The Ministry Life

book cover

The Ministry Life
101 Tips for New Ministers

by John Killinger

Regular Price: $19.00
Online price: $15.20
Paperback/244 Pages

Minstry / Leadership
ISBN: 978-1-57312-662-5

Brief Description

Sharing years of wisdom from more than fifty years in ministry and teaching, The Ministry Life: 101 Tips for New Ministers by John Killinger is filled with practical advice and wisdom for a minister’s day-to-day tasks as well as advice on intellectual and spiritual habits to keep ministers of any age healthy and fulfilled. With a chapter of guidance from other pastors, the book shares important and timely insights that will help ministers, both new and seasoned, find their way a little more quickly and easily.

About the Author

John Killinger, preacher and theologian, has pastored eight churches; taught in seven universities and seminaries, including Vanderbilt, Chicago, and Princeton; and was Distinguished Professor of Religion and Culture at Samford University. He is the author of many books about preaching, worship, literature, ministry, and spirituality. He has a special place in his heart for ministers and their families, for he knows how hard their jobs are and what it often costs to do them.

Table of Contents

1. Don’t ever go into a pastoral situation thinking you have to do everything yourself.
2. Love everybody in your pastorate, especially your enemies.
3. Take the sunshine with you wherever you go, not the clouds.
4. Pay attention to the little things.
5. Keep your eye on the big things.
6. Preach the sermons you would like to hear.
7. Care about the little children as if they were the most important members of your congregation.
8. Don’t forget to really pray.
9. Read, read, read, as though your intellectual and spiritual life depended on it.
10. Never allow routines, however important they may be, to interfere with your doing the real work of a pastor.
11. Work diligently and excitedly on your liturgical prayers.
12. Take time off to just “be human” and do some of the foolish, unprofitable things human beings do.
13. Ask yourself frequently, What kind of diet are my people getting?
14. Talk real sense in your sermons, prayers, and pastoral communications, not holy twaddle.
15. Learn to put your faith—and the historic Christian faith—into stories.
16. Make the keeping of a preacher’s notebook one of your top priorities.
17. Attend to your soul.
18. Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.
19. Keep a journal.
20. Read the Bible as if you were listening to it, not as if you had written it.
21. Treat your present church as if it were your last.
22. Don’t play the blame game.
23. “The music department is the war department of the church.”
24. Always keep a confidence—even if you’re being tortured to reveal it.
25. Rise above your seminary education as quickly as you can.
26. Always be yourself, not a parson.
27. Be punctual.
28. Keep a healthy theological curiosity as long as you live.
29. Preach the occasional series of sermons.
30. Wear appropriate dress for every occasion, especially at work or in the pulpit.
31. Be faithful about answering notes, letters, e-mails, and phone calls.
32. Be kind and attentive to everybody—literally every- body—on your staff, including the cooks and janitors, if you have them.
33. Make your sermons available in printed form for people to take and reread or pass them on to others.
34. Develop friendships with other ministers in your community, if you can, and treasure what these relationships can mean to your congregation as well as to you.
35. Work the edges of your congregation and the middle will take care of itself.
36. “Jesus said ‘Feed my sheep.’ He didn’t say ‘Feed my giraffes.’”
37. Minister to the wealthier, more prosperous people in your congregation as faithfully and eagerly as if they were poor.
38. Think about having a lotto in your church.
39. Set an example for your people’s giving by being a giver yourself.
40. Always be generous about sharing praise and the lime- light with staff members and parishioners.
41. Listen deeply to people’s complaints and ferret out underlying reasons for their distress that may not be apparent on the surface.
42. See that the weekly worship service is always centered on God, not on having fellowship or pushing a program or the great sermon you’re going to preach.
43. Make a practice of seeking the advice of people with whom you wouldn’t normally agree.
44. Keep regular hours.
45. Take a good, relaxing vacation at least once a year, and more often than that if you are in a large church with a lot of responsibilities.
46. Attend a good, solid ministers’ conference at least once a year.
