Church Involvement

Creating a Culture of Involvement in Every Church

Category: Church Involvement (Page 1 of 7)

Smallest Yet Most Relevant CIC?

The Smallest Yet Most Relevant CIC?

Last weekend we had 32 guests from Kansas, Georgia, Tennessee, Ohio, Florida, Alabama and Kentucky.    It was the smallest group we’ve had so far and yet the content was exceptional.

Congregations of 60 to 600 members were represented.   I heard the 20% figure a lot and we had many seeking how to get their 60 to 600 members involved in ministry.   Each speaker came with highly relevant messages.   Some who attended were not expecting what they heard but they were very pleased to hear it.   

Joe Essner shared his mistakes and his successes in a very unique way, Bert Paddock handled the generation issue by pointing us all to higher levels of growth and commitment (discipleship; he did an excellent job), Matt Thomas did an exhaustive study of ‘grace’ gifts and Tracy Moore kept us laughing about and seriously considering our different personality types.   Tracy stayed over to preach Sunday morning and everyone enjoyed him.  We sold every single copy of his book.

Several congregations represented have deacons in charge of involvement.  One is going to hire a school of preaching man to do IM with them.   Two Christian sisters were returning home in hopes of their leadership allowing an involvement ministry there.   One congregation is a small church plant in a large TN city and they are looking to getting their members involved in ministry.   We are helping churches and that is what we are all about.

Mark Littleton and Travis Irwin of Athens church of Christ spoke of their personal experience with burn out.   Both Mark and former Athens preacher, Tim Gunnells presented lessons that approached the topics of success and restoring enthusiasm in ministry.    Their presentations are highly enlightening and encouraging.

CIC started with technical difficulties that were soon fixed and the event continued.   The meals were excellent, the spirit was congenial and joyful.  The small size of CIC lent itself to giving special attention to attenders, and an informal atmosphere.  It may have been the best CIC we’ve had.   Several folks that would have come otherwise, had youth conferences to attend (several IMs are both youth ministers and IMs), one was expecting a grandson to be born, one had jury duty, and one’s wife got sick at the last minute.

In 2020 the Athens church will have its third campaign.   Our first two were “Getting Connected” and “Down on the Farm.”     We have a half dozen ideas for the focus and campaign of 2020.    ‘Lord willing, 2020 will present the 4th annual Church Involvement Conference.  

CDs of all 3 CICs are available.     If you want any set, they are $10 including postage.    There are 11 recorded lectures for this years’s CIC, and they are excellent.   Contact us if you want you own personal copies.   Call us at 423 745 0554 or contact Becca at     If you attended the 3rd CIC, your CDs will be mailed to you soon.

I’m Tired of “Involvement”

I’m Sick of the Word “Involvement”

In one of my recent RtI retreats one of the men said, “Some of our members are getting tired of hearing about involvement.”

I can understand that.   I can also understand if it’s the only word that is used to describe ministry in the church, it could be annoying.

Please allow me to make some suggestions:

Use other words that mean the same thing.   There are many other words that can be used in place of the word ‘involvement’ to let members know of its importance.    What are some of those words?     Ministry is a good one.  Service is another.   Work is a good four-letter word that can be used.     “Doing good” is a good combination of words.    “Helping” is a good word, too.  “Blessing others” is helpful.  The Lord spoke of “bearing fruit” as did Paul and Peter. There are many ways of saying the same thing. If you need other suggestions,just use a good thesaurus.  And, ask others for suggestions.

Don’t preach on ‘service’all the time.   Preaching the whole counsel of God is good.   Expository preaching prevents an over-treatment of any topic.    However, another method of avoiding the obvious is to use many Bible stories wherein people help others.    Some other topics may include spiritual gifts,personalities, passions, life skills and life experiences in the contexts of blessing others.   Burn out and depression are needed topics.   Unity,fellowship, leadership, exhortation and a host of other subjects come to mind that are inter-related.  Being light and salt would help also.

Be consistent and  systematic but take your time in indoctrinating the brethren.

