Ten Things Every Church Member Likes To Hear From His or Her Pastor

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I am super blessed to serve at Heartland Worship Center. Like all churches, it is made up of infected saints, but it truly is a family. They love their pastors well and trust them to lead. Not only that, they are a joy to lead.

Most pastors feel like I do, but are they saying it? Here are ten things every church member would like to hear from his or her pastor:

  1. “I love you.” Whether the budget is in excess or deficit, attendance is high or low, or whatever good or challenging times are about, the church needs to hear their pastor say the words. It cannot be assumed. It needs to be said and said often. The people need to know pastors care for them.
  2. “I want to be here for a long time.” It is so common today for pastors to have a short tenure. The average is less than five years. With such a short stay, it is hard for churches to fully follow their pastors as they wonder when they will leave. Churches need to hear from pastors that they desire to stay long-term. If you cannot say this as a pastor, then you need to find somewhere you can for the good of the church.
  3. “I will provide a vision that is biblical and obtainable.” People without vision perish, the Scriptures tell us. The people of God need to know what they are called to do. They need a compelling vision to unite them. A pastor needs to inspire them to follow a vision that makes the name of Christ famous and glorifies the Father.
  4. “I will say the hard things even if it offends you.” Pastors should not set out to offend their people as some kind of spiritual marker, but there are things that need to be said that will not always sit well with sinners. Pastors have to stand against abortion, abuse, sexual sin, immodesty, immorality, homosexuality, and anything else that is offensive to God. It matters not if it is popular to say or not. A pastor’s standard is not the will of the people but the will of God.
  5. “I will put my heart and soul into my preaching and teaching.” The people of God are desperate to hear God’s Word. Every week, they need to be confronted by its truth in their lives. The pastor must use every opportunity to bring it with passion and clarity, depending on the Holy Spirit to take the Word and penetrate the hearts of the people.
  6. “I will not cater to a few.” Pastors cannot give preference to their buddies in church. They serve all the people, even the ones they disagree with or whom annoy them. It hinders the church if pastors cater to the powerful, wealthy, or popular of the church.
  7. “I will pray for you daily.” How can a pastor be effective for his people if he does not pray for them daily? They need to hear often that he is interceding for them. A praying pastor is an effective one.
  8. “I will share my faith with the lost.” Pastors must lead in evangelism. It is crucial we share the faith outside the walls of the church. Pastors must be on the front lines of this. This means developing relationships with lost people and not just Christians.
  9. “I fail often in my walk with Christ.” Pastors need to be vulnerable with their people about their failures. We are all infected saints. It is crucial the people don’t feel preached down to but preached in to. This will only happen when the pastor shares his own convictions brought on by the Word of God. Good shepherds are honest about their struggles with their people.
  10. “I will communicate with you what is going on in the church.” Church members desire to know what is going on in the church. This means clear and consistent communication. There is no way to get the word out on everything perfectly, but the people should feel the pastors take the time to let them know what is going on.

Pastors are called to people, and those people need to hear the above from their pastors. It is an honor to serve the Lord and our people. Let them hear it.

Why the Church Still Needs Youth and Children’s Ministries

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Should students (K-12) be separated from their parents at church? This is a question of much debate among some. Those who argue that separation is negative for the family believe children need to see their parents worship. They learn by imitation, and, the way our culture is heading, students and parents already spend a majority of time apart from each other doing their own thing. Besides, there is something special about parents worshiping alongside their children. I see value in that.

Yet, my experience with this says children are mostly bored with “adult” talk and don’t engage in this setting. I think having times where togetherness happens should be a part of every local church’s planning, but more than ever, our churches need strong children and youth ministries that are intentional about engaging students in ways that train them as Christian warriors. It is beneficial for students to be with their peers learning about Jesus and what that means for their lives. Adults need that alone time with their peers as well.

