Undoubtedly, pastoral failure has surely plagued the church from the very beginning. It does seem that in our modern age there are a lot more major pastoral falls than there were in any previous time in history. Some would argue that ministerial “falls”- whether they be sexual, financial or substance abuse failings- have not really increased but are only more visible today due to the prevalence of social media and news outlets. However, the data does seem to show a steady breakdown of conduct among pastors. A 1988 poll by Leadership Magazine revealed that 23 percent of pastors admitted that after entering ministry they had done something sexually inappropriate with someone who was not their spouse. Almost 12 percent of pastors reported having committed adultery. According to the Fuller Institute of Church Growth, “37 percent of ministers have been involved in inappropriate behavior with someone who works in the church.” More conservative church members have theorized that these moral failings occur more often in congregations that are more liberal theologically. However, research has proven that this is simply not true. The increase in pastoral moral failure seems to be affecting small and large churches across the United States regardless of denomination or affiliation. Perhaps even more disturbing, is the fact that the Leadership magazine poll, found that only 4 percent of pastors who engage in sexual misconduct are ever found out. This means that most congregations whose pastor is or has engaged in some form of sexual sin will not know about it. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that churches do not often communicate with one another about the real reasons why a pastor left a certain ministry. Too many fallen ministers resist attempts to hold them accountable by fleeing to a different pastorate and most likely, falling again in a similar manner. If the reasons for the moral failure are not found out, confronted and worked through, the chances are high that the sinful behavior will reoccur. What are some of the reasons that pastors have moral failures? Here are some of the key reasons that pastors say led to their “fall”.

1.Personality Type. Most of the individuals who are drawn to vocational ministry fall into just a few personality types. Pastors tend to be outgoing, driven, people and vision oriented.The pastor’s own personality flaws may set them up for a fall.

Most of the individuals who are drawn to vocational ministry fall into just a few personality types. Pastors tend to be outgoing, driven, people and vision oriented. The pastor’s own personality flaws may set them up for a fall. Dr. Gary McIntosh and Dr. Samuel Rima, authors of Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership, outline five specific leadership pitfalls that must be guarded against- narcissism, passive aggressiveness, compulsiveness, co-dependence and paranoia. A narcissistic leader has a strong need for approval. He or she begins to see the church as an extension of themselves, believing that the church could not succeed without them. Every program of the church reflects the pastor’s personality. The passive aggressive pastor will resist any measures of success or performance due to fear of failure. They will never engage in direct confrontation, but will instead do “underhanded” things behind the scenes or use condescending, manipulative comments to get their way.The compulsive pastor has a need to control everything around him or her, including their family, the church staff and the board. They desire order and perfection, especially in appearances. The co-dependent pastor is thrown every which way trying to please everyone and meet every demand. They have trouble ever saying no or confronting anyone. The paranoid leader battles jealousy and suspicion. He or she does not trust anyone. This leader will keep meticulous tabs on “their” staff and “their” church members’ conversations and travel. Do any of these personality pitfalls seem familiar to you? Each pastor must understand their own needs, needs for appreciation, for approval or for control. Their natural charm and ability to “seduce” makes them good at working with people, recruiting and building teams. These pastors are often very caring and interested in relationships and what is going on in people’s lives. Fifty percent of pastors come from dysfunctional homes, making him or her far more likely to be a “fixer,” one who gets involved in other’s problems in an effort to “help” them. This may put the pastor at higher risk for having an affair. The first one to be seduced here is the minister themselves. One fallen pastor reflected on the time he was having an affair, “I actually had deluded myself to the point that I thought, ‘I am under unbelievable stress. I deserve this.’” His line of thinking is unfortunately not all that uncommon.

2.Poor Personal Boundaries- A pastor must place boundaries in their lives to make sure that they are not just using their congregation to get their own needs fulfilled. Many of these needs are forged in childhood and carried unconsciously into adulthood. It is strongly suggested that every minister complete a genogram, which is a map of their family of origin and compare their personality profile with that of those in their family. Only by finding out where the “fences are down” can we build up proper boundaries. Pastors are at high risk for “emmeshment” meaning there is no boundary between work and home life, and no boundary between the pastor’s self-worth and their title. Their entire life becomes “church work.”

 

3.High Expectations- Ministers may feel that they are “being put on a pedestal,” and that they are not able to keep up with the church’s expectations. Many fallen pastors blame their fall on congregation expectations being way too high. These pastors ask to be viewed as fellow human beings. It is noteworthy that pastors in the New Testament, as well as modern day China, did not become the pastor of a church merely by education alone. They became pastors by exhibiting skill and by the body of Christ (the church) acknowledging the call of God on their lives. Nevertheless, pastors were then and are still held to a higher standard as far as living standards and morals.

 

4.Unhealthy coping methods- Between 17 percent and 30 percent of pastors admit to engaging in dangerous coping methods such as alcohol or other “substances” to manage ministry stress. The dictionary defines an addiction as: “The state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.” In other words, an addiction is a habit or practice that you become so completely dependent on, that it begins to interfere with your everyday life, and you have a decreased ability to function without it. What comes to mind when we think of the stereotypical “addict” is an alcoholic, or someone who is dependent on an illegal drug such as cocaine, heroin etc. Alternatively, there are other negative coping methods for the stress of ministry, such as social withdrawal, overeating, viewing pornography, gambling, shopping, sex, television, the over consumption of alcohol, or prescription drug abuse. Of course, these coping methods can have devastating consequences for the pastor, his family and for the church. The word “addiction” actually comes from the Latin, meaning “to give over to” “to surrender to.” Addiction can start as something necessary for a time (prescription pain medications), but after too much time goes by, the brain and body literally change their chemistry, needing the drug just to “function.” Sometimes an addiction starts as a recreational or social pastime, used as a “coping mechanism” in order to deal with emotional or physical pain, stress, loss or illness. The coping mechanism releases feel good endorphins and stress releasing dopamine to counteract pain and stress. This is what the body and brain are supposed to do to get us through a brief time of “fight or flight.” However, over time, the body releases less of these pleasant hormones or simply builds up a tolerance to them. Then, the individual must have more of the substance or behavior in order to get the same relief as they did before. Addiction can become a major problem for a pastor. Pastors live in a relative state of high stress. They are at the side of those who are dying. They counsel families who are living through loss. They minister through tragedies. A pastor’s work week is never 9-5, and they certainly do not stop when they get home. They are the sounding board for those who are hurting and suffering. All of this together can be a recipe for disaster. Pastors may pride themselves on never smoking or drinking, yet go for the more acceptable addictions such as binge eating, sometimes late at night or in secret? This often leads to diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease and other medical problems. Other leaders secretly spend too much money, running up way too much credit card debt in an attempt to ease stress. When they have a major financial crash, it can impact their credibility in handling the church’s finances. The problem may be much deeper than we know, because pastors are reluctant to reach out for help until the scandal explodes publicly, which it eventually does. The devastated congregation is usually grieving and bewildered, thinking, “How could our pastor have fallen like this?” Churches must remember that pastors are human beings too who face incredible pain and stress. We often judge our Pastors more harshly than we would judge ourselves. This adds hurt upon hurt for the Pastor and his family.