I think this is good advice for any church any time on any congregational focus, theme or topic.    We took two years before our first campaign and another four years to do our second and finally, it will be six years before my last here.   Educate the brethren slowly and methodically.   Don’t feel like you need to teach them everything about ministry in one month, one quarter or even one year.

I would think following some of these guidelines would be helpful.  I know we are not to be ‘men pleasers’ but I also know we don’t want to ‘make’ people hate something that God really loves.


Making Your Gift PRIME

How would you go about bringing your spiritual gift to its prime effectiveness and usefulness?

PRACTICE THE GIFT.    You either use it or lose it.   You either use it or you will never use it well.    Nothing replaces experience which comes from exercising and using your gift.   Paul told Timothy not to neglect the gift in him.   There was a good reason he said this.    Use it and use it in a variety of ways; this may take some experimentation.   Every passage that lists a gift or gifts tells us to “exercise” it or “use” it.   I guess this means that exercising your gift is imperative. Practice, practice and then practice some more.

REPEAT THE GOOD RESULTS OF THE USE OF YOUR GIFT.    In the process of using your gift, you will have successes and failures.   You can learn from both.    You can continue to build on your successes and you can learn from your failures (what not to do or how not to do it).   When you are criticized or questioned, you can learn from others if you listen to them.   Wise people listen to criticism and learn.   Having a spiritual gift does not exempt you from making mistakes.    Mistakes, responded to properly, can promote growth.   And, repeat your successes.

INVESTIGATE HOW OTHERS USE IT.    You can learn from others especially those who have the same gift.   Watch them as they use their gift and ask questions.   Follow people of all ages, not just people of your own age.   Generally speaking, older members (by number of years and maturity in Christ) are good to spend time with and learn from.  You can find out who has your gift by using the database of a congregation that uses spiritual gift inventories and catalogues the results.    Do some ‘digging’ and learn from others.

MATURITY.    As you mature in Christ, you will also mature in the use of your gift.  You will become more effective and your opportunities to use the gift will increase.   Some of this maturity may come as a result of time, but time alone matures no one.  You will need to focus on becoming more and more like Christ.

EDUCATE YOURSELF WITH GOOD RESOURCES ABOUT THE GIFT.    Expose yourself to good books, lectureships, events, conferences, DVDs, materials and stories about the use of gifts.   Read, and read, then read some more.   Spend money, time and energy learning from others who have your exact gift.   You can also learn from folks that have gifts other than the one you have.   Observe them.   Ask them questions.   See their counsel.

I hope these have been helpful.   If you can think of others, please share them with me and I’ll pass them on to others.


Does My Life Purpose Ever Change?

The answer is:  Yes and No.    God’s general purposes for the lives of everyone stay the same.   We exist to love and serve Him, to please Him and to glorify Him.  We were created by Him and for Him.    Bottom line:  it’s all about Him, and thankfully, He is all about us.  When we speak of God’s general purpose for our lives, we would say “No,” that never changes.  It remains and it a constant.  Our specific purpose, however becomes a part of this general purpose.

As we age, God’s specific mission or purpose for our life, I believe, changes.  I can best illustrate this by using the stages of life suggested by Dr. Carl Jung.   Dr. Jung suggests four stages of life.    Depending upon whom else you may read, it could be three or more stages, but I like his four stages of life and I will use them here to illustrate the fact that our (specific) life’s purposes do change.

The first stage of life is “Athlete.”   This is when we are children and very young adults.   We are obsessed with our looks and the world pretty much (by our way of thinking) revolves around us.  I prefer to call these the “formation” years when a child is born, educated and trained in the home.

If there is any service or ministry involved in this stage, it is usually encouraged or taught by the parents or other adults.   God’s general purpose for our lives needs to be taught during these years also.

There appears to be the specific purposes of obeying and honoring one’s parents and learning about God during this stage.    This stage is also about learning and preparing for life.    This appears to be our purpose(s) at a young age: formation.    Children hopefully learn about life and some life skills during this period.    They receive an elemental education and begin to experience how real life operates.    A part of complete formation is teaching and emulating service depending if we know the importance of service ourselves.

