I am learning quite a bit about how to be ineffective in ministry.
Okay, now that I have your attention, let me explain. Effectiveness in ministry is not necessarily what most people would think. Effectiveness is not measured in how many buildings one can build, or the latest growth in worship attendance numbers, or even how well known your ministry is to people in your denomination. None of that really matters in the big picture.
What does matter? Changed lives. New commitments to Christ. Fruit. All of these things matter to the Kingdom, though it is not always seen in the bottom line of a church spreadsheet.
Here’s some principles in how not to be effective in ministry:
- Stay out of the Word. Don’t read it unless you are preparing for a sermon or teaching time, and by all means, act like a professional rather than a everyday person.
- Make your worship a farce by allowing the practice of praising God on one hand and acting ungodly toward a fellow believer on the other (this can be done by either the preacher or the member).
- Evaluate and design your ministry in a way that makes you look good for the next search team to come around. Go ahead and estimate high- after all, the people you shepherd are just stepping stones to a megachurch that is just waiting for you.
- Be political. Be very political. Get your name out there so that others may know who you are. The time spent getting to rub elbows with the “in crowd” evangelicals may pay off dividends.
- Stop visiting. Just cut it out completely. Pastors don’t do that anyway, and the ones that do are just “small church,” which is beneath you.
- Center all ministry on you. You are more important than training others to replace you. If you stay vital to the organization, you can never get fired, right?
Okay, most of this is just plain awful. However, I have either seen this happen or have done it myself.
So how can you be effective in ministry? Here are some biblical principles:
- Be in the Word. Read it. Be immersed in it. Be close to the Lord in your quiet time and pray for His strength and guidance in all things. Pray for your church daily.
- Be honest about your faults and sinfulness. Allow God to cleanse you.
- When faced with sin in the church, seek to restore them if possible. Stand firm on the Word while allowing for some time for them to change from the inside out. If they don’t change, follow Mt 18:15-17, but do it as a final step, not a first step.
- Focus your ministry on transformation. Seek to reach people as they come to Christ, and then help them to grow, serve, and share Christ. Numbers take care of themselves, and God just wants you to be faithful in what He gives you to do.
- Stop the politics, ego stroking, and ambition. This belongs to the world, not to the Kingdom of God.
- Be heavily involved in visiting your people, loving them at every opportunity. However, be sure that it does not override your study time.
- Give away your ministry. Start a ministry, train your leaders, and hand it off. In fact, try to train yourself out of a job!
That’s all for now. Hope that this was practical advice from one pastor to another. I have learned how to make a mess of things, but I also know how God can use faithfulness for His glory.
Any other ways how a pastor can be effective?