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Are you looking for practical ministry help to drive your ministry further ... faster?

Have a sinking feeling that your ministry training didn't prepare you for the real world?

Hey ... you're not alone! Join thousands of others in pursuit of stuff they wish they taught in seminary.

Published every Thursday the goal of the unSeminary podcast is to be an encouragement to Pastors and Church Leaders with practical help you can apply to your ministry right away.

unSeminary Podcast Rich Birch

    • Christentum

Are you looking for practical ministry help to drive your ministry further ... faster?

Have a sinking feeling that your ministry training didn't prepare you for the real world?

Hey ... you're not alone! Join thousands of others in pursuit of stuff they wish they taught in seminary.

Published every Thursday the goal of the unSeminary podcast is to be an encouragement to Pastors and Church Leaders with practical help you can apply to your ministry right away.

    Insights into Thriving Relationships Between Elders & Senior Church Leaders with Ben Cachiaras

    Insights into Thriving Relationships Between Elders & Senior Church Leaders with Ben Cachiaras

    Thanks for joining us for this week’s unSeminary podcast. This week we’re talking with Ben Cachiaras, lead pastor of Mountain Christian Church. Mountain Christian Church was founded back in 1824 and currently has four campuses in Maryland.

    Ben is with us today to talk about how to foster thriving relationships between the elders and the senior staff at your church.

    * Theology of eldership. // The sad reality about many relationships between elders and senior church leaders is that they can be antagonistic. Navigating the challenges of this relationship are vitally important because the mission of the church is at stake, and so is the health of the pastor. Where does one begin in taking steps toward unity and strong, healthy relationships? First ask what is the theology of eldership at your church. Are the biblical descriptions checklists, or descriptions of the kind of elders you’re looking for? Why or why aren’t they important to your church?* Ask important questions. // Mountain Christian Church has a high view of eldership. Among some of the qualities and characteristics they look at are: someone who has mission of the church at stake, someone who is a person of character and competency. Would they have chemistry with the other people on the team, and are they ready for the commitment? What does their stewardship and contribution at church look like? Lastly, do they have a Christ-centered home? Developing elders is part of the leadership pipeline at Mountain Christian; these individuals are already serving and demonstrating leadership and MCC seeks to help them rise to their next level.* Develop a year-round process to find and create elders. // Some years ago Ben began this leadership pipeline process for elders by inviting some people to talk with him and two existing elders about developing their skills and leadership in the church. This led to a 13-week period of development where they met and studied scripture, holiness, character, and skills such as how to develop a team and cast vision. Now there is a booklet and curriculum developed to walk people through everything from their gifting and personality tests to spiritual disciplines and leadership skills. This leadership pipeline has become a great source for discovering future elders.* Relationally connect. // Teams that are relationally connected lead better. The elders need to be in deep relationship with Christ and bring their strengths to the table. And Ben and his elder team care about each other and know what is going on in each other’s lives. When the elders are taking their walk with Christ seriously and their relationship with each other seriously, they can lead the church better. * Meet regularly. // At Mountain Christian there are regular meetings to nurture these relationships. During monthly business meetings they examine high level metrics and trends at the church together. There are also monthly study meetings in which they talk about non-business things. This might include reading and discussing a book together as well as meeting over a meal at someone’s house and spending time in prayer. Lastly, go on offsite retreats annually. MCC uses this time not only to build camaraderie but also to prepare for new challenges. Sometimes it’s just the elders attending the retreats and other times their spouses come along too.* Trust each other. // The role of elders is vitally important at a church. But in order for their role to be effective, there must be trust between the pastor and elders. Elders need an instinct not to control everything, but rather function at a higher level to protect the church. On the other side, if the lead pastor is defensive about questions he’s asked, that’s a big yellow flag. Create a culture that validates the relational component of eldership and makes time for it. When you have a team

    • 37 Min.
    5 Keys to Leveraging Interviews to Build Strong Church Teams

    5 Keys to Leveraging Interviews to Build Strong Church Teams

    “None of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful.”Mother Teresa

    Have you ever had to let a team member go because of a performance issue? Without a shadow of doubt, it’s a horrible feeling. 

    I know there are macho leaders out there who may say things like “hire slow, fire fast” as if letting people go from a church is no big deal. 

    However, let me say this in no uncertain terms. It’s a big deal. 

    It’s painful on so many fronts. The person you are letting go feels a pervasive sense of intense disappointment. If that wasn’t bad enough, the relationships that the person has formed in the end up being strained. You have an internal sense of doubt about your decision. Furthermore, it costs the church a tremendous amount of time, effort, and energy. 

