Hi, I’m Karl Vaters and I’m a small church pastor. I’ve spent over four decades in pastoral ministry, the last 28 at Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Fountain Valley, California, where my wife Shelley and I served for 25 years as the lead pastor, and the last three years as the teaching pastor. I also write and speak about pastoral leadership from a small church perspective through books seminars and articles. I love hiking, especially through canyons and in high elevations. Every few years I go through extra training to do a one-day, rim-to-rim walk through Grand Canyon.
What is your motivation to remain productive in your area of leadership?
Since recognizing that my pastoral calling was to minister in a smaller congregation, I became aware of how few resources are targeted to the unique needs and strengths of small churches. So now I work hard to find, create and make small church resources available.
My motivation comes from recognizing that the Lord has placed me at a cross section of four important concepts 1. The massive number of small congregations in the world (about 90 percent of churches), 2. The amazing ministry small churches do, 3. The massive need for small church resources, and, 4. My decades of experience in this overlooked niche.
What productivity advice would you share with new leaders in leadership?
For many years I labored under the false (or at least limited) perception that the key to greater productivity was time management. In reality, managing my energy is far more important. When we concentrate on time management alone, we become hamsters on a wheel. We might get more done, but we can still burn out on a never-ending cycle of tasks. But when we concentrate on our outflow and input of energy we can start taking greater control of productivity in every area of life, spiritually, physically, emotionally, organizationally, you name it.
For example, putting an hour into a task while emotionally, physically or spiritually exhausted is not just unhealthy, it’s also far less productive than getting half an hour of rest, exercise, or prayer followed by half an hour of renewed, energized, and motivated work.
What are some tools or resources you would recommend to leaders that help you in your productivity?
There are several productivity tools and apps that help me a great deal. But, since they change regularly based on my needs and newer technology, my advice would be this:
Use whatever productivity apps and resources that help you. But regularly make an objective assessment of their true value. Are they actually helping you get the most out of your limited energy, or are they demanding even more from you? Don’t make the mistake of being controlled by your emails, your productivity app or your devices.
Where can leaders find you?
Find me at KarlVaters.com, a website devoted to Helping Small Churches Thrive.
How to Publish Your God-given Message While Marketing Your Ministry
By Rigel and Jenna Drake-Garcia, founders of MarketProfessionally.com
In a brief paragraph, share your background: area of ministry and how long you’ve served in ministry; include any hobbies you have that you intentionally make time for.
We help Christian influencers market their God-given message, so they can share it with new audiences, while helping them save time and utilize their resources more efficiently. Our self-publishing services help influencers turn their God-given message into a book, and our marketing services help them connect with people who want to hear more about their message and what they have to offer, or invite them as a speaker for a speaking engagement.
Over the past 10 years, our calling to serve authors, speakers and ministry influencers in spreading their God-given messages is based on Isaiah 52:7:
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that brings good tidings, that publishes peace; that brings good tidings of good, that publishes salvation; that says unto Zion, Your God reigns!
It’s interesting that many of our clients have been serving in business or ministry for years now, whether it be teaching in Christian bible schools, ministering at their churches or serving in various leadership capacities, and are now finding themselves in a transitional period where they want to be an influencer in their niche, or they want to expand the reach of their God-given message and what they do beyond their current sphere of relationships.
One of the most valuable ways we serve people, is working with influencers one-on-one to draw out their God-given message, which helps them to discover how they serve and bring value to others at a deeper level. Our clients love this process as they begin to see the correlation of how their God-given message naturally lines up with the transformation they desire to see in the lives of others.
We also help our authors learn more about their audience, and how to take a more reader-focused approach with their message. Oftentimes, when writing a book, our approach can be, “this is my message, and I know this is really going to help you. Now, let’s begin...” We get excited about the revelation we’ve been given, and then we start outlining our message. There is nothing wrong with that, but we want to encourage you to take a little bit more time in this planning stage, especially since we are writing a book.
