BI-VOCATIONALLY LEADING IN TODAY'S CHURCH
by Timothy Jones – Southfield Road Baptist Church
ALLEN PARK, MI – Because I have been a bi-vocational pastor for the last seven years, I’ve learned the value of pastoring God’s church while working a full-time job. Leading a church can be exciting, purposeful, and yet challenging. It can also be exhausting, leading to burn-out if a pastor does not establish healthy boundaries and self-care. To begin, bi-vocational pastors need to understand we cannot do it all, nor can we do it all alone. God has clarified for me the profound need for team work within the local church. I need trustworthy leaders who will give honest feedback to hard questions. I often tell our leaders, we cannot get better if we do not recognize the problem.
During my years in the U.S. Army I learned the significance of evaluation after drills, maneuvers, and missions. This evaluation is called AAR (After Action Review). It is used to understand the mistakes and successes of all missions. Years ago, my leadership team began conducting AAR after our church’s community events. In these meetings we attempt to answer the following questions regarding special events, and now Sunday morning worship services as well:
What went right?
What went wrong?
How can we get better?
Southefield Baptist Church has a constant reminder on the wall of the worship center to love one another. (Photo courtesy Southfield Baptist Church)
During one of our AAR’s the flow of our worship service was the targeted topic. Our leaders proposed that the worship service was mixed up, and often people left without remembering the message of the sermon. At the beginning of the conversation, I have to admit I was taken aback a bit. However, the more I listened I began to be convinced that our team was seeing an issue in our worship order that was significantly affecting the congregation, and not in a positive way.
“Listening and valuing their ideas further equips leaders in the church.” states Pastor Tim Jones. (Photo courtesy Southfield Baptist Church)
Once you come to a realization like this what you do next tells your leaders how important their ideas are. Listening and valuing their ideas further equips the leaders in the church and develops a deeper relationship with them. During this meeting, we immediately set things into motion and began to discuss how the worship service could better serve the congregation, both members and visitors, as well as our staff. Praying over the proposed changes, we established a plan and set it into motion. The next Sunday morning worship went off without a single problem. Later that day, two people came to me stating their enjoyment and benefit from the new order of worship. Another came to me and said that they could remember more of the sermon which was a confirmation that we were on the right track. Since then, we have continued to address and develop the order of worship in our church to better serve anyone who walks in our doors.
Three things happened that brought this positive change in our worship:
I asked the questions. I wanted to know what was happening in our church that was not helping the congregation. Here’s a reality tip: if you don’t want to hear the answer, then don’t ask the question.
I acknowledged the problem was real. I did not get upset, but listened carefully; I heard the concern and evaluated it on the spot. I addressed it as soon as it appeared and did not hestitate to form a plan with my leadership team.
We acted. Once realizing the problem was a true issue, we took action together as one team.
I pray that this format of leadership will also help you lead your fellowship to impactful, challenging and encouraging services as you worship our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus.