Thursday, August 20, 2015

Top 5 Suggestions for Saying Up in a Down World

With all of the negativity surrounding us on social media and the news it seems we are in desperate need of something positive.   I, like many of you I would imagine, have considered closing down my Facebook account in an effort to stay away from the constant bickering and fighting that seems to permeate the site.   Each time I think about doing this, another thought comes to my mind and that is, "how am I using Facebook to glorify God?"

Here are a few suggestions on how you can move through life with a positive outlook, beginning with the issue on Facebook:

5) Facebook: This is difficult for many people, myself included, because with the creation of sites like MySpace, Facebook and Twitter....heck, even Blogger, society has bought into the idea that every voice should be heard.  That's a little silly and yet here I am posting on my blog thinking that "my voice should be heard." The beauty of my blog is that if you want to read my opinions, you are free to do so, but if you don't, you don't have to.  Many would argue that the same goes for Facebook and while that would be a good argument, Facebook allows for an immediate soapbox in response to someone's opinion or post, whereas my blog doesn't provide such a quick and direct response.  Simply put, we don't "have" to respond to everything that makes us mad or offends us and we surely don't need to fill Facebook with such negativity.  A great way to stay up in this down world is use Facebook for good, positive and encouraging posts and un-follow the negative stuff.

4) Read God's Word Daily: It may sound like legalism, but it really isn't. It's filling yourself with the good news and blessings that God has in store. How to read and when to read may become legalistic and there are a lot of suggestions out there as to how this "should" be done. As for me, I do it as the Lord leads me.  That may not be as easily discernible for some, but the key here is that the more good news you fill yourself with, the less "down" you will find yourself.  Whenever I am feeling down, those closest to me will ask, "when did you last read God's Word?"  What a wake up call that can be!

3) Pray Unceasingly: There is a reason 1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to pray without ceasing and I believe that the more we pray, the better we will feel.  There are a lot of other reasons to pray, don't get me wrong, but in this post it is important to focus on staying positive. Praying about what God has done, giving thanks and focusing on his goodness can really be great medicine for the mully grubs.

2) Do Unto Others: I don't know about you, but whenever I do something nice for someone else it really lifts me up. It feels good to help others and see their reaction when they realize someone has done something for them. Wouldn't the day be a little different if each day we were looking for someone to bless?  Be creative and think outside the box! If you go out of your way to bless someone else, that's 365 people in a year that you have touched in a special way!

1) Share the Gospel: This may sound like "preacher stuff," but I am always uplifted when I spend time telling someone about how amazing God has been to me, my family, our church and our friends. There is something special about sharing God's love and the stories of His blessings with others.  Sometimes it may be other Christians and then again sometimes it is with people that don't know Jesus.  The key is share the good news as much as you can with anyone and everyone. As the good news leaves your lips and hits your ears, it has a powerful way of reminding you of His love for you and that can lift up anyone's day.

I hope you have a great week!  What are some ways you encourage others and yourself this week?

And now.....Off to the lake!


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Top 5 Ways to Handle the Thorn in Your Flesh

As my ministry assistant aptly pointed out today, I have missed two weeks of blogging!  I apologize for doing so, but two weeks ago was camp and last week I was having major back troubles.  Now, as she also pointed out, "no excuses!" So, I don't offer those as excuses, but actually as a way to lead into today's blog.

For almost six years I have been battling spinal stenosis and degenerative disk disease, both of which are advanced. Advanced, in this case, means that I have the spine of a 65-75 year old with normal progression. This causes disc problems and bone spurs, both of which can really slow me down. I live with a daily dose of pain and the only real question is, "how bad will it hurt", not merely "will it hurt."  This has definitely become the "thorn in my flesh" like Paul talks about in 2 Corinthians 12:2-10.

With that in mind, today I will offer you 5 ways to deal with the "thorn" in your flesh, if in fact it doesn't seem that God is going to heal you right now.

5) Keep Praying:  Just because I haven't been healed today, doesn't mean I won't be healed tomorrow. I keep praying and regularly ask God to heal me. Countless times God has healed me, though they have been temporary. I have found that when I needed it the most, He has always come through.

4) Don't Get Mad: This is easier said than done, I know. There have been times that I have sat in anger and pain, tears in my eyes, and cried out to God to deliver me from this disease. Over time, I have learned how to deal with this in a more productive way and when I feel myself getting down or angry, I turn it back to praise by recognize how God is carrying me through it. Just like Paul, in my weakness, He is made stronger.

