We are bringing a new youth minister on staff, and I wonder what types of guidelines we should set for him relative to how he interacts with the young people. We have heard horror stories of people who work with youth who put themselves in compromising situations and faced terrible accusations.
Have you ever fallen into the trap of comparing yourself with other pastors? If so, what resulted? How did you learn to quit comparing yourself with other ministers and focus on being yourself and doing what God asks of you?
Two questions about ministry and the calling: (1) How did you as a pastor realize that you were called to ministry and to the pastoral office in particular? (2) Knowing that many are called to serve who are not called to preach, per se, how do you help other people recognize and discern their calling?
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Our church has not given extensive thought to security issues. What are some of the things, naturally speaking, that other churches are doing to address security concerns in today’s societies? Do other churches have armed security during services? What kind of training do you require for someone who is armed, and what kind of guidelines do you give ushers and others who may not be “security” in a technical sense but who do look out for the safety and well-being of the people at church?
I have been amazed, as I’m sure many other pastors are, to witness the moral decline in our society over the last decades. As a pastor, I want to set the right tone in what is ministered in our congregation. For example, I know that we have many visitors and even attenders who are living together without being married, and some think absolutely nothing about it. It seems to be a social norm. I don’t want to be known for what we’re against, but what we’re for. At the same time, I want to help people move toward godly, biblical values and standards. I understand that people coming out of the world are going to have worldly perspectives, but what especially troubles me is long-standing Christians who seem just fine with ungodly standards. Two questions: (1) How do pastors minister the love of God to people, and yet still promote godliness? (2) How do pastors help mature Christians and leaders not buy-in to compromised, worldly standards?
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There are obviously various levels of commitment among people who attend church. Some attend occasionally, others consistently. As a pastor, what are the traits and characteristics you look to help promote and build into people as you move them deeper into discipleship and further in maturity? What constitutes true discipleship? What are the traits of genuine spiritual maturity? What can a pastor to do help facilitate and further such discipleship and maturity in the hearts and lives of the people?
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I am learning that some of the staff and other leaders don’t know certain things (or need to be reminded regularly of things) that I would have assumed they would be mindful of. What are two or three things that other pastors regularly emphasize or remind their staff and key leaders about?
What do you do when you find yourself facing discouragement? I know that praying and reading the Bible are typical responses, but how specifically do you pray, and are there particular areas of Scripture on which you focus? Also, do you have any strategies beyond Bible reading and prayer that you implement to bring yourself back into a state of encouragement?
Would you please send us any material that could be helpful to other pastors relative to conducting funerals? Any tips or suggestions? Is there a helpful story or illustration that you’ve found to work well at funerals? Do you have any funeral message outlines you’d like to share (please remove names)? Whatever you send us this month, we’ll add to the “Funeral Resources” section on our website.
I’m looking for some good daily devotionals, both for my own personal enrichment, and to be able to recommend to members of my congregation. What are some of the different devotional books or materials that other pastors have found helpful for themselves personally and for their members? I’m interested in general devotionals as well as any “specialized” devotionals that focus on helping people through specific issues or different challenging seasons of their lives.
I hear other pastors talk about giving “personality profiles” and “gift mix tests” to help determine the temperaments and the giftings of their people. I’ve also heard of these being used in providing spiritual guidance, especially in terms of helping people prepare for marriage. Has this truly been helpful to churches and the people taking these kind of inventories? If so, how? Can you tell me some of the better tests and inventory tools that are available for use in the local church?
I’ve been contemplating offering our church people something more in-depth teaching-wise than what they can receive in regular services or periodic small group settings. I know that some churches offer a lay-Bible school, and some even offer certain college or university classes. What are the pros and cons of some of these types of approaches? What has worked well and what seems to be most effective in providing interested church members with more in-depth teaching and training?
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As a pastor, I preach on various moral, ethical, and social issues from a biblical standpoint. However, I avoid expressing personal opinions when it comes to partisan political issues (candidates, parties, etc.). I have a staff member who has become very outspoken politically (and in my opinion, very divisive) in a partisan way on social media. I’ve also had some high-level, visible volunteer leaders who have posted some pictures on social media that I felt were bordering on inappropriate and distasteful. I want those in leadership to set a high standard of godly behavior and avoid even the appearance of evil. How much prerogative does a pastor have to address these issues to staff and to high-level volunteers? Do any churches have written statements they use to communicate such guidelines?
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It seems that the whole nation has been riveted on news relative to racial tensions, allegations of systemic discrimination against minorities, the targeting of police in deadly attacks, etc. What can a pastor say, and what can churches do to be a part of the solution, to be salt and light? How can a pastor help people to have godly attitudes and perspectives and to be true representatives of Christ during troubled times?
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It seems harder and harder to find “qualified” people (according to the standards in 1 Timothy and Titus) to serve in leadership and helps positions in the church. Do pastors ever modify their standards in order to get people involved serving, even in entry-level types of positions? What kinds of character and lifestyle standards do other pastors and churches communicate for those who are going to be involved in serving?
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When is it best to add to your staff by promoting from within, and when is it best to go outside and bring someone in? If I do need to hire from without, what are the best channels and avenues through which to seek a qualified staff member? Finally, in bringing someone in from the outside, how do you help that new staff member learn and adapt to the culture of the church?
I would love to hear feedback about how other churches do their Easter weekend services. What do they do that’s special, different? How many churches add extra services for that weekend? What kind of special advertising or marketing is done? How do pastors get the congregation involved in inviting guests? Are pastors generally pleased with the results they see on Easter weekend? Are there any strategies that churches have to get Easter visitors to come back on a regular basis? Based on your experience from this and previous Easter weekends, what do you plan to do different next year?
We all know that pastors regularly teach and minister to others from the pulpit. How do I, as a pastor, more effectively mentor, coach, instruct, and disciple others when I’m outside of the pulpit? I’ve heard of others who regularly use all kinds of occasions as “teaching moments” when working with staff, leaders, volunteers, and others. What does this look like, how can I become better at this, and how do other pastors better “grow” others outside of the pulpit?
Approximately how many guest ministers do you have in your pulpit each year? Do you have a specific purpose when you have a guest minister, and what do you look for in selecting those you will invite to share with your people? What is your philosophy and approach when it comes to providing compensation for a guest minister? Finally, what benefits has your church received from guest ministers in the past?
What do you perceive the condition of the Church in America to be? Where is the Church (overall) doing well, and where do significant improvements need to be made? What are you endeavoring to do through your own life and ministry to bring improvement?
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I want to learn how to be a better communicator. I’ve been told to “preach the word” and to “have the anointing,” but what are some practical skills I can learn from seasoned communicators? How do other ministers create interest in their message, establish rapport with the audience, use illustrations, develop a powerful conclusion, etc.? I would really like to learn the skills and mechanics of being a better communicator. All tips and advice are welcome. Also, if certain books or other resources have helped you in this regard, I’d like to hear about them.
If you had a chance to do something over relative to your journey in ministry, what would it be? If you want to share more than one example, that’s great. This question is not meant to get anyone to focus on past mistakes, but rather, to help younger ministers learn from the wisdom and experience of others.