Pastors caring for pastors

I enjoy the opportunities I have to interact with and encourage other pastors. One of my roles at our church is to serve other evangelical pastors and churches and I am on the board of our church association. There is so much pastors can sharpen each other on and ways we can encourage each other that those outside of vocation ministry can not. That being said… it is rare to find pastors willing to pour into each other.

Certainly the first priority of the pastor is to care for the flock entrusted to him and I understand that busy schedules can get in the way of building relationships, but most often this is not the reason we avoid each other. In the years I have interacted with other pastors I most often recognize insecurity and territorialism as the reasons there is no relationship. Sadly, this reality has a greater impact on the local church these men lead as they do not raise up new leaders but it also robs the kingdom of church unity.

“…insecurity and territorialism as the reasons there is no relationship…”

John Pond has some good cues for pastors on the Gospel Coalition. While his point is older pastors interacting with younger, I think his suggestions are useful for all pastor and really anyone looking to build a relationship.

Pond says we must be listeners; we should reflect on our similar experience; be careful to not make assumption about one another; and we must pray for each other.

I commend the whole post to you. Now go and build some relationships!

Church Gossip

Bill Mounce has a great reminder of how we allow our sinfulness to harm our churches. Bill tells the story of a young couple sacrificing a lot to pursue ministry only to land in a pastorate where the burden of dealing with gossip in the church was too much. The couple left ministry (but not  their faith) and are pursuing another vocation.

Bill has some words of reminder we must hear. “When are we going to learn? When are we going to preach Ephesians 4:29-5:5 and hold people to account? When will we view gossip and slander and criticalness as the dark and ugly sins that they are? While we do hold a few sins as really bad — I will let you fill in the blanks — I suspect that the sins of the mouth have done infinitely more damage to the cause of Christ than, say, adultery…”

“…And what is at stake? The lives of our young ministers? Much more than that. The very mission of the church is that we are to so love each other that those outside the church will see our love and be convinced that God the Father sent his Son into the world to make for himself a people of his own possession. It was Jesus’ one prayer for you and for me (John 17).”

We do this don’t we. Even if we say we don’t. I know I have. Gossiped about a pastor or criticized him or her in the wrong settings. I hope that I, we come to fully understand Biblical community and make no room for gossip in the church. The love we are command to have for one another demands it. The cross demands it.

Raising leaders from within

Dave Ferguson (an innovative pastor in Chicago) is sharing the story of one of his faith family’s leaders on the Catalyst blog and it raises some interesting questions about how churches raise up leader from within.

The story is of Troy McMahon who had a successful career and found himself working his way through small group leadership in the church until the pastor asked him to come on staff. He is now leading a new church after raising up other leaders from within the church himself.

This is a great model of disicpleship. Our faith communities must be empowering our congregations for ministry and such members should be the first place we go for staff and other leadership roles.

Most American churches currently run on a different model – one that sees (or seemingly sees) the congregation as an audience or consumer group and the trend is to bring in “called” people from a far to minister in our contexts. Other churches feel like they have something special to share with the greater Christian world so while still seeing members as an audience they bring in leaders so they might learn the ways of the church. In either case I think churches neglect those leaders within their communities and we create a Christian glass ceiling for non paid members of our churches.

Some of my favorite people in the church context I found myself had been raised up as leaders from within the community. And while this most often happens out of necessity (small numbers or less influence in the realm of Christian culture) I think churches should make it a priority.