Thom Rainer identifies these as: “eight of the most common areas where ministers, particularly in America, are often unprepared for ministry.” I think it holds up for Australia as well.
To these I’d add: Skill in developing constructive peer support relationships; and Strategies to cope with lack of expected fruitfulness for labour.
- Relational intelligence. I wish every minister could somehow take some type of relational intelligence inventory. I wish they could be coached on how to relate to all types of people. Many ministers crash because they have never learned how to relate well to others.
- Leadership skills. A minister who leads a church of 100 members is leading a relatively large organization, more than many in the secular world will ever lead. In addition, the minister is leading a large number of volunteers. Leadership is tough in any setting, but particularly this one.
- Dealing with critics. There is an obvious overlap with this issue and the previous two. One of the most unsettling times of a minister’s ministry is the discovery that some people don’t like him or agree with him. Some ministers never learn to deal well with critics.
- Family matters. The unprepared minister often lives a life of trying to please everyone. Those who often get left out of this effort are spouses and children. Many ministers fail because they failed their families.
- Finances. A minister is often thrust into an organization where there is an expectation of knowledge of budgets, balance sheets, and banking. Too many ministers are unprepared in both church finance and personal finance.
- Consumer mentality. Countless ministers have told me they entered local church ministry expecting to find members who were sacrificial and others-centered. Instead they found members who were selfish and me-centered. Ministers are too often unprepared for this congregational mindset.
- Uneven expectations. I [Rainer] recently wrote a post on how many hours a minister was expected to work each week. It created a lot of buzz, because too many ministers don’t know how to deal with these various expectations from church members.
- Uneven spiritual growth. I [Rainer] encourage you to read Sam Rainer’s article on messy churches. He reminds us that it is really positive if we have some level of immature believers in our congregations. That is an indication that we are reaching new people for Christ. Of course, we don’t want baby Christians to remain babies, but we do pray for a regular inflow of new Christians. Immature believers present their own unique challenges where many ministers are unprepared.