I Don’t Want To Pray For Your Church

That’s right! I don’t want to pray for your church.

Jesus said He would build his Church.

I can tell you this, though. After 25 years of church ministry I’ve learned to pray for church leaders over anything else in the church.

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Here are 4 things I’ve discovered to be true when we prayer for pastors and other leaders in the church.

  • Healthy churches grow from healthy leaders, NOT the other way around.
  • We don’t see church congregations that are healthier than their leadership.
  • Our focus changes from ‘are they meeting my needs’ to a genuine desire to partner with them for stronger Kingdom impact.
  • We know that prayer works, and that our prayers can be powerful. Our prayers can make a huge difference in the personal and professional lives of our leaders.

If you lead a church or other ministry and would like prayer, I’d love to come along side you this week. Feel free to email me at BrentDumler@iCloud.com

 

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Comments and questions are welcome below.

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Farewell Colorado!

God has a new assignment for us….in WASHINGTON STATE.

After 2 years in Colorado Springs, Cailey and I will be moving to WA to lead the development of an existing Missional Community in the city of Yakima.

Friends, this has been a casual, ongoing discussion with leadership there since April.  Yes, since April!  It has taken us that long to seek God’s will and really KNOW that he is calling us to this.

We do ask for your prayers.  One of our kids plans to remain in Colorado, while another is heading to the Navy on 10/16.  If you know us, you know that we are a very close family.  This transition will undoubtedly be the most unique, most difficult one we’ve had yet.

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We plan to hit the road with a moving truck in the first part of November.  That’s another concern…traveling through CO, WY, and UT in the winter months.  But the Lord has led us this far.  Why would we doubt his protection in getting us there at this point?

Below is a mere sampling of how God has spoken to us over the past few months, in his Word, prayer, devotional readings, and worship music.

“Is there anyone I can send? … “I will go, send me!”  (from Isaiah 6:1-3, 5-8)
“The amount of faith God has given you is equal to the assignment He’s given you.”
“There’s a big difference between self-reliance and God reliance.”
“What you give to God, He handles.  What you keep, you handle.”
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Change, and huge steps of faith, have never been easy for our family.  They have, however, become a common theme in our journey of following Jesus.  In every new direction we have tried to focus more on obedience than determining what the sacrifice will be.

Max Lucado once wrote, “God promises a lamp unto our feet, not a crystal ball into our future.” 

We don’t really know what tomorrow has in store, BUT we do know that God will be there.  He will be there saying, “Thanks for taking those few steps with me.  Now, let’s keep on going.”

Subscribe to the blog HERE and follow us on this journey.

 

Comments, prayer requests, and questions are welcome below.

You can also connect with me on Twitter and Instagram!

Why Churches Should Be In The Habit Of Spilling The Beans

I spilled the beans the other day at work.  No, I ‘literally’ blew coffee beans all over the place while trying to suck them out of the espresso hopper.  What I didn’t realize is that someone had left the vacuum hose attached to the wrong end, blowing beans into the air and all over the floor and counter.  It was quite a scene.

Where certain sayings come from is fascinating to me.  So, I looked up Don’t Spill The Beans and found this popular source of origin.

A popular folk etymology for “to spill the beans” claims that in ancient Greece, applicants for membership in secret societies were voted upon by having the existing members drop beans into a pottery jar. Those who approved of the potential new member would signal an affirmative vote by adding a white bean to the jar. A black bean indicated a negative vote. The story goes that on occasion, when the jar was accidentally knocked over, the beans poured out and the vote was revealed prematurely. Somebody had “spilled the beans“.

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This got me thinking about leadership in our churches.  In almost all situations, we know that God works in the Light and the enemy does his thing in darkness.  Way too often, churches choose to lead and do business in the dark.  This comes in the form of secrete ballots for voting, allowing anonymous notes and emails to affect the staff, holding ‘unofficial’ side discussions outside of official meetings, and ignoring valid concerns of unhealthy trends within the congregation hoping they will eventually go away.

