Monday Morning Manna: Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail

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Okay, so you got me. It’s not really Monday. Aaand, it’s not really morning. This was supposed to be posted yesterday, but I needed a day off to recoup from a busy and exciting weekend! Best of all, I got to spend some time with two fellow administrators, Belinda and Nancy, my sisters in the call.

Starting yesterday (lol), OIC will begin a new feature, called Monday Morning Manna. Every Monday, we’ll take a leadership lesson from a passage of scripture. To help us celebrate, on next Monday, we’ll have a special guest author.

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A Word from Nehemiah
I love Nehemiah. He’s my role model; the ultimate administrator, and a near-perfect example of sound, effective, Godly, wise leadership. This morning, I was studying his story, and I noticed something I must’ve either missed or forgot. Follow me, if you will:

Nehemiah 1:1-4
The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. And it came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace, That Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire. And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven,

In the beginning of the book, we find that Nehemiah is brought some bad news about the wall of Jerusalem, and the Jewish survivors. Both were in desperately bad condition and needed quick help.

Nehemiah 2:1, 2:5
(1) And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that wine was before him: and I took up the wine, and gave it unto the king. Now I had not been beforetime sad in his presence.

(5) And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers’ sepulchres, that I may build it.

Now, if you’re familiar with this story (and as an administrator, executive pastor or senior pastor, you should be), you know that there are so many lessons to be learned here.  Perhaps in time, we’ll revisit some of them. But here’s the piece I had missed (or forgotten). Chisleu (also referred to as Chislev) is the ninth month of the Jewish calendar (what is today the end of November and beginning of December). Nisan is the first month (March-April). There was a four month span between the time Nehemiah got the word and the time he requested time off from work to go do something.

The Bible doesn’t tell us what he did in that time, but it’s pretty safe to suppose that he took that time to prayerfully develop his plan. In 2:6, King Artaxerxes asked Nehemiah how much time he would need. In the next verse, we are told that Nehemiah gave him a time frame. Then, he went on to make specific requests that letters be sent requesting a work permit, a passport, lodging and supplies to rebuild the wall. Clearly, he had given this some thought.

Nehemiah had a plan. One of the mistakes leaders often make is to act before we assess. Many of us, when faced with an urgent situation will react emotionally and not spiritually. While most emotional reactions consist of acting first, then thinking/planning afterward, a spiritual reaction includes prayer, fasting, and strategic planning. The three go hand-in-hand, as demonstrated in this story. And that reaction is proven to yield results.

How many times have you had to “fix” something that wouldn’t have been broken if you had planned first? Or perhaps you’ve had to spend more time or pay more money, or even abort a project, because you didn’t plan it properly? Cancel a program? Reassign leaders? Rescind an invitation? Retrain? Relaunch? Redesign? Relocate? Redo… you get the point.  We waste so much of our most valuable resource doing things over, just because we didn’t take time to plan it properly in the first place. And what about the times we don’t get an opportunity for a do-over? Sometimes, you only get one chance.

For whatever reason, Nehemiah waited four months before taking any action. Even after he got to Judah, he strategically took three days to survey the disaster zone and conduct an onsite assessment. He knew which key figures to approach to get what he needed. Because he was prepared and had thought it through in advance, he was able to mobilize and motivate a team of volunteers who were downtrodden and in despair to carry out a huge project in record time. As a result of his stellar leadership, not only did he rebuild the damaged wall, he also was able to rebuild the damaged people. There’s no telling what would’ve happened had Nehemiah gone to Judah without a plan. He could’ve destroyed the Jews’ spirits or cracked under the pressure of the opposition. Perhaps, he would’ve run out of resources or supplies. Shoot, he could’ve even been killed!

Whether you’re facing a major problem or project, or carrying out a vision or bright idea, stop, pray, fast, and take time to plan. Think ahead (Proverbs 13:16). Count the cost (Luke 14:28). Write the vision (Habakkuk 2:2). Trust me, you’ll get much better results if you follow Nehemiah’s lead.

To ensure success, you must have a plan (Proverbs 21:5).

