How This Introverted Pastor is Extroverted on Sunday

By | Church, Church Planting, Church Revitalization, Leadership | 9 Comments

In my book “The Mythical Leader”, I have a whole chapter on introversion – mostly because every time I post about introversion I hear from pastors and church members who talk about how introversion negatively impacts their ministry. I have heard from well-meaning (hopefully well-meaning) people who don’t believe an introverted person can serve effectively as a pastor. But I have found this introverted pastor can be quite extroverted on Sunday. 

If there was a scale of 1 to 10 of introversion – I’m probably a 7 or 8. (I can be a 9 some days.) So, I understand the plight of my introverted pastor friends, and I don’t agree with those who think introversion prohibits one from serving in a senior role. (In fact, in my book, I share some thoughts on how I think it actually makes me a better leader in some ways.)

All that said, as pastors, the interaction we have with people is a key role in growing and leading the church. I’ve written numerous times that just because I’m introverted doesn’t mean I don’t love people.

I love people. Really. I love all kinds of people. One standard I have for my ministry is whether I’m loving the people who are difficult to love. So, I strive to do so. And, I especially love to help people get excited about what God is doing in their life. That motivates me.

My introversion, however, if I’m not careful, can keep me from interacting even with people I love.

The fact is, however, if you asked most people in the churches where I have served as pastor, other than those who know me really well, they are surprised I am an introvert based on my Sunday interactions with people.

I’m very extroverted on Sundays. 

The point of this post is to share a little of how do I do that.

4 ways this introverted pastor is extroverted on Sunday:

I am very intentional in my work.

I have to work at it. I’m not saying it is easy, but is anything worthwhile ever easy? I realize that Sunday is coming. Therefore, I plan my week around it. I intentionally plan introverted moments during my week.

For example, I am very careful what I plan for Saturday night, because I know I need to be at my best for Sunday. It is rare for me to schedule a large social gathering on Saturday nights. In fact, I’ve found Cheryl and my Saturday date days are the perfect preparation for an extroverted Sunday. (Obviously that’s easier for us now as empty-nesters, but I was equally protective of my Saturday night when we had children at home.)

When I can, I try to be out of the office at least one day a week. This helps with my sermon preparation, but also gives me “down” time. Interruptions will always come, but the more intentional I am with my calendar the more prepared I am when Sunday comes.

My family understands me and cooperates.

This is often the hardest one, because it obviously involves other people. The key for us is my family knows me as I know them. They understand Sunday takes so much out of me mentally and physically. My family realizes I need time to recover from a very extroverted Sunday. The ride to the restaurant for Sunday lunch is usually pretty quiet.

My family has learned if I have my introverted recovery time I’m more engaging with them the rest of the day. It is a way they partner with me in ministry. When our boys were home they knew I would intentionally give them some of the best part of my day, but they also knew there were times I would be quieter than others.

My family understands my introversion, but I don’t think they ever feel slighted because of it. And that is key. Part of intentionality here is I can’t always slight my family for my ministry. So, with Cheryl and my time now, and when our boys were home, we had time together where we were very extroverted.

One hint here is for introverted – and, frankly often for men – get them doing something if you want them to engage. Cheryl and I walk together and she would agree I am far more talkative on those walks than she is – and she’s the extrovert. All this takes communication and establishing expectations in relationships. That’s part of any healthy relationship.

I realize my extroversion on Sunday is for a purpose.

When I taught a very large Sunday school class (over 100 people), every week I’d leave the room as I was praying at the close of my lesson. It seemed the humble thing to do, and I was sincere in that, but honestly, it was the “safest” approach for this introvert.

When I came into ministry and was in my first church, I continued this practice. I would “escape” during my prayer to the back of the sanctuary. A dear older deacon came to my office one day and gently, in a very helpful way, said, “Ron, if as you’re praying you’ll walk to the vestibule and shake people’s hands as they leave, they’ll be more likely to return the next week.” I’ve been doing that ever since – and how right he was. One of the most frequent comments I receive from visitors is how they enjoyed meeting the pastor.

