You don’t have to be awesome. God is awesome.

Some pockets of Christianity create a false theology of what a pastor should be by hijacking the biblical roles of a pastor with their own cultural ideals. It is not intentional. In fact, they often agree on the biblical definition of a pastor, but their actions and culture don’t show it. Their culture perpetuates an epitome of pastors that binds them psychologically and drives their behavior.

The Bible describes a pastor as a shepherd who feeds and protects the flock and ideally knows them by name. It is an authoritative intimacy with the congregation that feeds them spiritually with preaching, teaching, and relational discipleship while nurturing, protecting, and guiding their individual spiritual journeys.

In some pockets of Christianity, we’ve stopped empowering believers to use their spiritual gifts and created a culture where the pastor is expected to be the eloquent speaker (teaching gift), the counselor (shepherd gift), the CEO (administration gift), the visionary (leadership gift), the motivator (exhortation gift), the scholar (knowledge gift), the expert (wisdom gift), the soul-winner (evangelism gift), the buddy (hospitality gift), the prayer warrior (intercession gift), the spiritualist (discernment, miracles, & faith gifts) as well as a technologist, social media maven, marketer, sex expert, financial strategist, diplomat, comedian, blogger, vlogger, and more.

When you fail to emphasize the responsibility each church member has to own and live out their spiritual gift(s) daily, the pastor will inevitably feel the need to take the responsibility of all the gifts upon his shoulders. This is impossible and unhealthy. The eye can not be a spleen.

How to Maximize Church Volunteers (free ebook)

As a community of believers grows, its needs new leaders raised up to handle the increased ministry needs. This is true for churches that handle growth by multiplying into new locations and for churches that keep their growth in one location.

It is the story of Acts 6:1-7. The early church was a time of growth where 5,000 men could find Christ from just one sermon (Acts 4:4). Yet we see in chapter 6, that the Greek-speaking Jewish widows became lost in the bustle of growth and were neglected. Seven men of good reputation and spiritual maturity were chosen to meet that need.

Unfortunately, raising up volunteers isn’t easy. It’s hard work. And to have Acts 6 quality volunteers takes a culture well-equipped at discipleship and cultivating spiritual maturity long before being appointed to serve.

ACTIVE Faith is offering a free ebook on “How to Maximize Church Volunteers”. It is a great primer introducing best practices of modern churches for appointing, training, and supporting church volunteers. The more you grow, the more you need structure.

Volunteer Challenges Based on Church Size

The benefit of house churches (<25 people ideally) is they have no need for volunteers to run major equipment, maintain facilities, or manage ministry operations. What volunteer needs do exist tend to happen naturally, such as greeting newcomers and watching kids.

But as a church grows, even a house church, the need for volunteers and structure increases as the ease of relationships decreases.

For example, it is said that the quality of community intimacy declines after a house church exceeds 25 people. At this size, it is less likely for everyone to take part and more difficult to know each other deeply. At around 100-230 people, we experience Dunbar’s number – our cognitive limit of being able to know who everyone is and how they relate to each other. This is a medium-sized church (51-300) that still has some relational agility but still needs structure to meet all ministry needs and appoint believers according to their gifts.

Large churches (301-1,999) often undergo intense growing pains as they learn they can no longer know everyone. It is at this size and above that we more commonly see volunteer mistakes, such as:

  • not communicating volunteer opportunities
  • lack of clear leadership
  • lack of leadership training
  • lack of accountability
  • lack of volunteer appreciation
  • haphazardly appointing volunteers (lack of necessary spiritual maturity, abilities, etc.)

By the time a church grows to be a megachurch (2,000-9,999) or gigachurch (10,000+), they’ve usually figured out structure and now must work even harder at relationships and love. If left to itself, structure and management become cold and sterile. You can’t systematize love and relationships; trying just seems artificial and disingenuous. It is a weird tension because you need structure, but true love is sloppy. This is non-negotiable. It doesn’t matter how structured and high performance you are, if you don’t have love, it is in vain (1 Corinthians 13).

So each stage comes with its own challenges. Regardless of what size you’re at, download ACTIVE Faith’s free ebook and think through if there is anything that your church needs to change.

Download: How to Maximize Church Volunteers (PDF)

Special thanks to ACTIVE Faith for supporting Church Relevance by sponsoring this post.

How to Get Things Done

There are a lot of books, articles, and stage talks on how to get things done. In some ways, the topic has become so romanticized in Western culture that some love the pursuit of learning about it to the extent of not having time for real productivity.

There are a slew of tips and research worth paying attention to:

Start things (that’s the hardest part). Don’t multi-task. Pick one task and focus on it for a long, uninterrupted stretch of time. Be deliberate. Break large tasks into smaller steps. Eliminate distractions like social media. Schedule your day and tasks in the morning or the evening before. Write down your long-term goals and the milestones for achieving them.¬†Checking email too often makes you stupid. Too much data can make you stupid.

2 Reminders for Productive Ministry

Yet in the midst of a sea of how-to advice, I think it is important remember a few key things about ministry:

#1 :: God’s plan doesn’t always seem productive (or at least efficient).

Joseph’s journey from slave to Egyptian ruler wasn’t efficient. Moses waited 80 years before leading the Israelites. From a Western perspective, these timeframes seem excruciating. From a Western perspective, a few months can seem too long. There are certainly situations that need to be sprinted through, but the race Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 9 and 2 Timothy 4 is a patient marathon.

There is a big difference between being lazy and patiently working hard. At the heart of the gospel and The Great Commission is a responsibility we have to selflessly love, serve, teach, and proclaim. And almost the only way to do this is through the patient nurturing of relationships. In ministry we must fight against the desire to replace relationships entirely with big events, programs, and systems that give the appearance of results. These things are great when built upon a culture that invests in relationships, but without that relational depth, they rarely disciple people as well as we think they do.

When making disciples, do you want quantity or quality? God looks at the heart, but pursuing quality is often full of messy ups and downs that feel unproductive.

# 2 :: Do what’s most important.

The busyness of ministry always has more important things to do than you have attention to give. Focus on what is most important and trust God to take care of the rest. Focus more on God’s voice through Scripture and the Holy Spirit and less on the opinions of your church’s biggest donor or the best-selling author celebrity pastor.

My 5 Favorite Productivity Tools

I’m far from a productivity guru. I have, however, experimented with an abundance of techniques and approaches to getting things done. My workflow rhythm changes every few months, so I try to custom tailor my task management to each specific season of life.¬†These are my 5 favorite tools from recent years:
  1. NeuYear Wall Calendar
    It helps to visualize the year’s biggest responsibilities, events, and milestones charted in one place for quick reference. It gives a sense of urgency that helps goad productivity towards the next fast-approaching deadline. It reminds me of what I need to do today to accomplish what need to be done next month. Perhaps most importantly, it’s helped me see if I am leaving enough room in my schedule to spend time with my wife and kids. I recommend the Dry Erase version of the calendar.
  2. Google Calendar
    Google Calendar weaves every aspect of my life, my family, and my workspace into one master schedule on my phone and computer.
  3. Gmail App
    Rather than using an app for notes. I write notes as an email to myself when on the go.
  4. Paper Notepad
    For daily planning and task management for a day in the office, I’ve found jotting down a quick schedule and to-do list each morning on a notepad to be the most helpful. It helps me focus on the tasks at hand by removing the clutter of future obligations. And I love the feeling of accomplishment from physically scratching off a completed task.
  5. Asana
    For long term planning and team interactions, I use Asana. It is free, less time-intensive, and a more versatile solution than popular alternatives.

For Discussion:
What are your favorite tools, tips, and techniques for productivity?