Pastoring is a massive subject so here are some of my thoughts on “Pastoring Practically”.

First of all I want to establish the fact that “Pastoring” isn’t a job to be pursued as a career.  My dad used to advise me to run from “Pastoring” if I could.  If, for you, it becomes more and more obvious that the call of Pastoring is on your life, then realize there’s a massive price to pay.  You must be obedient to that call.  Prepare well.  Go to Bible College and get as educated as you can.  Pray continually for God’s guidance and His spirit to anoint you.  Without His anointing you will struggle and frustrate yourself and other people.

This calling is one of the 5 ascension gifts – Prophet, Pastor, Apostle, Teacher, and Evangelist.  It must be noted that our Heavenly Father doesn’t throw these gifts out to people like lollies.  Many have elements of these gifts on their life but few are “Ascension Gift” ministries.

I have found that when people stay within their calling, they enjoy what they do but also reap much fruit for the glory of God.  Pastoring is all about loving people.  Sometimes it requires tough love, but it is still loving people.  Shepherding people, nurturing people and leading people – these are all the roles of a pastor. Yes, there are times when we encourage, build up, strengthen and exhort but there are also times where we need to rebuke, correct and bring discipline. This is certainly not the most enjoyable part of our calling but necessary and always with the purpose of bringing restoration and glory to God.

The greatest gift you can give to yourself is that of being a “Listener”.  Be slow to speak.  Generally people just want to be heard.  Sometimes it is just to off load and get frustrations and hurts off their chest. Be quiet and allow the HolySpirit to give you a word of wisdom after they have shared their heart.

Practically speaking I have observed and found for myself that there are 3 elements to pastoring a healthy church.
1. Good, anointed worship.
2. Powerful preaching.  Not sharing.  Not conversational as this can’t be sustained week in and week out.  Dynamic preaching with a strong biblical content is essential.
3. Pastoral care.  This can be achieved through healthy small groups and great leaders.  The pastor himself/or herself may also do some visitation as required.

The Pastor’s role is to identify, empower and release people into their calling. This requires discernment and prayerful wisdom.  It is not to manipulate or control but to equip and release people. Their success will become your success.

I believe pastoring a church needs to be kept simple.  Over complicated structures and systems choke the life out of the church and its people.  Too many programs can become a problem.  You have to maintain these programs with the intensity and passion they require.  Leaders are hard to come by on a long term basis and this is a challenge for any pastor.

Keeping the ministry fresh with a guest speaker on a regular basis will inject a different perspective bringing life and excitement into the overall ministry.  The people require a balanced diet of Word and Worship.  It’s good not to be the same old same old every week.  Be creative!

The ‘shop front’ is Church on Sunday which is extremely important.  This is often the measure or value people put on the ministry.  Hospitable, warm people on the door and in the car park is a good start.  Today our society responds to different things.  The atmosphere of faith and God’s Spirit is what we hunger for.  Worship brings this great sense of God’s presence.  Faith statements from the word of God lift people’s spirit.  Powerful, well thought through prayers build people’s faith levels.  “Expectation is the breeding ground for miracles”.

Décor is important as well. A well-presented, clean auditorium is like your house when a special visitor is invited for dinner.  Get advice on this and do it well.  This can be achieved at little cost.

In my approach to pastoring, I like to address all 5 senses of the human being.

1.  Smell – coffee brewing and maybe some scented candles or plug in scents enhance dialog and fellowship.

2.  Feel/touch with a loving hand shake at the door or a warm arm around the shoulder in greeting is always nice to the recipient (being sensitive to the person on the receiving end). (The bible says to greet one another with a holy kiss!).

3.  Sight – it’s about first impressions.  It’s what people see when they drive in and walk into the facility.  Have good, strong signage out the front with a positive slogan.  Use PowerPoint presentations or worship videos before and after the service. A well-presented stage with appropriate lighting and no clutter is important.  A well-dressed pastor is a given but needs to be stated as there has been a sloppiness that has crept into the pulpit all in the name of “relevance”.

4.  Sound.  It can make or break a meeting.  Not too loud and not to soft.  It needs to punch through without ripping your head off.  Try different styles and genres but always consider the lyrics to be uplifting and God glorifying.  Have a happy atmosphere mixed with a sense of “God is in this place.”  People will leave your church and go to another church based on the music and sound.

5.  Taste – The N.T. church had food as an important part of their ministry.  We too can include this by either having nibbles after the service or once a month putting on a Fellowship lunch after church encouraging members to invite their friends.  Food is imperative, especially with children’s ministry and youth ministry.  A pizza order doesn’t go astray either.  You feed their stomachs and they be more open to be spiritually feed.

It’s important to have product to sell after or before the service as people will want to take home (value added) what they’ve heard, but also a copy to give to a friend who may have missed the service.

At the end of the day, it’s not by might, nor by power but by my Spirit, says the Lord.  We don’t come with eloquence and the wisdom of men, but we come in the power of His Spirit.  The greatest in the Kingdom are the servers.  We serve the people with a heart of integrity – always their best interest at heart.  I encourage people to be planted with their roots down deep and in this they will flourish and be blessed.

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