The Rev. Margaret Marcuson

Denomination: American Baptist Churches USA (ABCUSA)

 

Rev. Margaret Marcuson helps ministers do their work without wearing out or burning out, through ministry coaching, presentations and online resources. Margaret is the author of Leaders Who Last: Sustaining Yourself and Your Ministry and Money and Your Ministry: Balance the Books While Keeping Your Balance. She served as a pastor for 15 years.

A graduate of the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, Margaret is an American Baptist minister and was the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Gardner, Massachusetts, for 13 years. She lives in Portland, Oregon.

Get the free mini-course, "Five Ways to Avoid Burnout in Ministry" at http://margaretmarcuson.com/.

 

Articles by The Rev. Margaret Marcuson

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What Are You Giving Your Followers?

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Here are five gifts you can give your followers this Christmas and into 2011.

Five Gifts to Give Yourself

Tuesday December 07, 2010
As you finish up your gift-giving for Christmas, I want to suggest five gifts you can give yourself to help you manage your anxiety around money.

Have You Broken Your Resolutions Already?

Tuesday December 07, 2010
New Year's resolutions are an opportunity to pay attention, not a chance to beat up on yourself for failing.

What's a Leader to Do about Money at Church?

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Leadership at its best is about being present with those we lead and being less reactive to the inevitable ups and downs of church life - including the inevitable financial ups and downs.

10 Books that Changed My Life and Ministry

Tuesday December 07, 2010
What are the top 10 books that have changed your life and ministry? Here are mine.

Are You Embattled or Challenged at Church?

Tuesday December 07, 2010
What is the difference between a church leader who is embattled, and one who is challenged? You can see the difference.

What Is Your Responsibility for Church Finances?

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Church leaders can respond differently to the challenges of dealing with money in congregational life. Some take too much responsibility; others don't take enough.

Ten Tips for Understanding Your Church's Money Story

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Understanding your church's story in relation to money can help you lead in the present and move toward the future. Here are ten tips for paying attention to the past.

Are You Doing Something for Yourself for Lent?

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Lent is a time to focus on our own spiritual growth, not to simply find ourselves busier than ever.

Is It Selfish to Focus on Yourself? A Lenten Reflection

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Our "self" is God's gift to us and our gift to others. That's not selfish.

What Does Prayer Have to Do with Money?

Tuesday December 07, 2010
We don't usually think of Lent as a time to focus on finances. But what better time to look for spiritual support or guidance for this aspect of your leadership?

A Question for Church Leaders: Who's the Expert on You?

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Do you know who you are? Every leader needs to consider this question.

Have You Broken Your Lenten Discipline?

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Have you broken your Lenten discipline? I have.

Can You Find Silence during Holy Week?

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Is there silence in your life? T. S. Eliot wrote, “Where shall the world be found? Where will the word resound? Not here. There is not enough silence.”

Is It Dark Outside? A Good Friday Reflection

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Are you experiencing some dark in your life now? You may find yourself in the mood for Good Friday.

How Do We Get Them to Do More?

Tuesday December 07, 2010
It seems like the same people are willing to help with the ministry every year. The church might be able to learn something from a secular organization: Toastmasters.

What Do Lay Leaders Need to Do about Church Finance?

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Volunteer church leaders have a key role to play in church finance. Here are some thoughts on how you can make a difference, whether you are on the board, finance committee or team, trustees, or simply a key leader in congregational life.

How Do You Preach about Money?

Tuesday December 07, 2010
What does it mean to preach about money? Often it only means one thing: to get people to give more money to the church.

10 Tips for Dealing with Change at Church

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Times of change at church raise anxiety. Here are ten tips for dealing with change.

How Can You Make it Easier to Talk about Money at Church?

Tuesday December 07, 2010
If you struggle with preaching, teaching and talking about money at church, here are some reminders to ease the way.

What I Learned from My Mother about Ministry

Tuesday December 07, 2010
My mother died in June. I've been thinking about what I learned from her that has helped me in my ministry, in the midst of family responsiblities, grief and all kinds of memories.

