This week I hope to travel to Vanderhoof to speak to pastors there about long-term pastoral ministry effectiveness. This short presentation will be part of a longer one that develops ideas on some seven basic factors that I believe are foundational to continuing on in ministry for the long haul. Its purpose is to encourage pastors to fulfill their sense of calling to church pastoral ministry. Statistics and anecdotal evidence seem to indicate that many pastors succumb to a variety of occupational hazards. This reality trend is both damaging to God’s kingdom work and discouraging to pastors and their families.
Here is a quick summary of factors that I believe need to be addressed in order to help pastors continue long-term:
- Identity and Calling — Pastors need to re-visit often the issue of their sense of identity and calling to ministry. These are constantly under attack serving to undermine confidence in ministry. Pastors need to be encouraged to be who God has called them to be.
- Spiritual Vitality — Many times pastors throw in the towel because they may have struggled with issues that come under the heading of spiritual theology — sanctification, the fullness of the Spirit, spiritual disciplines, and emotional wholeness. For many reasons pastors’ lives easily become lop-sided in a variety of ways. We all know it is important to maintain spiritual wholeness and balance. What’s involved?
- The Vision Thing — Bill Hybels is fond of saying, “vision leaks!” He’s right. Vision easily becomes foggy because of the daily grind in ministry. And where vision fails progress slows and direction wanders. What is vision and how is it renewed and maintained?
- Leadership — Many of the problems related to ministry have to do with the confusion over the matter of leadership in the church. Jesus called his disciples (who became apostles) to be servant-leaders. But how does servant-leadership really work to get things done?
- Administration — Many pastors have a strong sense of vision but have difficulty with organizing the ministry in a way that ensures stability and the development of other leaders. I noted today in my Bible reading that Daniel was successful partly because God gave him the gift of administration. How can pastors develop structures that enable the ministry to succeed?
- Cultural Relevance — One of the biggest challenges for pastors has always been on how to balance biblical integrity with cultural relevance. As pastors grow older in ministry it’s not always easy to make the cultural adjustments that are necessary for effective ministry. These days culture is changing rapidly. What are the implications of these changes for authentic ministry?
- Conflict Management — Those who serve in pastoral ministry are constantly faced with conflict of one kind or another. Church conflict is one of the biggest reasons pastors become discouraged and quit. The challenge is to find biblical ways to manage conflict so as not to be overwhelmed by it. Managing conflict doesn’t mean that every disagreement is resolved but conflict doesn’t have to be the reason for a pastor’s demise in ministry.
As I see it, these are some of the biggies for pastors in ministry. Pastors need a forum in which they can speak candidly about these matters with a view to encouragement in pastoral ministry for the long haul. Their work is too important for them to give up easily. A lot is at stake!