Why do some churches drift away from their mission and others consistently plod ahead toward their mission? Why do some churches consistently reach their community with the gospel while others become inward-focused over time?
Churches that stay on mission and consistently reach their community with the gospel are led by intentional pastors and leaders.
But make no mistake.
There is a battle these pastors and leaders have to fight and there is a battle you and I have to fight if we want to be among them.
To be an intentional pastor, you must fight against the inevitable drift of becoming comfortable with Sunday-to-Sunday focuses.
To be an intentional pastor, you must fight against the easy route–only focusing in the ministry rather than focusing on the church.
But as they fight that battle, they see the fruit of being an intentional, strategic leader.
This is what these intentional pastors do:
5 Things Intentional Pastors Do
1. Intentional pastors optimize their week.
Intentional pastors know that their time is valuable so they set themselves up for success before the week even begins. They know that, barring major emergencies that might come up, they will be able to work on what needs worked on and stay ahead of the curve.
Intentional pastors pay attention to the rhythms of their own bodies so that they can leverage their most creative times for creative work and their other times for less creative work.
2. Intentional pastors plan their sermons ahead of time.
Intentional pastors know that they can plan a year of preaching by the guidance of the Holy Spirit and much prayer. They know that the further ahead they work in their sermon planning, the better their preaching will be.
Because they recognize that what is true of a meal is true of a message: the crockpot beats the microwave.
And since they plan their sermons ahead of time, they also plan their reading ahead of time so that it corresponds with what they are preaching on so their well stays fresh and full.
3. Intentional pastors lead with clarity.
Intentional pastors know that, at the end of the day, they are the chief clarity officers. It is up to them to be dialed into what God is saying and to bring clarity to the questions regarding the direction of the church.
They know that they shouldn’t do this on their own but they also know that they can’t wait for someone else to bring clarity and vision to their leadership team.
Intentional pastors lead with clarity. This means they cast a clear vision and they (along with their team) work a strategic plan that makes that vision become a reality.
4. Intentional pastors develop leaders.
Intentional pastors can see the epidemic that is hitting many Bible Colleges and Seminaries–they are closing. They see that and they remind themselves that it is the church’s responsibility to raise up and develop leaders for the future.
Then they–and this is the difference-maker–start developing leaders.
They approach leadership development with a plan of action.
They plod ahead knowing that leadership development and discipleship take time.
Intentional pastors develop leaders for the Church knowing that if they raise up a God-honoring leader and that leader is called to another church, the Church is stronger and it is more blessed to give than to receive.
In other words, intentional pastors develop leaders and mobilize them. Sometimes those leaders are deployed to a ministry team to lead in that same church. Sometimes those leaders are deployed to the staff team of that same church. But sometimes those leaders are deployed to another church. All three options are wins.
5. Intentional pastors track progress and define reality.
Intentional pastors don’t settle for the hype. They pay attention to trends. They listen to and observe their people. And they look at the numbers.
Intentional pastors believe wholeheartedly that you should count what is important. So they do and through that, they are able to define reality.
With the precision of a seasoned doctor, they diagnose the problem areas and target those areas with actions that will bring healing.
Defining reality can be a tough responsibility for an intentional pastor because the news isn’t always what leaders want to hear. But they know that if the leaders within the church they get to serve don’t come to terms with what is, they won’t be able to move forward to what God wants them to be.
Help is Coming
None of us have ever set out to be unintentional pastors. But drifting into Sunday-to-Sunday focuses can be so easy to do.
That’s why I developed tools to help me in each one of these areas and now I want to share them with you.
It’s called The Intentional Pastors Toolkit and it is available now.