It seems like different churches and pastors have different specializations or emphases in their presentation and ministry. I realize every church is called to worship, to teach, to evangelize, etc., but I see some churches being much stronger in certain areas than others. I would like to hear from other pastors how they manage the “general” responsibilities of ministry and still carry out whatever specializations they might feel called to fulfill.
As a missionary who pioneered and pastored a church in Manchester, UK for 12 years, I found it was important to ensure I monitored my own ‘missionary passion’ so that I kept it in balance with the practical and spiritual pastoral needs of the people. For me, understanding that my primary calling wasn’t the office of pastor dramatically influenced how I pastored. I pastored knowing that I was to prepare the people and the church culture for a future leader who does stand in the office of pastor.
Spending time with the people helped me know and keep mindful of what they were facing on a daily basis in real life. That helped inform church leadership decisions so that we met the pastoral needs of the people and in planning our church programs and calendar.
Even so, my missionary heart for the unreached colored everything we did as a church. I’ve noticed we all see life and ministry through our callings to some degree or another. So, the name of our church, and our mission statement both included a world perspective. We raised up a leader tasked with ensuring that “Missions didn’t become a department of the church, but rather the end of every department in the church.” This led to department mission statements with a world perspective, such as our children’s ministry, which was called Salvation Safari: “We’re on an adventure with Jesus to know Him and to show Him to the world.”
The missionary passion and calling my wife and I carry had to be constantly held in check to ensure we were meeting the daily practical and spiritual needs of those God had entrusted to our care. However, I am also confident that God understood what He was getting when he called us to pioneer and pastor in Manchester, and it was a part of His plan to raise up a local church with a strong missionary emphasis.
My experience in the business world has helped me to lead and give a structure to the ministry.
The emphasis of our church (Iglesia Palabra Pura) is the teaching of the Word. But, I strive in the training and equipping of suitable people to help me carry out the general activities of the ministry. With the help of a great staff and many volunteers that understand the vision and our culture (excellence, order, punctuality, respect and generosity), we develop, impart and impact the community with all the important and necessary aspects of ministry.
Therefore, delegation is a must for me. I must trust and empower others to do the work of the ministry. To train, trust, and empower others, many times it is not that easy but completely necessary. This allows me to have the necessary time to focus on the call and gift that God has placed in my life, which is the teaching of the Word and the leadership of the ministry.
Specialization that God has called us to is something that God requires of us. That emphasis or specialization needs to be blended in such a way that it does not adversely affect the health of the general ministry. Monitoring the health of the church or ministry would be something that would be used as a gauge to identify if there is too much emphasis on the area of specialization.
God knows everything we have to do—His calling and wisdom will direct us to the health of the whole of the ministry. The area of specialization is usually directed by the vision or calling.
You are absolutely right. I, too, have noticed that certain churches seem to specialize or have a special emphasis. In managing your general pastoral responsibilities and the unique specialty areas the Lord has called you to, a couple things come to mind.
- First, determine what the Lord has uniquely called you to do. What will always matter most is what the Lord has called you to do.
- What are one or two things you want to be known for in your community? Prayerfully determine this, then focus on those two things. Make sure they are always kept before the people. Inspire your team to focus and work together on those priorities.
- Set specific goals with deadlines to achieve the special mission and focus God has given you for your church.
- Take note of how the Lord has wired you and gifted you. What is it you are passionate about? It’s likely that this will be a specialized area of ministry God has called you to.
- One of the hardest things to do, yet one of the most productive, is to go through a season of pruning. Eliminate what is not necessary to make the necessary stand out.
- Increase your capacity to delegate, and delegate properly. Ask yourself, what am I doing that somebody else could do? Then begin to delegate those responsibilities to somebody who can do them as well, or even 70% as well as you.
There will always be good things that need to be done. The leader’s job is to determine what must be done, and who can help accomplish the lesser priorities. From my experience, this is a constant journey in leadership, so take heart—determining priorities and focusing on them will be part of your ministry journey.
I think one of the most effective ways to do this is to have someone help you stay in balance. While every church is called to worship, fellowship, evangelize, make disciples, and serve one another, all of us as leaders are probably going to emphasize one of the purposes over the others because of our particular gifting. Be aware of your “leaning.” For example, I used to focus on Bible teaching more than anything else. I had to have somebody help me with evangelism—it was not a strength. I listened to other pastors who were strong in evangelism and learned how to give an effective altar call. It did not come natural for me.
Something else you can do is set goals in the areas that are not your strengths. You don’t have to be the leader in every area, but you do have to make sure someone has ownership of it. Good leaders surround themselves with people who are strong in areas they are weak.
I would encourage you to continue to sharpen your area of strength. Sometimes our tendency is to neglect it because we’re already good at it (evangelism, missions, teaching, etc.). In other words, lean to your strength and lead with your strength. Better to be excellent in one or two areas than to be mediocre in a lot of areas.
I feel a very strong call to the healing ministry. Like you said, the Church needs the full scope of what we are called to do.
The mission statement of our church is, “Duplicating the Ministry of Jesus—His Love, His Character, His Message & His Power.” From that mission statement we have come up with 12 vital areas for the Church to teach on: love, praise & worship, the Church, finances; character—prayer, character, relationships; message—the word, Jesus Christ, faith, redemption/righteousness; power—healing & miracles, the Holy Spirit.
We endeavor to teach a spiritual series on Sunday AM one month and a practical series on Sunday AM the next month. On Sunday nights throughout the year we often have videos on marriage and raising children, and Pastor Sheila is excellent at heading these up. We also offer the Financial Peace series (almost every year) on Sunday nights. Wednesday nights is mostly the faithful, committed ones who come, so we primarily teach on areas like faith, healing, prayer, and praise and worship. Before and often after the time of praise and worship, we emphasize the importance of being in one accord and the power of praise and worship to get us there.
There are opportunities in almost every message to encourage the congregation that no matter what they do in life, they are called to be ministers of reconciliation. At each service and on Facebook, we exhort the congregation to bring those who do not know the Lord to services and functions. We ask visiting ministers to share on bringing the lost to the meetings and sharing the Gospel with others.
Our ladies ministry is very well attended and the ladies bring the lost. God has used this ministry well. The men’s ministry is not as well attended as the ladies, but the men get into sharing at these breakfasts in a manner that they say helps them a great deal in their lives. We have a Christian recovery ministry that reaches out to those who have been or are addicted to alcohol, drugs or anything else. As time goes on we are seeking the Lord for ways to reach the millennials. We have had in the past, and will start again, a ministry for young single adults. The children’s church teachers and youth teachers are very committed to teaching the Gospel to those they minister to in a manner that can be understood by their age groups. We have several Bible studies taught by Pastor Sheila and other members of the church, and we have prayer meetings during the week to pray for those in authority, the country, the Church, etc.
We try to have fun together, and we do: the church picnic, field goal and accuracy passing contests on Super Bowl Sunday, pitching contests during the World Series, foul shooting contests during the NBA finals, an egg hunt before Easter, VBS, and a huge outreach on Main Street in Newtown for 2,500 kids on October 31. On the fifth Wednesday of any month that has five Wednesdays, we all go downstairs after praise and worship and enjoy food and fellowship together.
We are active in community outreaches by delivering food, backpacks and school supplies for children of single moms, and Christmas gifts for Teen Challenge.