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‘Thank You’ Goes a Long Way

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Never assume that a person already knows you appreciate them. Never pass up an opportunity to say ‘thank you.’  G.B. Stern once said, “Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone.” Today, I encourage pastors, executive pastors, administrators and church leaders everywhere to pause for a moment to tell those who work with you “thank you.” Buy a card, send an e-mail, send a text or make a phone call. Just don’t forget to appreciate those who labor with you, especially the volunteers.

People don’t have to do anything for you, and a little “thank you” goes a long way.

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Thanksgiving Day is my favorite holiday of all. Though I love the food, and certainly the few days off from work and the unofficial launch of the Christmas Holiday Season, what I love the most are the memories. I remember being a frilly little girl, outfitted with dresses, tights, patent leather shoes and ribbons in my ponytails anxious to head over to Nana’s house to sit at the Kid’s Table with my parents and sisters, aunts, grandparents, great-grandparents, cousins, and whoever else came by. It was always such a carefree day. No chores, no curfew, no volume restrictions… just eat, watch TV, eat some more and stay out of grown folks conversation.

Nana would always make us go around the table and tell what we are thankful for. She still does that to this day. Though I won’t be with my family this year, I want to take a moment to express my gratitude. I’m always grateful to God for His many blessings: life, health, shelter, clothing, food, a job, family, my gifts, my church… But this year, I have something new to be grateful for: YOU.

I want to say ‘thank you’ to all of you who read my blog every day (or even once in a while). Thank you for subscribing. Thank you for e-mailing the link to your friends and family. Thank you for sharing it on your Facebook page and Twitter. Thank you for hitting the “like” button. As I said once before, it’s great to have a place to share my thoughts and experiences. It’s even greater to know that someone is interested in reading my thoughts and experiences. I never expected this blog to be what it has become.  With only 15 posts in two months, Order in the Church has already received over 1100 hits. And it’s all because of you. Thank you.

I owe a special thanks to the wonderful people of LGM. When I first got the bright idea to start this blog, you were the first group to whom I went. You not only gave me ideas, but encouraged me to write. Not only are you a constant source of ideas, you are a consistent source of love, support and encouragement. Thank you Daryl, Vanessa, William, Pastor Jeff, Pastor Rob, Stephen (Brudda), Chevonne, Nicole,  James, Marvin, Jerod, Joshua, Chris (you tried… lol), Betnich, TJ, Bennett, Fenix, and Jeff; and of course, anyone else who has made suggestions, read or forwarded silently. I appreciate and love you all.

I also want to thank my mommy, Suzanne Norman-Lugg, who always makes me feel like I could do anything. I’m still not sure whether that’s because she really believes it or because that’s what mothers are supposed to do. Either way, she’s the reason I believe in myself. I strive to make her and my late father proud.

I also thank my “cheering section”: Brittany Perry and Arsheki Montgomery. If I listen to these two, I might drown thinking I can walk on water. I also want to thank Pastor Gabriel Stovall for “liking” every single post (lol) and for encouraging me, praying for me, and listening to me over the past few weeks. I could go on and on sharing how much I appreciate you all, but to keep it short, I’ll say it this way: everybody needs a Britt, a Kiki, and a Pastor Stovall in their lives.

Lastly, I’m grateful for every church that has allowed me to serve you in ministry and for every pastor who gave me the opportunity to exercise my gift. If not for you, I wouldn’t have anything to say.

The Abusive Church – The Control Factor (When the Pastor Becomes their God)

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Click here to read the Introduction to The Abusive Church series.

It seems that everyone has experienced some sort of church hurt. And clearly, the Lord knew the day would come. Perhaps that’s why He inspired Paul to tell the Galatians to “do good unto all men, especially those who are of the household of faith” (6:10). Today’s pews are filled with Christians whose spiritual states are scattered across the spectrum from hurt to healed – from wounds inflicted by men and women committing misdeeds under the guise of ministry. You notice the scars on their hands and ask what happened, and they reply, “these are the wounds I received in the house of my friends.”