Not all coping mechanisms are inherently “wrong.” The Apostle Paul said it best in 1 Corinthians 6:12 when he said, “I will not be brought under the power of anything.” Here are a few ways that are and are not appropriate for managing of the high stress of ministry, though this list is certainly not exhaustive. Some examples of unacceptable coping methods would include illegal drug use, pornography, adultery/fornication, violence, destroying things, threats, self harm, stealing, legal drug abuse, and excessive spending. Acceptable coping methods, when not taken to extremes) would include exercise, talking to a friend, taking your days off weekly, taking your vacation days, having a weekly date night with your spouse, reading a great book, having a healthy hobby, listening to music, praying, going to a counselor, going to a church service to be ministered to, gardening, journaling, eating well or hiking.

 

5.A Poor Marriage and no support structure- This of course is directly related to having poor boundaries. The overwhelming majority of pastors who have been caught having an affair, admit that they secretly also had a poor marriage and poor devotional life for sometime before the affair. A common factor in almost every case of pastoral sexual failure is the fact that there were preexisting problems in the minister’s marriage. Sometimes the pastor is aware of the problems in his or her marriage and sometimes the minister does not realize that the marriage is rocky until after the affair begins. Author Ray Carroll suggests that when a minister has an affair, usually this new lover is not their first “mistress”. The author refers to a pastor’s tendency toward workaholism, making the church work itself his or her “first mistress.” When the pastor spends upwards of 50-80+ hours a week “doing the Lord’s work,” gone many nights of the week, gone most holidays, and gone all weekends the marriage begins to suffer from neglect. The spouse feels like a single parent. Nearly all of the minister’s emotional energy is going into the church, not his or her family. The pastor is then wide open and vulnerable for a moral failure. Several studies named “loneliness” as a key factor in clergy burnout. Pastors reported not having friends or support systems or anyone outside the church to talk to. Loneliness could be due to high expectations of the congregation, or inability to be completely transparent with people in the church. Rural pastors have a unique problem with loneliness due to depopulation of rural areas, and subsequent shrinking of their church membership as jobs move overseas.

 

Bottom line is that ANY pastor can fall. Perhaps the one that is most at risk is the one who truly thinks, “It can never happen to me.” Churches and pastors need to be alert BEFORE a fall happens, to look for the above warning signs and to be willing to love someone enough to confront and to hold them accountable. Overall however, I hope to point us all to the restorative, gracious and faithful nature of God. This brings incredible hope to understand that God’s grace and compassion are available for pastors too. I want to see more of God bringing hope out of terrible situations. Whether or not a pastor has had a moral failure, the enemy, and the pastor’s own insecurities can make them feel that they have failed too much for God to ever use them again. The examples of Peter, John Mark, Abraham and David fill me with hope, that not only does God forgive and restore, the best days of ministry may yet be ahead, not in the past. Blessings and love- Trisha

In His Service,

Pastor Trisha Peach


An overwhelming majority of all new visitors to your church will make up their mind whether or not they will come back to your church within 10 minutes of their arrival. This is a scary statistic since, in just 10 minutes, a brand new visitors barely has time to see your parking lot, your welcome greeters and your…kid’s ministry check in. These new visitors haven’t even had a chance to hear your amazing worship team, or hear the clever opening to your message! In my traveling and consulting, the kid’s ministry check in-especially for brand new visitors- is often a sorely neglected area.

How can a church do better at welcoming new families to their church? I think we can all agree that the goal here is retention. You succeeded in having new people attend your church. Great job! Now, how can you invite them to come BACK? And your children’s ministry check in can be the BEST place in the whole church to get followup information on new visitors. Why? Because in our modern age of hacking, identity theft, over solicitation etc. many new visitors will not fill in the visitor cards completely that you have in the sanctuary or in your church bulletin. I can’t tell you how many we get handed in each week with just a name and no contact info. But when it comes to our children, most parents will complete the check in information clearly and completely. Below are some of the best ideas I have seen for visitor welcomes. Please comment below with the best ideas you have seen and/or used in your own ministry!

 

  1. Update your parking and the outside of your building- It can be smart to have an “outsider” take a look at this, since after a year or two, you and your church regulars will begin to miss certain things, such as that grass beginning to grow in cracks in the foundation, weeks in the parking lot or a severe lack of decent parking. Remember that your parking team (if applicable), your parking situation, the outside of the your building and your greeter team will be the very first impressions that your new visitors get.

 

  1. Separate new family check in: I do not suggest having new families figure out on their own what line to wait in, and how the check in system works. A better idea is to have a well marked, bright and friendly “New Guest Check In” Booth. I highly suggest putting your most smiley, outgoing people person here. Our booth has fun lights and balloons and every candy!  Help the new family go through check in step by step. This should include getting any relevant medical information such as allergies, diabetes, seizures etc. Make sure your check in forms do not just say “mom and dad.” More and more kids are being brought to church by grandparents or foster parents now, so I suggest using “parent, grandparent or guardian.” Have a second person available to offer a tour to the family of the church’s facilities, explaining weekly check in/check out procedures, including how the parent will be contacted in the unlikely event of an emergency.

 

  1. Streamline your check in process- the longer a family has to wait in line to check their child in, the less likely they will be to come back. How can you make your weekly child check in a little faster, more efficient, while at the same time keeping everyone safe? Can you open another kiosk? Can you use self-check in kiosks for your regulars? Please do not hand parents a massive booklet of policies and procedures. They will not read it. It will be overwhelming to say the least. I recommend putting your welcome, positive discipline policy, simplified procedures etc, on one page, no more than 2 pages.

 

  1. Welcome gifts- Many churches offer a “welcome packet” to new families. These can include a mug or pen with your church’s logo, service times info and more. The reason I do like the mugs/pens idea is that a person may use these items daily and be reminded of their experience at your church. Remember that the goal is for them to come BACK. So another great idea is to include a gift card for your own church’s cafe or bookstore if you have one, and a flyer for an upcoming event you would like them to know about. If you do include candy or mints or a treat, please be mindful of all the allergies people may have. Try to include a brochure of ALL of the ministries that your church offers. What is available for the parents to attend? What ministries could their teenage child be a part of? Is there ministry for 60’s +? Singles? Foster and adoptive parents?