    If you haven’t had a chance to do that yet, consider yourself fortunate! It’s not something I’d wish on anyone. 

    The best way to avoid firing someone is by not hiring them in the first place. 

    Leveraging your face-to-face time with candidates is a critical step in building the sort of team that you need to drive the long-term mission of your church forward. Here are five keys to leveraging your interview process in order to ensure that you’re finding the team you need! 

    NOTE: As with anything around hiring and human resources, make sure to consult your local laws so as to ensure you are operating in the best practices! 

    Get Them to Relax

    One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received about interviews is that you have to get people to relax. 

    When people are nervous, it is very difficult to get a real sense of who they are. At best, they are tight-lipped, and you can’t gauge what it’s going to be like to work with them. At worst, they turn out to be a chameleon and just pretend to be whomever it is that you need to hire. Go out of your way to ensure that people who are in the process of being interviewed are relaxed and comfortable, and you are way more likely to get a true sense of who they are. 

    7 Ways to Help People Relax During an Interview

    * Don’t make them wait // Sweating it out and waiting for the interview to start will just exacerbate the tension. They will arrive early (most likely), so you may want to be ready early and articulate that you’re glad they are with you! * Get them laughing // Crack a few jokes at the front end of the conversation in order to put them ease. Even a good “dad joke” or two can go a long way in helping someone get in the right frame of mind.* Offer them coffee // A hit of caffeine to the brain will help people relax and act closer to normal. * Find common ground // Look over their resume and find common points in your background. This will reduce the “power structure” that tends to get amplified in the interview by assuring them that you come from the same background. * Choose the location wisely // Don’t sit across the desk from them. Instead, sit side by side in some causal seating. Work hard to reduce the barriers between you and the candidate. * Go for a walk // If it’s possible, get moving during the interview. Even a quick stroll around the building will help diffuse the inherent tension in the conversation. 

    Use Performance-Based Questions

    Compelling interviews should primarily be based on performance-based questions that look at what the candidate has done,

    • 12 Min.
    Church Mergers, Adoptions & Rebirths Advice from Eric Rojas

    Church Mergers, Adoptions & Rebirths Advice from Eric Rojas

    Welcome back to the unSeminary podcast. Today we’re chatting with Eric Rojas, Executive Pastor of Rolling Hills Church in Nashville, Tennessee.

    Rolling Hills was started in 2003 and currently has four campuses in the Nashville area. As they’ve grown and gone multisite, they’ve developed a heart for church revitalization and partnering with struggling churches in the area. Eric is with us today to talk about why he has a heart for merging with other churches, and what to look for when considering a church adoption or rebirth.

    * Consider a church merger. // 6,000-10,000 churches in America are closing their doors each year. These are places that were dedicated for Gospel work and zoned for worship. As a church grows and considers either going multisite or planting other churches, considering merging with a declining church can help them keep their doors open for their intended purpose. When considering a new area for a campus, Rolling Hills Church begins by looking at the community they are interested in and trying to find a church they can connect with.* Network within the community. // As Rolling Hills explores a new area for a campus, their first priority is to serve that community and have a first impression of service. Through outreach initiatives, they start making contacts and networking which allows them to get the word out about a campus coming to the area. Sometimes out of these networking opportunities a relationship develops; they hear about a church that might be without a pastor, or looking to sell or close. * Be proactive. // At other times Eric will make cold calls to existing churches in a community to gauge the interest in a church merger. Being proactive in this way has opened the door to numerous conversations with church’s leadership. Out of the three church adoptions that Rolling Hills has been involved in, all three of the churches initially had a negative response, but were willing to have a series of conversations, allow the Holy Spirit to work, see what Rolling Hills was all about, and eventually move to a merger relationship.* Understand and honor the church. // Many struggling churches may view churches that approach them as a ‘machine’ that wants to take them over and wipe out who they are. Approach merger conversations with compassion and care, looking for ways to honor a church’s history. Allow them to understand who you are as a pastor and a church so they see your heart. Consider bringing on their staff if you decide to merge.* Look for a rebirth opportunity. // The first step in the adoption process is to look for a church that’s ready for a rebirth. Churches may have tried several things already to save themselves, for example hiring a younger pastor or running Facebook ads, but without success. Look for a church that knows they can’t keep doing things the way they are currently. The senior pastor needs to be open to merging and have a willingness and humility in order to move forward. The two churches don’t have to be a perfect style and strategy fit, but they have to be in the same ballpark. Theology also needs to align between the churches. Be aware of any debt a church might have and if you can handle that debt if you were to merge.* Check for bylaws. // There are some churches that can’t join another church because of their bylaws. It can be easier for a merger with independent churches or ones that are part of a denomination that has autonomy in the local church. If the church is part of a denomination, determine if it is owned centrally by the denomination, or by the local church. It’s difficult to merge with churches that are owned centrally, but it may be possible to cut the ties. Be aware that this can be a longer process though.

