Here’s my background briefly.
I’m 42 years old. I paint houses for a living. I enjoy the actual work but hate the business, I work way to much for way to little, and in the end, I no longer find fulfillment in my work. Over the last couple of years I have been feeling like I should be doing something different.
Recently, I have been listening to some podcasts that have lead me to some blogs and web sites that have really caused me to re evaluate my life, and how I spend my time.
Podcasts have changed the way I think
This is a huge development for me. In the past, I have pretty much only listened to political talk radio, a couple of bible teaching radio shows, or music on my mp3 player. After the most recent election in November 2010, I reached a point of burn out with all things political. I still hold the same political beliefs, but I no longer feel the need to listen to people talk about political maters hour after hour, day after day.
A few months ago, some friends of mine started talking about producing a podcast. Being a radio fan, and the resident audio equipment guy, this appealed to me. I started doing some research.
Now one of the things I enjoy doing is researching and learning everything that I can about a topic that interests me. This can lead to one of my weaknesses – I often won’t do something if I can’t do it properly, and I often get stuck in analysis paralysis. I will research, dream and plan, but then I don’t do anything. I believe that I have missed some amazing opportunities in my life because of this.
In October or November of last year, I found Cliff Ravenscraft’s podcast network while searching the internet for information and resources about podcastig. While Cliff’s podcasts are very informative, they were also inspirational. Cliff talks a lot about leaving a good paying job selling insurance to pursue podcasting full time. He is very open and has chronicled all of his successes and his failures along the way.
Through these podcasts, I discovered Dan Miller’s 48 days podcast , along with his books 48 Days to The Work You Love and No More Mondays. Dan talks a lot about finding your passion, pursue it, become the best at it and figure out how to make money doing it.
Through these guys I have found many other great podcasts that are now part of my daily and weekly routine. Needless to say, all of this content has inspired me to make some changes.
Over the last few years, I’ve maintained a personal blog, kind of. I post infrequently, and about way to varied of subjects. This is fine for a purely personal blog, but does not help you build a loyal readership. I love the idea of content creation, but I’m not a writer, and sometimes it is hard work to write something if I’m not excited about the subject. I often want to write about politics, but I really don’t have anything to add to the content that is produced every day, and really, I don’t desire to produce anything that could be divisive to the wide variety of people that I find myself surrounded with.
For eight years, my wife and I have been attended a wonderful church of about 100 people that was a plant from a large church 12 years ago. About a year ago, the pastors of the two churches decided that the large church excelled in evangelism and growth, but lacked the ability to disciple people and teach them to feed themselves, while our church was exactly the opposite. We had a very tight nit church that was all about discipleship and personal growth, but not good at outreach and evangelism. In the end they re-merged and today our pastor and many members of our former congregation are helping to establish a discipleship program in the larger church.
This new church is a wonderful multi-generational body of around one thousand people, but has a very disorganized and unfocused communication strategy. They’re trying to use social media and other modern forms of communication to broadcast their message, but they are not interacting with people. They have the right heart, but they are stuck in a twentieth century mindset.
I’ve had many conversations with some of the pastors (there are 8 of them) about using Facebook, Youtube and blogs to augment the Sunday service, and to bring the pastors into the congregation members’ lives. Every time I throw out an idea, I get a blank stare, and usually a comment like “I don’t have time to do the things I have to do now, how will I ever come up with the time to spend on Facebook, or blogging?” I usually respond (but not always out loud) “but your a pastor, relationship is your job, not some labor intensive task that could be outsourced or delegated.” I think they are beginning to see the value and possibilities, but the path forward seems daunting.
I’ve learned several things about myself through this experience.
I have a gift for connecting people with each other, and with services and processes that can help them. I’ve helped many of the people from our old church connect and plug in to the seemingly huge and overwhelming new church.
I am not intimidated by position or title. I have no fear of approaching a pastor and asking questions and digging into an organization to get the answer that someone needs. I’m always surprised when I run into someone who has a need of any kind, and I know that someone in the church could easily and would gladly meet the need, but they are afraid to ask anyone, or they don’t know who to ask.
I love pastors. I love that they have willingly chosen a profession that probably won’t provide the level of lifestyle that their skills and training could provide in other professions. I love the heart for hurting people that I have seen in most pastors that I have met.
hat being said, most pastors I meet are tired, stressed, and usually heavily invested in doing things the way they always have done them.
