Boars In God's Vineyard

One of my favorite pastors for many years now is Chuck Swindoll. God willing, Karen and I will be going with him and a group of folks to Greece in August of this year to walk in the footsteps of Paul's missionary journeys. Anyway, he preached a message several years ago called "Boars In God's Vineyard." It was preached to a group of pastors but I believe it should be heard by every Christian - every leader - every churchman. Why? Because most church folks have NO idea the hell and havoc some people can be in a church for pastors and the pastor's families. Most church members have no idea that there are those (not many - thankfully) who make it their mission to make life hard on the pastor. And if he/she can't get to the pastor directly they will go after his family. I have seen this over and over again through the years to other pastors and their families and I have experienced it personally. This message has helped me heal over the past several weeks.

I could say a lot more but I'll let Chuck take it from here. He says what ought to be said much better than I can. As a pastor I plead to you on behalf of your pastor to give this a listen. But don't listen passively. This is too important. Satan attacks pastors and their families through these "boars." There are pastors being attacked right now - perhaps your pastor. He is hurting in ways that you perhaps cannot see. See, these boars attack the pastor and his family like one skilled in abusing. Like a father who abuses his child and hits her in places where clothes hide the wounds so that they are not visible, these abusers are skilled at keeping their slaps under wraps.

This is important to me. It is very important to me. It should be important to all of us because our churches suffer because of the hurt of a very few. One of my major regrets in ministry, not as a pastor but as a young deacon, is that I let a two boars roam free in our church. I let two men on our deacon board bully our pastor and his family. I should have protected him but I had known these men for years and respected them. On the outside - where everyone else could see - these men were loved and seen as "solid" churchmen. But they were different behind closed doors in meetings where the congregation could not see. Shame on me. Shame on our deacon board. And shame on all of us for letting the boars hurt those who heal us.

Books // Coaching // Resources

This post is mostly for my senior pastor buddies out there.

Guys, I'm in an Advanced Coaching Network with Nelson Searcy (Church Leader Insights). I can't even tell you how much I have learned after just two sessions. I'll tell you more about that in a later post but suffice it to say that if you're not in a CLI coaching network, you should be! Seriously!

Anyway, as a part of the network we are reading like crazy (not all readers are leaders but all leaders are readers). A few of the books we've read have really "messed" me up and I think you should read them too. Here goes...

"The E-Myth Manager" by Michael Gerber. This book will give pastors, especially in staff led churches, a whole new perspective on what it takes to manage others. Also, if you are a church planter, you MUST read this book. You need to hear that you are not a manager but a technician and need a team around you that includes a manager. Guys, read this book first!

"Maximize" by Nelson Searcy. Pastors, we've got to stop being wimps when it comes to money; handling it, preaching about it, and teaching our people how to steward it. This book will teach you how to develop extravagant givers in your church. BTW, next week all of our directional leaders at Rocky River Church will meet in my office to work through the Stewardship System (

"Fusion" by Nelson Searcy. Actually, you should read this book first. This book is about how to steward the people God is sending to your church. You will learn how to turn first time guests into fully committed members of your church. I would also recommend you getting a download of The Assimilation Intensive. It will CHANGE your church by next Sunday - seriously! Here's the link

Let me offer one more thing. If you are not in a coaching network, then why not? The investment is SO worth it. I have been through several coaching networks with Nelson and I'm telling you that as he grows, I grow with him and so does Rocky River Church. And to those out there who are CLI coaching alumni, you have GOT to apply for the next Advanced Coaching Network. Here's the link to CLI coaching

Remember, growing churches are led by growing leaders...period. If you are not learning you are not leading.


This Is Awkward, But Important

This is a really awkward post but I have some strong feelings about the subject and really feel like I need to share them. There are few professions that have a higher drop out rate than the ministry. I can't tell you how many pastors I have known over the last several years that have dropped out of the ministry, gotten burned out, or lost their ministry (and some their families) to an affair outside of their marriage. Some simply quit because of the constant pressure and criticism that for some reason comes with ministry. And this doesn't seem to be getting any better. I talk to pastors all the time who are barely hanging on. If something "better" (i.e., less stressful) came along they'd take it.

That's why I'm so glad that October is Pastor Appreciation month. Okay, here's where things get awkward. I hate posting this because it sounds like I'm begging for some appreciation. I promise you I'm NOT doing that at all. Really, I'm not. But I have some friends who are desperate for a pat on the back and a little bit of love. So here's what I'd like to ask of you.

If you are a part of church, take a little time this month and write your pastor a letter or send him an email. Let him know that his ministry is making a difference in your life. Maybe include a gift card to his favorite coffee shop or restaurant.

If you are a part of Rocky River Church (, the best way you can appreciate and encourage me is to love on my staff. They work so hard and they don't get as much credit for things as I do (at least they aren't really out front). Think of a nice way to say "thank you" for how they've ministered in your life. Send them out to dinner or buy them a lunch. Ask them how you can pray for them. It will mean the world to them (and to me if you will love on them).

So many pastors (and staff members) give so much and go so long without ever being thanked. October is the PERFECT opportunity to make that right.

Thanks so much.