At a very basic level, these things create distrust, worry, and skepticism of the leadership and among the people in the church.

“The more a church can truly be open about everything, the fewer dark places there are for the enemy to succeed in dividing the Church”

Leaders, are there issues that you’ve been keeping from your church people under the excuse of protecting them?  Imagine the new credibility you could gain from them if you were to allow them into the leadership struggles you are facing.  Imagine what might happen if you allowed them to partner with you and the leadership of your church in prayer…together as a real family.

Don’t underestimate the strength and maturity of your congregation.  Their purpose extends far beyond making coffee, paying a tithe, and listening to a sermon.

Open up to your people, spill the beans and watch God do his best work in the light.

 

Comments below are welcome.  You can also subscribe to this blog here!

 

 

9 Months After Moving To Colorado

Well, it’s been 9 months since we moved to Colorado Springs from Georgia.  There has been A LOT that has happened in that short window of time.  This has been the most difficult stage of my life in 25 years of marriage and ministry…hands down!   A few months ago I wrote a post about taking a break from blogging for a season.  I’m still not blogging regularly until December, but I felt compelled to post this update.

Colorado Springs is amazing!  It is beautiful, has very few bugs, and virtually zero humidity.  I see the majestic Pikes Peak every day…multiple times a day.  But simply living in a beautiful place doesn’t necessarily make the experience beautiful.

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You see, when we moved to Colorado I left behind a son, an incredible church family, and a ministry career that had become my identity.  I didn’t know it while traveling across the country in a 26 foot U-Haul truck, but I was about to spend the next 3 months lost, confused, and depressed.

First, the family unit split in two.  We originally thought we were just moving with our youngest two sons.  Then just hours before hitting the road our oldest child asked to move with us.  This is her story so I’ll allow her to tell it on her own another time.  But this is a huge reason God led us to Colorado.

Our oldest son had a career and friends in GA and decided to get his own place and stay there.  My wife and I blessed his choice to stay, but I really struggled (honestly, I still am) moving without him.  I guess it’s a natural part of the whole ’empty nesting’ thing….but it really sucks!

Once we arrived here, I began working at a popular coffee shop.  Every coffee-lover’s dream job, right?  I have also been working hard to complete my Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology online.  After working there for about a month or so, I hit a wall.  For 2-3 weeks I remember feeling anxious and emotional driving to work.  There were even a few times I had to pray that God would strengthen me to overcome the flood of tears so I could perform like a ‘normal’ barista.  Those tears were sure to come later in solitude moments in my bedroom.  One evening here, another there…just me and Jesus.  Real men do cry, so don’t judge.

It was in this brief season that I realized that I had allowed ministry (being a pastor) to become my entire identity.  Loss of title, income, and the comfort of knowing a job well.  When you’ve done nothing besides pastoring full-time for over 20 years it’s not the easiest thing to transition out of that world and into retail coffee at 45 years old.

Slowly, I began to realize that God had me in a new, very specific, season on purpose.  First and foremost, I was to enjoy really being there for my wife and kids without the demanding work schedule of ministry.  Second, He was aligning  co-workers and customers at the coffee shop for me to interact with…to live my faith out for them.

In March of 2016 I had the honor of speaking at a Children’s Pastors conference in Kentucky.  This was a true gift directly from the hand of God to me.  He knew I needed this.  I loved it!  I got to share my ministry experiences with young leaders, and then encouraged them after each talk.  This rekindled a fire for ministry in me.

Yes, we left an amazing church in Georgia, but God led us to another one.  (we thought this would be impossible).  My wife, Cailey, is serving PT on staff there now working with kids and equipping leaders.  I am volunteering in the Connect ministry to help people discover a meaningful and fulfilling place of service in God’s community.

Most recently, the Lord provided me with a new job working with a medical bill sharing ministry.  Another new experience, but I’m trusting God in it completely.  Cailey and I have also begun co-writing our first book.  We welcome your prayers with this.