The second state is “Warrior.”   This is when we are young adults and we are spending the majority of our time and energy in ‘making our way’ in this world.    We get jobs, we may marry, we may have children, we take on a mortgage and start independent living.   We are preoccupied with ‘getting’ better, ‘doing’ better, and ‘having’ better or having more, making more, wanting more.   We live life at a “neck-breaking” pace.  However, if we have been taught well, we know we need to be serving during this period of life.

Unless we are independently wealthy, our time, energy and money are limited.    Just about all of our time and energy are spent providing for our families and ourselves and some of our time is spent in rest, relaxation and recreation.  Hopefully, we see needs and respond to them in service in some manner—especially for those for whom we have a passion.   In many cases, we take on individual needs of other people or we seek to be involved in civic needs.   We get involved in other people’s lives.  Generally speaking, our service is family-centered and there isn’t much left over for others.

However, we may teach classes at church, we may baby sit children at church, we may usher, work in security, pass communion, work in security or lead in worship in some manner.   It appears that the main purposes during this time of life are related to raising Christian children who will one day be Christian adults and responsible citizens.    This is our primary specific purpose at this stage of life.

The third stage of life is called “Statement.”    This possibly is later mid-life when our children are leaving the nest and making lives of their own.   We become grandparents and start to have some physical issues that come with age.  This is a time when we begin to realize that life is not about possessions or jobs or houses or traveling or having a certain position of power.   We learn that life is about ‘others.’    If you are a mature adult at this stage of life, this is how you will begin to think.   Time and funds make it more likely to serve unless you are totally self-absorbed.   We begin to think about making a life-statement.    We think about what our (specific) life’s purpose is or why we are here.

In this stage, we want something more to show for our life other than a big house and a big retirement portfolio.    We want our life to count for something.  We want our life to ‘make a statement.’

This is when wise adults start to discover God’s specific purpose for their lives.  I guess the statement,  ‘better late than never’ applies here.  Most of us don’t know where to start but common sense helps a lot with this quest.  This is where you hopefully discover how God has designed you for His purpose and you start to make a ‘real’ mark for yourself.    In fact, I’ve had many folks discover in their latter years ‘why’ God made them.  It took that long for them to discover themselves as God saw them.  You can really start to make a difference, and in some cases, you will find satisfaction and contentment.

If we have wisely invested, we have money to help others during this period of life, and because our children have left home, we have more time to serve.

And the last stage is “Spirit.”     This is the time in life when we are almost physically spent.   We are not able to do the things that we once did.   We are possibly not only physically limited but you are also limited monetarily (you are probably on a fixed income).   We may have other limitations including your ability to move (mobility issues).   Our minds may not be as sharp as it once was.   This, however, does not mean we are useless.   Our purpose has changed again because of limitations over which we have no control.

We serve in new ways.  We compensate.  We pray, we send cards, we greet, we bring beans to the food pantry, we call folks, and we basically do things that don’t require lots of physical strain and stress.

Your intrinsic value never changes; you are always loved and valued by the Lord who made you.   Your extrinsic value changes and you learn to serve in different unique ways.    Solomon said that the old will bear fruit on their old age, and you fulfill that verse.

Other factors can affect our mission in life no matter what the stage of our life.  Health issues, losses, traumatic experiences, financial setbacks, incarceration, and such things can definitely affect or totally change our life’s mission along with our ‘people’ and ‘things’ passions.

Every stage of life offers its own opportunities to serve.   Every stage offers its unique purpose or mission for the individual.    It just takes some common sense, some time, some prayer, some thinking, possibly a good inventory and above all else, a good knowledge of God’s Word to discover God’s purpose for you in any stage of life.    Do a study of any biblical character whose whole life is laid open to us in the Bible and you will see this principle.   It is worth a person’s time and effort to discover how God made him/her.

For now, just revel in the fact that there is work for you to do for Him, and do it.    God will be honored, lives will be blessed and you will always know your place in His kingdom and in this world.   You will have an eternal purpose with eternal affect.  God bless.


