5 Ways to Pour into Aspiring Pastors

By Bobby Jamieson

Pastor want to raise up other pastors. It's one of the best ways to advance the Great Commission. Here are five ways to pour into aspiring pastors.

If you’re a pastor, I hope one of your great desires is to raise up other pastors. The New Testament tells us that your own church needs them: It uses “pastor” and “elder” interchangeably, and the latter consistently shows up in the plural (see Acts 20:17, 28). Further, one of the best ways to advance the Great Commission is by raising up more qualified men to go pastor elsewhere (see 2 Tim. 2:2).

But how? What can you do to pour into aspiring pastors? It’s mainly a matter of making room.

Here are five ways to make room for aspiring pastors.

1. Make room in your heart

Sadly, some pastors seem threatened by other men who aspire to pastor, as if all they could possibly want is to steal your job. That’s a strange, self-defeating irony. If it’s wrong for them to aspire to pastor, was it wrong for you? Instead, a pastor should rejoice when another, typically younger man shows even faint flickerings of desire and aptitude to be a pastor.

So make room in your heart. Be on the lookout for men who gravitate to the work of shepherding and teaching. Resolve to bear patiently with them in the long, slow, tangled process of nurturing their aspiration toward fruition.

2. Make room in your schedule

Pouring into aspiring pastors is time-consuming. It may be a while before they can do anything in ministry as well, or as quickly, as you. Sometimes the fires of ministry seem so urgent and overwhelming that it’s hard to see how you could attend to the endless questions and stumbling efforts of someone else who wants to do what you do. But do you want to put out fires only, or also train firefighters?

3. Make room in your study

You could take this one literally or metaphorically. The senior pastor I serve with, Mark Dever, just about always has people hanging around his study, many of whom are young men who aspire to pastor. Those of us with slightly more balanced personalities – like me, and most of the world – prefer a mix of solitude and company. So look for strategic times to invite men aspiring to ministry to look over your shoulder, listen in or ride along.

One way I do this is by inviting our church’s pastoral interns, and a couple other friends, to work on my sermon outline and application with me for an hour or so on Wednesday afternoons. They prepare an exegetical outline, homiletical outline and notes on application. We start by discussing exegetical questions they have on the text, and then we work through each other’s outlines, with special focus on them stress-testing mine. Sometimes they improve it markedly.

4. Make room in your teaching calendar

 One of the most crucial ways to pour into aspiring pastors is to give them opportunities to teach and preach publicly. Think of this as a staircase. Opportunities like small group Bible studies or children’s Sunday school are pretty low steps. Adult Sunday school or youth group are a little higher up. Higher still are midweek studies for the whole church, and highest of all the Sunday morning sermon.

It’s not that every man has to walk every step, but that the lowest steps are the easiest point of entry and least consequential. Who can you get onto those steps? How can you help someone advance a step or two?

One of the best ways to make room in your teaching calendar for other aspiring brothers is, in fact, to multiply those teaching opportunities in the first place. If your church has one joint adult Sunday school class, would it be possible to split it into two or three, and have the other class or classes taught by a pair, one more experienced teacher and one less? Our church’s Sunday evening service, which is predominantly a prayer meeting, features a 15-minute devotional sermon keyed to the theme of the morning sermon. It frequently is preached by a first-timer.

Coaching, preparation, and feedback are all crucial here. You want to equip new teachers and preachers with basic counsel and a clear framework for what they’re about to do. Then help them as they prepare and offer feedback beforehand on their manuscript or outline or other materials. Fairly often, I’ll invite a first-time Sunday evening preacher into my office on a Friday afternoon to read his sermon aloud to me and another staff member. Hopefully that not only gives him helpful counsel for improving the message ahead of time, but also stokes his confidence in how the Lord has prepared him to serve His people.

Feedback after the fact is crucial too. If you want to help a younger preacher improve, be sure to give him godly, measured encouragement and suggestions for improvement. Don’t neglect either. Consider hosting a time, whether on Sunday night or early in the workweek, when anyone who led or taught on Sunday can gather with you and other church leaders to give and receive feedback.

5. Consider making room in your budget

All this you can do for free. Free of charge, that is, though the time and effort are costly. But if you start to see the Lord bless these efforts, so that your church becomes a more and more hospitable environment for aspiring pastors, consider how you might lead your church to put more resources behind it. Could you set aside housing and a stipend for a single man for a summer? Is there an old manse going unused or underused that you could re-purpose as housing for a semester- or year-long residency?

Decisions like this will likely require serious buy-in from your congregation as a whole. So lead by example and teach them what you’re doing. Help them make room in their hearts and in the life of your whole church for men who could someday prove a serious blessing to churches other than your own.

Published August 17, 2022

P.S. Get our best content in your inbox

We send one email per week chock full of articles from a variety of Church Planting voices.

Bobby Jamieson

Bobby Jamieson (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) serves as an associate pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. Jamieson and his wife have four children.