4 Reasons Why A Minister’s First Church is the Most Important Church of His Ministry  

I work every day with students who feel called to the pastorate. I also often have the privilege of seeing them start their ministry with their first church. Those first churches are often great to/for the young pastor, but sometimes they are not. Based on my knowledge of these experiences in 20+ years of teaching, I’m convinced that a pastor’s first church is in some ways the most important church of his entire ministry. Here’s why: 

  1. If the church is a positive experience, he will always know there are good churches out there. It doesn’t matter what he faces in the future, he will have memories of a ministry that encouraged him. Those memories will compel him to continue the work of ministry. By the way, the situation would be the same for church staff members, too.
  2. If the church is a negative experience, the minister will always be wondering when the “other shoe will drop.” That’s just what happens when conflict between the church and the pastor results in the pastor’s departure. He will fear that every church will be problematic at some point.
  3. The pastor will set patterns in his first church that mark the rest of his ministry. If he chooses not to share the responsibilities of leadership, he may always struggle with delegating. If he spends little personal time in the Word and praying, he will carry that pattern into his next responsibility. If he doesn’t do evangelism in his first church, it will be doubtful that pattern will change.
  4. He will make mistakes, correct them, and learn from them in his first church in ways not evident in future assignments. Young pastors are at times arrogant. Some want to study so much that they spend too little time with the people. Others are not very good at pastoral care. A good congregation will help the pastor in his first pastorate to correct these kinds of issues, and he will be a better pastor for their efforts.

What are your thoughts? Pastors, what was your first church leadership story? Church members, what are you doing to support your pastors in their first ministry setting?  



  • David says:

    I’ve been in ministry since 1982 and still number 2 is true for me. I’ve pastored a total of three churches in my life. My first church never had a pastor stay more than five years. I stayed nine and have a lot of scars that I still carry. I learned a lot of lessons as well. Thankfully I carry those as well. A big mistake I made was not seeking out wisdom from older experienced men. I felt isolated and much of that was my own doing. There was pain but the last church and the current church got a better pastor as a result.

  • I began my first pastorate in January 1982. It was a challenging yet wonderful experience. I couldn’t have asked for a better church family: supportive, loving, willing to engage the community and grow, willing to risk for the kingdom. It wasn’t perfect. Neither was I. But it set a tone for my ministry. I served there more than 13 years, moved to another church and have been there more than 23 years and suspect I’ll be there till I retire in a few years. I praise God for my first church!

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