Entries by Dave Kraft (747)


Stupid things I did as a pastor

In leadership, we are at times only one step away from doing something really stupid.

Here is Thom Rainer sharing nine of those stupid things he did.

Originally posted by Thom Rainer

Nine stupid things I did as a pastor

If you want to read the tale of a pastor who really did some dumb things, keep reading.

I served as pastor of four churches. It was only by the grace of God and the graciousness of the congregations that I was called and allowed to stay at those churches. I absolutely love the members of those four congregations, and I will forever be grateful to them and for them.

Frankly, I’m not sure I would give myself a passing grade as a pastor. I messed up quite a bit. I would do several things differently today. And as a point of full disclosure, my list of nine is not close to being exhaustive.

  1. I neglected my prayer life and time in the Word too often. It sounds absolutely insane as I write it, but I got too busy for God. As a consequence, I operated out of my own insufficient power too many times.
  2. I neglected my family too often. Paul wrote these words to Pastor Timothy: “If anyone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of God’s church?” (1 Timothy 3:5, HCSB). Ouch. So many times I communicated through my actions to my family that they were not as important as other church members.
  3. I let the crisis of the moment overwhelm me. In doing so I did not trust in God to see me through the situation. And I did not have a longer-term perspective to understand that difficulties are only for a season.
  4. I perceived most of my critics as my adversaries. Some of my critics actually had constructive input. Others were going through their own struggles, and I was a convenient target. I took criticisms personally instead of responding pastorally.
  5. I competed with other churches. Shame on me. Too often I wanted my church to have a greater attendance than other churches in the area. I should have been praying for and working with those other church leaders more.
  6. I neglected praying with my staff. My prayer time with my church staff was haphazard at best. The one thing we needed to do the most, we were doing the least. I was a terrible leader on that front.
  7. I often worried about what others thought about me. My sole concern should have been how Christ-like I was. Too often I sought the approval of others rather than the blessings of God.
  8. I often yielded to unreasonable requests and demands. Instead of spending my time doing those things that really mattered, I gave in too often to the “squeaky wheel.” I sacrificed the great in order to do the good.
  9. I gave up too often. Due to frustration, exhaustion or, more often, lack of faith, I gave up on challenges too quickly. I am convinced I missed out on many victories when they were just around the corner.

Those are but a few of the stupid things I did as a pastor. Most of you can breathe a sigh of relief that I never served as your pastor.

So why I am writing these self-critical comments at this stage of my life? I pray that some of you may see something in your own lives and leadership that you can correct before it’s too late. God is able. God is willing.



One of the most important systems you will need to have in place

Assimilating New People

Last week I did a post on three things to think about so that a church experiences growth--qualitatively as well as quantitatively.

One of these three is “Systems.”

There is a need to have systems that provide good structure so things are done well, and in a God-honoring way, while we shepherd and disciple the people God sends our way.

One system I see that is often done poorly (or not done at all) is that of helping new people find their place in the church family. This has often been called “Assimilation.”  I’m sure there’s a better name to call it, and if any of you reading this have a better idea, please let me know. We have all heard the expression that people are coming in the front door but leaving through the back door.  What can the church leadership do to close that back door?

First of all, there needs to be a champion for this: someone who has a deep concern and love for people--especially those who are relatively new. This is a general principle for any important task which needs attention: finding a person who is passionate about that particular area of ministry; a person who has passion, gifts, capacity and enough spiritual maturity to lead and build a team to lead with.

When I was one of the pastors with Mars Hill Orange County, it became clear to the leadership team that our “Assimilation Process” was not working well. New people were not connected and balls were being dropped right and left. Because I had both passion and time, I volunteered to address the issue as part of my pastoral responsibilities.

We developed a team lead by an amazing woman (Cindy Campbell) that we called “The Path”: the path from parking lot to church planter. Cindy did lots of research and developed some wonderful ideas for herself and the team she built.

