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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Margaret Marcuson: What a motley space crew says about church leadership

Tuesday September 01, 2020
Do you wonder how to handle the diverse personalities you’ve ended up with in your congregation? Have you seen their quirks intensify under the stress of the times we are living in? Are you finding it harder to make progress with ministry when you can’t talk in person?

Margaret Marcuson: Three ways to handle a money crisis

Saturday July 25, 2020
What is the approach to giving churches should take through this time? Do you worry that yours could be one of these churches that close? Or, is your church doing well financially through the pandemic?

Margaret Marcuson: A little at a time: Learning from a 100-year-old man

Wednesday June 03, 2020
I was inspired last month by the story of Captain Tom Moore who wanted to raise money for the British National Health service charity by walking 100 laps around his yard with a walker. He hoped to raise $1250 by his 100th birthday. His efforts went viral, and he raised over $39 million. He’s being honored with a knighthood. I don’t cry often, but this brought me to tears.

Margaret Marcuson: Tips for Dealing with Change

Tuesday May 12, 2020
In the depths of my hard drive (from 2011), I found the following tips I wrote back then to help leaders deal with change at church. They all still apply as we walk through these days when so much has changed.

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

Friday March 13, 2020
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?

Margaret Marcuson: When Should a Pastor Duck?

Tuesday February 11, 2020
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...

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

Friday January 17, 2020
Church leader, when someone is upset with you or with something that has happened in the ministry, should you apologize? Sometimes.

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

Wednesday December 06, 2017
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.

How to increase generosity in your church: ask!

Monday October 23, 2017
If you want people in your church to be more generous, be bolder about asking them to give.

Pastors, do you struggle with supervising staff?

Wednesday August 09, 2017
Managing staff is an essential skill for church leaders. Here are ten things I’ve learned about supervision at church.

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

Tuesday March 14, 2017
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.

What is your purpose this Advent?

Wednesday November 30, 2016
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.

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

Tuesday November 08, 2016
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.

Three reasons to love asking people to give

Tuesday October 25, 2016
When you provide leadership in stewardship at church, you do essential work.Here are three reasons to love asking people to give.

Doing nothing: an essential spiritual practice for church leaders

Wednesday July 13, 2016
It's important, especially for church leaders, to do nothing every day, every week and every year.

Warning: being nice in ministry can be a problem

Wednesday June 01, 2016
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.

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

Friday May 13, 2016
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.

Are You Looking Up Enough?

Tuesday April 19, 2016
Looking up at the sky (literally!) can help you get perspective on your ministry.

Are you trying to make people grow?

Tuesday April 05, 2016
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.

How to Survive Holy Week: A Guide for Church Leaders

Monday March 21, 2016
Here are some ideas for surviving Holy Week with more grace and less stress.

7 things your church needs to hear you say about money

Tuesday March 08, 2016
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 disarm church antagonists: don’t take them so seriously

Tuesday February 23, 2016
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.

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

Thursday February 11, 2016
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.

Are you too nice?

Friday August 22, 2014
Being nice can get in the way of leadership. This is what Edwin Friedman called called "valuing peace over progress."

Is Your Church in Conflict?

Wednesday June 11, 2014
When anxiety is high, people often function reactively. Here are three responses that can help.

Help for Church Treasurers

Saturday May 24, 2014
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.

Thinking about Saints in May

Thursday May 08, 2014
This is a Day1 Key Voice article by The Rev. Margaret Marcuson.

Giving thanks: a spiritual experiment

Tuesday November 26, 2013
We can cultivate gratitude daily, and what better time than Thanksgiving to remind ourselves of this practice?

Five reasons to celebrate All Saints Day all year

Saturday November 16, 2013
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.

Are there spooks in your church?

Thursday October 31, 2013
Sometimes the ghosts of the past are present in the life of a congregation.

Four secrets for enjoying your stewardship campaign

Thursday October 24, 2013
Are you in the middle of your annual stewardship campaign? Are you having a good time?

What books help you spiritually with your leadership?

Thursday October 03, 2013
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.

Ten ways for church leaders to lead like Winston Churchill

Saturday September 21, 2013
Are you facing some difficulties at church lately? Whether your challenges are internal or external, you can learn something from Winston Churchill.

Title: Six tips for relating to church musicians

Sunday August 11, 2013
Here are six tips for pastors for dealing with music and music staff in the life of the church.

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

Thursday July 25, 2013
I've been thinking about the mistakes I made about money when I was a pastor. Here are ten.

