Rookie Pastors: Know What You Don’t Know, and Grow From There

In the first few years of leading in a new Senior Pastor role, it’s not the answers you don’t have that will set you back.

What promises to halt progress, and likely even cause you to second-guess your calling, are the questions that stem from the signals you missed during the courtship and hiring process.

Here are 11 warning signs of church dysfunction that new pastors might miss when interviewing…

…Sunday School leadership that spends more time decorating their classrooms than preparing their lessons

…the “Hall of Former Pastor Portraits” is carefully arranged so as to have plenty of room for many more

…the church’s website has a copy of the bylaws readily accessible in less than 3 clicks

…teal sanctuary carpet from the late 1980s that, in the name of stewardship, just keeps getting “steam cleaned” with a grocery store rental instead of replaced

…the youth minister prides his or herself in running off all but 10-12 kids because the others just weren’t serious enough about “going deep in their faith”

…spouses are encouraged to attend conferences with the Pastor because you will be using vacation days

…everyone who has been, currently is, or might one day like to be serve in a volunteer role has a copy of the master key

…each “visitor parking” place is full starting with the 8:00 am service, every week, rain or shine

…there are more puppets in the children’s ministry office than there are books

…the pastor is invited to deacon, elder or governing board meetings, “as needed”

…during the interview process, you are always snuck into the church through a back door

While these are extreme examples, each of these signs maintain a firm footing in a reality from which every leader can relate.

Many new pastors let their natural optimism and confidence overshadow theorganizationally obvious during a season of transition. Hope for what could and should be shades the reality of what actually is. Then, during the subsequent honeymoon season, these rookie leaders, well intentioned and operating from search team assurances, tend to run headlong into a large cultural roadblock that overwhelms their abilities and undermines their leadership.

A new pastor does not need to just learn where the cultural sacred cows of the past are grazing.

They need to also be a positive part of making the necessary adjustments for a healthy and productive future. Active participation in a season of uncovering identity and direction for the church, as in the Auxano Vision Framing Process could be a new pastor’s best practice.

Ultimately, success for rookie pastors does not come from knowing everything about your new assignment… it does begin with knowing what you don’t know, and growing from there.

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Bryan Rose

Bryan Rose

As Lead Navigator for Auxano, Bryan Rose has a strong bias toward merging strategy and creativity within the vision of the local church and has had a diversity of experience in just about every ministry discipline over the last 12 years. With his experience as a multi-site strategist and campus pastor at a 3500 member multi-campus church in the Houston Metro area, Bryan has a passion to see “launch clarity” define the unique Great Commission call of developing church plants and campus, while at the same time serving established churches as they seek to clarify their individual ministry calling. Bryan has demonstrated achievement as a strategic thinker with a unique ability to infuse creativity into the visioning process while bringing a group of people to a deep sense of personal ownership and passion.

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comment_post_ID); ?> Thank you Ed for sharing your insights into the Church Growth Movement. I have my reservations with Church Growth models because it has done more damage than good in the Body of Christ. Over the years, western churches are more focused on results, formulas and processes with little or no emphasis on membership and church discipline. Pastors and vocational leaders are burnt out because they're overworked. I do believe that the Church Growth model is a catalyst to two destructive groups: The New Apostolic Reformation and the Emerging Church. Both groups overlap and have a very loose definition. They're both focus on contemporary worship, expansion of church brand (franchising), and mobilizing volunteering members as 'leaders' to grow their ministry. Little focus on biblical study, apologetics and genuine missional work with no agenda besides preaching of the gospel.
— Dave
comment_post_ID); ?> Thank you for sharing such a good article. It is a great lesson I learned from this article. I am one of the leaders in Emmanuel united church of Ethiopia (A denomination with more-than 780 local churches through out the country). I am preparing a presentation on succession planning for local church leaders. It will help me for preparation If you send me more resources and recommend me books to read on the topic. I hope we may collaborate in advancing leadership capacity of our church. God Bless You and Your Ministry.
— Argaw Alemu
comment_post_ID); ?> Amen!!
— Scott Michael Whitley

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