I love preaching. I love opening a passage of scripture, expounding on it, and seeing eyes opened and hearts encouraged. The natural tendency is to make the sermon a monologue. Often this serves just fine, but I think it can be enhanced visually.
Personal Sermon Notes
Sermon outlines or notes pages can be included in bulletins or handouts that each person receives as they arrive at church. Adding visual aids in these notes can provide an additional way the congregation follows along with the sermon.
Slides accompanying the sermon
In addition to outlines for each person, slides can be used to highlight a point you are making or a scripture you are referring to.
As a visual person, I appreciate seeing slides that go beyond the text that the pastor is saying, and include relevant images or other visual aids. For example, when quoting a person, include their photo. A sermon illustration could be accompanied by a picture of what is being referenced. If you are speaking on the Lord being our shepherd you could have a picture or brief video clip of a shepherd working with his sheep.
While pictures are useful, the real thing can be even better. Some sermons make it easy to bring in a prop. An easy example could be pointing to a cross already in your church when you are preaching about Christ’s death. Communion includes props which Jesus instituted: the bread and juice. A sermon from Matthew 7:3-5 about the person with a log in their eye pointing out a speck in another’s eye would be a great time to bring in a 2 X 4 and a little sliver and visually show people the absurdity of that action. A sermon on reaching the world for Christ might be a time to bring in a large world map or globe to point out some of the least reached areas of the world.
This past Sunday I asked my wife, and she agreed, to be a model for me. I am preaching through Colossians, and we were in chapter 3 where Paul writes to the church in Colossae about how to dress as a believer. He specifically talks about “getting rid”, and “putting off”, and “stripping away” certain things. Then he twice says “clothe yourself with” something.
I had my wife put on an old T-shirt over her clothes. Then, after reading the scripture, invited people from the congregation to shout out all the things that were of the old life and were to be put off. As they listed the items from the scripture, I had preprinted words and phrases that I taped to this T-shirt. When they were all taped onto her T-shirt I reminded them that verse 5 talks about “putting to death” the things of the old life. So I picked up a pair of scissors and cut the shirt off of her and through it on the ground. That has now been put to death.
Then I had her put on a suit jacket of mine. Now we continued in the scripture and as they called out the things that we are to “clothe” ourselves with, I taped those words and phrases onto the suit jacket. Once she was wearing all the good things, I had her walk around as if she was a runway model, displaying all the things Paul was telling us to “put on”. I concluded by pointing out how Paul finishes that section by telling us to do all we do for the glory of God. The New Living Translation says we are to be good representatives of Christ in all we do. We are like a model, continually displaying what a Christian should be like. I pointed out that this was not “Dress to Impress”, but “Dress to Express”. We are to put on the things of Christ to show the world what Christ is like.
Look for ways to occasionally bring in a visual to aid your sermon. There will definitely be some who appreciate your efforts.
Every organization and every church benefits from having a clear vision describing their purpose and how they will focus their efforts. A vision helps determine if certain programs in the church will be helpful or not. If something does not help move the vision forward, then it is wasted effort or worse – detrimental to your organization or church. Develop a clear vision to give direction to all you do.
Realistically, the vision creating process takes time. Those involved need to be able to mull over different ideas in order to come up with the best ones. Most people in volunteer board/committee roles do not have the same time to commit to this process as those leading it, so we have to go slower than we think we should. It is no use pushing ahead if that means we lose people along the way. Consider those on your team and provide appropriate time and space they need to work alongside you as you lead the process.
Time and patience also are needed as we pray about the vision. Our church is currently doing 40 Days of Prayer and Fasting, with part of that time specifically focused on asking God for vision and direction for the church. This is best done over time too. Don’t think one short prayer will be enough. The more time we spend in conversation with God, the more likely we will hear clearly from Him. As we patiently take our time, we will be better off in the end.
