Advice for a New Pastor
A friend recently contacted me, seeking advice as he began the pastorate of a new church. Here's how I responded:
1) You only have four jobs: preach, pray, lead and love -- and not necessarily in that order. Your prayer life is the single most important factor in your ministry -- you must maintain a robust soul, overflowing with Christ for effective ministerial service,.
2) Loving people is the key -- and not just the people in your congregation -- but the whole community. That means intentionally going out to seek them. By defailt, most pastors stay in their offices too much, when they need to be out where people are.
3) Look for those who are suffering and bring love to them -- and better yet, take someone with you when you go. This is a blessing in more than one respect -- and will multiply favor and blessing when you demonstrate the compassion of Christ.
4) Don't get worked up about little things -- most issues aren't worth the fight. Go with the flow mostly - -and save protests for the big stuff.
5) Assume 85-90 percent of the responsibility for getting along with people. (some are unreasonable -- that's why I don't say 100 percent) -- but if you "get along" with others, they will "go along": with you.
6) Preach with stories -- illustration works far better than explanation.
7) Schedule at least one connection with a non-church person each week -- more if you can.
8) If you don't know them already, within the first week or so, make appointments with community leaders -- such as the mayor, police chief, school supt, postmaster, funeral director - -they need to know who you are and what you're doing. When you meet them, make it brief - -without any requests or expectations.
9) Mobilize your people to bless the community -- have discussions with them -- what are the dark placees in our community? How can we light a candle in the darkness?