Ministry Inside.111

experience2Experience can be very valuable to any church leader.  On the other hand, years in ministry can be overrated.

Someone might ask at this point, “Don’t you value the experience of other church leaders?  Don’t you think we can learn from those who have experienced more than we have?”  Of course!  I do value experience. However, one’s experience may not be as valuable as it ultimately could be.

One might have 12 years of participation in a ministry role; but if those 12 years consist of very little reflection or examination, the experience may not be as valuable as it could have been.  One may simply be repeating from year to year bad habits, ineffective practices, and a poor attitude.  Consequently, even though a person may have served for many years as a minister, such longtime ministry may not be that helpful to others who wish to learn more about how to function in a ministry role.

Optimize your ministry experience so that it becomes a valuable asset both to you and those who might learn from your years in ministry.

Here are some practices you might want to follow so you are maximizing the quality of your ministry:

1.  Reflect on your experience.  In other words, think through how you handled a particular situation. Suppose, for example, you have recently participated in lengthy discussions with your elder group. As you reflect on these discussions with them, you might realize you have been feeling frustration and even anger toward particular people within the group.

2.  Evaluate your experience.  How effective were you in what you said and the way you said it? How effective were you in your presentation to the group?  Perhaps there was a moment in which you spoke sharply.  If you continue to use that tone of voice and express anger in such a fashion, what will that ultimately do to your relationship with these people?

3.  Make needed changes in your attitude, behavior, and functioning.  Don’t simply repeat last week’s experience.  Be intentional about making changes in your life and the way you work.  In other words, aggressively keep growing, developing, and maturing.

Don’t waste the potential value of your years in ministry by neglecting to submit them to reflection, evaluation, and modification.

Now how valuable is this kind of experience?  Extremely!  You are a person whose experience is being tempered by wisdom, the community of believers, and Scripture.  As a humble person, God can work to give you awareness and clarity about what needs to change in your own life.  He will also give you power to make those needed changes.

When you come across a church leader who practices such a process, you and others may find this person to be a rich well of resources.


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  • John

    Jim, point #3 is very important in regard to the function or work. I have been out of the ministry since the 1980s, but I can remember ministers whose sermon preparation was using sermons practically word for word from books, or very full outlines. They moved a lot.

    Now, I never had anything against using a good outline if one was appropriate and if it was worked well. But I can remember Landon Saunders making the point about shallow preaching when he said we had too many ministers drinking coffee up town all week, then on Saturday night pulling down from the shelf, “Simple Sermons for Simple Preachers”.

    Granted, many preachers years ago never had formal traing and they needed the resources of those who did; and so do those just beginning. But, the lack of growth of too many kept churches stuck in what I call “5×5 theology”; the so-called plan of salvation and the order of worship.

    Maybe it is better now, and I would imagine that using sermons found on line would easily be found out…but, maybe not.

    • Jim Martin

      John, I smiled as I read the Landon Saunders quote. I remember him saying that. In fact, I can almost hear the sound of his voice as I read your words.

      You are right, the lack of growth on the part of ministers kept churches stuck. While many had no formal training, there were (and are) so many other ways to grow and develop besides resorting to preaching someone else’s sermon outline.

      Is it better now? Hmmm. Perhaps. Yet, with the Internet, super high expectations on the part of some elders/church members, it continues to be a temptation for many ministers. Yet, I can also tell you that many, many preachers today reject plagiarism as a legitimate option.

      Thanks John.