The conversations can be discouraging these days. Declining attendance. Conversions down. The great resignation. Closing churches.
Indeed, I have been one of the negative voices speaking about these topics. While my motivation has been to warn rather than discourage, I know the regular conversation of negativity can be disheartening.
Let’s flip the switch. Let’s take a trip five years into the future and look at what successful pastors did over those years. By “successful,” I mean pastors who led churches faithfully, reached their communities, and consistently made disciples. I am not speaking of numerical growth, though numerical growth would often accompany churches led by these pastors.
This exercise is not one of prophetic utterances. Instead, it’s a combination of biblical faithfulness, common sense, and how the pastors have responded during and since the pandemic. We’ve learned a lot from these leaders, and I think we will continue to learn from them as they manifest these seven traits.
- They did not forsake or forget the importance of prayer. These pastors are leaders of prayer. They pray personally. They lead their churches to embrace the priority and importance of prayer. Acts 6:4 is a true reflection of their leadership approach and priority.
- They brought back the priority of evangelism. The last words of Jesus on earth were a command to be witnesses (Acts 1:8). These pastors did not go the path of many church leaders, forsaking and forgetting evangelism. It is sadly amazing how many Christians and churches don’t think it’s important to share the good news of Christ.
- They dealt with toxicity promptly. I have never known a pastor who confronted toxic members in the church who thinks it was done too quickly. The typical response is, “I should have done this a long time ago.”
- They had grit. Serving as a pastor is tough work. One pastor with long tenure told me, “I get up in the morning and do my calling as a pastor. Then I go to bed, wake up the next day, and do it again.” This pastor is persistent. This pastor has tenacity. This pastor has grit.
- They loved their community more deeply and tried to serve and reach the residents more urgently. I absolutely love how more pastors realize that they don’t just pastor a church; they pastor a community. The pastors who succeed five years from now will have deeply connected to the communities in which their churches are located.
- They rediscovered joy. Ministry can seem like it’s one critic and naysayer after another. Successful pastors five years from now will still see the joy of their calling every day. They might even discover a bit more levity.
- They took faith risks. These pastors knew they could not plan everything. They understood they had to expect the unexpected. And they knew they had to lead their churches into new and exciting endeavors and areas.
Let’s see who is still around and thriving in pastoral ministry in 2027. I am willing to say with some confidence that it will be pastors who had these seven traits.
What do you think?
Posted on May 2, 2022
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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