Juggling Sheep
Welcome to Juggling Sheep, Jay Perry's blog about time management and personal productivity for pastors. Learn to balance work, life, family, and personal spirituality.

Share your best practices, tips and tricks, processes, sermon planning ideas, and resources. Feel free to email me: jaylperry[at]gmail[dot]com.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Easter Inadequacy

I can't find it now, but earlier this week I saw a post that said something like:
Pray for the pastors this week who know their Easter sermons will be inadequate to represent the depth and glory of the resurrection.
Pray extra for the pastors who think their Easter sermons will be adequate.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

An Open Letter (that gave me a good chuckle)

Dear Disgruntled Church Member;

You are an important part of the Body of Christ.  You are a part of the Royal Priesthood.  But you have not been chosen to be the pastor of this congregation.

I know you have been trained by our denomination to think that your input is as valuable as anyone else's.  But it's not true.

Next time God gives you a call to the pastorate, please take it.


A Pastor

Friday, January 11, 2013

Best Preaching Practices

I used to be a sermon-writing machine!  At Cornerstone, I preached 45+ weeks per year in well-crafted sermon series.  My sermons were biblical, interesting, relevant, balanced, and Christ-centered.  Sometimes I might have an off week, but in general, my sermons were awesome!

But over the last 6 years, I have preached very little by comparison.  At Renew, I preached for the monthly "preview" services.  But after we launched and went to weekly services, I hardly preached at all.  I played guitar and piano and led worship and taught classes.  But Adam was full time, so he did the vast majority of preaching.

So over the last year, as I've preached more, I reached back into my files and dug out the sermons that I preached at Cornerstone years and years and years ago.  And I would just kind of recycle them.  And it seemed to work well enough.

But now I'm a preaching pastor again in my new church district.

So I've been struggling with getting back into the flow of sermon preparation and writing and delivery.  I feel like someone with atrophied legs trying to run.  It feels awkward and I feel like I'm not able to think as clearly as I once did and OMG! have I totally lost the ability to write biblical, interesting, relevant, balanced, Christ-centered sermons???

Today as I was praying about this issue, I realized that I've been neglecting some "best practices" that I used to do regularly.

1.  Read the pericope!  And I don't just mean read it a couple times in the version I'm going to preach from.  I mean read the pericope over and over and over again in every version of the Bible I own.  The different versions translate the words differently, bringing out different nuances.  The different versions chunk the thoughts differently, emphasizing varied thought patterns.  I used to read it until I knew it and it filled my mind until everything I thought about was colored by the lens of that pericope.

2.  Watch great preachers!  I used to consume a couple of series by Craig Groeschel or John Ortberg or Wayne Cordiero or Ted Haggard or Andy Stanley or Ed Young in any given month.  I watched how they crafted a series to hang together.  I watched how they made the Bible relevant and how they brought biblical authority to bear on the lives of everyone listening.  I watched to see how they presented Christ so that people would fall in love with him.

3.  Pray for divine revelation!  I used to spend a very large portion of my sermon preparation praying for wisdom and understanding.  I used to go into the sanctuary and pray for the people who would be sitting in the pews the next weekend and ask God how he wanted to speak to them through the sermon.  I would imagine non-Christians coming in and I would ask God how he wanted me to preach to an unbeliever or an outsider.

4.  Watch great preachers!  I know I said that one before.  But this time I mean get your soul fed.  It is easy to be so caught up with producing sermons and leading and being up front and feeding others, that you end up starving your own soul.  So there are times when you need to be blessed by a sermon - not to pick it apart and see why it's good or what devices they were using or how the illustrations pressed the application home - but just to be filled with the word of God and let your soul be renewed and refreshed by the bread of life and the living water of Christ.

Time to dust off some of these best practices and put them back to work!

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Law of the Snake Pit

From One Size Doesn't Fit All by Gary L. McIntosh, p.102:

"I've heard two viewpoints.  One says not to change anything during the first year.  The other says to change as much as you can in the first year.  Which is correct?"

"I suggest that in the early years of ministry in a new church you follow the Law of the Snake Pit: Keep moving, but don't make any sudden jerks."

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Five Guiding Principles of Effective Ministry

From One Size Doesn't Fit All by Gary L. McIntosh, p. 80:

McIntosh says you should run every decision that you make as a pastor and as a church through this grid to make sure you are focusing on the right things:

  1. The Principle of Visionary Leadership
    A church grows when decisions are made based on the intention of bringing new people into the church.
  2. The Principle of Human Resource Utilization
    A church grows when decisions provide the staff, leadership, and resources needed to focus on outreach.
  3. The Principle of "Open Doors"
    A church grows when decisions create opportunities for new people to enter into the life of the congregation.
  4. The Principle of Incorporation
    A church grows when decisions spawn ways to incorporate new people into the social circles of the membership.
  5. The Principle of Finance
    A church grows when decisions adequately finance local outreach activities.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

What to Do First?

I've been on the ground in my new church district for almost three weeks now.

I've been doing a lot of unpacking and moving things around and trying to get settled into our new house.  Kendra has started her new job teaching a couple of classes.  Nathaniel has started second grade at a new school and gymnastics at a new gym.

I've preached a sermon in each church and I've attended an elders meeting.

How do you get up to speed in a new church district?

Here's what I've done:
  • Started weekly meetings with the associate pastor
    • learning about who he is and what exactly he does
    • learning about who the (elected and de facto) leaders are
    • learning about the current ministry structure
    • learning about pitfalls and areas of opportunity
    • learning about recent church history and why things are the way they are
    • learning about what's on the calendar
    • chosen a book to read through and discuss together
  • Started working on some upcoming sermon series
    • Heaven in My Heart
    • Children's Bible Heroes
    • Advent
  • Started meeting with elders and church leaders individually
    • getting to know them
    • trying to figure out the big picture
  • Ordered the NCD survey
  • Started exercising more regularly
Here's what I think need to do next:
  •  Administer the NCD survey
    • assess the church's health in 8 quality areas
    • evaluate a starting point
    • start work on two "minimum factors"
  • Continue meeting with elders and leaders individually
  • Move into the church office
  • Establish my regular office hours and work routine
  • Try not to change the whole world all at once
Any advice?