3 Priorities for Every Pastor in 2021 Despite All the Uncertainty

As we get closer to the last page of the chapter that is entitled, 2020, you may be feeling discouragement, exhaustion, and you may even feel a little at a loss when you think about what to prioritize in 2021.

You may even be at a point where you feel like you don’t have enough energy to tackle this next hill. You’re trying to plan, but you don’t know what to plan for. Everything just seems out of sorts. The budget? Attendance? Discipleship? Programs?

I get it. There is a lot of uncertainty for anyone who leads a church, an organization, a business, or really anything.

And when you combine uncertainty with discouragement and exhaustion, you’re set up for despair and overwhelm. Why? Because when you’re discouraged and exhausted, it’s really hard to plan. It’s really hard to focus. It’s really hard to think clearly.

But allow me to encourage you today. Let me do some of the thinking for you. In this article, I want to give you 3 priorities you can count on for next year despite all the uncertainty.

3 Priorities for Every Pastor in 2021 Despite All the Uncertainty

1. Preach and teach the Scriptures

That’s right. This is your first priority. And the good news? This is what you do best. This is one of the reasons you’re a part of the Rookie Preacher community — you want to always keep learning just as if you were still a rookie in this.

So preach and teach the Scriptures. Do it with vigor. With passion. Do it with care. With dedication.

Now, let me be clear… The way this happens may need to change as I’m sure it already has for you. You may be preaching and teaching to people in person and you may be preaching and teaching to people through a camera. You may even be doing both at the same time in some venues.

But no matter the medium of delivery, preaching and teaching the Scriptures, this needs to be priority number 1 for every pastor in 2021.

In addition to preaching on Sundays, you may decide to:

  • Start a blog and teach the Scriptures through that
  • Start an email list and send weekly encouragement to people who want to receive it (or utilize your church email list and do this through there)
  • Dig into the power of email automation, set up a few week-long devotionals, and then utilize social media advertising that is targeted to your community and reach people through inviting them to subscribe to that email devotion (then invite them to watch or attend a service or read your blog or all of that)
  • Start a weekly show on YouTube or through a podcast where you teach on topics that people in your community and in your church are curious about
  • Go live on social media more often for Scripture and prayer
  • Start a book club where you and a small group of people read books together and discuss them either in person or virtually
  • Take a sermon series and re-work it into a book

No matter what kinds of things you do specifically, my point remains: the number one priority every pastor needs to have in 2021 is to preach and teach the Scriptures. The medium might change, but the message is still about good news for today.

The number one priority every pastor needs to have in 2021 is to preach and teach the Scriptures.

2. Disciple people to become disciple makers

This is the mission of your church, right? So don’t overthink it. Make this a priority.

And to be honest, this really is number one because it encompasses the goal of preaching and teaching people the Scriptures — to make disciples. But I have separated them because I want to give special emphasis to both.

If you and I have learned anything from 2020, it’s that small groups are still as vital as ever to the mission of the church.

Jesus’ model for making disciples who make disciples still works and is still the way to go. And the good news? If it has to, this can happen in a virtual environment through Zoom or Google Meet or whatever other platform your groups ministry chooses.

One action item, though, to make sure your groups ministry is keeping the main focus of making disciples as the target is asking this question:

Is our groups ministry challenging our people like Jesus challenged His disciples?

In my mind, the groups ministry must be a place where every person is known and loved (which gets at the heart of pastoral care done through the body of Christ) and every person is challenged to put their faith in action through obedience (which gets at the heart of discipleship).

Typically, if either one of these things is lacking, it’s the latter.

You may find that something needs to change. Maybe it’s just a tweak in the curriculum you send your leaders or maybe it’s a matter of emphasizing these two priorities to each of your group leaders once again through a phone call, a one-on-one meeting, or a leaders meeting.

3. Develop leaders for now and the future

Throughout this past year, you’ve likely witnessed some people walk away and some people step up.

Let me encourage you, friend: run with those who are ready to run. The people who have stepped up should be getting more of your attention versus the people who have walked away.

This is what Jesus did. The people who followed Him closest, His disciples, got the majority of His attention. The crowds got some. And there were a select few within the group of the twelve who got the most attention.

So who are those people who have stepped up over the past year? Write down their names. How many of them have been equipped and been given some leadership opportunities?

There are many approaches to leadership development you can take and the specifics will look different depending on what stage they are in development-wise. The important thing, though, is for each ministry to have a plan for leadership development and for that plan to work in conjunction and as a part of a church-wide leadership development approach.

If you’re not familiar with our content around developing a leadership pipeline, I highly recommend you check that out.

3 Priorities for 2021

So, before you put together a ton of plans for 2021, be sure that you prioritize these three things:

  1. Preach and teach the Scriptures
  2. Disciple people to become disciple makers
  3. Develop leaders for now and the future

Which of these is hardest for you? Easiest?

Original article appears here


Brandon Kelley is the co-founder of Rookie Preacher and the author of Preaching Sticky Sermons and Crucified to Life. He serves as the Lead Pastor of First Church of Christ in Bluffton, IN. He also writes at BrandonKelley.org. You can follow him @BrandonKelley_. Watch his sermons here.

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Leadership, Pastors

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