Effective ministry depends on authentic faith, enthusiastic gratitude



As the twelve North Georgia district superintendents and I have met to prepare for this year’s holy responsibility of appointment making, we have spent many days going through every church, every extension ministry, and every clergyperson name by name.  We have prayed that the Holy Spirit would guide us and direct us in our sacred task of superintending the ministry of this wonderful annual conference.  

After thirty-eight years of ministry, I have observed some very practical realities about effective ministry that I hope every pastor understands.  The following thoughts are offered in the hope that they will be helpful to the faithful men and women who have answered God’s call to the unique itinerant ministry of our denomination and who are serving our local congregations.

I’ve learned that effective United Methodist pastors:
      •  have, and nurture daily, a winsome, joyous, vibrant and authentic personal faith in, and relationship with, Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord;
      •  sincerely love God and people and clearly demonstrate that love immediately and consistently through Christ-like servanthood;
      •  show enthusiastic gratitude for the particular appointment being served from the very start;
      •  remember their sacred covenantal responsibilities to the annual conference through which they have been appointed to serve a particular congregation;
      •  complain about almost nothing;
      •  demonstrate the adaptability needed to serve their present appointments;
      •  are self-starters who serve with high energy;
      •  prepare well, and then deliver well, meaningful and inspiring sermons;
      •  serve with absolute integrity while maintaining the highest standards of holy living;
      •  encourage and practice legal and ethical financial disciplines personally and in the church;
      •  creatively mentor laity for mission and ministry;
      •  teach and model generosity by practicing tithing as God’s minimum standard of giving; 
      •  uphold the primacy and authority of scripture and value Christian tradition, reason, and experience;
      •  physically move into the church community and also live in the church parsonage where one is provided;
      •  quickly visit, care for, and genuinely respect long-time members while reaching out to new people and leading in making disciples of Jesus Christ;
      •  do not change worship, or other traditions, before establishing loving trust with that congregation;
      •  do not hire family members, or put them in high profile leadership positions;
      •  realize that an autocratic, or military, leadership style of administration is often ultimately fatal for the pastor’s ministry;
      •  and are completely faithful to The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church.

Like you, I want every appointment to be blessed by God so that every congregation and ministry setting will flourish and every clergyperson will be effective in his or her ministry.  The North Georgia Cabinet and I most sincerely ask you to join us in prayer that this may be so.  Dear God, let it be!

This article recently ran in the April 16th edition of the North Georgia Advocate.  For more information about the North Georgia Advocate, or to subscribe, please visit www.ngumc.org/advocate or call 678.533.1376.