8 Things I Loved Doing as a Pastor

In three posts I wrote about 6 Things I LOVED Hearing as a Pastor7 Things I HATED Hearing as a Pastor, and 5 Things I Hated DOING as a Pastor. In today’s post I want to explore 8 Things I Loved DOING as a Pastor.

8 Things I Loved Doing as a Pastor

1. Visiting the hospital. I know that some pastors dread making hospital visits, but I always viewed it as a highlight of my day. In addition to giving me a reason to get out of the office for a few hours, a hospital visit provided a unique opportunity to get to know church members and their families. It created lasting bonds and heightened sensitivity to pastoral ministry and presentations of the Gospel.

It created lasting bonds…”

2. Meetings. Although I didn’t love EVERY meeting, in general, I looked forward to getting together with deacons, committees, staff, and teams to talk about the work of the church. In these meetings I got to know church members better and I got to hear their heart. It gave me a chance to cast vision and shape the thoughts of key church leaders.

3. The Lord’s Supper. Administering and serving the Lord’s Supper was one of the most sacred duties I experienced as a pastor. The graphic symbolism of the bread (body of Christ) and the cup (blood of Christ) always moved me to gratitude and humility.

…one of the most sacred duties I experienced as a pastor.”

4. Baptism. Similar to the Lord’s Supper, baptizing a new believer was a time of great joy! I never got tired of explaining the purpose and symbolism of baptism to new Christians of all ages. To be a part of such an important moment in a person’s spiritual life was a pastoral privilege beyond words.

5. Funerals. It may seem strange to list “funerals” here, but don’t misunderstand. I hated to see church members lose loved-ones and face grief, but I treasured the opportunity to minister to them during this time.

6. Preparing to teach/preach. The process of preparing to teach and preach each week helped me to be disciplined in my Bible study and to grow in Christ. I learned far more each week than I could ever include in the sermon on Sunday.

7. Pastoring children. I never served as a Children’s Pastor, but I loved being the Senior Pastor of a church full of children. I loved watching them sing occasionally in the service, grow up, and come to faith in Christ. I especially enjoyed talking with children when their parents would bring them by to see “their” pastor.

8. Making Disciples. I always had a private list of several men that I was trying to help grow towards spiritual maturity. They rarely knew they were on my list, but one of my greatest joys as a pastor was walking through life with them and helping them become more like Jesus.

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KEYs to Revitalization

Key

Dr. Gary L. McIntosh published an excellent book aimed at Church Revitalization called There’s Hope for Your Church. In the book, he examines the irreplaceable role that pastoral leadership plays when it comes to church revitalization. I agree with Dr. McIntosh when he says….

“In order for a church to be revitalized, the pastor is the key!”

2 Keys to revitalization

1. Leadership. In chapter two, McIntosh discusses consultant Ken Priddy’s belief that two types of pastors exist: a revitalization pastor and a revitalization leader. A revitalization pastor sees the church as his client while the revitalization leader sees God as his client. A revitalization pastor views himself as an employee of the church while a revitalization leader sees himself as being called by God to lead the church where God wants it to go. Revitalization leaders expect to encounter resistance and are willing to lead without affirmation and often with pain.

“For churches to transition into a new era of ministry, courageous, godly leadership is paramount.”  Terry Walling

2. Longevity. One of the main reasons most pastors are not successful in bringing about revitalization is that they simply don’t stay long enough. The average tenure of a senior or solo pastor in the United States is 3.8 years. McIntosh says that it takes 5-7 years to revitalize a church in the city and 10-12 years to revitalize a rural church. The bottom line is that revitalization leaders stay!

The average tenure of a senior or solo pastor in the United States is 3.8 years . . . The bottom line is that revitalization leaders stay!

McIntosh warns that it is possible for a pastor to stay too long. In his experience, if the church has not experienced revitalization within 10-12 years of the pastor’s tenure, it is not going to happen. Although there are exceptions, the average pastor’s ministry tends to lose momentum after 10 years. After 10 years, the original vision the pastor had for the church has most likely been accomplished, and then the church flounders, searching for a new direction. Some pastors are able to re-envision their life and ministry for another 10 years in the same church, but some cannot and find it best to move to another ministry.

4 Life Lessons from Hiking

The last few years, Laura and I have become interested in hiking. We don’t plan to thru-hike the Appalachian or the Pacific Crest trail anytime soon–we mainly focus on day hiking. As a result, we enjoy the trail with very little planning and minimal cost. I’ve noticed that there are a lot of similarities between hiking and everyday life.

4 Hiking Lessons

1. Good equipment helps. Good hiking shoes, trekking poles, and backpacks make hiking more enjoyable and hikers more proficient. Likewise equipping ourselves as pastors, disciples, church members, and/or parents makes all the difference. We don’t know what we don’t know, so it helps to be equipped with new knowledge and abilities.