3) Praise God:  There are times when I don't feel as bad as others. As I type this today, my pain is at about a 5 on a scale of 10 and it's been increasing all morning.  Typically, by the end of the day, it is at an 8 or 9 and I find it difficult to even eat dinner without wanting to go lay down. When my pain level is at a 5 or below, I try to praise God for that!  It helps me remember how good it feels to not hurt as bad. When it is above that, I reflect on those times when it is less than a 5 and give him praise for I know healing is coming in one way or another.

2) Use it for His Glory:  Facebook is an amazing thing. Unless, you use it for a stage to vent from. Then it can be depressing and irritating to view.  I try and often post about how God is carrying me through the pain or going to get me beyond where I am at that moment. I try to remain positive in my posts and although I ask for prayer in many of them, I try and stay away from sounding defeated. Those posts can help others, encourage my readers and give God the glory and ultimately, they make me feel good too.

1) Don't Give Up: Just because God hasn't taken that thorn away from you, doesn't mean He won't.  We don't know how or when, but eventually, God will work it out for his glory.  Many times when things are going well, we tend to forget how much we need God. It is during these tough times that we depend on him greatly, so do just that. Depend on Him because it will be God and God alone that brings you the healing. Take it one day at the time and remember, don't give up and keep on living!

I know many thorns are in many of my readers and I hope these tips have helped you!  Do you have any ideas? to the lake!  That’s right, the lake! I found that I enjoy the lake much more than the river, now that I have a 1985 Lowe Pontoon boat! Never stop living!


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Knowing Your Source

In nearly a decade of ministry, I have learned a lot about what pastors and staff are expected to do in churches. What is interesting to me is that often times these expectations differ depending on the culture, location, makeup and history of the church. For a long time, many country pastors were nothing more than hired help that a local group contracted to care for their needs.  Visit them, even when they aren't sick or call on their family to share Jesus with them, so they don't have to do it themselves. They were to have a message each service, but it couldn't be a message that actually caused conviction, or the members would get upset and after all, we can't have convicted and upset members.  But as times have changed and more and more "doers" of God's Word have taken their called places in Pastoral leadership, we are seeing the differences between Pastor and Preacher become clearer and clearer.  In this post, I want to focus in on some things that church members have been relying on their Pastor to do, when he/she isn't equipped or capable of doing it. I call this, "Know Your Source" because it is important to know the source of your power.

The following list contains three things that are impossible for Pastors to do and yet God can handle them with ease.

1) Read Minds: My ministry years are full of amazing God stories and awesome experiences. However, they are also full of regrets and mistakes that have served as opportunities to learn. I remember at a church I was serving in, very early in my ministry, when a member approached me with something I had not done. I told this member that I had no idea this person wanted me to do that to which they replied, "You’re the Pastor, you should have known."  My regret was that I reacted instead of letting God react and I said to this person, 'I'm not a mind reader, you know?"  To which they honestly replied, "Well, you have to be if you're going to be a pastor."

Perhaps what they meant was that I needed to see things coming a little better and I can actually agree that as time has passed, God has gifted me to see the storm before it gets here...sometimes...not always.   Regardless, your pastor cannot tell you what is going to happen. The best they can do is tell you what God has instructed them to do, the direction the church should go and what they think needs to happen to get there.  It's not that the Holy Spirit doesn't guide us (all of us, believers!) but that just as you have a hard time discerning God's voice sometimes, so does your pastor.

The God Answer: God, however, can read your mind.  So if you desire something, God already knows. If you are thinking bad thoughts, God knows that too.  That's why the old hymn tells us to take everything to God in prayer.  God knows what we think, need and even want. Your pastor can't be your God. Let God be your God!

2) Be Everywhere: There is a fancy word for this and it is "omnipresent" which means, be everywhere.  If your pastor has a family, he can't possibly be at your beck and call. Believe it or not, his family is much more important to the success of his pastorate than you are.  That may sting a little, but scripture is clear time and time again that a pastor must have things in order at home and that means he must be with his family. The quantity of time is not nearly as important as the quality of time. So if you really want to call your pastor at 8pm and tell him about your day, but it's not an emergency (defined as something life or death, mind you) it can wait. You should respect him and his family and let them spend time together.

Another consideration is that if your church has deacons and they are biblical (which means they don't "run" the church, they support the helps ministry of the pastor) then you probably have one in which you can call in an emergency. This doesn't mean your pastor can't be called, but call your deacon first and then let him call your pastor if the situation warrants him coming.  It's not that he doesn't care, but unless your church has 35 or less, your pastor can't possibly be at every bedside or front door when someone stubs their toe.

