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?
Posted on November 15, 2021
With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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I am 83 and now retired because of major health issues.
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Thank you for your faithful ministry, Woodrow.
Response to article on Christian Post, advise to Pastors. . .
Repent of voting for godless, wicked and evil men like Donald Trump.
Repent of voting for godless, wicked and evil Republican leaders.
Use the collection plate to help the homeless and the poor.
Cease and desist condemning homosexuals.
Encourage members to help house and feed the poor.
Nothing will change for the better until Evangelicals at least do the numbered above.
How can I start a new Church ?
I would add to the comment about family – being comfortable taking a break or leaving fully trusting that since this is Gods church, God will always take care of His church with or without us.
Its also quite possible I’m writing this out of hurt:
I am not a pastor, but have served in a number of leadership positions. All of the items mentioned are very good. However, as one who is in the 4th quarter of life, I would commend an additional item for consideration. Many members my age cannot do the things they did years ago; but we still desire to serve in a manner commensurate with how God has gifted us. I would encourage pastors to find practical ways senior members can still serve meaningfully. Don’t tell us “You can pray.” Rather, say “Please call Alex and pray with him about his wife.” Or tell us “would you write an encouraging note to these folks?” While I do not mean to minimize the importance of prayer, it is important to our sense of well-being to be asked to do more than “just pray” – Give us the Prayer Plus Challenge (pastor, fill in the “Plus” blank based on the needs of your own church) is so much better for all concerned. And don’t be shy to ask a senior member to help in a financial way to meet a particular need. A number of seniors are in a stronger position financially to help in that way than younger members with growing families.
Well said, Coleman.
Thank you! An awesome reiminder that all the saints are gifted, needed, and to be appreciated.
Amen and Amen…
Hypothetical and thinking aloud ahead. Not what I believe but what I see as possible in some circumstances.
Point 2 presents an interesting conundrum, the on the fence member may hop off the fence and away from the church if they feel disrespected or unappreciated. While that saves the energy of the pastor, what might the overall impact be on the church? Some could see the greater attention to the more committed members as an attempt to skew the membership in a certain direction, almost like creating a club as opposed to a church. Likewise, a pastor could present the appearance that those who are “put together” are the ones that are welcome.
You do point out that it is a balancing act but I can imagine having to check the temperature of the church and see how they perceive the pastor’s actions more frequently, there is no benefit to disaffect someone unintentionally.
Good points, Lee.
Wonderful, to me i see like those are the very things i am also aiming to do in 2022
Thank you, Okello.
I would add an eighth critical area to that list–pastors’ own mental health. We tend to give more attention to our physical health than our mental health and don’t like to admit that we may be experience energy-draining symptoms of depression. However, the stresses with which pastors and other church leaders have faced in 2020 and 2021 are the the kind of stresses that trigger depression. I believe that pastors would benefit from being a part of a local pastors support group, as well as consulting individual with someone who has experience in mental health counseling. There will be a temptation to bring into aa local pastors support group issues that are causing the stress, e.g., politics, face masks, vaccination, etc., but they should be kept out of the group meetings since they make the support group group a source of stress too. This suggests that the support roup may need to bring in a mental health profession to run the group or work with it.