Innovative Ministry
Transition Without Relocation: 8 Steps to Stay Fresh In a Long-Term Pastorate
A pastor who stops learning, stops leading. And a pastor who stops leading, stops pastoring. Even if they stay on the job.

2. Reduce the Essentials to the Bare Minimum

Staying fresh in ministry doesn’t mean playing games with essential theology. But the essentials are far fewer than most of us think.

Fighting over non-essential theology may be exciting for a while. And you may even gather a few fellow-travelers. But in the long-term, majoring on the minors will cap your ministry at the faithful, cranky few, while making everyone else so weary they’ll move on. Or they’ll make you move on.

Trim away the non-essentials. They’re a heavy burden to carry for the long haul.

3. Be Willing to Change Everything Else

I’ve changed the way I preach 5 times in the 23 years I’ve been at my current church. I expect to change it again before too long.

Because what worked then doesn’t work now. And what works now, won’t work later. Plus, I’m always learning how to communicate better.

When I hear all the arguments about what style of preaching is the best (exegetical, topical, memorized, bullet-points and so on) I want to scream, “as long as the message is biblically-based, the best method is the one that works!”

The same goes for liturgy, music styles, small groups, pews, chairs, casual dress, suits and ties, you name it.

“Because we’ve always done it this way” is a bad reason to keep doing anything. But it’s a great way to get stale. Fast.

“Because we’ve always done it this way” is a bad reason to keep doing anything. But it’s a great way to get stale. Fast.

4. Equip Others to Do Ministry

One of the main reasons so many pastors ignore the Pastoral Prime Directive of equipping the saints and making disciples is that we’re insecure.

We’re worried that someone might do our job better than us.

But a healthy, confident and effective pastor wants to be surrounded by people who do things better than they do.

No pastorate can last long under the burden of doing everything yourself. Discipleship isn’t just a command, it’s a blessing – to the disciple, the pastor and the church.

5. Keep a Regular Sabbath

A tired pastor is an ineffective pastor. And a pastor who won’t take a Sabbath because they think the church can’t make it without them is both insecure and arrogant. A deadly combination that will cut a pastorate short as quickly as anything will.

Pastors, this may be hard on some of our egos, but you need a Sabbath more than your church needs you. And, paradoxically, you need a Sabbath because your church needs you.

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