Gifts in Action…

Seven Christians are sitting around a table at a church banquet to honor an elder and his wife for their long tenure of service to the church, when one of the dear older sisters, walking by the table with a plate of food, a dessert, and a glass of sweet tea, stumbles. As the woman falls to the ground, the tea and the food fly through the air onto the elder and his wife, and the woman bursts into tears before everyone

  • P – Immediately the prophet speaks the truth that she should not have been carrying two plates and the tea at the same time, and that someone should have helped her see this and helped her. (Motivation: to correct.)
  • M – The gifted mercy- shower drops to one knee, holds on to the hand of the woman, and says, “Are you hurt? Don’t worry about it. I knocked over a punch bowl once.” (Motivation: How can I relieve her pain and embarrassment?)
  • E – The person with the gift of exhortation says to the woman, ”Are you able to stand up? Let me help you.” (Motivation: to come alongside and encourage.)
  • L – The leader goes to the microphone and says, “Bob, would you get some towels? Barbara, would you please bring our dear sister another plate of food and some chocolate cream pie? And Jane, could we get a new tablecloth for this table as soon as possible? Thank you, Joe for helping her up. Folks, we’ll be ready to go in just a few minutes. Thank you everyone.” (Motivation: to lay out a reasonable plan and follow through with it for the good of the whole.)
  • S – The servant receives the towels from Bob, cleans up the couple and the floor, and helps put another tablecloth on the table. (Motivation: to fulfill a need.)
  • T – Sitting on the other side of the table is the teacher, who makes an absolute observation, “Actually this isn’t what it appears. Rather, the kind of heels our dear sister was wearing catches on the residential-grade carpet and causes stumbling to occur. We need industrial carpet. Do you all understand that?” (Motivation: to discover why it happened and make sure all know about it.)
  • G – The giver, seeing the tea stained jacket on the elder, says, “Brother, we still want you to say a few words, so here’s my jacket.” And hearing the reasoning of the teacher, says, “We’ve needed to replace this carpet for a while anyway; why don’t I just make sure the money is here to pay for it?” (Motivation: give to relieve a need.)
  • Original author:  Chip Ingram

Matt Thomas

Pickerington, OH

Matt Thomas has done a great deal of research in spiritual gifts and has spoken at the 2nd annual CIC and will be speaking again in 2019.

Responsible Gift Use

Responsible Gift Use

Every American is gifted with freedoms:  freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom of movement, freedom of choice, etc.  However, not all Americans use their freedoms responsibly.   Take for example, freedom of speech.   It has been abused and perverted by irreverent irresponsible citizens who use filthy language and pornography and call such freedom of speech/expression.    Freedoms must be used responsibly.

The Corinthian Christians were irresponsible with their miraculous spiritual gifts.  It appears their gifts were “all about them” versus being “all about God.”   They (the Christians) became the center of attention and brought about confusion and jealousy instead of glorifying the Lord and producing faith.

When it comes to our non-miraculous spiritual gifts today, Christians must use them responsibly.   Please allow me to illustrate:

The one with the gift of mercy showing/compassion must use this gift responsibly.  Used incorrectly would be to use it to enable poor behavior in those we are attempting to help.   Responsible use does more than ‘help,’ it enables proper behavior, choices and growth.

The one with the gift of prophecy must use this gift not as a means to blow off steam or vent anger.   Used responsibly is to inform and warn people of impending negative consequences of poor behavior and to call people to repentance.   The intent is pure and holy.

The gift of teaching is used responsibly when the teacher studies well and presents lovingly.   This gift is not used to show one’s great knowledge but to point men, women and children to the Lord.   Lack of study and preparation are also examples of irresponsible use of this gift.

The gift of giving can be used irresponsibly when the giver doesn’t use discretion and wisdom, when he/she gives blindly to unworthy causes or gives to bring attention to him/herself.  Responsible giving is done to promote Christian evangelism and spiritual growth.

