Monthly Archives: April 2012

Should we use Credit Cards for the Church?

Credit Card

Having a good plan in place for proper use of funds will help with the overall stewardship process of your church. Often the use of credit cards and churches do not mix well.  Some are afraid of unwise use of cards or spending that may or may not be accounted for on a monthly basis.  And there have actually been leaders and pastors who have misused the church funds for their own purposes.  We shouldn’t judge all leaders and pastors on the actions of a few.  There are certain aspects of daily church business that requires some type of cash flow that is available to the leaders, pastors and/or business managers of the church.  I have found the system below to work well in providing accountability of spending and giving freedom to make necessary purchases on a daily basis for ministry functions.

The truth is if we can’t trust those who are leading our ministries and our church, then how they handle the money is the least of our concerns.  How they are leading our ministries and our church should be of a greater concern.

I hope this structure below helps as you develop guidelines for credit card use in your church.

Church Credit Card Policy

Those who use a credit card to make purchases within the church should follow the procedure listed below:

  1. Get a personal credit card in your name that will be strictly for the purpose of church business.
  2. Use that credit card for all budgeted purchases you make.  (If a purchase has not been budgeted, it will need to be approved prior to the purchase.)
  3. Keep your receipts
  4. Any purchase of more than $250 will need to be approved to check for availability of funds and cash flow.
  5. When the bill/statement comes in either to your address or to the church, you will need to fill out a monthly report indicating account totals (i.e. if you have made several purchases for supplies within your ministry, you will need to enter that on one line with a total that goes into that account)
  6. Turn the Accounting sheet along with the bill & receipts in to accounting to be paid.
Once you receive your bill, identify the account numbers and the total spent within each account and log this below.  Do not show each account more than once.  Simply give an overall total spent within each account.  Place the receipts in an envelope, attach envelope to the bill and turn in for payment

Account # Description of Account Dollar amount spent
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
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You Can’t Control the Future!

 Did you know that you or I can’t control the future.  It’s not possible.  There are times in our lives when we have the appearance of control, but at any given moment that can change.  Each day there are things that happen that are actually beyond our control.  It’s hard for us to accept sometimes, because we like to think that we are in control.  But how many of us have lost sleep because of something that consumed our thoughts about the next day?  How many of us have attempted to manipulate a situation in an attempt to control the future outcome?  How many of us are stuck in the past because we’re afraid to move to the future?  I know a few years back I worked in a company that I had been at for many years.  I had worked my way up from the lowest position they had to the point of helping run the company and being a decision maker in the company.  Because I had been there for a while, I had established a certain amount of comfort throughout each day.  I knew the job.  I was also secure in my job and could see it being a long-term career.  It was safe because I knew the people I worked with, I was earning a paycheck and found some satisfaction in what I was doing.  The only problem was, I also knew that this wasn’t what God wanted me to do long-term in my life.  But I was secure, comfortable and safe.  All of these things working together make it hard to move into the unknown.  That’s what all of our futures are … UNKNOWN.  We’re not sure what will happen tomorrow.  We’re not sure what the next phone call will be about or what will happen at the next stop light.  But God knows it all.  We spend a lot of our time worrying about many things.  A majority of those things never come to pass.

Proverbs 16:9 tells us, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.” Later in Proverbs 19:21 we read, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.”  This lets us know really who we should look to in our lives for our next steps and purpose in our lives.  The Lord has a better plan than we could even begin to imagine.

In Matthew 6:25-34  we read, 25“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?  28“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

If you’re like me, you spend a lot of time consumed with either what has happened or what will happen, but not much time thinking about what IS HAPPENING.  The truth is that we’re too busy trying to control our future that we miss today.  The worry of damage control or preparation for tomorrow immobilizes us in the present.

I want to explore  why we’re consumed by the future.  I see 5 areas in this passage that we can explore to help us learn to live more in the present.