I believe that most of them are in ministry for the right reasons, but they’ve lost focus on what really drives them, and they have gotten lost in the daily grind of making an organization operate. Pastors of small churches especially, are often not only preparing Sunday’s sermon, but creating the bulletin and newsletter, making sure the sound system is working, scheduling volunteer staff, and on, and on, and on.
After reading No More Mondays and devouring every Dan Miller podcast I can get my hands on, I think that churches would be better off if their pastor could focus on his gifts and passions, and delegate the rest. Few people in a church have the heart for people, the vision for the ministry, and as much personal cost riding on the success of the ministry as the pastor.
I also believe that if they would embrace many of the new media and technologies that are available to them, they would find many more opportunities to speak into people’s lives. The tools available to us today make it so easy to see what the true needs of people are. They also make it very easy to expand on the limited teaching opportunities that are currently available.
I talk about this kind of stuff all the time. I read friend’s blog posts and immediately look at the poor formatting, and then explain to them how they could get better search rankings with just a couple of adjustments. I see a church trying to have a social presence send a nice little encouraging note via Facebook every week and end it with “there are a lot of great things going on this week, go to our web site and check it out.” What? You just had my attention. I’m looking at your message right now! At least give me a clickable link!
I see Pastors who obviously have a gift for working working with people, and the heart to go along with it, who can’t find a few minutes each day to check into the lives that they desire to effect and lead, let alone let them in on their lives.
I have have several pastors lament publicly that they can’t preach or teach the things that they really want to, because their congregation won’t stand for long sermons, or don’t want to hear the hard things. I really don’t think there is quite the resistance to good strong teaching that pastors think there is, but even so, there is a good portion of each congregation that longs for a deeper message. Guess what! New types of media makes this possible.
I don’t always know the how to implement these technologies. The technical part often holds me up, so I completely understand how a busy pastor feels, but this stuff isn’t hard to figure out. For every problem that I can’t figure out on my own, a quick Google search will lead to a video or podcast that will teach me what I need to know.
Figuring these things out is a real joy to me. I want to be able to take these obstacles that pastors face, and help them find the answer to them.
Why This Site?
This web site is my attempt to publish the results of what I learn, the observations I have about the changing and rapidly evolving trends in our society, and how they can be applied to leaders of ministries that really want to develop tools and processes to better connect with their church members.
I hope to help figure out what is really important in ministry, what are you doing every day that distracts from those things, and what tools and processes can be used to reduce the effort spent on those distractions, thus freeing up time and energy to spend on the things that really matter, and the things that we would rather do.
I really don’t enjoy writing, It is hard work for me, but I can talk about things that excite me all day long. Plus with my background of music and sound gear, I think podcasting is something I should consider.
A future business?
I listen to Dan Miller’s 48 days podcast and have become very excited about the idea of my own business, hopefully teaching pastors to implement these things. Every time I hear someone call into one of Cliff’s podcasts and say they’ve started their own podcast, or they have a consulting business like Cliff’s, or I hear Cliff say “I helped my client do __” it excites me to think about helping an overworked and overwhelmed pastor to get a handle on his work flow and communications, and spend more time ministering to people’s lives.
Moving forward, I am thinking about how to use the things listed above to develop a ministry and business helping pastors, ministries and other businesses implement new media and technologies to increase their influence and reach into their own congregation member’s lives, to increase their outreach to the “social media generation” and at the same time increase the amount of time that they have available to their families.
I realize that this won’t be quick. I need to develop consistent content on a more professional blog. Every time someone asks me a question or I find myself explaining how to do something I hope to write a blog post (or maybe record a podcast) about it.
I hope that over time, consistently creating content, along with what I learn helping the pastors at my church, will lead to an eventual business, consulting with other pastors for a graduated fee, based maybe on the size of their church (budgets usually correspond directly to church size).
I know from my painting business that pastors can be awesome marketing assets. Most of them love to brag on their church members. I pressure washed a pastor’s driveway a while back, and he tells everybody to call me. They are also very networked in the real world. They know many other pastors, business people, and other leaders. This could be a huge asset to leverage if I can bring true value to them and their ministries.