Jump directly to the Content


A friend asked me about the church where he had just been invited to candidate. "I don't want to get stuck in a maintenance ministry," he said.

I cringed, as I had when hearing similar remarks on other occasions.

At seminary, I overheard student pastors complain that the churches they served offered nothing but "maintenance ministry." They meant the congregation was composed primarily of elderly people and showed little potential for numerical growth. Ministry there seemed to mean perpetuating the status quo, marrying and (mostly) burying. Pastors marked time until something better came along.

Later I heard a denominational executive entice pastors to consider church planting by offering them "more than mediocrity and maintenance." He implied that pastors face two options: significance or maintenance.

Yet maintenance, by definition, is "upkeep, support." To maintain means "to keep in a certain condition or position, especially of efficiency and good repair." That sounds good to me.

In most ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe to Christianity Today magazine. Subscribers have full digital access to CT Pastors articles.

Support Our Work

Subscribe to CT for less than $4.25/month

Homepage Subscription Panel

Read These Next

From the Magazine
Disasters Are Not God’s Punishments. But They Can Judge Us.
Disasters Are Not God’s Punishments. But They Can Judge Us.
Both 18th-century earthquakes and 21st-century pandemics upend optimism and fatalism.
Editor's Pick
When Churches Put Love at the Center
When Churches Put Love at the Center
How "beloved community" helps us envision tangible ways to embody kingdom values.