As I work with my church to create our vision, we started with identifying three core values. This took time, too. We gathered for one six-hour session with this outcome. While there was a lot of conversation around the whole process that will continue to contribute to the vision, our end result was three core values. Since then, we had a second five-hour session where we now came up with a possible two-word mission statement. Again, there was a lot of conversation that will continue to speak into the ongoing vision discussion, but didn’t result in a finished vision.
All of that to say, it takes time, patience, and a lot of conversation to come up with a meaningful vision to give direction to the leadership team and the church as a whole.
Our next step is to share with the congregation what we have come up with so far, inviting them to speak into the process and tell us how what we have so far connects or doesn’t connect with them.
Some leaders say that good vision creating can take months if not years. My contract with them will be ending in a few months, so we are trying to get to a point where they can easily continue to build on the work being done now with the next pastor. So we are working on this with purpose, but patience. We want to keep the vision work moving along, but not rush it and miss out on important conversations along the way. Hopefully we will determine a vision with enough clarity to guide us in creating a practical strategy for how to work toward accomplishing this vision.
Take time for the important work of vision defining so that everyone knows exactly what you are committed to doing and how you will do it. Ask God to walk with you in the whole process so your end product is a vision that reveals God’s heart and resonates with the church. And then, as you begin to work out the vision, you will all be on the same page and moving ahead together.
I will be sharing a brief review of every book I read this year. Hope you enjoy and hope it encourages you to keep reading.
STARTING AGAIN WHEN YOU FEEL LIKE GIVING UP – by John F. Westfall
In Starting Again When You Feel Like Giving Up, John F. Westfall addresses the issue of feeling life has gone in such a terrible direction that it is sometimes hard to get back up. Life can be disappointing and disheartening when things go wrong and our goals are not achieved. I appreciate how, as he encourages the ones trying to get up, he addresses risk. Here are a healthy risks he thinks are worth taking. He expounds on the following:
Risk getting turned down.
Risk being misunderstood.
Risk saying, “I love you”.
Risk being yourself.
Risk not being good enough.
Risk being good enough.
Risk getting hurt.
This might be just the book if you are struggling and trying to get back up again.
My natural tendency is to be a people pleaser. I don’t feel good when someone disagrees with me. Recently I was talking with a friend who challenged a statement made by my church. It was regarding a practice of the church that we believed was scripturally accurate, but he was not willing to agree to this statement. I realized that I was trying really hard to come up with at solution so that he would be satisfied. I was trying to please him, rather than stand true to a statement we had made and believed to be biblically accurate. There was no reason for me to try to please him except that I like this guy and didn’t want to feel like there was disagreement between us.
Any leader needs to realize the value of being considerate and finding ways to get people to follow, but we cannot lead from a position of pleasing people first.
Know What You Believe.
I realized that I was a little unsure in this conversation. I was being asked to support a statement that I hadn’t given a lot of thought to. I believed it to be true, but when questioned, my first thought was to figure out how to make him happy rather than about showing him why I believed this statement.
I realized that I needed to be clear on what I believed. My job as a leader was not first to make him feel good about this statement but to show why we believed it was biblical and one worth following. Yes, I wanted him to agree – and I wanted him to feel good about it and accept it as worthwhile. But I should have begun with a desire to protect the truth of the statement rather than trying to please him.
If you know what you believe, then you know what to stand up for.
Know Why You Believe it is True.
Not only did I need to believe the statement was one that we should live by, I needed to know why. The more we understand the why of something, the easier it is to stand up for it. When there are certain expectations in our church or organization that we don’t agree with, it is hard to stand up for them. If we believe them, it may help to also know why we believe them to be worth operating by.
Sometimes the “why” can help us explain it to those who are questioning us. If I am convinced of the value of something, I will be more likely to stand up for it instead of trying to downplay it with the hope the person I am speaking with will agree with me.
Know What You Will Do if Someone Disagrees with You.
Not everyone you encounter will agree with you on certain issues. Even the people in your organization, and your friends, will not always see eye-to-eye with you on everything. What then?
Sometimes it is easier to try to please the person, and we end up being wishy-washy, always changing our minds according to whom we are talking with.
