Learn From Me

I love to read. You are probably well aware of that as you see me regularly posting reviews on books I have read. I read all kinds of books. I love learning new things and being challenged to think about how I am living my life. I also love to read for entertainment and to relax.

I often go through times where I am focused on a certain topic. Recently, I have been reading on the issue of the Holy Spirit and spiritual renewal personally and for the local church. As you will see from my reviews when I find an author that writes about this, I like to read all he has written.

Over the years I have attended many seminars and pursued life-long learning. I took my first course towards my Masters of Arts in Leadership and Ministry in 1992. My last course was completed in 2018. It took me 26 years to graduate. This was due to a few reasons. I was not always able to afford the cost or time to take another course. But I also preferred learning a little at a time rather than sitting in class for 2-3 years and getting one big dump of knowledge. I love to learn.

Recently, God chastised me regarding my learning focus. I was praying and journaling when God gave me a picture. I was running a race.

There were a number of runners just in front of me but for some reason I wanted to see who it was in front of them, but I just couldn’t see past them. I asked God what this was all about. It seemed unfocused, unclear.

And then it was as if God said, “Learn from me. Don’t just learn from others on the journey, even if they are ahead of you.  Learn from me.” It was a good reminder that my focus should be on Jesus, and listening to and learning from the Holy Spirit. Not just from other people.

Matthew 11: 29 says, “Learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (ESV)

I read my Bible just about every morning, but I have made a commitment to read more of the Bible more often. I want to learn from the Master, not just from others who have learned from the Master.

We fall into this trap quite easily. As believers, we need to regularly read the Bible and hear from God. Too many Christians are content to listen to their pastor and other preachers online or on television while not reading for themselves. Too many people of faith treat hearing from God like a mama bird feeding it’s young, eating only what has been regurgitated for them. God doesn’t want us to be satisfied with others feeding us. He wants us to chew our own food, to read the Bible ourselves and to ruminate over it. We need to personally hear God speak to us and rather than only hear the stories of others who have heard from God.

“Learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

– Jesus

I love that you are reading this blog. Thank you! But I hope you are going to the Master and learning directly from him too. I’m glad that people show up in church to hear the sermon I prepared and preach. But I hope you are taking the time to learn from the Holy Spirit. After all, that is the job of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “The Spirit will tell you whatever he receives from me.” (John 16: 15, NLT)

Learn from the Master, and keep looking up,

Andy Wiebe

Encourage Second-Career Ministry

I meet monthly with other Transition Pastors. We are all serving churches by helping them say goodbye to a previous pastor, move to good health, and welcome a new pastor. In the last couple of months our conversations have included discussions about how few resumes are submitted for Lead Pastor positions at the churches we are serving. There seems to be a shortage of pastors. There are not enough pastors stepping into the role to balance those exiting that role.

Last week I said we need to encourage our young people to consider being a pastor or a missionary. When I was a young boy, I dreamed of becoming a doctor. There is nothing wrong with being a doctor. I have been really appreciative of a doctor’s work for me and my family many times. I dreamed of becoming a doctor. Our children are dreaming of what they want to be when they grow up. We need to encourage our children to dream of becoming pastors and servants of God in foreign contexts. We need to find good examples of pastors and missionaries to highlight for them.

Young people are not the only ones who could consider these roles. There is another group of individuals who are choosing to become a pastor later in life. I know of some who were farmers most of their life, or truckers, or welders, and then shifted to becoming a pastor.

Pastors, we have a special opportunity to encourage those in our congregation that seem to display the necessary qualities and character to choose pastoral ministry as a second career – or third, or whatever. People of God, ask God to show you if He wants to redirect you to become a pastor or missionary.

There are many godly people in our churches who work at their job all week and then serve at the church evenings and weekends. Some of them are clearly not just volunteering because someone is needed to fill a certain slot. Some of them are gifted teachers or mentors of others. They have a heart for God which is evident in the way they serve in the church and in how they operate their business or work at their jobs. Some of them have already graduated from Bible College or Seminary but never pursued the role of a pastor.

There is a group of faithful and godly people who graduated from Bible College, and maybe even Seminary, who have often not been the first choice in pastoral roles, but that has changed a lot in the last few years. Women are being hired more often and for roles beyond just Children’s Pastor or Women’s Pastor. While I, personally, may be hesitant to encourage a woman to pursue a Lead Pastor position, many churches now are open to hiring a woman for any pastoral role in the church. They are hiring based on the gifts of the person rather than on gender. So, let’s encourage our women to consider pastoral ministry as well, listening to God as to where and how he wants them to serve. Pastors, some women have not felt a freedom to pursue pastoral ministry and God is asking you to encourage them in that direction.