“We don’t know what we don’t know…”

2. Sometimes you hike uphill. We love trails that have lots of climbing. We seek them out when we plan. It’s great exercise to make your way up a long, challenging climb. It’s so rewarding when you reach the top. Life often seems like a long, challenging climb. Christians are not exempt from difficulty. Those difficult life moments often shape us into better people and mold us into more dedicated Christians.

3. Sometimes you hike downhill. Trails that go up eventually come down. Going downhill is easier, but not without challenge. You can easily lose your footing because you are moving faster and with little resistance. Going downhill can lead to a lack of concentration and focus which usually ends poorly. Life is a lot like going downhill. When things are going well and success seems easy we often make quick and uninformed decisions that cause us to fall. “Downhill” makes us feel invincible which leads to decisions laced with arrogance. Solomon warned us that “Pride comes before destruction and an arrogant spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18, HCSB).

“Downhill makes us feel invincible which leads to decisions laced with arrogance.”

4. You can do more than you think. Now that we are hikers, we’ve climbed hills we never imagined that we could. Slowly, steadily, step after step–eventually we reach the top! I’ve watched several YouTube channels of men and women who thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail. When they finished the 2,181-mile trek, they were amazed they covered the entire distance on foot. One guy said, “It blows my mind to think that I just walked from Georgia to Maine!” We should dream big and shoot high in life and in Christ! Through Him and over time we can do more than we could ever imagine (Phil 4:13).

A Real Bullseye

A little boy got a real bow and arrow for his 10th birthday and immediately went outside to practice in his yard. A few minutes later his father stepped outside to check how he was doing and was amazed to see a dozen arrows dead in the center of a dozen different bull’s-eyes that were painted on the trees in the backyard.

“That’s astounding, Son! You just got that bow a few minutes ago. How do you manage to hit a bullseye every time?” “Easy, Dad. First I shoot the arrow. Then wherever it lands, I paint circles around it!”

…wherever it lands, I paint circles around it!

That’s a cute story, but a deeper lesson is easy to find. I have found that many live theirs lives exactly that way. Instead of aiming for the targets of life set forth by the Bible, they draw circles around their own lifestyles and call it a bullseye. As a preacher, I must strive to preach the truth of the Bible without compromise. When this is done, we know where to aim in life.

As a preacher, I must strive to preach the truth of the Bible without compromise.

As Christians, we should stand for what’s right! We should stand for the truths in the Bible. I believe if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything! With that in mind, let’s stand for what we know is right even when others don’t understand. I like the way the Apostle Paul said it in Philippians 3….

Instead of aiming for the targets of life set forth by the Bible, they draw circles around their own lifestyles and call it a bullseye. 

“I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 3:14

Paul did not say, “I’m not pressing toward anything in particular . . . I’m just drawing a bullseye around my lifestyle.” Paul didn’t say, “I press toward what this cultural deems acceptable.” Paul didn’t say, “I press toward what would make me appear to be a really super nice guy!” No! Paul said, “I press toward the mark!”

This mark had been set forth for Paul by the Lord. Our marks are given to us in God’s Word. Take a solid stand on God’s Word, but be nice about it!

The Chick-fil-A Church

Original Sandwich MobileThe average church could learn a lot from Chick-fil-A. Every time I drop by our local Chick-fil-A for lunch, I have a wonderful experience. Good food, great service, fair prices! Their mission statement is simple, “Be America’s Best Quick-Service Restaurant!” The founder, Truett Cathy, may well have fulfilled that statement.

THINGS THAT CHICK-FIL-A DOES RIGHT

  • Clean and neat. The restaurant is landscaped, clean, and bright. The atmosphere makes me comfortable and relaxed from the beginning.
  • Friendly, prompt service. The employees who take my order make eye contact, smile, welcome me, and process my order perfectly.
  • Generous. Before the pandemic, condiments were available at the condiment station and I was trusted to get the amount I needed. A whole basket of delicious mints were available for the taking. (Note: I only took one.)
  • Great product. Of course, the main reason I go to the restaurant is to eat. Their food is always hot, tasty, neatly packaged, and delivered with a smile.
  • Customer-oriented. Let me tell you what happened one day when I was there. After my meal, I walked to the counter to get a refill of their delicious sweet tea. At that particular moment everyone was busy, but a gentleman who was wiping off a table saw me, stopped what he was doing, quickly came up and said, “Sir, could I get you a refill.” I really don’t think it was his job to refill my tea, but he left what he was doing to serve a customer. After I thanked him, he said, “It’s my pleasure sir.” I’m sorry, but that was just flat impressive!

I’m not going to bother trying to make an application to the church because I think the application is obvious. I repeat, the average church could learn a lot from Chick-fil-A.

For more help with assimilation, see The 3-Minute Rule.