Preachers: Ten Technology Tips

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  • Do not let Social Media rule your life – Schedule a time in your day to check Facebook, Linked, Twitter, etc. Manage your time wisely by schedule time, not staring at a screen.
  • Turn off email notifications – Those annoying “dings” when you get email can sidetrack you from the task at hand. Also, turn off the pop-up notifications as well. Stay focused.
  • Load Sermons on Technology – Load your sermon notes, PowerPoints, etc. on your tablets and phones to take with you with you make a visit. I have found time while waiting at the hospital to glance at my notes and add points if the needs arises. Keeping the lesson fresh on your mind is a bonus of technology.
  • Turn off your cell phone – Throughout the day, turn off your phone and focus on the task at hand. I would also say to turn off your cell phone while you are having dinner with your family or family time in general.
  • Schedule reading time – It seems that most people read blogs throughout the day, but take control of your time by scheduling time during the day to read. Lump your blog reading together instead of every time a notification sound occurs.
  • Load Audiobooks, sermons, etc. on your phone or tablet – Loading audio sermons on phone or tables is a great way to learn as you drive. I am a big proponent of turning off the radio and being educated while driving.
  • eBooks – Some people are opposed to eBooks and others like the feel and touch of a “real” hardcover book in their hands; but the eBook market is booming.  The ability to load a library of books on a phone, tablet or computer is amazing. It is easy to load the books and have them with you wherever you travel.
  • Schedule Social Media updates – Programs like TweetDeck allow you to schedule your status updates and posts to social media like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other outlets. This feature allows you to spread your thoughts over a day, week, month and even a year without being there.
  • Schedule blog posts – If you are a WordPress user, you can schedule your blog posts to go out at any time you wish. This is one of my favorite parts of technology. I have been out visiting members and those on the visitor list when I get a phone call and someone says, “Well, I see you are working from home today.” I laugh and tell them I am out visiting and they respond in confusion, “Yeah, but I was on Facebook and saw your website article just posted.” At that point I laugh and say, “OK.” Scheduling articles works wonders.
  • Text your wife – Every preacher knows their family is involved in the ministry with them. Show your wife your love and appreciation with short messages throughout the day. NOTE: be sure you speak to her as well.

Just some thoughts,

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Random Thoughts on Preaching

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The thoughts below are totally randomness, some are definitely more worthy than others, but you may use them all. These are my personal thoughts and a reflection of my own experiences, work ethic, support and criticism.

Some of these random thoughts will be expanded during the month as various articles

Random Thoughts on Preaching:

  • Preaching is not about the messenger, but the message.
  • Preaching the gospel is planting the seed.
  • Preaching the gospel is in the power of the text, not the power of the messenger.
  • Preaching the gospel does not take place only on Sunday.
  • Preaching means different things to different people, be yourself and maintain your ministry.
  • The greatest review of Sunday’s sermon usually takes place on the car ride home or the dinner table.

 

Random Thoughts on Preachers:

  • Preachers need a hobby outside of ministry to relieve some daily stress.
  • Preachers need to take care of their physical health as well as their spiritual health.
  • Preachers should not neglect their family over “their ministry.”
  • Preachers should take one day off during the week to clear their heads.
  • Preachers should not be held to the same standard as the previous preacher.
  • Preachers need friends; too many preachers are isolated.

 

Just some random thoughts,

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Preachers: Salary, Finances and Benefits #3

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Since beginning this series I have received many emails asking me to discuss the housing arrangements of preachers; mainly the idea of a parsonage. Personally, I have found a parsonage to be a hindrance to a minister, but I understand the thought of a congregation providing a residence to a preacher.

Parsonages are houses provide to preachers and their families as a part of their “pay package.” To some congregations this has been a benefit because the amount the pay the preacher does not have to be such that he will have to provide his own housing. On the other hand, it is interesting to know that a minister who receives a parsonage has to add the parsonage into his taxes as a a fair rental value amount. In turn, the preachers is paying Self-Employment taxes on something he does not own. (See IRS Tax Topic 417)

While providing a parsonage to a preacher might help offset a greater salary expense, be mindful that doing so does not allow the preacher to build equity. As a result of some parsonages, many preachers move to a new area to begin working with a church without a parsonage and find they have no equity and as a result they are left to rent or purchase a home without any funds. I have known of ministers who preached at congregations for 15+ years who retired without any home to go to or any equity to fund a new home.

