7 Suggestions for New Pastors

I’m sure all of us who’ve served as pastor have things we’d like to tell new pastors. I make no claim that my suggestions are unique, but here are some simple suggestions for new pastors – and perhaps they will help veteran pastors as well.

  1. Don’t just study; get to know the people you shepherd. It’s wrong to think that your job is only to study and preach. If that’s all you do, you reduce your congregation to only an audience—not a people you need to know and love in order to best preach the Word to them.
  2. Look in faith for potential among your members. It’s easy to see among your congregation only the issues; for example, you see only undiscipled people rather than followers of Christ who need—and might even welcome—discipleship. In faith, trust that God wants to use you to grow others.
  3. Plant your life where you are. Don’t start your ministry already thinking about the next (and often, in our own minds, bigger) church where you will serve. You can’t serve your present-tense congregation well when you’re looking forward to your future-tense ministries.
  4. Pastor not only your congregation, but also your community. My point is that you need to love and influence your community as you become one of them. Get out in the streets, learning names of leaders and praying for them. It won’t hurt you at all if others beyond your church family know you as “Pastor ____________________.”
  5. Think and think again about your sermon illustrations. Most of us tend toward illustrations that reflect our own interests (e.g., the pastor who uses only sports illustrations), but doing so often misses some of our congregation. Sometimes pastors also use illustrations that are offensive to part of their congregation, simply because they haven’t asked, “How will my congregation hear this story?”
  6. Use Sunday morning wisely to spend time with your church members. I understand why pastors want to be alone and quiet as they prepare for a service, but we also miss an opportunity to meet and know people when we seclude ourselves until the service begins. I assure you that you can shepherd people simply by being available, taking initiative, and talking to people when they’re at church.
  7. Guard your personal and family time, but recognize the unpredictability of ministry. It’s not wrong to set aside and protect your time (in fact, I encourage you to do so), but do understand that some ministry demands may occasionally change those plans. Be flexible enough to adjust as needed without losing your personal and family time.

Pastors, what would you add to this list? 

4 Comments

  • Pastor John Edwards says:

    Do t neglect your personal Bible time. Pray daily for a divided up portion of your church. Write handwritten notes to members. Have different people over your house.

  • Robin G. Jordan says:

    Getting to know the people you shepherd is really critical. You may save yourself a lot of grief later on. I’m not suggesting that you need to be a people pleaser but particularly if you are pastoring a small church, knowing the people is a must. To this day I do know what I did to offend him or he simply took a dislike to me but one of the older members of the congregation where I was preaching started boycotting my sermons. Another member joined him in his boycott. When I asked both of the men what was troubling them, they were unwilling to tell me. I shared the pulpit with three other preachers and the only thing that one of them would tell me is that he thought that the church had enough preachers and did not need another one. Between the two of them they effectively derailed my preaching ministry. The pastor who was supervising me asked me to take my name off the preaching roster out of fear that my continued preaching would cost the congregation two members. The congregation is very small. He talked with two of the leaders of the congregation and concluded from his conversations with them that the congregation and I might not be a good fit. I regularly sent him the final draft of my sermons and he found no problem with them but they were apparently striking a negative chord in these two members of the congregation.

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