By John Hosier
During the past 40 years I have led 2 evangelical Baptist Churches, served as a Tutor and Director of Studies at Moorlands Bible College and then for 23 years served as an Elder at Church of Christ the King in Brighton.
Looking back there is a number of things I would want to emphasise at this stage of my life.
1. Have faith in God
I came into Christian ministry when evangelical churches were definitely on the back foot and you were thought to be doing well simply to conserve and maintain what you had in church life. If I had my time again I’d want to believe God for more growth, more staff and more money.
2. Pioneer or Persevere?
Newfrontiers is a church planting movement and therefore it is right that many leaders move on and help to begin new works. But this should not be assumed to be right for every leader. We need to know ourselves on this issue – do we pioneer and move on or do we stay and persevere? Pioneers who stay in one place too long can eventually run themselves (and sometimes the church) into the ground. However many if not most of the biggest churches in the world are led by men who have given their whole ministry to that one church,
3. Be convinced
a. That the church is the hope for the world.
b. The church is God’s plan A and there is no plan B.
At times church life can be disappointing, but I’ve always seen beyond the disappointments to the possibilities.
4. Implement the vision
Leaders need to have strong vision, but how are you going to implement it? You need either the gifting to do it yourself or to employ those who can.
5. Ask more from your people
Believers are prepared to give a lot of time; effort and money to those things they see have purpose and are worthwhile. Good leaders can be quite demanding, but get a response.
6. Play to your strengths
Leadership is the greatest need in our churches. But leaders need to ‘fan into a flame the gift of God’ and sharpen up on what they are good at, not waste time on what they are not good at.
Every leader can help serve the body of Christ more widely by specialising in something. This could be an area of teaching or skill that we can bring to others.
7. Preaching and teaching
I believe that generally on a Sunday we should seek to handle the great doctrines of the faith. But increasingly people don’t know how to live day to day. Given my time again I would run a ‘School of Life’ in which I would want there to be Biblical and practical teaching not just on obvious things such as marriage and money, but on issues like reliability, integrity and loyalty.
8. Go for students
Some say ‘you can’t grow a church on students’ – you can! It doesn’t happen in the first 5 minutes, but eventually students will begin to get jobs in your area, get married and settle down.
Students are the nation’s influencers in the future.
International students return to their own countries and take a vision that has come from your church.
Some students plant a church overseas and take your church to the nations.
9. Beware the latest fad
It’s easy to believe that if we do it this way or that way we are guaranteed great success. But exceptions make poor models. There are exceptional churches around today that we can learn a great deal from. But their leaders are not your churches leader. ‘…the best way to be lastingly relevant is to stand on the rock solid durable old truths rather than just jumping from one pragmatic bandwagon to another.’ John Piper
10. Don’t fret too much about those who leave
Pastors always feel it personally when individuals leave the church – especially when they tell you that it’s not personal! The fact is people always leave churches. Generally for everyone that leaves you unhappy someone joins you ‘cos they are unhappy somewhere else! It tends to even out!
11. Use the different ministries
The church really does need all the ministries – Apostles, prophets, evangelists and pastor/teachers. Ask them in. And if they say what you have said a 100 times before but now people ‘hear’ it for the first time – Rejoice!
12. Pay attention to team
A team needs complementary team members in terms of gift and personality etc. Successful teams work when each member of the team is prepared to make personal sacrifices in order to gain the benefit of being on a team. Team members need real stuff to do.
13. Be flexible
Fast moving changes in our society and rapid cultural change mean we need to be culturally aware. Paul says, ‘After beginning with the Spirit are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?’ (Gal. 3:3). Flexibility shows openness to the Spirit. 10.00am on a Sunday is not sacrosanct for a church meeting, nor is it wrong. We need to be flexible however in today’s world.
14. Develop an outside interest
You don’t have to have a hobby to be a Christian leader! But an outside interest will bring you into contact and relationship with those who are not Believers.
15. Jesus before ministry
‘I want to know Christ…’ (Phil. 3:10)
One day our ministries will be over. We may lose our health or even our husband or wife. What will we have then? Don’t live for your ministry – live for Jesus – that I might know him.