In my last blog, I began sharing with you ten keys to effective ministry that I believe are unchanging and applicable to us all. They will help you build a really great church, and that’s what I want to see for you and for your community!
We talked about how if we are to be effective as the body of Christ, we must do everything in our power to live with authentic devotion to Jesus Christ. People can spot a fake. Doesn’t matter what you say; the heart speaks louder than words. We said we must do everything in our power to keep our purpose clear. When you’ve got fresh vision, you’ve got direction, protection, inspiration and motivation to see it through. We must do everything in our power to walk by faith. There’s no substitute for faith in God! And we must do everything in our power to preserve unity. I don’t want to see one of us fail to complete our mission because we gave place to disunity and couldn’t overcome the imperfections of others or ourselves.
Today, I’d like to continue sharing another six keys that I believe you can immediately and directly apply to your leadership at church and at home. We’ll start with number five.
5. Do everything in your power to be the best leader you can be. When you stop growing, your church stops growing. There’s so much to learn! And you can learn from everybody if you are humble enough to receive it. I don’t care if your church has five people in it or if your church has tens of thousands of people. You can learn from anyone of any age, any status, any background – and you ought to keep that posture and mindset of learning all the time.
I was reading a leadership book called Atomic Habits. The author said that if you want to create or you want to help the people you lead create better habits, there are four steps you must take. The first is to make the cue, meaning, make what you want people to do obvious. Then create the craving, which is to make what you want to do attractive. Then motivate the response by making it easy. And finally, provide the reward, which will make what you want them to do satisfying. That revolutionized my thinking and my staff’s thinking! As a result of this technique, we are now sitting at nearly 80% in our volunteer staff – the highest we’ve been since COVID! By doing everything in my power to be the best leader I could be, and by learning how to communicate the church’s vision in a way that resonated with its members, we were able to overcome a huge hurdle that had challenged our volunteer team since the pandemic. I know the same will be true for your church as you do everything you can to lead your people well.
6. Do everything in your power to walk in love. Love is the currency of the kingdom. People are not an inconvenience. They are the reason that pastoral positions exist. Yes, they can be difficult, but we’re here to love. Don’t allow the people in your congregation to frustrate you. Walk in love and allow God to direct your heart in every situation.
7. Do everything in your power to live joyfully. “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24). Every year, my wife and I have the pleasure of getting away with Pastor Jim Graff and Tamara. One of our big goals is always to have fun and enjoy the time away. Why? Because the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). As a pastor, you might go through seasons where you feel like nobody hears a word you say, attendance is down, there’s not enough money to cover the needs, and your friends are all leaving the ministry. In these seasons, it’s vital that you find what brings replenishment and joy to your life. Participate in hobbies that bring a life-giving refreshment to you. Don’t overlook this: it’s critical to your health and to you completing the mission God has given you!
8. Do everything in your power to pray. This is where I often struggle – to pray with the kind of authenticity and power that I know God wants me to pray with as a pastor. I’m prone to trying to solve things on my own rather than putting them in God’s hands. But I’m learning over and over again how vital it is as a pastor and as a team to pray together. I can’t emphasize enough just how important it is to do everything you can to pray.
9. Do everything in your power to inspire hope. I am always shocked after leaving church on Sunday morning, after having talked to people going through some of the most difficult of life experiences. And it’s not just once; it’s every single Sunday. Our church is filled with people who are walking through divorce or just hearing that they have a life-threatening illness, some have had financial reversals, others have a son or daughter who has been incarcerated. Problems are just a non-stop reality. People are going through difficult things. In the midst of every service there must be hope, there must be some place where people can receive prayer for their hurts and issues, where they can receive encouragement. If people aren’t leaving your service feeling better than when they came in, you have to make some adjustments. Make sure there’s an atmosphere of hope in the church. Hope is the expectation that tomorrow is going to be better than today, that good is coming, that God is going to work it all out. If it’s not good yet, then God’s not done yet. I say that all the time in our services. Let your people know as much as you can that you’re standing with them, believing with them, and trusting God to do a miracle in whatever it is they’re facing.
10. Do everything in your power to give your best. We have the greatest reason to live in all the world. We are in the business of emptying hell and populating heaven. We are involved in the greatest cause in all of human history, the cause of God’s kingdom. And we ought to be committed to giving to God our very best every single day. If you ever struggle with that, I encourage you to read Malachi chapter 1 because it’s a fascinating study. In it, the prophet realized that the people were offering up to God any old sacrifice, and he brought this indictment against the people, saying, “How dare you give to God what you wouldn’t even give to your governor!” In a similar way, how can we offer God any old thing when He has given us His very best, His only begotten Son? God is worthy of our very best, and so are the men, women and children we have the opportunity to serve.
I hope this blog has inspired and strengthened you for the cause of God’s kingdom and His glory. I believe that God has a plan and a purpose for your ministry. He is going to use it in a mighty way, and you are going to see the lost in your community saved and discipled to greater faith in Jesus Christ. Don’t grow weary. Do everything in your power to be the best leader you can be, and trust God to do all that is beyond your power. He is able.