My birth sisters and I rode the bus to Sunday school at the local Baptist church. Thankfully, one-by-one we were all converted and to this day remain active in church. Our step siblings never joined us on the bus or, to my knowledge, in embracing Christ as Savior.

    What we lacked as a family is what all families need in order to succeed—God’s wisdom and help! The Psalmist was correct when he wrote, “Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it” (Psalm 127:1). We were attempting to build a family apart from the very One, the only One, who could help us succeed.

    My experience is certainly not typical of all blended families. Through some 37 years of full-time ministry, I have learned that many blended families flourish, with very few serious problems. And while challenges exist in every family, and certain adjustments must be faced, it is a blessing when blended families rise above the obstacles and purpose to live in harmony, under God’s guidance.

    One final note. In 1975 I planted a Baptist church in the Chicago area. On a special Sunday in May of 1976, my stepmother was gloriously saved. Her life changed and so did our relationship. In 1990 I was able to lead my Dad to Christ one year before he died. While we did not start right; thankfully, we ended better than we began!

    What Have I Been Reading Lately?

    The Pastor’s Primer
    y: O.S. Hawkins

    Dr. O.S. Hawkins has given preachers a true gift in the writing of The Pastor’s Primer.  This 340 page book is a gold-mine of helpful insights, outlines, and wisdom for the busy pastor.

    It is made available through GuideStone Financial Resources.  Most Scripture quotations are from the King James Version and is a “must have” resource for every preacher!

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  • Do You Have Stakes in the Ground? – Part II

    As a husband, father, preacher, or leader you must indentify vital stakes required to secure, shelter, and protect those who live, worship, and work under your influence. In fact, those under your authority are depending on the fact that you have both indentified and anchored necessary stakes.

    My daughters grew-up knowing that Mom and Dad had unmovable stakes, driven deep into the Word of God! They understood that our family’s stakes would not change simply because it was fashionable or popular to do so. Peer pressure would not alter our stakes! The thirst for “success” would not remove our stakes! And the need to please people—whomever they may be—would not change our stakes!

    In similar fashion, it is the same with my philosophy of ministry. My stakes in the ground are not affected by new trends, the latest book, pressure to grow numerically, or the fear of failure. You see, early in life and ministry I, by the grace of God, had determined what was non-negotiable. The list was not long, but it was important—and unmovable.

    Let me challenge you to identify your stakes. Decide what really matters, discover those beliefs and principles that will guide you and secure you, even when other people or institutions change course. Establish stakes related to doctrine, ethics, philosophy, morality, and finances. Be sure to anchor your stakes in the truth of God’s Word. It is because the stakes will only hold if they are driven deep into soil that is stable and secure (Psalm 119:28, 33, 35, 44, 89, 105, 110, 133, 142). When leaders drive their stakes into what’s trendy, untested, or pragmatic, the tent will surely collapse when howling winds begin to blow.

    Having said all of that, please understand what I have said. I did not say, or infer, that something is wrong simply because it is new or different. For example, I have heard of preachers who rail against the use of video screens—how ridiculous! Remember, there was a time when indoor plumbing, air conditioning, and public address systems were new.

    The issue is not “incidentals” but “essentials.” I have surely altered my position on a host of topics which I consider to be of minor importance. As we mature emotionally and grow spiritually, change is bound to occur. But most, if not all, of the essential issues of doctrine, ethics, philosophy, morality, and finances were settled long ago. Developing your belief system (stakes) will help you “flesh out” the real you. This exercise will assist you in understanding what you truly believe and why you believe it (Acts 17:11; Colossians 2:8; 4:6; I Peter 3:15).

    The benefits of placing Biblical and balanced stakes in the ground are manifold. Obviously, as already stated, stakes will keep you and those under your leadership safe and secure in the midst of a changing—and increasingly unbiblical—culture.

    The presence of essential stakes will aid in decision making. When asked or tempted to violate a well-placed stake, the answer is easy—no! The opportunity is always present to remove or change a stake for political or pragmatic reasons. More money, a bigger ministry, a prestigious position are common sources of allurement. A new ministry position or greater compensation is not always a bad thing; however, if you are forced to violate an important stake in order to secure such, that decision will prove costly in the long run! I have personally witnessed the confusion which ensues in the lives of children—even grown children—when parents alter long-held positions and beliefs. I am amazed that people “sell-out” so quickly in an effort to feed an insatiable desire for acceptance, fame, or success. God help us!

    Do not simply look in God’s Word for a “Yes or No” verse to something in question. Go deeper, evaluate Biblical principles and examples as well as specific verses and commands. Also, ponder the reputation or environment associated with the issue in question. Sometimes plain, old common sense will help us think through an issue of concern.

    Do not mirror someone’s position because you are too lazy to research and pray over your own! And remember, good people can differ, what’s critical is that you—to the best of your ability and understanding—please God. If you please God it does not matter whom you displease; If you displease God it does not matter whom you please!


    What Have I Been Reading Lately?