When you know what you want to write your book about, it’s time to take a slow step forward by asking yourself, what do the readers of my message really want right now? What is their challenge in this situation? Now, how can I help them get to where they want to go through this message? As we take a deep-dive into these questions, we find ourselves with more confidence and fervor when it comes to our message and those we are serving. It also makes the book writing process more organized, purposeful and enlightening. One Pastor shared, “I have outlined so many sermons throughout my life, but this brings things to a whole new level. I really appreciate this, and could not have done this by myself.”
Some of the hobbies Rigel and I intentionally make time for are going to the gym with our three children, fishing (Rigel), and worship (Jenna). We also love doing worship and music sessions at home as a family, which are quite fun. We also like to laugh and play around. Family is very important to us, and so is work-life balance.
Q1 - What is your motivation to remain productive in your area of ministry?
Rigel: “To see the body of Christ achieve its full potential. There is a satisfaction inside of me when I know I am doing the will of God, and what He has called me to do. The only real way to leave a legacy behind is through the message of Jesus Christ, which God has given to us. This is the greatest gift He has given us to share with others during our time here on Earth. For those who have a specific message burning inside of them, we want to help them bring out that message because that is their spiritual legacy.”
John 4:34, KJV: "Jesus said unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work."
Jenna: “To see ourselves operating in our full potential as we do what God has called us to do, and to help people work together with others. I love seeing people shine in their gifts, while working well with others to accomplish a project—it is like a beautiful symphony to me. As we steward well what God has given us, we are able to see the beauty of what God can do, especially as we commit our work unto Him.”
Psalm 133, KJV: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.”
Q2 - What productivity advice would you share with new leaders in ministry?
1. Know your priorities, so that you can allocate your resources accordingly.
2. Create systems that you and your team can leverage over time.
3. Work with others, and focus on what you are good at, so that together you can make a greater impact.
Your dream is bigger than you, and God will call others to labor alongside you. Remember, He will provide, so that you have abundance for every good work, and so that those who work for you will receive the provision they are believing for, as well.
Q3 - What are some tools or resources you would recommend to leaders in ministry that help you in your productivity?
For those who are looking to help spread their message in a more productive way, we have free trainings at both SelfPublishProfessionally.com and MarketProfessionally.com, and we are always developing more for people who want to speak, or develop their God-given messages. We also welcome you to schedule an appointment with us, if you would like to learn more. We would be happy to discuss how we can help you serve others with your message in a more impactful way, and to discuss the marketing resources and automation tools we have available to help you market your God-given message, while helping you save time and utilize your resources more efficiently. God bless you!
My name is Jason Lowe, and I’m a native of Pikeville, Kentucky. If you’ve never heard of Pikeville, I won’t be offended. Many people haven’t. It’s a small, but vibrant town nestled deep within the Appalachian Mountains of southeastern Kentucky. I was born and raised there. I was called to ministry there. After some time away at seminary and serving the Lord in other parts of the state, it’s where I have served as the Associational Mission Strategist for the Pike Association of Southern Baptists since 2013 and as the Executive Pastor at First Baptist Church in Pikeville since 2015. It’s an honor to be with you today and to share my answers to three leadership questions about productivity.
Q1: What is your motivation to remain productive in your area of ministry?
Although we often don’t think of it as such, productivity is a biblical concept. God wants us to bear fruit for Him. In John 15:5, Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me.”
When I consider the type of fruit that Jesus is talking about, the fruit of the Spirit certainly comes to mind (Galatians 5:22-23). However, his final statement in this verse indicates that our activities are at least partly in view here. Apart from Christ, we cannot produce any fruit of eternal value. Yet in Christ, we can produce much fruit. With that thought in mind, my motivation to remain productive in my area of ministry is biblically grounded. My desire is to produce fruit that honors the Lord and serves others.
Q2: What productivity advice would you share with new leaders in ministry?
Ministry is unpredictable, and ministry leaders don’t always clock in at 9:00AM and clock out at 5:00PM. Emergencies can happen at any moment. There will be times when your plan for the day is thrown out the window with no advance notice. That’s the reality of ministry. However, there are many “emergencies” that aren’t really emergencies. If you’re not careful, you will condition yourself to drop everything anytime a church member asks for a moment of your time.
