Accomplishing More by Slowing Down
Slowing down is difficult. For me, it actually seems counterintuitive because I often get praised for thinking well on my feet and accomplishing much in my ministry. However, I’ve realized that some of my most difficult conflicts came primarily because I’ve refused to slow down. Here are a few tips that will help you slow down—and accomplish more in the long run.
- Make sure your agenda is truly God’s program.
– Do everything in prayer (Phil. 4:6). It’s amazing how a seemingly mundane and simple thing you didn’t pray for can morph into an issue.
– Is your plan a matter of your personal agenda that you’re going to get in a twist over if it doesn’t go your way?
– Create a daily agenda, and give permission to those close to you to clue you in if plans seem too personal.
– Practice what you preach through being patient and content with God’s sovereignty over the timing and details of your ministry plans and dreams.
- Allow time for others to catch up with you.
– It proves that you care about their interests and input (Phil. 2:4).
– Others will gain a broader sense of ownership and involvement.
– As a leader, you must cast vision, but realize that you are usually miles ahead of others in your thinking, planning, and understanding.
– Although using a team/synergistic approach (as opposed to “me” alone) takes longer, the gains in creativity, wisdom, unity, and safety are well worth the time.
- Carefully measure your words.
– Your well-thought-out and well-constructed proposal, word of counsel, or sermon statement will go miles, as opposed to the sloppy ad-lib. Avoid speaking too quickly to an issue, especially when you feel under pressure.
– Do your words square with Jesus’ character and the Word? Your words need to be aligned, because as a ministry leader, you are held to a higher standard. In some cases, you never recover from words not fitly spoken (Prov. 25:9, 10). Make sure they are “acceptable” (Psalm 19:14), and you’ll have fewer regrets.
– Don’t forget about those non-verbal factors (facial expressions, gestures, posture, etc.). You communicate more than you realize—sometimes, unfortunately, negatively.
– In those embarrassing times when you blow it, be quick to humbly ask for forgiveness and give assurance that you will alter your behavior in the future.
- Love those who disagree with you.
– Take time to review the things you have in common with the person who disagrees with you, rather than focusing on the issue of disagreement. Remember that your real battle is elsewhere, not with one another!
– Recognize that disagreement doesn’t automatically mean that the relationship is adversarial, so keep your thoughts and emotions in control. Your thoughts will either be “into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5), or they will captivate you!
– When there is no clear Biblical principle to guide you in a decision or conflict, follow the principles of behavior you do know, search for creative solutions together, and attack the problem at hand rather than each other.
Pastor Dan Pugh
Montrose Baptist Church
Good Books on Church Outreach
Be intentional in outreach! Take the time to strategize your approach to impacting your community with the gospel. Plenty of good books are available on evangelism and discipleship, but these are ones I’ve found most beneficial.
Becoming a Contagious Church by Mark Mittelberg (Zondervan)
In this abbreviated version of his earlier book, Building a Contagious Church, the author lays out a “6-stage process” for implementing evangelism strategies in a local church. In my view, this is a must-have resource for churches serious about outreach.
A Heart for the Community by John Fuder and Noel Castellanos, eds. (Moody)
Here is a newer volume about unleashing churches to serve their communities and communicate the gospel. Compassion ministries are so important these days because they can lay the necessary foundation for opportunities to more specifically share the gospel itself. This book presents models for both urban and suburban outreach ministry.
Surprising Insights from the Unchurched and Proven Ways to Reach Them by Thom S. Rainer (Zondervan)
My favorite book of Rainer’s. It covers plenty of church outreach topics, including visitor sensitivity, preaching philosophy, leadership example, and doctrinal commitment, and gives support information with dozens of helpful charts and graphs.
The Complete Evangelism Guidebook by Scott Dawson, ed. (Baker)
This book addresses a broad scope of evangelism topics with a special emphasis on targeting specific people groups in a community, such as types of religious groups, ethnic backgrounds, and vocational commitments. This guidebook—a valuable apologetics text—is comprehensive, with 70 chapters written by nearly 60 authors!
Beyond the First Visit by Gary McIntosh (Baker)
A number of books have recently become available on assimilation strategies. This one is concise and readable. It contains practical ideas on welcoming visitors and encouraging them toward greater involvement in the church.
Telling the Truth by D. A. Carson, ed. (Zondervan)
Want an outreach book with Biblical depth? Then pick up this one, which addresses an outreach philosophy and strategy targeting postmoderns. It addresses doctrinal foundations and provides plenty of practical how-tos.
GARBC Associate National Representative