One of the most gratifying privileges in my ministry is spending time with new pastors. Specifically CL and I spend time with the 23rd New Pastors Cohort in our Synod. Two retreats per year for three years plus a twice/year gathering of “Jan’s Group” – our cohort-within-the-cohort.
I love these new pastors – not just because they are smart and passionate and interesting, but also because they allow me to learn from them as surely as they learn from each other. It’s better than Easter dessert.
We just returned from retreating for three days and here are some of the things I learned that I hope – in particular – my more seasoned colleagues will consider as we are all attempt to expand the reign of God as The Church:
- Associate Pastors have not been called to “help the Head of Staff” as if their purpose is to be Robin to the church’s Batman/Batwoman. They have their own calling, and their gifts are best used when collaboration is the cultural norm.
- If the future of professional ministry is bi-vocational, we’ve got to help these colleagues figure out how to balance life and (at least) two separate vocations. Working seven days/week is not sustainable. Connectional denominations – by virtue of our DNA – must help out our bi-vocational colleagues. Offer to preach one Sunday, to teach a class, to cover for emergencies when our colleague needs a break.
- It takes a while to figure out a work/life rhythm for any pastor. Church members can help by remembering that most of what pastors do is never observed by church members. Church Personnel Committees: talk with your pastors about what feeds them, what frustrates them, what they are doing that is not on their job description. Don’t try to check out their every move as if you don’t trust them.
- Any church member committed to Being the Church (as opposed to belonging to some kind of spiritual club) needs basic training in How to Talk to Strangers, How to Welcome People Who Don’t Look Like We Look, How to Pray Out Loud, How to Imagine a Church Beyond Attendance, Building, and Cash.
That’s just the beginning of what I learned or re-learned this week from my young colleagues. We are a better church because of the ministry of new pastors who never grew up in the heyday of the Mainline.