Six Keys for Establishing Rhythm in Your Ministry

By Gary Rohrmayer

Last week I stumbled across several articles on the importance of establishing rhythm and relaxation in the training of horses.  There are some great principles to glean from those who ride and train these powerful animals.  Here are a few:

1.  Rhythm and relaxation work together inseparably.

“Relaxation makes it easier to set rhythm, and rhythm makes it easier to relax.” HT When you see an uptight leader it usually reflects a tense organization.  Developing a preaching rhythm or preaching calendar relaxes a leader and strengthens their performance because they develop built in patterns for study and breaks that decrease stress.

2.  Rhythm is critical to building trust.

“Rhythm is at the bottom of the training tree because that’s how you get it all started. If the horse is not worried, not wary of sudden things or unsure of what is going to happen next, then you are starting to create a relationship built on trust.”  HT  Predictability and consistency are very important to leading a church.  Erratic behavior creates tension and erodes trust.  Sometimes in the name of creativity we can startle the church and make them nervous.  Nervous church members are not confident inviters.

3.  Rhythm is vital to moving to the next level of growth and impact.

“Without rhythm, the horse will be unable to advance in its training.” HT Leaders need to establish rhythms if they are going to lead their church to break growth barriers. Here are a few rhythms pastors need to establish in their ministry:

  • The Rhythm of the Soul – Establishing the scared rhythms of spiritual disciplines is essential to the life of any spiritual leader.  Daily connecting with God, with prayer and scripture relaxes the soul and refreshes God’s vision in the leader’s heart. (Joshua 1:7-8)
  • The Rhythm of Preaching – Discovering the number of messages you should preach a year.  How many messages you should preach consecutively.  When to take study breaks and when to lean on other speakers to deliver a timely message to the congregation.
  • The Rhythm of Outreach – Learning how to build momentum on the natural ebbs and flows of your community.  This is critical to the life of a leader.  Knowing when to leverage an attraction or incarnational outreach in a rhythmic manner.
  • The Rhythm of Leadership – Establishing leadership routines with staff, lay leaders and board members. This is important for creating and expanding a leadership culture.
  • The Rhythm of Generosity – Establishing routines and seasons where the church addresses its’ stewardship and generosity.  This is vital to the financial health of the church.
  • The Rhythm of Rest, Reflection & Evaluation – Building in times both weekly and annually for physical rest, spiritual reflection and ministry evaluation.  This is vital to the long-term heath and growth of the church.

4.  Rhythms can be established faster with good coaching.

“Establishing good rhythm is difficult without the help of an experienced observer.” HT  Having an experienced coach to ask you good questions, to offer insightful reflections and provide strategic direction is indispensable to a leader.  All too often we drift into bad routines, which negatively affect our rhythms.  A skilled coach can quickly see and address those issues.

5.  Rhythms provide door ways for overcoming failed attempts.

“When your ride starts going badly, rhythm is the 'reset button' you can use to put things right again.” HT  When an outreach plan does not go well or under performs, your rhythmic pattern of outreach, it offers you another opportunity to learn from and improve your next attempt.  Establishing those rhythms will help you become a stronger, wiser and have a more fruitful ministry.

6.  Rhythms start with daily routines.

“Simple daily routines on the ground are the start of a rhythmic relationship with your horse. Greet your horse, halter him, and groom him following the same routine each day. Become aware of working with your horse rhythmically as you speak, breathe, touch and move around him. Type A personalities find this very difficult and must train themselves to become rhythmic. Rhythmic movement makes you a predictable presence and, as your horse finds he can depend on you as that predictable presence, he will find it relaxing to be around you. Then you can carry that rhythmic, relaxed rapport over to your work under saddle.” HT   Routines are hard.  Rhythms are soft.  Routines are daily.  Rhythms are monthly and annually.  Routines are external.  Rhythms are internal. Routines are driven by deadlines.  Rhythms are driven by convictions.

In Mark 6:6-13 Jesus ministered throughout the villages surrounding Nazareth.  During this time Jesus sends out His disciples two by two on their first ministry venture. God did great and spectacular things through them.  They came back and reported to Jesus all that happened and His immediate response was, “Come away by your selves to a desolate place and rest a while” (Mark 6:31).  Was Jesus establishing a rhythm for his disciples?

Ruth Haley Barton wrote, “He seemed to be much more concerned about helping them to establish rhythms that would sustain them in ministry rather than allowing them to be overly enamored by ministry successes or inordinately driven by their compulsions to do more.” HT

Thinking rhythmically about your ministry will help you work smarter not harder. It will help you be more rested and relaxed instead of hurried and rushed. It will allow you to lead and guide the church with the gentle strength of a finely trained equestrian.

Additional Resources




Church Health, Church Planting, Gary Rohrmayer