I decided to begin this series after reading about a book, Churches That Abuse, written by Dr. Ronald Enroth. In it, he discusses eight distinguishing characteristics of abusive churches. According to Dr. Enroth, abusive churches:

  1. Have a control-oriented style of leadership.
  2. Use manipulation to gain complete submission from their members.
  3. Foster a rigid, legalistic lifestyle involving numerous requirements and minute details for daily life.
  4. Tend to change their names often, especially once they are exposed by the media.
  5. Denounce other churches because they see themselves as superior.
  6. Have a persecution complex and view themselves as being persecuted by the world, the media, and other churches, organizations or denominations.
  7. Specifically target young adults between 18 and 25 years of age.
  8. Make it difficult for members to leave.

We’re starting the series with a discussion of the control factor.

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to interview Rev. Arthur Allen Jr., who was serving a two-year sentence in a Georgia prison after being convicted of several crimes that would fall under the “abusive church” umbrella. I grew to admire and respect Rev. Allen for standing up for what he believed in, but after interviewing 13 members of his church (House of Prayer), I couldn’t help but think that these people had really, really been brainwashed. Most of them were inarticulate, having dropped out of high school to marry at 13 and 14 years old. Several had more than ten children before reaching the age of 30 (which, of course, keeps the church quite populated). And in a most eerie way, they all spoke just like their leader and had similar mannerisms.

I remember asking one lady if she didn’t feel as though she had missed out, after dropping out of school in the 9th grade to get married and start a family. At the time, she was in her early 20s and was pregnant with her 7th child. Her mother, who was in her 30s and was pregnant with her 16th child, encouraged her to wed young. Without skipping a beat, the young lady quipped “yeah, I missed out. Missed out on AIDS, missed out on losing my virginity to some boy who don’t care about me, missed out on herpes...”

Then, there was the church from my hometown that didn’t allow members to style their hair certain ways or wear nail polish, or make any major life decisions without getting permission first. The pastor controlled who could praise the Lord and who couldn’t. Who could date whom. Who could marry whom.

Then there are the Tony Smiths of the world, who don’t allow questions (particularly from women) or discussion about anything they teach, however erroneous or outlandish.

In controlling churches, the pastors usually don’t answer to anyone – or when they do, they are accountable to a very detached leader thousands of miles away, or subordinates who serve only as “yes men” and know better than to challenge the leader. In each of the examples above, the members tend to know God through the Pastor. They accept whatever he says, blindly. They trust his “spiritual insight” more than their own. They trust his anointing, his “gift”, his relationship with God more than they trust their own. They fail to realize that we serve ONE God, from Whom all our gifts come and to Whom we all have equal access. Somehow, the pastor is their spiritual focal point, not Jesus Christ. Though they may not realize it, he is their god. And of course, this is how cults are born. Members are expected to accept anything they are taught, without question, or risk being labeled rebellious, a witch, a troublemaker, Jezebel, or unsaved. In the worst scenarios, many are excommunicated from the church completely.

There’s a thin line here, because submission to authority is a Biblical principle. Pastors, Bishops, Overseers, Elders are all Biblically-sanctioned roles that are relevant and necessary for the Church’s health and development. One safe place to draw the line is when the pastor’s rules begin to affect your relationships with your family and friends, or even your personal life outside of the church. Any “rule” that can’t be found clearly in the Bible should be studied and researched. There is nothing in the Bible that indicates that Biblical elders governed the private and family lives of the Christian church. And if you can’t find one leader in the Bible who led like your pastor leads, you may have a problem. Pastors should lead like Peter, who told the elders not to be lords over the “congregation” but to be examples for them. Or like Paul, one of the greatest leaders who ever lived, said, “not that we have dominion over your faith, but are fellow workers for your joy” and told the Corinthians not to tolerate controlling leaders.

Click here to read Part 3 of The Abusive Church – Exposing the Master Manipulator.

Everybody Isn’t Easy to Love…

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If you’ve been in church at any point over the last decade or so, you’ve sung or heard the song:

The Jesus in me loves the Jesus in you
The Jesus in me loves the Jesus in you
The Jesus in me loves the Jesus in you
You’re easy, you’re easy, you’re easy
You’re easy to love!