 

  1. Buddy System- This ended up being one of the best ideas we ever implemented. The Buddy Team is a group of 5th and 6th graders that pair up one on one with visitor children and/or children with special needs. This “Buddy” stays alongside their assigned child for the entire service, sitting beside them, helping them with the songs/actions, answering questions and guiding them where they need to go. We found that our 5th and 6th graders were exceptionally good at this. Many of our Buddy Team middle schoolers said that this became their ministry. I believe it has made many of them more caring, compassionate and outreach minded. One team member said that she now believes God is calling her to work with special needs children later as a career. Parents and new children seem to feel more confident when they have a “guide” for the service, and are not feeling alone. We have special T shirts for every member of the Buddy Team, and they meet before services for short trainings, story sharing and prayer.

 

  1. Follow-Up- This is the area where many churches drop the ball. They may actually get accurate contact information for visiting families, but then fail to make any followup contact with the family. Most of the time, this happens because no one is specifically assigned to contact the family personally. Whenever it is assumed, “someone will do it,” you can bet “no one will do it.” Each new family should be specifically assigned to one or two people for followup. And that contact needs to be made in the first week after the family has visited. I usually suggest a welcome letter from the church, as well as a personal call or email from one of the staff. It is crucial for the church to implement some accountability to make sure that every new guest is being followed up on. Usually, right after a busy Sunday, we are already knee deep in working on next Sunday. But we do not want people slipping through the cracks!

 

So how about you? What things have you been doing to help those new visitors come back for a SECOND visit? What are you best tips for boosting new visitor retention. Thanks so much! Trisha

best-boomerangs

(Excerpt From My Newest Book “Why We Quit.”

“Oh just you wait,” he said with a confident smile. “The last generation of pastors just did not get it. The early church ‘added daily to their number’, so that means that God has promised us at least 365 converts a year. I am claiming that promise; you’ll see me pastoring a massive church within 5 years of leaving Bible college. And if the board gives me any static, I’ll use my pastoral authority to tell them to hit the road.”

This was an actual statement made by a Bible college student in one of my undergraduate classes. We had a joke back then, that if you want to know ANYTHING, just ask a freshman- they always know it all. I remember shaking my head in a mixture of pity and horror at this young man. Even though we were the same age, I grew up in the ministry, and I knew from experience that he had NO idea what he was getting himself into. More of my fellow graduates ended up quitting than stayed in the ministry. What happened to all that passion, zeal, ideas and dreams?

A key reason that pastors quit is that they go into ministry with some pretty unrealistic expectations.

Too many leaders leave seminary and enter the ministry with clearly unrealistic expectations. This “role dysphoria”, which happens when talents and role expectations do not line up with the actual duties of the position, can quickly lead to frustration and burnout. Often the pastoral role is ill defined and varies by church, denomination and geographical location. Proverbs 19:2 is great for anyone contemplating a ministerial position, “Desire without knowledge is not good- how much more will hasty feet miss the way!”

Let’s take a look at just a few of the most common unrealistic new ministry leader expectations…Did YOU go into ministry with any of these?

1.MYTH: I will only speak to adults (or children, or youth etc.)

REALITY: Gone are the days that this will work.  In a day of family ministry, your communication skills with adults, parents, volunteers, children and staff will make or break your ministry there. You must be able to communicate well up front and in writing across generations.

2.MYTH: It’s a church so there won’t be any conflict. Everyone will love each other and pray all the time. I once interviewed a young lady for an administrative position in the children’s ministries department at our church. I asked her why she wanted to work at our church. She responded, “I am fed up with the arguing and stress and politics of the business world. I would love to work at a place without that conflict, without politics. I am looking for that peaceful slower pace!” I did not hire her. She loved attending our church so much, and I did not want to ruin that for her. And I could tell she just wasn’t ready to handle the stress, conflict that comes with ministry. The stark truth is:

Ministry can be especially prone to conflict EXPLOSIONS, especially when that ministry involves people’s kids, or a person’s deeply held beliefs or the use of someone’s personal giftings.

Unfortunately, handling conflict is part and parcel to working in the ministry (See Chapter 3 for an in depth look at the different conflict styles as well as suggested methods of dealing with ministry conflict.)

3. MYTH: Everyone (Christians) will love me, and see this vision that God gave me. My church will appreciate what I’m doing. They will jump on board to help once they see God moving and changing things!

REALITY: The truth is that many “religious” people did not accept Jesus’ ministry, the ministry of the apostles or the ministry of the Old Testament prophets. You cannot please everyone or make everyone happy. So it is very important to stick with the calling God has given you. There will always be people who do not agree with the way you do ministry or the direction you are taking. The goal is to keep as many people with you as possible, yet to understand that not everyone will “make the turn.” Some people will get mad and leave their area of ministry and/or the church as a whole. And that is ok. Keep pushing for the vision you know God gave you, get as many on board as possible, and release with a lot of love those who cannot accept the changes you represent.

4.MYTH: We will affect all of these changes right away.

REALITY: Nope.  Andy Stanley said it best when he compared a church to a ship. He explained that the church is not a canoe. It does not turn “on a dime.” Your church is more like the Queen Mary. And a ship that big does not turn on a dime. The older and larger your church is, the tougher it may be to effect real change. I remember being frustrated by the slow pace of change in one of my ministries. A good friend of mine kept reminding me, “Trisha, you cannot make all of these changes stick in a few months. It may take several years.”This was encouraging to me, and I found that in general, he was right. This is scary considering the very short average stay of pastors at any one church….God’s best blessings in ministry go not to the most talented, but to those who don’t quit. This will take time.  But the God Who called you will equip you. Be patient and keep pushing that vision for the long haul.

5.Myth: “If I do everything another leader/church did, I’ll get those results right away. That will all work here too!”

REALITY: Some Most things will not change until you have put in a lot of work and time. You may do what someone else did, and not get the same result. It takes wisdom to know the timing of change and the priority of changes; too much too fast and your team and families won’t be with you. Sometimes the best thing to change first is the thing that is the least painful for the least amount of people.

What are some of the misconceptions that YOU came into ministry with?

____________________________________________________________________________________________

To read the rest of this chapter, and explore the other top reasons that ministry leaders leave ministry forever, check out, “Why We Quit: The Real Reasons Pastors Quit,” here-

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1695238397/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_U_.TnUDbED9WDMQ

If you know that God has called you to minister in that certain church for this season, then you will only be happy and fulfilled if you are in the center of His will. But it is still best to have as clear a picture as possible of what you are stepping into. As Jesus Himself told us, “Count the cost” (Luke 14:28ff) (think about the full cost before you start). Lasting over the long haul in ministry is not so much about being obliviously naive, avoiding all risk or being constantly pessimistic. God never promised us things would be smooth or that people would like us. Jesus even warned us that we would be, at times, rejected. (John 15:20). God uses us most powerfully when we can realistically assess a situation, and then go in ANYWAY, sacrificing by faith, obeying Him with eyes wide open. And then God loves to surprise us by EXCEEDING those expectations with miraculous interventions. And no rose colored glasses needed.

