How to Encourage Your Pastor to Work Ahead

How to Encourage Your Pastor to Work Ahead

July 10, 2017 by

The theme for the month of July in the Courageous Storytellers Membership Site is leadership. As church communicators and creatives, one of our primary jobs is to lead up—to lead our leaders.

If you are one of the many church communicators whose job it is to help with service planning, one of the most important things you can do is lead your lead pastor to work ahead. There are many advantages to working ahead when crafting worship experiences including creating space for creativity, giving time to execute on any amazing ideas, and allowing enough margin to get volunteers involved.

Be seen by your leader as a servant instead of an obstacle.

But for some, getting the lead pastor to work ahead is like pulling teeth. If that’s your situation, below are a few tips for encouraging your leader to work ahead.

Talk to Your Leader

If you’ve never talked to your leader about the benefits of working ahead, consider starting with a conversation. If you have mentioned it before, I’d recommend skipping the re-hashing of it because it will likely come across differently to your leader than you intend.

If you do have this initial conversation, a couple of pointers:

1. Sell the Value to Them

It’s really tempting to try to explain to your leader how you need them to work ahead in order for you to do your job well. While I’m sure your leader cares about helping you perform well, what will speak to them most is explaining how working ahead serves them. It gives them margin to be creative. It reduces their stress because things are done ahead of time and they have time to relax, pray over their message, etc. It makes their message more effective because they are better supported, have more effective illustrations or stories. You get the point.

As church communicators, we have to stop coming across as needy and begin to cast ourselves in the light of highly-qualified, yet humble servants.

2. Tie It to the Mission of the Church

Here’s a fact we need to wrestle with: Your lead pastor probably didn’t hire you to work at the church to make your life better. They hired you to make their life easier and to advance the mission of the church. So why not tie working ahead on sermon prep to the mission of the church? Link planning early to better services, which leads to more people hearing the gospel. Tie early planning to more creativity, which makes the church a “different kind of church” in your community. If your church’s mojo is all about being a place for families, explain how working ahead gives the pastor more time to invest in the families of the church.

You’ll have to get a little creative with this one, but if you can effectively link the importance of time to prepare to your church’s mission, you might have an advocate in your leader.

Deliver an Amazing Product

If you are like me, there have been times where I’ve pushed my leader to work ahead for all the reasons listed above, but then I didn’t take advantage of that lead time to deliver an amazing product. Whether it was my own busyness or procrastination or whatever the reason, when my senior pastor met me halfway and then I failed to deliver, I ruined any trust and dramatically hurt my credibility the next time I pushed him to work ahead.

When your pastor gives you the gift of working ahead, treat it like a valuable treasure and make sure you do your part to deliver.

Take the Initiative

One of the most practical ways to get your lead pastor to work ahead is for you to take the initiative. If you schedule the creative/brainstorming meetings, not only is scheduling the meeting one less thing for them to have to do, but it puts you in the driver’s seat on the time table.

Send out an agenda for the meeting plenty ahead of time. Make sure the agenda clearly lists a time where the team hears from the lead pastor about his heart for the upcoming series or service.

A week or a few days prior to the meeting, send out gentle, individual reminders about the meeting and remind everyone what is needed to make the meeting a success. Remind the leader that it will be helpful to know the topic, scriptures, main points, any stories or illustrations, etc. Remind other participants to show up prepared and ready to fully participate. But be sure to send these reminders in a way that is gentle and helpful, not demanding and needy.

Accept What You Can’t Change

There are some things we simply have no control over. Instead of dragging our feet and kicking and screaming, we should accept it and lean into it. If your pastor is a last-minute, plan-the-sermon-on-Saturday-night kind of speaker, try to figure out ways to leverage it. Perhaps you make changes in the areas you can that aren’t sermon-topic related (music, videos, etc.). Perhaps you shift your work schedule so you work all night on Saturdays. Perhaps your pastor can give you a broad, more general topic to work with in advance instead of something specific.

Again, you might have to get creative here. But, whatever you do, be seen by your leader as a servant instead of an obstacle and you’ll get much further with them in the future.


For more help with leadership, check out the latest resources in our Courageous Storytellers Membership Site.

Post By:

Chuck Scoggins

Chuck is passionate about serving the local church. Hit him up on Twitter or on his blog,
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