Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Some Guidance for young pastors

What is important in the ministry of a new pastor? What goals should he have for his ministry, what should be his focus and what areas should he expend his energies on?

These are important questions and sadly ones that are not really reflected upon and counsel sought at the beginning of one's ministry. Just this weekend I was talking to a pastor who had been in ministry for over 15 years and the last 7 odd as a senior pastor of a large growth church. He was on long service and reflecting on his ministry. Especially having moved to an already growing church how does he direct and focus them towards biblical goals. His dilemna was not have a "history" with them from the start, the kind of deep relationships that really should characterize our ministry lives.

I reminded him that a pastor should be torn betwen two poles, that of being in his study and engrossed in the Word of God, writing sermons and Bible studies and contrasted to this, at the other pole being out with people, talking to them, fellowshipping and guiding them and building personal relationships.

Of course I have heard ministers say you should not form close relationships with your flock, that you shouldn't have friendships among the people you minister to, but I believe this is nonsense. I have seen it at it's extreme where people have told me they have never stepped inside of the rectory / manse, let alone had a meal there! How tragic.

One of the traits of an elder is that he be hospitable, that he be hospitable towards strangers, and my point is that if his heart is like this towards strangers then surely it is the same with his people.

But consider how the apostle Paul acted towards those he'd evangelised and taught. I see deep love and care and comitment to them. He talks to them as friends.

So what a pastor has is two foci - the Word of God and people.
In his ministry two major involvement are preaching the Word of God faithfully week after week and caring for people, building relationships. They primarily are worthy of expending his energy upon.

Of course his family is a priority and indeed they are part of his ministry and part of "his flock" and so spending time with them isn't something he should feel guilty about of have to justify time wise. In act it's helpful to block out periods for them specifically, just as he would for any other people he ministers and builds relationships with.

But you say, ministry has so much other things that creep in. True but you need to be discerning and make true priorities. For example we have administration to do, but it should never crowd out the other two foci.

something we all need to reflect upon


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