I can’t imagine it any other way now. Again, I love people, so even though this drains my energy – it fuels me for ministry. That deacon has since passed away, but I remain thankful for the wisdom he gave me.

I rely on the Holy Spirit.

The pastor who inspired me most in my spiritual walk when I was a 20-something year old trying to figure out my life direction emailed me once. He had read one of my introversion posts and wanted to echo the sentiments in it. In it he said he has always marveled at how many introverted pastors he has seen God call to lead in the church – even very large churches. He wrote, “I’ve been an introverted pastor of large churches for 39 years now. Before every service I’m saying the same thing, ‘God, I can’t do this – now what are you going to do about that?!'”

His humble surrender to God’s hand has shaped some powerful ministries under his leadership. I loved being able to email back to one of my mentors that I’ve had a similar prayer every Sunday – for a few less years.

Just as Moses, Gideon, and others led through what they felt would handicap them in following God’s call, introverted pastor, you can do this. With God’s help, an understanding family, and some hard, purposeful, intentional work – if God has called you to it, He will equip you. Surrender to His strength and will.

An introverted pastor can be extroverted on Sunday!

Join Nate (or Chandler) and I for the Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast. And subscribe now, so you won’t miss the next one.

5 Words of Encouragement for Church Planters

By | Church Planting, Church Revitalization, God, Innovation, Jesus, Leadership | No Comments

Having been a church planter twice, I understand the unique challenges facing planters. They are constantly struggling with leadership issues, finances and simply knowing what to do next. I’d love to offer a word of encouragement for church planters.

Recently I had a conversation with a church planter friend in Chicago. He’s in hard soil to plant anyway, but mentioned that the pandemic has been especially hard on church planters. As a result, many of his fellow planters are flaming out as a result of the pressure from lack of funds, finding a place to meet, and having less fellowship.

My heart resonated with him as we spoke. Most of what I know in leadership has come from experience and the wisdom of others. I was blessed to lead a church during the pandemic, but it was indeed challenging.

5 words of encouragement for church planters:

Surround yourself with a few encouragers.

First, make sure you have people who speak regularly into your life. People outside the work you’re doing. Some days they’ll keep you going.

This friend mentioned that prior to the pandemic there was a more focused effort by others to bring church planters together for fellowship and encouragement. That hasn’t returned. Perhaps some of us that serve in larger, established churches can come together to be this support for church planters.

Seek your affirmation among the people God sent you to minister to.

This is great advice someone gave me. The reality is you will many times feel under-appreciated. You may not feel you’re doing any good. Also, you will second-guess yourself and your calling. When this happens, get back into helping the hurting people — the work, whatever it is — God called you to. Be recharged.

Everything great usually starts with a very humble beginning.

You know this or you wouldn’t be a planter. But this is true either in your personal humility or the humble beginnings of your work. Take your pick.

We all want the grand and instant success. Yet, that’s seldom the reality. Those who launch big often had enormous stories of previously being humbled. “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin.” Zechariah‬ ‭4‬:‭10

The more specific you are the more others can help.

Established churches have systems. Processes. Committees. Structure. You might even believe we have too many and that’s why you’re planting. We have budgets that have likely been approved long in advance. Private individuals like to give to specific causes and see immediate impact.

The more detailed you can be with what you need the easier it is to meet the need. Also, don’t be afraid to talk about money. Everyone knows you need it. Plus, don’t be surprised if help is more readily available in other ways – such as buying you a specific piece of equipment you need rather than simply writing an undesignated check.

Protect your soul — and your family.

Finally, you have to discipline to decompress. Paraphrasing Jesus: “Come to me all who are stretched, burnt-out, weary and heavy-burdened — I will give you refreshment for your soul.” Live this truth daily. Put it as a regular practice of your life. Unfortunately, no one is going to do this for you.