(A Preacher’s Wish: I wish that congregations, who provide a parsonage, would set aside at least $200 a month in a separate account and provide that to the minister when he leaves so he at least has some funds to make a down payment on a home.)

In some areas, a parsonage is a good housing arrangement because the area could be a high priced area and the pay (support) would not allow him to purchase a home in the community. In such a case, a preacher might live 20 to 30 minutes away from the community where he is a preacher.

Living is a parsonage is also differently than living in your own home. Most congregations say, “Treat it as your own.” but preachers and their families know this is not the case.  It is hard to live in someone’s home and try to treat it as your own when it is not yours. Some congregations also have limits on how a parsonage can be decorated and used. For instance, my family and I lived in a parsonage where the leaders of the congregation asked us not to paint. The walls were bare white and we wanted to use our own money to paint but were denied. The thought of “treat it as your own” went out the window. I have heard of preachers who were asked not to put many pictures up because the congregation did not want holes in the wall. It is hard to treat a home as your own, when various restrictions are present.

 

Things a Congregation Should Remember Regarding Parsonages:

  • The fair-rental value of the parsonage should be added onto the self-employment taxes. This raises the amount the preachers pays in taxes.
  • Living in a parsonage does not build equity for the minister. When the minister leaves, he does not take the house or the equity with him.
  • Do not use a parsonage as an opportunity to pay a preacher less than what you normally would.

 

Just my thoughts,

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Personal notes:

  • I am not a tax professional, so study the IRS guidelines regarding a parsonage and consult a tax professional.
  • My family and I have worked with congregations who have provided parsonages and we have had good and bad experiences.
  • We currently own our home.

Preachers: Salary, Finances, Benefits #1

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It is posted on the majority of church bulletin boards across the country so everyone from members to visitors and anyone else wandering through the building may take a peek. Normally, it is talked about openly, yet most preachers are hesitant, if not embarrassed, to discuss it. When preachers do discuss it they do not want to seem like they are griping lest the congregation find another preacher, nor do they want to seem prideful because pride is something the Bible speaks against.

The topic: salary.

The finances of ministry are difficult to discuss because every congregations provides a ministers salary differently. Some provide a lump sum with the preacher to divide it however he chooses and other congregations may divide the salary based on the IRS guidelines; every situation is different.

Before delving into the details of a preacher’s salary, it is beneficial to ask an important question, “Do congregations pay the preacher to preach or support him because he preaches?” I have asked this question many times before and everyone pauses to think, then the majority answers the same way, “We support him because he preaches.” If that be the case, why do congregations limit the times he can go hold meetings? Or why do some congregations hesitate to let their preacher travel during the week to speak elsewhere? I contend, many congregations pay a preacher to show up on Sundays to teach class and preach the deliver another class on Wednesday and possibly a Bible class during the week.

I often wonder if many congregations would support Paul. Paul was not paid to preach, he was support because of the lifestyle he has chosen.

This is my defense to those who would examine me. Do we not have the right to eat and drink? Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living?

 

Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Or who tends a flock without getting some of the milk? Do I say these things on human authority? Does not the Law say the same?

 

For it is written in the Law of Moses, "You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain." Is it for oxen that God is concerned? Does he not speak entirely for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop.

(1 Corinthians 9:3-10)

 

So before we delve into the salary of ministers ask your self or maybe the congregation should ask, “Are we supporting the preacher or paying him to preach?”

Just some thoughts,

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Preachers: A Chain Letter

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Normally I will almost never forward a chain letter, but this one has broken the mold. During this month of writing about ministers I ran across this article I was sent several years ago and I wanted to pass it along to you.


Wanted: Preacher

  • Preaches 15 minutes
  • Condemns sin, but never offends anyone
  • Works 8 till midnight including janitorial work and occasional yard work.
  • Makes $60 per week, wears good clothes, buys good books, drives a good car and gives $50 per week to the poor.
  • Is 28 years old and has been preaching for 30 years.
  • Wonderfully and perfectly handsome.
  • He has a burning desire to work the the young people but spends all his time with older folk.
  • Smiles with a straight face because his sense of humor keeps him seriously dedicated to his work.
  • He makes 15 calls per day on church family, shut-ins, hospitalized, while evangelizing the lost.
  • He is always in his office when needed.

If your preacher does not measure up to this chain letter, send this letter to six other churches who are also tired of their preacher. Bundle up your preacher and send him to the church at the top of the list. In one year you will receive 1,643 preachers and one of them should be prefect.