The God Answer: God CAN be everywhere and IS.  Why is it that we are quicker to call our Pastor or Deacon than go to God? God is right there with us and when we need to talk to him, cry out to him or pray God is there and willing to listen and help. He loves us so much more than any human ever could and yet we tend to spend more time calling out for human support than that of our heavenly Father.  God is there the second you need him, so there is no waiting on God.  How often do you talk to God? How often do you listen?

3) Heal Your Pain: When I was a Hospice Chaplain I was surprised at how many believers wanted me to make the pain of losing a loved one go away.  For a while, I took it upon myself to try and make things better.  The fact is, I couldn't and neither can your pastor. What your pastor can do is hold your hand, cry with you and point you in the direction of healing which only comes from our Father.   The same goes with physical pain and while some believe that only the pastor can offer healing prayers to be heard by God, the truth is that all believers have access to God through the Son. The hard truth, beyond that, is that God doesn't always answer those prayers.

The God Answer: The Pastor cannot heal you. He can pray for you and he can encourage you. He can point you to scripture and the promises contained. But he cannot make your pain, whether emotional or physical, go away.  What God does is promise that his grace is sufficient to get you through it, even if He doesn't offer immediate healing. These are the times we must rely on him the most. When my back/neck flares up, I know I must rely on God to get me through it. I take it one minute at a time, which at times feels like hours, and I pray every time. I ask God to heal me and take away my pain. Sometimes He does, but it's only temporary.  Yet I remain thankful that even if I don't get healed on earth, I will be healed when I cross over into Glory Land one day!

There are so many things that we expect our pastor's to do and the truth is, our pastor didn't die on the cross for us, so we must stop holding up to the standard of Christ, in that respect.  I am interested in hearing from you! What are some things you've expected of your Pastor, that were way above his pay-grade?  While you think and share, I must tell you that it is that time once again........Off to the River!


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Top 5 Ways to Encourage Your Volunteers

Church volunteers are so important, mainly because no matter what you might think the pastor/staff should do, they can't possibly do it all.  Additionally, the church could not possibly pay every person (especially what they deserve) to do the work of the ministry.  This is why volunteer appreciation is so vital. I explored this concept of volunteer importance in my book Game Changers and today I want to give you (leaders!) five ways you can encourage your volunteers!

5) Thank You Cards: A thank you card can go a long way.  If you are the head of a department (and you might even be a volunteer department head, but this still applies) it is important that those under your leadership know how much you care.  Thank you cards are important and simple, but don't go cheap in the way you do it.  When your volunteer opens their card they need to see a hand written thank you note from you. Go into details as to why you are thankful God has placed them on your team. Don't simply sign your name, it looks tacky.

4) Gift Cards Are Great: Depending on your church's budget, or your own personal budget for that matter, buying a handful of inexpensive gift cards can be great!  When I was on staff as an Associate Pastor, I budgeted for volunteer appreciation.  We took time to purchase a handful of "FREE BUFFET" cards at the local pizza restaurant and each week I sent out three individual cards to my volunteers. I did this until all of our volunteers had received one and then I went to the local yogurt shop and did it again.  I heard from many how thankful they were to receive this gift and it wasn't that expensive.  Usually I spent around $5 per card and if you budget carefully, it is possible to do this often. Granted, the bigger the church, the harder this might be (and the smaller, perhaps more challenging as well) but generally speaking it's a great starting point.

3) Tell them "Thank You": There is nothing like hearing someone say, "I wish (my leader) acted like they appreciate me." Thank you's are free and if used correctly they can be a tremendous help to encouraging your volunteers. Too many times department leaders get caught up in their responsibilities and forget that the people God has placed with them to do the ministry are vital to it being done. No leader can do it on their own and those who try will burn out quickly.  That is why regularly telling volunteers how thankful you are for them and why (i.e. tell them how they add value to your ministry and the church) is something that should be done weekly. You might not tell the same person thanks every week, but you should be prepared to thank someone every time you are working in your ministry.

2) Volunteer Appreciation: At least once a year the staff and department leaders should host a volunteer lunch/supper for the volunteers. If your church is "big" you can do this by department. I.e. have the children's volunteers one night and the youth on another. If the church is small enough to do it all together, go for it.  The planning is best if you figure it out as opposed to me telling you, but rest assured what needs to be done is a time of worship as you give thanks to the Lord for them. They have been working a lot for the ministry, on this day/night, let the volunteers rest and be served by their leaders.

