How can I make this work?
After a minister has settled the question about his calling to ministry and assignment to serve a local congregation, the next question of importance is what to do now. The answer to the first question provides a motivation to serve and analyze the context and immediate needs of the congregation. Looking at a church in context leads to finding helpful information to understand the context and demographics of the church. Any contextual ministry occurring will be preceded with a plan that addresses the question of what needs to be done, but also how and when will ministry take place. The pastor of a family chapel congregation is a solitary staff member, with little structure to work with, and few people to aid in the task of ministry. Therefore, understanding what needs to be done and what can be done places needs and ideals into a usable form. Indeed, the task of ministry without a plan can lead to an overwhelming sense of frustration about how to meet the expectations of ministry need. Without an attainable plan, pastoral ministry may leave the minister feeling exhausted, frustrated, and unable to meet the needs that face the small church body.
1. Study Your Congregation and Identify What is Needed
A place to start is to develop a need identification process that addresses your congregation’s present and future ministry needs. A plan may need looking outside the box and identifying areas that go beyond commonly understood ministry goals. For instance, begin by looking at the age-group distinction of your membership and attendees and identify their spiritual needs. Another part of the answer relates to understanding how age group or culture group needs indicate ministry tasks that need to be implemented to address individuals or groups. Consequently, an evaluation of the congregational context and church culture will help identify ministry needs, as well as, suggesting methodology to provide pastoral ministry. Need identification suggests how ministry can be offered in ways that are indigenous to the person or the church body by using approaches focused upon the spiritual needs. In fact, congregational ministry is going to have the greatest effect when pastoral ministry is provided to the needs of a congregation rather than an ideal held or within a program function. Knowing the information will help you plan ministry effectively.
2. Organize Tasks For Ministry Effectiveness.
Church ministry works best when strategic ministry is organized into a system of identified tasks to manage effective workflow in ministry efforts. Taking the task apart and re-assembling the work into manageable bites assists in creating manageable ministry delivery. Considering how time is used is an important function of ministry; if the efforts are going to be effective time management allocates priority scheduling for ministry. One consideration about how time is used is that ministry to the congregation, which brings the ministry of presence to the congregation and community served in an effective way. Deciding on how to best see the most people with the least amount of time between calls is a part of the management task of pastoral ministry.
3. Developing Programming For Pastoral Care
In the Family Chapel Church, the ministry of presence includes programming and special events throughout the year. Every pastor can use the calendar to plan events, which focus on pastoral care. In fact, the practice of planning preaching that addresses ministry need, interest, and special times of the year can be an effective way to be a caregiver. Using the church calendar and working with other leaders through the year can be a method of involving others in the caring ministry of the church. Special programs may target personal and spiritual development, family life, improving relationships, grief management, finance management, discipleship, and prayer among many others. Using group process in planning caring events can be an excellent way of developing caring skills. Persons may realize that caring is a ministry of the church and not the exclusive domain of the pastor and begin to use their spiritual gifts to minster to the body.
4. Understand Your Role in Pastoral Ministry
Knowing where you fit in small church ministry is a hard task for most pastors. I can honestly say that this is crucial to many jobs, but especially true in the small rural church. When pastors look in the mirror, they may see a preacher, a leader, or an evangelist. However, if he does not see a servant, the leader does not see his role clearly. A servant, not a doormat, is not to walk on, but to lead by example and empowering others with opportunities to serve and being a model of faith. As I have cited before, most rural Family Chapels see the pastor as a Chaplain, not an executive leader. While that may bother some people to realize, if the pastor does not understand the shepherding task of pastoral ministry, the sheep that have been assigned to be cared for will not receive the opportunity to grow in Christ. If you find yourself in one of these churches and are wondering, what your role is going to look like, look at Jesus and you will find the answer –servant of all