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

Wednesday July 03, 2013
Leadership depends on relationships. Why not take summertime not only to plan for the fall but also to build relationships?

Talking about church stewardship all year long

Friday June 21, 2013
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.

Is ministry like taking a test?

Wednesday June 05, 2013
Here are some test-taking tips from elementary school which just might apply to ministry, too.

Facing Financial Facts at Church

Tuesday May 21, 2013
Knowing and communicating financial facts (whether good or bad) can calm anxiety in a congregation.

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

Wednesday May 08, 2013
While fasting from food has its place, I think a fast from complaining is worth a try.

What I learned from my father about ministry

Thursday May 02, 2013
Here are ten things I learned from my father about ministry, in honor of his 90th birthday.

5 Church Leadership Mistakes You Might Be Making

Tuesday April 09, 2013
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.

Having Fun Is Not a Waste of Time for Church Leaders

Wednesday April 03, 2013
Having fun can benefit church leaders in their life and ministry.

How to Enjoy Holy Week and Easter Sunday Services

Wednesday March 27, 2013
This is a busy week. Yet it can be less stressful, if we think about the week and the many services a bit differently.

Nine Indicators of a Healthy Congregation

Monday March 18, 2013
What is congregational health? It has little if anything to do with the size of the congregation.

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

Thursday March 14, 2013
Here are eight things Francis I has in common with other church leaders, no matter their tradition or denomination.

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

Monday March 11, 2013
Do you have a decision you need to make - at church or in your personal life? Here are three things to consider.

Finding Ministry Help in the Novels of Susan Howatch

Thursday March 07, 2013
Do you want an opportunity to reflect on your ministry while entertaining yourself? Try the novels of Susan Howatch.

How to Pray for the Difficult People in Your Church

Tuesday February 26, 2013
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.

How Anxious Are You about Your Money?

Friday February 15, 2013
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?

Is Your Church Polarized?

Tuesday January 22, 2013
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?

Book Review: 8 Habits of Love

Wednesday December 12, 2012
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.

Who at Church Gives You Energy?

Monday December 03, 2012
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.

How to Lead Stewardship without Over (or Under) Functioning

Monday November 19, 2012
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.

Veterans Day (Observed) for Church Leaders

Monday November 12, 2012
With all due respect to military veterans, I wonder if we need a "veterans of church warfare" day.

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

Thursday November 08, 2012
How much would your church's income need to increase for you not to worry about it?

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

Thursday November 01, 2012
Here are seven mistakes it's easy to make when we attempt to communicate with our churches, both individuals and as a group.

Have You Had Coffee with Someone from Church this Month?

Wednesday October 24, 2012
Staying connected is a critical part of leadership. Virtual connection can help, but there's no substitute for face-to-face interaction.

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

Monday October 15, 2012
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.

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

Friday October 05, 2012
Advent starts in two months. What can you do now to make those weeks easier for yourself? Here are six ideas.

Four Options for Church Leaders to Try

Thursday September 27, 2012
Are you working hard and getting nowhere at church? Perhaps it's time for a different approach. 

Family Systems Basics about Money at Church 5: Differentiated Leadership

Monday September 10, 2012
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.

Family Systems Basics about Money at Church 4: Balance

Tuesday September 04, 2012
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 3: Triangles

Tuesday August 28, 2012
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.

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

Friday August 24, 2012
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 2: Overfunctioning and Underfunctioning

Tuesday August 07, 2012
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.

Family Systems Basics about Money at Church 1: Anxiety

Wednesday August 01, 2012
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.

Do You Celebrate Those Who Give to Your Church?

Monday July 23, 2012
We often do little to acknowledge those who give. What can you do to thank givers and to celebrate what they contribute?

What Does the Bible Say about Money?

Thursday July 05, 2012
I've been thinking about the complex threads in the Bible related to money and wealth.

How to Preach about the Economy

Saturday June 16, 2012
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.

How Can Church Leaders Make Difficult Decisions?

Thursday June 07, 2012
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?

Missional Preaching: A Book Review

Saturday June 02, 2012
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.

Ten Ways Church Leaders Can Get More New Ideas

Friday May 18, 2012
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.

Eight Reasons Church Leaders Should Talk about Money More

Thursday May 10, 2012
Church leaders can benefit from talking about money more often. Here are eight reasons why.

Church Leaders Need to Be the Grown-Ups

Friday April 27, 2012
Just as mature parents are the best gift to their teenage children, mature leaders are a gift to the congregation.

What Is Easter Hope?

Saturday April 07, 2012
Easter is a time to consider hope. Thankfully, our ultimate hope does not depend on our results.

