Pastoring a church is a lot like running any business. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the day to day details and lose sight of the big picture.
In any given week, I’m writing a sermon, preparing a Bible study lesson, planning Sunday’s worship, going to meetings, resolving disputes, calling and visiting sick people, and generally maintaining an open-door policy to whoever needs to be listened to, and I love it all. That’s not to mention the hours I spend on the Net, some productive, some not so much. And before I carve out time to do any of those things, I’m working full time to be a good husband and father.
By the time church ends on Sunday afternoon, it’s time to start doing it all again in preparation for the next week. I know that I miss a lot with my nose to the grindstone. In order to be effective, sometimes you have to step back from what you’re doing and look at what’s really going on.
That’s why I enjoyed this book, “Ten Stupid Things That Keep Churches From Growing: How Leaders Can Overcome Costly Mistakes.” It was pretty funny and practical. If the advice in the book could be boiled down to one sentence, it might be, “don’t try to do it all yourself.” It takes a good deal of humility for me to accept that, but it is great advice.
For example, the author’s pastor’s job description is simple: Cast vision, connect with other leaders, teach the congregation. Period. No hauling folding chairs from room to room. No waiting around late to lock the door. No picking up tablecloths from the dry cleaner. Most pastors are willing to do a lot of these tasks. In fact, I think that showing people that I’m not above physical labor is part of teaching them about service and discipleship. But anything outside of those 3 duties really shouldn’t be expected of me as a pastor.
What should be expected of me is that I work to make God famous. That’s what I’m here for, and there are many ways to do that. Church should feel warm and inviting, even to outsiders. Especially to outsiders.
There was some other great advice, too. Spend a large chunk of your budget on youth, because they are the future of the church. Serve food. Make sure the music is jamming. Don’t be afraid of technology. Train leaders and build strong teams.
By the time I finished the book, I was in a very reflective place. I realized that no matter how busy I am, I should spend some time alone with God to get an idea of which direction this church should be going in.
If nothing was impossible, where would I like us to be in 3 years?
This book was written for church leaders, but I think that’s a good question for anyone to ask themselves.