Before we can make any plans for the church, we must know the sheep well. Take every opportunity to become familiar with members of your church. Don’t rush into your action plans too quickly. – from the book 7 Lessons for New Pastors, page 96
Matthew D. Kim wrote this helpful book after his first year as a senior pastor. Since I believe that God might be leading me to be a senior pastor, I thought it would be a good idea to do some reading on others’ experiences as new senior pastors.
Dr. Kim offers 7 good tips for new senior pastors. The first couple chapters are about making sure you are called to be a pastor and the importance of finding the right church. Then he moves into how to acclimate to the pastor’s life and gives some good tips on creating good habits. Dr. Kim shares that the most important habit for a pastor is a strong prayer life. He says: Prayer is priceless in the life of a pastor. It is the glue that holds everything together…Without prayer, we lack God’s love and power. Without prayer, we will be empty on the inside and have nothing left to give our parishioners. Without prayer, we cease to be pastors (page 53).
Chapter five is about how to develop your leadership skills. He gives some good ideas on how to create and cast vision and the importance of developing leaders. He shares that to be effective, learn to develop leaders and delegate responsibility…the church should be able to thrive without us. That is the proper test of whether we have produced quality lay leaders (page 83).
In chapter six, Dr. Kim shares some great tips on how to love your congregation. He says: ministry is people. It is people that make the calling of ministry valuable and worthwhile (page 93). It is so easy to lose sight of that. To get caught up in doing stuff and to forget that its all about people. Dr. Kim shares some great ideas on how to get to know your congregation and to really get to know their stories.
And finally, in chapter 7, Dr. Kim shares his advice on how to be ready for when the unexpected happens. What to do when tragedy strikes. What to do when you get unusual and unexpected requests. And how to resist unexpected temptations.
All in all, I thought this was a great book that would be beneficial for anyone who is moving into a senior pastor role. Check it out.
I have been called a bull in a china shop…on more than one occasion! A friend, hoping to help, handed me this book to read…about four years ago. To be honest, at that time I wasn’t ready to openly evaluate myself and how I used my physical presence to influence others. I was defensive and thought, “well, this is just who I am!”
Well, I finally got over myself and decided to read it. In her book Making Room For Leadership: Power, Space, and Influence, MaryKate Morse asserts that we all take up space in a room (not just physically) and the way we use or don’t use our bodies in group settings influences others. She shares that most of us are unaware of the ways we use our bodies to influence others. I would wholeheartedly agree with these ideas!
As I read this book, I reflected on my past. I worked with someone who would use his body and physical presence to dominate the room and to force everyone else into submission. He referred to this as “powering up”. It was incredibly intimidating and created a very tough working environment. It wasn’t until I was out of the situation that I realized how emotionally damaging the working relationship was to me.
I do not want to lead like that. MaryKate Morse talks about “shadows” and “sponges” in her book. I have come to the realization that on the scale of being a “shadow” with no presence or a “sponge” who soaks up all the physical space in a room, I am much more like a sponge. I am who God created me to be BUT I can learn to me more like Jesuswho used his power and influence to empower the marginalized and to stand up to those who are abusing their personal power. I can learn to temper my big presence to help create safe environments that help others find their voice and to feel free to participate in this great endeavor of spreading the good news of the coming of God’s Kingdom.
This is a great book that would be very helpful for both “shadows” and “sponges”. If you are someone who people ignore and you don’t feel like you have a voice, grab this book and learn how to appropriately gain influence and to partner with what God is doing. If you are more like me, and tend to soak up all the space in a room, read this book and learn how to be more aware of your surroundings and how to help others feel safe and to share your influence and power. God has a plan for ALL of us and he wants us ALL to participate in his great redemption story!
The pastor’s question is, “Who are these particular people, and how can I be with them in such a way that they can become what God is making them?”- Eugene Peterson
I’m currently in a “wait and see” season of life. I’ve described it to a friend as feeling like a shepherd with no flock. Our time at our previous church came to an end in September 2013 and now we are waiting to see where God leads us next.
While I’ve been waiting, I have done a lot of praying and soul searching. I have immersed my soul in God’s Word and listened to dozens of wonderful sermons from pastors Mark Driscoll (Seattle) and Tim Keller (New York City).
I have also been reading a lot. One of the books I just finished is titled The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction by Eugene Peterson. Peterson, best known for his translation of the Bible called the Message, has also written numerous books on pastoring/shepherding.
