We have heard from pastors more about changes they plan to make than any previous years we can recall.
And the changes are good, if not great.
Perhaps the pandemic has been a wake-up call for pastors. They realize more than ever they can’t lead as they’ve led in the past. Change is urgently needed for their churches. They, therefore, must set the example. They must be willing to change if they are leading their congregations to change.
We compiled seven critical changes pastors are planning from our ongoing conversations with pastors at Church Answers. The list is not comprehensive. It does represent, however, the most frequent changes pastors have told us they plan to make.
1. Be more intentional about evangelism. Many pastors realize that evangelism has not been a priority for them. They have let other activities replace this focus. They have substituted good for great. These pastors are committing themselves to be more focused on evangelism personally and lead their churches toward more effective evangelism.
2. Spend time with more committed church members. Several pastors shared that they have spent more time with marginally committed members than fully committed members. The less committed members are more demanding and more critical. They are a drain on the pastors’ emotional and spiritual energy. As a consequence, members who are selfless and ready to move forward have often been neglected. While these pastors did not suggest they would neglect the less-committed members, they did say they will be more intentional about discipling and working with those who are more committed to the church and to the cause of Christ.
3. Make sure their families are their first line of ministry among the church members. Pastors admit that they often see the need to balance family and church needs, a perspective that puts their families in competition with their churches. Many pastors are making subtle changes of perspective to see their families as their first line of ministry in their churches. In other words, their first church responsibility is to their families.
4. Learn to say “no” more often. Many pastors are people pleasers. They have trouble saying “no.” Consequently, they risk neglecting their families, their highest priorities, and their most committed church members by saying “yes” to everyone else. They plan to say “no” graciously more often.
5. Stop obsessing over losing members. Many pastors take it personally when people leave their church. Very few pastors are unbothered by it. But we have heard from many of these leaders that they are determined in God’s power to stop worrying about it. Several of the pastors learn quickly that these departures often leave the church healthier.
6. Be willing to get help for themselves and for their churches. Pastors often lead lonely and isolated lives. They tend to be hesitant to get help personally or to get outside consultations for their churches. We see these walls coming down. It is a good thing for both the leaders and the congregations.
7. Give more attention to small groups in the church. Most pastors know the incredible value of small groups to the health of their churches. They know that those in groups are more committed, attend more frequently, give more generously, and serve more readily. But pastors often neglect this priority for lower-priority items. Many pastors told us they would make time to lead and emphasize small groups in 2022.
This list is not exhaustive, but it represents some of the significant changes being made now and will carry into 2022.
I would love to hear from you pastors. What do you affirm that is on this list? What would you add to it?