Sometimes it is easier to fight for what we believe and stand for, with the risk of losing relationships.
We need to find a way to balance, standing up for what we believe and our desire to be in a good relationship with people. Ideally, we convince our friend to agree with us, or realize they were right. And we have maintained our relationship.
Unfortunately, we will have disagreements where we cannot convince someone to change their mind and agree with us. We need to figure out how to continue to have good relationships with people who see things differently than we do. This will not always be easy. Some relationships will not continue. Even if relationships fall apart, maintain a proper love and respect for the other person. Sometimes we will not be able to maintain our integrity and our relationships at the same time. Then part in as amiable manner as possible.
We will always come across people we disagree with. Let’s ensure we stand up for what we believe even as we value the relationships we have.
We can all do a pretty good job of getting along when everything is going our way. We can enjoy time with people and think they are pretty good friends. Life is good when no one challenges me or my ideas. But what do we do when someone we thought we were on good terms with ends up on the opposite side of an issue?
The church I am presently serving is facing an issue that is fairly divisive. I won’t tell you what the issue is. You can insert your own issue as I address how we are attempting to maintain unity even as we deal with a divisive issue.
Clarify the Issue
Whatever the issue is that you as a church or organization or team are facing, make sure that you clarify the issue. We thought we had been quite clear on the issue, but we realized that even after weeks of talking about it, people were confused. Do everything you can to make sure everyone knows exactly what you are talking about.
I remember a story of three men going into business together. They had rented a building and were setting up their restaurant. And then a problem arose. One of the men started talking about where he wanted the buffet area. A second interrupted him and told him clearly that a buffet was not part of the plan. They were going to have people come to the counter to order and pick up their meals. By now the third man was getting a little agitated. “I thought this was a fish and chips place!” We have to clarify the issue, and sometimes it means talking about it again and again to get down to what the real issue is so effective communication can take place.
2. Gather Supporting Information
For us, this was a decision that would affect some of our bylaws, so we had to make sure people understood what the bylaw was that was affected by the decision we were about to make. It was an issue that we believed had spiritual connotations, so we made sure to provide documents to our membership with scripture verses and explanations of how they spoke into the question at hand. We did some historical checking to see how this situation had been handled in the past. We even contacted our denominational office to get their input.
We made sure to pray about this event. We encouraged people to pray on their own, we prayed about it in our services, and we prayed about it at leadership meetings. We prayed about it at discussion meetings we had regarding this question. We asked God to give us clarity and unity in the process.
4. Discussion Events
We hosted one formal evening of discussion on the topic. We recognized that there were people on either side of the question. Each side felt they had scriptural backing to why they believed what they believed. We determined not to enter into a debate. We did not want to set up a situation where we caused people to publicly take sides against each other. So we arranged for a time to carefully look at both sides of the issue. We invited people to speak up, but only in a positive way. No one was allowed to speak against an issue, they could only speak for their side. In this way, everyone was given opportunity to speak into the issue without it being against an individual.
As an aside, it was very encouraging to me as we ended that Discussion Evening, that many present stated their commitment to the unity of the church even if the vote did not go their way when decision time came. They were more concerned about protecting unity as one family or body, than about fighting for their point of view!
5. Make a Decision
At some point you have to decide how you will answer the question at hand. Like us, you may want to have a formal vote by the membership. You will need to decide at which level of authority in your church or organization that decision needs to be made. We encouraged our people to vote as their conscience directed after all the discussion and prayer we had. And then, whatever way the vote went, we trusted that God spoke into our situation and moved ahead according to the results of the vote.
Once a decision has been made, it is important to recognize that not everyone will agree with the decision as you move forward. Be alert to situations where people are having a hard time accepting the decision and take time to walk them as they process the results. You may need to meet with some individuals who are slow in processing the results so that you can help them move forward, encouraging them to trust God will continue to walk with us even as we trusted him to guide our decision process.