The Contemplative Pastor is a really great book that I would recommend for anyone in ministry- but especially for a pastor who has already put in his first decade of service and is looking for wisdom from a pastor who had shepherded his people for decades.
Peterson encourages pastors to embrace “the unhurried life”- to leave room for God to move and to do life with messy people. He says it this way:
How can I lead people into the quiet place beside the still waters if I am in perpetual motion? How can I persuade a person to live by faith and not by works if I have to juggle my schedule constantly to make everything fit into place?…I know I can’t be busy and pray at the same time. I can be active and pray; I can work and pray; but I cannot be busy and pray. I cannot be inwardly rushed, distracted, or dispersed.
That is such a good word. Too often, we rush around trying to accomplish great things for God instead of just “be” and live in communion with God’s spirit.
Peterson also encourages pastors to really love their people and to take time for them.
Pastoral listening requires unhurried leisure, even if it’s only for five minutes. Leisure is a quality of spirit, not a quantity of time. Only in that ambiance of leisure do persons know they are listened to with absolute seriousness, treated with dignity and importance. Speaking to people does not have the same personal intensity as listening to them. The question I put to myself is not “How many people have you spoken to about Christ this week?” but “How many people have you listened to in Christ this week?”
If you are in ministry or if you feel like God has given you the spiritual gift of shepherding, I would strongly encourage you to pick up this book. It will stretch and challenge you and help you on your journey to becoming more like our Great Shepherd- Jesus.
A little over two years ago, God called us to leave our friends and family in Colorado and move 1,000 miles away to Madison, Wisconsin, to become Church Planters. I came on staff with Converge Great Lakes (formerly known as Great Lakes Baptist Conference and part of the Baptist General Conference) as a Church Planting Intern. Our desire was to learn more about church planting with the thought that someday God might call me to be a lead pastor and to possibly plant a church as the lead planter. For the last two years, we have served with Ezra Church and it has been awesome to see God build and establish His church! In the past two years, Ezra Church has baptized 14 people, helped over 85 adults find community through being a part of a small group, and grown from a core of 50 people to a church of over 200 people! Your support, encouragement, and prayers helped make that possible!
Through the guidance and direction of Converge Great Lakes and the Ezra Church Leadership and after much time in prayer, I feel that God is calling me to step out in faith and to take a position as a senior pastor! We are going to take the next couple of months to pray and determine if God is calling me to (1.) be a lead church planter and to plant a new church with Converge or (2.) if God is calling me to go to an established Converge church that is looking for a new senior pastor.
We have finished the Pre-Assessment Phase of the church planting process with Converge. The next step of our journey in determining if God is actually calling us to plant a church is attendance at the nationally renowned Converge Church Planting Assessment Center next February. This four day intensive assessment looks at potential church planters through a grid of sixteen non-negotiable traits that Converge has found to be essential for successful planting over the past twenty years. Once we complete this assessment, we will have clear confirmation one way or the other concerning whether I am called to be a lead pastor in a church planting context or a lead pastor in an established church setting.
Converge (Baptist General Conference) also has a Pastoral Placement Process (P3), which helps match pastors like me who feel called to be a senior pastor and churches that are in need of a new senior leader. I have finished my P3 assessment and we are waiting and praying to see if God is leading us to an established church. We have told Converge that we would be open to going to a church in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, or Colorado.
We want to thank you for your prayers and encouragement over the last two years! We could not be on this ministry journey without you! We would appreciate your continued prayers over these next couple of months as we wait on God and prepare for wherever he is leading us next.
Thanks and God bless,
Kristin and Erik Lindeen
Fellow Laborers In Christ
For some reason, it took me about eighteen months to get through The Pastor by Eugene Peterson. It probably had something to do with the fact that in that time frame we moved from Colorado to Wisconsin, helped plant a new church, I finished my M.A. in Theological Studies, and my wife and I had a baby (who spent 10 days in the NICU). It was a very busy season of life!
However, I loved it and I’m glad I took my time getting through it. This is a great book from a pastor to pastors. I love that Peterson is not your typical megachurch pastor/author. For most of his ministry, Peterson has led a church with less than 500 people. I’ve heard that something like 97% of all churches in America have less than 500 people, so Peterson can relate to most pastors. Read More