What does He have in store for me in the next 5-10 years?  I don’t have a clue and I’ve given up trying to figure it out ahead of time.  I used to have this quote hanging in my church office.  Now it is mounted above our couch in the living room.

“The will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you.”

This has proven to be true in my life and I’m confident it will be in yours as well.  My Jesus is faithful, he knows what he’s doing, and he really does care more about my personal success and happiness than I ever can.

Here’s to another year of adventure, obedience, and remaining in Him!

 

 

Dear Hurting Pastor

This letter is dedicated to every church pastor who has ever felt burned out, been in a ‘funk’ and could not get out, lost the respect of your staff or board, or simply had the passion of your calling to ministry fade away.  

Dear Lead Pastor,

I’m sorry.  I’m sorry for all the 1:00 a.m. phone calls that took you away from you family too often.  I’m sorry about all the ridiculous expectations the church placed on you for so many years. Having to appear at every single event throughout the year.  Making yourself available 24/7 to EVERYONE for absolutely ANYTHING.  I’m sorry for all those anonymous I’m displeased with your leadership notes you found under your office door on Mondays.  I’m sorry you didn’t receive THANK YOUs and HUGS more often for the compassion you poured into people.  I’m so very sorry that your kids witnessed an unpleasant, un-Christlike side of church and ministry while they were growing up.  You probably did not get to witness first hand much of the fruit resulting from your ministry either…I’m sorry for that too.  I’m sorry that no one in your church really knows what it is like being in your shoes.

I’m sorry the church placed you so high up on a pedestal that it seemed impossible to ever step down.  You should have never been put there.  That position is reserved for Jesus.  He’s the only one who deserves to be there…who can withstand the pressures that exist there…and the only one the church needs to see up there.

In those empty, dry, and lonely seasons…I’m sorry no one in the church offered loving accountability to you.  They should have given you a paid and structured Sabbatical.  Offering to provide you with the right counseling, or even find you a mentor.  Now that would have been helpful.  I’m sorry that did not happen.

Pastor, mostly I am sorry that ministry work has put a bad taste in your mouth for the church.  As someone who has experienced this with a handful of friends who were pastors, allow me to encourage you.  The church is made up of flawed people, therefore, it is flawed.  That’s just the way it is going to be until Christ returns.  Pastors do not have direct control over the health of their church congregations, staff, and boards.  But WE DO have 100% control of our own personal health and leadership.

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Have you left the ministry?  Or, have you been thinking about stepping out but haven’t quite taken the plunge yet?

Please hear me on this.  If there is ANY amount of calling left on your life, stick with it…BUT make some changes.  Take charge of leading by example.  Be intentional about resting and recharging once a week.  Empower others (staff and volunteers) to share the burden of hospital visits, speaking/teaching at small group gatherings and Bible studies, and even leading some team meetings.  And for the love of all that is good and meaningful in the world, please find a mentor!  Someone OUTSIDE of your church who is spiritually mature and will speak truth into you as a leader, husband, and father.

If the Lord has truly called you to ministry and others around you affirm that calling, then be obedient.  The church desperately needs healthy pastors.

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.  – Galatians 6:9

Blessings!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m Moving To Colorado Springs! What???

I have a Love/Hate relationship with change.  How about you?

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In the Fall of 2013, it was revealed at our staff retreat that my wife and I were going to step out of our staff roles at the time to launch the first multisite church campus of Christ Community Church. Fast forward to Nov 8, 2015. On this Sunday we announced that our campus would be changing our video teaching model to offer live preaching. Not only did this change not include my wife and I (change in leadership), we also announced that we were moving to Colorado Springs in 4 weeks.

This has all happened so quickly.  We really have seen the finger prints of God all over this…not only in our own lives, but for the health of the campus as well.

So, this is basically a journal entry reflecting on my thoughts with this transition:  What I FEEL vs. what I KNOW.