Do You Have a Hard Time Saying No?

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Have you ever said "yes" to a request, and then gone back to your office kicking yourself because you didn't say "no?" Leadership involves a series of yeses and nos, and it's important for leaders to be thoughtful about both.

Are You Tired of the Church Rat Race?

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Church leadership doesn't mean sprinting: it's more like a marathon. Leaders need stamina and determination, and the willingness to stay in the race.

How Do You Exit a Church Gracefully?

Tuesday December 07, 2010
How can you leave a leadership position in a way that benefits those you have led? It's easier when we remember leaving is a process, not a point in time.

How To Ask People to Give More Money to Church

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Testifying, then asking, is one of the best ways to encourage others to give more. It is far more powerful than the leader telling others what they should do.

Are You Avoiding Someone or Something at Church?

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Church leadership means dealing with challenging people and situations almost every day. How do we respond?

How Can You Make It Easier to Talk about Money at Church, Part 2

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Here are some more thoughts on making it easier to talk about money at church.

How Do Church Leaders Help People Deal with Challenges?

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Like trees, people grow stronger when faced with moderate stress. Part of your job at church is to frame the challenges at hand for those you lead.

What’s Your Perspective on Church Problems?

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Are you able to take the long view when you think about ministry challenges? The Grand Canyon gives us some perspective.

Are You Celebrating the Resources You Have in Your Church?

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Our society is very good at noticing what we don't have. What are the resources in your church, financial and otherwise, that you might celebrate?

14 Things to Be Happy About

Tuesday December 07, 2010
I have the book 14,000 Things to Be Happy About, by Barbara Ann Kipfer. If I'm having a bad day, I read a page, and it always makes me smile.

Eleven Tips for Church Leaders for Advent/Christmas

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Here are eleven ways church leaders can use to stay grounded during the season.

How Will You Connect with Family This Year?

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Christmas is a time when you have the opportunity to be in touch with your family. Connecting with family is an opportunity for growth,

How to Reframe Your Resources

Tuesday December 07, 2010
We are programmed by our culture, and often by our families, to think we do not have enough. Christians, however, are called to gratitude and celebration.

How Well Do You Listen?

Tuesday December 07, 2010
I practice selective listening, both in personal relationships and organizational life.

Is It Time to Rest?

Tuesday December 07, 2010
The New Year is a time when our culture tells us to push on with those new resolutions, but winter is a time our bodies may want to slow down and, if not hibernate, at least sleep more.

What Helps Ministry Relationships Last?

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Ministry is about relationships - no relationships, no ministry. As I reflect on the many things I have learned from our marriage, I see elements that have kept us going that can help church leaders, too.

Book Review: Preaching in Plenty and in Want

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Preaching in Plenty and in Want, by Matthew Tennant, is a thoughtful reflection on how pastors can engage with economic matters in their preaching.

Is It Time to Be Silent or Time to Speak?

Tuesday December 07, 2010
When is it time to shut up and when is it time to speak up? Sometimes anxiety leads us to be silent when we should speak, and to speak when we shouldn't.

I'm Giving Up Worrying for Lent

Tuesday December 07, 2010
I'm giving up worrying for Lent. I'm not a constant worrier, but I do have my list.

Ten Tips for Learning More about Money

Tuesday December 07, 2010
What's your financial IQ? Most pastors have a lot to learn. Here are ten tips for church leaders for broadening your perspective on money and society.

What Is Easter Hope?

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Easter is a time to consider hope. Thankfully, our ultimate hope does not depend on our results.

Church Leaders Need to Be the Grown-Ups

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Just as mature parents are the best gift to their teenage children, mature leaders are a gift to the congregation.

Eight Reasons Church Leaders Should Talk about Money More

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Church leaders can benefit from talking about money more often. Here are eight reasons why.

Ten Ways Church Leaders Can Get More New Ideas

Tuesday December 07, 2010
I’d like to suggest some ways to generate new ideas. We all have more resources and creativity than we realize, both within ourselves and within our church.

