Rural Resource – Tips for Overcoming Insecurity

Posted February 6, 2012 by Harry Colegrove
Categories: Advice, Discouragement, Pastoral Growth, Rural, Rural Resource

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Each Monday on the Rural Ministry Blog I post a book review, article link, website link, video, or any other type of resource that I think would be of interest to the Rural Ministry community.

Today’s Rural Resource is a blog post by one of my favorite bloggers, Dan Rockwell.  Dan is a pastor and award winning blogger who has a passion for people and leadership.  His blog,  Leadership Freak, is a must read for anyone in a leadership position.  Although it’s written primarily for the business world, the principles taught can easily be adapted to Rural Ministry.

In this article Dan deals with a topic that virtually all Rural Ministers face – Insecurity.  I tend to be pretty confident in who I am and in what God has called me to do, however insecurity often rears it’s ugly head in my life.  When it does my effectiveness and motivation takes a serious nose dive.  If this insecurity is not quickly overcome, it can very easily cripple my ministry.  Dan’s article provides 15 great tips on how to overcome insecurity.  You can read the article by clicking here:

http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/2012/01/27/15-tips-for-overcoming-insecurity/

In what areas have you felt insecure?  Are there any other tips you can recommend for dealing with insecurity?  Leave a comment below.

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What are you Communicating?

Posted February 3, 2012 by Harry Colegrove
Categories: Advice, Communication, Questions, Rural, Testimony

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I once read a quote that said “everything you do communicates.”  While I don’t know if I agree that everything I do communicates, I do know that I communicate a lot through my words, my actions, my body language, and my appearance.  Not only does this apply to me personally, but also to my church.  My church communicates through everything from its cleanliness to its advertising, signage, and the friendliness of its people.

There was an incident that took place last year that really drives this point home.  I was traveling along an interstate highway and noticed a church that had several red, white, and blue painted buses parked in the parking lot. The thing that really grabbed my attention was a huge sign that read “Patriotic, Fundamentalist, King James” along with their service times.  I couldn’t help but sadly shake my head and say a quick prayer for this church.  Why?  Because of what that sign was communicating.  What do I mean by that statement?  Let’s take a closer look at the three phrases on the sign.

Patriotic – To many people, myself included, this is a very positive word.  I love my country, and feel very blessed to have been born in the good ol’ US of A.  But that’s just me.  What about foreigners?  Would they read the word “patriotic” and look at the red white and blue buses and feel like they would be welcome?  My guess would be no.

Fundamentalist – This is a word that can mean different things to different groups of people.  Within Christian circles it tends to mean something along the lines of “Independent Baptist.”  To the world it often carries a different meaning altogether.  When many hear the word “fundamentalist,” they think of the fanatics that blow up abortion clinics, or maybe those people we see on the news protesting at the funerals of soldiers and homosexuals.  This is not the kind of imagery we want attached to our churches.

King James – You and I both know that this statement simply means that this particular church uses the King James translation of the Bible.  While this has meaning to those of us already in the family of God, to the average non-Christian it would mean absolutely nothing.  I can just imagine them scratching their head and wondering “Who’s King James?”

It may sound like I’m blasting this church, but that is certainly not my intention.  I do not know anything about the church or their impact on the Kingdom.  What has me concerned is that their sign was obviously directed towards those who are already believers – specifically those believers who are patriotic, fundamentalist, and prefer the King James translation.  While there is nothing inherently wrong with this, my thoughts keep coming back to the lost.  There was nothing about that sign that would attract a non-believer, and plenty about it that would push them away.  We cannot lose sight of the primary mission of the church, which is the fulfillment of the Great Commission.  In pursuing this mission, we must never water down the message of the Gospel, but we do need to make sure we are communicating that message effectively.  Our churches should be places which attract the lost and in which the lost would feel welcome.

What message is your church communicating through its appearance, advertising, community presence, etc.? What things could we do to attract the lost without compromising our beliefs?  Leave a comment below.