What happens to people along the way from the moment they step into the parking lot all the way to some of them becoming church planters? Cindy and her team did an incredible job and we significantly closed the back door with people feeling cared for and connected because they always new what the “Next Step” was for them.

We wanted all of our people to be:

  1. Faithful in worship
  2. In a Community Group
  3. Giving financially
  4. On mission with the gospel
  5. Growing in discipleship
  6. Serving within the church family

The “path” team created what we needed to take us well down the road with all six of these desires.

If you would be interested in seeing some of what Cindy and her team created, email me: and I will share it with you.

If I could recommend one book on Assimilation-related issues, it would be The Equipping Church.

Don’t wait any longer. Find a person to champion “Assimilation” so that visitors return and become an integral part of the church family.




Women in leadership desire and need coaching

As long as I can remember in my 48 years of pastoral ministry both with The Navigators, Mars Hill Church and in my professional coaching, the place of women in ministry has been (and still is) a controversial subject.

One of the churches I consult and coach with is Greenbriar Church in Albany, Georgia.

Mandy Kavanaugh is on the executive team at Greenbriar and carries considerable responsibility. Mandy is being coached and starting to coach other women in ministry. Here she is sharing why women will profit by having a life/leadership coach.

I strongly recommend Mandy for coaching women who are in leadership at your church.

Originally posted by Mandy Kavanaugh

Pastors: Why women in your church leadership need coaching

Until recent years, the vast majority of resources given to developing leaders within the local church have been given primarily for men in ministry. This isn’t an opinion piece where I argue for a woman’s place in leadership…you can Google that subject and read enough arguments to last ten lifetimes. This is an article to Pastors and Elders who are working hard to truly embody being complimentarian by pursuing and equipping women to lead. To those pastors I would say that if you invested in ministry coaching for the women in leadership at your church, the return would be ten-fold.

Here are four reasons why you should consider ministry coaching for these women:

1.  A ministry coach can help a woman in church leadership discover her life purpose.

Many believers, in general, do not know their life purpose and as a result, they walk through life chasing things that God never intended them to chase. A wise person will spend their time (and dare I say blood, sweat and tears) seeking God’s purpose for them. Once God reveals his overall purpose to any leader, they no longer have to guess what things get their “yes” and what things get their “no”. They will be free from distraction and able to jump in your church with 100% commitment. My own journey in seeking God’s purpose for my life was finally contained in one statement: “My life exists to exalt the person and work of Jesus Christ with integrity and excellence; to care for the local church, as the Bride of Christ, through leadership and discipleship; to tell the story of Jesus through the arts and depend on God to accomplish dreams that are bigger than me.” I never second guess that my purpose is to serve the local church and I am free from all other obligations.

2.  A ministry coach can help a woman in church leadership be successful in priority management.

The first calling of a woman is that of being a wife and mom but God also calls some women into ministry. I’ve seen women shrink back from leadership positions in the church because they thought they had to choose one calling over the other. I am living proof that it is possible to do both well. The best thing a lead pastor or elder board can do for their female leaders is to provide a ministry coach to help them keep their priorities in order.

3.  A ministry coach will help a woman in church leadership grow in her personal leadership development.

Personal leadership development for women is really no different than it is for men however it does have it’s own nuances. For example, how should a woman lead men who serve within her teams?  How can a woman resolve conflict without allowing her emotions to take control? A female ministry coach has walked these same roads and knows how to help other women walk them as well…

To finish reading this article, go to Mandy Kavanaugh



I hate to wait!

All right, I 'fess up. I'm a "Type A." I move fast, I eat fast, I think fast. I even sleep fast. I'm impatient. I want it yesterday. I hate to wait. I hate to wait in lines. I hate to wait for people to "get it." I hate to wait for almost anything. Ain't it awful? I recall someone saying to me once. "When you walk with God, He sometimes seems to walk awfully slow!"

