Retraining For Church Ministry

I’ve been running at least 2 or 3 miles since last September (2008). It is the first time I’ve been in some sort of fitness shape since freshman year of college.

Doing long distance running is not something I am used to. In fact, I’ve never done it. Growing up I played basketball, baseball, and golf. Even though basketball is somewhat an endurance sport, there is still a lot of stopping and starting. When I ran for track I did the 200, 800, and 1500 meter races. None of those would be considered long distance because they all last at most, 6 minutes.

When I first started training I thought I would be able to work up to a distance of 10 miles fairly easily over the past year, but I still find myself running about 4 miles each time I head out. I’ve found it incredibly difficult to retrain my body to do long distance running instead of shorter, quick runs like I did in track and basketball.

I think this is a good reminder for many seasoned church leaders. The correlations run deep.

Most church leaders have done the same thing for many years and are now finding out that they need to retrain for a new way to do church ministry. I’m around men and women all the time who are doing their best trying to understand the new ways of doing church ministry within today’s world. Some thoughts on training:

  • Retraining is HARD work. I’ve busted my you know what for over a year on just about every run. I don’t hold back or give in, and yet I still haven’t gained much more stamina. Church leaders have read books, gone to conferences, prayed, etc., and they are still finding doing ministry in today’s world extremely difficult. This doesn’t mean that they work they’ve put in is meaningless.
  • You must be deliberate. When I head out on runs I know exactly how far and about how fast I want to go. Too many church leaders are trying to adjust, but they don’t know specifically how they want to adjust. If you aren’t deliberate then you will get knocked over by the first rough patch.
  • The hard work is valuable. If I said that all my running was a waste because I’m still running 4 miles instead of 10 miles that would be laughable. I’m much healthier and much closer to running 10 miles than if I wasn’t running at all. Some church leaders are too hard on themselves. The hard work they’ve put in has made a difference whether it is noticeable or not.
  • It will take time for it to become natural. This is the part where I’m struggling right now. It is taking me a lot of time more my body to adapt to long, drawn out exercising. I know a lot of pastors who would prefer to give up instead of working through the struggle of understanding the people in their communities. All the time and effort can and will pay off though.

What would you add? What are some tips you have for retraining?