 

Caleb’s Story

“I’m sorry Pastor Trisha. My mom can’t pick me up back here in the kid’s ministry wing- she really can’t. You see, she used to be a children’s pastor, like you. And she was an amazing children’s pastor. The kid’s church was big and growing. She built a whole treehouse set- you should have seen it! Our whole family served in that ministry for years. I miss those days. It was busy but we loved it. Mom was happy. Now my mom usually drives way around to avoid seeing that place. But just last week, she suddenly pulled into that church’s parking lot, put her head down on the steering wheel and cried and cried. I was so scared. I did not know what to do. I wish our family would be back in ministry together. I wish I could see her smile again. For a long time, we could not even go to church. Mom is just now able to start going to church again, here at this church. I’m so happy to get to go to church again! But she cannot go anywhere near the kid’s wing. I love serving again in kid’s ministry, especially because it brings back some of the best memories I have ever had. I really hope Mom will be a children’s pastor again. Do you think she will?”

 

– Caleb, 15

rose_colored_glasses

 

Sister Eunice Perpall had only been the new national director of Bahamas CEF (Child Evangelism Fellowship) for a few days when Dorian hit. She became the new director when her mother, the former CEF director for decades, retired. Although no one can be truly ready for a national disaster, Dorian was by far the worst hurricane to hit the Bahamas, or anywhere else for that matter, in all of recorded history. To date, 61 people are dead, 608 still missing, 76000 people were left homeless. The people of the Bahamas are used to enduring hurricanes. But the horror of Dorian was unlike anything ever seen before. Sister Eunice, who has visited the shelters and the orphanage every single day, told me, “We are used to hurricanes coming and going. Always coming and then going. But Dorian came in and did not leave. It stayed right over our islands. It stayed and stayed, hovering over us and that is why the devastation is so terrible.” The nation of the Bahamas is actually made up of over 700 separate islands, although only 17 of those are inhabited. Most of the population live on the largest 3 islands- Grand Bahama, Abaco and Nassau. These three islands were also the main economic support for the whole nation, mainly through tourism and banking. In short order, Dorian completely destroyed Grand Bahama and Abaco, effectively wiping out 2/3 of the nation’s economy. Can we even imagine a storm so terrifying that it could wipe out 2/3 of a nation’s economy? On these islands, the houses, schools, hospitals- everything is gone. Nassau was largely unaffected; however, over 2000 displaced people were relocated to temporary tent housing in Nassau. I recently flew into beautiful Nassau for this year’s “Influencer’s Conference 2019” from Oct 9-14. The Bahamas is officially a “Christian nation.” Every year they have a “National Children’s Ministry Day,” in which children’s ministry leaders from around the Bahamas and the United States gather in the Bahamas for street ministry, ministry in the public schools and training events for educators and other children’s leaders. This year, members of the conference also handed out supplies at the emergency shelters in Nassau and spoke at local churches. I was amazed at the warm and loving welcome I got. I asked some of the local Bahamians to tell me how Dorian had affected them and the people they know. Here are a few things that they told me:

“God can bring good from anything. We will rebuild, and be stronger than ever.” – Bishop at Christ Community Church, Paradise Island.

“I went to the local police station and slept in their emergency shelter. When I walked out of the police station the next morning, everything was gone. The houses, the buildings- gone. I grew up there. Everything I had ever known was gone.” – Sister of one of our hosts.

“My aunt did not survive the hurricane. She tried to get out, but was trapped in her attic. The funeral was last Friday, and I had to be back to work soon afterwards. My heart is breaking for my uncle and my cousins. Everyone knows someone who has been affected.” -Taxi Driver
“Dorian isn’t over, not for us. We are just starting to recover and to rebuild.” – Children’s Pastor from Nassau.

“We have served thousands of people. People displaced by Dorian, but also the families who have taken in their displaced relatives- women, men, children, the elderly, the disabled and babies.” – Children’s Pastor in Paradise Island. This children’s pastor and her children’s church have temporarily given up their kid’s church room, in order to fill it with clothes, shoes, food and toiletries. Their kid’s church is squeezing into a much smaller room for now, while still busing in children from the local orphanage on Sundays for church. Would our churches do the same in an emergency?

While I was there, a much needed crate arrived from a church in Florida, packed with clothing and supplies. Several volunteers from the Bahamas wanted me to tell American Christians that your donations are much needed and making a difference! We Americans are bombarded every single day with tragedy, heartache and disasters. I think sometimes we can become overwhelmed by all of the need in this world. We can even become somewhat immune to the pain all over the world. The devastation in the Bahamas is already “yesterday’s news,” even though they are just beginning their journey of rebuilding. No, we cannot solve every problem or fix every tragedy. But we can do SOMETHING. Sometimes we will never know how God used us to encourage others or speak His words. We may never know this side of heaven, how God multiplied our gift given in faith to those who are hurting. If you would like to help those impacted by Hurricane Dorian, you can donate at the Red Cross site: https://www.redcross.org/local/florida/south-florida/about-us/news-and-events/news/international-relief-in-the-bahamas.html

Whether or not we can give, we CAN pray. Will you take a moment right now to pray for the future of the Bahamas- for those who lost loved ones, and for their rebuilding?

Thank you to everyone I met while there- love you all! God bless you as you rebuild. Love always, Trisha

Like many people, I watched with horror the news reports and pictures of Hurricane Dorian wreaking havoc on the islands of the Bahamas. At the time of this writing, 60+ people have been confirmed dead, and over 1000 people are still missing. Many of the people who survived have lost their homes, their places of work, schools, hospitals, loved ones- everything BUT their lives. I had planned on going to this year’s National Children’s Ministry Day in the Bahamas to help out with a conference and to do kid’s ministry. After the hurricane hit, I wrongly assumed that the conference would be cancelled. The conference is taking place on the island of Nassau, which was not directed impacted by the hurricane. However, many of the refugees from the other islands have been relocated to the island of Nassau in humanitarian shelters. I am still heading to the Bahamas on Oct. 9 to participate in the Influencer Conference by doing a breakout. However, I have also been invited to do ministry in the schools, the orphanage, a local church, and perhaps even at the refugee community.  No one could have predicted the devastation of Hurricane Dorian. But the faith of the Bahamian people is so strong; I am praying for them to rebuild. This is definitely a more intense situation than other conferences I have spoken at. I promise to write about everything that happens while I am there and what I am seeing. I will also do a video for my show “The Peach Buzz” from the Bahamas. To all of my family and friends, please pray for me and for all the pastors and teams working in the Bahamas. Please pray for the conference. Please pray for the nation of the Bahamas and for all those affected by Hurricane Dorian.