Awww, such a cute song. That song caused a lot of folks to lie. Don’t look at me like that, you know I’m telling the truth. Everybody isn’t easy to love. On the contrary, some people are difficult to love. Or as I like to put it, some make you work for your “SAVED” badge. Leaders may have to work with a few of them from time to time. As a church administrator or executive pastor, you’ll probably have to work with them all – all the time. Don’t worry, if you couldn’t do it, He wouldn’t have given you the assignment. God doesn’t give us assignments without giving us the tools to complete the job.

Over the years, I’ve worked with my share of difficult people. Now, I’ll admit I made myself a liar by singing that song a time or two. But, I’d be an even bigger liar if I told you that I did it right each time. Believe me, working with difficult people is not necessarily one of my strong points, so I definitely don’t pass the test each time. But when I do pass, it’s because I do this:

1. Wait. Look, the truth is that folks will get on your nerves. I’m convinced that some folks wake up in the morning just TO get on your nerves. For some, Number 2 on their list of New Years’ Resolutions is: GET ON THE ADMINISTRATOR’S LAST NERVE. But you have to stay cool. Remember, you don’t have to respond to every e-mail, text, phone call, or comment right there on the spot. It has been my experience that 99.9% of the time, if you give it 24 hours, your response will be a lot more professional, more Christ-like, and more effective.

2. In that 24 hour period, pray and write. Write down what the conflict is (and if you’ve made it to this level yet, write down BOTH SIDES as objectively as you can). Try to see where you might be wrong. No use in dwelling on why you’re right (and truth be told, you may NOT be right). Then, write a reply to the conflict. You can include facts, feelings, statistics, prophecy, whatever you want. Then, pray about what you’ve written. After a few hours (or a good night’s sleep), review what you’ve written and determine how much of it really has to be said. Chances are, most, if not all, of your reply isn’t something that needs to be said. Draw a line through the part that doesn’t need to be said and toss it out of your mind and spirit.

3. Try to handle it yourself. There’s nothing worse than an administrator or executive pastor who has to take everything to the pastor. Remember the steps to conflict resolution found in Matthew 18 (first, take the problem to the source; if that doesn’t work, take a witness; and if that doesn’t work, take it to the church – oh and don’t forget to leave your offering).

4. Don’t be afraid to seek wise counsel. Although those who have the gift of government are super people, we’re not superheroes. Well, some of us are, but still… we’re superheroes with emotions. And sometimes, those emotions can cloud your perspective of a situation. If you don’t feel any cooler-headed after doing #1 and #2, you may want to consult an elder or even a friend outside your church for a more objective perspective.

5. Document everything. Maybe I’m just paranoid like that. Or maybe I’ve handled one too many conflicts. But I do take copious notes on every relevant conversation, and I save and transcribe every relevant text message, keep all relevant e-mails and written correspondence. You’d be surprised how many people will falsely accuse you of giving permission you never gave, of saying something you never said, or of doing something you never did. You’d be surprised how many people “never said that” or “didn’t know that was the policy.” Ohhh really? Well, let me pull out my notes. 😉

6. Refer back to the policy. Who can argue with a written policy? Well, there’s always someone who will argue with everything. But at least, if you’re simply enforcing (or upholding) a policy, the burden isn’t on you and neither is any of the blame.

7. Know who your enemy is. Sometimes we forget that we’re not wrestling against flesh and blood, but against the devil and the demons he dispatches to attack us. Don’t bite your church brother or sister’s head off. They are not the enemy.

8. Remember your goal. If you want to win, you probably didn’t draw a line through those things that didn’t need to be said and toss them out (see #2). You will argue every point, Johnny Cochran style. You will pull out your Roget’s Thesaurus and your Strong’s Concordance. You will find case studies and dissect the “other side’s” argument line-by-line. But, if you truly want to resolve the conflict, you’ll realize that sometimes, you have to just take down and let the other person win (or at least let them think they won). Remember, the goal is not to win, but to resolve. Till we all come together in the unity of the faith…

Managing Volunteers: 5 Things to Know

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In my former life, I worked as a Field Representative for a labor organization in New York. In addition to fighting for justice for nursing home workers in workplace disputes and negotiating employees’ contracts, a large part of my job responsibility was recruiting, training, and managing on-site delegates, who served as volunteer representatives at each nursing home. It didn’t take me long to learn that leading volunteers requires a totally different skill set and different habits from that which is used to lead paid staff.