What I feel | There is personal loss attached to big life transitions. Loss of close friends, co-workers, family, culture, and familiarity.

What I know | There often needs to be loss if God is going to bless us with new blessings. It’s His way of making room for the new. I have seen this over and over in my lifetime, so I’m not sure why I don’t get more excited at the onset of changing seasons when they pop up.

What I feel | 18 months is too soon after launching a new church campus for the leadership to move on. Ok, it’s too soon for my comfort level. There, I said it. I really thought I’d be shepherding this body of believers for at least 3-5 years. And that was my problem. I presumed God’s intentions more than I should have.

What I know | God’s timing is always perfect and always better than mine. On God’s clock, late and early are non-existent. This is so comforting (and frustrating) to me.

What I feel | Its not fair that I don’t get to be a part of this local church body in its next chapter. I want to see it grow. I want to meet all the amazing, new people. I want to celebrate with the new believers and disciple them.

What I know | God’s calling on my life (and yours) is never about fairness. And it is not about our personal wants. It is, however, always about obedience, faith, and a larger Kingdom purpose than my own little world.

What I feel | I worry about how my kids will weather through this change. Our 2 oldest are staying in GA, while 2 of our boys are moving with us. I often think, they did not ask for this life of ministry….constant change and moving from place to place.

What I know | They are only mine for a season and for the purpose of training them up in faith and life. Ultimately, they are The Lord’s. When we dedicated them to Him as babies, we were placing them in His care. As they have grown older, I have had to constantly re-visit those moments and ask myself a question. Do I truly mean today what I meant back then? Thankfully, the answer has been ‘yes.’ But I do find myself constantly rededicating each of them to God’s care and providence. This is mainly for my own sanity.

What I feel | If I’m going to be really authentic here, I’d have to admit that I’ve said to God (more than once) that I didn’t ask for this calling of ministry in my life. I’ve often thought what it would be like to go to church at the same time as everyone else does. Or how it would feel not to have to live completely by my calendar. Or not having the heaviness of knowing so much of the pain and struggle many of our church members are enduring each week.

What I know | While that all sounds appealing on the surface, I know better. Yes, ministry is demanding and hard. But (there’s a huge ‘but’ here), it is also rewarding beyond words. The innumerable experiences, tragedies, joys, challenges, victories, and relationships God has gifted me with….none of them would have come to be if I had said ‘No’ to His call on my life. I would have forfeited the past 24 years of partnership with God. The thought that I could have given all that away to someone else makes me cringe.

“This is God’s universe, and He does things His way.  We may have a better way, but we don’t have a universe.”  – Dr. J. Vernon Megee

 How about you?  How have you maneuvered through major transitions in life?  When have what you FEEL vs. what you KNOW collided?

This has been the quickest, healthiest, and craziest change in my life to date…..and I’m really looking forward to it!

Best Connection Methods With Those Attending Your Church

Gone are the days of the paper church newsletter.  You know…the kind that actually had a stamp on it.  We walked to our mailbox, opposed to clicking on our inbox.

As a Campus Pastor, I’m learning the massive importance of 2-way communication with those in our church.  One tool I’ve absolutely fallen in love with is MailChimp. We use this service to send weekly eBulletins to our church attendees.  It has helped us tremendously.  (Here’s an example of ours)

HOWEVER!

It’s only helpful if you have a name and an ACCURATE email address.  This is where traditional ‘paper’ Communication Cards fall short.

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It can be quite frustrating…having a communication card from a 1st time guest and not being able to read their email address. Maybe the ink was smeared, or they simply write like a doctor (no offense).  Have you had this happen? This new guest visits your church, takes time to give you their info and drop the card in a box hoping for some sort of correspondence. And the worst instance is when this happens and they did not include a phone or snail-mail address. Now you’re at a dead end. The only thing to do here is pray that they return so we can follow up.

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All that leads me to say this. Churches must develop ways for those attending their worship services to submit Communication Card information via their mobile devices from their seats or in their vehicles on their way home. This will not only improve the accuracy issues mentioned above, it will also increase connections.