Some people have never considered being a pastor because they were not “good enough.” They had a certain image in their mind of what a pastor was like, and they didn’t match up to their ideal. If you look around, you will find that pastors come in all shapes and sizes. They come in all varieties of personalities. Some are great for serving in small churches and others are perfect for large churches. You don’t have to match up to an ideal. You just need to say “yes” if God is asking you to step into that role.

Some faithful servants of God felt God hadn’t specifically called them to the role of pastor, so they headed in a different direction. Just a question: “Did God call you to head in that direction?” If God did not specifically call you to be a pastor, did you use those same criteria to decide to be a welder or business owner? Many people chose to pursue a career because they thought they would do well in it, make good money, and they would feel fulfilled in that role. But maybe God never called you to that role. You just chose it. Maybe its time to specifically ask God if you should step into a role as pastor. Take time to prayerfully consider this. Talk to your pastor and other godly people around you and ask them what they think. And if all signs point to becoming a pastor, then pursue it with your whole heart!

Some have decided not to be a pastor because it is too hard of a job. Sometimes the pay will be way lower than what you are making right now. People will not appreciate what you are doing, and complain. Your family may suffer. You will be frustrated at how slow things move in the church compared to the business you were running. It seems like too much of a sacrifice to say yes to this role. Not to be too direct, but remember the sacrifice Jesus made for your salvation? He gave His all, His life, faced ridicule from people, and even separation from His Father as He died on the cross. If God is asking you to become a pastor, then He will give you the strength to persevere. I can give witness to that. I have had some very difficult moments in a few different churches, but God has been faithful through it all!

There are some of you who considered being a pastor, and maybe even served as a pastor for a short while, but you were frustrated with the institution of the church. You feel that it is not accomplishing what it should. You are probably right. But you may be just the right person to step into this role. If God is showing you where the church is lacking, can you trust that God will show you some answers in how to improve that? Sometimes it is a person new to the role that will see what is wrong and how to change it for the better. Your voice in the conversation may be exactly what is needed to raise the level of discussion on improving the church.

“Second Career Pastors” can have incredible ministries accomplishing great things for God and the expansion of His kingdom! Will you accept the challenge and become a pastor?

Keep looking up,

Andy Wiebe

Motivate Others for Ministry

I never thought I would be a pastor. I was a Christian. I attended a local church. I loved serving at Camp Sagitawa, a summer Bible Camp for kids. I had a desire to serve God so I went to Bible School, thinking that it would be good to prepare myself to serve in ministry of some kind. My thought was that everyone needs to learn how to teach, so I took a Christian Education program. I thought I would become a full time Camp Director. And then God used people to speak into my life and encourage me.

In the summer between my first and second year at Peace River Bible Institute, a lady from my church believed in me enough to financially help with one semester of Bible School if I would spend the summer at camp.

While attending Peace River Bible Institute, Reuben Kvill, the president at the time, took a special interest in me. He encouraged me to do some preaching at churches in the area that needed speakers. So I did. He then encouraged me to do a summer pastoral internship. There was a church looking for an intern and he thought I would fit in quite well. Though I had taken hardly any preaching or pastoral courses, I decided to do it. It would give me opportunity to complete some of my Christian Education requirements as well. It was during my internship that God specifically called me to be a pastor. I realized I loved preaching and knew God wanted me to do this.

Many years later, my wife and I felt God was re-directing us, but we were not sure in what way. It was during this time that a couple, who had been our friends for years, spoke into our lives. They encouraged us to think about how we might help the larger church instead of serving just one church. Well that encouragement, and God’s clear leading, has brought me to the point that I am now serving as a Transition Pastor. I am concluding one assignment in a month, and starting at a second church two weeks later. God is using me to help churches move to health and be ready for their next pastor.

I say all of this to encourage you to also become a motivator of people toward the gospel ministry. Maybe you have seen this happen in your own life. Perhaps someone encouraged you in a certain direction and as you moved in that direction, you realized this was exactly where you were to be.