Thank you all so much- and I will post updates soon! God Bless- Trisha

Schedule:

Thursday Night- Rally and Volunteer Training

Friday- Ministry in the schools, orphanage

Friday night- Kick off Conference rally

Sat morning- General sessions and my breakout

Sunday- Kid’s ministry at a local church

If you have considered walking away from the ministry, you are not alone. In fact, every year more and more ministers are walking away from ministry for good. In fact,  80 percent (4 out of every 5) pastors will quit ministry forever before year 5 of their ministry. If you have made it longer than that in your ministry, you are one of the few. But why are so many leaving?? This question has torn me up for awhile now. The most popular answer seemed to be, “Well, they just didn’t make enough money.” I’m going on record here that, “I DO NOT BUY THAT.” If you went into ministry for the great paycheck, you had the wrong school counselor! After 17 years as a full time staff pastor, I became totally convinced that there had to be more to it- more to WHY so many pastors were leaving ministry. So I devoted a lot of time and research during my Master’s degree and Doctorate work at Bethel seminary, toward finding out the real reasons why pastors quit ministry completely. I also outlined the proven strategies to keep pastors in ministry for the long haul. I compiled the results of my research into a book, which I sincerely pray will be an encouragement to you, to new pastors, and even to those who have been in the trenches awhile. Some of the topics covered are A. Navigating difficult ministry transitions B. Putting your marriage and family ahead of “work” C. Surviving conflict and difficult people D. Noticing the signs of burnout E. Getting the support you need and more. This book has been years in the works and will be available in just 2 weeks on Amazon, Kindle and more. This is not a book for children’s pastors only. ANYONE who serves in ministry will benefit! Here is what some of the a few of the experts have to say from their sneak peak of “Why We Quit.” More to come- keep watching for the blog tour soon!

“I have admired Trisha Peach since the first time we sat down and talked. She is the real deal who loves God’s people and the local church. I am so thankful I never quit in ministry to kids even as I aim for my 5th decade in ministry there seems to be more challenges for those of us in ministry today, like no other time in history. I believe this book is a game changer for people in ministry no matter how long or how short you have been on your ministry journey. The wisdom Trisha gives and the research she presents is just pure gold. If you’re serious about finishing strong and being faithful for the long haul then read this book!”

Jim Wideman

Kidmin Pioneer, and Family Pastor at The Belonging Co. Nashville, TN Jim@ThinkDifferent.coach

“The best way to be successful in ministry is to stay in ministry.  But that’s harder said than done.  It takes wisdom, tenacity and a close walk with God to go the distance.  Starting out many people don’t understand just how challenging it is to go the distance.  We know this by the reports we hear about the many leaders who step out of ministry each month.  But it doesn’t have to be that way.  In this book, by my friend Trisha, you’ll discover the keys and tools you need to stay faithful for life.   This book can help you say what the Apostle Paul said at the end of his journey.  He was able say “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race and I have remained faithful.”  I believe greatness in ministry is not measured in years, but in decades.  May that be our testimony. 

Dale Hudson, Founder and CEO of Building Children’s Ministry

“Trisha Peach tackles one of the most pressing issues facing the Church, today.  Ministerial burnout is a real crisis and affects the entire congregation, not just the pastor.  In this book, Trisha informs, encourages, and empowers ministers to stay in it for the long haul.  I pray you are inspired as you read and that you DON’T QUIT!”

Brian Dollar

Author, Pastor, Founder of High Voltage Kids Ministry Resources

www.highvoltagekids.com

“The Kingdom of God is transformed people who transform society. The evidence, however, seems to suggest that personal transformation and self-care is the one thing that consistently gets squeezed out of the calendar when the mission and the demands of church and church culture as it stands, come calling.  This book is a call back to what is important. A reminder not to dismiss our own overburdened life as – simply a season,-  but to address wholeness and health as a not just as a factor in good ministry but a fundamental foundation.  Scripture says we can do nothing of our own strength, but all the strength we need is available to us as we abide in the vine. Thank you, Trisha, for reminding us what is at stake and daring to suggest a re-evaluation of what it truly means for a leader to be in Christ.”

Nicki Straza

Discipleship/Leadership Development Pastor

Freedom House

If you’ve ever felt like quitting the ministry life, and I believe we all have at some point or another, then this book is for you! Trisha has done some wonderful research on this subject and my eyes were definitely opened. Too many times we choose to throw in the towel and give up because this is not what we signed up for. Ministry isn’t supposed to be this hard. Trisha will help you see the warning signs of burnout and will give you guidance through the storms of ministry life. I believe you will also be encouraged by the real-life ministry stories she shares. What hope it brings to know we are not alone in serving the Lord in the ministry.

Vanessa Myers, Children’s Minister, Author of Rise Up: Choosing Faith over Fear in Christian Ministry

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Got a book inside you screaming to come out and greet the world?

With my third book close to coming out any day….I’m thinking of many of you who may be thinking of writing a book.

While at a conference a little over a year ago, I got to sit in on a well known author’s meet and greet with a small group of would be authors. One young woman kept dominating the entire conversation, probably trying to impress this author. She talked on and on about her book, while all of the others in the room squirmed impatiently for their turn to ask questions. Finally, the young woman leaned across the table and asked, “_________, I need to know, what is the most important thing I need to do to get my book published?” Everyone in the room hushed to hear the answer.

The author, without missing a beat, stated “The most important step in getting your book published is to write the book.”

It is true; having your book finally published is seeing a lifelong dream fulfilled. It’s even better getting to hold that dream in your hands and then share that dream across cultures and across miles. Both of my books are products of years of planning, writing, rewriting, researching and garnering feedback. Those who know me, know that I talked about the books for years, but the actual pace of our growing ministries had me writing in spurts over the course of 5 years. It is very difficult to be a full time staff pastor AND an author (and more importantly a wife, mom, family member and friend). As the saying goes, “I didn’t know, what I didn’t know.”

Many many people wish to write a book, and some even talk about the book they want to write. A few even start to write one. And a VERY VERY few actually finish writing their book. And then comes getting your book published…… This amazing new adventure is still fresh in my mind; so if I can encourage you to step out and try your own book adventure- GREAT!

Here are the things I learned on my journey from a book idea to a book on my nightstand:

1. “The hardest part is getting started.” This is so true. You can talk about this forever, but your book will never happen if you don’t START. If you are a perfectionist like me, you may have a lot of fears (excuses) that are holding you back, such as “I’m waiting for a better time” (like WHEN? be honest), “I’m too busy” (and when will you NOT be busy?), and “what if it’s not perfect?” (it won’t be, really). Your journey begins with the single step of “START.” It may help you to put your big beginning on your calendar and clear the time to get started. Don’t wait for a “perfect” day or time or when you think it will be “perfect”. You have time for rewrites later. Take a breath, clear an hour or two, and start writing.

