Everyday ministry can feel a lot different than what we studied in seminary.
I’ve often joked about how seminary doesn’t actually prepare you for the real job of ministry. My undergrad taught me the languages, how to exegete, how to preach and how to think Biblically. After a few year’s of full time ministry I started thinking of an MDiv and was expecting something far different from the professional degree for pastors.
What I found in ministry was the demand to know how to deal with loans and interest rates, how to plan and execute events, staff leadership and conflict resolution. Not more hours of the languages. I say this in jest and fully support the pursuit of higher theological and ministry related education. My point however stands, the everyday ministry can feel a lot different than what we studied in Seminary.
So how do you lead in these various realms and what are some of the rules to apply? Let me share what I have learned over the years.
Becoming a Resourceful Generalist:
- Read everything. You are going to have to break away from Crossway and Holman for a few hours a week and read some blogs. I read constantly on topics of technology, urban development, my local Metropolitan area. I even read about the trends and business world affecting my region. It is amazing what you can pick up from other disciplines that not only apply to ministry they help in numerous ways.
- Talk shop. I know the temptation when you get coffee or lunch with members is to reinforce their commitment to the church and make sure they are fully invested but don’t. Take advantage of that time to learn their trade. I have been so encouraged and learned so much speaking with members about the medical industry, teaching and the struggles teachers face, insurance corporation and specifically leadership development there as well as the struggles (so similar) of city management. The people who make up your church know a great deal about a great deal. Learn from that.
- Ask questions. The smartest people in the room know how to ask the most basic questions. Before I make any sort of decision affecting the church in general I ask questions. Over time I have developed a contact list of people to go to if I have a question on real estate, finance, banking, education, leadership development and other overarching disciplines. Most are not members of my church family and many are not even versed in the ‘church world’, all are terribly sharp. If you will seek out advice you will find it.
I don’t know many pastors that are not learners. We enjoy knowing. This is a good thing. My only challenge to you is to learn to redirect that learning outside of what is sometimes called the Christian bubble. Seminary, posts from Thom Rainer, and the like are invaluable but they should not be the only source of wit and wisdom you pick up along the way.
Published January 12, 2016