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Pastors are responsible for the overall effectiveness of every ministry. They may be called and empowered by God, but are constantly challenged by pressures inside and outside their churches.

In national surveys and in interviews, Pastors report that they feel well trained in theology, but often feel inadequate as leaders. They are constantly are faced with the problems of dealing with negative organizational behavior and "challenging" people within the church. This need is even more of a priority in the modern ministry because a pastor has less direct authority over the church and must deal with every kind of personality, as well a variety of different and potentially difficult church members who may become frayed as they experience difficult personal times.

The statistics show that successful leadership comes from a pastor’s understanding of how to involve their ‘flock’, the exercise of high levels of emotional intelligence and motivational skills, and having the personal leadership confidence to withstand negative pressures that can lead to loss of confidence, personal de-motivation and feelings of burn-out.

There is also a necessary business-like aspect to overseeing a church. While this side of church leadership has a comfortable basis in Jesus’ teachings about money matters, many church leaders feel squeamish in dealing directly with the "business aspects." Clearly, all churches have assets to manage, employees to pay, and members who rightfully demand accountability for their financial contributions. However, many lack clear, long-term planning mechanisms, protocols and measurements.  

The creation and/or clarification of core values, mission statements, concretized vision, and quantifiable goals and objectives ensure the church can build synergy, provide clear focus and unify its members in cohesive purpose. With strategic planning, decision-making becomes easier, ‘giving’ increases and there is a sense of ownership that instills the congregation with both pride and excitement. 

Ezekiel 33:10-11

(10) "Therefore you, O son of man, say to the house of Israel: "Thus you say, "If our transgressions and our sins lie upon us, and we pine away in them, how can we then live?"" (11) Say to them: "As I live," says the Lord GOD, "I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?"

The Old Testament was written without punctuation of any kind, and in fact, punctuation was not added until about 1,200 years after Ezekiel wrote this. As God's answer to the question of verse 10, verse 11 would read better if a period followed the words "Lord GOD." He replies that we should live as He would live if He were a man - sinlessly. When Jesus came as a man, He did exactly that.

Jesus declares in John 17:3, "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." A key to understanding Jesus' intent is to grasp His use of the word "eternal." We normally think of it as an endless length of time. However, William Barclay's commentary on this verse contains a simple and meaningful difference of opinion with that concept. Barclay contends that Jesus is speaking of something very good, one to be much desired. Living forever is not necessarily good unless the quality of life is also good. Therefore, "eternal" describes the quality of life God lives endlessly. Knowing God and being able to follow His example are vital to our living as He does. Jesus implies that, if one truly knows God, he will also live that way as an effect of his intimate relationship with God.

Yet, truly coming to know God creates one of the more difficult and continuous problems for church members. In fact, one commentator called it the church's biggest problem, and Romans 11:33 seems to confirm this. "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!" Paul says plainly that the full depth of God's wisdom and knowledge are unsearchable and past finding out. We can indeed find out a great deal if we are devoted to seeking Him, an endeavor that requires thorough searching, evaluating, and adjusting of our conceptions. Certainly difficult, but not impossible!

Nevertheless, we must still seek Him, since this verse suggests that we can indeed learn much. It helps that God desires us to know Him, so He is willing to reveal Himself further.

— John W. Ritenbaugh

To read more from this author, see:
Seeking God (Part One): Our Biggest Problem

Pastoral Training Sessions; Cohort I

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The latest installment from brother Adam:)

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  John Holzhüter ClinPsyD, DDiv

University Chaplain and Managing Director,
Fredrikson Center for Faith and Church Vitality
785-248-2578 or 785-248-2334

Lee Stadler

Fredrikson Programming Coordinator


(785) 248-2325


P. Keith Shrimpton        

Assistant to the Chaplain/T.A.U. Institute Director                 





Susan Trendel

Assistant for University Advancement



Summer programming announced soon!!!

How can we help you help others?!

Fredrikson Center for Faith and Church Vitality

Consulting Services...

Services Scope:

Our team has extensive experience in working with:

Arts and Culture Programming

Capital Campaign Planning and Execution

Church and Faith-Based Organizations

Civic and Social Service Organizations

Educational Institutions

Grant Makers (Private and Public Foundations)

Housing organizations (Community, Civic and/or governmentally sponsored)

Healthcare and Human Services Agencies

Joint Venture Partnerships (Profit/Non-Profit and Governmental/Non-Profit Partnerships)


Our time and resources are limited and donations to OU's faith based programming is greatly appreciated. For a consulting proposal, tailored to the needs of your organization, please indicate total number of assistance hours requested, choose your preferred options from the following service option menus and email john.holzhuter@ottawa.edu :


Services Menu:

Client Agency can utilize their monthly hour-allotment in the following areas:


Stage One:

q     Agency/Church and programming readiness and impact assessments

q  Agency/Church Budget Review

q     Board Governance and Readiness Assessment

q     Project Marketing/Feasibility Studies

q     Succession and Transition Planning Review

q     Staffing/Volunteer Assessment

q     Surveying/Analysis (360°, Constituent, Client, Congregant, Donor)

q     Seminars/Workshops (Board, Staff, Congregation, Plenary or Capital Campaign Leadership)

q     Planned Giving and Endowment Strategies Review/Proposals

q     Campaign Marketing Recommendations

q     Programming Protection/Funding Diversity Planning Services

q     Site Visits/On-Site Facilitations.


Stage Two:

q Whole-Agency policy review and Re-Visioning recommendations

q Facilitated Strategic Planning Sessions

q Policy and Procedure Review and Drafting

q Development of Campaign Master-Plan/Timeline

q Training Services (Board, Staff, Congregation, Plenary or Capital Campaign Leadership)

q Partnership brokering and Covenanting (LoI, MoA, MoU)

q Campaign Budget Review and Capital Plan Finalization (Sources and Uses)

q    Development of ‘Donor Pyramid’ Strategy

q Donor Recognition Planning

q    Case-for-Support Recommendation/Creation

q    Off-Site Facilitated Retreats (Staff, Board, Committee or Capital Campaign Teams)

q Site Visit/On-Site Meeting(s)

q Presence at Campaign, Board or Church Leadership planning sessions.


Stage Three:

q Campaign Tracking Systems Determinations (industry and No-additional-cost alternatives.)

q Media-Material Creation (Videos, PowerPoint Design and other formats)

q Press-Release and Traditional Media Support Services

q    Internal Communications-Management

q    Digital/Virtual Media Programming

q    Generation of Corporate and Foundation Leads

q    Grant Writing and Compliance Systems Development (capital and programming)

q    Agency Transition Protocols

q Ongoing Mentoring, Coaching and Marketing Services

q    New Leadership Transition Session

q    Site Visit/On-Site Meeting(s)

q Change-Management Programming

q    Project Management Services

q Presence at Campaign and/or Board Reporting Sessions

q Student Volunteer Team/Student Intern Involvement.

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