Pastor J. Mark Jordan offers seven more applicable tips for new pastors. Read the first six tips here.
1. Make major innovations only after getting a consensus.
Before you launch into a big program, make sure most of your people are on board with you. It is a huge mistake to start off doing something on your own that your church is ambivalent about at best. If people don’t understand it, if they think it will cost too much money,
In his book Chasing the Possible Dream, J. Mark Jordan inspires readers to write their stories: “Don’t pass off the scene without leaving a permanent mark on the world.”
or if they see it as impinging too much on their family or personal time, you will only garner tepid support. They may not say much, but they will conveniently find other things to do and they will not respond well to solicitations for finance.
2. Preach out loud but live quietly.
Pour excellence into your ministry and be demure about your personal life. Your attraction as a minister must be the Christ you preach, not some aspect of your personal life or traits. A personality cult disguised as a church will only endure as long as the personality that drives it.
3. Play no favorites in the congregation.
A pastor cannot answer the call to minister to everyone if he bestows special attention on some select people and excludes others in the congregation. If you go to a person’s home for dinner, make sure you have a particular spiritual motive and not just for fellowship. Nothing stirs up jealousy quicker than to hobnob with a few elites and deny the same camaraderie to others. Go to an event if all are invited. Decline if it’s not for everyone (special occasions being an exception). Turn to your peers in the ministry for your close fellowship.Tips for new pastors: Love lavishly; discipline sparingly. #adviceforpastors Click To Tweet
4. Love lavishly; discipline sparingly.
When you walk down the aisle, your people need to see warmth, friendliness, and love in your eyes. Be down-to-earth; engage in small talk and just “hang out” with your people (at least for a little while). Avoid the temptation to scold people for insignificant things, especially in front of others. When rebuke is necessary, let it be for a truly offensive or sinful act, not for a pet peeve. Disciplinary action should be baptized in love and a genuine attempt at lifting and helping instead of a knee-jerk reaction to a problem.
5. Consistency is king.
Psychologists tell us that operant conditioning that successfully changes behavior is based on consistent rewards or consistent denial of rewards. Whenever you begin a program or project, do everything in your power to keep it up. Phase it out only if it has fulfilled its objective, or if it is an obvious failure and must be shut down. Neglect, inattentiveness, or sporadic participation should not cause the demise of the activity. Besides being a disappointment to those who were invested in the program, it casts a negative reflection on the pastor.
6. Do not be afraid of any person in your congregation.
This concept is a big one. Depending on the clout of the person in question, bucking him or her could mean war. Nevertheless the pastor who submits to a dominating personality in the congregation becomes a hireling or a lackey to power. In the end the only things that will get done will have to be cleared with this person. The pastor who values integrity and righteousness over personal welfare will lead the church in right ways, even at the cost of angering a particular member. Resolving this problem will require much thought, study, and backbone.
7. Invest in a sufficient number of projects that have immediate and visible benefits.
You may be involved in many noble projects, but if the benefits do not register with the congregation, unhappiness may set in. Some may think you are wasting your time in matters that do not pertain to the church. Make sure that you focus the bulk of your time and energy on endeavors that pertain directly to your job description as pastor. Tom Peters and Robert H. Waterman Jr. called this “stick to the knitting” in their classic book, In Search of Excellence. The more people see what they expect to see in the leadership of the church, the more they will respond positively to that leadership.
J. Mark Jordan is an honorary board member of the UPCI.
Resources and Links
Chasing the Possible Dream– – In this book, J. Mark Jordan inspires readers to write their stories: “Don’t pass off the scene without leaving a permanent mark on the world.”
Tweaks – – 101 insights for preachers and church leaders.
Some Christian You Are! – – This book will reinvigorate your spiritual energy depletion with small doses of scriptural thoughts, positive messages and sometimes jarring blasts of insight… and maybe a slap in the face (metaphorically speaking, of course).
A version of this content in this blog originally appeared in Forward. For more by J. Mark Jordan, click here.