Maximizing a Pastor’s Summer

Most Pastors dread the “Summer Slump”. Typically, this is when giving and attendance fluctuate the most in a given year.

Yet here’s what I have learned over the last 10 years:

1. Summer is not as bad as people make it out to be

2. You don’t have to take as big of an attendance hit (I’ll talk about in depth later)

3. With planning, you can eliminate the giving slump (More on that later)

4. The key to maximizing the Summer is understanding the trends of the Summer

The basic trends of Summer are that people generally go out of town the first 2 weeks after school lets out and the 2 weeks before school comes back in session.

So here’s my recommendation to you:

1. Don’t fight the calendar. If you do, I promise you’ll lose.

2. Plan to take some time off from preaching over the Summer. Go on vacation. Do some guest speaking. invest in your up and coming teachers as they fill the pulpit for you.

3. Plan “Mini-Easters” on certain Sunday that will bring new people and stabilize your attendance.

I talk about how to do all of this in my resource, “How to Make Every Sunday Like Easter”. You can pick it up by clicking here. It outlines 14 ways to make every Sunday as powerful as Easter Sunday.

Pastor Who… A Time Lord for Jesus

God calls us to be masters of our time, one of the greatest treasures He gives us.  With all you have to do maybe you wish you had a TARDIS to time travel in:

tardis

If so, today I’ve got time management tips #3, #4 & #5 for you and the first one is cutting down on the procrastination…

Tip #3: Eat That Frog!

I got this tip from a book by the same title, but the principle is so true! If eating a frog is on your list of things you have to do in a given day, here’s the tip – eat the frog first! If not, the frog will be looming over you all day and you won’t accomplish much because you’ll be distracted.

If your frog is a conversation you need to have, then have it first thing in the morning so you can get it out of the way and you can get on with your day. If it’s a project that has to get done, then do it and get on with your life. You’ll be glad you did.

The best part is this – eating a frog (whatever that is for you) is probably the worst thing you’ll have to deal with that day, so your day can only get better from there :)

Tip #4: Plan your day the night before

Before I go to bed, I sneak into my home office and write down the 15-20 things I need to accomplish the next day. They vary in size, shape, and scope but once I write them down I know they’re going to get accomplished.

If you wait until 10AM to plan your day, it’s over. Your morning is half over and several small fires have already hit your desk. But if you will take 15 minutes the night before to plan your day, you will get twice as much done, and more importantly, you’ll get the most important things done.

By the way, it doesn’t matter what kind of to-do list you have, as long as you have one. If you walk into your office without a to-do list and time blocked out in your calendar to accomplish them, they won’t happen.

When you take time to write out what you need to accomplish, you’re saying, “My time is valuable and the tasks I need to accomplish are valuable as well.” This will carry over into the kind of work you produce and how you value your time and the time of others.

Tip #5: Triage What Needs to Get Done

I have a limited amount of time to accomplish a huge amount of tasks. This requires me to decide what gets done, delegated, delayed, or deleted.

1. What gets Done – this is the stuff that is most important on my list. It is the stuff that only I can do.

2. What gets Delegated – anything that someone else can do. The general rule is that if a person can do a task 75% as well as you, it should be delegated.

3. What gets Delayed – there are things that I need to do, but they aren’t a priority. So they get delayed until I can give them the proper time. This is especially true of things that you need to do but aren’t time sensitive.

4. What gets Deleted – This is the nonsense that comes across my desk. This is the stuff that has no benefit engaging in (i.e. answering an irate email from a person who’s mind you aren’t going to change).

I look at everything I have to do through this lens. The truth is, you’re probably doing too much. This has helped me sort through everything that comes my way.

If these tips have been helpful to you definitely check out my FREE Ebook, “The Productive Pastor” for additional blessings…

A Pastor’s Time Machine

Life is getting busier and busier.  Some of us wish we could jump into one of these to get it all done:

Pastors Time Machine

There are more and more things to distract us and here’s the hard truth…

Sometimes Pastors can be the worst time managers.

In reality, the nature of our calling demands that we be excellent managers of out time. So this week I’m going to share a few time management tips that have helped me be more productive in the same amount of time.  Basically these are the next best thing to time travel…

Tip #1: Bundle similar tasks together

If you have 5 calls to make, make them one after the other. This way, you don’t spend too much time on each call. You are able to give each call the time time it deserves without chewing the fat for an hour and getting behind on your work.

