The Productive Pastor
When I was a kid I was always at church. My dad was the pastor and my mom did the music. Which meant that every time the doors were open, I was there. For the most part, that wasn’t the worst thing in the world. Many of my friends went to church with me and I loved music, so I didn’t usually notice that I was always there, just enjoyed the normalcy of being around my friends and around music. That is, until it came time for the business side of things. I don’t remember exactly how often, but every once in a while the whole church would get together in a room and would talk about things like budgets and ministry decisions and who would be on the board and so on and so on. I remember sitting in a pew (this was before cell phones or iDevices) and wondering if there was anything in the world more boring or more monotonous than these meetings.
Then I got older and started to work in churches myself and I realized that many of the feelings I had as a kid continued on into adulthood. I would sit in on meetings in which we had to talk about budgeting, systems and processes, technology integration and I would see adults that had the same look on their faces that I had as a kid. And they probably should!
I don’t know of too many people that had a ministry calling to help a church be financially healthy. I don’t know of too many people who feel led to help create elegant systems that allow volunteers to freely give of their time and for a church to absorb growth and movement. I don’t know of too many people who went to the altar as a kid or at a youth camp and told their youth pastor that God was calling them to help churches integrate technology into their daily lives. I know I didn’t!
Most of us got into ministry and more particularly vocational ministry because God called us to people. And the exciting, life-changing journey that we get to go on with people doesn’t involve budgets, systems and technology. At least on the surface. And to take it even further, NONE of those things were ever taught in undergrad or seminary!
So many of us find ourselves struggling to hold up the functional, systematic side of being a pastor so that we can do the thing we actually love. Preach, teach, disciple, learn, grow. This one piece, this inability to handle the things underneath the surface can often lead to massive amounts of frustration and aloneness in ministry.
We started 5th Act Consulting for two reasons: to give you permission, and to give you a partner.
You need permission to say that this is hard. That trying to build out a budget that appeases the “differences of opinions” in your church community is hard. That trying to create some sleek ways for people to get involved at your church is hard. That juggling the infinite number of tasks and responsibilities required of you in your role is hard.
You also need a partner to help move the needle a little bit. Someone to sit down with you and hear your heart and your frustrations and tell you that it’ll be ok and that there are multiple ways of approaching ministry. You need someone who understands how hard it is and has options and solutions to give you hope that it can and will change for the good.
A productive pastor isn’t necessarily the smartest, hardest working pastor. A productive pastor is one that sees beyond himself or herself to a new way of understanding their ministry.