Therefore, I would encourage new ministry leaders to be intentional with your time by setting appropriate boundaries. When you are working on a sermon or spending time with the Lord in prayer, turn off your phone. Turn off notifications on any other devices that may distract you. If it’s a true emergency, someone will find a way to get in touch with you.
I realize this may sound counterintuitive. As a spiritual shepherd, you should be available anytime one of your church members call on you for help, right? That sounds good, but that’s not the approach that Jesus took.
In Mark 1, after a busy day of preaching and healing, Jesus rose very early the next morning and went out to a desolate place and prayed. In verses 36-37, we read, “And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, ‘Everyone is looking for you.’” Most ministry leaders would likely drop whatever they were doing in that moment to respond and continue to minister to the people. But Jesus doesn’t do that. Instead, Jesus responds in v. 38, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” Similarly, in Luke 5:15-16, Luke writes, “But now even more the report about him went abroad and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.”
What do these passages teach us? Jesus did not make Himself available at all times. He set appropriate boundaries. He was intentional with His time. Ministry leaders must do the same in order to maintain productivity. When it’s time to study, it’s time to study. When it’s time to pray, it’s time to pray. When it’s time for counseling, it’s time for counseling. Productive leaders don’t just have good intentions about how they hope to spend their time; they are intentional about it.
Q3: What are some tools or resources you would recommend to leaders in ministry that help you in your productivity?
I’ll share three recommendations. First, I would recommend the book What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done by Matt Perman. It’s a biblical approach to productivity, and I find myself returning to its pages time and time again. The primary premise of the book is that the proper motivation of personal productivity is to serve others to the glory of God. The author spends a considerable amount of time fleshing this out in the first half of the book. The second half is full of practical tips for getting the right things done.
Second, I can’t stress enough the importance of having a system for collecting and sorting your tasks. I have heard this concept referred to as “having a second brain.” While our physical brains are prone to forget tasks and appointments, our second brain won’t forget. That’s why I recommend using some type of task management app such as Todoist or Apple Reminders that can sync across all of your devices and keep you on track.
Third, an app that I recently discovered is called Doodle. Whenever I try to schedule a meeting with more than two participants, it is often time-consuming and frustrating to find a time convenient for everyone when communicating availability back and forth through email. That’s why I love Doodle. Using this app, I can send an email to all participants with a link to multiple potential meeting dates and times that work with my schedule. Each invitee simply clicks a checkbox for which options work with their schedule. Once everyone has participated, I simply schedule the option that works best with everyone. It takes only a few minutes to setup in the app, but it spares me (and the rest of the invitees) a lot of time and headache with multiple emails.
I pray that these tips have been helpful. If you’d like to check out more of my blog posts, head on over to JasonALowe.com. There you will find weekly posts intended to equip churches and encourage leaders. May the Lord bless you as you seek to serve Him and others!
Working Smarter: Making The Most of Your 24 Hours
By Tricia Sciortino, CEO of BELAY
Fifteen years ago, I was the No. 1 District Manager at a large retail chain and for 12 years, my job had me traveling and working 80-hour weeks, including weekends and holidays.
Then, a pivotal life moment: I had my first daughter.
And I – like many other parents – found myself struggling to balance my demanding career with my new role as a mother. And after a year of trying desperately to juggle both – being as a present a parent I could be while leaving nearly everything I had on the road week in and week out, I had had enough.
I walked in one day and gave notice, having no idea where I’d go and what I’d do next. All I did know, however, was that wasn’t it.
Three months later, after a move from New York to North Carolina where I knew no one and had absolutely no idea what I’d do, I met and started working as an assistant for someone for five years.
That someone – Bryan Miles – came to me in the midst of a tanking economy with a proposition: He was leaving his current organization to start his own business – what would become BELAY – and asked me to join him.
I should’ve said no. But my gut said yes, so I did, too.
From its first employee as a Virtual Assistant to now serving as its CEO, my ‘why’ for brazenly walking into that office and quitting my retail job those many years ago remains the same: my family.
So regardless of the acronym alphabet soup that has sandwiched my name over the years – VA, VP, COO, CEO – I am fiercely committed to making the most of my working hours because when it’s time for my family, I won’t compromise.