47. Once a year, make a list of all your sermon topics and texts for the past year and survey them to make sure you are cutting a wide enough swath with your preaching.
48. Keep a registry in which you enter the dates and names of all the baptisms, confirmations, marriages, and funerals you perform, and brief notes on all the persons you counsel.
49. Live modestly—which, in your case, means not living above the level of your median-income families.
50. Always remember that the church you pastor is God’s church, not yours, and after that it is the people’s church. You are only a servant in their church and not its owner or its master.
51. Honor your spouse and your children, for you have put them in a tough situation.
52. Always be prepared.
53. Preach stewardship all the time.
54. Take time to be with people—real time, really being with them.
55. Read widely in genres and subjects that have nothing ostensibly to do with your religion.
56. Don’t take yourself too seriously and you won’t be too disappointed when others don’t.
57. Do everything possible to avoid turning your pulpit into a political platform.
58. Be gracious about receiving the gifts members of your congregation want to give you.
59. Be careful whom you allow to share your pulpit.
60. Visit, visit, visit.
61. Lavish some regular attention on your body.
62. Be technologically savvy.
63. Pick your fights.
64. Do beautiful weddings for the sons and daughters of your parish.
65. Personalize funerals and turn them into occasions for spiritual celebration.
66. Never neglect your own church for work in the denomination or a parachurch organization.
67. At least nine times out of ten, your child’s birthday party or your spouse’s trip to the doctor is a greater priority for you than a deacon’s meeting or almost anything else that’s happening at church.
68. Never preach out of anger, only out of love.
69. Get to know everybody in your flock, even if you have a big church.
70. If you have a secretary, be sure this person has a warm Christian spirit and loves your parishioners, because that’s better than being a good typist.
71. Always make a big deal of recognizing your people for their achievements.
72. Be a good sport.
73. Don’t ever tell stories on your parishioners unless you have first asked their permission.
74. Take an occasional sabbatical from your ministry.
75. Be aware of the power of sexual attraction between you and certain people you meet as a minister.
76. Remember the power of the Holy Spirit.
77. Respect everybody’s theology, regardless of how far it is from your own.
78. Resist the temptation to use your position as a minister to gain special favors of any kind.
79. Bring in qualified consultants to study your church and its ministries.
80. Have an office that says “welcome” to all visitors.
81. Maintain a store of special books, CDs, and DVDs you can give or loan to people who need them.
82. Bless the beasts (and children).
83. Work at finding new ways your church can serve the poor in your area.
84. Develop a matchmaker mentality.
85. Accompany your parishioners on pilgrimages.
86. Be generous to your predecessors.
87. Attend the meetings of your elderly church members.
88. Do everything you can to create bridges between your church and local artists.
89. Regularly set aside time to think and recreate your inner self.
90. Watch your volunteers to see which ones ought to be elevated to staff positions.
91. Have a good long-range planning committee and keep them working diligently.
92. Run your own referral agency.
93. Craft some really god prayers and liturgical formats for the sacraments of baptism, the Lord’s Supper, marriage, and burial.
94. Listen—really listen—to your fellow staff members.
95. Subscribe to some really worthwhile magazines and pore through them during your spare moments at home or in the office.
96. Pastor your deacons.
97. Make a point of getting to know and being kind to your ushers.
98. Be careful not to pull the rug out from under your parishioners without warning.
99. Don’t be afraid to let your parishioners see you in an apron.
100. Remember that your ministry is all about “good news,” so try to make people think good news when they come to church, not donuts and downers.
101. Be thankful that you serve the greatest calling in the world!
Ten Tips Each from Other Ministers: Advice from Those Who Have Been There
Rev. Jeff Baynes
Rev. Dr. Amy Butler
Rev. Dr. Lillian Daniel
Rev. Dr. David A. Farmer
Rev. Dr. K. Thomas Greene
Rev. Dr. Barry Howard
Rev. Dr. Robert Hundley
Rev. Michael W. McCann
Rev. Dr. James McReynolds
Rev. Dr. Dwight A. Moody
Very Reverend Katherine B. Moorehead
Rev. Brent Nidiffer
Rev. Paul Prather, Jr.
Rev. Dr. William R. Russell
Rev. Dr. William P. Tuck

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