This is a reverse blogpost. I need your advice.
In exactly one week I start as the vicar (minister, pastor) of a large church with a big staff team
What are the top lessons that I simply must put into practice?
And what are the ministry-killing mistakes I must avoid?
Pile in below – and keep it anonymous if you prefer!
12 comments on “New Year, New Job!”
Call me biased but I think Mark Dever offers good advice here…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6LyUBX6oQPo
Great advice from MD – I always feel rather outclassed against giants like that!
There needs to be an atmosphere of loving yet authentic dialogue within your team. Too many ministry teams have obvious problems/issues that go unspoken about because people don’t dare speak up. Authentic dialogue requires humility, let your team know that if they ever have a problem they can voice it without fear of being shunned or humiliated, that you will always be humble enough to listen and take on board what they are saying.
Thanks, Dan – and, of course, that’s even more important when stepping into pre-existing team which already has habits of relating without your being around!
life and ministry are to short to not be having fun, If there is little laughter then there maybe much sin. also do all stuff you taught, me. The early decisions you make follow them through. Eat food with people as often as you can. Never change you time with Sharon, I was so pleased you cancelled me to be with her last time I was at Oak Hill.
Your children matter, will your team and church build faith in them? Make people stop and care mostly by having fun and laughter. building a culture of wonder and delight in Jesus. It is all about him and growing in him if what we do doesn’t do that, then don’t do it. Ever.
Wise stuff, woody – and Im sorry I had to cancel our meet-up, bt as you say, it’s important.
I’ll try to make sure we all have fun!
Hi Chris, I hope it’s ok but I write as an uneducated punter rather than a pastor, and I appreciate the following is a bit 1st grade but my recommendation is that you Love God, and Love your neighbour. The headline of course should be that you preach the Gospel in season and out of season, which is of paramount importance, but from my ‘Big Church’ experience number 2 is more of a challenge. Our challenge is to love each individual Church member personally, whether staff team or not. I expect when I’m welcomed home by my Lord Jesus I will receive as warm and sincere and as personal a welcome as Moses, or David, or Paul, and yet I’m just a punter, which mirrors the relationship I have with Him now. In a big church I can see that it would be so easy to see the congregation as a whole, or the sub groups as entities in themselves. People are depersonalised. I appreciate it may be necessary when strategizing, but try hard not to communicate this to us punters. We can feel a little disenfranchised, as if we’re projects rather Christ’s glorious inheritance, loved by Him personally. To eat with the staff team often is a great suggestion, but try and include non-staff team. Visit homes just for a coffee, not just when there’s a bereavement. Meet with people who are not ‘strategically’ key, but are part of your eternal family ‘in Christ’ – meet with them just because they’re family – although 1 Cor 12 suggests they’re more ‘key’ than we appreciate. I know you have to think strategically, and there is only so many hours in the day, and we can’t be best friends with a thousand people, and then there’s evangelism, but the priorities you hold will ripple down through the congregation and shape Christ’s Church, which shapes our relationship and likely the effectiveness of our outreach.
My challenge as a punter is to appreciate that my leadership are as fallen and as broken as me, and are likely to have different gifts, and to remember we’re all being shaped into his Likeness. To encourage and not to discourage.
I’ve met you very infrequently Chris and from a distance, and you have always come across as warm and approachable and this is not ‘personal’ to you, just reflections on being a punter in a big Church.
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
Wow – thank you so much. You’ve just nailed an uneasy feeling I’ve had too, which is that the larger the church, the more the senior pastor only really relates to the staff. I think that’s really unhealthy, and you’ve reinforced that for me. Thank you!
Not sure how I am qualified to add to the above comments but…
Eat, pray, love. (Was that a film. Not sure I mean what the film meant!)
Here’s what I have learnt from pastoring a small church for eight years.
Make sure you are always well fed, that God is dealing with you from his word all the time. This lesson I am beginning to learn very slowly, but when God has spoken to you in the morning it makes all the difference all day, whether preparing or pastoring.
Seek him in Biblically informed/channelled prayer. Pray the important stuff before the urgent (filled with the knowledge of his will over dear Bessy’s flu). He really does answer prayer. (I am learning this more slowly than the first one!
Certainly do all you do for the love of God through Jesus Christ. But on loving people, “Truthing in love” is the hardest and most vital thing in all pastoral work whoever you are with. As pastor of a large church this is especially challenging, but it needs to be done from the pulpit, in the church business meeting (PCC?), with the staff team, as you disciple small groups and one to one. Don’t hold back, and always love. Truth not said can be as destructive as truth said without love. This lesson I learnt the hard way the first month I arrived!
Praying for you Chris. You are not doing an easy thing!
Thanks, Chris – the first few months, when everyone is taking the temperature, are always difficult for everyone concerned.
abandon redundancies, eg “staff team” a staff is a team, saying that it is a team indicates your lack of confidence in the idea of The Staff. Another way to think about this particular redundancy is to ask “Do I think of congregation as team?”, “Which staff are not in The Team?”
The expression came about among those of us who were conducting variously called events/laboratories/workshops designed to enable groups of people to understand what was going on in groups. everyone was in some team one of which was the “staff team” who gathered the participants and proposed a structure that could facilitate learning.
Like all jargon it does not carry across terrible well. In my view, out of context it is a particularly ugly redundancy capable of demeaning others.
By the way, there are plenty of other redundancies to rejoice in,
Thank you, that’s interesting. I don’t think it is a redundancy in our context, because Im using it to reflect the difference bwteen people we employ and people who volunteer – we are all Team,but only some of us are Staff.
and of course there are many employment contexts whee office politics mean that the staff is not a team at all!
But thank you for making me think