I believe those of us who are older need to take this role seriously – to be a motivator of others to ministry. You may not realize that there are less and less Bible College graduates looking to be a pastor. Many Bible Colleges are leaning toward preparing believers to do well in teaching or medicine and other various professions instead of preparing them to be pastors or missionaries. We still need pastors, and we need missionaries. We need good people in business and in all aspect of our world, but we continue to need people who will dedicate themselves to full time ministry in some way. There are many reasons why these numbers are declining, but maybe one reason is that no one is encouraging young people to pursue full time ministry positions.

So, who can you motivate towards ministry?

Parents, encourage your children to consider being a pastor or missionary and serving God in a full-time capacity. Make sure your children get to know their pastors. Help them to see that this is a good option for them to pursue. Instead of encouraging them to be lawyers or doctors because you want them to make good money, encourage them to consider Bible College and Seminary. Encourage them from early on to continually ask God what He desires of them.

Grandparents, you have a powerful impact on your grandchildren. Help your grandchildren to see that being a missionary or pastor is a great choice. You could gift them books about pastors and missionaries. You could tell them you want to encourage them in this direction. Maybe tell them you will help them financially if they consider going on a missions trip, or if they are considering Bible College.

Youth pastors, you have an incredible role helping to shape the futures of the teenagers in your program. Pour yourself into them and show them that they too can learn to do what you do. Take them to Bible Colleges. Bring in tour teams from Bible Colleges so they meet some students. Teach them to ask God what He wants them to do with their life. Many schools are moving students into certain tracks of education at earlier points than they used to. They are being trained to choose a direction in life when they are quite young. Youth pastors, speak into their lives at these points and be the encouragers and motivators that you can be.

Pastors and missionaries, we need to step up and take this seriously. We need to show children and young people that ministry as a pastor or international worker, though hard at times, is very rewarding! I know that there are a lot of stories showing where both pastors and missionaries have failed some of the very people they were hoping to help. That doesn’t mean you avoid that role. Just determine to prepare yourself better, depend on God to lead more closely, and do everything you can to understand the people whom you are hoping to serve so you can serve them well and in a way that will benefit them, not you. Get to know leaders in the role you are pursuing who are doing a good job. Learn from them.

We need to challenge young people to seriously consider a career as a pastor or full-time ministry of some kind. Invite interested students to do a summer internship with the church. We do this for Bible College students, but maybe we can do this for some of our older teenagers as well. Show them that they can enjoy doing ministry and pray that God will direct them to where he wants them.

We need to realize that we can have a large influence on our young people. Let’s do it.

Let’s be motivators of others to ministry opportunities!

Keep looking up,

Andy Wiebe

A Few Cautions Against Spiritually Keeping Up with the Joneses

A natural part of being human is to compare ourselves to others around us. Sometimes we pick out a bad part of their character or how they live and then make ourselves feel better because we are better in that area. Often it is the other way around. We look at others, and feel bad that we can’t attain that level. This could be how much money we have, toys, or status. It could also be about character.

This attitude creeps into our Christian life as well. We have a tendency to notice people who are really gifted in a certain area and we feel bad that we can’t compete. For me, there has been a tendency to compare myself to other pastors, thinking I don’t lead as well or preach as well or grow a church like they can. Our comparison could be in how God has used someone to heal people, or somehow act with the power of the Spirit in a way that we have not experienced ourselves.

Here are a few cautions of why comparing is not helpful.

1. We don’t know the whole story. 

We have heard enough sad stories of people who had great public ministry only to find out later that their private life was a mess. They were sinners just like us. Sure, they had a large platform and a wide audience, but their personal life or their home life suffered greatly. Some of these were terrible to work for. They were mean and bullied their staff.

We don’t see the things that hold others back from being their best. We focus in on one or two key areas that we can see, and then we assume that their whole life is way better than ours. They may have a better position in a church or organization and we envy that, but we don’t know the struggles and the depression they fight as they work to be their best. We see their great family and don’t know the pain they are dealing with in the privacy of their own home.

2. God has gifted us all differently

John Maxwell writes in “No Limits”, about a man who devoted his life to being the second chair. He had realized early on that he was not a good leader. He was great at being the second in command but needed someone above him to be the leader. We need that kind of personal discernment about what we are capable of, how God has gifted us, and what we have learned through experience.

It is valuable for us to learn who we are, how God has gifted us, and how we can best serve God. There are a number of assessment tools out there that may help, but some of it comes with trial and error. Try something, see if you are good at it, and if not, try something else.