  1. We’re afraid we won’t succeed. (25)  We look at what as going on around us and measure our success by what we have and how well things are going.  We’re afraid that if we don’t get everything just right then somehow the world will come crashing down around us.  Somewhere along the line, we learned that failure is a bad thing in our lives.  And, although it is difficult to go through a season of failure, it is one of the best opportunities we have in life to learn more about ourselves and our God.
  2. We don’t realize our value. (v 26)  God loves us more than words can express.  That’s why He sent His son into the world to live and die for us and to live again.  We are valuable not because of what we do, but because of who we are in Him.  We need to realize that God doesn’t measure our worth based on whether or not we can hold the world together, He already has that coverd.  He loved us before we were loveable and desires a personal relationship with each one of us.
  3. We live by sight not by faith. (v 25-27)  We are conditioned to look at the physical things of this world as a guide for how well things are going.  We have learned to trust in what we can see around us because it’s harder to trust in what we cannot see.  To live by faith, we actually have to let go and let God take control.  We have to admit that we don’t have all the answers and can’t predict everything that will take place.  Faith is living in such a way that often goes against what the world will tell you to do.  It’s trusting God even when the finances don’t balance, or the move doesn’t make since, or you don’t know where the next meal for your kids is going to come from.  Faith is expressed in the details of life.
  4. We don’t pursue God. (v 33)  We work hard at pursuing our careers, our families, our hobbies and other relationships.  Often in the course of life, we fail to pursue God.  We assume He will be in our plans and will bless our efforts.  We assume that we are going in the right direction.  Our assumptions often take us away from God as we pursue the world’s view of success, security, value and happiness.  But the verse here tells us to seek God first above all things.  He should be our number one pursuit.  When we put that relationship first above everything else … everything else seems to fall in place.  It’s awesome the way God works.
  5. We forget His promises. (v 33)  He tells us if we seek Him first and He’ll take care of everything else.  Does that mean steak for dinner every night?  No.  Does that mean namebrand clothes in a packed closet? No.  It does mean that He will direct our paths and guide us through each day as we seek to glorify Him.  Let’s not forget that He promised that we’re not in this life alone.  He is there and waiting to be an active part of our lives.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.”  Let’s do what we can to just take it one day at a time and let God handle all of the tomorrows that come our way.  We have enough going on in each day to consume our thoughts and actions without bringing in everything from the tomorrows that may not ever come as we think.  As we live each of our days for the value they bring, let’s seek to give Him the glory He deserves.  He is the one who is in control of all things and we get to experience the journey with Him.


Timeline Plans for Stewardship

I work best with systems in place.  I don’t have to continually reinvent the wheel, just tweak it from time to time.  The timeline below has worked great in setting up some simple stewardship plans within our church.  Many of these things I have learned by reading after Steve Stroope, Nelson Searcy, and other trainings that I go to on a fairly regular basis.  This plan has been put together as I have taken various aspects of those trainings to create a system.  I hope it is helpful to you.

Annually

Secure an Annual Commitment (Usually in January)

  • Use a card in services: Will you recommit yourself to being in a small group (which group), sharing your faith (who is on your card), quiet time (morning, afternoon or night), Serving (where), Giving (What will you give to general fund, building fund, missions fund). This is usually about the third week of January.  This is recommitting to basic Christian discipline. Allow people to specify how they plan to fulfill their commitments this year (including the amount they plan to give to the general fund, capital campaign and missions).  Don’t base your budget off of this amount – it’s for the individuals themselves. People are 15 times more likely to keep a commitment that they write it down and hand it in.

Receive Christmas Eve Offering (In addition to General Fund Offering)

  • This offering can go towards the Benevolence fund to help meet needs as they arise in the upcoming year.

Receive an Annual Offering (In addition to General Fund & Christmas Eve Offering)