The gift of service is used irresponsibly when it is for show or to bring attention to oneself.  Responsible service promotes and enables the cause of Christ to progress smoothly.

The gift of leadership/administration is misused when leaders lord over people and use their position for advancing personal agendas and control.  Responsible use leads people to spiritual growth and welfare.

The gift of exhortation can be used irresponsibly by using weak means to encourage.  The best means of exhorting folks is God’s Word and spiritual counsel.

Used responsibly it puts courage back into people and supports the discouraged.

The gift of evangelism is used irresponsibly when the whole counsel of God is not taught and when false doctrine is propagated.   Responsible use is preaching the truth in love to a lost and dying world.   It is sharing the gospel with courage and without fear.

The gift of hospitality is used responsibly when we open our hearts and homes to the stranger.  We help folks feel comfortable and accepted and loved.   Irresponsible use would be when we do not use the gift or we use it partially, being hospitable only to those we know and like.

The gift of pastor/shepherding is used responsibly when those with the gift nurture, train, mentor, teach, guide, lead, protect, and shepherd the saved in the church.   It is abused when it is NOT used and when it is used partially and inconsistently.

We all may fail to use our gifts responsibly when we fail to use them, and when we do not develop them for more effective use and when our motives are not pure and holy.

May we all come to know what our spiritual gift is and use it responsibly and fully to His honor and glory and to the salvation of souls.


Wednesdays Without Walls (WWW)

A few years ago, we tried a method of ministry that worked well. We called it WWW for short but its real name is “Wednesday Without Walls.”
James says that we should be ‘doers” of the word versus only being “hearers.” Our congregation like most congregations spend a great deal of time in the study of God’s Word. We would all agree that this is time well spent and the benefits are great. However, there is a time when we need to ‘put to work’ what we have heard and learned in Bible classes and from the pulpit and we need to go outside the walls of the church building to serve.
WWW encourages that. The first year we did WWW, we used only one Wednesday evening for ministry projects during that year. The next two years we used 3 Wednesday evenings a year. A great number of “Wednesday evening” attenders actually did projects. We encouraged members to do their projects on Wednesday evening during the time we would have had Bible study on Wednesdays. Most did so. However, some of our older members preferred to do their projects during the day when they felt safer. These folks were members of a Wednesday morning Bible class at that time.
What kind of projects did people do? We had folks go to local nursing homes to visit, sing, do crafts and generally make the residents feel good. Some folks visited shut-in members. Some did home projects for church members who could not do the projects because of failing health. Some sent cards to members who had fallen away. A group of young couples did a “Fun Day” for the local YMCA. Some sent special gifts to missionaries. One team did some work for a local non-profit.  Another completed a deck and roof for a member.  I think you get the idea. We encouraged ‘creativity’ among the members. We encouraged members to work in teams, couples, singles, etc.
Yes, there is a downside to WWW. I think the biggest downside is that some folks will just sit at home and do nothing on the nights that WWW is scheduled. We ceased WWW after 3 years; it had run its course like most ideas do. Maybe your congregation can do WWW and keep it vibrant and useful. The whole idea is this: the church has left the building and the church is doing what she has been taught.
Feel free to share ideas on WWW or other ministries that you have found helpful.