Warning: Keep this letter going. One church broke the chain and got their old preacher back in six months.


While written as a humor piece, there is some truth in this “chain letter” as to the way churches look for ministers. Are congregations looking for someone to fit a mold, or someone to preach Jesus, challenge the congregation and move the members out of the pew and into the world, all while sticking to the eternal truths of God’s word?

Just some thoughts,

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If I had to do it all over again…

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After a short 15 years of ministry , I wonder what I would do if I had to start all over again. There are some things I would have done differently  from the beginning and there are others I would have changed just a little. As with any career, if I had done each of these things, I am not sure if I would be in the same place I am now. I know God has a plan and a time for everything under heaven, but this is my reflection.

The words below may not apply to everyone, but they apply to my ministry. I know where I have been and have a plan to where I am going. Take a moment and read the list below.

 

If I had to do it all over again…

…I would read more. Read more books of leadership, psychology, finances, and most all of the Bible.

…I would pray for more patience before problems happen than during.

…I would have saved more money from the beginning, even though we had none to save.

…I would have spoken and gained wisdom from preachers who have sense passed from this life.

…I would have put my family before the church more.

…I would have invested more money in books than in McDonalds.

…I would have spent more time planting the seed instead of babysitting the saved.

…I would have studied more in counseling classes instead of slipping by.

…I would have said”no” much more and much earlier.

…I would have kept a journal from day #1.

…I would have done three things every day: #1- Read, #2 – Encourage, #3 – Write

 

All of these things are able to happen today, now I have to make them happen!

Just my thoughts,

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A Preacher’s Wish List

imageEvery now and then, the mind of a preacher wonders into fantasy land where the buildings are overflowing, every member shows up and brings a friend and the community knows the church by the gospel it presents. It is a wish for every preacher of the gospel and they are doing their best to make it a reality.

Below is a short wish-list of what preachers desire to see in the lives of the congregation, their own lives and the lives of their families.

 

A Preacher’s Wish-List

10 – A wish for every member to become greeters, not just those listed on the bulletin.

9 – A wish for the elders to do the work as shepherds, not as bill payers.

8 – A wish for people to spend more time getting to assemblies, than figuring out excuses on how to miss them.

7- A wish for deacons to be allowed to serve in their capacities instead of being micro-managed by the elders.

6 – A wish for parents to realize the value of teaching your children the Bible.

5 – A wish for the phone not to ring during dinner so he can have a meal with his family.

4 – A wish for the community to know the congregation, not by the programs, but by the lives of each member.

3 – A wish to be supported to preach instead of being paid to show up on Sunday.

2 – A wish for every member to sing as excited on Sunday morning as they do for the radio on Saturday evening.

1 – A wish for the seed to be planted each day.

Just some thoughts,

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A Minister’s Sunday

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The morning begins with the typical scramble to get everyone dressed out the door and ready for services. The day will be longer than most workdays, but the site of positive results and a presentation of God’s eternal Word is the benefit of the profession.

Many Sunday mornings are filled with the last minutes additions, subtractions and adjustments to the lesson. He pondered the lesson as he fell asleep last night and he desperately wants to make the change before he and his family drive to the church building.

The drive to the church building is always the same, thoughts of the sermon, members, the announcements and the other trivial matters of a ministry are flying through his head and he steers his car into the parking lot. He and his family arrive 20 minutes ahead of the scheduled Bible class time and few cars are in the parking lot.

As the start of Bible class draws near the building starts filling up with members, visitors and guests. Quickly he scans the audience looking for those one or two members and their families he has been praying for all week. They are not present for Bible class, so he makes a note to call them.

While Bible class is ongoing, his thoughts are on the class topic, but his mind is racing to take notes and process the theological significance of the material from class he will use in a sermon later. In the midst of his mind churning thoughts, the teacher has called on him for a response…after all, he is the preacher.

Between Bible class and worship, he is quickly making sure the visitors have been greeted and connections have been made. He asks if they need any assistance while they are in the area.  Even as he greets the visitors, he is quickly tapping the shoulders as members walk past. It is a class never taught in preaching school, he has learned to become an all-time greeter in spectacular fashion.

When the worship service starts, he is ready. His mind is focused and he words are ready…then another thought hits during the second song and his mind races again. It is no wonder his sermon will be 30 minutes minimum, his mind is trying to fill the lessons with challenging thoughts and at the same time inspire the brethren to greater living.

