categories: creativity, personal, recommendations, spiritual development
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June 16th, 2010

by Bobby Gruenewald

Swerve Favorites: Strategic Disruptions - Disrupt Your Rhythms

[Repost from May 19, 2008]

The longer you do ministry, the easier it becomes to minister from memory. You tend to do what you used to do. It is safe, comfortable, and convenient.

To stay spiritually and creatively fresh, I suggest “strategic disruptions.” Today we’ll talk about disrupting life’s rhythms.

Because people can be creatures of habits, life often looks relatively similar from day to day, week to week, and year to year.

I suggest defining your rhythms—then disrupting them.

  • If you drive the same way to work, take a different road.
  • If you study the Bible the same way, try a different approach.
  • If you listen to the same type of music, tune into something entirely different.
  • If you read the same books, stretch yourself. Read out of your comfort zone.
  • If you order the same thing off the menu, venture out and try something you’ve never had.

By disrupting your rhythms, you may experience just enough to change your perspective slightly. Suddenly, you could be more sensitive to hear something new from God.

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June 14th, 2010

by Craig Groeschel

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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January 20th, 2010

by Craig Groeschel

Keeping Things In Perspective

While uneducated or cruel critics can be distracting, try to keep things in perspective. Where I live, ministers’ (or Christians’) lives are rarely in danger for being a Christian. Countless numbers of believers have suffered gravely for their faith in Christ. If all we have to do is endure a few people complaining, blogging, or writing emails, we haven’t suffered much.

Besides, when someone takes a shot at us or our churches, if their criticism isn’t true or valid, what does it really matter? If we can stand before God with integrity, it doesn’t matter what someone else says. It only matters what God thinks.

Rather than honing in on the negative, I try to remember that our battle is not against flesh and blood. Instead of being sidelined by criticism, I choose to stay in the game and fight the more important fight.

The best way to avoid criticism is to not do anything significant. That’s one reason I don’t worry a lot when we receive occasional criticism. I worry more when we don’t.

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January 19th, 2010

by Craig Groeschel

Don’t Fight Back

Some criticism of our ministries will be valid. Others will come from partially informed people who will not likely ever understand or like our philosophy of ministry.

With the explosion of online critics, it is tempting to jump into a conversation to tell your side of the story. While there might be an appropriate time, usually, defending your ministry only pours gas on the fire.

Some ministry leaders seem to lead and preach from a defensive stance. They’ll rally their crowd in support of what they are doing in the face of criticism. While this may occasionally be wise, if it becomes a habit, it will build a defensive ministry rather than an offensive one.

If you’re confident in what God has called you to do, you won’t need to spend more time defending it rather than just doing it.

I am hopeful that the people in our ministry are confident and secure in what God is calling us to do. With training, they’ll acknowledge that many won’t understand our style or philosophy of ministry. We can be okay with that.

Rather than being distracted by other battles, we’ll try to keep focused on the most important one.

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January 7th, 2010

by Craig Groeschel

One Thing to Claim

As you strive to please God in 2010…

  • What is one promise you need to claim?

Even though Samuel had anointed young David as the future King of Israel, for years it looked like it would never come to pass.

When David found himself again on the run from King Saul, he tried to find safety among the Philistines. Deciding his best play was to act crazy, he found himself awkwardly caught between a rock and a hard place.

That’s when David implied that there were many things he didn’t know. But there is one thing he did know for sure. Psalm 56:9-10 in TLB says, “This one thing I know: God is for me! I am trusting God-oh, praise his promises! I am not afraid of anything mere man can do to me! Yes, praise his promises.”

Although David didn’t know much, he knew that God was with him.

Scripture is full of God’s promises. Here are a few.

God promises:

  • To meet every need you have from his riches. (Phil 4:19)
  • You won’t be tempted beyond what you can handle. (1 Cor 10:13)
  • To forgive all your sins. (Eph. 1:7; 1 Jn. 1:9)
  • To make everything work for your good. (Rom 8:28)
  • He’d never leave you or forsake you. (Heb 13:5)
  • To be your ever present help in trouble. (Ps. 46:1)
  • To give strength to the weary and power to the weak. (Isa 40:29)
  • To guide you and give you direction. (Ps. 32:8)
  • To give you a peace that goes beyond your understanding. (Phil 4:7)
  • To give you power to defeat Satan (James 4:7)
  • Nothing would separate you from God’s love. (Rom. 8:39)
  • You are more than conquerors. (Rom. 8:37)
  • Eternal life through Christ (John 10:27-28)

What one promise (not limited to this list) do you need to claim?

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November 11th, 2009

by Craig Groeschel

Avoid Promises

When God is blessing you with more than you can handle, I’d suggest you avoid making rash promises.

I have seen many pastors make promises during the wave only to later eat their words (or be bound by a promise they wish they’d never made).

  • We’ll never do a fundraiser!
  • We’ll never borrow money!
  • We’ll be in the new building by June of next year!
  • We only hire staff from within!
  • I will always teach live and in person.

Many ministries experience the “wave” early in ministry. They might assume it will last forever. Be careful you can keep the promises you make.

Try not to make immature promises you won’t keep.

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November 10th, 2009

by Craig Groeschel

Prepare for Attacks

During a season of blessing, your staff and volunteers will be working overtime. Because the ministry is so exhilarating, your best people will gladly make huge sacrifices to be a part.

Watch out! Your spiritual enemy is roaming and looking for someone to devour.

While riding the wave:

  • You will be hiring fast.
  • You will be plugging new believers into significant roles.
  • You will be working grueling hours away from home.

At times, you might feel invincible. At other times, you’ll feel overwhelmed and scared. At all times, you must realize Satan will attack you.

Put up your guard. Have the highest level of accountability. Take time off. Rest. Listen. Pray. Reflect.

You must watch for warning signs. Too many great spiritual leaders have fallen off the wave, hurting themselves and others.

Decide you will do whatever it takes not to be another casualty. Ride the wave. But do it carefully.

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November 9th, 2009

by Craig Groeschel

Riding the Wave

I pray God blesses your ministry at some point with what some call “The Wave.”

The wave is when God seems to do more than you can handle! During the wave, your buildings aren’t big enough, you can’t hire fast enough, you’re just hanging on for life.

This week we’ll talk about how to ride the wave.

Let’s start with some basics:

  • You don’t create a spiritual wave, God does. The ride you’ll take isn’t a result of your creative ideas or masterful leadership. God will certainly use those things, but He is the One who causes and directs the spiritual progress.
  • You can work with the wave or fight against it. When God is doing something special, you’ll want to cooperate with what He is doing. I honestly believe when God starts to do something new, too many church leaders get afraid and work against what God is trying to do.
  • The wave probably won’t last forever. When God blesses you supernaturally, ride the wave. If it starts to die down, don’t try to recreate the wave. Pray for the next one and ride it when it comes.

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