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June 14th, 2010

by Craig Groeschel

14 comments (+ Add)

Swerve Favorites: Training Your Church

[Repost from April 16, 2009]

If you don’t train your church what boundaries are appropriate, you likely won’t  have many.

If you are the senior pastor, you can set the tone publicly.

I’d suggest a few of the following:

  • Publicly communicate when your day off is. Talk about how important that day is to your family.
  • At appropriate times, explain the challenges of your schedule. Some people think you only work on Sundays. Explaining some of what you face will create understanding.
  • Create some level of screening if possible. Even if you are a solo pastor with no staff, a volunteer could help you with your email or answer phones. Many things you do daily can be handled by capable volunteers. You don’t need to know and do everything.
  • Be willing to “go dark” at least once a year. You might explain to the church that you’ll be away with your family and not taking calls for a week. Ask your lay leader to be in charge. I’d suggest you give a phone number to one person who has permission to contact you with only dire emergencies. You need at least one week a year to disconnect.
  • Don’t feel pressure to reply to emails instantly. I like all emails returned, won’t be slave to them.
  • Protect at least one night a week for dates or family nights. Explain that Monday or Thursday or whatever is the one night you protect. When someone asks for counseling or a wedding rehearsal on that night, don’t do it.
  • Be willing to say “no.” As a pastor who loves people, you’ll say “yes” to many invitations. Don’t be afraid to occasionally or often say “no.” Don’t feel pressure to give an explanation. A simple, “No, I’m sorry, but I can’t make it” is enough.

Ministry is a marathon, not a sprint. Set the boundaries that will help you go the distance.

What are your thoughts?

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there are a total of14
  1. Jun 14, 2010 at 7:41 am

    This is a fantastic healthy list of ways to not only stay healthy in ministry or in leadership but also upholds some awesome values that are falling to the way side in our culture. Both couples and families are suffering from schedules that aren’t balanced, thanks for sharing this and making people aware that it can be done.

  2. Jun 14, 2010 at 7:57 am

    I semi sorta (is that a word) remember this post Craig. The advice is good. timely. Worth doing. But where were you 35 years ago? Oh yeah…barely born. :) As I have stated before: I sure hope the younger ones reading take heed to what you have written. It is much harder to do these things when you are older and have other ways ingrained in you.

  3. Jun 14, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    Grrrreat advice. Love it!

    Thank you for the wise words, Craig!

  4. Jun 14, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    Blessings from Bolivia Craig!

    Thank you so much for this post, this is something I need to do ASAP ;)

  5. Jun 15, 2010 at 6:42 am

    Craig, these are good. A great friend once told me the toughest part of planting and leading a church was saying no. It is tough but it has to be done to protect Gods vision for your church,, your productivity and your family.

  6. 6Emily
    Jun 15, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    Although I’m not a senior pastor this was a good read as I needed to read this. Thanks for sharing! :)

    Does anyone have any tips on not doing “church business” on Sunday mornings and how to communicate that? For example, I’m over the children’s ministry and there are times when people will tell me children’s ministry related things that need to be dealt with during the week not on a Sunday 30 minutes before I teach. I find it hard to either not only remember what was told to me, or not to get caught up in what was said that I’m focusing on that instead of the kids. (Hopefully this makes sense :)

  7. Jun 16, 2010 at 6:51 am

    I have to wonder where the line is on the other end of the spectrum. I’m a worship leader and media director at a church with a new minister. He set his boundaries early, but they seem to be extreme. He’s never available after 4:30, which seems counter intuitive because of how many volunteers we (they are usually only available after 5). He rarely answers his phone at all in the office and has even made the statement “I don’t answer my phone.” And when it comes to showing up at outreach and volunteer opportunities, the members get frustrated because they never see him. Every night has been deemed family time, which I understand is so important. But I feel like we ask our member to take time away from their family to do things for the church, we should too.

    How do you deal with a situation like this?

  8. Jun 16, 2010 at 6:53 am

    Emily, I had this issue do as media director. Just be honest. I tell people, it’s so crazy on Sunday I’m likely not to remember what you just told me. Do me a favor and email me, so I can deal with what you just told me this week.

    A few times of saying that and people just started emailing me instead of telling me Sunday morning when they saw me.

  9. Jun 16, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    I deeply appreciate this list. Good boundaries. May I also add: 1) let the congregation know up front that one day a month will be your “sabbath” day for refreshing, renewal and reconnection; 2) also let them know that there will be one day a week in which you will be technology free except for phone messages so that you might read and write without distraction.

  10. 10Emily
    Jun 16, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    Ivy~ thanks :)

  11. Jun 18, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    [...] Groeschel on What it takes to finish in ministry. Great post to read as I am getting ready to be on [...]

  12. Jun 21, 2010 at 11:01 am

    [...] A good reminder at Swerve Favorites: Training Your Church. [...]

  13. Jan 18, 2012 at 2:03 am

    Excellent work Craig. I & my pastoral team each go dark 4 weeks a year & I advise my pastors to not have any more than 4 nights out each week so I think I go further than you in time outs!!

    Maybe it’s the Australian way!

  14. Feb 13, 2012 at 8:42 am

    [...] from Craig’s blog on Swerve Share this:TwitterFacebookEmailLike this:LikeBe the first to like this [...]