I was never going to be a pastor, but the president of the Bible College I attended encouraged me to do a summer intern position. I remember the specific day I was preaching to the small crowd gathered on that warm summer evening in that stuffy church. I was preaching from Philippians – when I suddenly had this feeling, this thought – I like this. I think I could really enjoy doing this. Sometimes it is as we try new things that we discover where we fit.

3. Compare yourself to yourself.

If you want to see how you are really doing, compare yourself to what you were like last year, or five years ago. Have you grown and developed personally in that time? Are you growing in your relationship with Jesus? Are you living in the fullness of the Spirit living in you? Have you figured out some of what you are good at? And are you working to do that and to continue to improve in how well you do?

4. Compare yourself to Scripture.

There are many places in scripture where we are told how to live. We are told what kind of actions and behaviors glorify God. How are you doing with that? As you read the Bible, and I hope you read it regularly, daily, keep asking yourself how well you are doing in regard to what you are reading. Look at how to improve daily. Look at how to develop habits that help you develop into a person who consistently glorifies God with their life.

5. Ask God what He thinks of you.

I have enjoyed having more conversations with God – not just praying to Him, but also hearing from Him. I believe that you can ask God what He thinks of you and He will tell you. Ask God where there are areas you need to grow in and what you can do to grow. Instead of trying to become like someone you admire, become someone God admires. Become who God wants you to be without worrying about how big your audience or your fame is.

The envy of others will never make you a better you. You need to learn to be the best you that you can be. Don’t compare yourself to others. Everyone has their own path. Maybe God will give you a large public voice, and maybe it will be a quiet encouragement to individuals. Like the story of the talents in the Bible, you are only responsible for what you have been given. God has made you with your unique abilities to be you in your own unique way. Your responsibility is to just be the best that you can be, without comparing to others. And then serve Him well.

Keep looking up,

Andy Wiebe

Develop an Active Imagination

I remember watching two preschoolers, a brother and sister, playing next to me as I was watching a floor hockey game in college. I was fascinated at their imagination. They had no toys, no digital devices, just the bleachers and their imagination. They played for a long time, together imagining all that was happening around them.

Too many of us have lost our ability to imagine. We are so caught up in the moment and in what is right in front of us that we no longer know how to use our imagination. There could be a number of reasons for that. Maybe our imagination was stifled as a child when a parent or teacher told us to quit daydreaming. Daydreaming is the fertile ground imagination grows in! Some of us had an active imagination until someone made fun of our ideas. For whatever reason, we have stopped imagining.

Have you ever wondered why some people are so good at coming up with ideas? It’s because they have an active imagination. They are not afraid to dream up something new. And they are not afraid to try out their ideas. We don’t know how many ideas these people imagined that went nowhere, before they found the ones that were great.

We can develop an active imagination. For instance, give yourself freedom to daydream. Find some time when you have no other distractions and no requirements of yourself and just imagine things. Find your time you can claim as your own. Dream. Make up a story in your mind. It could be that you have a problem at work. Whatever your work is, whether dealing with people or machines, if there is a problem, your imagination can help you solve it. So start imagining all kinds of possibilities.

In your daydreaming, don’t put up fences. Don’t start evaluating and discarding an idea too quickly. Sometimes good ideas need time to work their way to a solution. Some of us are quick to say: “That won’t work.” We even think that way in our daydreaming and discard ideas before they are fully developed. Remove that fence. Remove any fence that puts limitations on your imagining. Don’t discard an idea too soon because it takes more money than you have, or more volunteers than your organization has, or whatever it is that tempts you to short-circuit your dreaming.

Imagination is enhanced by other ideas. Sometimes as you read and watch and listen, ideas come to you through other people or situations around you.  A while back my one of my daughters gave me a book on trees. I would not have chosen to read a book like that, but it was amazing to read the insights of someone who had spent years working with trees and understanding them. There were points in the book that got me thinking about how to work with small groups and how people interact.

Another book I recently read outside of my normal reading selections was Atomic Habits, by James Clear. While the book was about habits, it sparked all kinds of ideas that made me want to apply the teaching to the process of discipleship. As we read and learn from others, we add fertilizer to the fertile ground of our imagination.

Someone once said that we should “beg, borrow, and steal” as we look for good ideas. There have been many times that my good ideas came out of ideas that others had worked on. I was able to build on and adapt those ideas to programs I was working on or ministries I was running.

