Pastors Share Insights: “This Worked For Me”
Andres Ramirez, Pasco, WA – I have pastored 16 years, and I believe our success here can be summed up in one word: others. It is about having an evangelistic spirit by planting seed, helping other pastors to build, and investing in gifted ministries of young preachers and pastors. In 2004, we averaged about 35, and today we average around 75. Being a servant to others is the key to unity. One young preacher ministered in our church, and our attendance doubled from 75 to 150 in just 16 weeks. Prayer is critical from the beginning, and knocking doors has worked for us.
You don’t have to be big to have a big vision. Our youth group was the first in the nation to work with Microsoft at Las Vegas event. Stay focused on vision, regardless of attendance. Pray for a Teflon spirit where nothing sticks. Don’t save a message for bigger events. My favorite place to preach is in our church.
I wish I had realized sooner that I didn’t have to perform for my mentors. They didn’t require that, and it doesn’t work anyway.
Miguel C. Garrick, Brooklyn, NY – I have pastored for 3 1/2 years and averaged 25 to 30 when we first came. We have a lot of first-time visitors in our area. Our Sunday morning services are evangelistic to get them to the altar or secure a home Bible study. We utilize the 30 Minute Pentecostal Experience study and New Birth study by Michael Blankenship. A 13-week New Convert class follows, and people usually receive the Holy Ghost in a couple of weeks.
Plowing Before the Planter taught me to get a consensus of my area, inside and out. There are sexual predators and a prostitution ring close to our church. We prayed specifically, then interviewed the neighborhood to find out what they expect from a church and what attracts them to a church. Once inside the church doors, they won’t be the same. I am still learning a lot in the area of people skills, balancing the old with the new, and church culture.
Ernest D. Collins, Binghamton, NY – This is my fourth year pastoring. We began with six people, and we are running 60 now. We started serving dinner and having fellowship after every service on Thursday and Sunday morning. This gave those who were uninvolved in the church something special to do and has helped our growth tremendously. Some may come off the street to eat, but the dinners have helped us retain visitors as well. We have done after-school door knocking but found that our revivals have brought the greatest spiritual response.
A novice pastor should listen to people who have experience and be open to things one might not naturally do. Some may have difficulty meeting new people, while others may not. The main thing is to stay on your hands and knees and have the favor of the Lord upon you.
When I began pastoring, I was under the impression that people would just get behind me and work. I was focusing on them and what they needed to do, rather than focusing on myself as pastor to help them grow. I know now that my largest role is to train them and focus on leadership instead of going a hundred different directions.
Robert Axton, Palmyra, MO – We started as a home missions work 28 years ago. We rented a small metal building for 13 years, shared an Episcopal building for four years, growing from 24 to 40. After purchasing our own building, we reached out to another community near us, and God blessed our efforts at home. After a Harvest Conference on retaining people, our average attendance has more than doubled. We recently had about 120 to 130.
We invite new converts to our New Life Discipleship class on Thursday nights and serve a meal. We also invite our Life In Focus students to attend the meal before their class and have made tremendous relationships. Sis. Axton has connections to the courts and DFS and leads a team that teaches Anger Management, A.C.T.S. and Parenting Skills.
A novice pastor should connect with an anointed man of God through whom the anointing flows and gather knowledge from him. Don’t play the Lone Ranger. Today is so different from the ‘80s. Often the focus was on getting a building. Today, the focus is to build people, and everything else will follow.
Jeff Hall, Walla Walla, WA – I have pastored for 16 years. We had eight in our first service, and most of those were one family. Don’t settle for anything less than powerful Spirit-filled services. We have a website, teach Bible studies and do outreach in our city, but there is no substitute for what the Spirit does. It is important to adapt. We reached out to the large Spanish population in our city and began a Spanish service with an interpreter. I am in the process of learning Spanish. We adapted and have seen great growth in this area.
Do not live by your feelings. If God has truly called you to a city, stay until you see the promise. If I had given in to the way I felt at times, I would have left years ago. Sixteen years later, we are beginning to see the fruit of our labors.
Learn balance: To have longevity in a city, you MUST learn to balance your family and your calling. Otherwise, the ups and downs of pastoring will destroy your ability to stay. Create traditions with your family. Do fun things with your children. Develop hobbies you all enjoy.
The dangers of comparing: Comparing yourself with others interferes with God’s specific direction for your life. Abraham would have missed God’s will had he fallen into this trap. Others’ success stories can sometimes cause us to question our success. God will bring His results in His timing.