    The Book of Man
    By: William J. Bennett

    This is a massive book (over 500 pages) written by William J. Bennett, Secretary of Education under President Ronald Reagan and Drug Czar under President George H. W. Bush. He is also the author of The Book of Virtues, among others.

    “The purpose of this book is to explore and explain what it means to be a man. In these pages you will find a variety of sources that offer a coherent, defensible, and appealing notion of manhood. The selections range from ancient to modern, and in some they carry timeless instruction. Taken together, they present an ideal of manhood both suitable and practical for today. In a variety of life’s contexts, these readings define what a man should be, how he should live, and the things to which he should aspire.”  – Taken from the Introduction

    The book is organized into six parts:

    • Man in War
    • Man at Work
    • Man in Play
    • Man in the Polis
    • Man with Woman and Children
    • Man in Prayer and Reflection

    To my knowledge, Bennett makes no claim to be a born-again believer. He is, however, a man of deep moral principles and of faith. He uses great illustrations to help fathers, pastors, educators, and mentors equip boys to become men.

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  • Do You Have Stakes in the Ground? – Part I

    I was a typical teen who was looking for a change of pace in my life—maybe even a little adventure. Growing up in a massive urban agglomeration, I was seeking something different, totally different! After considering several options that were available to a 16 year old kid, believe it or not, I chose camping. Yes, you read correctly, I was going to go camping. To be an urban cowboy or grown-up cub scout!

    With very limited experience (I did accompany my sister’s family on one or two camping excursions as a pre-teen), I set out to purchase the required equipment and supplies. In addition to the portable grill, sleeping bag, cooler, cook stove, flashlight, and lantern, my most expensive and most important acquisition was the tent. It was an awesome tent, tall enough to stand in and large enough to sleep three or four—in case I invited a few of my buddies to come along.

    I vividly recall the events of my first outing. We (my brother-in-law and I) arrived to our destination after dark (mistake # 1!). We had never set-up a tent prior to this occasion (mistake # 2!), and we had not even bothered to open the box containing the tent until we arrived at our camp site (mistake # 3!). Erecting that tent, in the dark, with an impending storm was a feat I wish I could have visually recorded. Neither of us possessed the required knowledge, experience, or patience—it was truly two stooges at work!

    When we finally accomplished our task and settled in for the night, the storm which earlier had seemed a long way off, finally arrived. In addition to sheets of rain, it was the wind—the furious wind—that posed the problem.

    You see, it was on that rainy and windy night that I learned an important life lesson. A lesson which has helped me stay balanced and safe throughout life! The lesson, you ask? I learned the value of well-placed and secured stakes in the ground. What enabled us to survive the violent wind on that dark wet night was the presence of the stakes which held us safe and secure.

    In life—and in ministry—we need stakes. With the mighty winds of relativism, liberalism, pragmaticism, and other “isms” beating upon our homes, churches, and beliefs, it is the stakes in the ground that will hold us secure!

    Luke wrote of “a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us” (Luke 1:1). It is unquestionably important to identify the stakes—grounded in the truth of God’s Word—which will hold us unharmed.

    In our next post we will dig a little deeper into this topic.

    What Have I Been Reading Lately?

    Organized for Success
    By: Stephanie Winston

    Most people, who know me well, know that I strive to manage my time wisely and live an organized life—particularly as it relates to ministry. Along my journey of professional growth, I, like most others, have been influenced by a host of people and their writings. One such person is author Stephanie Winston.

    Winston has written several classic books on organization, including The Organized Executive and Getting Organized, which have sold more than one million copies.

    In Organized for Success, a book of some 240 pages, Winston shares practical tips and tested techniques geared to helping workers and managers adopt strategies that highly successful executives have employed. She interviewed dozens of senior executives in an attempt to better understand their work habits and mental discipline.

    If you seek to be better organized, this brief volume is well worth your money!

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  • Hiring Staff – Part II

    It has been correctly stated that a church will not exceed the quality of its leadership. If a church is to continue grow spiritually and numerically, godly and gifted personnel must be employed.

    A businessman was asked how he became successful. He replied, “Good decisions.” The questioner persisted, “But how do you learn to make good decisions?” The crusty old fellow answered, “Experience.” One more question followed, “Well, how did you get the experience?” The answer: “Bad decisions.”

    This post is being written from experience! As I examine my own ministry, I am gleaning from both mistakes and successes. The goal, of course, is to help other pastors in the realm of staff relations . . . things to do, and not to do!

    In our previous post we focused on two significant questions: What is your motivation for building a staff? and, Can you afford a new staff member?


    1. Be certain to provide training.

    One great fallacy that many pastors have bought into is the idea that college graduates are fully prepared for ministry. Such is not the case! Upon college and/or seminary graduation, most young men are just beginning to understand the challenges of local church ministry. It is my view that even mature and experienced staff members require additional personal training and mentoring.

    I would suggest at least one week of formal staff development each year. More would be helpful. Focus on your philosophy of ministry, leadership development, communication, “people” skills, and specifics of select programs and ministries.