1) Time Off: This may sound counterproductive since we need volunteers to do the work of the ministry in and out of the church.  The reality is that they are human and need time off. Many of them will give their vacation and family time to ministry work and the very dedicated will sacrifice these for years.  This is unhealthy and they need to be encouraged to take time off.  When I served as a Children’s Pastor, we took off July and had substitutes prepared and ready.  The regular teachers were encouraged to spend time on vacation or in the "adult service" with their families while our "July Substitutes" took care of teaching the kids.  Now, as a Senior Pastor, we work hard through the summer but from Thanksgiving through New Year's we cancel all evening services so our volunteers can rest and enjoy the holidays with their families.  However you do it, encourage your folks to take time off, lest they burn out.

These are a few things I have done over the years. What are some things you've seen?

Have a great week!  God bless!  And to the river!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Top 5 Ways to Encourage Your Church Staff

I'll bet I can read your thoughts.  You might take a look at the picture and think that this post is a little self-serving.  I ensure you that it is not and that I am in no way sharing this for personal gain. Instead, I am sharing it for personnel's  gain.

In my limited experience in ministry (9 years in October) I have seen a common trend among churches.  Now I realize that if you know me personally, it isn't hard to know which churches I have served in, thus making it fairly easy to figure out which churches I am talking about.  I do want you to stay focused, so instead of making you guess, I will just tell you that I have seen weaknesses (of which I hope to remedy with you today) in all four.  That's right, all four of them were weak when it comes to staff appreciation.  Now that I have been completely honest with you, let's examine how your church can raise the bar well beyond the mediocrity that we have come to accept and expect in the church today.  Regardless of how many paid staff you do or don't have, this can apply to every church.  It is right to recognize volunteers as well and I will address that next week!  For today, we will focus on paid staff and pastors.

5) Encouragement: This is especially great if your staff member(s) is a "Word's of Affirmation" person. (See for more on love languages).  At our church, we utilize
"Connection Cards," a great idea we borrowed from another church I served at (which I am sure borrowed it from someone else).  From time to time, take a moment to write our encouragement on the connection card and leave it for the staff member. Tell them why you thank God for them and let them know you are praying for are praying for them, right?

4) Date Night: If your staff member(s) is married and has children, they probably don't get out very much.  Offer to watch the kids at your place, at their place or at the church. Have someone with you and plan on keeping them for a couple of hours. If you're uncomfortable watching the kids, offer to pay for the couple to go have dinner and let them arrange a baby sitter.  You can adjust this as you need to, but what is important is that you show them you are encouraging their relationship. You want to see them grow together and bond and as much as we love our kids, they can make this challenging.

3) Small Card/Gift: If you don't know when their birthday is, you should ask. I don't make a big deal out of mine, but if someone asks, I will tell them.  For your staff, go the extra mile to find out and drop them a small card or gift in the mail.  The staff member will truly appreciate the fact that you took the time to think of them. It affirms them and helps them know that you care. You don't need to spend a lot of money on this and usually $5 is plenty!

2) Talk to Them: Many Pastors and Staff don't get to enjoy the luxury of having someone talk to them. Usually someone is talking about them and in the rare case that someone is talking to them, it is usually for advice or help on some issue in the member's life.  I can't spend a lot of time visiting with people (outside normal Pastoral visitation time) and chances are your staff cannot do this either.  However, set up an appointment and bake some cookies (or pick them up from the store) and sit down with that staff member and talk. Remember, the key to this is not the food (you don't even have to get cookies) it is to listen.  You like to be listened to and I know your staff enjoys it as well.  Ask them how they are doing. Inquire about their kids and family. Take time to listen and show them you care about them as much as you want them to care about you.

1) Pray For/With Them: You know something. In almost 9 years of ministry, I don't think I have ever once had someone say, "Pastor, can I pray with you?" unless something was going on.  It might just be me, but if it isn't, then you should consider praying with them.  It is great to pray for them, and you should do this a lot!  However, imagine their surprise if you stopped by to pray for them.  It doesn't take long, but can go a long way towards encouraging your staff.

I have truly been honored to serve on staff with some amazing people and I currently serve with some real gems. I count them as a great blessing and I don't know if many blessed churches truly understand how great it is to have a great staff.  If your staff is amazing, perhaps you should show them how much you care. My question to you is, "what are some other ways to show your appreciation?" I look forward to reading your responses! And now......Off to the river!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Top 6 Ways to Be Irresponsible in the Church

By reading the title you may think that I've either lost focus of what this blog is all about or that I am using satire and I assure you I haven't lost the focus.

