Karl Vaters

My 6 Best Tools for Overcoming Preacher’s Block

I’ve been preaching for thirty years.

Thirty years of creating new content every week for 45-50 weeks of the year. For the first fifteen years I was preaching or teaching three times a week – on Sunday morning, Sunday night and a mid-week bible study.

It all adds up to over 3,000 preaching/teaching events in thirty years. An average of two per week.

At some point I have to run out of things to say, don’t I? Actually, at hundreds of points I have run out of things to say.

If you’re the preaching/teaching pastor of a local church, you know the feeling. The Saturday night dread. The “what am I going to say this week that they haven’t all heard 100 times before?” panic.

It still happens to me. I guess I’m a slow learner.

The good news is, it doesn’t happen to me nearly as much as it used to, because over the last three decades I’ve learned a few tricks – what computer geeks would call hacks, but we’ll just call tools – that reduce the pressure and make Preacher’s Block a little less frequent.

Money & the Small Church: 3 Reasons We Can’t Ignore It

Not having enough money is a huge problem in life and in ministry. Yet it’s just the way things are for the Small Church – and for the Small Church pastor.

But helping those who are in even greater need than we are is one of the primary callings of the church.

It’s one of the few things every Small Church has in common.

How do we do more ministry with so little money?

Because of my intense dislike of money, I have written very little about it in the two year life-span of NewSmallChurch.com. But it’s probably the subject I’ve been asked about more than any other.

I haven’t intentionally avoided writing about it. I just feel woefully inadequate to present myself as some kind of expert on the subject.

But in more than thirty years in ministry, I’ve been forced to learn about it – especially in the last half decade or so.

So, despite my misgivings – or maybe because of them – I plan to write several posts on the subject of Money & the Church in the next few weeks. Then we’ll come back to this series on a regular basis.

Why My Church Is Better at 200 than It Was at 400

There are a lot of reasons why the church collapsed and nearly folded. But the main one was this. The pursuit of numbers made us sick. And sick things start to die.

I’m grateful that our sickness was evident in our shrinking numbers. It forced us to deal with the problems. Some churches start dying internally, but keep getting bigger externally, so they don’t see their sickness. No, not all of them. Not even most of them. But some of them. Including mine.

Through that process, I learned several painful lessons. I’m grateful for every one of them.

The Problem With “The Problem With the Church Today…”

When people complain that today’s church services aren’t as good as they should be, that our worship is often more about entertainment than participation, that the preaching is often shallow, that discipleship is sometimes non-existent… I have to reluctantly agree.

When they long for the days when we did church better than we do it today… I wholeheartedly disagree.

We’ve never done church better than this.

Sure there have been pockets of greatness. There still are today.

And there are always good, healthy churches to be found of all shapes and sizes. I’ve been in a lot of them and I pastor one.

But the less-than-ideal church service is nothing new.

The Event Matters: How Going to Church Helps Us Be the Church

For almost 2,000 years, people have gathered for church. Because the event matters.

There’s something important about getting up on a Sunday morning (or heading out on a Saturday night, etc.) to gather with other believers.

It tells me and my family that being the church matters, because things that matter get carved into our schedules. They interrupt our week. They cost us something to do.

Yes, we are the church. But it’s also important that we go to church.

The event gives weight to the content.

Church Growth Is Not an Exact Science

It’s easy to spot an unhealthy church that won’t grow.

Lack of vision, inadequate systems, poor planning, unfriendly people and more will doom a church to irrelevance very quickly. Spotting such churches is obvious and easy, especially for anyone who has spent much time in pastoral ministry.

It’s much harder to spot a church that will grow. Or a healthy church that may not grow.

Is Your Negative Online Behavior Killing Your Ministry Opportunities?

What is it about the internet that seems to bring out the jerk in so many people? Ministers included.

If you have a habit of using the internet to vent, even if it’s to vent against things you feel need to be denounced, be aware of the unintended consequences attached to it.

It’s the new normal for pastoral search committees and church leaders to check out your online behavior when deciding to partner with you in ministry or hire their next pastor.

The biggest reason people pass you over? A mean, critical or overly judgmental spirit in online conversations.

6 Realities & Trends In Bivocational Ministry

I’m not a church planter. But I spent three days teaching at the Exponential West conference for church planters last week.

I’ve also never been bivocational. But almost all the teaching I did was with bivocational pastors – most of it tag-team teaching with Hugh Halter and Artie Davis.

So why was I there? The one thing we all have in common is the Small Church experience.

I had a great time sharing my story and the lessons learned along the way, and hearing their stories, too. Bivocational pastors have a lot to teach the rest of us.

Because of the chance to spend so much time together (over 10 hours of teaching and conversations) we all learned a lot about the current state of bivocational ministry and some trends we’re likely to see in the near future.

Here’s a recap of six of them.

Every Revival Has Its Own Soundtrack (New Music, Part 2)

Well that was fun!

Monday’s post, God Has Never Done a New Thing Using Old Songs, received more comments than any other post over any two day period in the history of this site. It also stirred things up on Twitter, Facebook and my email inbox.

Yet, in spite of all the passion, the commenters were civil, thoughtful, reasonable and very helpful. No name-calling, mean language or accusations of heresy in the whole bunch. Whadya know, maybe we can have disagreements on the internet and still respect each other. Way to go, everyone!

Since there were so many great questions and comments raised by Monday’s post, today’s post is a collection of questions and responses that added something new to the conversation. This way, you won’t have to scroll through everything just to see where the conversation went.

So, with genuine thanks to everyone who participated in the conversation, here’s how some of the Comments and Responses went.

God Has Never Done a New Thing Using Old Songs

Every old song used to be a new song.

I wonder who the first worship director was who said “hey, I like that new song John Newton wrote,” before introducing Amazing Grace to the church.

Whoever it was, he probably had to deal with complaints from church members who didn’t think it was as good as the hymns they were used to singing. “In six verses the name of Jesus isn’t mentioned once, but it says ‘me’, ‘my’ and ‘I’ thirteen times! Today’s songs are so self-centered and shallow!”

In a recent post entitled, Six Reasons Some Churches Are Moving Back to One Worship Style, Thom Rainer tells us that, according to some of his recent surveys, the contemporary vs traditional worship wars may be drawing to a close.

I hope new music won.