Every pastor to students (children and youth pastors) worth his salt longs to do family ministry. Pastors don’t want to be “all things spiritual” to students. They are burdened for parents to step up and be the spiritual leaders. They long to walk alongside them in training their child spiritually. They don’t want to replace the parent, but they are experts in understanding how students tick. They know their needs are different than adults, and they know how to engage minds and hearts in a way students understand. Instead of hoarding this knowledge, they desire to help parents better engage their children spiritually.

Yet, most parents see student ministry as a replacement rather than a supplement. “Teach my child spiritually because I am not doing it at home” is how many parents in the church are approaching their child’s spiritual life. This is not healthy!  Student pastors are aware of this and long to see parents wake up to the reality that they need to be the loudest voice spiritually in their child’s life.

Our children are under attack. Everywhere they turn, their inexperienced eyes are bombarded with temptation, immorality, cruelty, and wickedness of every kind. There is no debating this is only getting worse. It doesn’t matter if you send your kids to public school or homeschool; unless you lock them in a room and keep them away from all technology and outside influence, they will face these things to some degree. Even if you manage to shelter them from most of it, eventually they will step into the world as young adults. No matter what, they will face the realities of this wicked world.

Good student ministers intersect the Word with life on a level students get. These ministers speak honestly and boldly about temptations that will be faced and help students be prepared to stand against them. They are skilled and passionate and, therefore, effective at not only training students but also working alongside parents to train their children to be in the world but not of the world.  The best student ministers do not oppose family ministry but embrace it by seeking to influence parents to better engage their children with spiritual truth.

I see four ways that motivate student ministers in these tasks:

  1. Teach the Word to students in an engaging and practical way that students can apply to their lives.
  2. Teach students to serve the Kingdom now and not wait until adulthood (which usually means they probably won’t serve then either).
  3. Engage parents on what is happening in their ministry so parents can utilize the information in spiritual training of their children.
  4. Equip parents to be the spiritual leaders to their student at home.

Thriving student ministries have no desire to isolate students form their parents. Instead, they provide a valuable service of walking alongside intentional parents who long to see their children know God and make Him known. Rather than dismissing student ministries and bringing families together for the whole time at church, Christian parents need to catch a vision for their role as spiritual leaders to their children and embrace student ministries as a helpful reinforcement to their own efforts with their children. Our children need godly parents and godly student ministries. This will lead to children becoming mighty warriors for God.

 

Children Need Godly Parents More Than Gifted Pastors

 

8Hear, my son, your father’s instruction,

and forsake not your mother’s teaching,

9for they are a graceful garland for your head

and pendants for your neck. Proverbs 1:8-9


The church must not replace the privilege of the Christian parent to be the primary voice of the gospel to their children. If this happens, as it so often does, it teaches the child to compartmentalize their faith, to be Chrisian at  church but something different at home or at school or in the ballgame. While this would never be a Christian parents desire, the message rings loud and clear to their child.

This is not to discount the importance of the pastor to students of all ages. He is vital to the kingdom and is set apart by God to make the gospel known to our kids. But never is it God’s intention that he would become the spiritual, surrogate parent for the children of the church. Instead of our children hearing the gospel only in church, pastors should be merely reinforcing a message already preached at home.

Here are a few things to consider in raising our children in the truth of the gospel:

1) Our children need to hear us pray.

Many of us pray with our children before a meal. This might be the only time our children here us prayer, a quick word asking God to bless the food. Often we have our kids pray at this time. We love to hear them pray. If this is the case they may never hear us pray. They must go to church to hear an adult pray. How much do our children need to hear us speak to the Father? How will they see God as someone worth knowing outside of the church walls if that is the only time they hear anyone talk to Him?

2) Let the word come alive in your home.

The Bible can’t be a book that is only opened in the church. Take it in the home. Let your kids see the word is important enough to be opened at home. Read it with them. Let them read it to you. Be creative. We used the Action Bible with our kids. They really like it and learn the stories of the Bible. If your children only hear their pastor open the word and delight in it, then it becomes a book for the church and not for their life. Teach them that the word is life. It is what guides us. It is worthy of our time and attention in the home.

