Not long after ordination, I had a long visit with a neighboring pastor. More accurately, I listened to a veteran pastor describe how he was coping with a season of drought and dryness in ministry.
It wasn’t going well.
The visit made quite an impression. Like many new pastors, I felt I was answering a calling, not starting a job. I was entering a vocation, not launching a career. I fully expected to be refreshed by “living water’ (John 7:38), not find myself in the “valley of dry bones” (Ezekiel 37:11).
I should have known better. Human nature being human nature, clergy are not immune to emotional famine. If you’re in a dry season, here’s five practical ideas for refreshing a stale ministry.
Find a new role within your current position.
Routines can get old, no matter how enjoyable the work. Challenge yourself by finding a new role within your current calling. Start a new ministry that flows from one of your passions. If you’re not involved in visitation, get permission to share in visitation ministry once a week. Join one of your church’s mission trips not as the leader, but as one of the crew.
Take a field trip.
You can gain a great deal of inspiration by visiting other churches. If you serve an established church, take leaders to visit a new church start. If your church has identified a need in your community, volunteer for a few days at a church meeting a similar need. I once went with congregational leaders to worship on a Saturday evening at a sister church. The experience caused us to upgrade how we connected with guests and visitors.
Bless or encourage at least one person each weekday for a month.
I haven’t fully unraveled why, but blessing others can profoundly impact us. Write thank you notes to people God used to shape you growing up. Pray in person with at least one person leading a program or ministry in your church. Brainstorm a handful of ideas about how a sister church could could spark or improve its ministry, then share the ideas in an email.
Learn something new about yourself.
Self-discovery is a powerful experience. It’s even more powerful when shared by staff or lay leaders. Bring in a coach to lead the staff through StrengthFinders2. Ask a consultant to take leaders through a personality inventory, such as the DiSC profile. Find a facilitator to help staff and leaders identify their ministry core values.
Remember those continuing education classes you keep saying you will take?
Clergy are especially notorious for not finding time or resources for continuing education. If you have funds available for continuing education, use them. Keep in mind education has changed drastically the past generation. If there are no funds, you can create your own course using videos, podcasts and books. Between YouTube and iTunes there is likely an entire syllabus worth of content for whatever topic you want to study.
If you have additional ideas for refreshing a stale ministry, leave a comment or shoot me an email.
2 thoughts on “Five Ideas for Refreshing a Stale Ministry”
Two other things that have helped me in dry times are 1) volunteer at something in your community or for the larger church. It helps to work at something that is not connected to your paycheck. 2) Find a way to mentor a younger pastor or help a peer in the ministry. Many of us in ministry grow stale because we do not have friendships or take the opportunity to help one another.
I really like the volunteering in the community. Good call.