I’m sure my context is different than others after serving in student Ministry for just shy of 25 years. I felt God’s call to be a pastor and have served in that role for more than a year. The last place I served for ten years. It would be considered a larger church. That church had five full-time ministers and 6 or 7 support staff. The church I’m serving at now has me and one other minister and a part-time assistant. I will share with you all the things that I am figuring out.
- I started to care what the temperature was set to.
I would have regulated thermostats. If you wanted more air or less heat, you could do whatever. If it got left on for a prolonged period, it happened. I became highly aware of how much we use and now look at a thermostat.
- Every Dollar matters.
This sounds like a regular thing. We all know that we are supposed to be good stewards of God’s money. But when your budget is smaller, and you have to make every dollar count, it makes you all the more aware of your spending.
- Polish up any trade skill that you have.
We had an air conditioner blow up and flood a few classrooms. I looked right and left and realized it was me. I was the one that had to make the phone calls. I was the one that had to do the clean-up. Everywhere else, they had someone for that.
- Administration takes a lot more time.
You learn quickly when you go from having an administrator and a financial assistant to nothing. There is a lot of responsibility and accountability. But the biggest thing is you are now responsible for your ministry area…and everything else! If it doesn’t get done, it is on your back, no one else. You cannot pass the buck. I don’t like the administration part. It takes away from what I want to do, like studying or doing ministry.
- You better know some Sound and Video stuff.
You are now the resident expert at everything. You might not have spent much time in the A/V booth before, but now you are the one that everyone will look to for advice and knowledge. You better understand how to use it and teach people if you want it to work.
- Your lane gets a lot bigger.
You might have specialized in the area of students or kids. But in this role as pastor, especially in a small town, you get to be in everything. You are now the van driver, senior adult minister, and student cook. Or any number of things that must get done. You must start looking at the bigger picture altogether.
- Every seven days, there is a Sunday.
In my experience in student ministry, we would have a consistent Mid-week, but there were times when I wasn’t as prepared as I should be. I could play an extra game and do something else, and it was ok. Now my people deserve the best that I can give them. It doesn’t matter what the week holds. They need to hear from the Lord, and I am responsible for providing them the time, energy, and effort. It is hard, but you find a rhythm.
- Prepare to have weird seasons.
In my first summer, I struggled with the summer most. Summer was the Student Minister’s “Super Bowl.” But as the Senior Pastor I didn’t know my role, and I didn’t know what to do. I knew what I wanted my pastor to do when I was still in Student Ministry, so I just tried to fulfill those expectations. My rhythm had changed, and finding the new place was more complicated than I thought. I think I will grow more comfortable with my new role with time.
- Prepare to be on an island.
I don’t know how to explain this. I know that student ministry can be lonely as well. Yet I had never felt the loneliness I did when I became a pastor. You don’t know who you can trust or be open to. The people that do are pastors, and they are busy as well. You don’t want to bother them, but you find you need them more and more.
- Seeing that Big picture is incredible.
I have always loved the church and all the people in it. I specialized in Student ministry, but now I get to love the whole church differently. I get to see the body of Christ differently. When you get to minister to all ages, there is a fulfillment that I cannot explain. It comes with hurts and pains, but it is so good.
Pup Rogers is the pastor at FBC Okemah and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org