RP Retrospective: Stay Calm

Josh —  August 13, 2013 — Leave a comment

As Rookie Pastor is about to turn 4 I’m taking some time to reflect on some of the on-the-job lessons I’ve learned along the way. You can follow the entire series here.

Its a story I’ve told several times before, or at least pieces of the story.

But the basics are that I stepped on a proverbial land mine a few weeks into my first ministry and immediately made a lot of people very upset. I hid in my office for a few days after.

However usually you don’t have the option of hiding. Usually when things blow up the pastor is the first responder and the one everyone is looking to for leadership. And something I learned the hard way is that it may not matter at all what you say in that moment. If you let on how freaked out you are, if you lose your composure either everyone else will freak out or someone else will fill the void you just created.

Don’t get frazzled. 

Or at least don’t let it show.

Become mindful of how you act in pressure situations or when things get tense.

It could save you some big headaches down the road.

Monday Morning Quick Hits

Josh —  August 11, 2013 — Leave a comment
  • Crazy to think that I’ve been doing this for four years!
  • Made some upgrades to the site over the weekend. Let me know if you notice anything broken.
  • You should follow Vince.
  • First Summit I have missed in several years, thanks to Matt for posting great recaps.
  • The habits of effective communicators.
  • If you don’t have online giving rolling yet, you should visit these guys.
  • Are you power hungry? Or just regular hungry?
  • Really been struck by this notion that church is not the ultimate. I know it is a simple and obvious statement, but it has been messing with me.
  • Before you hire.
  • Whiteboards make admin less adminy.
  • So what do you hate about being a pastor?
  • Since moving in a month ago we have been egged and ding-dong ditched. For the record I am no longer in #stumin.
  • If you are going to do church billboards.
  • And yet another take on why young adults are leaving the church.
  • In that same vein, we can of course learn from past mistakes and correct them. But I don’t really care about why they left just that they have and we need to do something about it.
  • Someone told me today they knew I was going to “succeed” in church planting, because “I wanted to”. #facepalm.

Rookie Pastor Turns 4!

Josh —  August 10, 2013 — Leave a comment

Four years ago today I started this thing.

It had a different name, and would have several others, but it started four years ago.

I’m doing a retrospective series with some of my most learned lessons that you should read.

But more than anything I wanted to say thanks.

Thanks for coming along and pushing me to keep going.


As Rookie Pastor is about to turn 4 I’m taking some time to reflect on some of the on-the-job lessons I’ve learned along the way. You can follow the entire series here.

I should have realized that nothing happens in isolation, particularly in a small town.

This lesson was learned the hard way. It was in the first few months of ministry and I was away on a retreat with students while the team I was suddenly leading on an international mission trip was having a fundraising dinner. I got a call about a disagreement between the team and the group providing the food over the cost, we thought it was donated and they were asking to get paid, I hedged and deferred to them to do what was best and didn’t think anything of it.

Even now I don’t remember the specifics of the issue just that it blew up the following week and I had to write an apology letter.

I was in the wrong because I didn’t just resolve the issue and lead regardless of what was agreed to prior.

As a church planter, public relations is the bulk of my job at the moment. I walk into meetings with community leaders and other pastors asking “how can we help?” And I know that reputation is huge for us as we get off the ground.

If you aren’t running your decisions at least through some sort of grid that asks how will this play in the surrounding community you are setting yourself up for failure, or at least some embarrassing moments.

It isn’t the be all end all but I had to learn the hard way you don’t want people talking bad about you/the church.

Monday Morning Quick Hits

Josh —  August 5, 2013 — Leave a comment

I’m fortunate enough to be going to Ecuador in a few weeks to check out some of the work of Compassion International. The downside is a nearly 12 hour layover in Miami. So I’ve been stockpiling articles to read and videos to watch, which means I haven’t screened all the links. Also if you are in the area let’s connect or if you have a recommendation for how to kill time near the airport I’m all ears.

  • If you start a sentence this way you are doing it wrong.
  • Hauerwas on killing Hitler.
  • Giving up the American Dream.
  • David Allen on priorities.
  • Brett McCraken on church relevance.
  • Rachel Held Evans wrote about millennials leaving the church and a few people read it. She also linked some interesting reaction pieces to it.
  • Thinking about creating a video series of 1-2 minute updates on life as a church planter. Think of it as an all access pass, would you watch it?
  • Picked up a Nexus 7 this week and while I’m sure the yet to be released new iPad Mini will blow it away but it is still pretty slick.

Also as I am in the pre-launch phase of planting a church I’ve come across several church websites in the area with contact email addresses that are dead. Seems like basic stuff but make sure all your links are accurate and functional.

N.T. Wright Man Crush

Josh —  August 1, 2013 — Leave a comment

I have one, and apparently I’m not the only one.




