Worst practices for dismissing a minister
Talking with ministers who have lost their jobs can feel…
As I reflect on the many blessings, challenges and learning experiences I have had during my first several months of full-time ministry, I would be amiss to discredit the profoundly positive impact my current congregation has had on me as a young minister.
Most congregations aren’t malicious but are simply unaware of some small things that contribute to a young minister’s encouragement — or discouragement.
Not every young minister shares this same experience. We have all heard of those who burned out early on because of a harsh first experience in ministry. Most congregations aren’t malicious but are simply unaware of some small things that contribute to a young minister’s encouragement — or discouragement.
Here are four simple things churches can do to encourage young ministers:
• Affirm their calling: “Ministry can be such an unstable career. Shouldn’t you have something you can fall back on?” Young ministers often are told this, and many approach their first ministry job with trepidation. Paul told his young protégé Timothy to “fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands” (2 Timothy 1:6). To deeply encourage a young minister, a church should verbally recognize the gifts God has put in his younger servants and exhort them to continue nurturing these gifts.
• Spend meaningful time with them: Seeing church members on Sundays and Wednesdays is great, but there’s something about getting outside the walls of the church building with others that makes us feel truly integrated into the church. Some of the richest conversation I’ve had has been on the golf course with a retiree who invited me when we first arrived. Take your young minister to your favorite restaurant or a ballgame. Include them in your hobby, or let them accompany you on the job.
• Reach out to their spouse: Perhaps the biggest factor that contributes to a young minster’s encouragement has to do with how their family is adapting to ministry life. My wife has been invited on coffee dates, ladies retreats and home Bible studies with other women in the congregation. She truly feels welcomed, included and valued.
• Pray for them: Pray for their families, their ministry and personal spiritual growth. Pray that Satan will not get any foothold, whether it be in the form of temptation or negative people. Be sure to regularly tell them that they are a priority on your prayer list.
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