There’s no question that volunteers are the engines that keep churches running. The mistake many church leaders make is letting their volunteers’ engines burn out or forgetting that volunteers have less of an incentive to stay if they’re suffering poor treatment or frequent frustration.

Here are five things you need to know about leading volunteers.

1. Make sure they fit.
One of the leading causes of volunteer burnout is having people serve in areas in which they’re not called or equipped to serve. One of the principles we can take from the corporate world is the job interview. Too many churches throw people into positions where they may not fit because of one aspect of their personality or experience, and never really get to know the person or attempt to find out whether the person will be able to work well with the leader. This also shows volunteers that you take the job seriously, and that you’re running a ministry, not a circus.

2. What’s In It For Them?
Though most job-seekers consider benefits, opportunities for advancement, and building up their resumes, the main factor most applicants consider is compensation. Since most church workers aren’t paid, it’s important that you as a leader can articulate what’s in it for them. It not only helps them to stay motivated, it also helps you to know how to develop their skills, talents, and gifts. Perhaps they are looking for a position where they can grow spiritually or professionally. Maybe they recognized a character flaw, such as impatience or pride and are looking for something that will help them develop patience or humility. Maybe they want to practice some skills they learned in school or are looking for an opportunity to socialize more after a recent life change.

Of course the rewards that come from God are the best benefits, but identifying other benefits will help keep your volunteers motivated. If volunteer work isn’t rewarding, volunteer workers won’t stick around too long.

3. Be Crystal-Clear on the Roles, Rules, and Expectations!
Just because you’re leading a team of volunteers doesn’t mean you can’t set expectations and rules. At the same time, leaders must know that what works on your day job may not work as well with volunteers. Make sure they know what is expected of them and what they can expect from you (this should come out in the interview process). Put everything in writing, and communicate clearly and adequately. At work, you can get away with changing things up at the last minute every month. At church, not so much. Don’t be too demanding or unreasonable, or else you might end up having an army of grumpy, resentful, or burned out volunteers. Some things you shouldn’t do:

  • Yell. Actually, you shouldn’t yell at paid staff either, but especially not at volunteer staff. Totally uncool, either way.
  • Work their fingers to the bone. Keep in mind unpaid church workers have lives outside of church: jobs, families, hobbies. Don’t demand too much of their time and don’t make them do the work of 2 or 3 people. Either YOU do it (that’s leadership, after all) or recruit more volunteers to help.
  • Assume they love the Lord so much they won’t ever quit. Ha!!!
  • Chastise or demean when you can coach or develop.
  • Take them for granted.
  • Forget that they don’t have to do what they do.

4. Make sure they have the tools they need
There is nothing more frustrating than trying to do a job well, and not being able to because you don’t have what you need. Those tools might include support, leadership, a computer, a work space, supplies, staff, or a host of other things. In some cases, you can learn to get by or cut corners – you may even tap into some creativity you didn’t know you had. But volunteers are more likely to burn out or even quit if they have to work harder because they don’t have what they need to get the job done.

5. Motivate, Reward, Acknowledge
One church I worked with had an annual volunteers celebration. Each year, the leaders (pastors and pastors’ wives, clergy, and department heads) put on black pants, a white tuxedo shirt and a black bowtie to serve lunch to all their volunteers. They decorate the banquet hall, cook all the food themselves, don waiter uniforms and serve those who serve all year long.