3) Don’t let anything else take precedent over following God in your family

Compromise is the word of our day. Push the moral boundaries; do what feels good; holy living is for the radical. Parents put sports, school, and other activities above church. And let’s be honest here, above God. Christianity is good for our kids when it’s convenient. Is that what we want to teach them? No wonder so many are walking away from the church and God when they leave the home as a young adult. There is nothing of substance to hold on to. Parents we are preaching a message to our kids everyday. Question is what is that message? What are we telling them should be priority?

4) Take time to ask your kids what they are learning in church.

Reinforcing what their pastor is teaching them will go a long away in their Christian development. Ask them questions about the lesson. Offer insight. Encourage them. We challenge our children to answer questions in their classes. To ask the teachers questions.  We help them engage by talking of these things at home. We don’t want them to just punch a clock for their Sunday obligation. We want Sunday to be a part of their ongoing fellowship with God. It always starts at home.

5) Don’t teach your kids that living for themselves is their greatest calling.

Pastors will preach the gospel. They will teach children to deny themselves, live for others in the name of Christ. They will teach them to be like Jesus. That serving is real success. Parents please don’t teach another gospel to your kids. Don’t make it all about good grades, talent, and popularity. Don’t teach them a way contrary to what Jesus would have them know. If you do then you tell your children that church may be ok to attend but the message is not worth listening too. If you teach a false gospel of success and money and fame, then don’t be surprised when your kids follow it to their own demise.

A godly mother and father are more to a child than any gifted minister, with all resources and knowledge can ever bring. It is not too late to begin to teach your children that the most important thing in their lives is knowing Jesus. Don’t let them find Him in spite of you.

Diary of a Wimpy Parent: Raising A Teenager

Ephesians 6:1-3 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”

There is a lot of things I want for my teenager  but her thinking I am the coolest dad around is not one of them. Now I am as cool as the next guy, at least in my own mind, but I want to be something else to my daughter than cool. I want to be her role model, her rock, her guide, and maybe even one day her hero. I am not willing to do what it would take to be her cool friend. I don’t want to be a wimpy parent who lets my teenager set the tone for my relationship because I want her to like me.

Now don’t get me wrong… I take the time to find out what she is listening to in her music, what she is doing on Instagram, and who she is hanging out with. I want to be engaged and not clueless about what she cares about. But I want to be the parent and not one of her friends. Too many parents want their kids to like them so much so that they let things go in order to not come across stuffy. That kind of compromise sets the wrong tone for a teenager.

Thing is our kids don’t mean it when they act like they are put out by our being a person of authority . They don’t really want their parents to be hip. Rather they want boundaries and direction from us. Sure it seems like they fight it with every breath. If my daughters’s face ever froze with some of the looks she gave me when I was parenting, it would terrify you. But don’t believe their outcry, they want you to stay strong with them.

Here are a few principles I suggest you implement in raising your teenager, regardless if they think it’s cool or not.

1) Ask your teenager if they have prayed about it when they mention a struggle and take time to pray with them over that struggle.

We have to teach our children that God is more vital to us than someone we just mention on Sundays. That talking to him is crucial for life. Not only should we challenge them to pray but model it for them. Pray over them. Will they roll their eyes or make a sarcastic comment? Quite possibly. But don’t let that deter you. They desperately need you to set the spiritual tone in their life.

2) Monitor what they do on social media continually.

How can I stress this enough? Think this kind of urgency:  there is a fire in the house and you need to get out. Social Media can be an evil place. A place of cruelty and sexuality and vulgarity. There are so many ways for your teenager to get into trouble. Set the boundaries and monitor them! Get a filter like BeSafe and block their accessibility to graphic sites. Our daughter cannot add or erase apps from her iPhone. Only we can do that. Does she like it? Nope but we do it for her own good. We check her texts. We keep her off of snapchat and other sites we believe are used by many irresponsibly.