    2. Be certain to prepare written job descriptions.

    Space will not permit a full discussion as to the benefits of written job descriptions. Suffice it to say, they not only enhance good organization, but they also promote positive staff morale. (My 210 page book, The Complete Book of Local Church Job Descriptions, is available at

    3. Be certain to conduct weekly staff meetings.

    The weekly staff meeting is much like a football team when they “huddle” between plays. The huddle is necessary for clear communication. In the huddle, the quarterback calls the play so that the team can move in unity and, hopefully, score.

    During the weekly staff meeting, the pastor functions as the quarterback. The purpose is to solve problems, discuss plans, focus on prayer and Scripture, and strategically move the church forward for Jesus Christ!

    Just imagine a football team that seldom, if ever, went into a huddle. Is there any wonder why many of our churches are disorganized and ineffective!

    4. Be certain to provide encouragement and support.

    It is not easy serving as a staff member. They are often underappreciated, over-worked and underpaid. Most godly staff ask for very little. What they do need, pastors, is your love, support, encouragement, and time. Remember their birthday, recognize their ministry anniversary, and encourage them to spend adequate time with their families.

    One mistake I made early in my ministry was not spending productive time with my staff. I am referring to personal, one-on-one time—time to answer their questions, meet their spiritual needs, help them solve their problems, and discuss their victories and their defeats. In short, they need to be discipled!


    Even as I write these words, my mind goes back to the many godly and faithful men and women who have served with me in the Lord’s work. I truly appreciate their dedication and rejoice in their labor of love. Many of the men who served as assistants have gone on to plant a church or serve an established congregation as senior pastor.

    Whatever success I realized in my local church ministry, I owe a great deal of it to the dozens of staff workers God allowed me to lead and mentor.

    What Have I Been Reading Lately?

    How to Start a New Service

    By: Charles Arn

    I am constantly being asked for counsel on the subject of starting an additional worship service.  Pastors are increasingly interested in the “pros and cons” as well as the “how to” steps which are involved in such a decision.

    This is the one book I always recommend.  With 269 pages, it is well worth reading before a church makes such a move.  It is insightful and highly practical!

    The philosophy of ministry of the author may make you uncomfortable, but look beyond your obvious disagreements and focus on the “nuts and bolts” of how to launch an additional service, should God lead you to do so.

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  • Hiring Staff – Part I

    One of the most important ministry decisions will come when the pastor feels it necessary to hire staff to assist with the work of the ministry. Depending upon the availability and giftedness of godly lay people, the pastor’s first hire may be a secretary or a youth pastor or a music director. Obviously, the needs of the congregation and the leading of the Lord will dictate the direction regarding staff selection.

    As the need becomes evident, a wise pastor—along with godly counsel—should address the hiring process with caution. Consider the following questions as a guide.

    1. What Is Your Motivation for Building a Staff?

    As incredible as it is, some pastors hire staff for all the wrong reasons. Two of the most infamous motives are pride and laziness. Many preachers seem to like the prestige associated with a large staff. The grand entrance into the fellowship meeting, with the lowly staff following behind. The appearance of a “big” church, simply because of a large staff. God deliver us from such pride!

    Other preachers hire staff simply because they do not want to work. True, they want the position, the title, the office, the salary, the respect, and the authority . . . but not the work! The staff can do all of the work, and the senior pastor can receive all of the credit!

    Positive reasons for employing a staff member would include expertise with a specific area of ministry (music, discipleship, etc.), more effective evangelism and outreach, pastoral care of a growing congregation, and assuring that things are done “decently and in order.”

    2. Can You Afford a New Staff Member?

    Far too often churches consider only weekly compensation when answering this question. Reality suggests that the financial cost far exceeds the employee’s salary. Consider the following:

    Locating and recruiting acceptable candidates can be an expensive exercise. Beyond the time required to make the initial contact and communicate with all references, funds are required for bringing someone to your church for an extended interview. Things like travel expenses, motel charges (do not put them in a home!), and meal costs all add up quickly—especially if you consider more than one candidate for the position!

    Beyond the stated salary, there are also payroll taxes and fringe benefits. In today’s world, health insurance is a necessity and is very expensive. Other benefits could include optical and dental insurance and, of course, a church’s contribution to an employee’s retirement plan.

    Once a candidate has been hired, an additional financial obligation would include moving expenses (this could easily run several thousand dollars) such as the cost of the rental truck, fuel, and the motel and meals (if it is a multi-day trip). In addition, the new staff member is going to need resources with which to do his job. Office equipment and furniture, business cards, and secretarial assistance are but a few of the expenses associated with employing a new staff member.

    In our next post we will examine additional questions regarding the employment of staff members.


    What Have I Been Reading Lately?

    The Art of Pastoring

    By: David Henry Sorenson

    The author, Dr. David Sorenson, is a third generation, fundamental Baptist pastor.  With some 40 years in ministry, Sorenson is qualified to write a book on the subject.

    This volume comprises 227 pages, including the Appendix.  There are 12 chapters, covering the basics of serving as a senior pastor.  This is a very helpful resource for a young man in ministry, particularly for those seeking or beginning their first pastorate.

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