Tuesday, July 31, 2007


What is the most important part of your day? By far, most important for me is the time I spend alone with God. Call it whatever you want--quiet time, devotional, prayer and Bible reading, private worship. I can't survive without it.

Let me tell you what I'm currently doing. The first thing I do is talk to God and say, "God, talk to me." Then I read a section of the Bible, looking for some verse, phrase or word that "jumps out" at me. Currently I'm reading through John's gospel in The Message Bible. I read through a New Testament book and then an Old Testament book. So I go back and forth. I'm not trying to speed read through the Bible in a year. I'm taking it slowly.

There are two things I've started doing that have really jump started my times with God. First, I've started praying some of the Scriptures as I read them. For example, this morning I was in John 6. When I read where Jesus went up the mountain to be by Himself, I breathed a prayer: "Lord, that's what I need to do when ministry starts to crowd in on my personal walk with you. Help me to get away more to pray." When I read about Jesus aligning His life with what the Father wanted, I prayed, "Lord, I want my life to be completely aligned with your will." Praying the Scriptures has really helped strengthen my walk.

Second, every day I write a sentence or two that captures an insight that I gleaned from the reading. I guess this qualifies as journaling, even though it's only a sentence or two.

After reading one to three chapters, I read a few pages in a devotional book. Right now I'm reading Swindoll's So You Want to Be Like Christ. (By the way, this is an excellent book for quiet time material.) Then I shut my reading materials and pray and listen. I try to get focused for the day ahead. Sometimes I will put on my headphones and listen to some good praise and worship music.

On Monday-Friday, I spend 25-30 minutes in my time alone with God. I'm usually in my chair no later than 6:20 and at 6:45 I'm up and headed to Crooked Creek Part for my exercise routines. On Saturday I usually sleep in; so the quiet time happens later in the morning. If there is one day that I struggle to have my quiet time, it is Sunday. I'm up early and I'm praying and going over my message. So, I'm praying and looking at the Scriptures, but for my record book, that doesn't count as a quiet time. Usually, my Sunday time alone with God happens right before bed.

Of course, throughout the week in the office and at home, I'm reading and studying. But, again, for my record book, that doesn't count for my quiet time. I must have those 25-30 minutes alone with God each day. Otherwise, my spiritual vitality will wane quickly.

What works for me might not work for you. Here are three keys to having a meaningful time alone with God.

(1) Have a set time and stick to it.

(2) Have a set place, a place that is your sanctuary where God meets with you.

(3) Keep it fresh. Try different things. When you find yourself in a rut, get out of it as quickly as possible by trying something new and fresh.

A quiet time is an absolute must. A person cannot be effective for the kingdom without it.

Feel free to post a comment to share the makeup of your times with God.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


"How was your vacation?" My typical response to that question is, "I don't recall ever having a bad one." Our family decided to do something beyond the usual for this summer's vacation. We traveled to Destin, Florida, where we are spending the week. Outside of Kevin, none of us have been here before. It's a beautiful place.

There's good news and bad news about the beautiful clear ocean waters of the gulf. The good news is that you can see everything in the water from top to bottom. The bad news is that you can see everything in the water from top to bottom. Anita and I freaked out when a school of thousands of fish (not minnows) swam right past us.

This has been a special vacation for us. It's us five plus Jamie and Erin and Duck (Metts (I'm going to court to get Duck's last name changed to Kelly--of course Clint and Pam would probably do the same thing with Tyler). What a joy it is to spend some time with our future daughters-in-law. They get more super as each day passes. Kenny and Kevin hit the jackpot with them.

Outside of the great time with family, summer vacation is a time when I can do some catch-up on reading. My reads this week will include Comeback Churches, Seven Things Every Leader Must Do, The Dip, Holy Discontent, and my Grisham fun read for the week An Innocent Man. I might not get to them all, but I'm going for it (three of them are small books).

I've already got wind that Rick Jones did a great job preaching last Sunday. Our church is filled with great preachers in Rick, Steven, Philip, James, and Kenny. We're blessed to have them on staff.

That's it for now. I think we're hitting the Hard Rock Cafe for dinner this evening. I just love those hour-long restaurant waits (about as much as I enjoyed the long drive to Destin).

See you Sunday!

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Thursday, July 19, 2007


In my last two blogs I have dealt with issues related to principles we use for hiring additional staff. The underlying theme in the blogs was to explain the value of hiring from within. Now let me summarize the typical steps we take when filling a position:

  • Is there a church member currently serving in a volunteer capacity who has an impeccable character, handles people well, shows evidence of a Christ-filled life, and supports the vision of the church? That person would be our number one candidate.

  • If no obvious candidate emerges, we might post the position to the church family because our ideal is still to hire from within the family.