Come on God, I don't have all day! Have you ever felt that way? Recently, I found a great illustration that is already helping me be more patient in my leadership responsibilities and do a better job of trusting Him for the results.

Les Brown in, Live Your Drems shares the following: "In his book An Enemy Called Average, John L Mason writes of a tree in Asia called the giant bamboo that has a particularly hard seed. It's so hard to grow that you must water and fertilize that seed every day for four years before any portion of it breaks the soil. And then in the fifth year, the tree shows itself."

“But, the remarkable thing (and consult your National Geographic if you don't believe me) is that once it breaks the surface, this bamboo plant, like many of the species, is capable of growing at rates as fast as four feet a day to a height of ninety feet in less than a month."

Did the bamboo really shoot up ninety feet in a month, or did it grow over a five-year period without being seen? If the person doing the watering and fertilizing had given up because they didn't see anything happening, the tree would have died! What a tremendous spiritual lesson the giant bamboo holds for us who are leading and praying for lasting fruit from our labors.

Mark 4:26,27 (New Living Translation, copyright 1996) reads: "…A farmer planted seeds in a field, and then he went on with his other activities. As the days went by, the seeds sprouted and grew without the farmers help,…"

I, for one, need to constantly remind myself that He is Lord of the harvest, not me! For me that means He is Lord of the results! Isn't that what harvest is all about, results? He has His timetable. Nothing is impossible for Him. He is at work even though I don't see it, and I often don't see it when I would like to see it!

The illustration of the giant bamboo is currently giving me more patience with people in process; more patience for the planted seed (truth, teaching, prayers) to break the surface and be evident.

A number of years ago, Dick told me he had become a Christian. I had jogged regularly with Dick for quite a while and tried to initiate spiritual chit chat, but he let it be known early in our relationship that he was zip interested and was an atheist.

I kept praying, sharing a little here and there and then we drifted apart and stopped seeing each other, but the bamboo seed was growing. The watering and fertilizing paid off, but there were many times I just thought it was hopeless.

In what area are you experiencing God walking awfully slow? Where can you apply the principle of the giant bamboo? There may be any number of seemingly hopeless situations related to your personal or ministry life. One of my favorite choruses has it right: "In Your time. In Your time. You make all things beautiful in Your time. Lord, please show me everyday as You're teaching me Your way that you do just what You say, in Your time."














Tips on energizing yourself and others

Energy and passion for your role and responsibility is key to success in any endeavor. But how do you consistently keep yourself and your team energized and motivated?

Here are some practical ideas from Dan Rockwell

Originally posted On March 12, 2015 by Dan Rockwell

How to Energize Yourself and Others

I thought self-awareness was something for dope-smoking hippies. It doesn’t matter how you feel.  Just do your job. But…

Lack of self-awareness limits leadership.

Self-awareness and energy:

Self-management requires self-awareness.

Self-awareness enables you to monitor and manage personal energy. Managing personal energy is the essence of self-management.

Coaching and energy:

Energy for the second step comes from taking the first.

Coaching-leaders ignite positive energy by helping others identify and take first steps toward desired results.

Progress creates energy; stagnation drains it.

The more you believe you’re moving forward the more energy you have. But, lack of progress produces “why try” attitudes.

Long-term failure propagates itself.

Coaching-leaders design projects around a series of small wins and celebrations.

Uncertainty and energy:

Identify positive goals; take imperfect steps forward.

All you need is reasonable confidence that your behaviors won’t cause harm.

Just try something that seems likely to help.

Empathy and energy:

Stephen Covey writes, “When you show deep empathy toward others, their defensive energy goes down, and positive energy replaces it. That’s when you can get more creative in solving problems.”

When others believe you care, energy increases.

7 energy insights:

  1. Action produces energy.
  2. Your energy bleeds on others, for benefit or detriment.
  3. Results depend on energy.
  4. Results produce energy.
  5. High energy is happiness; low is discouragement.
  6. Complaints, stagnation, and blame drain energy.
  7. You are responsible for your energy.