It is decision time for my pastor. At the time of this writing, my pastor is searching for direction from God on whether or not to continue as our pastor. I can honestly tell you that I wouldn’t want to be in his shoes right now. It is a gut wrenching decision. There are many factors, which I am sure weigh heavily in his decision. Perhaps his biggest concern is how his decision could impact his family. There are some financial considerations as well but I know that more than anything, he wants to be where God wants him.
Although the pastor isn’t the entire church, I am sure you would agree with me that the pastor plays a key role in the function of a local church. Similar to a coach in professional sports, he gets the credit for successes and the blame for failures of the church. This burden for a pastor to help a church grow really isn’t fair. A pastor is not superhuman. He is just like everyone else and he certainly can’t do it alone. A pastor can only be as successful as the participation and drive of the membership. Without unity, the pastor will have a difficult time fulfilling his role.
My local church has been a challenge for our pastor over these past four years. I know it has been discouraging for him in many ways. Just when it has seemed like our church was going to experience the breakthrough that we’ve needed, we have found ourselves nowhere closer to a turnaround. It has been very bizarre to say the least. Unfortunately, the burden of this struggle falls on the shoulders of our pastor. I think that’s an unreasonable expectation.
Are we confused about what a pastor is supposed to do? We put a lot of expectations on the position but there is a lot more to being a pastor than preaching an inspiring sermon or organizing a successful program. What is the role of a pastor? Ephesians 4:11-12 gives us a clue to the job description.
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
PASTORS ARE FOR THE PERFECTING OF THE SAINTS
Why is there a tradition of a preacher delivering a sermon on Sunday mornings? This is the time in which EVERY believer in Christ should attend to receive instruction from the Word of God. The pastor is the messenger from God. In the descriptions of the seven churches in the Book of Revelations, the pastors were called angels of the church. (Revelations 2,3) This doesn’t mean they were perfect, it meant they were messengers. When a pastor gives instruction, its purpose is not only to purify our lives but also to unify us as a local group of believers. Think about it this way -- What if you decided to miss a few staff meetings in your office? It wouldn’t be long before everyone was going their way and not effectively working together.
It is our responsibility to be in church every Sunday if possible and attentive to the sermon our pastor preaches. Without this instruction we may never become a church that truly affects our community.
PASTORS ARE FOR THE WORK OF THE MINISTRY
The pastor is responsible for recognizing the gifts, talents and abilities in his church and finding a place for them in the ministry. Equipping means to “furnish what is needed to get the job done”. For instance, if a pastor recognizes a talent, he should make a way for that talent to be used. Don’t force the pastor to do everything. Some churches take the attitude that just because they give in offerings and pay the pastor a good salary that it is the pastor’s job to do everything from preaching to mowing the grass.
As members, we need to take the initiative to make our abilities known to our pastor. Most pastors do not have the prophetic gift of ESP. If we are sitting back and not making ourselves available, we are hindering the pastor’s ability to equip us. We are hindering HIS job by hiding our abilities. Don’t wait for the pastor to get a “divine revelation” of your gifts. Step up and make it known to your pastor what you want to contribute. Take the initiative and do something! Don’t wait for ideal conditions before you speak up. Even if we are waiting for the Lord to open a door for us, He still expects us to knock!
PASTORS ARE FOR THE EDIFYING OF THE BODY OF CHRIST
To edify means to improve or educate. The pastor must have a vision of the church he is leading. He can only do this by evaluating the abilities of the local body and positioning them into contributing players on the same team. This involves more than just building a larger church building and increasing membership numbers. This involves empowering the members to function as a body. One person is not the body. A pastor who doesn’t seek to improve or educate his church is one that will soon have a dead church.
The pastor and congregation must work together if a church is going to be the institution that Jesus had intended it to be in this world. A preacher once summed up the church as being the closest thing to Jesus that this world can see. A church is not to be focused on a pastor or the membership but pointing people to the Chief Cornerstone – Jesus Christ. If a pastor is going to be the leader then we must give him someone to equip, instruct and train for the ministry.
A pastor is just one of the positions listed in Ephesians 4:11-12. There are also others such as apostles, evangelists, teachers, etc. This tells me that a church should have more than just the pastor. All of us can do something. We can both sit back and blame the pastor or we can do what we can and help the pastor. Shouldn’t we desire to be part of the solution to the problems of our church?
Church is more than a social club or something we do once-a-week for two hours on Sunday. We mistakenly think that church is a place. It is not the building, the church is us. The mission is still the same – to spread the Gospel into the entire World (Mark 16:15). We are all called to do that; it isn’t just in the pastor’s job description.
Let’s all work together and support our church by giving our pastor someone to perfect, equip and edify. We are all working for the same Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and the same mission statement. Whether a church of 50 of 500, we all have a job to do. There are exceptional rewards and the retirement is eternal.