Missional Preaching: A Book Review

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Missional Preaching, by Al Tizon, is a valuable resource for preachers who are attempting to present the broad range of the gospel in their preaching.

How Can Church Leaders Make Difficult Decisions?

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Church leaders are faced with the necessity to act, and to make decisions which are difficult. How can you find the courage to take the necessary difficult actions?

How to Preach about the Economy

Tuesday December 07, 2010
How can pastoral leaders address economic issues from the pulpit on an ongoing basis? It's vital to present an alternative view of economic reality, one founded in Scripture and the values of our faith.

What Does the Bible Say about Money?

Tuesday December 07, 2010
I've been thinking about the complex threads in the Bible related to money and wealth.

Do You Celebrate Those Who Give to Your Church?

Tuesday December 07, 2010
We often do little to acknowledge those who give. What can you do to thank givers and to celebrate what they contribute?

Family Systems Basics about Money at Church 1: Anxiety

Tuesday December 07, 2010
How do you get more reflective about your experiences with money at church? This is the first of a series of posts briefly looking at some basic family systems ideas in relation to church and money.

Family Systems Basics about Money at Church 2: Overfunctioning and Underfunctioning

Tuesday December 07, 2010
How do you get more reflective about your experiences with money at church? This is the second of a series of posts briefly looking at some basic systems ideas in relation to church and money.

Ten Reasons to Celebrate that Your Church Doesn’t Have Enough Money

Tuesday December 07, 2010
You can transform your experience of your church financial life if, rather than bemoaning the fact that you don't have money, you celebrate it.

Family Systems Basics about Money at Church 3: Triangles

Tuesday December 07, 2010
How do you get more reflective about your experiences with money at church? This is the third of a series of posts briefly looking at some basic systems ideas in relation to church and money.

Family Systems Basics about Money at Church 4: Balance

Tuesday December 07, 2010
This is the fourth of a series of posts briefly looking at some basic systems ideas in relation to church and money. A church system develops over time a certain balance, or homeostasis, in its relationships in regard to money.

Family Systems Basics about Money at Church 5: Differentiated Leadership

Tuesday December 07, 2010
How do you get more reflective about your experiences with money at church? This is the fifth of a series of posts briefly looking at some basic systems ideas in relation to church and money.

Four Options for Church Leaders to Try

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Are you working hard and getting nowhere at church? Perhaps it's time for a different approach. 

What Do You Want for Christmas? Six Ideas for Advent and Beyond

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Advent starts in two months. What can you do now to make those weeks easier for yourself? Here are six ideas.

How to Appreciate Your Predecessor: 5 Ways for Pastors to Connect with the Past

Tuesday December 07, 2010
It's Pastor Appreciation Month. If you're a pastor, why not use this month not only to receive appreciation but to give it. Find a way to appreciate your predecessor.

Have You Had Coffee with Someone from Church this Month?

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Staying connected is a critical part of leadership. Virtual connection can help, but there's no substitute for face-to-face interaction.

Do You Make These 7 Mistakes When You Communicate with Your Church Members?

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Here are seven mistakes it's easy to make when we attempt to communicate with our churches, both individuals and as a group.

How Much Income Would Make You (or Your Church) Feel Secure?

Tuesday December 07, 2010
How much would your church's income need to increase for you not to worry about it?

Veterans Day (Observed) for Church Leaders

Tuesday December 07, 2010
With all due respect to military veterans, I wonder if we need a "veterans of church warfare" day.

How to Lead Stewardship without Over (or Under) Functioning

Tuesday December 07, 2010
How can you engage more fully in the stewardship process, without overfunctioning or underfunctioning? Remember: the functioning of the leader is more important than any stewardship program.

Who at Church Gives You Energy?

Tuesday December 07, 2010
If you're having struggles in your ministry - and even if you're not - spend more time with the people in your church who are happy and centered.