2. It won’t just happen. Nothing great in this life just magically appears. The best things in life aren’t really free- they cost us the most in time, tears, heartache. For example, a great marriage, parenting your children, a growing ministry, physical fitness= none of these things just “appear”, they take a LOT of hard work and sacrifice. All things on this earth, when left to themselves DECLINE; improvement always takes work. Your book is going to take time, and hard work. The best way to make sure this happens is to actually schedule your writing times and stick to them. There will be interruptions, and life happens, but keep at it and don’t give up.

3. Set smaller goals- Looking at the giant mountain you are about to climb may be completely overwhelming, and may actually stall your progress. It helped me immensely to break the writing of the book down into smaller more bite sized pieces. For example, I would aim to do “one half chapter a week” and so on. It helped my confidence and encouraged me to keep going as each smaller goal was met.

4. Lay the majority of the groundwork BEFORE starting your project. Having a crystal clear plan helps a lot, and keeps you on track. I did an overall book outline, then outlined each chapter in depth, then kept doing my research, keeping records and giving out surveys. After that, I could stay following the plan all the way to the finish. This will also keep you from “rambling” or going off on an unrelated tangent.

5. Find a way to be ACCOUNTABLE. Just like your fitness program, you will be MUCH more successful if you include others in your project. It’s easy to get started, and life gets in the way and your book begins to fall by the wayside. You NEED one or more people you can trust that will continually, repeatedly ask you, “How is the book going?” With everything else going on in my life, I had to CREATE deadlines to keep myself on schedule. I am eternally indebted to my family, my husband and my close team of friends who met with me, helped me through the tough spots and wouldn’t let me quit. Make sure you have a SMALL team- 1-3 people, who will pray with you, brainstorm with you, and hold you accountable to fulfill your dream.

COMING NEXT WEEK: Part Two……From Scratch CH 6.2

IMG_20190912_225446_2For a few unbearable moments, I would have been grateful to just die so that it could be over. In the back of my head, a small voice worried that my screams might wake up our small children. I did not want this scene to be their last memory of me. My fingers were twisted up in the sheets. My feet were kicking as I writhed back and forth. Sweat was dripping off of me onto the bed.

A few hours earlier, I had finally gone to bed after sitting up with a terrible stomach ache. But I never did get to sleep that night. The nagging, burning pain just kept increasing. Suddenly, like a volcanic eruption, the pain exploded. My stomach clamped down much like a contraction during labor, only this contraction never let up. I had rolled to one side and vomited. Much later, I found out I had been vomiting blood- and a whole lot of it.

Impossibly, it got worse. All my muscles began to “lock” and shake like a seizure and I realized that I could not breathe. I could not pull any air in to scream anymore. I thought, “I really am going to suffocate.” My panicked husband knelt over me, now wide awake, trying to ask my questions. “What is going on?” “What should I do?” I could not answer. He called 911.

When the paramedics arrived, I had stopped seizing and my muscles suddenly relaxed. I still struggled to breathe due to the pain. It felt like white hot lava making its way through my abdomen. The paramedics did not see all of the blood on the far side of the bed by the wall. They carried me down the stairs to the ambulance. I was able to whisper to my husband, “Stay with the kids.” I could not imagine us leaving them home alone. As they closed the ambulance doors, I said to Scott, “Call my mom.” I knew that my mother would know how to pray. REALLY REALLY pray.

I do not remember much of the ambulance ride. I do remember hearing the paramedics say, “How do you rate your pain?” It was at a 12 out of 10. Beyond description. They said, “We can’t give you any pain meds until a doctor assesses you.” I also remember thinking, “This can’t be happening. What is going on? This isn’t real.”

At the emergency room, a doctor did approve several shots of morphine. But they did nothing for the pain at all. I watched the second hand on the analog clock, counting the seconds to get through. My arms and legs kept shaking as if I were very cold. Five hours later, a doctor finally came in to say that he figured I had stomach flu and that I should just go home. They had never done any tests or checked me out. I knew this was not stomach flu. But what do you do when you doctor says you are fine?

My husband had called my mother at 2 am. To his surprise, she was already awake and interceding for me. She said that God had woken her up with an urgency to pray for me. She felt that my life was on the line.

My friends came by to bring me home that morning. I could not straighten myself up at all. I found myself “stuck” bent over at a 90 degree angle to the ground, shuffling to their car like I was 126 years old. I was still wearing my oversized green nightgown from the night before. With every pothole my friend hit and with every small bump in the road, I fought not to scream. I bit down on a pencil in the car until I left teeth marks in it.

I lay in bed for several days afterwards still unable to straighten myself out. On day 2, I started to run a fever. I struggled to tell me boss and family what was going on because I had no idea what was going on. I said, “The doctor says I have the flu.” Alarmingly, I found it almost impossible to eat. Everything I ate hurt like gnoshing on broken glass and razor blades with a side of gravel. The night I tried 2 bites of pizza, I was doubled up in agony, literally thinking I was going to die. So for almost 2 weeks, all I could manage to eat was a little bit of white rice. After 2 weeks, I could finally straighten up a bit, but the pain was still very severe. I made an appointment with my regular doctor, desperate for some answers. I do not enjoy going for doctor’s visits. I worried that he would say, “Yup, it was stomach flu. You’re fine, go on home you raging hypochondriac!” But my own doctor said that there was no evidence that this had been flu, because no tests had been done. He also said that I should have recovered by now. So he ordered a gall bladder test. In another week, I went in for that test. My doctor was surprised that I scored a “zero function” on that test. He theorized that my gall bladder had quit and that was the source of all my complaints. So he scheduled me for a gall bladder removal surgery. I remember him being so cheerful, that this would, “Fix me right up.” I thought, “Can a non-functional gall bladder really be THIS bad? I remember my mom having hers out, but it wasn’t like this…” But, I am not a doctor.

Six weeks from that terrible night, I arrived at the hospital for my gall bladder removal surgery. All night and into the morning, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of dread. The surgeon tried to calm me as they wheeled me in, “Young lady, don’t be insulting. I’ve been doing this surgery for 22 years. This is what I do every day. I don’t get surprised.” My last thought before going under sedation was, “Well, you haven’t done surgery on ME before.”

As I slowly began regaining consciousness after the surgery, I tried to make sense of my husband shifting his body in a rocking motion in the chair next to me. He was mumbling, “I can’t raise these kids alone.” This did not bother me because of the heavy medications still in my system. I remember the surgeon trying to tell me something very important, but I couldn’t not make my brain focus on the words. I caught, “opened up” “white specks” “cancer everywhere” “sent to pathology” “outside all organs” “so much old blood” “did all we could.”  Again, I wasn’t nervous just sleepy. When I “came to” again, the surgeon was looking very relieved holding a manila folder out for me to see. I couldn’t really read it at all because I did not have my contacts in. He said, “It wasn’t cancer. The samples we sent down to pathology were all white rice. All over the outside of your organs. It looks like most of your recent meals ended up outside of your digestive track.”  The surgeon probably told me more, but I cannot remember.