  • This can be done every December.  Most nonprofits send out a lot of requests at this time of year, because they know that it is a time when people are most willing to give.  Identify what the Annual offering is going towards.  If it is missions, identify those areas specifically that people can give to.  Be detailed.  People want to know specifics.  Mail a separate envelope to the homes.  Additionally have a separate envelope in the chairs for this offering.
  • This offering is a special offering given during a set period of time around Christmas.  It encourages people to give over and above their regular tithe and offerings.  The areas this offering goes towards needs to be “Heart” projects.  It encourages people and challenges people to get involved and offers blessings for people who get involved.  The goal for this offering should be set initially to be 2 or 3 times your weekly offering.  Once your church has done this a few times, your goal will more likely be 4 to 6 times your weekly offering.
  • Identify One-time causes and new initiatives to work towards and promote.  Have no more than 3 or 4 heart causes (non-recurring).  Types of “Heart” causes could include: Missions, Church Planting, Servant Evangelism, Counseling, and Benevolence, Help for Poor & Needy, Children’s Ministry, Youth, Seniors, New Church Plant, New Multi-site Locations.  The good thing is if you don’t raise it, you don’t fund it.  These should be things that you can’t do unless people get involved.  Any money given over and above your goal can be divided equally between missions and the annual budget.
  • If you hit your goal before the season for giving is over, you can always expand the goal by adding additional elements to the goal.  Tell the church that “God has bigger plans”.  This would be a true statement if He is bringing in additional funding.
  • Note: If all of the leaders in the church give, you’re more likely to get all of your people to give.  If only half of your leaders give than likely only half of the church will give.  The Pastor and staff needs to step up and give the first gifts towards this offering.  Make it the first and best gift you can give.  If you need to pay over a few weeks, then do it.  Be sure you are a part of setting the example.
  • When you mail out your packet for the Annual Offering include, a letter from the pastor, 2 page overview sheets, Q&A Pages, Giving Envelope – Put all of this in a 6×9 envelope.  Mail this out the week after the offering is announced.  Send it to everyone who has an affiliation with your church.  If you extend the annual offering into the new year, you may want to mail another packet at the beginning of the new year.
  • You should begin your kick off for this offering the Sunday before Thanksgiving (even sooner if possible).  Include it in your Week at A Glance email newsletter every week.  Give updates and tell people where you are at in the campaign beginning in mid December (talk percentages or hard numbers, which ever works best for the time).
  • You should promote the annual offering from the stage, in sermons, in small groups, at events and activities, in leadership training meetings, etc… When you get tired of talking about the Annual Offering, the people will have heard it for the first time.  Use creative redundancy.  Think through how you say it.  Focus on the Why of the offering.  Focus in on a different area of the offering each week.

Limit Special Offerings each year

  • Don’t nickel and dime your church.  You cannot hype something new every month and expect your people to respond fresh every month.

Annual Gifts

  • At the end of each year, everyone who gives over a certain threshold will receive a gift and a letter of appreciation to those givers.  The gift might be “The Treasure Principle”, a DVD of life changes that year, or even a book on spiritual growth. You can determine what the baseline threshold is.  This investment in these people will help them develop in their gift of giving and/or see what their giving has done to impact the Kingdom.

Quarterly Letter/Statements

Send quarterly statements to give people a chance to correct their giving before the end of the year. You need to maximize these quarterly giving statements.  Include a Financial Newsletter; keep it simple and easy to understand.  Make it about more than just finance by including small group involvement, ministry involvement and other areas.  Let people know what their gift has helped you to accomplish over the quarter.  Identify life change stories because of the giving – not just numbers … include names (remember that stewardship is a heart issue).  Let people know how you are accountable for money spent and identify how the money is spent (If you are audited, let them know).  This is a chance to communicate to your people how you (leadership) are being good stewards of the resources they’re giving.  The more formal your giving statements look, the more people give.  There is trust in professionalism.  This letter or newsletter needs to come either from the lead pastor or the executive pastor.  It is always good to remind people to be consistent in their giving (2nd Quarterly statement usually has this theme).  Always put a “P.S.” in your letters – People usually read this first.  Make it more personal by signing it first name only.  Place your title below the P.S.  When sending out your letter, find a strategic time.  You may use it to coincide with helping promote a new series or something that is going to be happening.  Include some add in promotional items with the quarterly statement. It doesn’t have to be right at the end of the quarter.  To grab attention, put teaser notes on the front of your envelope.  Let people know about projects.  Include a list of designated giving options they can give toward ($50 leather-bound bible that is given to new Christians to $50,000 van for the church … this can be things that are in the budget).  This is usually about 14 items. Also tell how to give online, etc… Put camp scholarships in newsletter.  If it is 4th Quarter statement, the front of the envelope can be, “Important 2012 Tax Documents Enclosed”.

Note: You could do another statement at the end of November to help promote year end giving.  This is an opportunity to let people make sure their records are up to date.  If you do send one out at the end of November,  your Third Quarter giving statement should go out at the first of October.  Make sure the 3rd quarter statements go out First Class; this allows you to know if the address is wrong.  Bulk mailing just gets thrown out.  A website resource for ideas on mail outs is lumpymail.com.

Monthly

You can promote giving in your monthly newsletter.  Make a constant box for online giving or automatic giving.  You can also use this section to insert testimonies from members who have seen how giving has changed their lives and their perspective on God.

Weekly

First Time Givers (Send Something)

  • Send out first time giver email… thank them for their gift.  According to our records this is the first time you have given
  • When someone gives to your church it’s a great time to ask for them to give again.
  • Can send a gift to first time givers.  “The blessed life” (Randy Morris) or “Treasure Principle”.
  • First time giving letters should come from the Lead Pastor.
  • Count the number of first time givers and the number of total givers to be able to track trends within giving.

