Church work is never done. There's so much to do with seemingly not enough time to fit everything in. The urgent constantly seeks to crowd out the important. We often question whether all our efforts are truly effective. So, what's a Senior Minister or Pastor to do? The leaders of the early church faced the same challenge:
"In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, "It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word (Acts 6:1-4 NIV)."
Their response indicates that they had clearly determined their priorities and how they believed God wanted them to spend their time. This enabled them to say "No" to this urgent matter so as not to neglect the important work God had uniquely called them to do. Therefore, they chose to delegate this task out to others within the church community.
If you are a Senior Minister, do you know what your priorities are? Do you know what you should delegate and what you should not? Here are some extremely important tasks that I believe a Senior Minister should give his or her attention to:
1. Vision. You should take time to wait upon God and receive a clear vision for your church and then be the primary vision-caster to the congregation concerning God's purposes. The early church leaders gave themselves to the priority of 'prayer'.
Here are some vital questions you need to answer:
- What are we here for and where are we going (Vision)?
- Who are we and what's important (Values)?
- How will we accomplish our vision (Program)?
- What do we plan to do in the next three to five years (Strategic Plan)?
- What are our specific objectives this year (Goals)?
- How will we resource our vision (Budget)?
- Are we growing in both quality and quantity ("Vital Signs")?
- What do our people think and feel about the church (Surveys)?
- What is God saying to us right now (Prophetic Perspective)?
- Have we got spiritual momentum (Passion)?
2. Preaching. You should take a primary role in the spiritual feeding of the congregation. The early church leaders gave themselves to the priority of 'the ministry of God's Word'.
Here are some key questions:
- What areas of the Christian life does your church need to grow in (Teaching Plan)?
- What are the greatest needs in your congregation and your community?
- Who else has the gift of teaching (Teaching Team)?
3. Leadership. You should take the primary leadership role in selecting, training and coaching the other church leaders. The early church leaders spent time releasing ministry to other leaders.
Here are some key questions:
- How are we governed (Decision-Making Process)?
- How is the church organised (Structure)?
- What is each leadership group supposed to do (Roles and Expectations)?
- How are our ministries doing (Evaluation)?
4. External Relationships. You should create vital links with other churches, ministries and organisations outside your local congregation. Be aware of what God is doing and saying in the wider body of Christ through developing external relationships and attending strategic events. The early church leaders spent time gathering with other key leaders to discuss important issues (Acts 15).
5. Church Culture. You are responsible to intentionally create a culture conducive to the ongoing health and growth of the congregation. Ultimately, each church will be a reflection of the personality of its senior leadership. You be what you want your people to be. We reproduce "after our kind". The Apostle Paul said, "Follow me, as I follow Christ" (1 Cor.11:1).
Many of these tasks can be done with teams or in partnership with other leaders, but the Senior Minister should be the driving force and leader in each responsibility. Any tasks other that those listed above can be delegated out to others, including pastoral care and administration.
This is what I believe God requires of the Senior Minister. When you focus on these tasks, it gives the church the greatest return. Hopefully, this is what you are gifted to do and doing these tasks will keep you motivated and give you great fulfillment.