Here’s the good news – no-one else has got it all sorted either! Every pastor on the planet has sat down today (I’m writing on a Monday) and thought, ‘Well this went well, and that went better than I feared, but then there’s the other, and the other and the other…’ In these days of glossy websites and oh-so-artfully taken photo shoots, it’s easy to feel cowed by other churches’ glamorous testimonies. Or just that the fact that their website loads quicker than yours.
But no-one has all their ducks in a row, all the time. If you had a perfect Sunday, wait till next week. Or, even better, if you had a perfect Sunday, recognise that you’re measuring the wrong things. You can’t put a bunch of sinners on a room for two hours and expect flawlessness. That’s not how the gospel works.
Having said that – and this is the even better news – while there is no perfect church, there are a ton of churches that are doing well in an area where you currently struggle. Someone, somewhere, has cracked the puzzle that’s causing your team long meetings and headaches. Or, if they haven’t cracked it, they’re a bit further along the path than you. They’ve come up with a plan which, with a bit of tweaking, might be what you’re looking for.
And – here’s the best news – it’s never been easier to track them down, unzip their resources, and see what works and why. Back in the day I remember poring over publishers catalogues (remember them?), and sending off international money orders (remember them?) in air mail letters (remember them?) to order cassette tapes (remember them?).
Now, a couple of clicks and you’re away. You can see inside someone’s curriculum, campaign, sermon series, and raid their sweetie shop. Cookie jar, if that makes more sense.
All of which is only useful if we commit to learn from the best. Take the time to find the people you most admire as preachers, and stalk them. Listen to everything, read everything.
And then kidnap them and interrogate them.
Well, not exactly.
But pore over their stuff, and work out how they made their preaching choices. Why they quoted, or didn’t quote; why they illustrated, or didn’t illustrate.
Don’t just listen to one – that will make you a fake. But listen to several, and become their apprentice. Learn in depth what they do.
Same with small groups. Same with children’s work. Same with how you structure the staff team – if you have one. Same with how to raise money for a building project. Those will all be done well by different churches – and it may be that a small church near you did it in a more relevant way to you, than a mega-church from another city.
It’s never been easier to learn from the best.
So, question – who are you currently learning from? Who is the master to your apprentice?