Another of the books that has caught my eye this spring, as I come closer to being a solo pastor of a church is the book I Refuse to Lead a Dying Church by Paul Nixon. The central concept of the book is the making of six choices. They are:
Life over Death The church has a reason for living, and it isn't habit or chaplaincy of an elderly congregation.
Community over Isolation: Choosing not the community in the church, but the community outside of the church.
Fun over Drudgery
Bold over Mild
Frontier over Fortress: blow up the building if it isn't suiting the purposes of the mission
Now over later: If not you, who? If not now, when?
Each of these choices are not made by the pastor alone, but with the pastor and congregation together. So, the pastor needs to be the kind of person that is a coalition builder, but also a person with a clear vision and the assurance of success. It helps if they are personally committed to Christ, assured of Christ's commitment to them, the love of God, to the growth of people into Christ. He calls people like this "apostles".
I actually love his description of what makes up an apostle. He bullet points 10 characteristics, and I will boil them down even further.
Personal experience of Christ that is a foundation for the person
attracted to the folks on the margins of the church (or outside of it)
Clear sense of mission
what we offer renews human lives and communities
Sent by God to this place at this time.
clear awareness of the institutional church's shortcomings
need to push the church into new places
bored with maintenance and routine
finds more energy in short term projects than marathons
Communicator, able to get others to buy in to the vision.
Humbly speaking, I truly feel I carry most of these characteristics. I do not feel that I am what he calls a "business-as-usual" or "caretaker" or "manager" pastor.