Missions Fairs

What is a Missions Fair?
Depending upon the goals you have for it, it is a different, and in my opinion, a more attractive and interesting way of doing missionary reports. It also allows the located preacher to preach and not be constantly interrupted by visiting missionaries preaching and giving their reports. It allows the church’s members to actually visit with missionaries and see what they are doing. We usually have our fair during the Bible study hour on the third Sunday of each July.
Why have a Missions Fair?
Simply because it is the best use of a missionary’s time and resources and honestly, it is the best way of getting and giving mission reports either in person or via some visual medium. We have also learned that doing the old way is a turn off for many young people. Some of them will not attend if a missionary is visiting and going to preach. This sounds tragic but that is the way it is here. Mission fairs give special attention to missions and missionaries and present some very powerful visuals. Members and guests can meet and talk to missionaries.
What are the results of a Missions Fair?
We’ve done two now and the missionaries were very impressed, and the members enjoyed it thoroughly. I think a sincere interest in missions has been cultivated within the congregation. I think it is too early for us to tell, but if the interest is any indication, the results will continue to be positive.
What’s involved?
Displays in the vestibule with the missionaries and brief videos (4 to 5 minutes max) being shown in the auditorium. An after-worship lunch with ethnic foods and American foods is offered. Variety is good. There is color and activity and personal involvement using this method.
Missions Fairs present a positive view of Missions. Our younger people want to see people being served (doing) as well as people preaching and teaching. Our missionaries need to do some study in this area. Brief interesting videos take planning; they don’t happen by accident. They must move their viewers emotionally. In the past I have made videos for some of our missionaries. However, they are now learning to do make the videos themselves.
This idea of Missions Fairs was originally given to me by my brother in law Richard Youngblood. Richard, now retired, was the involvement minister at the University church of Christ in Murray, KY for many years. The church had a missions committee and the missions committee met with the missionaries every year with a rotation of all the missionaries over two or three years. Here in Athens, we alternate between a Ministry Fair and a Missions Fair every other year. Presently, our elders do not meet with the missionaries when they are in town for the Missions Fair. I believe the Missions Fair is primarily for the membership but a creative leadership can make it much more.
The goal is to elevate missions and missionaries to their rightful place and to move members to love the lost and those who unselfishly reach out to them. Without evangelism, the lost remain lost. Trav

for more details, please contact me at


The Role of IM

Jesus said, “…make disciples….”
This is initially done by teaching a lost sinner about Jesus and it continues after he/she has become a child of God. The “it” is the continuation of discipling a person. Discipling is a life-long endeavor; individuals have responsibility to continue to grow, and church leaders need to be a large part of this process as well. The leaders’ maturity, examples and Biblical knowledge cannot be underestimated in this process.
Discipling comes through several means one of which is exposure to teaching and preaching. But it also comes as an individual submits to and practices the various Christian disciplines (prayer, worship, stewardship, solitude, study, fasting, hospitability, meditation, service, Sabbath/rest, submission, confession, etc.) found in Scripture.
One of those disciplines is service. Jesus said the greatest among you will be your servant. Jesus came in the form of a servant and we best imitate Him through servitude and service. We are most like Jesus when we are serving. Even in Heaven, we will be serving.
The Role of IM is to assist Christians (new and established) to continue to grow in this discipline. This discipline is encouraged and refined in members when (and if) members
1. Discover and develop their God-given spiritual gifts, passions, personality traits, when they re-visit their past ministry involvement, their life skills and experiences.
2. Deploy these very things through an organized congregational ministry or when they start their own personal ministry.

The IM should be instrumental in helping members discover, develop and deploy their spiritual gifts, etc.
The IM may also work with church leaders, deacons, ministry leaders and members in designing new ministries, revitalizing established ones and terminating those ministries which are no longer useful or beneficial. The IM may also train ministry leaders and assist in the development and deployment of members.

For his work to be successful, members must cooperate and church leaders (including deacons and ministry leaders) must encourage and support his/her work.   It is always to everyone’s advantage personally (because they are growing more like Jesus) .  And, then it is to the advantage of the local church because she will be blessed with greater unity, and her members will be blessed because they are serving and being served.   The end result is that the church becomes a light in the community and draws the lost to the Lord.    Trav

The above does not necessarily replace a job description for an IM.   It merely represents a general outline of the role of an IM.   The role of an IM and/or his/her job description can be uniquely written in each individual case as per the needs of the congregation and the abilities and cooperation of the IM in question.   TI

