10 Questions All Pastors Should Ask Themselves

Leadership, Personal DevelopmentBy Dr. Frank Damazio

If you have lost heart because you are doing the 10 things all pastors are doing but not seeing satisfying results, let me offer some suggestions so that you can get better traction and better results. Let me match the 10 things pastors do, say and feel with 10 questions pastors need to ask about what they do, say and feel. Your answers could help you change things. I have experienced both the plateau and stagnation stages. I have felt the grind of “I’m doing all I can, but the church isn’t moving in the right direction.” Whenever I have questioned my performance of the 10 things all pastors do and have determined to change how I lead my church, I have been able to make things change – not through some sort of quick fix, but with a slow turning of the flywheel.

As you read the following questions, ask them of yourself. They will help you determine if what you are doing is really working to achieve vision and God’s purpose for His Church. Do these things move the vision off plateaus? Do these things take the vision to prime? Do these things get vision through stagnation?

I Lead, But Do I Produce Leaders?

There are many keys to growing a church, but I think this is the chief key. If you spend all your time leading and doing leadership things that other trained leaders could do, you won’t have time to train leaders. The culture of a growing church is characterized by a leadership pipeline that is continually filled with people being trained to become leaders in the church. You are called to reproduce leaders who reproduce leaders who do the work of expanding the kingdom and growing the church.

I Preach, But Do I Equip?

Sermonizing can be a hindrance to equipping the church. The two are certainly not the same thing.

People listen to sermons, but they act on being equipped.  The main purpose of preaching should be to equip the church to do ministry, not just receive ministry.

Look at all your preaching series over the last 12-36 months. After hearing your sermons on equipping, does the church listen and not do? Your answer to this question can lead you to make a major change for the church and for yourself. Preach for results. If you are looking for more resources on this topic, check out my Preaching Course.

I Work Hard, But Do I Delegate?

Doing all the work is not a sign of a good leader. It’s the sign of someone with good intentions but not the right idea. The traditional small or medium sized church stays that way at times because the pastor either will not or does not know how to delegate and empower people to use their spiritual gifts and their talents. Pastors need to learn to share their leadership with others who may not be as well trained as the pastor. Delegating is mentoring, trusting, spreading the load – and it is a show of wisdom.

The more centers of leadership found in a church, the stronger that church will become.

Let go! Release! Make it possible for large amounts of work to be given over to people. Empower them and back off. It will change your life.

I Raise Money, But Do I Build a Culture of Generosity?

Raising money is important, but building a culture of generosity is more important than just getting the money. A culture of generosity is built by teaching, preaching, modeling actions, and continual giving to others. Generosity is an intangible force that trickles down from all leaders to the people with a specific result. Weekly develop a generosity attitude for enlarging the people’s capacity to serve, give and be generous. Generosity must be a thread that runs throughout the entire church.

Generous churches are led by generous leaders who model generosity in every way at all times.

Be generous to other churches, missionaries, city needs, and visiting ministries. Connect giving to impact, and let people see what generosity achieves. Churches that focus on what is critical to their mission, and that engages the church givers in the cause, will have abundant resources. Generous givers are drawn to the greatness of vision.

I Find Volunteers, But Do I Keep Volunteers?

If you are continually on the hunt for volunteers, you might have a training problem. Finding and keeping volunteers necessitates a hard look at the process. Are you matching the worker’s abilities to the job? Are you giving appropriate orientation and training to all who step forward? Volunteers serve because they want a place to belong and feel needed, valued and connected. The lead pastor should train ministry leaders in how to train volunteers and make the right atmosphere in which the volunteers can to serve and thrive.

I Dream Big, But Do I Dream Strategically?

Dreaming big dreams is the first step, but it is not the only step to take with a dream. The main difference between a leader who dreams big and doesn’t see big things happen is the strategic implementation of the dream. The pathway to fulfillment is written, budgeted, staffed, marked with goals and then begun. Vision statements and proclamations of great things are great – if they are achieved. If they are not achieved, they are a detriment to the leader and the church. Lay out your dream with a plan, a time frame, and a map of actions, who will be involved and where the resources are. It’s important to dream strategically so that drams don’t just remain dreams but become realities.

I Have Strong Convictions, But Do I Learn From Others?

It’s imperative that a leader has convictions and is persistent in fulfilling vision with convictions. Convictions and stubborn, unteachable leaders are not the same – or should I say, shouldn’t be the same. Persistent leaders commit to the vision, which motivates them and others to essential action. Stubborn leaders refuse to learn from others and won’t look at the big picture. They won’t change or adapt. They refuse to expand their comfort zones and often behave in certain ways because their judgement is tainted by preconceived notions, prejudices, biases, limited experiences or unfortunate experiences. These kind of leaders believe they know it all, and because they have convictions, they won’t learn from others. Stubbornness is not the same as being right about something. Be teachable. Explore. Learn from others, even when they are different.