Not every church has the resources (or desire) to do something like that, and that’s okay. There are so many other ways to motivate your volunteers. From what I’ve seen, most volunteers truly are in it for the love of servanthood, so they don’t necessarily look for celebrations or appreciation services. But they will admit it feels good to hear encouraging words from time to time, receive a “Thank You” card once in a while, or even just an e-mail that says “thanks.” Nothing makes you feel appreciated like a random, out of the clear blue “I’m-not-asking-for-anything” note. Acknowledge the extra things your volunteers do; make mention of their growth or skill improvements. When they do something especially well, let them know you noticed it.

Motivation is the most important item on this list. You MUST keep your volunteers motivated by making sure they can see the goal they’re working towards, by rewarding them, by appreciating them, treating them well, and developing them. If you want your church to grow, you’ve got to take good care of your volunteers. They are the engine.

20 Questions… Does my church operate in EXCELLENCE?

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A few years ago, I took some friends to one of my favorite churches,  Cathedral of Faith Family Praise Center, located about 45 minutes south of Atlanta in Forsyth, Georgia. We had barely pulled into the parking lot before we were embraced by their spirit of excellence. As we were walking through the parking lot, a family who were also heading in smiled warmly and greeted us. Then, a gentleman ran ahead of us to open the door, saying “welcome to Cathedral of Faith.” I knew from that moment that this was a church of excellence, and that the members and leaders alike were well trained.

Kudos to Apostle Vertise Rozier and all the staff, clergy, leaders and members of Cathedral of Faith for showing that excellence is indeed a standard.

It’s hard to really explain what excellence looks like in a church; it’s just one of those things that you recognize when you see it. Establishing excellence in a church is even harder since so many seem to disagree on what excellence is. I usually gauge how excellent a church is by how smoothly things run. Excellent churches should run like a well-oiled machine. Here is a quick survey to help you figure out if your church operates in excellence. Keep in mind, this isn’t a scientific survey. It’s pretty much just based on my insight and experience (like the rest of OIC).

  1. Is the exterior of your church (lawn, signage, building exterior, windows, steps, rails, parking lot, etc.) clean, well-maintained, well-lit and attractive?
  2. Can a first-time guest easily identify who the ushers are? Leaders? Clergy?
  3. Can a first-time guest easily identify where they should enter the parking lot, where they should park, which door they should enter, and where the restrooms are?
  4. Will a first-time guest find your church and common areas clean, tidy, well-lit and odor-free?
  5. Will a first-time guest find your members, volunteers, staff, and clergy to be smiling pleasantly and willing to assist with any basic needs (finding a place to breastfeed the baby, sharing information about upcoming services)?
  6. Does your service start on time and end at a reasonable hour? Is your church fluff-free or mostly fluff-free?
  7. Do you plan services, meetings, rehearsals, and other gatherings far enough in advance to get the word out in a timely fashion and to plan every detail to perfection?
  8. Are those who serve in ministry (in any capacity: youth, hospitality, clergy, administration, etc.) qualified to serve in the area in which they work?
  9. Does your church conduct regular and thorough internal training and development for all ministry workers?
  10. Does your church maintain an open and clear line of communication with its members?
  11. Do your ministries serve well? Do the choirs sound excellent? Musicians? Praise team? Do the ushers know how to usher? Altar workers? Announcement clerks? Are your staff, clergy, leaders and volunteers regularly evaluated for progress and growth?
  12. Is the chain of command clear within leadership, staff, clergy and members? Does everyone know who to go to with questions, concerns, and authorization, and what to do if they are dissatisfied with their outcome? Are the procedures clear (e.g. submitting announcements, requesting meeting space, planning an auxiliary event, joining an auxiliary, registering for a class)?
  13. Do you utilize media to add a more modern element to your ministry (video announcements, electronic newsletters, e-mail blasts, Facebook, Twitter, streaming services, an updated, professional, uncluttered and current website)?
  14. Does your worship service flow smoothly, without a glitch, from start to finish? Are all who are on the program in position on time and prepared to minister with excellence? If there is a presider or expediter, is s/he aware of who is doing what? Are the people who are on the program aware they are on the program?
  15. Do your ushers work diligently to minimize excessive walking, talking, eating or other irreverent behaviors in the sanctuary?
  16. Does the pastor (or other preacher) have a thoroughly prepared sermon each week?
  17. Has a sound check been performed before service?
  18. Is everything your church does, carried out to the very best of your ability? (Programs, flyers, services, church bulletins, newsletters, conferences, trainings, Sunday School classes, correspondence, planning, etc.).
  19. Does your church have an annual budget? Are your bills, invoices, payroll, and other obligations paid on time? Does your church conduct regular internal and/or external audits?
  20. Do you adhere to the laws that govern non-profit organizations, and obtain outside counsel or professional advice when you don’t know what the law is?