Regular Givers (Thank Them and encourage with books etc..)

  • Get a big giver report every week …  ($1000 for the first time or out of the ordinary).  They will get a handwritten letter from the pastor.  “Dear ___, Thank you for honoring God with your finances.  Your giving helps support the ministry of our church.  (signed by Pastor)  Keep a record of who those notes go out to so you don’t continue to send out the same note. If they have never received the treasure principle book … they get the treasure principle book.  If they have that you can send The Generous Giver book, The Rest of God, Margin, Fields of Gold by Andy Stanley or other life development books could be helpful.

Extravagant Givers

  • Follow the regular givers layout above.  You can also write a personal handwritten note to key givers to thank them for being willing to give.
  • Consider lining up a meal (breakfast or lunch) once or twice a week with key donors.  Once they hit a certain point in giving, have these meals be automatically set up.  This meeting is not to show favoritism to those who give, but to invest in a leader within your church who has been blessed with the spiritual gift of giving.  When you go to this meeting, get a record of their giving.  This card should have the name of the spouse, kids, activity in small group, where they are serving, etc.  Ask the giver, “Is there any way our church can do a better job of helping you grow in Christ?”  Do you have any questions about where our church is going or anything that is going on in our church?” (If they have any concern about the direction or vision of the church it will affect their giving.)  Thank them for giving financially to the church.  Tell a story of a life that was changed in the recent past.  Ask them how you can pray for them and add them to your permanent prayer list.  You generally do not ask for money at these meetings and often times it is not discussed heavily. (If you’re in a capital campaign, ask them to pray about giving the biggest gift that they have ever given.)  The main goal of this meeting is developing relationships and trust with these givers.

The timeline above is really based on the idea that stewardship is discipleship.  We must invest in people and encourage them along the journey as they grow spiritually.  I pray that some of the above plans can help you move forward in developing a culture of generosity within your church.

Be Yourself

I’ve often thought about how amazing it is that God made each and every one of us unique.  I know if it were me doing the creating, once I got to a good design, I would make a lot of duplicates.  But God not only made us unique, but is glorified in our uniqueness.  But too many times, we get caught in the cycle of being someone that God did not make us to be.  We try to be like a friend, our pastor, our dad, our brother or someone else we think has it all together.  Because of this, we aren’t living in our sweet spot.  I like to think of my life like a suitcase.  When I’m getting ready to go on a trip, long or short, there are a few things that I consider as I pack my bags.  The first thing is my destination.  I pack according to where I’m going.  I’ll pack differently for going to a place near me or going overseas.  The second thing is the season or the weather.  I pack according to the time of year.  Is it going to be hot or cold?  I also consider things that I may enjoy on any trip.  Is it a business trip or a casual trip? Will I have time to read? What else can I do in my downtime?

The truth is, if we were to all pack for the same trip and then compare bags, chances are great that there wouldn’t be any two bags alike.  We take care in packing and put a lot of thought into it and a lot of it is based on who we are.  We can’t live out of other people’s bags.  It doesn’t work that way.  The clothes wouldn’t fit, the extra’s wouldn’t match what we enjoy.

God has done the same thing with us in our lives.  He considered our destination and the timing and even considered what we may enjoy.  He packed each one of us to be who he created us to be.  Because of that, each of us are packed differently.  We may have some similarities, but not one of us in here are exactly alike.  That’s God’s plan.  He doesn’t want us to all be alike … he has intentionally created us to be different.  We would find it difficult to effectively use the tools and gifts that others have been given.  But it becomes easy to use the ones that God has given to us.  Instead of running from who we are, we should be excited about how God has made us.

A key thought through all of this is that when your uniqueness meets with God’s purpose, everyone benefits!

I’ve discovered 4 reasons in scripture to be yourself.

I Corinthians 12:14-18 tells us, “Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.

