Posted in Church Staff

Leave Your Pastor Alone! (On Sundays)

Sticky Note Message

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Usually about 7:30 a.m. each Sunday, he strolls into my office. Always his tie is loosened, and he’s drinking coffee out of his favorite mug.

My pastor and I typically chat about just a few things during this weekly exchange. There might be a few comments on a weekend sporting event, or light discussion about what’s ahead of him for the day – but I avoid talking about one specific topic.

That topic? Anything that will distract him.

When I was seventeen and felt called into ministry, I wasn’t sure what to call it… But I felt a burden for what I saw my Dad deal with as pastor. Namely, all the things that were a distraction from his proclaiming the Bible on Sundays. I didn’t know then that an executive pastor role directly addresses that burden I was feeling. I wondered then, and I wonder now – is there something I can do to alleviate, mitigate, or at least help to postpone the “things” that could be a distraction for my pastor? Can you do this?

No doubt, pastors have to deal with other things than preaching. But as much as I can control it, they don’t have to deal with them on Sunday morning right before they preach (or whatever day and time they preach).

Even this past Sunday when Mike moseyed into my office, I glanced at the “Mike” page of my task-list and saw several important things to discuss with him. Although I was tempted to bring them up, I quickly determined none of them had to be discussed between that moment and when he’d preach 30 minutes later.

If you’re a church leader or staff member… strive to preserve your pastor’s time on Sunday mornings. Keep your conversations and topics to be only those that will bring encouragement or end with “Is there anything I can do to serve you today?”

You’ll be tempted to talk about more, but hold your tongue, write it down, and deal with later (and yes, that means delaying delivery of emails until after he’s preached). I’m convinced Satan will use anything to distract a preacher from being Spirit-controlled while proclaiming the Gospel. Do everything you can to keep him far from sin, and close to Christ.

If you’re a preaching pastor and this boundary isn’t respected, I suggest two things to mitigate the distraction:

  1. With staff and key leaders, ask them not to bring up matters that aren’t time-sensitive on Sunday mornings. As a human with a God-sized task, ask for some latitude. Again, you’re ultimately going to do deal with whatever they have – just postpone your involvement until you’re finished preaching.
  2. With congregants, get good at saying things like, “That sounds important, but is there any way you can connect with me later so I can focus and pray over the next few minutes?” And if that doesn’t work, you might even have to limit your congregational fellowship time before the service, or focus most of that time until after you’re finished preaching.

If you do this, let some key lay leaders know. They then can be your cheerleaders if they hear grumblings about your lack of engagement pre-service.

I like problem-solving pastors. I like people-loving pastors. But what I like most is the Gospel being proclaimed from a person who is sinless and focused on proclaiming the message God has given them.

It takes discipline from the pastor and those who serve alongside him, but the here’s the practical takeaway: leave your pastor alone (at least before he’s preaching).



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Keeping Your Kids And Your Call To Ministry


Brian, they don’t care what happened at work. They don’t care that you’ve surpassed your 7,000 word allotment for the day, or that you could have worked three more hours and still left things undone. They care about you spending time with them.”

This is often the speech I give myself as I pull into my cul-de-sac after work.

In a two part blog, I wanted to give some practical takeaways that have allowed me to keep my job, but also keep my family (and in some cases, thrive in both).

Like you, I have work commitments many evenings… But when I’m home… I need to be completely there.

I believe God has given me the chance to be involved in important work each day, at my church. But it’s those three hours in the evening that require me to offer my best time, in a much less public setting. It’s the time between ending work and kissing my last child goodnight.

The implications:

  • From 5:30 -8:00 p.m. I avoid working from my phone. It’s still on, should someone need to call me – but I’m not checking emails. (This is easiest if you turn off your phone’s email alerts.)
  • Before getting to my house, I often stop down the street to write my last emails from my phone. That way, I can enter the house and not send last-minute emails in front of my kids.
  • People have to wait for my email response. Whenever I can, I return emails quickly, but not during this timeframe.
  • I’ve already had to have spent time one on one with God. I know I won’t give my best time to my family or church unless I’ve already given God my best early in the day.

Driveway Prayers

The internal monologue I mentioned above is usually followed by a prayer. It’s my driveway prayer. It simply asks God to help me give my best to my wife and family for the next 2-3 hours – and I sit in my driveway until I feel God providing me peace about that commitment.

I’m not perfect…

… Sometimes urgent ministry needs interrupt those 2-3 hours

… Sometimes I squeeze in a quick look at my emails while my kids are consumed with another activity or my wife is engaged elsewhere

… And sometimes, my preoccupations with ministry induce me to say “I’m busy, pal” to my four-year-old boy when he says in his raspy voice, “Dad, play dinosaurs with me.”

I believe God created me for a purpose. Part of that purpose is the ministry in His local church. And part is loving my family fully with my mind, body, and heart’s attention.

My ministry work gets 8-12 hours of my day, at least five days a week. But with God’s help, my family gets my “best” hours that week.

 Practical Takeaways:

  • Have your spouse give feedback on what or who is getting the “best” part of your day.
  • Commit to an email, social media fast during a set time so you can focus on family.
  • Become a driveway pray-er.
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An Opportunity To Learn and Do Ministry


Earlier this week I wrote about the value of both seminary and ministry experience. What I didn’t mention in that blog is the growing number of ministry residencies available to those called to ministry.

Like in medical school, a residency gives you an in-depth look into local church ministry while providing relationships, group learning, and experience in doing ministry.

My church, Brentwood Baptist wants to develop church leaders, so we are launching The Ministry Residency at Brentwood Baptist in August.

The application process has begun and we want to find the right residents to be a part of what we’re offering. If you are someone who’d be interested or know someone who might be, direct them to the residency website:

There they’ll find all the needed information about the residency and a way to apply.

Of course I’m partial, but I believe the learning and experience that will be provided by some really great ministry leaders at our campuses will be extremely valuable to anyone who wants to be the best minster for Christ they can be.

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