  • If no obvious candidate emerges, we seek someone outside the church. We may advertise the position in numerous markets and/or we will seek word-of-mouth referrals.

Let me give you a few examples.

  • When we made plans to transition the children's ministry so that one person would oversee the Child Development Center as well as the other aspects of children's ministry, we went straight to Virginia Wallace, who was currently the CDC Director. Had she declined the offer, we would have gone to the other steps in the process and most likely would have gone outside the church to make the hire.

  • After the untimely death of Garry Weeks, we first explored a few options with people within the church. But none seemed to match the criteria. We formed a search team and interviewed possible candidates from around the country. Through the months of searching, the team never had a peace about any of the candidates. Then it seemed God was leading us back one of our own. During this interim period, we approached James Clonts, who had previously decided to pursue ministry outside of CBC. We asked him to pray and reconsider. Long story short--James was our guy.

  • Charles Fant--here is a unique case where we did not have a position for pastoral counselor. Charles approached us and requested that CBC allow him the opportunity to counsel, using our church as his home base, at no cost to the church. Knowing Charles' effectiveness in previous ministry settings, we saw no downside in allowing him and us this opportunity.

I could list multiple examples. But the point is that every position opening is unique. We try to follow the values that I have expressed in these blogs. But there are no set 1-2-3 steps that are in concrete. The main thing we try to do is to pray earnestly for the wisdom of God and to be sensitive to the Spirit's leading.

The church is charged by God to do kingdom business. We have a calling that involves eternal value. So don't think of the church as a government-run business that needs to follow proper protocol of posting jobs for 30 days and interviewing a minimum number of candidates before making a decision. (I wonder how many times the proper protocol has been followed to the letter when all along the supervisor knew whom he/she was going to hire.) We will always seek to be fair. But job posting will happen when there is no obvious candidate to fill a position.

But are we missing out on better qualified candidates by hiring only from within? Probably so. There is always someone out there who has more experience, is better educated, and is more highly qualified. But I feel like Herb Brooks, the hockey coach, who led the U.S. Olympic hockey team to the stunning upset of Russia in the 1980 games and then on to the gold medal. His accomplishment could be termed nothing less than a miracle. When building his team, he looked for players who were more concerned about the name on the front of their jerseys than on the back of their jerseys. Many "experts" questioned his roster, claiming that he was overlooking some of the best players in the country. Coach Brooks responded, "I am not looking for the best players. I am looking for the right ones."

At Chapin Baptist we are always looking for the right staff, the ones who will serve together as a team to do the work of God's kingdom and lead Chapin Baptist to higher ground. Hopefully, they will be the right ones and the best ones. And if they're not the best, we will do all we can to help them become the best.

Three posts in three days. That's a record. I'll probably give you a break for a few days.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com/ to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


In yesterday's blog I wrote some thoughts about our Chapin Baptist hiring principles and practices. I closed the blog by stating some initial advantages for hiring from within the congregation.

Here's a list of advantages for hiring from within:

  • You know their character before hiring them.

  • They have a proven track record of service and faithfulness.

  • You already have spotted their spiritual giftedness.

  • You know how they get along with people.

  • You know up front that they understand the church's vision and are champions of it.

  • They understand the church's philosophy of ministry.

Let me amplify the part about vision support. Our vision is to help people connect with God and become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. When we hire from within, we are hiring people who have already bought into the vision. In fact, why would any church hire someone who doesn't support the vision? And what a great story it is when someone within the congregation senses God's call to full-time Christian ministry! They've been volunteering their services, using their God-given gifts, and supporting the church. It excites me to no end to think of the blessings added to a congregation when they see their own members become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ, accept God's call to ministry, and then have an opportunity to serve in their own church. WOW! That's awesome!

Come to think of it (I know it might be an overstatement. But remember a blog is my personal reflections, a platform to share my feelings), to me it is an insult to think that we help people grow to full spiritual maturity and support their call to ministry and have a ministry opening and then say, "We can't hire you because you are a church member."

Through the years we've built upon the value of hiring from within. When the value is in place, it makes hiring decisions much easier. For example, for about three years we have been looking for the right time to add a church administration position. Once we determined the position could be added (by the way, you can never afford a new position; you just bite the bullet, step out in faith and trust God's leadership), it was a no-brainer to approach Rick Jones for the position. He was already volunteering multiple hours. We knew his heart for ministry. And we knew that he was seeking a career change to go into full-time ministry. He already had some applications in other church settings. The timing was right. Rick was a tremendous vision supporter and was highly skilled in the areas where we needed help. No one else was even considered for the job.