While he preaches, his is making mental notes of what he sees on the faces of the members. He sees parents struggling with children and makes a note to thank the Lord for parents bringing them. He continually notices who is not there and is making a note to call or send them an email or card. He minds races as his voice projects the message of the gospel.

The sermon ends and he makes his way to the back of the building as the all-time greeter. While  the members file out the door, his mind races to talk with certain people because he knows they had a hard week last week and he wants to be sure to wish them a great week coming. In the middle of finding members, he greets the visitors, discusses where they are from and makes some connection to a relative, preacher or congregation.

The evaluation of his sermon usually takes place in the parking lot as the members file out, shake his hand and make their way to their cars. Over the course of his ministry he has learned the greatest feedback will come from the visitors. The members have been growing accustomed to lessons and the feedback might be rare, but the visitors will speak and tell him about his message.

And just think…this is just Sunday morning.

How have you encouraged your minister today? He does not do it for the glory, but he does it for others.

Just my thoughts,

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This post was not written for sympathy, but for information.  Let your minister know  how much he is appreciated.

Just some additional thoughts.

Preachers: Thoughts for Ministers

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A few years ago I was playing my weekly game of basketball and feeling pretty exhausted when I got into a friendly discussion with one of the members where I was preaching. He said he was tired from working all day and I agreed I was tired too. In a joking way he said, “Yeah that two days a week is killing you isn’t it?” He said it as I was walking on the court to play and I turned around, gave him the serious look and said…

“Two days! Two Days! For your information, I work three hours on Sunday and one hour on Wednesday! It is four hours, not two days!” Then I walked on the court and began to warm up.

When I turned around a few moments later he was still sitting on the bench with a look of amazement and confusion. I laughed and asked him what was wrong and he began to laugh. He was never expecting me to get back at him with a joke, he thought I was going to gripe him out.

There are few people outside of preachers who understand the role preachers play in the lives of others. Preachers become counselors, teachers, leaders, ears of support, hands of prayer and at the same time wear the hat of minister. The functions of our career are tiring, yet beautiful. We are on call 24 hours a day and 7 days a week to perform a variety of functions. We fill a role many would not consider twice, but we have devoted our entire life to ministering the word.

My advice to you is be a humble preacher in the grace of God, but be a preacher excited about the work you are doing. It takes work, prayer, more prayer and tons of support from family and friends; remember we need to strengthen ourselves.

I would encourage you to plan your time. Time management as the world views it is different than time management for preachers. Preachers “working hours” are different than most any other career. As you consider your time schedule let me add one appointment you should never miss – Time for God!

Ministers may spend all day in the scriptures, but never spend time in spiritual growth. I have learned there is a difference in preparing a lesson for the congregation and personal devotion. The Creator of the universe needs a place in our time, lest we become like the rich fool of Luke 12 and forget Him.

Remember, God will take care of you! The Bible reassures us of this in Matthew 6.25-34. I imagine there is a special resting place for preachers in Heaven. When God takes care of us, God does it on His time not ours. God’s timing is perfect, if you need an example, spend some personal time in Esther this week. See how God is able to place us where He best needs us.

Even Jesus, throughout His ministry, made time for God. Consider the many times Jesus spent alone as He spoke to His Father. His communication with the Father even allowed for perfect timing – consider John 11.

Never forget! Never forget the Creator of the sun and the moon, which has determined our sense of time. Allow a place for our Father as you allow space for others.

Just a thought…

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31 Days of Writing about Preaching and Preachers

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How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

(Romans 10:14-15)


Every post this month, May 2012, will discuss as aspect of the life of a preacher. Every minister knows the lifestyle of a preacher of the gospel is different than the majority of other careers throughout the world. However, there are many similarities to other careers as well. Throughout this month it is my aim to write about things concerning a minister’s career many do not know and most will never experience.

It is difficult to write about a minister’s career because not only am I a minister, but I do not want to come off in a whining, angry, depressing fashion. I enjoy the career path I have chosen, I would do some things in the past differently, but I still enjoy the journey I am on.

As I write I would also ask for your prayers and patience. I am writing many of these through my own experience and the wisdom I have gained from others. I encourage you to join in the discussion using the comments below.

Thanks.

Here are a few past posts on preaching and ministry to start the month:

Just some thoughts,

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