A few days after I got home, I began to read through all the materials and look at the pictures and reports from my surgery. Apparently, on that night, March 9, 2011, around 1:30 am, a bleeding ulcer, that I did not even know I had, burst open. Most ulcers are in the stomach, but mine was a “duodenal” ulcer-in the small intestine. When the ulcer ruptured, it tore apart the gall bladder that was next to it, leaving quite a hole in the intestine and pieces of gall bladder everywhere. A major blood vessel that runs right through there was torn open and I bled out into my abdomen. The surgeon had done a lot of work to “remove” a lot of dried blood from the outside of my liver. Just about everything I had eaten- 2 bites of pizza, a few handfuls of white rice, were outside the intestine, some sticking to the outside of my liver. The surgeon did not have to repair the ulcer hole, because the area had “encapsulated”, meaning that my body had now healed over the torn area.

When I went to my followup appointment with my regular doctor, he was astonished at the pictures in my file. He explained, “I do not think you understand. This is so rare. And a duodenal rupture is almost always fatal, 99 percent of the time. Even when it happens when someone is IN the hospital, their chances of survival are not good. You are a walking miracle.” At my followup appointment with the surgeon, he agreed with my doctor’s assessment. “Yeah, you don’t survive these. Even if you are in the hospital. I am an atheist but I don’t have a good explanation for how you lived. It must have been some kind of “evolutionary leap” I suppose. I could work another 40 years and still never see this kinda thing outside of a textbook.”

I felt a bit like a freak of nature when he brought in a few interns to meet me. I did ask, “What can I do to make sure this never happens again? What can I eat differently?” The doctors looked around at each other in silence. My surgeon shrugged. “Who knows. I don’t know of anyone who has survived before.”

In the weeks that followed, I wanted to talk with someone about what happened and what it all meant. I looked for a support group, or another survivor like me online. No luck. This really was rare.

Unlike my surgeon, I am not an atheist; I have always been a person of faith. And so I try to make sense of what happens in my life, in view of God’s plan. Sometimes, I have to admit that I will never fully understand. Other times, I begin to see the outline of God’s hand guiding the events of my life. That night that I really should have died stands out as a night that changed how I live. Here are the most significant ways I have changed since that night.

  1. I realized how very little control I actually have. I have always been a person that liked to appear in control of my own life. I like to make decisions for myself. Anyone who has experienced a health crisis knows how helpless you feel in that moment. I now know that any “control” we seem to have is not that much. Many of us fool ourselves into thinking we are in charge. Really, as Scripture says, “No one, by worrying, can add an inch to their height, or turn one hair white or black.” This actually, surprisingly, brought me a measure of relief. We always spout off quickly, “God is in control.” But we live like we are on the throne. After my experience, I am convinced, more than ever, that my life is really in God’s hands. He really does make the ultimate decision of when my time is up here on earth. And Jesus paid the ultimate price so that my life goes on no matter what. I also believe that God uses every thing that happens to us for a purpose. He does not allow what He cannot redeem.
  2. There is a reason for me to be here on earth. This is another Christian platitude that suddenly became vividly real for me that day. God could have easily taken me home to be with Him that night, simply by sitting back and doing nothing. Perhaps, He would even rather have me there with Him. But He decided to keep me here, which means that I have a job to do- or several. And He will let me know what those are. And that hammers home the point- if you are here on earth still breathing, then God isn’t done with you yet. Everyone has a purpose. There is a plan for every life.
  3. Just about everything and anything are not worth stressing over. No I’m serious. Not once while I was in the hospital did I think, “Oh I’m so glad I remembered to run the dryer.” Anyone who has been in an intense medical situation knows, that suddenly, nothing else matters. That dental cleaning you are putting off, the PTA meeting that went poorly, that missing shoe, that person that aggravates you so much at work- in a moment of time, what seemed SOOOOO important doesn’t matter at all. That day, I stopped stressing about a lot of things. There are days I get anxious, but not like before.
  4. Some things are not worth your life. I have always been the poster child of workaholism- driven to the inth degree! After this happened, my doctor discovered many other bleeding ulcers in my intestine. I was prescribed medications, but he also sat me down and said, “Trish, these 80 hour work weeks stop now. If you don’t change, you are going to die. Is this really worth your life?” His words hit me like a slap in the face. And for once in my stubbron life I finally listened. My work life radically changed- hours drastically reduced. I wrote books and began traveling once a month. I started being home most nights of the week and having dinner with my family. Within 6 months, all of the ulcers were gone. They have never been back. “Burning out for Jesus” “Dying in the Pulpit” “Ruining for health for the gospel” is not a noble goal- it is a tragedy. It also shows undue emphasis on our own importance and strength, rather than trust in God’s power to do the heavy lifting.
  5. Every single moment is precious. Every single summer. Every Christmas. Sunrises, sunsets. Life is short, precious and so so fragile. I used to live like I had endless chances to take a trip with Mom. Endless summers- why not just do that some other summer? I really felt like my friend and I could go to coffee anytime. We can have a better Christmas with the kids next year. Well, maybe not. It is a gift to realize that all now is all you really have. I believe that no matter how long or short you live- 25 or 105- it goes by sooooo quickly. Everything in life is a season. And every season ends. So after that night- I take those vacations. We try to make every holiday- every birthday- full of memories.
  6. I began to wonder what kind of legacy I would leave behind. The worst thought I had during my experience was, “If I die right now, and these years are the only memories my kids have of me, how will they remember me? Have I given them enough training to grow up well? Did I guide them to know and love Jesus? Did I pass on our family’s faith and key traditions? Why didn’t I write that book I always wanted to? I never traveled overseas….Did I make any kind of an impact for Christ? How will the kids in kid’s church remember me?” Since then, I have traveled overseas and many places, I’ve written 3 books, I’ve worked hard to tell my kids all the stories I need them to hear….What absolutely needs to get done before I die? What legacy am I leaving? These are the questions I think about a lot even today.

What about you? Have you ever had a near death experience? Did you life change? How so? I would love to hear your answers!

Know that you are loved, your life has a purpose and you can leave a legacy for those around you! God bless, Trisha

So You’ve made it through your back to school outreaches- survived your Easter services, and nailed your fall kickoff Sunday. Another group of kid’s church kids has successfully graduated up into youth group. Fall is right around the corner, ready or not, and soon another season of family ministry will be here and gone. So this may seem like an odd time to be talking about planning your volunteers trainings? It’s not. This is the perfect time to be planning your volunteer trainings for the this season. And here’s why-

A. You already know how important ongoing training is for keeping your kid’s ministry team sharp, up to date and current. Volunteer trainings should never be a “one and done” deal. We should all be growing and learning together always! If you want to make sure your trainings are the best they can be, if you want your trainings to meet the needs of your leaders then you will need to plan ahead, starting NOW to make sure they are done with EXCELLENCE.