God bless you, planter, leader, friend.

Join Nate (or Chandler) and I for the Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast. And subscribe now, so you won’t miss the next one.

Leaders Grow as the Organization Grows

By | Change, Church Planting, Church Revitalization, Leadership, Organizational Leadership, Team Leadership | No Comments

Bad leadership is bad leadership. It’s usually easy to recognize.

It’s easier, however, to hide bad leadership in an organization, which isn’t growing. (I wrote recently that it’s easy to keep an organization small. Read that post HERE.)

The larger an organization becomes and the more growth, which occurs, the more bad leadership becomes apparent.

As an organization grows:

Read More

RELP – Episode 27 – Harsh Realities Leading Change

By | Church Planting, Church Revitalization, Leadership, Podcast | No Comments

In this episode of The Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast Ron and Chandler Vannoy talk about Harsh Realities Leading Change.

Leading change is a part of leadership. You can’t lead without change, but it can be hard. Along the way of leading change – or attempting to – I’ve discovered some harsh realities.

If you are amid some “heavy-lifting” change leadership, see if some of these apply to you. And you may not know some of them are happening, but likely they are at some level. Knowing them can help you face the harsh reality and hopefully lead better.

As you may know, I normally host this with my son Nate, but his schedule as a pastor has kept him from being able to partner with me lately. I hope he returns soon. In the meantime, I’m loving the discussion with my friend Chandler.

In this episode, we discuss harsh realities leading change.

We are hearing from many leaders who are enjoying these podcasts. We know they are simple. It is intended to be a quick listen to a conversation between father and son – (and in this one – father and friend) who are both struggling to figure out leadership in our individual contexts.

As always, I hope this episode helps you be a better leader.

Would you do me a favor? If you enjoyed listening to this episode of The Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast would you subscribe, share and leave a positive review about this podcast? We are enjoying doing this together, but it is especially encouraging when we know it is helping other church leaders. Thank you in advance for doing this. It is a great help.

We will be recording more episodes soon. Let us know leadership issues you would like us to cover.

Also be sure to check out all the great podcasts on the Lifeway Leadership Podcast Network.

7 High Costs of Attempting to Eliminate Risk

By | Change, Church Planting, Church Revitalization, Innovation, Leadership | 2 Comments

Every leader attempts to limit risk as much as possible when making decisions. We don’t want to jeopardize the organization – ultimately the people – we are trying to lead, so we attempt to have good systems and procedures, boundaries in place, adequate resources, and even contingency or emergency plans. But there are some high costs when we attempt to eliminate all organizational risk.

I’ve seen leaders confuse an attempt to limit risk with attempting to eliminate ALL risk. There is a big difference. I’m not sure we can ever fail-proof anything , so it’s a futile attempt at best to try to get rid of risk completely.

When we are more rule-centric or risk-adverse than we are willing to “take a chance” or “try something new”, our opportunity costs exceed our potential savings from attempting to eliminate all risks. Every successful organization embraces a certain amount of risk. And there are some high costs involved when a leader who is overly cautious.

Here are 7 high costs of attempting to eliminate risk:

Limited growth.

Personally and corporately, without a certain amount of risk there is no potential for growth. Growth happens in environments where the potential to fail is prevalent, accepted, and not scorned. People are not afraid to take chances.

Unfulfilled dreams.

Dreams are made of the seemingly impossible. The bigger the dream the greater the risk. Healthy teams and organizations have big, lofty dreams pulling them forward.

False reality.

Life is a constant risk. If a leader has as a goal an attempt to eliminate it they are essentially playing tricks with mirrors and fancy lights. They’ve created an unachievable expectation for people who follow.

Underutilized resources.

“Playing it safe” may make more sense on paper. It may even feel comfortable, but often when resources are stretched is when the greatest growth potential occurs. Ask the question – “What would we do if we were forced to change and there was no money available?” It’s amazing how creative people can become.