Here are a few key connection practices.

  • Convenience | Place communication cards in the seats. Don’t ask people to stop by somewhere else to pick one up…they won’t! Also, keep the card as simple as possible. Fewer specifics and clutter are less overwhelming.
  • 2-Way | People in your church should always have a way to respond or answer a question. For an eBulletin, take advantage of hyperlinks. These can connect them from there to social media, staff emails, event registration forms, and helpful resources.
  • Follow up | This is HUGE  for people who just visited your church. First-time guests at our church receive a welcome letter (mailed with a stamp) mailed on Monday, followed by a brief email. This email encourages them to connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, our website, and by signing up for our eBulletin.
  • Centralized | For us, we want everyone to receive our weekly eBulletin. They can get everything they need in one ‘centralized’ location.

Rich Birch offers some solid tips on following up with guests who visit your church in this UNSEMINARY post. You will want to check it out.

What does your church do? What areas of connection do you struggle with? Would you add any thoughts on the topic?

Please leave a comment. 

 

4 Ways To ‘Be’ The Church Outside Of Sunday

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There are 4 tangible action steps (probably more) to be mindful of that will help give us a Kingdom mindset.  After receiving some positive feedback on a recent message, I thought I’d post a brief summary of the acronym used in my 4 points.

Message title:  Be R.E.A.L.

Relational in every opportunity | Constantly looking for opportunities to connect with others while we go about our daily lives.  Look, and be attentive of those around us and be sensitive to what they are going through.  The body of Christ is the Church’s best evangelism plan.

Excited about the things of God | When we take notice of all the incredible ways God is moving in our lives, it should show.  And when excitement shows in us, others will often enquire as to what it is.  Bingo….there’s an open door to talk about how awesome Jesus has been to you.

Active in and out of the church | Two parts here: 1. Do something to support your church home.  Get involved, serve, give, lead.  2. Do something with a Kingdom mindset outside of your church.  This helps to keep us from being an inwardly focused church and looking at the bigger picture of God’s Church around us.

Love for the lost | Pray for God to give you a deep, heart-felt compassion for the lost and for their needs.  Why?  Because compassion drives action.

You can actually listen to the full message from October 26, 2014 HERE.

Is there anything you would add?  Or, which of these I’ve listed tends to be the most difficult?

Please leave your comments below.

Photo credit: http://www.wallpapervortex.com 

3 Things Every Church Leader Should Produce

Is there anything ‘good’ in what you and I produce as church leaders that God would consider honorable?  This passage struck me this morning.  Check it out.

Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce.  Proverbs 3:9 (NLT)

Photo credit: christianityworks.com
Photo credit: christianityworks.com

Granted, this is mainly addressing our income…what we earn for our work.  But the Lord also challenged me in the second half of this verse.  What am I responsible for producing?

Here are what I would consider to be 3 main things every church leader should be producing.

1.  Disciples | This includes everyone in our churches, as well as our own kids and spouse.  I don’t know about you, but there have been many times when I have put more effort into discipling church folks more than my own family.  Ouch!  That’s not easy to put out there, but recognizing it helps to bring forth change.

2.  A strong marriage | For those of us who are married, we owe it to Jesus, ourselves, our kids, and everyone we influence to authentically model a healthy marriage relationship. Not perfect…..just healthy.  If our spouse can’t respect us in our home, how can we expect anyone else to respect us in the church or in our community?

3.  Personal integrity | As ministers and church leaders, are we being intensional about staying connected to Christ in His Word and through prayer?  Are we taking the initiative to build accountability into our lives.  Is the person others witness at church on the weekend the same person our family lives with during the rest of the week?  Difficult questions, but left unasked we will most likely not notice.

Is there anything you would add to this list?

The bigger question I am wrestling with is, “Am I truly honoring God in what I’m producing in these areas?”

Please join the discussion and leave a comment below.