Tag Archives: ministry

Ministry Tip: You Have To Learn To Take It or You Have To Learn To Hit It

I was watching a baseball game last week and Preston Wilson, a surprisingly accomplished baseball player, shared a story about one of his former batting coaches.  In developing as a hitter Preston was told, concerning facing certain pitches, “You have to either learn to take it or you have to learn to hit it.”

As leaders, parents, pastors, or people – we are probably talented. We can get the job done in a handful of areas.  We have learned to hit a lot of the pitches we face.  But I wonder if we have learned how to “take” the pitches that we can’t hit.  Are we comfortable not trying to do more than we can?  Are we willing to admit that we can’t do it all?  Sometimes the best thing we can do with the opportunities that are presented us is simply to let them pass by.  If we can’t hit it, we need to learn how to take it.

Ministry Tip: “I walk down another street.”

I came across this poem a few years ago.  It is from Portia Nelson, There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk: The Romance of Self-Discovery.  I love it.  In ministry, we have many, many folks who have been walking down the same streets for years and sometimes even generations.  Sometimes, those folks are us.  Find another street.

“I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost… I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes me a long time to get out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in. It’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault. I get out immediately.

walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

I walk down another street.”

Ministry Tip: It Is Only High From The Ground

This weekend I was with my kids at the playground.  I was doing my typical parenting style of being overprotective and worrying.  My son, who is 2 and a half, managed to work his way up the stairs and steps to the third tier of the playground slide.  I gave my usual encouragement that was couched in overcoming my own concerns.

It reminded me of an expression – that it mountains only look high from the bottom.  When Henry was up on highest level, it wasn’t high to him.  He was just having fun and enjoying his surroundings.  When you are trying to make a brave and bold decision, some folks from the ground might be concerned.  They will probably think that you are too far up and way outside of their comfort zone.  That is ok. It isn’t high for those of you who are up doing great things.  Hang in there and take a friend up there with you so that they can see what you are seeing.

OC#17 Breakout Notes: Reimagining What A Small Church Can Do

Last week, Tim Tharp and I got the opportunity speak to Small Churches at the Orange Conference.  What an honor and privilege to be able to share what God has been doing in our community.  I wanted to highlight the Pivots again for anyone who might have missed them (my wife reminded me that I talked way too fast…sorry about that).

  • Pivot #1: Priorities
    • From advocating for Adults to championing for Children
    • Who gets the most time, energy, and money at your church?  If you are like most churches – then it is Adults.  Adults will get what they need.  Kids need someone to speak up for them.  Who is championing Children and Students being a priority in your church?  If you don’t make kids a priority then no one will.
    • Small Churches make the greatest impact when – we put Children at the center of our church
  • Pivot #2: Strategy
    • From a mindset of Scarcity to Sufficiency
    • Feeling like we don’t have enough isn’t an emotion reserved for small churches.  Everyone wants more – more volunteers, more space, more money!  But what if we believed that we had enough of what we needed to make a difference in people’s lives. HOW we use what we have, our strategy, is more important than the quantity of our resources.
    • Small Churches make the greatest impact when – we believe we have enough
  • Pivot #3: Focus
    • From focusing on our congregation to focusing on our community
    • I’m not sure when exactly it happened – but at some point, during my last few years in ministry, I realized that I spend the majority of my time caring for and managing the business of ministry.  Maybe I should say the BUSYNESS of ministry.  When did we stop making time for people that needed help the most?  It wasn’t a deliberate shift away from my community, but it will take intentional effort to get back to serving my congregation and community.
    • Small Churches make the greatest impact when – we look beyond the confines of the Sanctuary – into the needs of our community
  • Pivot #4: Perspective
    • How we see other churches in our community from competition to colleagues
    • This might be the hardest lesson for leaders and pastors.  If we are honest, most of us have been trained that for our church to succeed, other churches in our community must fail.  If you are like me you often see the church down the street as competition.  Quickly my energy is spent trying to build my Kingdom instead of working to build God’s Kingdom.  Guess which one will last?
    • Small Churches make the greatest impact when – we realize that when any church in our community wins our entire community wins

I hope that this was helpful.  I can’t tell you how cool it was to be able to share about some of the ways that Wrightsville First United Methodist has been utilizing these principles to transform our church.  If you would like more information about the Breakout you can find me at – kirkhagan(at)gmail.