    You can reach Eric on Twitter at a rel="noreferrer noopener" aria-label=" (opens in a new t...

    • 29 Min.
    Insider View of the XP Role at a Fast Growing Church with Steve Smith

    Insider View of the XP Role at a Fast Growing Church with Steve Smith

    Welcome to the unSeminary podcast. I’m excited to have Steve Smith, Executive Pastor of High Point Church in Chicago, with us today.

    As High Point Church grew and multiplied, it had to make some key shifts to the way it was structured. Listen in as Steve shares about some of the hurdles that came up as the church grew, as well as what the shifting to a multisite church has looked like.

    * Recognize hurdles. // As High Point Church has grown, one of the key lessons the staff has learned is that there are many different ways to do church and reach people in a community. Where is God leading your church? For High Point this looked like scaling up and preparing to go multisite, so one of the first things they needed to address was the staffing, staff structure and the leadership of the staff in order to scale. Looking back Steve notes that it’s easy to idealize what has happened and overlook the hurdles that have come. But the reality is that it took a lot of work to get repositioned and reorganized for future scaling. High Point started with multiplying groups, leaders and ministries, and then moved to multiplying campuses and churches.* Four team structures. // Larry Osborne talks about four different staff team structures: the track star, golfing buddies, basketball team, and football team. The ‘track star’ mentality wants to just get out there and run as fast as you can to make wins for the kingdom. This structure works when a church is young and doesn’t really have a staff. As the church grows, you hire your first few staff which often are a group of friends, your ‘golfing buddies’. As time goes on there’s a shift to a ‘basketball team’ mentality where the staff grows but the team can interchangeably play each other’s positions a bit. You may be watching from the bench, but you still know what each team member is doing. When a staff grows even larger, it shifts to a ‘football team’ structure where there are a lot of different groups on and off the field and you aren’t seeing everything that’s going on in the church. None of these team structures are better or worse than another, but rather these are a picture of the shift from a generalist position to specialist position in a certain area. Identify where your church’s staff structure is and what you are called to move to. Not every staff member will feel they are right for certain team structures.* Different multisite strategies. // As High Point scaled up staff structures to support multiplication, they were then faced with different strategies of going multisite. In one case this looked like starting from scratch, developing a core group and sending them out to launch a campus. But in other cases declining or stuck churches reached out to talk about merging. Whether you pursue an organic launch or a church revitalization, there are opportunities in both.* Alignment in mission. // Receiving a phone call from another church interested in merging can sound like a great opportunity, but Steve recommends caution in moving forward. First check whether you are aligned in motive and mission. Some churches may have just have lost their vision, or lost some leadership and don’t know what their next step is. There is opportunity to come together and relaunch with them. Other churches may not really understand or want the sort of changes that a merger will bring. On the backend, once you commit you will all have to do life and ministry together. Be sure that you’re unified in mission and vision. Bringing in a neutral third party can be helpful during merger conversations. Third parties can help determine if each church understands what the other is saying.

    You can learn more about High Point Church at a href="https://www.highpoint.church/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopene...

    • 30 Min.
    Lessons for Your Church from Retail Loyalty Programs with Joel Percy

    Lessons for Your Church from Retail Loyalty Programs with Joel Percy

    Welcome back to the unSeminary podcast. We’re chatting with Joel Percy today who is a consultant helping retailers in the area of personalization and loyalty. Listen in as we learn from him about receiving feedback, personalization and how you can use these strategies to help people take their right next step at your church.