If you answered “yes” to all 20 questions, it sounds to me like your church is pretty excellent. Kudos to you for making the body of Christ look good!

If you answered “yes” to 15-19 questions, I’d say you’re pretty close. Keep up the good work, and strive to do better.

If you answered “yes” to 10-15 questions, not bad, but you definitely have room for improvement, in my opinion. I suggest you develop a plan to perfect those areas that are lacking, and make haste to implement the plan!

If you answered “yes” to fewer than 10 questions, your church is probably just focused on the worship aspect of service, and not the logistics. If you’re happy where you are, carry on.  If not, give me a call and let’s get you on the path to excellence.

If your church practices excellence, tell me about it. I’d love to hear what excellence looks like in different churches.

The Abusive Church – Introduction

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Dear readers:

This is a good time to thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts and for sharing OIC with your friends. So to all my readers: family, friends, acquaintances, Facebook, Twitter, Atlanta, Detroit, DC, NY, and Alabama, I thank you. It’s great to get some of these thoughts off my chest; it’s even greater to have someone “listening.”

Almost three decades ago, a family member of mine experienced a traumatic event at a church she was devoted to, and in which she had served faithfully. Her departure from the body of Christ and subsequent downward spiral affected our family so greatly that even after her reconciliation to Christ several years ago, I still suffer the effects of it today. I wish I could say that that heinous experience was the only time I’ve witnessed abuse in the church, but over the years, I have seen more abuse than I can bear to admit. I’ve seen pastors impregnate their members, steal from them, blackmail them, destroy their members’ marriages, assault them, curse them, use them, berate them (publicly or privately), humiliate them… and the list goes on and on.

This introduction is the beginning of a 10-week series sharing the different ways pastors and leaders abuse (or create abusive environments for) their members. Each Wednesday, we will discuss how some pastors abuse their authority using control, manipulation, alienation, false prophecy, false doctrine, dogmatic rules, and threats to foster co-dependency, enabling them to abuse their members

  • Spiritually
  • Emotionally
  • Mentally
  • Financially
  • Physically
  • Sexually

Please know that I am not attempting to bring reproach to the Lord’s church. It is not my intention to bash the church (or pastors) or make the church look bad. I really just want to bring this issue out into the open. Though I believe there are times when calling people and churches out to protect the sheep from the wolves is necessary and ultimately beneficial, OIC is not the forum for exposure. My goal is not to uncover any particular pastor or church.  All names and identifying details will be changed to cover the abused and the accused.  Instead, it is my prayer that this series will help identify and expose behaviors and tactics typically used by abusers so that you can identify a potentially harmful situation, or if you are in one, be empowered to get out. Plus, I think it helps to know that you’re not alone and that others can identify with your pain.  I hope that as you follow the series, if you relate to a particular subject, you’ll feel free to share your own story or insight in the comments section.

Again, thanks for reading and I hope you’ll find the series to be insightful and compelling. I will be praying that any painful memories that are stirred up will be brought to the surface so that the Master Surgeon can remove any infections they’ve caused  and heal your open wounds. Our God is able to heal, set free, and deliver – to the utmost.

I recommend you use the “subscribe” button on the right, so you will get an e-mail alert each time I post a new article (you won’t get any other mail from me, no junk mail, forwards, poems or anything else… just the automatic alert telling you I’ve posted a new article).

I look forward to hearing your feedback. And again, please join the growing number of OITC subscribers by using the link on the right. 🙂

In His Service,

LaRue

Read the first part of the series: The Abusive Church – The Control Factor

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