When we think about effective pastoral ministry, we tend to gravitate toward the major functions of what we do. Giving attention to preaching, how we conduct our worship services, counseling, and church administration are obviously important, and failing in one of those areas can substantially impact one’s ministry. But there are little things that make a different too, and I thought I’d share some random lessons I learned through the years.
Be ignorant about your people’s giving.
I think it is best for pastors not to know who gives what to the church. The IRS does require that churches keep records, and our church photocopied checks each week as part of that record keeping. But I went out of my way to avoid looking. There’s a temptation to treat people differently if we know that they give a little, or if they give a lot, and we can’t do that.
Remind your leaders of the need for confidentiality.
Church leaders discuss many topics, most of which are not even remotely confidential. But confidential discussions do take place, and leaders need to be trustworthy in this area. Board minutes are not intended to be read by the wives of those in leadership. In some cases, people’s privacy and reputation are at stake. Remind your leaders that what happens in leadership meetings stays in leadership meetings, and that they need to make sure documents are not left laying around at home or at church.
Ensure that church finances are a group activity.
If they do not exist, you should lead your church to adopt policies that protect both the church and the financial team from mismanagement and breaches of integrity. There should always be at least two people counting the money, and it would be best to have teams that rotate. While you will likely have one person act as treasurer, that person should not have power to control the church finances. I could tell stories.
Don’t Assume Your People Know How to Read the Bible
Pastors want their people to know the Bible. But statistics show that many believers don’t read their Bible at all. We might blame the lack of Bible reading on laziness, and certainly that can be a factor. But I wonder if part of the reason our adults don’t read the Bible is that we haven’t ever taught them how to do it.
I’m not suggesting that every believer needs a college-level class in hermeneutics. What I am suggesting is that we need to describe what it means to read the Bible for personal profit, and we need to do it often. It can be done as an aside in a sermon, in a bulletin insert, or on your church website. You may be surprised at how many of your people struggle with Bible reading because they don’t know what they’re supposed to be looking for. Help them!
That’s a pretty random set of topics, isn’t it? But they came up in conversations or in my own thinking and might be of help to you. Have a great day!