Innovative Ministry
Great Churches Don’t Give People (Including Pastors) What They Want
Great churches don’t promise more of what we already have, they show us an entirely new way to be.

Henry Ford famously said “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

Today, if you were to ask the average pastor what they want, most would probably say “a bigger church.”

And if you asked the average Christian what they ...

Continue Reading ...
Innovative Ministry
9 Questions To Ask Before Rebooting Or Revitalizing A Church
Rebooting or revitalizing an existing church is a huge undertaking. But when it’s done well, it’s extremely rewarding.

They say it’s easier to have a baby than to raise the dead.

That’s one reason many pastors choose to plant a church rather than turn an existing one around. (Other reasons include the importance of fresh, new churches and a little thing known as God’s call, ...

Continue Reading ...
Christian Unity
Why We Have To Talk About Church Size
Let’s ask the questions that need to be asked, and offer honest, grace-filled answers that tell us what we need to know.

There are two approaches when we talk about church size.

The first one is to use church size and, more specifically, church growth as the main way to tell if a church is healthy, strong and effective. Big and getting bigger? Great! Small and staying small? Not so good.

The second ...

Continue Reading ...
Christian Unity
Here’s The Best Way You Can Help A Small Church Pastor Today
Ministry is hard. Small church ministry is relentless. Doing it alone is impossible.

Small church pastors labor under a great deal of discouragement.

They work unbelievably long hours (often full-time at a paying job in addition to pastoral ministry) with very little money (many supplement the church from their bivocational pay) and very little encouragement.

Continue Reading ...
Innovative Ministry
17 Steps For Writers and Speakers To Catch The Attention Of Publishers And Conferences
Publishers and conferences are always looking for good content. Here’s what I’ve learned about creating something they need.

Just a few years ago, I was happily pastoring a small church, expecting to spend the rest of my ministry that way.

Then I wrote a book about it, and everything changed.

Now I have two books out, a third on the way, and I’m asked to speak at dozens of conferences every year. ...

Continue Reading ...
Church & Culture
The Growing Danger Of Assigning Guilt By Association
How can we effect change if we can’t find common ground with people who see things differently?

It’s getting harder to be nice anymore.

I have friends on all sides of virtually every political, theological and philosophical issue. People with whom I have significant disagreements on some subjects, yet find common ground on others.

But it’s becoming difficult ...

Continue Reading ...
Church & Culture
What Does Your Church Do That Your Phone Can’t Do?
Online connectivity is great. But it will never replace spending time in the presence of other people who love Jesus, too.

For generations, churches were the center of community life in many towns.

Want to know what time it is? Listen for the chimes from the Lutheran church steeple.

Going to the store? Turn left at the Baptist church.

Bored on a Sunday night? Check out the revival at the Pentecostal ...

Continue Reading ...
Innovative Ministry
Why Break Church Growth Barriers? (And Why This Question Matters)
Before learning how to get bigger, every church needs to ask if it should get bigger.

You can’t pastor a church of 500 the way you pastored it at 100. Or a church of 100 the way you did at 25.

But how do we know if we should break through from one size to another?

For at least a generation there’s been an underlying assumption that every church should ...

Continue Reading ...
Innovative Ministry
Turn The Team You’re Stuck With Into The Team You Want (10 Steps For Church Leaders)
No one starts with the team they want. Teams aren’t born, they’re built.

In December of 2004, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld got into hot water when he responded to reporters’ questions about whether-or-not US troops were ready for war by saying “You go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at ...

Continue Reading ...
Christian Unity
3 Of The Biggest Complaints Pastors Have About Church Members – And What To Do About Them
It's not about getting people to give, attend and volunteer more. They need to fall in love with Jesus again. And so do we.

People aren’t giving enough.

People aren’t attending enough.

People aren’t volunteering enough.

These are the complaints I hear most often from other pastors when we’re talking about the frustrations they have with church members.

Family Frustrations

Before ...

Continue Reading ...
Christian Unity
Pastors And Worship Leaders: 3 Ways To Work Together And 2 Traps To Avoid
The most important principle is to keep a cooperative spirit.

Of all the ingredients needed for a healthy church, one of the most important is a leadership team that works well together.

This is true for a megachurch with paid staff, and for a small church working entirely with volunteers.

One of the most visible and influential relationships ...

Continue Reading ...
Church Growth
My Church Seems Healthy, But It’s Not Growing! What’s Wrong?
“All healthy things grow” is not a Bible verse or a command. We have to stop acting like it is.

All healthy things grow.”

There may be no phrase that has caused me more ministry angst than that one.

For years, I pastored a healthy church.

For many of those years, it was a numerically growing church.

Then it wasn’t.

But, as far as I could tell, it was still healthy.

Continue Reading ...
Church & Culture
The Importance Of Investing In People With No Potential
We need to invest in people, not because they might do something great some day, but because they’re made in God’s image, and that alone is worth investing in.

Most of what we do in the pastorate makes no logical sense.

At least not in the here and now.

We invest in people who fail us over and over again. We pray, counsel, cry, study, preach, give and sacrifice – and often we wonder what good it all does.

Then we do it again.


Continue Reading ...
Church Leadership
The Indescribable Joy Of Loving The Church God Called You To Serve
Sometimes, being able to say “I love this church and I want to stay here” is enough to keep you going.

There’s something very freeing about letting go of the need to perform.

Even when our goal is something noble.

Recently, I had the chance to observe this in a very tangible, personal way.

I was speaking at a conference to a bunch of pastors – mostly from small churches ...

Continue Reading ...
Church Growth
Why I’m Not Pushing For Church Growth Any More
For years I pushed for growth. And it nearly pushed me out of pastoral ministry.

Church growth is great.

But I’m done with pushing for it.

Done with making it the reason I wake up in the morning.

Done with obsessing over numerical increase or decrease.

Done with thinking that our church has to be bigger to be better.

Church Growth Is Not Enough

Years ago ...

Continue Reading ...

Read More from Karl

Follow Christianity Today

Free Newsletters