I became a lead pastor at age 25. My wife and I had been married for three years, and we had a little baby girl. We had served as youth pastors at another church for two years, getting our feet wet into ministry, but stepping into a lead pastor role was a whole different ball game.
We were in a small West Texas town of 3,000 people. Our little church was not only passed it’s prime, it was barely alive. With a handful of people and a broken down, badly neglected building, we began our pastoral ministry.
There were many “first-time” experiences. For the first-time I preached weekly, preached funerals, conducted weddings, managed the small church budget, and painted and worked on the building. We learned to live by faith, as our first week’s pay was only $50.
Moving to this small town and accepting the pastorate was a step of obedience to God. Our closest family member was 100 miles away, and we knew no one in our town or surrounding area.
Looking back now, many years later, I know the church needed us, but even more, we needed the church. I needed to develop the disciplines of prayer, sermon prep, loving and serving people, and the courage to lead.
There are stories to tell of the amazing things God did in those years. We lived on miracles and God’s faithfulness, but possibly the most encouraging blessing God provided was a mentor.
Shortly after accepting the new position, I was visited by another pastor, a woman (I know some of you have a theological struggle with women pastors, but let me tell my story). Thelma Hostetler was 73 years old, and still in ministry. She never married and had given her entire life to God. Amazingly, she began pastoring her first church at age 19.
Thelma came to introduce herself as a fellow minister, and to welcome me to the community. She was 73 and I was 25, but we became great friends. Unofficially, she became my mentor. Over the next several years, I learned much from her about how to effectively pastor a congregation. We stayed in touch until she passed away at age 90 (she was still pastoring at the time of her death).
As a first-time pastor, I needed good advice. I needed counsel from someone who knew what they were talking about. Here are some of the lessons I learned…
Want more advice? On our Healthy Pastors | Heathy Churches Facebook group several pastors recently shared their best advice for first-time pastors.
Question: What advice would you give to a pastor just starting out? Comment Below.
Hi! I'm Loren Hicks. I am follower of Jesus, a husband, a father, a friend, and for the past