Seven Pieces of Advice for Pastors in 2019

I was a church planter and pastor for twenty-four years, and I remember setting aside several days in January most years for planning. (Advent season often made December a less than ideal month for doing so.)

If you asked me for some advice for 2019, I’d include these seven suggestions:

1. Bring live drama, storytelling, and poetry to your church, along with original music and visual arts this year.  For example, have Ted & Co bring drama to your church, or Tracy Radosevic or Melvin Bray bring storytelling, or Cameron Semmens or Genesis Be bring poetry – and as for musicians, I’d recommend folks like Steve Bell, Carrie Newcomer, Alana Levandoski, Trey Pearson, David Wilcox, and Andy Gullahorn … along with many others. Enriching your congregation with more and better art is an investment you won’t regret.

2. Invite a speaker who will challenge your people to think afresh about God – like Tom Oord, Wil Gafney, David Dark, Mickey Scottbey Jones, Diana Butler Bass, and many others.

3. Build relationships with forward leaning religious leaders – by meeting at least monthly for a meal – and conspire together about seeking the common good. Start by inviting one colleague of another race or ethnicity to breakfast or lunch.

4. Do something for the sake of your own humanity … take a trip, plan an extraordinary vacation, meet with a counselor or spiritual director. In other words, be a friend to yourself. Get it on the calendar today. You’ll be setting an example for your congregation – and you’ll be giving your congregation a healthier, more humane pastor.

5. Start learning the names of birds, trees, and the endangered species in your state. Enjoy creation every chance you get.

6. Make racial justice an element of all you do – preaching, building relationships, partnerships, book studies, guest speakers, prayers, etc.

7. Incorporate some new worship music that addresses the previous six elements by checking out Many people sing themselves into a new way of seeing, being, and living … and old songs can keep people pacified and stuck where they are. (Maybe that’s why “sing to the Lord a new song” is such a theme in the Psalms?)


And if you’re interested in my work, consider …

  1. Leading a study group or sermon series using one of my books.
  2. Hosting Gareth Higgins and I (perhaps along with gifted artist/illustrator Heather Lynn Harris) to present Cory and the Seventh Story to your congregation … a great event for families with kids of all ages.
  3. Becoming part of the Convergence Leadership Project, for which I am one of the founding teachers.