Let me get family personal and go back a couple of years. The value of hiring from within was already in place. After James Clonts, an existing member, was hired as our student pastor, we added a part-time position for an assistant student pastor. One young man had already accepted a call to full-time ministry. And his call was to the student ministry. He was already serving many hours in the student ministry on a volunteer basis. The greatest risk was the amount of time that had lapsed since his addiction issues. But we accepted that risk and hired him as the assistant youth pastor. We didn't even consider anyone else seriously because he already had a proven track record in serving in the student ministry. He just happened to be my son. Call it favoritisim or nepotism if you like--but what a hire it was. There is no telling how many people Kenny has led to Christ in his two years here.

I know there was a lot of hall talk going on about hiring the pastor's son. I even had voice mails, calls, and notes criticizing the move. But to me, it was an easy decision because the value of hiring from within was already in place. Again, do we want to pray for God to call out more members into full-time ministry and then rob them of the privilege of employment because they are the family member of another staffer? Father-son ministry teams are not unusual at all. Probably the best known is Andy Stanley who worked for his father at FBC, Atlanta, before branching out to start his own church.

The comments above do not suggest that just because someone is called into full-time ministry, we hire them. But if there is a position open and a viable candidate within to fill that position, then most likely that person will be a leading candidate (maybe the only candidate) for that position.

Hiring from within is a great value to practice. Is it always successful? No. Will there still be bad hires along the way? Unfortunately, yes. But the risk factors, I believe, are much less when you hire one of your own.

There's still more to come. So stay tuned to part 3.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com/ to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."


Many have asked questions regarding our philosophy and practices of hiring new staff. Others have asked questions regarding how large a staff should be. These are great questions. I will try to answer some of them with this blog. And if it takes two blogs, then part 2 will come soon.

What size should a church staff be? There is no right or wrong answer to that question. Studies show that the typical church will average 40-60 percent of its operating budget to personnel. So we always try to stay within that range, ideally 50-55 percent (my opinion only). Another factor to consider is whether or not the church wants to staff itself for status quo or for growth. For example, take our church--running around 600-700 on Sunday mornings. Do we staff for our existing size or for the next level of growth? I believe the wise church staffs for growth.

With the recent hire of Rick Jones as church administrator, I believe we have positioned ourselves more for the growth end. And then with the added blessing of Charles Fant coming on board as a self-supporting pastoral counselor--that just adds to our position. Don't quote me on the exact figures--but before we hired Rick, the personnel portion of our budget represented 45-50 percent of our budget. With his hire, personnel costs are 50-55 percent of our budget, still very much within the realm of typical churches.

Hiring from Within. A practice we have implemented in hiring over the last several years is to look within our own church family for possible candidates. Again, this is not a right or wrong matter. Many churches still go outside the church to hire any position. However, the trend I've noticed in leading churches across America is to hire from within the congregation. Doing so makes a lot of sense.

When I'm looking for a new associate pastor, for example, there are three main ingredients I'm looking for. I call them the three C's. Of course, there are many other factors involved, but these three are so critical. First, competency. Does the person have the skill set that we are looking for. Second, character. Is the person's reputation above board? Third, chemistry. Will the person work well on our staff team? This third quality is probably the most difficult one to assess. Not until the person is on board do we discover fully if the chemistry is there. All three qualities must be present. One of the worst things one could do would be to hire someone when one of these three ingredients is missing and simply hope that he/she improves.

A great advantage of hiring from within is that the person already has a proven track record. We know his/her reputation. We've seen them work in volunteer settings. We know how they get along with people. Bringing someone from the outside is certainly not a bad way of hiring. But it sure is easier to assess someone when you've been "living" with them over a period of time versus getting to know someone through a few interviews and checking references.

I knew it all along--this subject deserves more than one post. So I'll try to do another blog tomorrow to give you some further insights on our hiring principles and practices.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com/ to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Monday, July 9, 2007


What’s taking so long to find a new worship pastor? Great question! The best answer to that question is simply that these searches take a long time, almost always longer than you anticipate.

Some lapse of time between leaders is helpful. When one person leaves, there needs to be a period of re-assessing and regrouping and sometimes healing. It’s been six months since the worship pastor position was vacated. During these six months, we have been aggressively searching for the person God has chosen to fill this important position.

Let me share some of the criteria and strategies we are using in our search. We have advertised the position nationally through two major internet outlets: Churchstaffing.com and Willow Creek Exchange. We have also contacted a few Southern Baptist seminaries and the S.C. Baptist Convention. And then, of course, we have relied on word of mouth recommendations from people both inside the church and outside.

Chapin Baptist is not a totally unique situation. However, with our three completely different venues of worship on Sunday mornings and add to that our student Ignite service and the children’s Believers’ Bay worship, it becomes very obvious that we need someone who has experience leading multiple styles of worship. This criterion in itself significantly limits the candidate pool.

