It has been over 21 years since I first became a pastor. I’ve had the privilege of equipping many for church planting and missions.
Here is some advice that I share with those who feel called into this field of ministry:
1. Read everything you can get your hands on!
Leaders are readers. If you aren’t reading, you are not growing. If you are not growing personally, then the church you lead will never function at maximum effectiveness. By reading, you can level up quickly without making the mistakes of those who have gone before you and have put their experiences in print.
Here are some classics that have stood the test of time and are still very relevant for today:
Your Church Has a Fantastic Future: Fresh Possibilities for Church Growth by Robert Schuller
The Purpose Driven Church by Rick Warren
The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction by Eugene Peterson
Here is one that is fairly recent but will help you big time!
Have you visited the DOVE International Bookstore? Be sure to do so and you can thank me later 🙂 Here is a quick link for you: https://store.dcfi.org/
2. Find at least 5 experienced Senior Elders / Pastors and have a candid conversation with them.
Please don’t waste their time! Have your questions ready to ask. Be sure and do more listening than talking. I pray that your questions would have substance and not merely questions on how they grew their church.
Some topics you may want to touch on:
- How do you balance family and ministry time?
- What does your sermon preparation time look like?
- How have you been able to navigate church politics?
- What advice would you give your younger self as it pertains to ministry?
- Who do you turn to for help and advice?
- What do I need to know that I probably didn’t learn in seminary/ Bible College?
Another thing – Be sure and send them a “thank you” by text or email shortly after the connection. Senior pastors are busy and their time is precious. Let them know you value them and the time they spent with you.
3. Establish strong disciplines now.
Are you a morning person? Then get up early and connect with Jesus. Pray and read the Bible, not because you HAVE to but because you WANT to. If you are a night owl, do it then. The point is – know yourself and get into a healthy habit of connecting with God. Ministry is tough! Unless you stay connected, you will burn out quickly or at the very least work from a fleshly standard.
Read for connection and relationship – NOT simply for sermon prep! We can get into the bad habit of sermon prep mode 24/7. We will spend our time working in the ministry and wonder why the people we pastor have a lackluster prayer life and negligible Bible study habits.
Remember to take a day off! – So many pastors think they must constantly be working. Understand that it is Jesus who builds His church. Yes, He does work through mankind but He gave us a command to rest. Why? Because He loves you and knows that it’s the healthy thing to do.
4. Preach / Teach / Communicate whenever you have the opportunity.
Sunday morning service(s) are not the only platform out there. Do you have an outreach ministry or a ministry to the local rest home? Take those as opportunities to find your voice and share God’s word.
Are there small churches in the area looking to fill their pulpit? You may want to preach to thousands but you may need to preach in front of 10 people first. I have witnessed new communicators get up in front of a large crowd and fall flat. It had such a negative impact, the person struggled to give it another try.
I pray that you would take these 4 tips to heart and even share them with others who are entering the ministry.
God bless you in every way as you fulfill your God-given purpose. If we can help you in any way, please do not hesitate to contact the DOVE offices in Lititz, PA.