Ten Tips for Learning More about Money

Monday March 19, 2012
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.

I'm Giving Up Worrying for Lent

Thursday March 08, 2012
I'm giving up worrying for Lent. I'm not a constant worrier, but I do have my list.

Is It Time to Be Silent or Time to Speak?

Thursday February 23, 2012
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.

Book Review: Preaching in Plenty and in Want

Thursday February 09, 2012
Preaching in Plenty and in Want, by Matthew Tennant, is a thoughtful reflection on how pastors can engage with economic matters in their preaching.

What Helps Ministry Relationships Last?

Thursday February 02, 2012
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.

Is It Time to Rest?

Friday January 20, 2012
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.

How Well Do You Listen?

Thursday January 05, 2012
I practice selective listening, both in personal relationships and organizational life.

How to Reframe Your Resources

Friday December 30, 2011
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 Will You Connect with Family This Year?

Friday December 16, 2011
Christmas is a time when you have the opportunity to be in touch with your family. Connecting with family is an opportunity for growth,

Eleven Tips for Church Leaders for Advent/Christmas

Friday December 09, 2011
Here are eleven ways church leaders can use to stay grounded during the season.

14 Things to Be Happy About

Tuesday November 22, 2011
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.

Are You Celebrating the Resources You Have in Your Church?

Friday November 18, 2011
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?

What’s Your Perspective on Church Problems?

Friday November 11, 2011
Are you able to take the long view when you think about ministry challenges? The Grand Canyon gives us some perspective.

How Do Church Leaders Help People Deal with Challenges?

Thursday November 03, 2011
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.

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

Tuesday October 25, 2011
Here are some more thoughts on making it easier to talk about money at church.

Are You Avoiding Someone or Something at Church?

Wednesday October 05, 2011
Church leadership means dealing with challenging people and situations almost every day. How do we respond?

How To Ask People to Give More Money to Church

Monday September 26, 2011
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.

How Do You Exit a Church Gracefully?

Thursday September 15, 2011
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.

Are You Tired of the Church Rat Race?

Tuesday September 06, 2011
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.

Do You Have a Hard Time Saying No?

Saturday August 27, 2011
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.

What I Learned from My Mother about Ministry

Monday August 01, 2011
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.

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

Saturday June 18, 2011
If you struggle with preaching, teaching and talking about money at church, here are some reminders to ease the way.

10 Tips for Dealing with Change at Church

Wednesday June 08, 2011
Times of change at church raise anxiety. Here are ten tips for dealing with change.

How Do You Preach about Money?

Saturday May 21, 2011
What does it mean to preach about money? Often it only means one thing: to get people to give more money to the church.

What Do Lay Leaders Need to Do about Church Finance?

Saturday May 14, 2011
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 We Get Them to Do More?

Saturday April 30, 2011
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.

Is It Dark Outside? A Good Friday Reflection

Friday April 22, 2011
Are you experiencing some dark in your life now? You may find yourself in the mood for Good Friday.

Can You Find Silence during Holy Week?

Saturday April 16, 2011
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.”

Have You Broken Your Lenten Discipline?

Friday April 08, 2011
Have you broken your Lenten discipline? I have.

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

Friday April 01, 2011
Do you know who you are? Every leader needs to consider this question.

What Does Prayer Have to Do with Money?

Friday March 25, 2011
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?

Is It Selfish to Focus on Yourself? A Lenten Reflection

Friday March 18, 2011
Our "self" is God's gift to us and our gift to others. That's not selfish.

Are You Doing Something for Yourself for Lent?

Wednesday March 16, 2011
Lent is a time to focus on our own spiritual growth, not to simply find ourselves busier than ever.

Ten Tips for Understanding Your Church's Money Story

Wednesday March 02, 2011
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.

What Is Your Responsibility for Church Finances?

Saturday February 19, 2011
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.

Are You Embattled or Challenged at Church?

Saturday February 05, 2011
What is the difference between a church leader who is embattled, and one who is challenged? You can see the difference.

10 Books that Changed My Life and Ministry

Wednesday January 26, 2011
What are the top 10 books that have changed your life and ministry? Here are mine.

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

Thursday January 13, 2011
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.

Have You Broken Your Resolutions Already?

Tuesday January 04, 2011
New Year's resolutions are an opportunity to pay attention, not a chance to beat up on yourself for failing.

Five Gifts to Give Yourself

Monday December 20, 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.

What Are You Giving Your Followers?

Tuesday December 14, 2010
Here are five gifts you can give your followers this Christmas and into 2011.