I have been part of churches that planned wonderful Easter Celebrations complete with a breakfast, fun and games, a worship service, and an Easter Egg hunt. One of the aspects of the morning that went over really well was to bring in a professional photographer to take family photos. Many people dress up for Easter so it was a great time to offer people a free family photo. I don’t know where I got the idea, but I know it came from someone else’s ideas and I was able to adapt it to my setting.

One author who wrote about planning creative worship services suggested always having some children’s toys at hand. The idea was, if you have fun thing near you, in your environment and in your hand, your creativity will be enhanced. So, surround yourself with weird and wonderful objects, collect fun sayings and give yourself an environment that will be conducive to good imagining.

I don’t know if you have found this to be true, but some people think they imagine and think creatively better by being in a certain place, or a certain chair, or taking time to daydream at a certain time of day. If you want to be intentional about improving your creativity and your imagination, this might be an idea to try. Find a comfortable spot and see if the creativity ideas start flowing. It may take a bit of trial and error to find the right spot, but sometimes the habit of that certain spot or certain time can help unlock creative ideas.

Then, at a certain point, you have to look to putting your ideas into action. When you have ideas, start writing them down. Writing down ideas requires you to express the idea in a concrete way. The imagination has to become reality at some point. Writing it down helps you put that idea together.

If the written idea still seems like a good one, try it out. Share it with someone. You might want to make sure you share it with someone you trust, or someone who won’t shut you down too quickly. If you can verbalize it in a way that makes sense to the person listening, you are heading in the direction of your ideas becoming reality.

When you think you are ready, try out your idea. See if it solves the problem you were working on. If it does, great! Your imagination helped you. If it does not work, then keep looking for another idea.

Continue to cultivate an active imagination. Just think of how many good ideas you will have if you allow yourself to stop and daydream!

Keep looking up,

Andy Wiebe

Book Reviews: Andy’s 2022 Reading Experience

I will be sharing a brief review of every book I read this year. Hope you enjoy and hope it encourages you to keep reading.


THE CHURCH REVITALIZATION CHECKLISTby Sam Rainer

The Church Revitalization Checklist: A Hopeful and Practical Guide for Leading Your Congregation to a Brighter Tomorrow is for pastors and church leaders who recognize that their church needs some renewing. Sam writes from the position of pastor and coach to pastors who are attempting to lead their churches to a brighter tomorrow.

The first line of the book is: “If God can save any person, he can save any church.” I have a sad memory of the first church I served as a youth pastor. That church no longer exists. Fortunately the building is still being used for ministry, but that church died. Many other churches are on the verge of dying unless someone can bring them new life. Sam has written a very practical book that helps walk you through the revitalization process. Pastors, I believe many of you could benefit greatly from having this resource at your side as you lead your church to a better future.

The Tortoise Change Leader

Many of us know the children’s story “The Tortoise and the Hare.” The two are having a race, and everyone knows the hare will win. After all, a hare is much faster than a turtle. The hare decides to take it easy and even rest for a while, but the tortoise keeps going, slow and steady. Who wins? The tortoise. The point is that sometimes the race goes to the slow and steady one.

If you are called to be a leader of change, you will need to learn the skill of slow and steady change. It is a rare situation in which a change leader can come in and make large scale changes to an organization quickly. Those who do attempt so often get their attempt cut short as they are removed from their leadership role.

Church leaders who attempt change also need to learn this concept of slow and steady change. I have realized my own shortcomings in this in a few situations I have been in. I tend to get impatient and want to change too much at once.

A good change leader understands how to lead slowly and steadily toward a desired goal. Here are ten actions to take to be a tortoise-like Change Leader. They may need to be worked on in a slightly different order than listed, depending on your situation. As you work through these actions, they will help you to feel you have some movement while keeping you to a slow and steady pace.

1. Evaluate Early: When you take on the role of change leader, evaluate early in your role. Evaluate the organization and team you are responsible for. Evaluate how they are doing in accomplishing stated purposes and goals, and whether those are even the appropriate goals and purposes to have. Leaders who wait to evaluate until they have been in the role for a while tend to become blind to things that need to be changed. It is amazing how quickly we get comfortable with how things are and then lose our ability to see critically. You will see things more clearly if you evaluate early, even though the change may be a while in coming.

Ask people to speak into your evaluation. As a pastor, you may want to do a congregational assessment so you can learn what the present reality is. In one church I got into trouble because I assumed too much. I was used to doing things a certain way and didn’t even consider that the church may have done things differently than I was used to. I ended up making more changes early without even knowing it, because of course, I was new to the church and had no idea how they did things in the past. Assessment may help prevent you from attempting to implement unnecessary and potentially harmful changes.

