A pro quarterback better be able to throw a pass. A cardiologist must be able to interpret an EKG. These skills are essentials of their trades.
Pastoral ministry also has fundamentals. But in today's world, it's hard to stay focused on the pastoral essentials.
We met with four pastors in Madison, Wisconsin, to explore the pastoral essentials and the distractions that pull us away from our core calling: Bob Goodsell is campus pastor of the north site of Door Creek Church. Alex Gee, Jr. is pastor of Fountain of Life Church, a multi-ethnic church ministering in urban Madison. Matt Arndt is pastor of Bread of Life Anglican Church, a church plant started by Matt and his wife six years ago. Dale Chapin is pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church in downtown Madison.
Everybody knows playing basketball has a short list of essentials-dribbling, passing, rebounding, shooting, and playing defense. What's your short list of essentials for pastoral ministry?
Bob Goodsell: Our senior pastor asked me the same question this week. My list includes preaching and teaching, vision casting, and equipping new leaders. When I was on staff with the Navigators, I used to tell pastors, "I know you have to marry, bury, and baptize, but don't forget to make a few disciples along the way."
Now that I'm a pastor, I have to tell myself the same thing. It's easy to forget to make disciples. That means evangelizing, establishing (immediate follow-up), equipping, and then enabling. This means giving believers a spiritual toolbox so they're equipped to grow in their faith and to share their faith with others.
Dale Chapin: I view ministry in the context of relationships. So, first and foremost, my relationship with God and with my wife needs to be in order. Next, I need to have clear and healthy relationships with our key church leaders. Finally, I need to develop good relationships with all of our mission partners. Mission drives so many of our priorities as a church. Locally we're involved in a ministry to international students. Globally, we have a strong relationship with the church in Rwanda.
Matt Arndt: I'd like to add one more—prayer. Because we're a small church plant that's still struggling to survive, we have to focus on prayer. I start every day by taking my dog on a "prayer walk." I have to hear from God every day. As a church we have scheduled times for prayer, but we're also acutely aware of our total dependence on God for our very existence.
Alex Gee, Jr.: I definitely resonate with these guys, but I want to mention something that's an essential for many of my fellow African-American pastors—our call to ministry includes being an advocate for the community. For instance, when the '92 riots broke out in L.A., the local radio station called me for a black pastor's perspective on the issue. Or more recently, the University of Wisconsin football coaches will call and say, "Some of our African-American guys are getting in trouble. Can you come and mentor them and lead a Bible study with them?" I meet regularly with Wisconsin's Department of Corrections and the Secretary of State, trying to chart a new course for incarceration and reentry issues. But I'm also advocating for individuals, like a young man—who isn't even part of our church—who got into legal trouble. I've been attending his hearings, trying to find employment for him, working with his parole officer so he can move back in with his wife.