Rural Resource – 5 Factors that Brought a Dying Church Back to Life

Posted January 30, 2012 by Harry Colegrove
Categories: Advice, Attendance, Questions, Rural, Rural Resource, Uncategorized

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Each Monday on the Rural Ministry Blog I post a book review, article link, website link, video, or any other type of resource that I think would be of interest to the Rural Ministry community.

Today’s Rural Resource is an article I found on Churchleaders.com by J.D. Greear called “5 Factors that Brought a Dying Church Back to Life.”  Even though I pastor a church that is very much alive, I found the article to be quite thought provoking.  Let me know what you think in the comments section below.

Click here for the article

What can we, as rural ministers, do to insure that our churches do not die?  Leave a comment below.

Disclaimer: The books and articles mentioned on the Rural Ministry Blog are things that I feel contain content relevant to the Rural Ministry community.  This does not necessarily mean that I fully embrace or support everything that the author embraces or supports.  For more information on this topic please read this Rural Ministry blog post – Eat the Meat and Spit Out the Bones

Freebie Friday – Audacity

Posted January 27, 2012 by Harry Colegrove
Categories: Free Stuff, Freebie Friday, Uncategorized

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A huge obstacle that is often faced in rural ministry is the lack of funds to buy tools and resources.  To help combat this problem the Rural Ministry Blog has Freebie Friday!  Every Friday we will take a look at a free, or nearly free, resource that could benefit anyone involved with rural ministry.

Today’s freebie is Audacity.  Audacity is a multi-track,  open source audio editor that is surprisingly feature rich and very easy to use.  Audacity allows you to record live audio, record audio from the Internet, edit the most popular audio formats (MP3, Ogg Vorbis, WAV or AIFF), and cut, copy, and splice sounds together.  It even has a feature that will allow you to change the speed and pitch of an audio file!

I use Audacity quite frequently to edit my sermons (taking out long stretches of silence, editing out coughs & sneezes, etc.) as well as changing the pitch on accompaniment tracks.  I’ve even used it to record and edit ads that my church put on a local radio station and was able to easily mix voice, sound effects, and background music.  If you’ve ever had the need to edit audio you will not regret giving Audacity a try!  Audacity is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

You can downloads Audacity by clicking here.  Please note that there are two different links for Windows – one for Windows 98/ME/2000/XP and another for Windows Vista/Windows 7.  the Windows Vista/Windows 7 version is still in Beta, but I’ve used it extensively and have had no issues at all.

Disclosure: Neither the Rural Ministry Blog or Harry Colegrove benefit in any way from this product recommendation

Lessons from JoePa

Posted January 25, 2012 by Harry Colegrove
Categories: Advice, Reputation, Rural, Testimony

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I’m sure that all of you who are college football fans, and many of you who are not, have heard about the death this last weekend of former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno. Joe Paterno, affectionately called JoePa, was truly a living legend. JoePa was the head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions for 46 years, held the record for the most wins by any NCAA division one football coach, and is the only division one coach to have over 400 victories. JoePa lead the Nittany Lions in five undefeated seasons, and in 2007 was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. In addition to these accomplishments JoePa was well known for his emphasis on high moral conduct among his players, as well as encouraging their academic success. JoePa was also well loved off the football field and held in very high regard in his community.

There is no doubt in my mind that JoePa was one of the greatest football coaches that ever lived. Yet despite all of his success on and off the field, there will always be a shadow hanging over his name. In November of 2011, JoePa’s longtime assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, was arrested on allegations of child sex abuse. As the story unfolded, we discovered that JoePa was made aware of these allegations. According to reports, JoePa passed the information along to two university officials and then did nothing more concerning the situation. The report was apparently swept under the rug. After these details came to light, Penn State University fired JoePa for his inaction. No matter how many great things JoePa did, his name will forever be remembered as the man who only did the “minimum.” The allegations against Jerry Sandusky were not fully exposed and addressed as they should have been.

The point that I’m trying to make is that all the great things accomplished by JoePa were dwarfed by one poor decision.

This makes me think of a quote that I heard several years ago, “it can take years to build a good reputation, and only one poor decision to ruin it.” This principle is greatly magnified in the world of Rural Ministry. In urban areas, it’s much easier to remain anonymous, and poor decisions can often times be easily hidden. In contrast, when you live in the sticks everyone knows everybody. In addition to everyone knowing everybody, they also tend to know everybody’s business. As I said in my first Rural Ministry blog post, “You know you’re in a rural church if there is no such thing as a secret sin.” I meant it as a joke, but there is a lot of truth in the statement as well.

