Resurrected Living
"What are you going to do with your new resurrected life? This is the heroic question." Richard Rohr

6 Practices that Encourage Long Term Ministry

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Many Christians are concerned about church growth, but instead of focusing on church growth, Christians should first focus on creating and fostering healthy churches that people want to be a part of. No one wants to be a part of a community that is unhealthy or immature. People want to be a part of a community that is stable, supportive, giving, and one that helps them grow and mature into the image of Christ. There are many factors that go into creating and maintaining a healthy congregation, but I believe one of the most significant is long term leadership.

Longevity in ministry needs to be dealt with both at the ministerial and the congregational level. Some ministers are seeking more money, a more prestigious position, or a congregation they believe has less problems. These ministers jump from position to position, never staying at one congregation for very long. Some congregations have problems and do not intend to do anything about them, do not fully support the minister and his family, or are always looking for the next best thing. These congregations are pushing the minister out the door shortly after they hire him. If long term ministry is going to take place, both the minister and the congregation need to be on board. Long term ministry can be a blessing to both the minister and the congregation.

Here are 6 practices that encourage long term ministry.

Understand It’s More Than a Job – The congregation needs to understand that they are doing more than hiring a person to fill a position. They are inviting a person to join their family. The minister is going to be the person who stands by your side when you lose a loved one or go to the hospital. He is going to be the person you see when problems mount up and you have nowhere else to turn. Ministry is an intimate thing at times. Hiring a minister is different than hiring someone to work a 9 to 5. If the congregation treats the minister as nothing more than an employee, then the minister will have no problem leaving that congregation, just as your average worker would have no problem leaving his or her secular job.

The minister needs to understand that the congregation has hired him to be a leader. They have given him a special responsibility that requires him to be mature, honest, and truthful. The minister needs to set up certain boundaries, but he must also be more open and available than your average employee. The minister must love and take care of his own family, but he must also be there for his church family. The minister must find a way to carefully balance the two. He has been given a responsibility and he must not jeopardize it by taking it too lightly.

Be Open About Your Expectations – Both the minister and the congregation need to be open about their expectations during the hiring process and beyond. The congregation needs to make it known they are seeking a long term minister. They need to look for someone that is not only a good minister, but also someone who is a good fit for their congregation. They need to ask anyone trying out what their plans for the future are. They need to ask them why they think their town and their congregation is right for them. Once a minister has been hired they will need to bring up expectations again every few years to make sure the two parties are not going in opposite directions.

When interviewing for a position ministers need to explain why they believe long term ministry is important. They need to find out if the congregation has thought about this and if it is something they are interested in. Ministers not only need to look at the congregation, but they also need to consider the town. They need to ask themselves if this is a place they want to live and raise their children. If it is not, then long term ministry will be difficult. Ministers must continue to ask about expectations once they are hired. They must make sure they are meeting the expectations of the congregation, and they must hold the congregation accountable to the expectations they have promised to keep.

Grow Together – The best thing a minister and congregation can do to insure a fruitful and long term ministry is grow together. Once a minister or congregation stops growing this invites one to become displeased or frustrated with the other. Stagnation is toxic to long term ministry. The minister and church leadership must assist the congregation in growing and maturing in Christ, and the congregation must be willing to go along. The minister must also be open to listening and learning from the members. The minister is not the only teacher within the congregation. Ministers can often learn much from other members who have spent a lifetime studying their Bibles. The relationship of growth must be mutual. It must go both ways.

Serve Together – Just as the minister and congregation should grow together, they should also serve together. Jesus, the greatest leader of all time, was a person whose life was devoted to serving others (Matt. 20:26-28; Philippians 2:5-8). Serving together brings people together. It allows people to form bonds and strengthen ones that were already present. When the task of serving gets out of balance within a congregation this can lead to trouble. If a minister is doing all the work and not getting any help, then he will be tempted to leave. If a congregation cannot get the minister to serve, then they will be tempted to look for another minister. The minister and the congregation must work at serving side by side.

Be Willing to Face Difficult Situations Together – Ministers and congregations will face difficult situations and they must be willing to do this together. They must view each difficult situation as an opportunity to grow closer. When times get tough the leadership must stand up for the minister and the minister must always speak well of the leadership. Do not allow rifts to form during hard times. If the issue involves sin, then deal with it. Do not ignore sin and allow the problem to grow until it eventually gets out of hand. Part of being a healthy congregation is having forgiving and repenting hearts. Difficult situations will test the minister and the congregation, but they are not a cause for divorce.

Share the Right Goals – The minister and congregation need to do more than share the same goals. They need to share the right goals. The Biblical goals that foster long term ministry are maturity in Christ and developing a healthy community of believers. When the minister and congregation are both working towards these goals it makes it much easier for long term ministry to take place.

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One Response to “6 Practices that Encourage Long Term Ministry”

  1. This is a great article! We are fortunate to be at a church where they believe in hiring long-term ministers. I would not want to bounce around from place to place nor would I want to attend a church that had new people on staff every other year or so. I really appreciate this read! Great post! 🙂


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