Archives For Church Leadership

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church and a prolific writer on church and culture. His latest book, Meet Generation Z, profiles the largest demographic cohort in North America today.

In a webinar hosted by Wesleyan Investment Foundation on April 25, White talked about the unique characteristics of this up-and-coming generation and what churches must do to reach them.

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Preaching has been the central element in most Protestant worship services for over 500 years. It’s the main thing pastors do, in terms of time consumption. Yet remarkably few pastors have a strong sense of identity as a preacher.

Pastor

Not every pastor approaches the task of preaching in the same way. There are at least four distinct approaches to the pulpit.

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Pastor to Pastor Interview

Adam Weber planted Embrace 11 years ago as a 24-year-old seminary student with just 32 people attending. The Sioux Falls, S.D., church now welcomes some 4,000 people each Sunday through five campuses plus an online venue. Outreach Magazine has named Embrace one of the fastest-growing churches in the country for four years running, and this innovative congregation is the fastest-growing United Methodist church in North America.

Yet this thriving church nearly burned up on the launch pad when its young pastor almost burned out from the crushing workload. The 35-year-old husband and father of four talks candidly about the experience in his new book, Talking With God.

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Nobody likes to talk about it, but ageism is a significant problem in the church. The same battle women clergy have faced to gain respectability and access to employment is now being fought by men over 50.

A 57-year-old pastor with a record of significant growth was dropped from consideration by a search committee who reported that “the congregation expressed its wish for a youngish pastor with children still at home in order to draw people of the same age and life-stage.” He never made it to the first interview.

One church official confided that, in some circles, mature pastors are being encouraged to re-career rather than seek a new appointment.

Young pastors attract young families, so the thinking goes. They have more energy, fresher ideas, and are more likely to help the church grow.

Ironically, church may be the one institution where maturity is a handicap.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

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Many pastors feel they are vocationally locked in to ministry, but nothing could be further from the truth. Every pastor has skills that can land a job elsewhere. The secret is to present them in a professional business resume that makes sense to a hiring manager.

Close-up Photo Of A Businesswoman Holding Resume

Here are seven steps to telling your professional story and preparing yourself to enter the secular job market. And yes, you can do this.

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Resource Review

When I became a pastor 31 years ago, my small, rural congregation, gave my family an annual gift of food at Thanksgiving. This amounted to two or three shopping-carts filled with canned goods, boxed goods, and some frozen foods, probably worth at least a week’s salary. We lived off that stock for months, and I deeply appreciated the gift.

However, what seemed like a nice, homey tradition merely masked the fact that I was not paid well enough to fully support my growing family. We depended on this offering along with occasional cash gifts from church members to make it financially. While I was grateful for the generosity of individual parishioners, I disliked the stress of wondering how to afford a family vacation or a car repair bill.

Many pastors face that same pressure every week, and Mark A. Rennaker believes there is a solution.

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Reading has profoundly impacted my life, and probably yours too. As church leaders, many of us are voracious readers, and nearly everyone we know reads at a high level. The problem of illiteracy never occurs to us.

But we’re living in a tiny ghetto of the highly educated. The fact is that 43 percent of adults in the United States—that’s maybe 139,000,000 people—read at a barely functional level or below.1

Which means there probably are people in your congregation who can’t read the sign on the restroom door.

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