While in seminary, I was given a book written by Dr. Paul Powell, former pastor of Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, TX. The book was called “Shepherding the Sheep in the Smaller Church.” There was a little hidden gem in the back of the book that I have never forgotten.
Dr. Powell encouraged anyone shepherding a smaller (or any size) church to do things that didn’t need a vote. He encouraged pastors and ministers to do the little things that didn’t need money or permission to be done. Little things that as a pastor no one could say yes or no to like starting a small group in your home or visiting shut-ins.
Over the years in ministry I keep going back to that little mantra – “do things that don’t need a vote.” I have added a few other suggestions to my list like…
1. Send hand-written thank you notes. Those still catch a surprised and grateful eye.
2. Send small group leaders a mid-week encouragement email as they are studying for Sunday. Their study and teaching preparation is as important as yours. Don’t you love it when someone writes/calls and says “I’m praying for you as prepare.” Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It goes a long way.
3. Personally invite people to come to your church. Invite your friends. Invite your family. For me, I invite my students all the time. When you brings guests, it encourages others to do the same.
4. When preaching, communicate vision and direction in where you see the Lord moving. Tell your people what you see happening. While the church newsletter or blog is fine to share vision dates and details, your “face-time” on Sunday morning should be used wisely in casting the direction. You only have their undivided attention for the first 5 minutes of the message, make it count in moving the ship forward.
5. Pray for people who come to the altar by laying on hands. If you believe in the power of prayer (as I do), encourage your people by praying over them. If possible, invite some others to join you in praying for their needs. There is nothing more unifying and humbling.
6. Walk the isles before worship and spend time with your people. Dr. Ken Hemphill called the 10 minutes before worship the 10 most important minutes in ministry. Don’t seal yourself off in your office or “green room.” Be among your sheep. Talk with them. Visit with them. Sit down and pray for them if they ask you to. Trust me, they all know you are thinking about the sermon and the service, but you have been called to be their “pastor”, not their professional Bible teacher or speaker. A pastor spends time among their sheep.
I could go on and on.
I feel like church leaders, especially in smaller or mid-sized churches, feel as if they have limited authority in leadership. While there might be policies and procedures in place for spending larger amounts of money or specific steps to take in securing prime real estate on the church calendar, there is much ministry that can be done without any red tape.
Spend your energies doing those little things that don’t need a vote and you will find greater success in your overall ministry leadership.