Excellent Pastors

By Lis Van Harten

(First appeared in the August 2003 issue of Thrive!)

“We love our new pastor! He’s just great! He loves to visit, he’s very organized and boy, can he preach. The kids love him and the older folks really appreciate him. We sure have an excellent pastor this time.” When a pastor begins serving in a new church, there is usually much praise for him/her. As time goes on, things aren’t always as “excellent” as they were in the beginning. The reason for this is that pastors are human just like everyone else. Honest.

Most pastors have spent several years preparing for their life’s work and many have served a number of other churches before becoming the “new pastor” yet again. Life experience is one of the best teaching tools for any number of professions. But is this enough?

Pastors deal with more and more complex issues and situations every day. Often you will hear them say, “They never taught me this in seminary.” Or “I’ve never come across this in my ministry before.” How are pastors to do it all and do it well?

The Christian Reformed Church has received a $2 million grant from the Lily Endowment Inc. to help pastors. The Sustaining Pastoral Excellence program is designed to support and strengthen pastors so that they can help build healthy congregations. The program has three parts: peer learning, continuing education and mentoring. Grants are available for CRC pastors to get together with other pastors, to learn together, to support each other and to grow. (For more information, visit our web site at www.crcna.org/pastoralexcellence )

How about approaching your pastor and encouraging him/her to look into the Pastoral Excellence program? Not only will the pastor benefit, the whole congregation will as well. Together we can help pastors in their quest for excellence.