  1. You belong.  Belonging means that you’re connected to something bigger than yourself.  Because of that, you have a responsibility that fits with who God made you to be.  Belonging lets us know that we’re not a solo act, but part of a bigger plan.  God didn’t create us to act independently of others, but to be involved with others.  If we want to thrive and succeed as we journey through life, we must discover our place of belonging in the body.
  2. You are unique.  This is because of who you are.  God made you on purpose.  You were no accident.  You have a reason for being.  He has given you abilities, relationships, experiences and gifts that make you who you are.  Because of all of this you are uniquely gifted to do exactly what God wants you to do.  Your characteristics, background, upbringing, perspective, and skills are different than others.  This is not a bad thing, it’s a great thing for everyone.
  3. You are valuable.  Because of what you can do for the body.  You can serve God best with who he has made you to be.  Many of us are ‘fans’ of church and we love to watch what God is doing through our church.  But we cheer from the sidelines and never set foot on the field.  God didn’t create any of us to be a bench warmer.  He made you to get in the game and fulfill the role he equipped you to do.
  4. You serve a purpose.  It’s no mistake that you are where God has placed you.  God has arranged each of us in the way he wanted us to be.  You have a purpose.  Because of that purpose, you have a job to do.  This is best done as you discover who you are and work hard at being yourself.  When you realize your purpose you can serve with a purpose and a passion that only comes from God.  When you realize that you serve a purpose in His church and you step up to fill that role, you glorify God.

I Peter 4:10 tells us, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering Gods grace to others.”  This should be our goal.  Our gifts are not for ourselves, but for others.  God gets the glory when you be who He made you to be.  He takes pleasure in seeing you be you.  When you don’t fulfill your role in the body of Christ, the church is crippled.  Other parts of the body have to carry the weight and are used in ways they weren’t designed to be used.

The question to ask yourself today is what are you going to do with who God made you to be?  You may feel ordinary, but God has made you to be extraordinary.  He has placed value on your life and gifted you uniquely to fulfill a roll within His body.  You serve a purpose! When you don’t we’re crippled.  When you don’t, you can’t give Him the Glory.


The Joy of Record Keeping

I know if you’re not administratively gifted that keeping records are a thorn in your flesh.  I mean, who really needs to know what people gave on a certain week or exactly how many were in small groups last week?  Aren’t we really seeking to glorify God in what we do?  I would say the answer is we need to know where we have been to know where we are going and by doing that we can glorify God in the results.  It’s interesting to me that as I read scripture, I see that someone was administratively inclined.  There was someone who counted that 3000 were added to the church on the day of Pentecost.  Someone counted that Jesus fed the 5000.  When Jesus sent out the 72 to the towns and cities, how did they know it was 72?  Someone counted that Gideon started with 30,000 men and ended up with 300 men.  The fact is that throughout scripture God is tracking what is happening in the life of the early church.  We can learn from this example and keep records of what is happening in the life of our church as well.  I’ve discovered as I look at real numbers, it is often different from my perception of how things are going.  Sometimes the real numbers encourage me and sometimes they challenge me to reach new goals.  Either way, they are valuable in measuring the physical and spiritual growth of our church.

You can track, attendance of your weekly worship service, tithes and offerings, per capita giving, baptisms, first time guests, new members, small group attendance as well as projections for some of these areas.  By tracking many of these you will be able to see over a period of time how your church is doing at evangelism and outreach, discipleship, assimilation, and other areas.

Many of the church management software today allow you to track and print reports on many of the areas above.  If you don’t have that capability, I am including a digital form (in excel format) I have used over the past several years that can help you keep records of what is taking place on a weekly basis.  You can click here to download it: Church Data Sheet


Organizing Your Time

Organization would be at the top of most of our to do lists if we had time to make a to do list.  But the fact is that most of us go through life each day just trying to survive.  We live as though we are a passenger in our own lives.  We’re simply along for the ride.  We go through each day with no real direction other than the urgent demands of our days.  And then we often wonder why we aren’t moving forward in many areas of our lives.  What would your life look like if you began to live intentionally? What would change if you made an effort to become organized in how you approach your days and weeks?  What would be different for you if you began to try to organize things in every area of your life?  Psalm 90:12 says, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

In the 1960s, Time magazine reported that a subcommittee of the United States Senate was assembled to discuss the topic of time management. Essentially, the best experts in the field were concerned that with advances in technology the biggest problem by the end of the century would be what people would do with all their free time. It was actually suggested that workers would have to cut back on how many hours a week they worked, or how many weeks a year they worked, or else they would have to start retiring sooner. The truth is that the average workweek is now 47 hours – up from 43 hours two decades ago. A recent Gallup Poll found that 44% of Americans consider themselves workaholics.  As a pastor, I am no different.  I see the needs of people around me and because I haven’t set up boundaries in how I will use my time, I find myself being pulled in multiple directions at once and feel guilty when I can’t rise to the demands.  But this isn’t a biblical perspective of how we use our time.

