Elements of Work

I was reminded today of a guy I knew in Iowa. He ran a business and he had a sign that said,

“Cost, Quality, Time”

At the bottom of the sign it said, “Choose any two”

I am coming to believe this is not only true of business but most areas of life.

Another Lesson From A Ministerial Search

Over the last few weeks I have mentioned several lessons I learned about the Church and it’s people while applying for new ministry positions. Today’s lesson comes from a very practical standpoint and here it is:

“Most Churches have no idea how to handle Human Resources.”

I have found this to be completely true in congregations under 250 people in average attendance. Numerous Churches have no plan for regular evaluation of their preacher. Only a limited number have plans for how to remove a preacher that is not working out. Many have no idea how to hire a new preacher other than gut feelings. This is especially true the longer the former minister has been in the pulpit.

I say this for several reasons. One, I have had several Churches contact me in the last two weeks that I sent a resume to back in January. My personal experience has underlines this truth over and over. Two, most Church leaders are good Christians but not great business men in smaller congregations. They simply have not been trained how to do these needed tasks. Three, because of the nature of a “divine call” in ministry we hesitate to handle hiring and firing with any business sense. We walk a fine line of Christian faith and good human resource practices. Fourth, most Churches have no idea what they need to look for in a preacher. Usually they are trying to get a guy just like the last preacher or they are looking for the exact opposite. I am sure there are other reasons, but most Churches really struggle in the area of human resources.

So – here are my suggestions for Churches. First, have your leaders attend a human resource class if they can find one. (Bible Colleges should offer these at leadership conferences.) Two, read a book or two on human resources as a group. Do this when you have a minister so you are prepared for anything. Finally, ask around. See what other Churches are doing or what they have done. See what they learned. Go to a larger Church and ask them their practices.

When you have done all of your learning about hiring, evaluating and firing then take and type everything up. Edit it and refine it as you learn and grow. Have your plan in print and when that day comes that your preachers decides to move on or he goes home to the Lord, your Church will be ready.

For Father’s Day

I have this in my files and it is credited to Erma Bombeck in “Family — The Ties that Bind…and Gag.”

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One of the best pictures I’ve ever seen on the current confusion of the placement of fathers comes from Erma Bombeck. She paints a portrait of a little girl who loved her dad but wasn’t sure what dads do:

One morning my father didn’t get up and go to work. He went to the hospital and died the next day. I hadn’t thought that much about him before. He was just someone who left and came home and seemed glad to see everyone at night. He opened the jar of pickles when no one else could. He was the only one in the house who wasn’t afraid to go into the basement by himself. He cut himself shaving, but no one kissed it or got excited about it. It was understood when it rained, he got the car and brought it around to the door. When anyone was sick, he went out to get the prescription filled. He took lots of pictures…but he was never in them. Whenever I played house, the mother doll had a lot to do. I never knew what to do with the daddy doll, so I had him say, “I’m going off to work now,” and threw him under the bed.

The funeral was in our living room and a lot of people came and brought all kinds of good food and cakes. We had never had so much company before. I went to my room and felt under the bed for the daddy doll. When I found him, I dusted him off and put him on my bed. He never did anything. I didn’t know his leaving would hurt so much.

Fine Line

I have come to believe that there is a fine line in most of the activities of life. A fine line that separates something great from something … well, less than great.

For Example – There is a fine line between: Childlike & Immature or Smart & Smug or a Hard worker & a Workaholic or Self Concerned & Self Absorbed.

In many things it is great to walk a fine line, just make sure you are always on the right side of the line.

A Big Ministry Question

Everyone has an idea for a ministry that the Church should start. All of us see a gap in what the Church could and should be doing. And most people have some idea of how they would fix it. Unfortunately, most of the ideas and suggestions are based on what we have seen in the past. It is suggested that the Church add a children’s program or a Sunday school class or some other tried and true method.

For me there is a ministry question we need to ask, “Is this the best way to accomplish our goal?”

Before we can answer that question we have to ask the big ministry question, “What is our goal in this activity?”

Those are two different and unique questions. First we need to be very clear on what we are trying to accomplish. Are we trying to educate new Christians or are we trying to reach the unchurched? Are we trying to connect with children to reach their parents or to educate the children themselves? Are you teaching senior citizens or twenty-somethings? All of those tasks are very unique.

Before a ministry gets started make sure you are very clear on what you are trying to accomplish. Then ask if this is the best way to do it. It sounds simple, but it is vital to always be asking.

Personal Cleansing

The past week I have been cleaning house. Not just a little dusting and polishing, but packing and evaluating. The one good thing about moving is that you have to evaluate everything you own. This is especially true when you are moving 4000 miles.

Do you use it? Do you need it? Does it have value? These are the vital questions that my wife and I are asking about everything we own. These questions have led us to make numerous runs to the dump, trips to the Salvation Army store to drop off, lots of gifts to people we know, a large garage sale and a little Craigslist posting. It is a great deal of work and takes a lot of time, but it is a great personal cleansing.

It is amazing how much you can accumulate through the years. Some items all of us need for daily living. Some items are local needs like a snow blower here in Alaska. Some items you just hang on to because you think you might use them one day. It is amazing how many things a family of 6 can accumulate when you put all of our needs and extras together.

There is a simple Biblical truth underlined in all of my evaluating – Matthew 6:19-21 (NIV)”Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. (20) But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. (21) For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

There is also a practical side to this truth – You need far less than you think you do. In fact, I imagine that much of the stuff you own is not truly needed. I know its true for me.