As rural ministers, we need to make sure that we do everything we can to maintain a good reputation. This doesn’t mean that we need to be perfect, but we do need to be cautious. We need to make sure that we do not allow ourselves to be put in potentially compromising situations. We need to conduct ourselves in ways that honor God and show His love to others. We need to be honest in our dealings, and transparent in our lives. We need to live our lives as if there was no such thing as a secret. And, if we ever find ourselves in a situation like JoePa, we need to make sure that we do everything within our power to protect the innocent.

What are some ways that we can make sure we maintain a good reputation? If you’ve ever found yourself in a situation like Joe Paterno, how did it make you feel? Leave a comment below.

Rural Resource – Simon Sinek: Start With Why

Posted January 23, 2012 by Harry Colegrove
Categories: Advice, Pastoral Growth, Questions, Rural Resource, Uncategorized

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After a long hiatus the Rural Ministry Blog is back!

Each Monday on the Rural Ministry Blog I post a book review, article link, website link, video, or any other type of resource that I think would be of interest to the Rural Ministry community.

Today’s Rural Resource is a video that I recently discovered on TED.  In the video, speaker Simon Sinek draws a very interesting conclusion: people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.  Although this video is directed at the corporate world I think the parallels to the world of Rural Ministry are very obvious.

Here’s the link to the video:

Simon Sinek: Start With Why

When I first asked myself the question of why my church does what it does the obvious answer was, of course, to fulfill the great commission.  This should be the primary reason any church exists.  Even though that’s the ultimate goal and primary purpose, I’m not sure that telling people “we’re here to save your soul” is the most effective way of getting them interested in the things of God. I think we need to also communicate other reasons for why we do what we do.  Do we have a passion for our communities?  Do we have a burning desire to provide for the poor?  Do we get excited about building healthy families?  Whatever these other reasons are, we need to find ways to effectively communicate them to our communities.

What was your initial reaction to the video? How can we relate the ideas presented by Simon to our ministries?  Why does your church do what it does?  Leave a comment below.

Reactive or Proactive?

Posted June 22, 2011 by Harry Colegrove
Categories: Advice, Pastoral Growth, Time Management

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I am convinced that one of the things that separates the great from the mediocre is in how they manage their time.  I can honestly say that this is an area of my life that does not come naturally to me.  By nature I am a very impulsive, free spirited type of individual.  In many ways this has been a great strength to me, but it has caused some struggles in the area of time management.  Years ago I discovered that there are basically two ways that we can live our lives: reactively or proactively.

When I live reactively, I live moment to moment with little thought for what’s coming up.  I am reacting to everything that happens around me, allowing the urgency of the situation to dictate the importance of what is happening.  I can tell you from experience that living reactively is not very effective.  When I live in reactive mode, I am always busy, but not necessarily accomplishing much of anything.

When I live proactively, I do my best to anticipate what’s coming.  I plan ahead and structure my time so that the urgency of the moment does not replace the things that are truly important.  Living proactively also means that I must take the time to identify and mitigate possible problems before they happen.  This can allow me to sometimes avoid the problems altogether, or at minimum it gives me time to think about a proper response.  When I live proactively, I am able to accomplish far more in the same amount of time.

Because of my personality type, living proactively can be a challenge sometimes.  My impulsive and free spirited nature begs to be allowed to live reactively.  When I spoke to my life coach about this, he helped me to realize that I cannot fight against who I fundamentally am – since I am fundamentally a free spirit I need to be, for a lack of a better term, proactive about my reactiveness.  Here’s what I finally came up with that works wonderfully for me.  I started with the concept of time blocking and made sure that I included time every day to be reactive.  About half of my day is structured and proactive, while the other half is left open for me to be my normal, reactive self.  When I follow this plan, I am amazed at how effective I can be.

What do you do to insure that you are being proactive rather than reactive?  Leave a comment below.