And I achieve it with very intentional scheduling and time-blocking to maximize my productivity during my working hours.
Scheduling & Time-Blocking: Making The Most Of 24 Hours
So much to do, so little time.
But really, maximizing productivity comes down to — in large part, anyway — strategizing your week by prioritizing their tasks to schedule time for meetings, activities, appointments, deep work, and administrative duties. It also includes blocking for fundamental items like project work, scheduled days off, family and friends, and even fitness or other health goals.
Establishing your Ideal Work Week is an effective way to keep your priorities in line, increase productivity, and make your work easier because you'll be better equipped to anticipate what lies around the corner.
What This Looks Like In Application
If you're not familiar with the rock, pebbles, and sand jar analogy, the short version is that our time is like a jar, in which we must find room for all our rocks, representing the most important projects and things you have going on; the pebbles, representing the things in your life that matter, but that you could live without; and the sand, representing the remaining filler tasks.
My preference is to have three or fewer meetings every day. Knowing that, my virtual executive assistant will schedule my days and block time accordingly.
Using the Ideal Work Week and time-blocking helps me …
It looks a little something like this …
Sow Today, Reap Tomorrow
I understand that as a leader, when you actually stop and think about all the things you do every day, all the things begin to add up – and quickly. I understand that, at least initially, trying to compartmentalize everything into tidy, neat blocks of time is overwhelming at best, and seemingly impossible at worst.
But you can do this. I balked. I pushed back. I still get my hand slapped by my VA when I slip into old, bad habits – though not as often as before.
So once you've created your ideal work week – and this is the tough part – you have to commit to it and live it.
You can only maximize your productivity at work and have time to cherish and capitalize on the other – arguably more important – parts of your life when you commit.
And for those of us who need the extra support – read: hand-slap – from an executive assistant to maximize our productivity, my book, Rise Up & Lead Well: How Leveraging An Assistant Will Change Your Life & Maximize Your Time, has got you covered.
In it, I share everything I’ve learned – sitting on both sides of the desk – about how to work successfully with an assistant so you can, too.
To learn more about BELAY or Tricia Sciortino, click on the social media icons below.
“Exhausted“ is the word many leaders are using in 2021.
Exhausted from courageously leading others through a global pandemic. Exhausted from gently guiding their team during a divisive political season. Exhausted from carefully navigating the changing schedule of working remotely.
When not properly dealt with, exhaustion can lead to overwhelming frustration and limited motivation. The result? Leaders are losing heart in leadership.
So how can you deal with exhaustion so that you do not lose heart in your leadership? The answer is found within the words of Jesus in Luke 18:1. Jesus said, “And He told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.”
Within the parable, and the stories Luke describes in the remaining narrative of chapter 18, we learn three effective ways leaders can avoid losing heart in ministry.
Are you a leader facing exhaustion? Prayer is the key to not losing heart in the middle of exhaustion. May you rest in the all-knowing, all-present, all-powerful God and not lose heart.
No, the dog didn't accidentally hit the keyboard as I was typing.
"3LQ" stands for "Three Leadership Questions". 3LQ is designed for new or seasoned leaders who want to lead in a way that glorifies God, impacts His Kingdom, and reinforces the family unit. Each month you will hear from leaders who will share valuable insight into leadership - leading yourself and leading others.
Starting May 2021, I will be presenting different leaders each month who will answer three questions on a variety of topics: Productivity, Leadership, Time Management, and more.
You'll hear from Pastors, Ministry Leaders, Corporate CEO's, Marketing specialists, and more.
Sign up below to be the first to receive updates when a new 3LQ is released.
Preparing the finishing touches on your Sunday sermon, the notification on your smartphone alerts you. While you assume the message is from a friend, you casually glance at the text message that begins with the words, “Our dear mother has passed away.”
The finishing touches of your Sunday sermon now on hold, you immediately call the family member. You realize the King of Kings and Lord of Lords has invited you to shepherd this precious family through difficult days ahead. Prayer, Biblical counseling, and Christian resources dealing with grief are all important ways to shepherd a family who have suffered a loss.