Wasted time.

The time you invest trying to eliminate risk could be used to leverage risk for a greater gain. All of us only have so much time, so leaders must be diligent stewards of it.

Expensive opportunity loss.

Whenever you choose not to do something because of the risk involved, there is always a loss associated. The organization will miss out somewhere on something by not moving forward soon enough. The greatest discoveries often involve people who are willing to assume the greatest risks.

Diminished momentum.

The fact is risk fuels momentum. There is something inside of most of us – especially the entrepreneurial leader types – who thrive on achieving those things which seem impossible. When the chance of failure is high so are the components which fuels momentum.

Leader, you can never fully eliminate risk and this is one of the hard parts of leading. The time you spend attempting to do so will take precious time from doing other things, which probably can reap higher reward. Risk is a reality to be managed not a problem to be avoided.

(This is true, of course, when leading in the church. Perhaps more so, because we are to always be faith-driven. Faith always, by definition, deals with a level of the unknown.)

Join Nate (or Chandler) and I for the Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast. And subscribe now, so you won’t miss the next one.

RELP – Episode 26 – A Major Communication Barrier on All Teams

By | Church Planting, Church Revitalization, Leadership, Podcast | No Comments

In this episode of The Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast Ron and Chandler Vannoy talk about A Major Communication Barrier found on Every Team.

I have experienced this one so many times. Not understanding this basic communication barrier can cause major frustration and decrease inefficiency on the team. Understanding it can help create unity and organizational health.

Plus, this podcast episode might help you in other relationships, besides your team. Understanding this principle is huge in my own marriage relationship.

As you may know, I normally host this with my son Nate, but his schedule as a pastor has kept him from being able to partner with me lately. I hope he returns soon. In the meantime, I’m loving the discussion with my friend Chandler.

In this episode, we discuss a major communication barrier on every team.

We are hearing from many leaders who are enjoying these podcast. We know they are simple. It is intended to be a quick listen to a conversation between father and son – (and in this one – father and friend) who are both struggling to figure out leadership in our individual contexts.

As always, I hope this episode helps you be a better leader.

Would you do me a favor? If you enjoyed listening to this episode of The Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast would you subscribe, share and leave a positive review about this podcast? We are enjoying doing this together, but it is especially encouraging when we know it is helping other church leaders. Thank you in advance for doing this. It is a great help.

We will be recording more episodes soon. Let us know leadership issues you would like us to cover.

Also be sure to check out all the great podcasts on the Lifeway Leadership Podcast Network.

5 Bad Reasons to Plant a Church

By | Church Planting, Church Revitalization, Innovation, Leadership | One Comment

There are some bad reasons to plant a church.

Please understand, I love church planting. When I moved back into church revitalization, part of the concern I had was I might not have a foot into church planting. That would be tough for me. After two successful plants and having worked with literally hundreds of planters, I think it’s in my blood. (Interestingly, my mom served on the core of a church plant before she married my dad.)

Thankfully, I still have lots of avenues to be a part of church planting from an established church. I’m still involved with Exponential. Our church plants churches. And planters still ask for my help on a regular basis.

But for years I’ve been concerned about one thing I see in the church planting movement.

I seem to find some planters – or want-to-be planters – who plant a church for some bad reasons. The fact is we need people called to ministry in the established church. We need them in church revitalization. Not everyone needs to be a church planter. 

And the bigger issue is without the right reasons, if we are not careful, a church plant could become just a part of a growing fad and no ultimate good will come from it. People will waste valuable time, energy and resources when they simply were never called to plant. That’s not good for the planter or the Kingdom.

So, we must be careful to plant for the right reason. And, equally importantly, to not plant for the wrong reasons.

Let me give some examples of bad reasons to plant a church. There are surely others.

Here are 5 bad reasons to plant a church:

You’re running from authority.