Book Review: 8 Habits of Love

Tuesday December 07, 2010
8 Habits of Love: Open Your Heart, Open Your Mind by Ed Bacon, is a book that can help you think about your own life, your place in the world and how you relate to others.

Is Your Church Polarized?

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Churches, large and small, can find themselves facing a divide over issues, large and small. What can leaders do when they find themselves facing a great divide?

How Anxious Are You about Your Money?

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Do you find it hard to lead regarding church finance because you are distracted about your personal finances? Do you feel like you are not measuring up to what you preach and teach about money?

How to Pray for the Difficult People in Your Church

Tuesday December 07, 2010
We all have people at church we love - and then there are the others. Rather than lying awake at night, avoiding them or going head-to-head in a meeting, here is another option - pray for them.

Finding Ministry Help in the Novels of Susan Howatch

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Do you want an opportunity to reflect on your ministry while entertaining yourself? Try the novels of Susan Howatch.

Three Things to Remember about Making Decisions at Church (and at Home)

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Do you have a decision you need to make - at church or in your personal life? Here are three things to consider.

What Does the New Pope Have in Common with Other Church Leaders?

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Here are eight things Francis I has in common with other church leaders, no matter their tradition or denomination.

Nine Indicators of a Healthy Congregation

Tuesday December 07, 2010
What is congregational health? It has little if anything to do with the size of the congregation.

How to Enjoy Holy Week and Easter Sunday Services

Tuesday December 07, 2010
This is a busy week. Yet it can be less stressful, if we think about the week and the many services a bit differently.

Having Fun Is Not a Waste of Time for Church Leaders

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Having fun can benefit church leaders in their life and ministry.

5 Church Leadership Mistakes You Might Be Making

Tuesday December 07, 2010
How do you know when to take a stand and when to let things go? Here are five common mistakes, and some questions to think about.

What I learned from my father about ministry

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Here are ten things I learned from my father about ministry, in honor of his 90th birthday.

Fasting from complaining: 9 reasons why church leaders might want to try it

Tuesday December 07, 2010
While fasting from food has its place, I think a fast from complaining is worth a try.

Facing Financial Facts at Church

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Knowing and communicating financial facts (whether good or bad) can calm anxiety in a congregation.

Is ministry like taking a test?

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Here are some test-taking tips from elementary school which just might apply to ministry, too.

Talking about church stewardship all year long

Tuesday December 07, 2010
What if churches engaged in a practice of year-round stewardship education and promotion? A little emphasis year round, rather than a few weeks once a year can help people grow in faith as they relate to their resources-and help develop greater support for the ministry of the church in the world.

Nine ways to work on connecting with church members in the summertime

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Leadership depends on relationships. Why not take summertime not only to plan for the fall but also to build relationships?

Have you made the same mistakes about church finance that I made?

Tuesday December 07, 2010
I've been thinking about the mistakes I made about money when I was a pastor. Here are ten.

Title: Six tips for relating to church musicians

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Here are six tips for pastors for dealing with music and music staff in the life of the church.

Ten ways for church leaders to lead like Winston Churchill

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Are you facing some difficulties at church lately? Whether your challenges are internal or external, you can learn something from Winston Churchill.

What books help you spiritually with your leadership?

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Here are a few books I've found helpful recently and over the years. Many of them come from a slightly different angle than I am used to, such as those from the monastic tradition. The difference in language and perspective helps me wake up and pay attention to see what God might have to say to me that day.

Four secrets for enjoying your stewardship campaign

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Are you in the middle of your annual stewardship campaign? Are you having a good time?

Are there spooks in your church?

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Sometimes the ghosts of the past are present in the life of a congregation.

Five reasons to celebrate All Saints Day all year

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Who are the saints who contributed to your life and to your church? There's never a bad time to celebrate the saints of the past.

Giving thanks: a spiritual experiment

Tuesday December 07, 2010
We can cultivate gratitude daily, and what better time than Thanksgiving to remind ourselves of this practice?

Thinking about Saints in May

Tuesday December 07, 2010
This is a Day1 Key Voice article by The Rev. Margaret Marcuson.

