100 things I tell young pastors (61-80)

61. Resiliency. There is no shame in being fired by a church or run off by a group within the church. Some of God’s greatest champions have that on their record. The shame comes when you let that discourage you from future ministry.  Read Second Corinthians 4:8-10 again and again until you “own” it. If this happens to you, own it, give it to the Lord, then get up and get back in the game. Your team needs you.

62. If you are terminated–or “encouraged to leave” a church in a way that leaves you angry and bitter–read Luke 6:27-35 repeatedly until you make it your own.  The way to rid yourself of the anger and bear a faithful witness to your detractors is to practice what the Lord commanded: do the four actions the Lord commands in this passage.  Do good to them, bless them, pray for them, and give to them.

63. Encourage pastors who have been terminated or for any reasons, find themselves “between churches.”   A pastor friend ousted from his church had trouble re-entering the ministry.  One day he asked, “Why don’t other pastors help me?” I said, “Tom, how many unemployed preachers did you help when you were pastoring?” He said, “I didn’t know it was the problem it is.” I said, “They don’t either.”

64. Problems. Teach your lay leadership (preferably in small group settings) how to deal with problems that arise in church, how to confront a troublemaking member, and what to do about a pastor or staff minister who has gone rogue. When nothing of that sort is happening in your church is the perfect time to teach this.

65. Make yours an encouraging church.  Train your people to write notes of congratulations and appreciation to people in the news who do good things.

66. Give away Bibles.  Put a large box in the foyer and ask your people to bring unused Bibles from home which you can give to those who do not own one.  With the aid of a few volunteers, inspect each Bible. Cull those with no backs and fronts, those that have been mutilated, and those published by cults.  Insert material on the Christian life and your church in the pages, then announce to the community: “This Saturday, free Bibles in front of our church from 2 to 4 pm.” See what happens.

67.Publicity.  In anticipation of a musical program, send a few of your singers to a public space where people congregate and have them present a very brief  impromptu concert.  You’ve seen the “mobs” on Youtube.  Do this spontaneously in a store, a mall, ball game or on a sidewalk.  If the song is not long, not loud, and not disruptive, you shouldn’t have need to ask for permission.  (Use good judgement on this.) Afterwards, have the singers fan out and talk to people. See what the Lord does.  (If you’re in a store, be sure to buy something!)

68. Vision.  Do not let church members with a burden for a particular problem in society give you their burden and ask you to act on it. The Holy Spirit grants burdens to the faithful as His gift.  I cannot pass off to another the burden which the Lord has given to me.  As a pastor, you must not let people delegate to you.  Help them understand that burden is a vote of confidence from the Holy Spirit to prepare them for a ministry of their own.

69. Constantly remind the staff and a few key leaders to be alert for disruptions to the Sunday services. Whether an intruder with a gun or an ill person off his medication, leadership should receive periodic training in how to deal with such. (If you train them once but never mention it again, they will forget it. The training and reminders must be regular and frequent, although once they are trained, the repetition should not take long.)

70. Money. Pastors should never sign checks for the church. Neither should they handle money at all. When someone approaches you following a service to say, “Here’s my offering. I missed the plate,” ask them to wait a second while you call someone else to take charge of their offering.

71. Before you arrive at a new church, find out if the church has regular financial checkups and reviews by reputable accounting firms.  It may be a good time to ask the leadership to bring in an auditing firm to review the church’s financial practices and make recommendations.  By doing this before you arrive, people who have held key positions for decades (treasurer, bookkeeper, finance chair) will be less likely to become defensive.

72. Staff. Try to find the balance between being the boss of the staff and each one’s buddy.

73. Never fire someone abruptly. If their job performance is unsatisfactory, work with them to improve it.  If they simply cannot do the job you are asking of them, you are doing them a favor by releasing them, painful though it may be.

74. Before firing a staff member or key church employee, get sufficient counsel from your advisors and make sure church leaders in agreement.

75. Do not reject raises in your salary. (Yes, I’ve known pastors to do this.) Doing this may feel noble to you, but it keeps your staff at lower wages, since the church is not going to pay an employee more than the pastor. After you accept the raise, you can become more generous in your contributions.

76. In a Sunday service, avoid naming lists of people you wish to thank unless you have the list of names in front of you. Otherwise, depend on it, you will leave out someone.

77. As the pastor, you are the mood-setter for the congregation.  Whatever you radiate on Sundays and in private conversation with members, they will pick up, too.

78. Words. Never say anything to a church member about someone else you would not want plastered on a billboard at the edge of town. If you assume they are keeping this in confidence, you will live to regret it. (With your spouse and your mentors you may speak your mind; to all others, tread carefully.)

79. Daily pray Psalm 141:3. “Set a guard upon my mouth, O Lord. Keep watch over the door of my lips.”  Pastors take a lot of grief as a result of hasty words.

80. Keep good records for everything you do in ministry–whom you saw, your appointments, everything.  A few times in a long ministry, you will find yourself digging through it in search of a vital bit of information (“when did this happen?”) and be so glad you had the records.

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