Several of the list 12 little known facts about N.T. Wright:

4. Dead theologians sit around and read books about N. T. Wright.

6. N. T. Wright doesn’t read books. He stares at them until he gets the information he wants.

12. N.T. Wright is only bald because his hair got too scared of his brain.

Read the whole list!

Later this month Rookie Pastor turns 4!

When I started this I was just coming off a challenging ministry, trying to finish my thesis, and had no idea what I was doing with a blog. Since then I’ve had highs and lows, moments of focus and distraction, and a couple of name changes. During this time I’ve also hopefully matured and learned a thing or two.

Also in this time I’ve gone from a part-time Student Pastor to a Church Planter. I’ve had people ask if I am still a Rookie Pastor, and yeah I’m no longer in my 20′s but I still think of myself as a Rookie. For me it has more to do with mindset of a life-long learner than how long I’ve been doing this.

So with all that said I’m commemorating the anniversary by looking back at some of the biggest and most important lessons I’ve learned so far. Some of these were hard lessons and some required some intense unlearning but all have proven crucial.

  1. Public Relations
  2. Stay Cool
  3. Admin
  4. Delegate, Delegate, Delegate
  5. Time Management
  6. Worthless Reading
  7. Spiritual Disciplines
  8. Confront
  9. Model
  10. Balance

The Expectations Trap

Josh —  July 24, 2013 — Leave a comment

Go read Thom Rainer’s post telling of the time he asked his deacons to set out minimums for his work week. Here are the results:

  • Prayer at the church: 14 hours
  • Sermon preparation: 18 hours
  • Outreach and evangelism: 10 hours
  • Counseling: 10 hours
  • Hospital and home visits: 15 hours
  • Administrative functions: 18 hours
  • Community involvement: 5 hours
  • Denominational involvement: 5 hours
  • Church meetings: 5 hours
  • Worship services/preaching: 4 hours
  • Other: 10 hours

Total: 114 hours/week

You can read the context here and see this wasn’t scientific but incredibly revealing.

This wasn’t a random selection of congregants, this was from the deacons who have been presumably walking with him in leadership for some time. They have a better understanding than most of the realities of being a pastor.

Here’s the lesson: expectations aren’t as important as they seem and more destructive than they appear.

If you try to meet everyone’s expectation you will burn out and fail. Maybe not immediately and maybe not spectacularly but without change it will end badly.

This isn’t license for unaccountable leadership. Let expectations inform you, put forth expectations for yourself to those you are accountable to and are leading, allow them to push back as you explain why some things were omitted, and then create opportunity for this to be revisited as a standard.

The healthiest thing you can do with this conversation is to discuss the need for other leaders to step up.

Two things tend to happen when you ask someone with unmet expectations to join you in helping.

  1. They jump in, realizing it is impossible to do everything while getting things closer to the goal.
  2. They shut up, leading is hard to sustain and takes a lot of effort. So they will either back off permanently or you’ll hear they are undermining you. When you Biblically confront them on their unrealistic and unBiblical expectations for a Pastor you can refer back to the time when you invited them in. It even might be helpful for them to do the weekly hour exercise that Rainer outlines.

Monday Morning Quick Hits

Josh —  July 22, 2013 — Leave a comment

Hey it’s been awhile since my last installment of this.

Since then we have moved, I’ve filed an insurance claim for ruined books from a wet storage unit, I turned 30, we are laying the groundwork for Movement Church and I’ve been able to connect with some of my favorite people in the world.

We all start somewhere. In ministry your first position is incredibly important. When it goes bad it can drive pastors out of paid ministry for good and when it is good it can set that pastor up for healthy life-long ministry. I think my first was the latter. Great to go back to Central Illinois, tell and hear stories, see new faces in a growing church and hear about leaders who are boldly leading faithfully.

Yesterday I preached at the second church that gave me a paycheck and was literally giddy before walking up to preach. Heidy and I loved Genesis and miss that community but we don’t want to return because we know we are in the right place doing the right thing for right now.

Now for some links of note:

15468_10151367884652387_1176214421_nTitus Benton is a phenomonal Student Pastor, I know because he was the Student guy before me in my first full-time gig. He’s also a more than solid writer who is jumping into the blogging world. Check out his work at TitusLive and follow him on Twitter. Regrettably he’s one of the biggest Cardinal fans I know. Great to have him contribute here.

Two years ago I left a ministry that I had labored in (in one way or another) for nearly ten years and set out for a brand new start in a foreign field–the Republic of Texas. It was a huge transition for my family and I.

Whether or not you are going through a transition now is no matter- you will one day. Itʼs a good exercise to recognize the phases of any move from one ministry to another. I think there are four key moments in any transition process:

  • The Aha Moment
  • The Whatʼs Next Moment
  • The Uh-Oh Moment
  • The Okay Moment

Continue Reading…