Far too often we find ourselves searching for our own comforts when we come to church. We are willing to sacrifice what the Lord has called us to do in an effort to remain where and how we want to. If that is your goal, you are embarking on an irresponsible life in His church. As an added bonus, here are some ways you ensure you won't become responsible anytime soon. (I'm still in a satirical mood, don't get confused)

6) Assume Everything

I will spare you the inevitable "don't you know what happens when you assume" joke that everyone tells and thinks they are being so clever! And yes, I've done it and thought I was being clever too.  When there are a lot of changes going on in the church or the church is growing and communication is not up to the standard of excellence that it should be, people tend to begin assuming why things are happening. "Why did that music leader change the way he used to do songs" or "how come that guy isn't playing the drums anymore and that other person is instead?"  Those types of questions are harmless enough, but when answered by the uninformed mind, it can be a recipe for disaster. Assuming that the pastor must be micromanaging the music minster or that the guy who used to play the drums must have had a moral failure and has been removed from his position, will simply give the Devil a foothold in your life and in the church. You may begin to become angry or resentful and you are probably completely wrong.  The best solution is for you to simply go ask. Go ask the drummer why he isn't playing anymore. You might find out that he needs surgery on his wrist and the doctor has asked him to sit out for a while. That's a lot different than him having an affair, now isn't it?  Of course, if you want to be irresponsible, make sure you assume the worst.

5) Share Your Assumptions with Others
Once you have been clever enough to discern what is going on without asking someone, now you have a duty to go and tell other people about your discovery! Keeping with the example of the drummer, make sure you tell your Sunday School class that they need to pray for "Bill" because he has been asked to step down from the drums and you can only assume the worst.  Bill and his wife have been coming to church in separate vehicles as well and you know what that means! Don't stop there! Make sure you tell your dearest friends over lunch, post prayer requests on Facebook for an "unspoken drummer and his estranged wife" and for Pete's sake, tell everyone you can so they don't have to figure it out for themselves.  This will ensure your irresponsibility remains intact!

4) Blame Others
This next one will really help maintain your irresponsible reputation! I can pretty much guarantee it and if I am wrong, it has to be someone else's fault! If you have any responsibilities in the church, and if you do I don't know why since working in the church is reserved for the paid staff only!  But, if you do, make sure you don't take responsibility when things go wrong. After all, there has to be someone else who caused the problem.  If you start taking the blame for things, people will respect you and believe that you are leadership material. With leadership comes responsibility and that is direct enemy of irresponsibility. So please, don't accept blame, even when it is your fault!

3) Wait for Someone Else to do Something
Of all my ideas I have to say this is the best ever!  You can already picture this I am sure. You are sitting in the sanctuary and the "Minster of Announcements" (everyone needs a title, right?) asks for people to sign up for Vacation Bible School.  You might be inclined to sign up, but DON'T! Sitting there and not saying a word is crucial for you unless you desire to have people expect things of you! To ensure you aren't called on, don't make eye contact with the speaker and by all means if that person does call on you for something, grab your phone, put it up to your ear and say, "Oh no! I will be right there" and run out!  Remember, if you agree to something, you will expected to follow through. Of course, you could always drop the ball and if that happens......see # 4 above.


2) Do Everything You Can To Remain Comfortable
I just don't understand why people can't remain comfortable in the church.  Churches have spent a lot of money on making the sanctuary pretty with the latest in high tech equipment.  How in the world could a person not be comfortable. It is your responsibility, must be your heart's desire to look out for yourself! Number 1! The big kahuna! In order to do this, I suggest you do the following: 1) Claim your seat in the sanctuary every week.  Get there early so some guest doesn't try and take it from you. Perhaps you could bring a blanket and leave it in that seat all week long! Hey! Leave your Bible there too, that will help! 2) Make friends with whoever controls the A/C and when you get hot, fan your bulletin like crazy until they go change it.  3)  Place your Bible next to you on one side and your purse (ladies) or keys (guys) on the other side. Don't move them if anyone comes to sit down in that spot, after all, you need about 24 inches on each side to make certain you are comfortable. And by all means, don't make eye contact when someone tries to sit next to you.

