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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Keys for Churches Aspiring Long-Term Ministries

1 Thessalonians 5:12&13—12But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, 13and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another.
1. Pray for Your Preacher: He is a target for the devil. You have a responsibility before God to hold your preacher in prayer, and seek God's protection over his life. Assure him of your love and prayers and as you do your part faithfully, the Lord will lead and guide, and strengthen him for his important work. This is the greatest gift you can give him. 
2. Be Reasonable in Your Expectations: Too many people expect the preacher to be everything from all the shepherding & evangelistic calls to editing materials & teaching classes to doing secretarial, janitorial, and lawn care work. God has given specific instructions about what a preacher is supposed to be. Let him be it, and protect the calling and anointing God has placed upon his life. Allow him to carry out his function without frustration. 
3. Be Team Players: Forget about the old game of Us vs. Them. Accept the preacher as a part of the leadership of the church. Consider him and equal among the Elders. 
4. Let Your Preacher Dream His Own Dreams and Let Him Lead: Expect that your preacher will have a vision for the future and don't expect it to be necessarily tied to the past. It may be something completely new. Pray that God would make that vision clear, not just to the preacher but to all the leaders and that when it is made clear that there would be an effort of unity to move toward that vision. Give him your allegiance; follow him as he follows Christ. He needs your support. 
5. Hold onto the Vision: Once the leadership team has prayed, sought, and caught God's vision for the church hang onto it tightly and never waiver. 
6. Handle Conflict Quickly: Use the Biblical pattern of Matthew 18:15-17. Don't immediately side with whoever is against the preacher. Just because they've been there forever and the preacher hasn't doesn't make them right.
7. Commit to Stand with Him through Hard Times: You know hard times and difficult times eventually come, conflict is inevitable in most places, because we are human beings. Be committed to the preacher for the long haul. 
8. Don't Let the Critic Run the Church: Christ is the head of the church and has placed the leadership team in their position, given them His vision for the church, and the Holy Spirit to lead and guide them through prayer and Bible Study. Remind the critic of this and the fact that they are to make carrying out leadership a joy and not a burden. 
9. Compensate Him Appropriately: Preachers and their families have the same financial needs as everyone else in the congregation. In fact, they often have more expenses, because of the needs of visiting people and ministering to them. Consider selling or renting the parsonage and allow the minister to buy a home in the community and not only establish roots but also build up equity. 
10. Give Him a Concise Job Description and Contract, and Stick with It: Your preacher must know what is expected of him and it must not be added to without mutual agreement. Sign a contract with him, one that both parties are to fulfill and not renege on. 
11. Keep Him Appraised of Opportunities to Minister: Don't expect mystical premonitions. Keep the preacher informed about the various needs in the church family. 
12. Assist Your Preacher in Ministry: Volunteer to accompany your preacher on visits or Bible studies. Cut out and share articles and illustrations to enhance the messages from the pulpit. Give him/her a copy of your favorite book, or a gift certificate to the closest Bible bookstore. 
13. Take Your Own Spiritual Growth Seriously: He wants to hear is that you are growing in your walk with Christ. This is why he is in ministry, he wants to see people come to Christ and grow in Christ. He takes your spiritual growth seriously and one of the greatest encouragements to him is to see you taking it as seriously as he does. 
14. Allow the Preacher to Have a Life Outside of Church: Respect his day off, encourage him to take all of his vacation, and allow him to go home to be with him family on special occasions and holidays. 
15. Respect His Privacy and Time: So often, being a preacher is a 24-hour a day job. Granted, there are always emergencies that come up at the most inopportune times, but remember he needs time to study, time to pray, time to rest, and time to be with his family. 
16. Let Your Preacher and His Wife Know You Appreciate Them: A kind, or encouraging word, a card, or even a small gift will work wonders to build up your pastor and help him to continue in the calling God has given him. 
17. Take the Initiative in Communicating with the Preacher's Family: Invite them home for dinner. At times, include them in some of your family trips and excursions of fun. Make sure the church family remembers the preacher on special occasions, such as Christmas, birthdays, and farewell events. Let them find in you a harbor of love and acceptance. In this atmosphere, strive to help them succeed as the Savior's ambassadors. 
18. Let Him Be Himself: Expect differences from anyone and everyone who has ever been in this position before. If he is unusually funny, great—if they are unusually serious, that's okay too. Just let him be who he is by the grace of God. Appreciate his uniqueness as a person. 
19. Care for the Preacher's Wife: They are often the unsung heroes. They are most often overlooked. Let her be herself. Don't anticipate a certain personality type. Don't expect that she will necessarily invest herself in ministry here. Don't expect her to be doing particular ministries or be like former preacher's wife. Just love her into finding her place. 
20. Develop a Genuine, Authentic Relationship with Your Preacher: Not one of facades. Sincerely assure them that you are their friend. Be inclusive and don't treat them as unapproachable. This will develop a community of love that is recognized as a unique, warm, innovative church family.

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