    * Focus on impressions. // Retail stores and churches both deal with the issue of how to bring people back after their initial experience there. The advancements in technology now allows the processing of data on a huge scale so retailers can be highly specific when targeting people in marketing. But some retailers will use this info to try to push customers toward buying things they don’t really want. The same can be said for our churches. Churches want to mobilize people for their mission and can inadvertently put intense emotional pressure on people who feel we’re like salesmen pushing them to do something they don’t want to do. For example, putting all the focus on just getting people to volunteer can make the ones who have had a rough week or too much on their plates already feel that they’re being pressured into doing more. Be aware of how you’re coming off to others – are they feeling pressured to participate, or invited to join you? It’s important that we have ways of collecting data at our churches that allow us to see what people are really interested in and then serve them accordingly. * Focus on listening. // Announce that you’ll be collecting feedback from the people attending your church in order to better listen to them. Some ways to do this may be through online surveys or focus groups. But however you choose to receive feedback, the spirit of it has to be genuine. You need to be ready to hear things that you may not want to hear. And once you’ve received responses, see if there are items you can take action on right away. Really quick action on at least a few things where possible goes a very long way. It’s really important to listen to what people say so we receive feedback and so they feel valued, but also realize that there is a gap between what people do and their self-perception. As leadership we need to discern if there are ways where the community is saying one thing, but they may be actually driven on another level by something else.* Focus on the real situations. // Data is great, but some things can only be identified by observing in person. Pay attention to the actual situations when people who walk into your church: Where do they go? Where do they stand for a minute, confused about where to drop off their kids? Where are they trying to find a place to sit? Where is the traffic flow of the church congested? Watching people interact with your ministries and environments may help you get some interesting insights pretty quickly.* Focus on the right next step. // Good marketing is not about trying to move people three steps at a time. Ask yourself, “What is the right next step for a certain group of people?” For example, if someone attended a newcomer’s class last week, maybe it’s not the right time for them to be included on the radical giving campaign email the next week. Based on the data you’ve collected, figure out what’s a good reasonable next step for different people. Then focus on helping them take that one, simple step.* Focus on expertise. // There are probably industry experts and marketplace leaders in your church that you could learn from in a variety of areas. The majority of them would probably be happy to talk with you about insights and ideas, so focus on the areas they have expertise in and ask them for help.

    Thank You for Tuning In!

    There are a lot of podcasts you could be tuning into today, but you chose unSeminary, and I’m grateful for that.

    • 31 Min.
    God’s Answer to an Increasingly Fractured World. A Conversation with Greg Holder.

    God’s Answer to an Increasingly Fractured World. A Conversation with Greg Holder.

    Thanks for joining us for the unSeminary podcast. Today we’re talking with Greg Holder. He is Lead Pastor at The Crossing in the St. Louis, Missouri area.

    The Crossing was originally planted in the early 1990s. In 1997 Greg was called out of the marketplace to pastor The Crossing, bringing the ancient truth of Scripture to light in fresh ways and calling those from an unlikely mix of spiritual backgrounds to consider what it means to follow Jesus in today’s world.

    Greg is with us today to talk about building a healthy culture and way of interacting with others for the purpose of having unity and oneness in Christ across the global Church.

    * Start within your own community. // When Greg came on as Lead Pastor at The Crossing he began to observe the trend of church leaders networking with others across the country while being hesitant to partner with church leaders in their own backyard. He noted that while there are enough people in the St. Louis metropolitan area for every church in the area to stay busy from now until Jesus returns, instead churches get competitive with each other resulting in a zero sum game in which one church “loses” if another “wins”. Greg and the staff at The Crossing wanted to see that change and began to examine the health of their church’s culture to start.* The body of Christ. // Paul uses the metaphor of all believers being a part of the body of Christ. Each part is different and valuable; what we bring to the table is important. The same holds true for churches. Each church has a unique place in God’s kingdom which should be celebrated. Furthermore, since we are all part of the body of Christ, churches have to understand and value each other because it’s God’s sovereign plan that we do the work of the gospel together.* Pay attention to culture. // As Greg and the leadership at The Crossing began to pay attention to their culture they realized that how they do things is just as important as what they choose to do. If we only pay attention to getting the important things done and don’t care about how it happens we can leave horrible messes in our wake, and that does not honor God. The Crossing became very intentional about demonstrating and teaching healthy values to their staff and attendees, helping them understand why these things matter to Jesus and why they should matter to us as well.* Be intentional about unity. // In the book of John it’s recorded that prior to His crucifixion, Jesus prayed that we as His followers would be one as Jesus was the Father are one. Greg believes this intentional prayer for unity is an incredibly important moment for us to pay attention to. This conviction led to developing a series of practical tools which the staff use to equip the people at The Crossing. Through them they show their community building blocks for how a person fosters collaboration, pushes against division, deals with things like gossip and conflict, and how they can practically work through things like forgiveness. These things are important enough that they have ultimately become mission-central at The Crossing.* God’s Answer. // In his book The Genius of One: God’s Answer for Our Fractured World Greg reminds us of the high value Jesus and his early followers placed on community and offers guidance for how to see and relate to one another in emotionally and spiritually healthy ways. In turn we, the church, can fulfill Jesus’ prayer for us and model a better way of loving one another in a fractured world.

    You can learn more about Greg and his book at www.gregholder.com. and learn more about The Crossing at a href="http://thecrossing.

    • 39 Min.


Manuel Briem ,

Great Ressource

This is my new favorite Podcast! Extremly practical and helpful!

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