2. Pray First: Pray about the changes you believe need to be made. If you are trying to change things in a church, you want to make sure you are on track with what God has planned and that can only happen if you are listening carefully. Invite your leadership and other prayer warriors to join you in praying for wisdom and clear direction from God.

3. Love Deeply: Make your first priority to love the people experiencing the changes you will implement. Do anything and everything you can to show them you want to get to know them. Show them you want to get to know their history. Ask questions about who they are and what they care about. Celebrate together when things go well.

Loving people deeply can contribute to change being accepted because they have accepted you.  Show them that you want to put them first, but you want the best for them and that is why you are making changes.

4. Share Goals Carefully: Work with the leadership to get a sense of where changes should be made and even some of what the changes would look like. Have a goal in mind but don’t share it with too many people at first. If people hear about all you want to change at the beginning, they may be overwhelmed and not give you opportunity to change anything. This isn’t about deceiving people but about having time to build on small wins before sharing some of the bigger changes to come.

5. Build a Team: Work especially closely with those who want changes and will champion them for you. Help them introduce the changes so they don’t just come from the leader but from a larger team. Make sure you are all on the same page, having worked through the process of evaluating and planning for change together.

6. Begin Small: Start with a few small changes. Ask your team to help you figure out a few small things that could be changed. Invite them into the process of thinking through how that change would look. You might begin some of the changes by suggesting: “Let’s try this for a short period of time.” People are more willing to accept change if they know there is an end to it, or that it is not set in stone.

7. Evaluate Changes Honestly: Once you have changed something, evaluate it honestly. Evaluate how it went and decide if it should stay, and stay as is, or stay with some changes. Don’t assume it went well just because it was your idea. Invite the appropriate people into the evaluation so you can honestly determine if the change is good or not.

8. Communicate Clearly: Be very clear with all those affected. Inform them of what is being changed and why, as well as how the change will help improve things. If it is a change that will be noticed by all those in your organization then invite the whole organization into the evaluation. If it is only a certain department, then invite that department into the process. Once the evaluation process is complete, clearly communicate if it will stay, why, and what adjustments may be made.

9. Build on Wins: After a few smaller wins you will be able to make slightly larger changes. You can slowly build momentum on the changes that go well. If there is a change that is not adapted, don’t see it as a failure but as a means of developing credibility with your team as well as with those hesitant to make changes. If they realize you want the best and are not just forcing changes through, they may be quicker to accept the next “trial change”.

10. Develop Patience and Perseverance: Don’t give up if a few changes are not accepted. Be patient and persevere for the long term. The longer you are part of a church, the more likely you will be able to increase the rate of change. This will be because people get to know you and trust you. It will also be because over time there will be more people who started attending the church after you came, so they chose the church aware of who you are and how you lead and the changes you are making.

It is not easy to be a change leader. You will face opposition. Hopefully, if you move at a slow steady pace, you will face less of it and begin to build on your wins. Hang in there for the long haul. And trust God to give you wisdom and guide you as you look to Him.

Keep looking up,

Andy Wiebe

Pastors Are Staying Longer

Pastors seem to be staying at one church for a longer time than in the past. I have seen a few pastors who resigned recently after 13 or 15 years at the same church. How did they do it?

Let me share a few of my observations. Some, or all, or none, of the following may be at play in longer pastoral stays.

1. The Strong Leader

Leadership has been one of the main issues pastors have been told they need to work on to have a great ministry. There are many books and seminars and podcasts dedicated to pastoral leadership. Well, some pastors are great leaders. The congregation loves the pastor because they see how the pastor always leads with a strong vision and clear direction. The congregation see the results of new people, maybe their own children, coming to Christ and being baptized under the leadership of these pastors. The leadership board enjoys having a leader who guides them as a board.

This type of pastor appeals to a congregation that loves to do the work of the Kingdom. They flourish because the leader equips them and inspires them to move toward one direction together. This pastor understands the congregation and builds ministries on the gifts and skills and passions of those present.

The strong leader addresses issues as soon as they arise and deals with them swiftly. If there are relationships that are struggling, he will do his best to fix them immediately. If there are ministries that are having issues he steps in to resolve them as efficiently as possible.

