Wednesday, September 13, 2006

New pastors like to enter ministry on fire. Ministry demands energy to write sermons, visit members and visitors, manage staff and get to know the congregation. You have to gather your get-up-and-go to do the work. Ministry, as I know it, is for self-starters who know how to motivate themselves and others.

But...there is no need to create work for yourself. You aren't going to bring in the Kingdom of God with your energy. Don't be looking around for something to do. If you have something to prove, prove that you are faithful, not the New Jesus.

We've been through the age of programs, where using the latest teaching technique or study book or whatever to add programs is ministry. Now we are growing disciples which involves the more difficult work of intuition, listening and allowing people to change as the Lord leads. It's harder work to be with people instead of handing them a book or showing a video presentation.

Experienced pastors suggest starting slowly in a new ministry setting. Don't make big changes for 12 months or so. Learn the folkways of the congregation and community before you announce how they "should" be living.

Mercy Me! This is very difficult for new pastors. She graduates from seminary and has ideas of how and when and why and all the dreams of ministry ready to be offered to the Glory of God and her congregation RIGHT NOW!

Stop. Unless you are doing new church development (called "church planting" in some traditions) you are entering an established community where people are familiar with the worship styles of your predecessor and traditions of the church. Your energy is great, we are glad you are here but learn about the ethos first, then consider what changes are needed.

Pray, think, do.

Slow down. Pay attention to the the background music of the congregation. Spend time with the leaders and shadow leaders. Listen to them.

You don't have to agree with them or get co-opted into their plans. Take mental notes of what is said, done and not done. Listen to your intuition or if that's not your style, be very observant.

I wish I could offer you transparent churches where what is said is what is really meant and that the only people skills you need for loving ministry is your good intentions.

If it irks you to plan your strategies then think of the time you spend observing as the virtue of patience.

If you are busy with tasks, slow down. Be with people. Learn to work better not more.

None of this is easy but it can be wonderfully creative.


Thinking of you and grateful for your ministry,

St. Casserole

10 comments:

net said...

Thank you, St. Cass. You had a word for me today.

Stacey said...

Thanks for the reminder not to get caught up in the urge to do, do, do. Wish you were closer and we could have lunch.

KnittinPreacher said...

wow. I have no idea who specifically this is for, but I printed it out and put it someplace i will see it every day. Thank you for a much needed, much appreciated reminder.

Cathy said...

Sounds like an address that should be given as people exit out of seminary.

Tell them also to stop and smell the "breff mints" too.

You really do have good words of wisdom.

Songbird said...

You're so great, and so deep, and so kind and so funny--I just love you.

St. Casserole said...

oh thank you!

I respond very well to affirmation!

Thank you for liking this.

Love you, too

Rev. Know-it-All aka St.C

St. Casserole said...

Stop and smell the "breff" mints, too.

Stacey, I wish you weren't so far away. We'd do that lunch thing for sure.

mark said...

Thank you from a new pastor (less than two weeks in!). I could learn a lot from listening to wise people like you!

St. Inuksuk said...

Thank you for sharing your wisdom with all.
I know a pastor who brought up receiving the Peacemaking Offering every year at Session who then voted it down. Twenty years later, an elder beat the Pastor to the punch and said, "You know maybe we should be promoting and receiving that Peacemaking Offering." (Sigh)
But the pastor was faithful for 20 years. Sometimes, change is slow.
Nice vines and look St. Casserole!

revgeo said...

I always assumed that they impregnanted those diplomas with something that persuaded the recipient that he/she had been empowered by God to transform the world in 2 short years.
Just about as effective as trying to find the magic wand in the hospital that cures all diseases. I know they had one where I worked, but they wouldn't give it to me.
Revgeo