Ever wonder what meetings are like on the other side? At a different church? How have they already solved the problems you are currently having in your church? Take a closer look at the churches around you. What appears the same on the outside could be very different on the inside.
Over the few years I have been in ministry I have “worked” vocationally in 3 different churches. One was a full-time paid intern, one as an associate high school pastor, and now at Gateway Church for almost 3 years as the student pastor overseeing both middle and high school ministry. This may seem like a good start for experience sake in the years to come, but I would argue that it is not without the multiple visits and information obtained from other churches. If you haven’t been outside the walls of your church in the last 3 or 4 months it’s time to get away from your church and visit another one. This isn’t for the sake of quitting your job, actually just the opposite. Going to other churches, interviewing other ministries and networking with peers could be the lowest cost yet highest return in practical ministry knowledge and working experience. I want to give you 5 easy ways you can start doing this if you haven’t already. Just to prove to you that I believe in this… I’m writing all of this while I sit here in another student pastor’s office.
1. Pick a group of churches/ministries you look up to.
- Find churches both locally and nationwide that you want to learn from.
- Make a list of why you look up to this church or ministry, not just because they are “cool” or the newest thing on the block.
2. Make contact, put a date on the calendar.
- Try to schedule a meeting with exactly who you want to meet with.
- If they are unavailable or unable to put you on the calendar ask them who they might recommend you meet with.
- Agree on a date and time you can come observe, ask questions and talk ministry.
3. Develop a list of questions, most likely the things you are not doing well.
- Remember it’s not always apples to apples, but they may be able to give insight to your situation.
- Talk numbers. Talk budgets. Talk ratios. This is not rude as long as your heart is right, you/they are doing the best to understand your/their current ministry situation. This is not a time to flaunt, rather a time to help.
4. Share what you learned.
- Develop a well written document both for your own keepsake.
- Create an abbreviated version that can be easily shared with your team, supervisor, or senior pastor.
5. Stay in touch.
- Did you enjoy your visit? Did you learn something? Let them know it. Write a thank you note.
- Have a standing monthly or bi-monthly reminder on your calendar to email and “check-in” with those you have visited.
- Continue to talk strategy, give updates, ask questions, and start the process all over again.
Well… I have go now, I’m about sit through another church’s all-staff meeting. 🙂