This pastor will most likely be a “projects person.” He is great at setting up the right ministries so that the care for people is done in the ministries and programs of the church rather than through his own relationships with everyone.

2. The Strong Shepherd

Pastors do not need to have abundant leadership skills to stay long term in one church. I’ve seen some who remain at a church for years because they love people. They care for those in the congregation. They are at the hospital bed of everyone who ends up in the hospital. They might even remember everyone’s birthday and call them or take the out for coffee to celebrate. I remember a pastor with this gifting who remembered everybody’s name from the first time they attended as new-comers.

This pastor may not start new ministries but is faithful to continue to maintain the ministries that are already going. This pastor may not have strong preaching abilities, but the congregation senses his love for them whenever he preaches.

This pastor will generally be a “people person.” His ministry is all about loving and caring for people.

3. Be a Strong Adapter

I am presently doing transition ministry in one church that just said goodbye to a pastor who was there for about 13 years. As we have gone through the transition process, I have heard comments from people that the previous pastor was not the same at the end as he was at the beginning of his ministry. He changed and adapted, and it was a good thing.

Adapting happens for a few reasons.

a. The pastor grows up: If you are a new pastor just out of Bible College, you are likely young, and probably inexperienced. Some young pastors may have been very involved in their church growing up, or grew up in a pastor’s family and so have some experience of how church works. Others come to this role with little church experience at all.

If you are a young pastor, you may be able to have a long ministry at one church if you keep on growing. Keep on taking courses. Attend seminars. Read books. You might want to focus in on a certain aspect of the pastoral role that excites you, but keep learning. Find an older pastor nearby who will mentor you and whom you can bounce ideas off of. Make use of denominational leaders and coaches to help you. Be willing to listen to your leadership team. They have probably been in that church longer than you.

b. The church grows: If you are part of a church that is growing, the dynamics of church ministry will shift over time. When you have 60 people, you will know everyone. When you have 120 people, you may have to work much harder to get to know the newer people. You may need to add more small groups and add more leaders, so your role in equipping leaders may expand. If you grow to the point of hiring staff, you will again have to adapt as you are now leading a team, even if it is just two of you. You are now handing off some responsibilities to another pastor and trusting them to lead their areas well.

If you are in a growing church, make sure you keep learning. Go to seminars, take courses, and read lots. Look for someone who has experience pastoring a church that is growing and ask them to help you adapt well. Learn to increase your leadership team. Work closely with new staff. You may need to establish another level of leadership to look after different departments in the church.

If it is your goal to be a pastor who stays a long time in one church, then be the best you that you can be. If you are gifted as a leader, lead well. If your primary gifts are in the area of shepherding, then shepherd your congregation well. When you are in a church that is growing, figure out how to adapt where you can and gather a team around you to compliment and balance out your own gifts and skills. Usually both the pastor and the church benefit from a pastor staying for a longer period.

Keep looking up,

Andy Wiebe

The Natural Hamartiologist

The hunter reaches back with quiet well-practiced motion to locate an arrow in his quiver. He selects one and brings it forward as his other hand raises his bow. He nocks his arrow on the bow and pulls back the full reach of his arm. His eyes look down the arrow and focus in on the deer in the open field ahead of him. As soon as he feels his aim is true, he pauses his breath, and lets the arrow fly. If the hunter is well practiced, and maybe a bit lucky, the arrow will pierce his prey and provide him with his supper.

There is a word used in the New Testament that describes an arrow missing its mark. The word “hamartano,” is translated as “sin.” So the word for “sin” comes from a word “regularly used in ancient times of an archer missing the target.” (Strong’s Concordance) We all regularly “miss the mark”. We sin. I heard one person recently say, “we regularly hurt the ones we love.” Often we miss the mark with the people we care about the most.

Hamartiology is the study of how we miss the mark. Romans 3:23 says, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

I am adapting the word to suit my own purposes here: the Natural Hamartiologist is the one who naturally misses the mark. The one who regularly and often misses the mark is a Natural Hamartiologist. I would suggest that this is really a description of all humans.

Our Creator God created us to have someone to have a relationship with. He created us with free will, hoping we would choose to love and serve and honor Him. The book of Genesis is the first book of the Bible. Only 3 chapters in you will find the first people – Adam and Eve – choosing to disobey and miss God’s mark for them. From then on all humans have this tendency to miss the mark – not all the time – but regularly. Some of us have no interest in pleasing God, so missing the mark in measuring up to His standards is not relevant. For the rest of us, those who have surrendered our lives to God, we desire to hit the mark more often than not.