We have not limited ourselves to any age of candidate, although to hire for the emerging generation as well as to balance the ages of our existing staff, our preference is to find someone on the younger end of the age spectrum. We are not limiting ourselves to candidates who are Southern Baptist. We simply want the most qualified person for our setting, someone who loves Jesus, has a healthy family, whose passion for worship is obvious, and who has a proven track record. I qualify the previous statement by saying that anyone we hire, if not Baptist, will adhere to our Baptist beliefs as stated in The Baptist Faith and Message and will become Southern Baptist.

I’ve not kept a running total. But we have received probably in the neighborhood of 250 resumes. Most are not viable candidates due to their lack of experience. We’ve received resumes from all over the country and even a handful from other countries. The candidates have been black and white, male and female, young and old, and represent a wide variety of denominations. Some of the ones we have targeted for interviews reside in South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Ohio, Texas, California, Florida, and Kentucky.

After significant screening, the search team focused our efforts on five men. Of the five, four have either decided to stay in their present location or have already moved to other locations. One of the five, who also happened to be our leading candidate, is still available and is very interested in Chapin. He and his wife have already spent a weekend with us. He met with our musicians and attended our three services. He wants to return to Chapin for a weekend to lead our worship instead of just observing. We have this trip set up for the first weekend in August. After the trip we should have a strong sense of whether this person is the one or if we need to pursue others. Should this leading candidate not work out, we already have a few others for whom we will make arrangements to bring to Chapin for interviews.

Every hire is important. But I think we all understand how strategic the position of worship pastor is. We know that it is through the worship service that people first connect with Chapin Baptist Church. The impact of their worship experience will most likely determine if they will connect with God and with our church. We’re looking for a worship leader who can creatively design worship services that will engage our congregation every Sunday in an encounter with Christ. We’re looking for someone who is innovative and has the ability to implement a wide variety of tools that will result in worship with excellence.

The search team is committed to finding this person no matter how long it takes. It’s better to wait than to hire prematurely. By the way, as I close this blog (sorry for the length—my longest blog yet), will you bow your head and ask God to lead the search team to His person in His time and that this person will lead our church to new levels of worship that will impact our community for His kingdom?

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Tuesday, July 3, 2007


I’ve grown to love the ministry and writings of Craig Groeschel. Craig is pastor of one of the most innovative churches in America. LifeChurch.tv is the name of his church. The church worships in eleven locations across the United States with around 20,000 people in worship each Sunday.

Each location receives the same message via satellite feed from one of the locations. Each location has its own live worship and then the satellite fed message. What a unique way to do church. And God’s hand of blessing is evident.

Recently, Craig spoke at the Buzz conference in Washington, D.C. A number of guys whose blogs I read regular and who attended the conference gave Craig’s talk very high remarks. I’ve pasted below some bullets that summarize his message. I want to pass them on to you. They are gems loaded with great insight. They come from Tony Morgan who is on staff at Newspring Church in Anderson. Here you go.

Limited Resources + Increasing Passion = Exponential Innovation
He then went on to talk about four characteristics of innovative leaders.

They heal the sick. Not just physical healing. “In order to reach those that no one else is reaching, we will have to do things that no one else is doing.” We have to be driven to bring people to Jesus. We have to be passionate about that. “When is the last time you had a non-believer in your home?” We need to lead our people to love those that don’t know Christ. They need to be real people with names that people know. That type of ministry looks very different than the typical church ministry looks today. “Who is God calling you to reach that no around you is reaching?”

They break rules. We don’t break away from the Truth of Jesus Christ. We need to do less “preaching” and more “listening.” Jesus healed people on the Sabbath. Martin Luther put the Bible in the hands of the common man. John Wesley preached outside the church walls. Bill Hybels combined the passion of parachurch with the power of the local church. “We have to care more about reaching people than following man’s rules.” Sometimes you have to stop watching what others are doing to hear from God. It’s your turn. Break some rules. “What is God calling you to try that hasn’t been done before?”

They offend Pharisees. “When you do something new, the Pharisees will attack you like you never dreamed possible.” The things that are accepted today in the Church world, were hated ten years ago. When they do criticize, you must handle their criticism with grace. A lot of you are angry, and you have to get over your anger. Don’t shoot back. “What new thing is God calling you to create that will be hated today and embraced tomorrow?”

They redefine success. John 3:30. Less of me and more of God. We have to do that…in everything we do. For example, a 2,000-person church in a metro area like Washington, D.C. is a “microchurch.” We can’t be impressed with ourselves. Craig explained for him: Success is going to be if my children know Jesus. Success is going to be when my wife gets the best of me and not the leftovers. Success is going to be spending time with God…just me and God. Success is getting people out of our building and out impacting the world. Instead of counting the number of people that are showing up, what if we started counting the number of people who we lost?

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."