Thom Rainer, currently President of Lifeway, the Baptist resource publishing house, took time this week to reflect on how to be a better pastor.  He’s pastored 4 churches, and is a student of what makes a healthy church.

In the post titled If I Were a Pastor Again, Rainer lists five thing he would do differently:

  1. Pray more
  2. More time reading the Bible
  3. More time loving the critics than worrrying about what they said
  4. More time “hanging out” with church members
  5. More time getting to know the unchurched

These look like no-brainers, but we need to remind ourselves of the basics our the job from time to time.  We forget that “prayer is the work” instead of a prelude to the job.  We get so pressured to prepare the sermons and do the rest of the job that we forget to take time to read the Bible for our own benefit.

The other 3 points deal with our relationships with others.  We are to be shepherd of the church, not just the hired help to speak and administrate.  We are to have our ears open to the hurt behind the accusations (think of the kids who “act out” jsut to get attention).  And we need to know people to witness to, and lead our people by example.

This is not an all-inclusive list, of course, but it’s a good start.  As I’ve said before, you start where you are and move forward, no matter where that starting place happens to be.

(See the article here.)

I was recently redirected to Christianity Today’s site, where they reprinted a post from called “Single-Minded Love.” In it, Sue Skalicky suggests that if we want to be real in our outreach, we should find someone really needy who is outside our normal circle and befriend them.

Her small group chose Mandy, a 21-year-old single mom of a 20-month old daughter, an 8-month old son, and a boyfriend in prison.  Sue says they “showed her the practical love of God in various ways: Diapers, food, rides to work, babysitting, books, haircuts, a listening ear, and unconditional love.”

So when Mandy was out of luck and stuck on the highway, she knew who would care.  And Sue got a chance to minister in the name of Christ.

Sue encourages the rest of us to find a single mom to love on.  Or an elderly person.

And if that’s too much to start with, give a thank you to your hair stylist.  Just get moving.

Are we making disciples or are we just playing church?

Mick Turner suggests that the way we do “discipleship” is usually misguided and rarely as effective as we had hoped. In his recent post, he suggests that most attempts at “small groups” are “little more than social gatherings with scripture readings and a few prayers thrown in.”

Turner says “the mission of the Body of Christ, as given by Jesus in the Great Commission, involves going into all the world making disciples. This noble commission requires more than just seeking converts or adding names to church rolls. It necessitates exactly what Jesus called for: disciple making. While an increasing number of churches are becoming more involved in disciple making, many, like my friend Judd’s church, don’t really know where to start.”

But too many of us either ignore the new believer training, or give them more / deeper instruction than they can handle. Its like giving prime rib to a baby. They can’t process the theology and it does them no good. New believers need simple discipling.

He’s also got an odd 6-step program that sounds a little new age (almost heresy) as a fundamental understanding. Still, I take his conclusion to heart. As we “continually incarnate that plan and purpose in the world, …we develop Sacred Character” which is the likeness and representation of our God on this earth. And the only way to continue the functioning of the faith is by properly discipling new believers.

If you want your congregation to be renewed, disciple them, starting with the simple basics of faith and make sure they have them down pat before moving on. It will pay great dividend.

c2008, Mike Mitchell, all rights reserved