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06 Sep 2016

3 Ways You Can Grow in Your Calling

Raul Rivera

As he was driving home from church, Pastor Juan recalled the day he answered ‘Yes’ to the Lord’s calling on his life.

He felt like it was just yesterday, but in fact it wasn’t. During the worship service that morning, the church celebrated his 10 year anniversary as pastor.

He remembered his early pastoral days with fondness knowing, in retrospect, that he had no idea what he was getting into or what to expect. He didn’t receive any formal training, and he didn’t attend bible college or seminary. But as it turns out, he didn’t really need to.

Today, his church is healthy and vibrant. Their weekly attendance averages 500 people, they offer multiple services and activities for people of all ages, and they even provide groceries once a month to low-income families. They are truly making a difference within the community.

But over the past several months, Pastor Juan hasn’t been able to shake the fact that he never received any type of formal training. He realizes his anointing comes from the Lord and not the approval of man.

However, there is a part of him that still desires additional training. Not only because he enjoys a good challenge, but also because he’s always looking for a way to continually improve himself (a characteristic instilled in him by his father and grandfather who were also ministers).

(Recommended reading: "New Overtime Rules; What This Means for Your Church")

He often entertains the idea of attending seminary to get a Master of Divinity (MDiv), but with everything else going on in his life, he’s unsure of how feasible it is at this time.

Because of that, he can’t help but wonder if there are other options available to him.

It’s never too late

With school swinging back into full gear, perhaps it has you thinking about finishing your degree or attending seminary. Perhaps it’s always been a dream of yours to do so, but then maybe you become hesitant because you feel as though it’s too late.

Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s never too late when it comes to bettering yourself.

In fact, in 2013, a study by the National Center for Continuing Education revealed that 92 million adults were enrolled in continuing education classes. Between the years 2000 and 2011, 41% of college students were above the age of 25.

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I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that many of those 92 million adults enrolled in continuing education classes were pastors and church leaders just like you. 

Now, I realize that traditional education isn’t for everyone and that’s fine. I’m not trying to push that route on anyone

But I do believe it is important that we, as individuals, continually work on becoming better; to always work on self-improvement.

As individuals, it’s important that we continue to push forward and improve in every area of our lives; as a spouse, a parent, a friend,  an employee, a professional, and the list goes on.

And this even holds true for you as a pastor and church leader.

With that being said, I want to present to you 3 options to consider that will help you to grow in your calling and profession as a pastor.

3 options that will take you to the next level

Option 1: Bible College and Seminary

Perhaps the most obvious and traditional option is that of attending bible college or seminary. This option does really well teaching you about ecclesiology, eschatology, theology, and the likes from an academic perspective . But it does so at a cost.

Most seminary programs can cost anywhere between $35,000 - $50,000. For many individuals, this isn’t a cost effective option.

Option 2: Conferences

A second option available to you is one that many of you are most likely already taking advantage of: conference attendance. And if you think about it, it’s actually quite true.

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Conferences offer training on topics that are more relevant to where you currently are in ministry. Throughout the year you are able to find conferences, seminars, and/or workshops on topics such as:

  • Strengthening one’s personal relationship with God,
  • Christian leadership,
  • Discovering and developing one’s spiritual gifts,
  • Managing the business and legal aspects of church work
  • Creating and running children’s, youth, outreach, and adult ministries,
  • Church finance and budgeting, and
  • Church planting

Because pastors, on average, attend 4 to 5 conferences per year, such events have become an alternative way for many pastors to receive a type of “formal” training.

It is important that we, as individuals, continually work on becoming better; to always work on self-improvement.

Option 3: Online Courses

The last option I want to mention to you today is that of online courses. This resource is always an excellent tool available to pastors who are interested in furthering their education. With more and more resources and courses available through the internet, the ability for one to continue their education while also maintaining a full time pastoral position is increasingly feasible.

Online courses generally allow you to complete the prescribed requirements at your own pace, during a time that is convenient to you, and all within the comfort of your own home or office.

That’s one of the reasons why we created StartCHURCH University.

StartCHURCH University is an online course that aims to simplify the world of church compliance and empower church leaders for long term ministry.

This course is geared to give you a thorough understanding and confidence of church compliance and administration.

This online, self-paced course consist of 12 units that each contain several chapters. If you choose to follow a strict schedule, all twelve units can be completed in as little as six months.

The twelve units cover a myriad of compliance areas that are often sources of concern for pastors. Through StartCHURCH University, you will learn valuable information such as:

  • The necessity of maintaining essential corporate documents such as articles of incorporation, bylaws, written doctrines, and policies.
  • The importance of board meetings and who can serve as board members.
  • What is reasonable compensation for pastors.
  • What the term “housing allowance” actually means.
  • Best practices for hiring, discipline, and even termination of church employees.
  • A long term strategy that will allow you to dream bigger than you though possible.

Once all twelve units have been completed, you will be an official graduate of StartCHURCH University and we will recognize you as a Certified Church Executive.

To receive your certificate, you and a guest will have the option to attend any one of our Ultimate Church Structure Conferences free of charge.

During the conference, in front of your peers, you will be recognized for all of your hard work and determination, and we will present you with your certificate. (Those unable to attend a conference will receive their certificate through the mail. But did I mention that conference attendance for a SCU graduate and guest is free?)

“The discerning heart seeks knowledge”

Consider the words of Solomon, “Wisdom is a shelter, as money is a shelter, but the advantage of knowledge is this: Wisdom preserves those who have it.” (Ecclesiastes 7:12, emphasis added)

Perhaps you find yourself in a similar situation to Pastor Juan. Despite having a healthy, loving, and thriving congregation, you are still wanting to take another step in self-improvement. For that drive and desire alone, I applaud you and encourage you to continue to move forward.

So, with that being said, you have 2 of the 3 options at your disposal right now:

  • You can click here to register for one of our upcoming conferences near you.
  • And you can click here to find out more about StartCHURCH University, or give us a call at 877-494-4655.

Be encouraged as you keep moving forward in your calling with the confidence knowing that God has fully equipped you to lead your congregation for such a time as this.

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Please feel free to comment. We always appreciate good dialogue. However, we do moderate each comment to ensure that it is on topic and not derogatory to other participants. We ask that you keep your comments brief and pertinent to the topic so that others may benefit.

Raul Rivera

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About the Author

Church Planter. Speaker. Author. CEO. Raul Rivera has had ample experience in the church planting world. His current venture, StartCHURCH, has helped 1000's of churches to start right. Raul has compiled an array of manuals and software tools that help churches stay compliant with the IRS. He also hosts over 35 national conferences per year, training pastors on how to launch their churches. Raul is married to his wife Genel, and they and their five children live in Atlanta, GA.