When You are 2nd Chair

If you are a church staffer who is an associate minister, education director/leader, youth minister, executive minister or involvement minister, this article is for you. If you are the pulpit minister, you might want to read this, too.
In human terms we usually think of the pulpit minister as “first chair” and any other minister ‘on staff’ (e.g. associate, youth, education, involvement, etc.) as “second chair. In some congregations, the associate, youth minister, etc. is subordinate to the pulpit minister. Such is either on purpose or assumption on the part of the second chair staff member.   I must quickly add that associates are generally treated well.
When I use the term “second chair” I am using the term to refer to another staff member that works “with” the pulpit minister (first chair).
Depending upon attitudes and actual job descriptions, being “second chair” can be a wonderful experience or it can be less so. However, correct ‘thinking’ will alleviate much anxiety about this arrangement.
My story: For 30 years I was “first chair.” I was the pulpit minister and held many responsibilities. I was located at one congregation for over 22 years. Everyone in town knew me including a university president, doctors, residents, school officials and hundreds of other people. This was a real “heady” thing for me. I was respected, loved and appreciated by my brethren also. My phone rang off the wall. I was in demand as a speaker. However, I took on too much responsibility and burned out in 2003. It would be 2008 when I would go into my present (second chair) position as involvement minister.
I struggled with being second chair because I had always been prominent and an obvious church leader. People recognized me and called me by name and treasured my advice and my ministry. That all changed with when I entered IM. All of this ‘attention’ disappeared and I felt (a feeling without any base) like I had no influence and no part in church leadership. I was sincere about wanting to lead and have a good influence as second chair. My motives were correct and still are to this day.
If you are or have ever struggled with such feelings I want to introduce you to and two men who do a great deal of writing about second chair leadership: Mike Bonem and Roger Patterson of the Leadership Network (Publication). Two of Mike’s (see books are Thriving in the Second Chair and Leading from the Second Chair (co authored by Roger Patterson).
But back to your and my situations; what do we do to help us get our thinking straight and influence the church for spiritual and numerical growth?
1. Educate yourself. Fall back on the materials that I’ve recommended herein and two more listed below.   The more you educate yourself and clear up your thinking, the better you will feel about your position. In fact, I think you will celebrate it.
2. You are NOT second class. You are fulfilling a necessary place. Also, you may not be “First Chair” material so God has placed you where He needs you now. Revel in your position and calling. Avoid anxiety and frustration by accepting God’s calling. By the way, there are no second class citizens in God’s kingdom.
3. Great benefits are yours. When I was first chair, I was the one who got called out of bed at 3 am to go to ER. Being second chair, I no longer do this. When I was first chair, I had to come up with all the ideas. Today, I share this responsibility. Second chair folks don’t bear many of the types of responsibilities as do first chair folks. We don’t necessarily have all the strains and stresses as do the folks in the first chair. If you are second chair, you still weld great influence and direction, but you don’t have to bear all the weight and responsibilities of the one above you. Be thankful.
4. And remember, it ain’t about you or the pulpit preacher; it’s all about God! It’s not about who is first, second, third or whatever. It’s all about God. Bottom line: you and I serve God where we are doing what we are doing because we love Him and we love His people. I believe in job satisfaction. However, I believe more strongly in pleasing Him and bringing glory to Him.   He will do with me what He pleases to do with me where I am and with my place in the local church.  My pulpit minister and I are good friends as well as good brothers.   We make a great team and we both have influence in the church and in leadership.  We work and worship with elders and a congregation that love and respect us both.

Other good books:   Next Generation Leader by Andy Stanley

How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge by Greg Scroggins

Count your many blessings. Look at the positives of your position. I promise you that is what I do every day.
Try one more website:

Note:   in the churches of Christ, we believe that the Bible teaches that Jesus is the Chief Shepherd and that (earthly) Shepherds (sometimes called bish0ps, shepherds, elders or overseers) lead local congregations.    In this sense, all of us are in the second chair because Jesus sits in the first chair.   In another sense, the elders sit in the first chair and church staff, including the pulpit minister sit in the second chair.    One last scenario is the one I have discussed in the body of the article.  I believe that associate ministers, youth ministers, IMs and church education directors may feel like they are second chair folks and that the pulpit minister holds a more influential position than they.   They may feel like they have no influence.   However, they must assert themselves and their influence for the good of the church.   In most congregations this is allowable and even expected.
Travis Irwin
Athens, TN

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