Would you classify yourself as a workaholic?  It’s not something that we should brag about.  In fact, to be a workaholic is to be out of God’s will for your life. Part of his plan for your life is to have downtime as well as time with family and opportunities to build relationships.  The reason we find ourselves in these situations and often facing burnout is because we don’t discipline ourselves with how we use our time.  Organization is discipline in action.  Ephesians 5:15-16 tells us, “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity”.  The questions we should ask ourselves is are we being careful? Are we being wise? Are we making the most of every opportunity?  How we organize our day will determine how well or how wisely we will live that day.

This is why I have four basic areas I work through when I am trying to make sense of my days, weeks and months.

  1. Itemize.  Be detailed in your plans.  This is where you randomly write down everything that you have going on.  What is it that is consuming your thoughts.  Write it down (i.e. pay bills, get groceries, pick up kids, write sermon, etc…).  We often fail to start with this very simple step of actually writing down what it is we have to accomplish throughout the day or week.  Then when we remember it, we go into panic mode because we are rushed for time to accomplish everything.  So I would encourage you to take some time to write it down.
  2. Categorize.  Assign relevance to the details.  Once you have your list of items written down, you will start to notice areas that go together on your list.  You may notice some main categories like Ministry/Work, Personal, Family, etc…  Then you may also notice some subcategories with these.  Under Personal, you may notice several Financial things that must be accomplished and can group them accordingly. (I would put it on my priority list as follows – Personal: Financial: Pay bills.)  As I began to pull all the personal things together, I would also group the financial areas.  You can do this in every area to start to gain clarity in what is really taking place. This also works great in ministry when you are working in multiple areas within the church to begin to gain clarity and focus of objectives.
  3. Prioritize.  Determine the order of importance.  Let’s face it.  We have a lot to do every day.  But the truth is there are some things that we do that could be done at a later time (or eliminated all together).  Place importance on the categories that match up with who God made you to be and what He wants you to accomplish.  There may be some things on your to do list that have nothing to do with where God is leading you in your family, ministry, work, etc… These are areas I usually start eliminating because they are simply noise in my life.  Once you have successfully itemized, categorized and prioritized what is going on in your life, there is one last area that can’t be missed.
  4. Strategize. Plan your day and work your plan.  It’s great to have an idea of what is going on and even to assign priority to it.  But what does this look like on a daily basis?  This is where the strategy comes in.  I think it’s important for us to realize that mentally and emotionally, we can only go in a few different directions in one day.  Because of this, we need to be strategic in what we allow ourselves to be focused on each day.  It may be that you group all of your Personal:Finance items into one day along with a few other personal categories and make that a part of that days strategy.  You may have different areas of focus in ministry.  I would encourage you to have certain days of the week designated for certain areas of focus.  (i.e. Monday Ministry: Communication: all emails, phone calls, newsletters etc…, Tuesday Ministry: Sermon Prep: Finalize sermon for Sunday, continue to develop sermons for following weeks, Wednesday Ministry: Staff: Work with staff concerning areas of need, etc…)  The key is when we get phone calls to pull us into a different area that we push those into the days where we are actually going to be working in that category.  (There may be emergencies that come up, but most of the urgent demands that come up can actually wait.) This will help reduce stress and also help us stay focused on what needs to be accomplished that day.

Now, I know you may be thinking that this will cost me more time and I can’t spend time doing this with everything else I have going on in my life.  I would say that you will actually gain time by making this process a priority.  This approach to my schedule has helped me stay focused even in some of the most chaotic times of my ministry.  I’ve heard it said, “If we fail to plan, we plan to fail.”  And I believe this to be true.  When I find myself getting stressed or overwhelmed, I can usually look and realize that I have stopped being wise with my time and I am letting others control my time for me.  A good example of this process in practice is found in Genesis 1 when God created.  He took chaos and gave it order.  He didn’t create all at once, but allowed different things to be accomplished on different days.  He had details that he wanted accomplished, but worked through categories and priorities to accomplish His strategy.  I would encourage you to read through that chapter again and see how God organized that one week according to the above areas and see what changes you could make to model that in your life.

Update to blog:  As requested, I have put together a sample to do list of what a finished week might look like.  You will need to discover your own categories and priorities, but maybe this will help you as you are putting it together.  You can download it here: Sample To Do List

Note: I use evernote one my phone and have used docs to go to keep track of this electronically.  It’s easier to manipulate once it’s in the computer.


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