I believe in leadership, strategy, planning, addressing problems, and implementing mission and vision. I also believe in tracking metrics and addressing issues I discover when they are going the wrong way. As a Senior Pastor, there was also another very important part of my ministry – my fallback position. I always had a fallback position that I went to that helped me (and the church) in significant and long-term ways. It was being a people’s pastor. It helped me stay balanced, true to my own call, and almost always strengthened the church. I have long believed preachers should preach 6, 8, even 10 “I am your pastor sermons” for every prophetic sermon we preach.
In any season, one where it was a season of difficulty for me, for the church, or for the community and the world the church is in, falling back to the basics of being a pastor of people was the key strategy that helped me lead all size churches for almost 40 years. It was the one time I was always clear it was the right thing to do. It was the foundation of strategy, building a team, laying out a message series, stewardship, even growing the church. It was absolutely the key to leading a church long-term – and I led one for 21 years. I am convinced without my concept of being a pastor to people that I would not have had the success I had or been able to lead a church and keep my calling in clarity.
I led from my role as a pastor. It was always my fall back place no matter what else was happening.
No matter how big my church got, I still did pastoral care. This balanced my life, set a sense of what the church was and our relationship, and always paid positive dividends in the future for relationships that are so essential to leading a church.
I also think when someone is new in leading a church, prioritizing this role will help them build relationships and set a strong foundation for their own long-term leadership.
As I have not been in the trenches these last few years, it has allowed me to process the important things that undergirded a successful ministry. I realize that for me, it was not losing sight that I was a pastor to people when I was pastoring a church with an average attendance of 25, and when I was pastoring a church with an average attendance of 2650.
My first day in ministry, I acted as a pastor and did some pastoral care. My last day as pastor in a church, I acted as a pastor and did some pastoral care.
If I were leading a church in a season of pandemic, a politically divided season, a season where the denomination was fractured, I would prioritize being a pastor to people. It would help me survive, the church survive, and it would lay a foundation for the church to thrive.
My fallback position is being a pastor to people.