May God guide you with divisive issues you face. Too often, we become so closely tied to the issue that we would rather cause disunity than lose out on a vote. May God guide you and help you maintain unity as you too work through issues that could divide.
I would love to hear how you have worked through divisive issues and what worked for you. Let me know. Comment or email me.
I usually write about leadership or spiritual issues. I also do book reviews on books I have read. Today is different – I will give you part of the introduction to a book I recently published. Here it is.
CRAFTING A WORSHIP EXPERIENCE
It is possible to create worship services that your church will hate to miss. Every week pastors and church leaders around the world prepare for the Main Event at their church, hoping it will impact their congregation in some way. Whatever it is called locally, and whatever day it takes place, every church has a Main Event where the whole congregation comes together to worship Jesus and to encourage each other. This is often the key means through which a church disciples their people. Most have other programs as well, but this is the one event that most people attend and engage with. We need to make it the best event it can be. I believe this requires creativity to help the congregation feel more involved and connected to what happens during the service. Churches need to find ways of making their Main Event less of a performance and more of an experience.
Each church has their own expression of worship. These vary greatly from one church to another. Each church has a certain expectation of what will take place and how it will be done. Some are quite somber; some are extremely exuberant. Some are very strict about the time; others are very flexible. Some have a clearly laid out agenda that rarely changes, while others change formats frequently. Some churches have services that are fine-tuned performances, where everything is practiced or even performed by professionals, and the agenda is planned out to the precise minute. In other churches, the agenda is loosely put together. They may start late and run late, but no one minds. In others, congregations have expectations of when the service has to conclude. In one church I served there was an older couple who just got up and walked out at 12:00, whether the service was done or not.
Though much of a service varies from church to church, most churches share some common characteristics when it comes to their Main Event. Typically, the experience of the congregation is more like that of an audience with very little participation. The congregation is invited to sing along with the worship songs, or maybe participate in responsive readings or prayers when prompted, but in many cases the congregation does little more than sit and watch the performance at the front.
When I was a young pastor in the 90’s, the big push was to have “seeker sensitive” worship services, and it was very effective for some. Seeker services often were designed and performed with a high level of excellence. Some churches hired professional musicians. Others made sure they had only the best speakers. The seeker service was something that people attended to enjoy, a little like going to the opera or even a sporting event, where the audience is there to watch, and maybe cheer occasionally. They may be invited to sing along to some songs but not many, as the emphasis was more on a great performance, than on participatory worship. This was appropriate for the time as there were still many people who had a bit of a church background and were just looking for something “better,” or more “real.” They were truly “seeking.” While many people came to know Jesus through this style of worship service, times have changed where people are looking for an experience and not just a performance.
I believe the time has come for us to move to a more experiential worship event. Churches need to find ways to invite people to participate in the worship service. This may mean including more volunteers in the actual creation and leadership of the event instead of just staff, or it may mean finding ways to invite the congregation to participate more during the event.
Those who are entrusted with the task of creating meaningful worship experiences need to realize that the next generation wants to be more involved in the service. Gary Collins, shares some research about the values of the younger emerging generation, and I believe what he says has great impact for churches and pastors as they craft the weekly Main Event in a way that will reach the next generation. Here are a few of his key concepts to consider:
Values and experiences are more important than vision casting and reaching goals;
Images and stories are more valued than words and facts;
Active participation and ownership are preferred over passive submission to authority and professional expertise; and
It is time to evaluate why we create our worship services the way we do. It is time we determine to find ways of inviting people to enter into the whole worship experience from start to finish. Young people are less impressed with excellence than previous generations were. They would rather see authenticity and be invited to participate in the experience. I want to help you create participatory and multisensory worship experiences.
If you are looking for ways to invite your congregation into an experience every worship service, then you are in the right place. This book will encourage you to create your service in such a way that those in attendance feel they are part of what is going on instead of watching a performance. Each chapter will look at one specific aspect of a worship service. We will look at how to invite more participation where those in attendance are invited to an experience they can engage with.
