Leadership, Pastors, Sermons and Sermon Series Ideas, Uncategorized

Free Wedding Ceremony Resources

Officiating weddings can be a challenge for new pastors. At the same time, pastors with a lot of wedding experience may still use outdated resources.

You can download these resources, sit down with the couple in front of your computer, walk through this wedding ceremony template with them, and then email it to them when they leave the counseling session. The couple can use the document to have programs made, etc.

I got the originals from Andrew Conard’s blog at http://andrewconard.com/ and then modified them to fit my communication style. They are still a work in progress for me. Andrew is a pastor at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, KS, where Adam Hamilton is the senior pastor.

Here is a 1. wedding ceremony with options, and 2. vows and Scripture reading options:

Ask the couple to email you a two page document one month before the wedding (I got this idea from Adam Hamilton’s book Unleashing the Word) The bride and groom each type a one one page in answer to each of the following questions:

1. What do you love about this person?

2. Why do you want to marry this person?

Then read excerpts from their answers before your wedding sermon. Guests love hearing the couple’s story, and it cutomizes the wedding ceremony for the couple.

Leadership, Pastors, Sermon Illustrations

Peter Rollins Interview with Rob Bell

Rob Bell interviews Peter Rollins at Mars Hill Church on The Power of Story. Don’t miss this.


Peter Rollins leads Ikon in Belfast Northern Ireland.

Pastors, Sermon Illustrations, Uncategorized

Sand Sculptures

Check out these pics from the sand sculpting world championship. It’s hard to believe that these works of art are only temporary.


I think of what Jesus said about sand…

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” [Matthew 7v24-27]

So is your life solid… or a sandcastle?

This is my favorite. (Click on the pic to read the words.)

Leadership, Pastors, Sermon Illustrations, Uncategorized

Are You Ready for a Job Change?

According to economists, the recession is officially over, but I’m sure that most people don’t feel like it’s over. The job market has yet to bounce back.

During a recession most people stay parked in their jobs even if they don’t like them just to have something they hope is secure. When this recession actually FEELS like it’s finally over, however, there will be a huge shake up in the job market as people who have been waiting to change jobs go for it. Sometime in the near future, lots of jobs will open up as others get filled.

When these new jobs open up, will you be ready to make your next career move? The opportunity will be there, so how are you preparing yourself now- education, networking, resume building, etc.?

In Financial Peace University, Dave Ramsey suggests that you contact potential employers now and let them know that you would like to work for them in the future. It’s about building a relationship, so that when you’re ready to change jobs, employers will already know you.

When the job market shakes up, will you be ready to make your move?

Some additional resources:

(Survey in the UK)


(Growing post-recession jobs)


(Be proactive)


Leadership, Pastors

Worship Service Feedback

My father-in-law is also a pastor, and we were talking recently about how we can become blind to problems in our churches over time. He made a great observation, “Familiarity breeds invisibility”. We don’t really notice our surroundings after awhile. At home, after a few days we no longer notice the clutter on the counter, the chipped paint in the corner of the wall, the weeds next to the garage.

The same is true in a worship service or church building. We stop noticing low quality after awhile. Common problems we become blind to:

  • The worship music sound is not professional.
  • The lobby is cluttered.
  • The greeters aren’t greeting.
  • The up-fronters use insider language that first-time guests can’t relate to.
  • The signage to the restrooms is hard to see.
  • Practical instructions about how to take Communion are not given.
  • The nursery needs painted.
  • The landscaping is shabby.
  • The sanctuary seating or parking lot is either too full or too empty (both should be between 65%- 80% full in order to feel comfortably full).
  • Sermons lack practical application.
  • Pre-service and post-service music (iTunes or live) is not loud enough or exciting enough to create an atmosphere of expectation and celebration.
  • There is dead-air during the service.
  • Announcements go way too long with no practical directions for what next step to take to get involved in something.
  • Add your own here, or BETTER YET…

To give us a new person’s persepctive, my father-in-law suggested inviting friends from another church, or even better, unchurched friends, to your worship services to evaluate them. If familiarity breeds invisibility, we need to see our worship experiences through fresh eyes, eyes that will be honest with us.

You could print a checklist of questions for them to think about while they visit the service and then use when you interview them for 30 minutes on Sunday afternoon while it’s all fresh in their minds. Ask them for feedback in the following areas, plus any others you would like to know about:

  • Facility
  • Parking lot
  • Landscaping
  • Greeting and ushering
  • Signage
  • Restrooms
  • Nursery and children’s spaces
  • Worship music quality
  • Welcome
  • Sermon
  • Flow of service, engaging, length
  • Guest welcome after the service
  • Follow up

When they give you feedback, don’t say anything in response but “Thank you”. Do not be defensive. These honest people are your best friends. Without them we are blind to what new people are seeing every single week. Our churches can be so much more effective because of their honesty.

Leadership, Pastors, Sermon Illustrations

80’s Hair Love Affair

(I’m writing specifically about churches, but I’m sure this applies to any small business, large company, non-profit… any group that’s existed for awhile, really.)

Every church has a group of people who remember the good ole days, back when everything in the organization was perfect (in a church, it’s always before the current pastor came). They may be young or old, by the way, and the church may be “traditional” or “contemporary”. They may have fallen in love with a way of doing things 50 years ago or 2 years ago. They speak longingly of how great things used to be before “everything” changed, supported with inflated numbers and idealized memories.

It’s like they picked a hairstyle in the 80’s and decided it could never be improved upon. “This hairstyle is as good as it gets” they proudly muttered to themselves as they gazed into the mirror. “Nothing can change. This is the way hair should always look.”

Except, when it comes to a church’s style, people who long for the good ole days spiritualize their specific cultural preference, “This is the most reverent, God-honoring way of doing things.” Of course, it just so happens to be that their favorite style is also God’s favorite.

An outdated church stands out like teased bangs in contrast to the culture around it, a culture that has actually changed over time. Reality testifies to the fact that the church or the idea is out of date. Maybe an idea that worked 3 years ago isn’t working so well now. Maybe the entire church is so out of style that young people are under-represented and innovative leaders are too frustrated to stay around, or they just never showed up in the first place. Attendance in outdated programs dwindles, and the people who are in love with the outdated style just blame the world around them, “What’s this world coming to? Our city just doesn’t appreciate big 80’s hair!”

The answer is to just acknowledge the truth. They found a program or a style of church they liked 1, 5, 25, 0r 55 years ago. It was meaningful to them. It probably met a deep need they had at that time in their lives. However, it became a problem when they decided that since they liked it it must be God’s favorite too. It’s now sacred to them and can never change. The difficult truth is that now it’s nothing but an outdated style, and God has since moved on along with everyone else who changed over time. It turns out that God doesn’t command us to use Aqua Net.

What programs, decision-making processes, or ways of thinking in your church or organization are as out of date as big 80’s hair?

Also check out: “Steve Carell Leadership” here.