Yet another aspect of shepherding remains: Leading the funeral service.
What should you do when you're called upon to shepherd a family during a funeral service? I have provided a ten step guide below to offer assistance to you the next time you’re called upon to lead a funeral service.
For a customizable funeral service template and a graveside service template to provide assistance to you as you lead others during a funeral service, provide your name and email address below. I will send free resources to your inbox that will assist you during your next funeral service.
A good shepherd will care for the sheep by spending time with the sheep. Jesus said in John 10:14 (ESV), “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me...” Our good shepherd is with us always and promised to never leave us. Yet pastors are called to “shepherd the flock of God (First Peter 5:2)” and part of that call is to spend time with God’s flock.
Pastors who are called by God realize early on in ministry they are not omnipresent, but their love for God’s flock does not cease when they are unable to gather. So pastors pray. Pastors schedule time to lift up God’s flock by name to the Chief Shepherd.
The pastor will also set aside time to make a pastoral phone call to the member(s) who are unable to gather physically with the rest of the flock. While the phone call does not replace the physical presence of the pastor, the phone call can be spiritually edifying for the flock of God.
Most often, once you begin with an opening question, the conversation will flow. However, should there be a lull in the conversation, here are ten straightforward questions that can open the door for purposeful conversation.
What are some helpful questions you fall back on when you make pastoral calls to those whom God has called you to lead? Leave your comments below to serve other leaders in the ministry.
Simply looking at my smartphone screen can open up a world of possibility. My smartphone can recognize my facial features, react by opening the device, and then I proceed with sending an email, text message, DM, tweet, and so much more. My smartphone device has many wonderful productive and communicative features that I use on a daily basis.
On the other hand, using a screen and keyboard is not the only way I communicate to those God has called me to lead. There are alternative methods of communication without using technology. Most often, I aim to encourage others without using technology and there is an assortment of ways you can encourage those you lead without using technology.
I have listed 10 ways to encourage someone without using technology below. While we can use technology to communicate with one another, communicating with one another does not always have to be in the form of technology. Read through the list and add to the list by sharing the various ways you communicate with those you lead.
"United we stand, divided we fall."
Each election season that comes upon us in the United States of America, I always feel blessed that we live in a country that we have the freedom to vote. I also feel gratitude thinking about friends, family, and others who bravely fought for the freedoms we do have in the U.S.A.
Yet, each election season also brings a sense of division. It often comes down to: Right vs. Left; Conservative vs. Liberal; Republican vs. Democrat. In this election season, the perception of the disunity is greater than ever. While we watch the disunity during political debates, you may have also noticed the disunity on social media platforms between those whom you are called to lead.
"United we stand, divided we fall" is not just a quote for our wonderful country - it's also an adage for those whom you lead. How should you lead during the division? How can you lead your team (paid or volunteers) toward unity?
Standing in unity begins by standing together on our knees and it begins with you - the leader.
Colossians 4:2 says, "Continue steadfastly in prayer..." To continue steadfastly in something doesn't mean you continue in something when it's easy and back off when the 'going gets tough'. Leadership is difficult and leading during a time of division calls for strength and perseverance. Leading during division calls for strong leadership. Leadership during division calls for leaders to continue steadfastly in prayer.
"United we stand, divided we fall" is a wonderful slogan for our country, but it's also a rally cry for leaders to be united in prayer for those whom we lead. Leaders in churches, leaders in the classroom, leaders in the home, leaders in the factory, leaders in the field, leaders in ministry, are called to be united together in prayer. Leaders are called to pray for those whom we lead, for those who are in authority, and for those seeking an elected office.
Leadership in Ministry wants to provide you with a free seven day prayer guide. This prayer guide will guide you over the next seven days in how you can pray for those you lead, for those in authority, and for those seeking an elected office. Each day gives you a guide for your time of prayer along with Biblical support.
Will you commit to seven days of prayer for those you lead? Will you also commit to seven days of prayer for this election season as well?
If you will commit, fill out the form below. By filling out the form below, you will gain access to our seven day prayer guide and also will be included in our monthly "Leadership in Ministry: Inside Look": a newsletter looking at leadership in ministry.