I’ve worked with some people who didn’t want to follow the rules. In fact, I am that person sometimes. While this may be a good mindset for an entrepreneurial type, and church planters certainly are, it is not a good reason to start a church. When this is the reason it is often out of pride and arrogance. God can never honor that.

You’ll have authority in a church plant – or at least you should. One of the quickest ways to burnout and flame out is to refuse it. If you’re smart you’ll give away authority and not be a power-broker. All of us need some authority and accountability in our lives.

You want to do things your way.

I understand. Really. Especially if you worked for a controlling leader or for someone who had no passion or vision. You have energy and momentum around a dream and need to explore it. I get it. Bravo! I applaud seeking after something which grabs your heart.

But be careful. Sometimes a desire birthed in good can quickly become something birthed in rebellion. And pride can quickly take over your heart. Plus, when this happens, many times you close yourself to ideas other than your own. You then become the controlling leader you resented. And you will limit the vision you are seeking to you. You limit what you control.

Make sure you’re not planting just so you can exclusively do things YOUR way.

You want to be close to momma.

Or momma-in-law. This one sometimes hits too close to home. And I get this one too. You love your family. There is free babysitting. Loving a family is a good thing.

But our callings are bigger than the comfort of home – or the cool city where we can find the best coffee shops. Sometimes God gives us huge latitude in location, but sometimes He does not.

Certainly we need planters all over the place. And home may be exactly where God wants you to plant. (I planted a church in my home town. Some questioned it, but I knew it was what I was called to do. The proof is in the results over 15 years later.) God may allow you to plant exactly where you “want” to plant. I hope He does.

Sometimes, however, God’s plan sends us where we don’t necessarily want to go. He often calls us to leave our comfort zone. Make sure in whatever you do the decision is always His – and not yours alone.

Your friends are doing it.

It’s popular to plant a church these days. As I said, I still attend church planting conferences. We need lots of new churches. Tons. And the church planting movement attracts a lot of people.

So, if you have friends in ministry, some of your friends may be desiring to plant a church. It seems to be the buzz these days.

It’s just never a good reason to plant a church because everyone else is doing it. It needs to be your calling – not anyone else’s.

You’ve got the cool factor.

I meet some really cool people planting churches. I needed to clarify this because I was almost 40 when I planted a church the first time and I had long passed the day I could wear skinny jeans.

Church plants – anything new – attracts cool. (It’s funny, when I attend church planting conferences there are lots of similar looks. Styles change but church planters keep up with the styles.)

But cool does not make a good church planter. I should be honest, it doesn’t hurt. Boring is boring.  But it isn’t a reason to plant a church. And the fact is we need cool people in the established church also. Church revitalization needs cool too – perhaps even more.

So why plant a church?

There is really only one reason to plant a church.

You are fully convinced God has called you to plant a church.

Join Nate (or Chandler) and I for the Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast. And subscribe now, so you won’t miss the next one.

RELP – Episode 25 – 10 Ways to Help Your Spouse Transition When YOU Change Jobs

By | Church Planting, Church Revitalization, Leadership, Podcast | No Comments

In this episode of The Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast Ron and Chandler Vannoy talk about Ways to Help Your Spouse Transition When YOU Change Jobs.

I have done so many transitions in my career. It’s one of the reasons I offer transition and succession coaching. Equally important to my transitions, however, have ben helping Cheryl transition well. It took me a while to learn this, but when I did it made me want to help other leaders.

The way you help your spouse transition to YOUR new job may be equally, if not more, important than how you transition. It certainly will play into your initial (and maybe long-term) success in that position.

As you may know, I normally host this with my son Nate, but his schedule as a pastor has kept him from being able to partner with me lately. I hope he returns soon. In the meantime, I’m loving the discussion with my friend Chandler.

In this episode, we discuss ways to help your spouse transition when you change jobs.

We are hearing from many leaders who are enjoying these podcast. We know they are simple. It is intended to be a quick listen to a conversation between father and son – (and in this one – father and friend) who are both struggling to figure out leadership in our individual contexts.