1) Complain About Everything
I am sure, if you are doing the other five above already, this one will come with very little trouble.  Face it, you're already a pro, but you could consider stepping this one up a little bit. Everything can be complained about, so you don't have to prepare much. Instead, just look for something and then get upset about it. For example, if the sound is too loud, complain, however if it isn't loud enough, complain.  The preacher will go long or too short, so get ready for that. He won't use enough verses or maybe too many!  Someone is going to cough, a child might cry, the lighting won't be good enough, there are too many guests and you don't know them all nor have they come over and introduced themselves to you and the list goes on and on.  If you find that you are getting tired from complaining so much, complain about that too! 

As you can tell, there are plenty of ways to remain or become irresponsible in the church today! What are some of your ideas?  (...satire off)

Of course, if you want to become a responsible member of your church, be sure to do the opposite of this post =)

And now.....Off to the River!!!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Top 4 Weakest Areas of Volunteerism in the Church

Before I begin posting the top four weakest areas of volunteerism in the church, it is important to recognize that this is not necessarily the same for every church. An area listed on this post may be the strongest area in your church and what is strong in your church may not be somewhere else. With that being clear, here are the top four weakest areas of volunteerism in the church, according to me....

4) Teachers/Small Group Leaders: Regardless of whether it is the need for people to rock and change babies in the nursery, the need for children's classroom teachers, youth group leaders or adult Sunday school class and small group leaders the chase is always on to recruit more of these people.  So much so, that many times churches are willing to adopt the "if they say they are a Christian, put them in there" mentality.
It's really no surprise to me that we react that way sometimes. In the words of Sophia Petrillo, picture it....  a concerned department leader comes into the pastor's office and says, "Pastor, we need some teachers. We are overrun with (insert age group here) and we don't have enough teachers to teach them!"  If we are not careful, panic sets in and we start fishing for people to teach.  This can be one of the most detrimental choices we make, if we don't vet and truly know who (and what they believe) we are putting into these classrooms. That being said, the need is still great and more than likely it isn't because God has not sent teachers into his churches. It is because those called to teach are not answering the call. 

3) Events/Outreach:  The Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) instructs us to "go and make disciples" and one of the proven ways to evangelize is through event evangelism.  Whether it's a Vacation Bible School, Revival, Movie Under the Stars, etc what is important is that it is fully staffed with volunteers.  People need to be on hand to plan the event, run the equipment, assist guests, lead discussion, act as counselors when people have questions about making a decision to follow Christ, set up and break down and the list goes on and on.  If the planning team has done their part, they will know how many people are needed and where they are needed long before the day of the event.  Beyond that, "the best laid plans of mice and men, often go awry" and this is guaranteed if God's people don't answer the call to volunteer and support the mission work that this event is designed to accomplish.

2) Prayer Team Members: Sadly enough, it seems that the weekly "prayer meeting" that many older generations were accustomed to as a regular part of their week has gone away.  It hasn't gone away because of some young pastor who decided to kill it (although I am sure that has happened in some churches).  It has gone away, or is on life-support, because corporate prayer is not an important part of the believer's life anymore.  In fact, the discipline of prayer takes a backseat in many Christians lives, especially young and new Christians. When do you pray? When someone asks? When trouble is lurking? What about the constant state of prayer, daily and when things are going well?  Unfortunately, because prayer life has dwindled, people don't see it as important to gather with other believers and pray.  Yet, not one major thing took place in the Bible without prayer first. This is probably a heart issue more than anything, but it is a weak place in the church and must be strengthened. 

1) Disciple Makers: The Great Commission, mentioned earlier, instructs us to make disciples.  After baptism, we are to teach them to obey Christ's commands.  The first century church did this well and had small groups meeting in homes. I don't have a problem with churches meeting together for "bigger" corporate worship, but if that is all they are doing, they are doing things wrong.  Whether you call them small groups, life groups, community groups or whatever, people need to gather in these smaller groups to pray, study and fellowship.  But that isn't enough either!  Every believer should be taking a younger believer under their wing and teaching them.  It can be done over a weekly breakfast or lunch.  It can be done monthly, if need be, at someone's home or switch up the location from time to time.  What is important is that we take time to disciple other people. The mistake is that people figure the pastor/staff will handle this on Sunday.  Your pastor/staff have their responsibilities in this area, but couldn't possibly disciple everyone. It takes believers (disciples) making other disciples, who in turn, make other disciples.  Who are you spending time with in discipleship?  

I am sure you can add more to this list and would love to hear from you! Post your thoughts below and add to the list of weak areas of volunteerism in the church! to the river.