B. We KNOW how difficult it can be to get our volunteers to our trainings! Statistics tell us that they need to hear about it 8 separate times in order for your information about that training to break through all the other “white noise of information” we are bombarded with daily. Do NOT plan your trainings last minute. Do not try to advertise your trainings in less than 5 weeks time. I highly suggest you plan out all of your trainings for next year NOW. We do 5-6 volunteer training every school year and put them on a calendar that EVERY volunteer receives at the start of each season. Then they get reminders as we go along.

C. The number 1 complaint of brand new volunteer leaders is usually, “I was not given enough training for the position before I was left by myself.” You will need to plan ahead to have enough variety. You will need to include classes for brand new volunteers to prepare them for the positions they will be serving in. And you need to plan for this NOW if you want to have enough time to advertise and work to get your new recruits THERE.

D. We have never had a lot of luck with doing summer volunteer trainings. For us, it is just the nature of the beast living in the north. As soon as the summer hits, people are gone, gone, gone. So summer is the perfect time to PLAN for the most amazing volunteer trainings for the school year- right now, you can work to make sure that your 5-6 volunteer trainings during the school year are the best, most fruitful and highest attended they have ever been!

E. If you are bringing in outside speakers for your training, that should NOT be done last minute. If you decide that you would like to do a training on special needs kid’s ministry, and you would like to bring in an expert to give tips to your leaders, now would be the time to start contacting people and asking about their availability. Get the best talent locked in NOW to come speak for your leaders; don’t make your quality speakers an afterthought (they will be busy!).

F. Topics for trainings should not be picked flippantly. Nor should you just do the ones you always have. The needs of your leaders will change just as the needs of your children and families will change. Take the time right now to pray, talk with your lead pastor and other children’s pastors- what are the key issues your volunteers need training and equipping in RIGHT NOW? Special needs kids ministry? Death and Divorce Care? Equipping Families? Recruitment? Self-devotions? Early Childhood? Dynamic Kid’s Worship? Creative Large Group? Positive Classroom Discipline? Choose carefully and prayerfully!

G. Church calendars fill up FAST. Get your plans on that calendar NOW. You may even have other departments of the church who may wish to attend some of those trainings with you!

You can probably tell that I am passionate about training our kids and family ministry leaders! When fall hits, I will be traveling full time doing trainings like the ones described above. Are you interested in having me do a training for your leaders at YOUR church this next school year? The perfect time to message me is …as soon as possible- pastortrisha@gmail.com or trisha@peach.im. I’d love to do a training at your church for your leaders on the topics that you are interested in the MOST. Let’s chat.

Have fun planning those trainings and happy almost end of summer everyone! Pastor Trisha

Every ministry leader needs to be effective at managing change or they won’t last long in todays culture.  This book provides practical concepts for innovating change in children’s ministry. Trisha has consulted our children’s ministry department with her concepts and helped us successfully navigate several areas of ministry change. We are grateful for the insights she shares in this book!
Bob Griffith
Executive Pastor of Family Ministries
Journey Church, Kenosha WI
www.ourjourneychurch.combooking2

After 17 years as a full time staff pastor at a large church, I am have a much DIFFERENT perspective now, as a children’s ministry consultant, as a “visitor” in a brand new church at least twice a month. I do believe that as a church staff we run the risk of getting closed into our “bubble”, unintentionally oblivious to the situations that turn new people off to our church. We’ve all heard the statistics that people make up their mind in the first few minutes of visiting your church whether or not they will come back. And we know our mission is outreach! Who DOESN’T want to grow? So what is really making new visitors stay away, or come back? Based on the last 3 years of my experiences as a “visitor”, let me share with you my top 10 turnoffs that just might keep a visitor from going back to your church.

10. Too Many “Inside” Jokes and References-

This is a big one. I cannot tell you how many times, even just this year that I have visited a new church and heard something like this from the pulpit: “We are all so happy for Mandy today. Yesterday was tough, but we all got a good laugh too didn’t we? Can we all just wave at Mandy and give her a hug?” It is not a fun feeling to be the only one in the room who has no idea what is going on. I’m sitting there awkwardly thinking, “Who is Mandy? What happened to her? Oh no, now I am the only one not hugging her.” I fully realize that a church does become a family, a community of believers- that is the way it is supposed to be. But too many inside references can close your family away and repel any potential new community members. A good idea is to think about what you are going to say from the perspective of a brand new visitor and perhaps do a quick explanation of what is going on.

9. No parking-

Think about it this way. If you went to a grocery store, and you drove around and around without finding a place to park, then had to park down the street and walk, wouldn’t you think about going to a different grocery store the next time? What’s worse, (what happened to me last Sunday), is when there is no place to park, no one to tell you where to park, and you have to drive around a new neighborhood and find a place to park. It seemed that all the regulars knew exactly where to park, but I felt awkward not knowing if I parked in an ok spot or not (a couple of blocks away).

8. Taking forever to fill things out on first visit-

This one can be tricky. I do not recommend sending home something for new visitors to fill out/mail in. If it doesn’t happen right then, it is not going to happen. You need that information to do great followup if you really want to grow. However, it is a HUGE turnoff to new visitors if your guest information page goes on and on, gets too personal and takes forever to fill out. They either just won’t fill it out or will still be filling it out during your message (a huge part of what visitors are there to hear). I think it is smart when churches include the guest card in their bulletin or seat pocket, instruct guests to pull it out and fill it out during announcements, and then have them turn it in right away during the offering. Our guest card is no more than an index card size and asks for name, address, phone number, email and family size. Remember that a lot of people are becoming more and more reticent toward giving out personal contact information, so keep it short and sweet.

7. Too much attention-

One church actually had the visitors stand while the congregation all applauded. During this time they put the lights onto the new visitors and played a special “guest song.” I am an extrovert and even I felt uncomfortable. The couple next to me were very quiet people and seemed mortified. I heard the wife mumbling that they wouldn’t be back. Some people are nervous about crowds and do not want to be singled out.

6. Too little attention-

Again, balance is so important. One of the chief complaints of brand new church visitors is, “No one greeted me. No one made me feel welcome. No one followed up on me.” Without embarrassing someone, it is important to have warm, friendly greeters to acknowledge people and make them feel included. Most churches drop the ball on followup. They fail to call new visitors or followup with them after their visit. If you really want to grow, do not “hope” that someone follows up with a guest. Intentionally ASK a warm caring person to call them/visit them. Make SURE that each guest is followed up with during that very first week after their first visit. Too many churches complain that they aren’t growing, but they are not willing to put the time/effort in to follow up on the new guests that are coming through their doors.

Stay tuned for part 2 next week- my top five new guest turnoffs! How about YOU? What is a major turnoff for you, when you visit a new church? Any good stories?

Love Trisha

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