1) Be salty.
Evangelism is not something you can preach about once a year. Evangelism should never be relegated to a particular committee or team. It has to be central. The Great Commission was Jesus’ marching orders for the church. Being salt and light happens naturally for those who are growing spiritually. You don’t have to twist a healthy Christian’s arm to evangelize. It will spill out and overflow from our lives.
How much more for you, the pastor? You accepted a call to be a church planter because at one point, your heart broke for the lost and you wanted to make a difference. Don’t let the busyness of church life squeeze out your witness. If you want your church to be evangelistic, you need to lead by example.
2) Develop thick(er) skin.
When I was a regular church member or even a leader, I found it easy to criticize the pastor. I thought I was just offering an opinion. Now that I am a pastor, my eyes have been opened to the emotional, mental and spiritual drain that comes when you are the object of criticism.
I always thought I could handle criticism. “I don’t care what others think of me.” Not true. My desire to please others, even my critics, has caused much pain on both sides. If you don’t developer thick skin, you are not going to last long. I have found it helpful to preach the gospel to myself on a regular basis and to meditate on passages like Colossians 3 and Ephesians 4.
3) Be prepared to serve in the mundane.
As a planter in a small church plant, you are under-resourced. This means you will have to wear many hats. You will have to be preacher, teacher, e-mailer, event coordinator, Webmaster, encourager and toilet cleaner. Many of these things will be hidden from view. I have to remind myself that Jesus came to serve, not to be served. There is no task too small for you. Learn to be a servant as you serve people through mundane tasks. Teach your leaders to be servants and transition some of these tasks off your plate as the church grows.
4) Resist the fiefdom mentality.
Whenever you watch a celebrity pastor, I know what you are thinking. “Man, I’ve got a lot of work to do!” Or, “How long and how fast can I grow this thing?” It’s dangerous to think this way because your focus is on yourself and your fiefdom.
Fight against self-centeredness. Find other local pastors. Learn from them. Work together to reach people. We share a building with another church, and we did Harvest America together. We’re all on the same team, and we serve one God. Broaden your perspective from your fiefdom, your church, to God’s kingdom, His (universal) church.
Intentionally do things that help others but don’t directly help your ministry. For example, I volunteer to preach at a home for the elderly in our neighborhood once a month. There is no chance that these elderly grandmothers will ever step foot into our church. I take that back—one Sunday, one of the more mobile grandmothers came to our service, but she left after the praise time because she said it was too loud! Serving outside our local church is good training for us young pastors who like to see numbers and our Twitter-follower count rising.
5) Fight to keep your love for Jesus fresh.
This lesson is the most important on the list. If you stop growing in your relationship with Jesus, you have nothing to give to your church. Carve out time with Jesus early in the morning before you work on your sermon or meet someone. Find out what works for you. Listening to a good praise song inspires me. I also find prayer walks or walking while reading Scripture helps me to focus when I have been sitting in front of a computer all day.