3) Listen don’t lecture

Teenagers are beginning to become adults. They want to be heard and their opinions to be respected. They don’t what to be treated like a child. Give that to them. Listen to what they have to say and don’t always be quick to correct. Let them have an opinion, and if it is not hurting them, let them learn for themselves if they are wrong. Try not to lecture them. They listen to lectures all the time at school and in church. Let them talk about life as they perceive it and be slow to correct their thinking unless necessary. When you need to correct do so patiently and encouragingly.

4) Be Consistent and Strong

It is so hard not to give in when they are upset with you. Don’t do it. Don’t let them play you. My daughter has me wrapped around her finger and she knows it! Stay strong. Be consistent. Teach them that you mean what you say. It will help them be consistent and strong themselves one day. We are not teaching them well when we give in just to keep the peace. It is not fun being the “bad guy” but it is for their own good. You got this!

5) Don’t stop hugging them

My daughter turns into a limp fish when I try to hug her right now. It’s like I have cooties, leprosy, and body odor all wrapped up into one  scent that repels her. Sure I would rather go hug a cactus than be made to feel like I’m being completely rejected, but you know what… I wouldn’t stop doing it for anything. My daughter needs her daddy’s affection. No matter how awkward it gets I won’t quit. She needs affection and I much rather her get the right type of affection from me than seek it out from a teenage boy! I love on my daughter and won’t stop even if she does act like I am tortuting her by my every touch.

This list is not exhaustive but has been helpful in my raising of my teenager. Please share it with others if you found it helpful.

A Call to All Dads With Daughters: Some Things Must Never Go Out Of Style

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Recently I bought my twelve year old daughter a promise ring and presented it to her at her favorite restaurant. It was the highlight of our many daddy-daughter dates. I will not write what I shared with her here out of respect for her feelings but it was a great talk!

I had a lady, who sitting near us, inquired about the purpose of the ring. I told her it was to serve as a reminder to my daughter that God wants her to remain sexually pure until she is married and that the most important man in her life until that day is me. She expressed her feelings about the ring with oohs and aahs and presented me with a big smile. She told me how she was glad to see me practicing something that could have come from a black and white film more than the practices of today. Something she thought her great grandfather might have done back in the 1920’s.

I understood her sentiment but I hope something as crucial as daddy’s investment into their daughters would be timeless, not reserved to any period of time. Is there anything more important I will do in the next six years than model for my daughter what her standard for a husband should be? I think not.

This means more than just modeling it in my work ethic. Men can be great at working hard but I do not know many wives or children who are impressed with their husband/daddy spending long hours at work so they can have more stuff. Work ethic is important to teach but more is needed for dads to model for their daughters.

I want to model affection for my daughter. I hug her and kiss her and tell her she is beautiful a lot. I will continue to do so even when she acts like she does not want me too as she hits the teenage years. That time where a kiss from her dad is skin to the bubonic plague. I might annoy her but it’s going to be with the annoyance of affection! She must know that she is loved by more than just my words. She needs to feel herself a princess in my eyes. That I adore her as the precious gift from God that she is to me.

I also want to model for her how her future husband should treat her by the way I treat her mom. I want her to see me doting on Christi, honoring her, respecting her. Am I perfect in this? Unfortunately, not even close but I am intentional.

Above all I want my daughter to see me as a godly man. Someone who strives to live by faith. Someone who messes up but is quick to admit it and embraces grace. A man of scripture and prayer. A man who seeks God for wisdom and direction.

There are no guarantees in how my daughter will choose to live her adult life but I trust the Lord to use my intentional investment in modeling these things for her in a way she will not easily overlook their influence when she considers a worthy mate one day.

May dads never stop investing in their daughters. May every dad be intentional in making their daughter feel the princess she is. Dads, if like me,you greatly desire your daughter to marry a godly, confident, sensitive man one day, then model for her now what her target should be.

If you think this would be helpful, please share this with dads with daughters that you know. May it be an inspiration to them as they teach their daughters what a real man looks like.