Every pastor has a set of ministry hacks – tools, tricks of the trade, success secrets – that places their unique stamp on local church life, and fuels effective ministry across the church. Here are seven of my favorite ministry hacks:
1-Stock Your Prayer Room
When your worship leaders gather together on Sabbath morning, make sure the prayer room is ready. Provide comfortable chairs and a mirror. Provide eight ounce bottles of water, cough drops, Kleenex tissues, lint brushes, hand sanitizer, pencils and pens, and worship flow sheets.
2-Turn Your Car Into a University on Wheels
Most pastors spend a lot of time on the road, especially those with multiple churches in their district. This is time that can be spent improving your ministry serve. Listen to church leadership podcasts and audio books. Free audio books are available through most public libraries. Subscription audio books are also available from services such as Audible.
3-Don’t Keep the Morning Watch
Through the course of the year, many church members will donate their old books to the church library. While many of these books will lend themselves well to a two or three week check out system, the daily devotional books will not. So keep those devotional books in a box, and then between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day set them out on a foyer table. Let the church members help themselves to fresh morning manna for the year to come.
4-Swap Houses, Swap Pulpits
Years ago when I was pastoring the Provo church in Utah and my friend Owen Bandy was pastoring the church in Moab, we decided to swap houses and pulpits for a weekend. For the price of a tank of gas and a sermon, my family and I got a weekend away in Arches National Park, while our friends got a weekend away in town where they could catch up on some R & R, and some shopping. That was probably 25 years ago, and we are still talking about it.
Instead of hauling a big black Bible into the pulpit, get yourself a thinline Bible. It is so much easier to handle while preaching.
6-Give Your Books Away
A couple of times a year, a free box of books will show up in my mail. Then there are the books that I buy that are good for one reading. I’ve got more books than I can read, and more books than my shelves will hold. So now I give away some of my books – both new and only read once. I have a book drawing each month at the end of my church board meetings, or when I teach a Sabbath School class. People love it.
Our church members today are mobile. They go on business trips. They take family vacations.
One way to encourage them to enjoy Sabbath worship with a sister congregation is to ask your members to bring back a worship bulletin for you. The added bonus in this is that you bulletin with give you some great ideas for future worship services and for the layout of your local bulletin.
Child dedication services provide a great opportunity to bless young families. After you have shared with the family words of encouragement, and after you have prayed with them, present them with some gifts: A child dedication certificate, a soft toy, a family life book, and a $100 certificate good for when they enroll their child in the Kindergarten or First Grade at your local church school.
9-Pots, Not Stems
Many churches present women with long-stemmed roses or carnations on Mother’s Day Sabbath. Sadly, these flowers usually fade before sunset. Next time present mothers with a potted annual – marigolds, petunias, ageratums, etc. These flowers can find themselves in the home garden or in a patio pot that can last the entire season. If you work with your local garden center, they can cut you a deal so that the potted flowers are the same price or less than cut flowers.
10-Get Into the Pews
As people are getting settled into their seats before the worship service, I love to move through the sanctuary and personally greet as many as possible. A warm, friendly, pastoral touch means a lot to everyone!
Every pastor has their own set of ministry hacks. Share your best hacks with Best Practices for Adventist Ministry and you will not only energize the ministries of fellow pastors with some great ideas, you will find yourself with a bit of cash to put in your pocket as well. Writer’s Guidelines: Hacks should be 100 or 250 words. We also need your picture and we need to know where you are doing ministry.
Dan Martella is the Administrative Pastor for the Paradise Church in California, and the Managing Editor for Best Practices for Adventist Ministry