When I arrived as a new pastor at one church, I discovered that the church had used the same general service agenda for the last five years with little or no change. I, personally, have a hard time with that. While there may be something comforting about knowing exactly what to expect and when, I love to be creative, and as their pastor, wanted to give them some variety. This desire to be creative impacts my leadership style so much so, that at a different church, a senior commented, “Andy, I never know what to expect when I show up on Sunday.” He meant it as a compliment. He liked the variety. It wasn’t that every Sunday was extremely different, but no two Sundays were the same. I changed the order of service most Sundays. Sometimes the sermon would be earlier in the service, or we would change the number of worship songs. My goal was to allow the theme of the sermon to guide how best to create each service. The idea was to craft each Sunday’s service around a specific text and theme, and to communicate that theme in creative and interactive ways.
I remember taking our two daughters to a creative and interactive experience when they were young; it was a football game. The team ownership had realized that even a football game had to have a larger experience. Our girls were thrilled to watch the mascot. If you were fortunate, you could catch one of the plush footballs they threw up into the stands when the team scored. Cheerleaders were dancing and jumping, some being thrown in the air. Young men and women were running up and down the stairs offering all kinds of drinks, food, and candy. This was an experience beyond just the football game. If you were not a true fan and were just there with family members who were, you could still have an enjoyable experience…
I was shocked when I attended church this Sunday. I get an occasional Sunday off so I get to take in a service at a church I am not leading. It was a great Sunday with good worship, and the commissioning of a new Lead Pastor. But one thing was missing: the offering. There was no offering received as part of the service. There may have been some information regarding giving on the slide announcements that were playing prior to the service, but I didn’t notice them. On the way out I did notice that there was a “giving station” on the wall. There may have been a few. I don’t know what you would do at the station but it must have been a way to give financially to the church.
Now, you may be wondering why I was shocked, and why I would make such a big deal about this. Here’s why.
First, I know that the church is struggling financially, and had to let a few staff members to in recent months because they couldn’t afford them.
Second, giving of our tithes and offerings to God and the work of his kingdom on earth is part of what following Jesus looks like. It is part of discipleship.
Third, if we want people to do something, we need to make it as easy as possible. Do you want to have your congregation learn how to give back to God, trusting Him to provide all their needs with the remaining money they still have? Then make it easy for them to do so.
We need to make it easy for people to do what we want them to do, whether we are leading an organization or leading a church. Whatever you want your team to do, make it clear and easy to do.
As we entered 2023, I encouraged our church to read the Bible, every day. In fact, I encouraged them to read the whole Bible this year. I printed four different Bible Reading Guides that followed different reading strategies from reading straight through the Bible from beginning to end or jumping around to different topics. I was hoping that at least one of these methods may appeal to people who had never read the whole Bible. Each Guide was a different color, and we included a lengthy description of each guide in the Sunday bulletin, with descriptions in the color of the Guide. I announced that these Guides were available, for four weeks in a row, continually reminding the congregation to choose their plan and begin reading. We placed the guides in a display at the information table everyone walks by every Sunday, making it easy to grab one on the way in to the service or on the way out. We did everything we could to make it as easy for people to choose a reading plan as possible.
As for the way we take up the offering, we do a few things to make it simple and clear how and why we do it. We have a clear step by step direction in the bulletin as to the various ways people can give, including online and in person in the service. We place offering envelopes on the chairs so when people come in for the service, not only is it easy to find an envelope to put their offering in, by prominently displaying these envelopes, it is a reminder that we value their financial gifts to the church. We always include a time in the service when we pass a basket and invite members to drop their financial gift in the basket as it goes by. Just before we pass the basket, we take a moment to talk about why we give and how we do it, thanking everyone for their faithful and willing giving. We pray, inviting God to bless the offering for His work. The whole process doesn’t take long, but it shows we value that part of discipleship and want to include it in our worship service.