Help for Church Treasurers

Tuesday December 07, 2010
I recently wrote tips for church treasurers. Several pastors e-mailed me to say they had forward the tips to their treasurers. Here are five of the tips for treasurers.

Is Your Church in Conflict?

Tuesday December 07, 2010
When anxiety is high, people often function reactively. Here are three responses that can help.

Are you too nice?

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Being nice can get in the way of leadership. This is what Edwin Friedman called called "valuing peace over progress."

Can’t keep up? Nine ways to simplify your ministry

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Are you feeling overwhelmed? Ministry is hard work, but there are ways to make it easier. Here are nine ideas to make your ministry (a little) simpler.

How to disarm church antagonists: don’t take them so seriously

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Are you struggling with an antagonist in your church? How we respond to those who seem to be threatening us can be as critical as any inherent threat in them.

7 things your church needs to hear you say about money

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Whether or not you like to talk about money, and whether or not they want you to, your church needs you to talk about it, probably more often than you do now. Here are seven things they need to hear you say.

How to Survive Holy Week: A Guide for Church Leaders

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Here are some ideas for surviving Holy Week with more grace and less stress.

Are you trying to make people grow?

Tuesday December 07, 2010
our efforts to make people change often produce the opposite effect. It’s counterproductive to be willful. Here's another way to approach the process of change at church.

Are You Looking Up Enough?

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Looking up at the sky (literally!) can help you get perspective on your ministry.

7 Things Your Church Doesn’t Need to Hear You Say about Money

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Here’s a list of things your people don’t need to hear you say. I’ve said most of them over the years, or some version of them. But I think I was mistaken.

Warning: being nice in ministry can be a problem

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Are you too nice? Being nice won't take you through a whole career in ministry, and it won't help you help your church reach its potential.

Doing nothing: an essential spiritual practice for church leaders

Tuesday December 07, 2010
It's important, especially for church leaders, to do nothing every day, every week and every year.

Three reasons to love asking people to give

Tuesday December 07, 2010
When you provide leadership in stewardship at church, you do essential work.Here are three reasons to love asking people to give.

Can’t keep up? Nine ways to simplify your ministry

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Fall is well underway. Are you feeling overwhelmed? Ministry is hard work, but there are ways to make it easier. Here are nine ideas to make your ministry (a little) simpler.

What is your purpose this Advent?

Tuesday December 07, 2010
It’s not too late to consider your purpose at church this Advent. Take five minutes and think about it. You’ll be less stressed and have a more meaningful experience.

How to disarm church antagonists: don’t take them so seriously

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Are you struggling with an antagonist in your church? How we respond to those who seem to be threatening us can be as critical as any inherent threat in them.

Pastors, do you struggle with supervising staff?

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Managing staff is an essential skill for church leaders. Here are ten things I’ve learned about supervision at church.

How to increase generosity in your church: ask!

Tuesday December 07, 2010
If you want people in your church to be more generous, be bolder about asking them to give.

Margaret Marcuson: Here’s what positive relationships at church really look like

Tuesday December 07, 2010
What do you see in the relationships in your church? It’s easy to get focused on the negative people and interactions and spend a lot of time discussing them (if not complaining). I think focusing on what’s working and how to get more of it can be more productive.

When you should apologize -- and when you shouldn’t

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Church leader, when someone is upset with you or with something that has happened in the ministry, should you apologize? Sometimes.

Margaret Marcuson: When Should a Pastor Duck?

Tuesday December 07, 2010
There’s a time to take a stand--but there’s also a time to get out of the way. When should you duck? Here are three times to duck...

Margaret Marcuson: Do You Have Leaders Who Are Burned Out?

Tuesday December 07, 2010
Most clergy are overfunctioners, with a tendency to take responsibility in relationships and in leadership. Of course, they are not alone. Many church leaders are as well, and they can get to the edge of burnout. What do you do when you’ve got a volunteer who is exhausted or resentful?