Sunday, 10 August 2008

Habits of effective ministers

A couple of weeks ago, our pastoral care group discussed the five habits of effective ministers. An effective minister is someone who remains in full-time, "professional" ministry until retirement (they don't burn out), has a sense of purposefulness in their ministry (they're not grumpy, miserable and constantly stressed), and has a balanced personal and family life (neither they nor their family are falling to pieces). Studies show that ministers who exhibit these characteristics tend to:
1. Be committed to lifelong learning – informally (personal research, personal projects etc); non-formally (workshops, seminars, conferences); and formally (higher degrees, continuing professional education etc);
2. Make leadership selection and mentoring is a priority – both being mentored, and mentoring emerging leaders;
3. Have a dynamic ministry philosophy, or personal mission statement, which normally emerges in their mid to late 30s;
4. Repeatedly and regularly renew their personal life with God, which overflows into the rest of their life and ministry;
5. See their ministry in terms of their whole life, and sense the providential hand of God upon them. They have a “growing awareness” of a “sense of destiny”.
This all intuitively makes sense. There seems to be a lot of wisdom in it.
But - is it a bit mechanical? That is, if I commit myself to practising these characteristics, does that necessarily mean I'll have a successful ministry?
Maybe that's not a fair question. "Effective" doesn't necessarily mean "successful". Someone could practice all these characteristics but not see much results - their church may be small, not many people become Christians, etc. But that's not the point. The point is - they've continued to be effective in ministry.
So I wonder if "faithful" is a better adjective than "effective"? That's what Jesus called for - see Matt 24:45-25:30 - and what Paul evaluated himself against - 1 Cor 4:1-5, 2 Tim 4:1-8. We have been entrusted with the gospel; we're called to be faithful in proclaiming it, passing it on (1 Cor 15:1-11; 2 Cor 5:11-6:2). And this means that a faithful minister isn't focused on techniques or checklists or processes, but on the gospel. It's an evangelical effectiveness.
Thoughts, anyone...?

1 comment:

Sash said...

A faithful minister should indeed be focussed on the gospel. Techiniques/tips/processes/checklists might be good tools to help practicing and honing the habit of faithfulness (for those of us who need extra help). So rather than dismiss them completely, perhaps we ought to limit their use as a means to an end, rather than an end in itself.