As you consider an aspect of your organization or church where you want people to take a certain action, think about how to make it as simple as possible. Explain the purpose and instructions for the activity in multiple ways so it is accessible, and provide materials and time to complete the task. If you want people to fill in a certain form, begin by clearly explaining what is expected in an accessible medium. It may be a public announcement, an email, or text, or even a phone call. It may be a combination of these along with a clear statement explaining each step. Along with the direction, provide a designated time and deadline for completing the task. For example, if it is an evaluation of an event, give the participants time right after the event, or a few minutes the next office day after the event. Make sure that everyone has access to the correct form in a format that is as easy to access as possible – providing each person their own copy (and even a pen) is the most effective for ensuring they will complete it. Do whatever you can to make completing the desired task easy to do.
We all have expectations of our congregation or our team. Let’s do the work to make sure that it is as simple as possible for them to meet your expectations.
I love to work on vision. I’m a dreamer. It’s not hard for me to come up with new ideas, and I do it often. Not everyone has that mindset. I also think quickly and I realize not everyone does. In my present role, I work with a different church each year, and lead them through a process of vision setting. This means I’m engaging with a wider range of individuals, some who are excited about and comfortable with working on vision setting, and some who are not.
Here’s the big question: how can you make sure that everyone is able to fully engage in the process of setting vision for your church or organization?
Follow a written plan.
When you lead a team through the process of setting vision for your organization, make sure you first identify a written plan. Whether you use something developed by another, or like me, pick and choose exercises from a variety of sources, make sure that everyone has access to the plan before starting the process. Then each person – not just the leaders – can see where the process is heading.
I provide everyone with a booklet they can follow. One of my team has a difficulty hearing, so the booklet helps him know where we are even when he misses some of what is said in the discussion.
In addition to the overall plan document, for each meeting, I also provide a clear agenda, complete with breaks, and times listed for each exercise so everyone can see if we are falling behind. I try to be a little flexible with the time, and even skip some pages in the workbook if we are running behind schedule. The participants can check those out later if they want.
I like to do more than just a question-and-answer format. Some of the exercises I like to use for vision setting sessions are multiple choice or circle the best answer. Some are fill in the blank. I provide examples from other organizations that can spark ideas. I do a little leading but prefer to get the team to do most of the talking, especially since I am the consultant and will not be with the church as they move to implement the plan. My job is to make sure they can arrive at a common vision that is truly theirs. This means that I invite a lot of discussion. I do some work on a white board when trying to bring their ideas together so everyone can see any common threads. I even included a few colour charts to help visualize some exercises. I also like to add a few cartoons! Make sure to include times where people can get up and move around a bit. Sitting for too long will slow people’s thought processes down.
When leading a vision process, go slower than you think you should. There are always a few who think slowly and need time to think about things. Some ideas may be brand new and might need some mulling over. Some participants will read and process the directions for the next exercise slower so you can’t rush the process. Too much information too fast will not work. Instead, give time to process to keep everyone’s thinking clear.
I have found that it is helpful to present exercises that to get the team to see the present reality and the future possibilities from a number of different angles.
As I recently led our team through a visioning process, it was interesting to see some of the same ideas coming up throughout the session, and ideas coming up later that built on what was previously discussed. As these topics came up multiple times, it resulted in more clarity.
Highlight Recurring Themes
When you are working through a vision process, note these recurring ideas so that everyone is aware of them. It’s obvious that these are the themes that will be a major contributor to the final vision statement and vision picture. Listen to how their answers to different questions tie together and form a common theme. As the leader of the session, you are in position to observe these connections and identify them for the group.
Listen to God
In the recent process I led, there were a few times where we just stopped and prayed, both talking to God and listening to Him as well. There were a few times where different members of the team felt God was saying something we needed to pay attention to. When there were others that concurred, we took those thoughts seriously and integrated them into the values and vision that were taking shape.
It was very encouraging to me to see our team fully engaged through a 6-hour vision marathon! Everyone contributed to the conversation and was involved in the process right from the beginning to the end.
What are some ways you have found helpful to keep people engaged in process of developing a vision or strategy?