God chose to send His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross in our place, taking our death penalty that missing the mark requires of us. When Jesus rose from the dead, He was victorious over death, over the devil, and over sin. He never missed the mark when it came to obeying God. He gives us his Spirit to remind us when we do miss the mark. And every time the Spirit reminds us, we can go back to Jesus, ask him to forgive us, and he does. God sees us as the forgiven ones, because he sees us through Jesus who never missed the mark.

As Christians with our faith in Jesus and his death and resurrection for us, we can be forgiven. We can have a relationship with God, as He desired in the first place, as people who are not seen as Hamartiologists but as “dikaios” – Righteous Ones.

We fall short of God’s ideal very often, but we also have One who by his death and resurrection has paid for our sin and made us righteous before God.

Are you a practicing Hamartiologist or are you an aspiring Dikaios? What we think of ourselves as influences how we live our life. If we think we are ones who regularly miss the mark, then we are not surprised when we do. If we view ourselves as ones who are righteous, then we focus more on living out that righteousness. It may seem like a small thing, but I believe how you view yourself affects how you live. Paul regularly addressed his New Testament letters “to God’s holy people” in Ephesus, or Philippi. We are righteous ones pursuing The Righteous One. We want to pursue the God-given ideal and can rejoice that God has provided a way for us to become righteous when we miss the mark again.

Keep coming back to Jesus,

Andy Wiebe

Do We Need A Transition Pastor?

I am presently serving as a Transition Pastor. Some might wonder what that is, or why a church might need one. Many of you reading this are part of a church, and may be part of the leadership that needs to determine next steps after a pastor leaves.

When a pastor resigns and leaves his church, the church needs to determine next steps. Some questions to consider would be:

  • Should we immediately look for a new pastor?
  • What kind of pastor do we need next?
  • Should we get a Transition Pastor?
  • Are there things we need to work on to be ready for a new pastor?

A Transition Pastor

A Transition Pastor serves in the time between a church’s last pastor and the next one they will hire. He will generally sign a contract for nine months up to two years. The Transition Pastor’s main role is to make sure the church is healthy and ready for the next part of their journey, before hiring the next pastor.

 Another role is to help the church say goodbye to the previous pastor and some of the experiences of the past. If the pastor who left was deeply loved by the congregation, and if he served there for a long time, a new pastor coming in immediately would probably be regularly compared to the last pastor. I have had that experience in a few churches I served. A Transition Pastor can be a buffer, helping the church move on from the last pastor and be ready to accept the next one.

If there was a lot of pain and heartache that caused the previous pastor to leave in turmoil, the Transition Pastor can help the church heal and move on from that experience so they are ready to accept the next pastor God sends their way. This is part of the process of ensuring the church is heathy and ready to move on.

The Transition Pastor can also bring consistency to the congregation while they are looking for their next pastor. Instead of bringing in different local people to preach every Sunday, he provides consistent leadership that takes the load from the Leadership Board that volunteers to serve with already busy lives of their own.

Transition Benefits

If you are part of a church that is in between pastors, I would highly recommend hiring a Transition pastor. They will help you say goodbye to the previous pastor and that chapter of the church. They will help you be healthy and ready for the next chapter. The Transition Pastor can focus in on the issues that will bring health in a way that a new pastor can’t, as they are responsible to deal with all aspects of the church.

The Transition Pastor is a trained specialist who can address much needed assessing and re-visioning that not every pastor is equipped to do.

The Transition Coach

Not every church that is between pastors will hire a Transition Pastor. Sometimes they opt to go with a Transition Coach. Churches that choose this option usually have others in the church that can continue to preach most Sundays and look after pastoral care of the congregation. This would most likely be a multi-staff church that may be looking for their next Lead Pastor while still having other staff running many aspects of the church.

The Transition Coach will do many of the same assessments and work through similar processes with the Elders, staff, and congregation. He will not be there every Sunday but will show up occasionally to work through different steps of the process. And he will be guiding the whole process, even suggesting topics or themes to address in the preaching. The one concern I have about choosing a Transition Coach is that this person is not as closely connected or intimately in tune with what is going on in the church in the way an on-site Transition Pastor is.

Are you in between pastors? Then consider hiring a Transition Pastor. You will benefit greatly!

Keep looking up

Andy Wiebe

*Click this link to connect with Andy about Transition ministry.