I Believe in Evangelism, But Do I Build An Evangelism Culture?

The belief and practice of personal evangelism by the lead pastor and leadership team is absolutely the right to do, and the model of the leaders will affect the church. A culture of evangelism must be built into the DNA of the congregation – a heart for the lost, the prodigals and unchurched must be ingrained in the very atmosphere of the church, thus making it a culture of evangelism. This culture of having a heart means reaching out to all people from all backgrounds and loving and accepting them. It’s a culture that has an outward focus and empowers people to share their faith every hour of every day. The inclusive welcoming environment for all people that is nurtured in every service and the culture of reaching, praying and seeing lives changed are highlighted all the time. A culture of evangelism sees gospel conversations as a common occurrence in the congregation. Preach it, do it, pray it and show it constantly. Baptize people regularly. Refer to changed lives in every service, and build expectation for people to get right with God.

I Worship, But Do I Build a Worship Culture?

A worshiping pastor is the right model for a congregation, and for you to be a worshiper is foundational to building a worshiping culture. Nothing has more impact than the sight of a pastor and all key leaders passionately singing praise to the Lord with energy, expression, enthusiasm and genuine joy. But this by itself will not build a worship culture in the church. Pastors and leaders often feel frustrated: “I worship, but the church doesn’t follow my example. I’m frustrated with our lack of worship leaders, singers and musicians. I’m not happy with our level of passion or creativity that worship leaders should produce.” It’s likely that the problem stems from the fact that the strategic steps necessary to build a culture of worship haven’t been taken; it takes many layers of strategic steps to form a deep and growing worship culture.

First and foremost, understand that a congregation will not worship because of a great worship leader or a fantastic, talented band or the newest and best songs a church can sing. The church will worship when the pastor preaches, teaches and builds a worship heart in the congregation, nurturing a biblical understanding of worship and how to worship. It starts in the pew, not the platform.

A worshiping culture is the result of strategic preaching, leadership, plowing the ground, sowing the seed and reaping the harvest. A worship leader does not build this culture, the worship leader builds on the foundation that is already in the people. A great worship leader doesn’t make a great worshiping church. A worshiping church makes a great worship leader.

The worship culture is built by a strategic pastor who has a vision for worship to be deep and wide in the church and will give the leadership necessary to make this happen. The worship culture is strengthened by a strategic pipeline of worship musicians, leaders and singers, along with the creative teams that partner with the worship team to make the services impactful. The pipeline must be in place so as to continually produce the people necessary to function with the worship leadership.

The bottom line is that a worship culture should continuously grow people who commit to a vision of helping the church experience the presence of God. That the worship culture is a key ingredient to reviving a church or moving the heart of the church toward a passionate vision cannot be overstated.

I Grow the Church, But Do I Pace the Church?

The leading pastor and the leadership team are to be committed like no one else to grow the church. A pastor spends hours, weeks, months, and years of intense focus to fulfill vision. Growing the vision into reality takes intensity, sacrifice, faith and time and fortitude to overcome setbacks and face challenges head on – it’s a full on lifetime of intensity. Yes, you grow the vision and the church, but you also need to protect the other leaders and the church from burnout. You need to decide when the church will stretch, intensify, reach and sacrifice and when the church needs to rest, solidify, refresh and enjoy the fruit of the work. All volunteers wherever they serve – on the worship team, in children ministries, as counselors, as small group leaders, as greeters, in administration, and so on – suffer from spiritual burnout. You lead, but you must also pace the vision and protect your church from being overwhelmed, drained and serving out of guilt. Guilt is a terrible reason to serve and an even worse reason to persevere when feeling weary or overwhelmed.

As a leader, you are responsible to cast vision, grow it and keep it healthy. The leaders around you are your responsibility to also keep healthy. I am definitely a focused, hard working, intense kind of leader who has the capacity to spin several plates at the same time. My discipline has been in not expecting staff and volunteer leaders to be the same way – I need to protect them from me. I pay attention to them, their families and the time they are spending at the office or on church projects or ministries. I am careful not to give last-minute plans and request that they sacrifice everything to get something I want done. I have learned not to do this. Don’t compare your pace in fulfilling vision to the rock-star church in your city or anywhere else. Find your pace, keep your rhythm and stay the course.