THE BIG PICTURE FOR SMALLER CHURCHES – by John Benton
John Benton writes as the pastor of a small church, encouraging small churches that they can “thrive and survive as a small congregation”. He describes how there are certain things that can really discourage small churches while at the same time pointing out the benefits of small congregations in impacting people’s lives. He suggests there are five things that small churches can excel at, and if they do, they will have meaningful ministry:
And then he concludes with some ideas on how to fight discouragement in small churches. You will be encouraged to value your small church and make it the best small church it can be.
This is going to be a busy week for me. It is jam-packed with responsibilities and deadlines. I will be attending a funeral in another province, which will take about three days including travel. On the way home I need to make arrangements to pick up a car my daughter bought from an online auction. Then in the four days remaining this week I will preach at a Christian School chapel, plan and lead an Elders Board meeting at the church. Saturday I am to lead the Elders and their wives through a 6-hour Visioning Retreat. On Sunday I am beginning a sermon series in Colossians as well as leading the church in a communion celebration. Besides that, I already have one coffee meeting and a Men’s breakfast. And this list doesn’t include those little interruptions that come up regularly, or the fact that I am also writing a blog and posting another this morning.
So how do we handle the busy times of life?
Use the slower times to prepare and plan ahead
My weeks are not always this full. I hope yours aren’t either. So when you have a little more time on your hands, think ahead. I usually plan my sermon series weeks if not months in advance. I often take time at the beginning of the year to plan a whole year of sermons, figuring out when to preach certain topics or themes or books of the Bible.
I have already been working on the Colossians sermon series so I have a pretty good idea of how I will introduce the series on Sunday. It’s not completed, but it shouldn’t take too much more time to finish my introduction sermon.
I have known I was speaking in chapel for about eight weeks. I have a sermon I preached a few weeks ago that I think will adapt well for this purpose. I need to adjust the sermon to make it interesting and applicable to 5- 15 year olds, but at least I have an idea of what I will be doing.
So when you have slower times, think ahead. Plan what you will be doing in the future. The more you think ahead, the more likely you will have at least some of the work done for the events of those busy seasons.
Use your experience to help you in the busy times
I have had little time to specifically focus on the Vision Retreat I lead on Saturday. Fortunately, I have experience leading similar events. I have old files of other vision processes I have led and can adapt those to specific needs of this church, giving me a great starting point.
I heard of one pastor who threw away every sermon he preached. He wanted each sermon to be fresh and not a repeat of something before. While I appreciate the desire to be fresh for each teaching, there is great benefit in having old files to go to when you need to work on something you have already done at some point earlier in your life. Use your experience. Build on it. Don’t waste it by throwing it all away.
We love the story of Jesus multiplying the loaves and fishes. He prays and the little boy’s lunch becomes a buffet for a crowd! Some of us have stories of God multiplying meals we have served when we did not think we would have enough.
In the same manner, why not pray and ask God to multiply your time? Ask God to stretch out your time so you will have adequate time to do what is required in your busy seasons. Or alternately, ask God to help you work more efficiently and accomplish more than you usually do in a certain period of time. Ask God to stretch your time and abilities to you can do your best, even in busy times.
Sometimes in busy times we cause more problems for ourselves by getting caught up in all that needs to be done rather than focusing on one thing at a time. I don’t have to do the Visioning Retreat until Saturday, so I should focus on the other events that I need to prepare first. Work on one deadline at a time.
Focus in on one thing at a time so you can give it your best. Ask God to help you with your focus. He can help you work on one thing at a time rather than being overwhelmed with everything at once.
Do your best in the time you have
If you are good at what you do, you will want to do your best with your responsibilities. That is a good thing. But sometimes we have to let go of perfection and just do our best with the time and energy we have. This is not an excuse to do a poor job or not put in the effort, but there are times when our plate is just too full for us to make everything perfect. Do your best all the time, but also be realistic about the time you have.
Busy weeks will happen. Sometimes you will have multiple deadlines to meet at the same time. Ask God to help you and do the best you can, working on one thing at a time.