The same thing is true for email, letters, touching base with staff, and writing letters – bundle the items together and you will see how much more productive you are. The reason? Because with each task you pick up speed and get through all of these items more quickly.

Also, I don’t bug my staff over every little thing I think of. I keep a notepad of my desk with their names on them and when I get a few items on there I get up and walk into their offices and share the 3-5 things I needed to talk to them about. This way it gives me some face time with them (and I’m acting like a hermit in my office) and it allows me to share what I need to without spending all day talking.

Bundle up – try it… you’ll love it because you’ll accomplish more in less time.

Tip # 2 Manage your energy

Understanding your own rhythms is one of the best ways to get a lot done in a normal work day. Like many people, I have most of my creative energy in the morning, so I never book appointments in the morning (except our weekly staff meeting). This time I use to write, study, research, and create.

Afternoons are when I’m at my creative lowest, so I use that time to have meetings, return email, write thank you cards, and clean my office.

The point is, you have to manage your energy wisely or you’ll find things that are low priority taking your best energy.

Later this week I’ll give you a couple more tips on saving time.  Until then you can chow down on my FREE Ebook, “The Productive Pastor,” if you still find yourself time starved…

Have Your Cake and Eat It Too

Since I was in Bible College I’ve heard students, teachers, and future Pastors debate the issue of what’s the best way to teach for life change. Those in the Expositional camp site Paul’s exhortation to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20 as the proof text for straight “through the Bible” teaching:

“Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.” (Acts 20:26-27)

The topical camp looks at the fact that Jesus Himself never taught through a book of the Old Testament during His ministry. So who’s right? And even more importantly, what is the responsibility of the local church Pastor? I say, “why not do both?”

Can’t we teach through a book of the Bible, then hit a topical series that the congregation needs to hear? Is teaching a series on marriage, stewardship, or evangelism out of God’s will?

Of course not, and I don’t mean to imply that expositional teachers think this. Let me say, I’m a “through the Bible” guy born and bread. Calvary Chapels as a whole are known for teaching through the whole Bible. I think it’s great.

But I will often mix it up and teach a topical series that I feel is appropriate. I’m teaching a topical series right now.

So don’t pigeonhole yourself into 1 camp or the other.

Allow God to show you what the church needs to hear, and go for it!

“Can You Teach Through the Bible and Reach the Unchurched?”

“Bob, can you talk about how you teach through the Bible and still reach unchurched people?”

I get this question pretty regularly. The reason is, many guys who teach the Bible verse by verse aren’t interested in reaching people far from God. On the other hand, a majority of the Pastors who take evangelism primarily teach topically and believe this is the best way to reach unchurched people.

This question hits on 2 things that are very important to me:

1. Preaching verse by verse through the Bible

2. Reaching people far from God

By answering this question I have to deal with a misconception: that expositional preaching is primarily a tool to reach believers and topical/ felt need preaching is what reaches unchurched people.

I don’t buy this idea at all. I am thankful to the Lord that we’ve seen close to 1,000 new believers at Calvary in the last year and the whole time we’ve seen preaching through books of the Bible (including Ephesians and Judges).

The key to teaching expositionally that connects with unchurched people is to teach with a point. Working through a section of Scripture, explaining the meaning and giving relevant application.

I believe expositional teachers have an advantage over primarily topical teachers: unchurched people sit and watch us work through a chunk of Scripture and they say, “That’s what the Bible says.”

The purely topical teacher hops around and pulls a random verse here and there and the unchurched person wonders if that’s what those verses really mean because they aren’t in context.

Obviously, I’m making generalities but the point is that teaching through a chapter or paragraph of Scripture assures the listener that there’s no “funny business” happening with the text as it’s being preached.

Once again, I know there’s guys who live and die by topical preaching and to them I say, “God bless you. Do what God has led you to do.”

For me, I am sold on teaching the Scriptures verse by verse (although I believe there are topics that are better handled in a topical manner) because it’s the best way to disciple a congregation. Plus, it’s a great way to reach unchurched people who are skeptical about the Bible.

More thoughts on this later this week…