Pastoral Ministry

Pray and Preach. Love and Reach. Lead and Stay.

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Mark Dever summarizes his approach to pastoral ministry with the headings: Preach and Pray, Love and Stay. This simple, memorable mantra offers shepherds a guiding principle through many of the complexities of pastoral ministry. In this article, I hope to build on Dever’s summary. With the addition of two pastoral tasks: leading and reaching, we can broaden our summary of pastoral ministry. And we can even keep the rhyming scheme… or close to it.

Pray and Preach.

Love and Reach.

Lead and Stay.

Pray and Preach

Pastoring will drive a man to his knees in prayer. But wise shepherds begin there. Thom Rainer opens his book Who Moved My Pulpit with a chapter on prayer. Similarly, Jeff Iorg starts his process for change outlined in his book Leading Major Change in Your Ministry, “Major change begins with direction from God.“ Pastor, begin with prayer.

Where else would you begin? Strategic plans and books can’t give you the supernatural insight needed to discern what God is doing. Your own strength will fail you as a foundation on which to build. Yes the wise pastor will know that some ministerial accomplishments only come through prayer (Mark 9:29).

From the prayer closet the pastor will head to the pulpit. In many ways, the pulpit steers the church. Brian Croft explains how God uses the preaching of His Word to bring life to churches under the headings, “God brings life by declaring His word. […] God brings life by fulfilling His word. […] God brings life by explaining His word.” Brother pastor, open up God’s word for his people and watch how he works!

Love and Reach

The apostle Paul wrote, “if I have not love, I am nothing” (1 Cor 13:3). These words warn pastors of the danger of leading without love. We can preach the greatest sermons, organize the most impressive programs, but without love we will gain nothing. We must love one another in the church. And we must love those outside the church.

One of the ways that a ministry brings glory to God is through the work of seeing his glory embraced by those who previously rejected it. Evangelism, missions, outreach, and other areas of ministry fall under this umbrella of reaching people. Gary MacIntosh calls pastors to staff their churches with an aim of reaching new people. Thom Rainer explains that evangelistic pastors lead evangelistic churches.

Lead and Stay

Paul wrote to Titus, “this is why I left you in Crete, that you might put what remained into order” (Titus 1:5). Here we see the call to leadership. Pastoral ministry demands leadership. You must lead yourself. You must lead others. You must lead leaders. Leadership is an act of love by which we help the church grow more and more like Christ.

In the midst of our leadership we remember that pastoral ministry is a marathon not a sprint. We’re here for the long haul. God has given us a good task as we shepherd his people until that final day when “the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Rev 7:17).


Pray and Preach.

Love and Reach.

Lead and Stay.



  • Pastoral Ministry
  • Prayer
  • Preaching
Jeff Mingee

Regional Strategist, SBC of Virginia

Jeff Mingee (DMin, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) is the Southeast Regional Strategist with the SBC of Virginia. He is the author of several books, including Digital Dominion: Five Questions Christians Should Ask to Take Control of Their Digital Devices. He and his wife, Lauren, live in Newport News with their sons Aiden and Carter.

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