Rhythms of Life and Ministry: Transformation Over Success
For the past few months, I’ve focused on what I call Transforming Pastoral Ministry.
In this specific series of post, I am attempting to propose a new way for pastors and leaders to serve and minister to the church.
It’s a way that’s built around a host of Pillars tethered to a particular cluster of Rhythms!
Remember, these Pillars are the what of pastoral ministry.
By that, I mean that these five areas are the principal areas of concern for any ministry. They are:
- Calling: I define calling as signature convictions around who we are and why we are here. This applies to both the individual minister as well as the congregational identity.
- Congregational Care
- Congregational Leadership
- Preaching and Worship
- Soul-Care, Spiritual Formation and Discipleship
I can pretty much assure you that if you demonstrate some level of competency in three or more of these areas, you will likely have what most would consider a successful ministry.
Success, however, is not the target when I aim what it means to shepherd and lead a congregation.
As a minister, I don’t aim, shoot, or strive for success, per se. Congregationally speaking, we seek a bit deeper at Pillar!
We aim for transformation.
A New Way for a New Model
When I shifted my aim, I discovered that hitting the new target meant developing a new ‘way’ of going about ‘what’ I do as a pastor.
The Rhythms of ministry are the how and why we do what we do.
So, to be grounded in our sense of calling (a Pillar) as individuals and identity as a church will require practicing the Rhythm of Contemplation. Specifically contemplating (chewing, reflecting on, considering) my calling as a child of the Father who is profoundly and unabashedly in love with me as His son.
That’s my first calling: to be His son. A son who is eternally, genuinely, and passionately loved by His father.
When grounded in this sense of calling, I then consider myself a brother in the body before a pastor of the body.
This distinction is vital.
Nurturing this sense of identity, based on Holy love, is the capstone of a Transforming Pastoral Ministry.
Experiencing life and ministry as a holy loved child of God shapes how and why I nurture the ministry of Congregational Care.
Living as the Beloved: Transformation Over Success
The more I experience life and ministry as a child-of-God in whom the heavenly Father takes joy, the more I can enter the realm of congregational care as a companion before and above pastor. Such an orientation then frees me to walk with others in the midst and mess of their struggles rather than direct others to the quickest way out of their struggles.
As I experience the pain and power of Companioning, I am shaped into a leader who yearns to minister as a co-laborer in the critical realm of Congregational Leadership.
The rhythm of co-laboring within congregational leadership leaves my heart open to the truth that God’s Spirit can speak through anyone and anytime in any way. In other words, just because I say it is so doesn’t make it so.
Ministry at the Pace of Christ: Transformation Over Success
This rhythm slows me down to the pace of God.
At His pace, I am then able to pause and listen to His Spirit who is not only within me but also among us!
Fourth, we carry the responsibility of preaching/teaching and worship.
To this, I’ve added the Rhythm of Curating or Caretaking. Caretaking is the craft of assembling the beautiful Story in an artist and majestic way. Curating a worship experience of awe and wonder in the presence of our King.
You can see how the rhythms of contemplating my calling as a beloved child of God, companioning with my congregation as sojourner and co-laboring with His servants toward His vision, naturally foster a worship environment in which the grand narrative of God’s love is experienced in new and life-giving ways week in and week out.
The Mission of Soul-Care: Transformation Over Success
Finally, of course, we are called to a ministry of Discipleship and Soul-care, Pillar number five. In a Transforming Pastoral Ministry model, Discipleship, Soul-care, and Spiritual formation is the central mission of the church. Every other rhythm/pillar points toward and leaps from the primary mission of Soul-care and Spiritual Formation.
For this Pillar, I am proposing a rhythm of cultivating. The verb, to cultivate, taken from the imagery of shepherd and farmer found in the Scriptures.
These Rhythms proclaim the truth that, as pastor, I am first a brother of those whom I serve. More pointedly: I, as Pastor, am both shepherd and sheep.
The Souls of Our People Matter Most: Transformation Over Success
When the people I pastor experience life with me, they then experience the reality that I am on a journey with them.
And, while I may be further along than some of them, I may not be quite as far along as many of them.
Are you aiming for success in ministry?
If so, how do you define success and at what cost do you pursue success?
I recommend aiming higher; better – deeper! Aim for Transformation.
Success may build a church in this generation.
Transformation builds His kingdom and lasts for generations to come!
Disrupting to Renew!