Contributed by David Horita, PhD, Regional Director, Fellowship Pacific, Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches in Canada.
It was Monday morning. Bright, sunny, and pleasant. As I looked forward to my week of ministry, I envisioned spending the rest of Monday carefully crafting a sermon for the upcoming Sunday. As a relative newcomer to sermon preparation, I wanted to give enough time to ensure the sermon was exegetically accurate and practically relevant. So, I probably would want to block out a bit of Tuesday for that as well.
Wednesday I could begin getting a little ahead of the sermon trajectory by laying out a bit of the following Sunday’s message. It was a bit foggy as to how to make Thursday productive. As for Friday, perhaps I ought to try and find someone to visit. Or maybe not. Maybe there was something better to do that I couldn’t currently think of. Possibly I could just stare at the wall a little bit longer and I would have a revelation as to what exactly I was really supposed to do with my time.
If the previous two paragraphs sound vaguely familiar, it is likely because they resemble most of our first weeks and days of ministry as a solo lead pastor. While we had a great seminary experience and acquired a number of important skills, once we got on the ground in a local church, we realized that we didn’t really know how to structure our week for maximum Kingdom impact and church health.
At that point, one of two things happen. Either we start to think strategically about what priorities need to be implemented and structure ministry accordingly, or we let the priorities and agendas of the individuals around us clog up the arteries of long-term successful ministry. Don’t miss this: it will not take long for your days and nights to fill up with events, people, meetings, and ministries. Once that happens, it will take a really long time to sort out what really matters and gives a good Kingdom return on investment, and what is just a waste of time.
So let me make one recommendation about what to do on your first week of ministry. Take the time to read Paul Borden’s book Make or Break Your Church in 365 Days. It will take about a day to read and set you on a meaningful path for good use of your time. You probably won’t like reading the book, because it will seem too programmed for you. Likely you will not want to implement it in the way that Borden suggests. The good news is that it doesn’t matter if you like it or follow every suggestion. Regardless, the book will open your eyes to the practical realities of beginning pastoral life, and point you to some critical practices that will benefit your church and the mission of Christ for a long time to come.
Borden makes recommendations on how to use your week in prayer, meetings with community leaders, development of leaders, consulting with ministry heads, maximizing of meal times, and many other basic realities. Most of them you will already know. Some of the ideas you will have never thought about.
Incidentally, a lot of Borden’s ideas are helpful for the experienced pastor as well.
Bottom line: what do you have to lose? Try it. The worst that happens is that you go back to staring at a wall wondering how long you can prolong your sermon prep.
Posted: September 16, 2019