A Lifeline for Multi-Church Pastors
Based on The Multi-Church Pastor by Philip E. Morrison
Africa is facing a pastor crisis.
Though Christianity is rapidly expanding in Africa, the number of pastors has not been growing at the same pace. Those who do have pastoral training oftentimes find themselves assigned to several churches in the same region, where they are expected to meet the needs of many different Christians. There are simply not enough pastors.
If you’re a multi-church pastor, odds are you’re feeling weary. It’s extremely difficult to effectively care for many different congregations at the same time. It’s easy to delegate too much or too little. It’s even easier to neglect your relationships with your family and with God.
As Africa’s Christian population continues to increase, the problems that multi-church pastors face will only grow worse. Has God given a hopeless task? Is it even possible to effectively pastor multiple churches?
Though the multi-church pastor’s situation is not ideal, Dr. Philip E. Morrison believes that even pastors of several churches can be effective shepherds. Morrison has decades of experience training pastors from across Africa, and has founded The Multi-Church Pastor Institute.
His landmark book “The Multi-Church Pastor” speaks into the situations faced by today’s pastorate, providing practical advice, wise counsel, and gentle encouragement. Morrison’s godly teaching helps pastors who struggle to meet the needs of their churches learn to faithfully fulfil their callings.
The first step is to take care of yourself. While it may seem pious to sacrifice your own needs for the sake of your ministry, this is actually a very foolish thing to do. Spending every waking moment engaged in your work is the surest way to become burnt out.
Don’t neglect spending time with God every day. Even Jesus, despite having an overwhelming list of demands on his time, prioritized spending time with his Father. Making time for your family is also essential—while your churches are important, your family is your primary ministry field. And of course, you’re human and will need to take some time to rest.
But your schedule is already full to bursting—how can you balance your ministry, your family, your health, and your relationship with God? By making a plan! Morrison recommends keeping a detailed schedule and blocking out time for God, family, and rest. As you keep these portions of your schedule clear from other obligations, you can make sure you’re not neglecting any important areas of life.
Balancing your schedule will help, but multi-church pastors need more than good time management to have a healthy, effective ministry. 24 hours a day is simply not enough to meet the needs of multiple congregations! In a typical week, many pastors have more duties than they can count. Preaching, sermon preparation, classes, meetings, visitations, marriages, baptisms, communion, dedications, funerals, counselling, evangelism, Bible studies, and more. The list is overwhelming. What is to be done?
Fortunately, God has already given multi-church pastors a team of built-in ministry partners in each church: the elders. Multi-church pastors don’t have the time to meet the detailed needs of each of their churches, but elders do. With a team of supportive elders, pastors can divide their time between their many churches, while elders invest deeply in a single congregation.
However, for this model to work, you’ll need to train your elders. If they’re going to help meet the needs of their congregations, they’ll need you to equip them. This training must move at the elders’ pace of learning. It must be practical, not theoretical. The elders must be given praise, criticism, respect, and encouragement.
So what should a multi-church pastor focus on in their training? What do elders need to know? Most importantly, they should be trained to grow spiritually. This cannot happen unless they make a habit of reading the Bible and spending time with God. Elders should also be taught to work together as a team. They should be prepared to address common issues their churches may face. Finally, they should learn to be humble servant leaders and use their influence to build others up.
Thankfully, Morrison provides a wide range of detailed lesson plans in “The Multi-Church Pastor.” Whether you’re a natural teacher or prefer to speak from the pulpit, Morrison’s lessons will help you effectively train your elders to shepherd their flocks.
If you’re a multi-church pastor, you have a hard road ahead of you. But you aren’t condemned to a life of exhausting, shallow ministry. By absorbing Morrison’s wisdom in “The Multi-Church Pastor,” you can learn how to effectively care for your congregations like never before. Your churches—and your life—will be forever transformed.
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