Ministry Tip: You Will Always Find Critics

News Flash: People love to question good ideas when they didn’t come up with them.  They will find a reason, or more often reasons, why your idea or the strategy that you are implementing isn’t right.  They will find flaws and holes.  They will think of ten different ways that are better than what you and your team came up with.

Don’t be surprised.  People will be critical.  Sometimes they are right.  But lots of times, they aren’t.  Have you prayed about your plan?  Have you had conversations and discussed your options?  Have you done the necessary work of coming to a good decision, involving the right people at the right time?  Then don’t doubt that.  People will always come in as the last coat of paint is going on the wall with an opinion that you should have gone with a darker shade.  But you won’t.  Because you are doing what best.  Not because you came up with it, but because you followed your process and trust the team that is doing ministry.  Listen to yourself.  Trust your process.  Follow where that leads.

Ministry Tip: Get the Right People Involved at the Right Time

Have you ever realized that you were getting great feedback…after it was too late?  This happens to me constantly.  I have an idea.  I start making plans and arrangements.  I get just enough folks on board to implement the idea.  We execute the idea and it goes ok.  Just ok.  Afterward, I have people who could have offered invaluable information and suggestions.  Unfortunately, it is too late.

As the leader, pastor, director, whatever – it is our responsibility to have the right people involved at the right time.  Tomorrow is probably not the right time.  After the event or decision is not the right time.  It is difficult and hard work to have conversations where you might not get your way before the event happens.  The old saying of, “It is easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission,” is funny and stupid.  Don’t be that guy.  You will not last long and you will not make a difference.

Ministry Tip: Make Only The News That You Intend To Make

I was listening to a podcast a few days ago and heard a fantastic line, “Make only the news that you intend to make.”  It was used when discussing a hearing that a public figure made concerning some sensitive and important information.

I wonder how often I succeed in, “making only the news that I intend to make,” in the meetings I attend and lead.  How often do I muddy the waters by interjecting unhelpful comment?  How often to I sidetrack our intended purpose by offering up an opinion that will get more “press” the following week than the original objective of the meeting?  Make only the news that you intend to make…I couldn’t have said it better.

Ministry Tip: Always Tell The Story

People want to know why.  They want to know WHY you think you should create a new program.  They want to know WHY you believe it is time to end a ministry that used to be so powerful.  They want to know WHY you are sure it is time to pivot and change course.  People aren’t thinking about the thing you are planning or plotting as much as you are and have been – it is all new to them.  And they want to know why they should care…

When people want to know why, tell a story.  Tell them why by painting a picture of a preferred future. Tell them about someone who could benefit from this new idea.  Tell them a story.  People aren’t moved by data or motivated by “this other church I heard is doing it…”  They are excited by stories.  Tell them some.

 

Ministry Tip: Stop Being Yourself

I don’t always recommend this – but stop being yourself!  Let me unpack that.  Stop being yourself, when you want to understand someone else.  Most of us grew up hearing the expression, “walk a mile in their shoes.”  In ministry and life, we often need to see something from someone else’s perspective.  That is actually a pretty solid adage.   But it still has one obstacle in understanding someone else – us.  We are still imagining and envisioning the world from their perspective but with our history.   I heard Reggie Joiner say it this way at Orange Conference in 2016,  “Empathy is the ability to press pause on your own thoughts and feelings long enough to understand someone else’s.”  To imagine what they are feeling, we have to be able to stop being ourselves.  To press pause on ourselves and consider the issue as the other person.  Can you stop being yourself long enough to be someone else?  It is important if you want to understand those around you.

Ministry Tip: Don’t Think Alone

I recently bumped into a ministry situation that had me stumped.  I didn’t know what to do.  This is typical for some of us pastors.  But the one thing that I know how to do is phone a friend.  So, I called a pastor friend who has been through a similar situation.  As I reflected on the solution I was reminded a valuable lesson – I should not think alone.  It rarely is the best option.  Get others involved in your processing so you find the best outcome.