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Friendships vs. Professionalism

How does one in a middle management position (associate pastor), foster friendships within the congregation and remain effective in a leadership role with those same people? When relationships develop into friendships it seems to result in a lack of respect (or less effectiveness) when I later have to function as a leader toward them. It seems to be a balancing act that I have not yet mastered. I want to be friendly, but I don’t want to minimize my effectiveness in leadership. What guidelines would you give to a staff minister who is trying to get this area right?

Advice to a Fledgling Minister

I’ve noticed that many people who begin in ministry do not stay in ministry long-term. If you had a young person from your church who had just finished Bible School and just accepted their first staff ministry position (at your church or somewhere else), what would be three things you would tell them that you think would help them continue in ministry for the long-haul?

Finding the Right Blend

Paul not only said that all Scripture is inspired, but that it is, “…profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). He also told Timothy to, “convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2). How does a pastor find the right “blend” in his preaching? I want to be positive, uplifting, and encouraging in my preaching, but I know there are times that serious issues need to be addressed. How do you address negative issues without coming across as harsh or “beating the people up?” What tips would you give a young pastor who wants to preach the whole counsel of God without coming across as condemning?

Financial Reports

As a pastor, I’m curious as to what other pastors do in terms of providing financial reports to the congregation. Most of the people in our church are fine to simply let our board handle all of that, but a few of the people are from church backgrounds where detailed reports are given to the congregation. How much information do most churches give out, and how/when is that information disseminated?

Fellowship with Local Pastors

I’m considering joining a local ministerial alliance, and am wondering if that’s a good investment of my time. These pastors are from varying backgrounds, and I wonder if the differing beliefs will create a problem. What do other pastors have to say about the benefits and possible pitfalls of being involved with other pastors in the area?

Family on Staff

I’m considering hiring an immediate member of my family to be on our church staff. I’ve heard some pros and cons to this. What are some of the guidelines I should be aware of and implement to make this a success? What are the pitfalls I should watch out for? I’d love to hear from other pastors what’s worked well for them and what’s not worked so well in this regard.

Evolution of Ministry

How are you doing ministry different than you were ten years ago? How has your style and structure changed with time? How do you see your ministry changing in the next ten years? Do you have a succession plan in place, and if so, what is it?

Equipping and Mobilizing for Evangelism

It seems that the members of my church are way more inward-focused than outward-focused. Everyone enjoys good teaching and fellowship, but it’s rare that my members invite the unsaved to church or express any kind of deep concern for the lost. To be honest, I’m more teaching-oriented than evangelistic myself. What can I do to improve myself in these areas, and what can I do to help mobilize and equip my church members to become more evangelistically-minded? Are there any books, videos, or other resources that we can use for study guides? Help

Discipleship and Assimilation

It seems that the only discipleship format out there that is working is the cell group. Is anyone doing anything different that is working? How are pastors plugging new believers into their churches and assuring that they are getting grounded in the Word and in fellowship?

A Different Time?

Is pastoring different today than it was ten, fifteen, or twenty years ago? It seems like it is, but I’m trying to define how it’s different. Is society different? Are church members different? Are the expectations and commitment levels of people different? Can you help me understand this? Read the responses.

Declining a Gift

I recently returned a cash gift with a polite letter because it came in the same letter as a pastoral referral request for an application to a Christian school. It felt like a potential conflict of interest. I was happy to recommend the person and did so. What clear guidelines can you recommend for receiving or declining gifts/offerings in the future? Have you ever sent back or declined a gift/offering and under what terms?


We could really use some help in finding good curriculum for all age-levels and for small group ministry. Any ideas?

Connecting with the Community

For some time, I’ve been feeling like our church is isolated from our community. I know that I’ve spent so much time focusing on the sheep that I haven’t gotten involved in the community as I should. What are some of the ways pastors connect to their communities personally, and how do they lead their churches in having great community impact?


As a pastor who loves to encourage and nurture others, I find it difficult to confront people. Can you give me some do’s and don’ts and how-to’s (or how not-to)? When do you confront and when do you simply overlook something? Can you give me some advice on how to confront a staff member, a volunteer, or a church member about an issue? Also, are there some preventative, “up-front” types of things I can do so that I don’t feel a need to confront issues as often?

Church Membership

We have never had official “membership” in our church, but I’m thinking about initiating it. I’m curious as to what experiences other pastors have had with church membership. What are the pros and the cons? What requirements should we have for people to become members? What is taught in the membership classes and how extensive are they? What reasons are there for having or not having church membership?

Business Sense

As a pastor, I feel pretty good about most aspects of my responsibilities (spiritual, preaching, pastoral care, etc.), but I’m recognizing a deficiency in the business-side of ministry. I don’t have a business background, and I realize there’s a lot I need to know in those areas. I’d love to hear seasoned pastors share a few tips about the business lessons they’ve learned relative to their leadership in the church. Could you please share some “business sense” with me?

Better Communication Skills

As a pastor, I preach and teach the Bible regularly, but I don’t always feel that I am connecting with the people. I observe other ministers who really seem to communicate and connect effectively with their audience. Can some experienced pastors share some thoughts with me about how to be a better communicator and how to really connect with my people? I know to “preach the Word” and to “be anointed,” but I guess I’m looking for other insights—maybe even natural things—on becoming a better public speaker.

Altar Care Ministry

We are looking for guidelines, resources, and training ideas to help make our workers more effective in helping those who have responded to altar calls. What procedures do other churches use to train their altar workers? What process do you take people through who respond to altar calls, and how do they do it? Are there any resources or outlines available for training altar care workers? What materials do you put into the hands of new converts, and how do you follow up on them? We want to see our altar care team better trained, better equipped, and more effective. What suggestions do other pastors have?

Six Tips on Performing Weddings for Unchurched, Non-Christian Couples by Dr. Aubrey Malphurs

There was a time in my ministry as a pastor when I communicated to inquiring unchurched, non-Christian couples that I wasn’t interested in performing their weddings. I didn’t express it as harshly as it sounds, but that was clearly my attitude. My thinking was, If they can’t bother to come to church, then I can’t bother to cater to their desire to be married in the church, at least my church. … read more

An Analysis of the Tithe (Part One) by James J. Purcell

What kind of money is it that, if you don’t pay it you are robbing someone and if you do pay it he will pour out a blessing on you? If you don’t steal someone’s car, are they going to pour out a blessing on you? No. They are not even going to thank you. We ordinarily do not bless people for not taking our things. But when the tithe is paid, God pours out a blessing. Why? … read more

An Analysis of the Tithe (Part Two) by James J. Purcell

What kind of money is it that, if you don’t pay it you are robbing someone and if you do pay it he will pour out a blessing on you? If you don’t steal someone’s car, are they going to pour out a blessing on you? No. They are not even going to thank you. We ordinarily do not bless people for not taking our things. But when the tithe is paid, God pours out a blessing. Why? … read more