But what would such a commitment look like? The typical preacher teaches and preaches between two and four times each week. (I'm speaking from experience.) This is perhaps more true in conservative churches that focus most of their efforts on bible teaching, classes, and worship service. Mainline ministers may have it easier in that their churches don't tend to have as many minister-centric classes and services, but from my discussions with mainline ministers, their time tends to be taken up in more meetings.
The bottom line is that ministers give a lot of time to lesson prep and/or meeting administration and attendance. First, in order to give more time to visiting and shepherding in order to meet needs, a church needs to make a commitment to free its minister up from some of those demands. In some cases, it will mean different teachers taking over a class. It may mean canceling a class. It could also mean exempting the minister from needing to be at so many meetings.
Second, in order for ministers to give more time to visiting, shepherding, and serving needs, ministers will need to actively plan for this by giving up teaching and meeting commitments when possible. If a church frees the minister up, that minister needs to see and understand the risk the church is taking by changing their thinking on classes and teachers and get on board with it.
Third, ministers will need to leave the office and get out and among the people they shepherd and serve (both in the congregation and outside it; ministers should view themselves as community ministers) and spend their time there.
Fourth, this will mean in some cases that lesson prep will need to be done on the run. I wrote a report on four daily steps for sermon preparation that busy preachers can use to help streamline their sermons. Sermons may need to become shorter and pack more of a punch in a smaller dose.
These are some commitments churches and ministers will need to make in order for the ministers to become the lead servants, sharing the way of Jesus with others by serving them.
What do you think? Would you add or take away any of these commitments?