As always, I hope this episode helps you be a better leader.

Would you do me a favor? If you enjoyed listening to this episode of The Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast would you subscribe, share and leave a positive review about this podcast? We are enjoying doing this together, but it is especially encouraging when we know it is helping other church leaders. Thank you in advance for doing this. It is a great help.

We will be recording more episodes soon. Let us know leadership issues you would like us to cover.

Also be sure to check out all the great podcasts on the Lifeway Leadership Podcast Network.

RELP – Episode 24 – 7 Things TO DO When You’re in Decline

By | Church Planting, Church Revitalization, Leadership, Podcast | No Comments

In this episode of The Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast Ron and Chandler Vannoy talk about Things to Do When an Organization is in Decline.

If you follow this podcast, we last talked about things NOT to do when a church or organization is in decline. We promised a counter post was next. I’m sorry for the delay.

As you may know, I normally host this with my son Nate, but his schedule as a pastor has kept him from being able to partner with me lately. I hope he returns soon. In the meantime, I’m loving the discussion with my friend Chandler.

In this episode, we discuss things to do when an organization is in decline.

We are hearing from many leaders who are enjoying these podcast. We know they are simple. It is intended to be a quick listen to a conversation between father and son – (and in this one – father and friend) who are both struggling to figure out leadership in our individual contexts.

As always, I hope this episode helps you be a better leader.

Would you do me a favor? If you enjoyed listening to this episode of The Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast would you subscribe, share and leave a positive review about this podcast? We are enjoying doing this together, but it is especially encouraging when we know it is helping other church leaders. Thank you in advance for doing this. It is a great help.

We will be recording more episodes soon. Let us know leadership issues you would like us to cover.

Also be sure to check out all the great podcasts on the Lifeway Leadership Podcast Network.

The Ineffectiveness of A Team When There Is No Leader

By | Business, Church, Church Planting, Church Revitalization, Leadership | No Comments

I’ve seen many leaders make a common mistake. They believe in teams, so they create a bunch of them. They charge the teams with carrying out a specific mission or an assigned task. The team is part of a accomplishing the greater vision. But their ineffectiveness comes when there is no leader.

Granted, I believe in teams.

I even love the word – TEAM! It sounds cooperative. Energy-building. Inclusive.

I think we should always strive to create great teams.

But here’s what often happens. The team doesn’t work. Nothing gets accomplished. There may have lots of meetings, but there is no real forward movement.

The team flounders.

Why? They had a great team. The team was full of great people. They were part of a great vision and everyone may have known exactly what they hoped to accomplish.

But, this is where the common mistake exists among many teams.

They never had a leader.

I have worked with a number of churches that have well-defined structures with lots of committees. The problem is they are too structured for effectiveness. And, many times, you have to be in the church at least a year before you could serve in leadership. In practice, this often means you have to be there for many years before you are ever “known” enough to be placed on a committee.

This process might work well for certain committees – such as finance committee, but it doesn’t seem to work as well for others, such as the garden committee or the usher committee. Churches need lots of people in those areas and need to be able to plug new people in quickly and let them get to work. Often in these circumstances, churches need more of a team concept than a committee structure.

But even with teams – the ineffectiveness comes when no one is ever appointed a leader.

At some point in time, a leader will need to stand up – and lead.

Any group of people without a leader is like an athletic team without a coach.

I love leading through teams, but in addition to making sure people know what’s expected of them, we have to make sure every team has a leader.

Personally, I try to never appoint or release a team to do work until we make sure a leader is chosen. They can choose their own leader, we can appoint one for them, or they may even have co-leadership, but there needs to be someone who has the assigned task of steering, motivating and leading the team to accomplish it’s mission.

I love teams. I just make sure every team has a leader.

Join Nate and I for the Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast. And subscribe now, so you won’t miss the next one.