We church people love lists! We especially love lists that will help us become better Christians, help our churches grow, make our pastors sermons less boring, help us overcome whatever group we happen to be disagreeing with at the moment, or the ultimate list would be the one that gives us 5-simple steps to do all the things in this list!
So, I thought I’d give it a shot. Here is my one step that will lead to church growth, health, and vitality…or church shrinkage, sickness, and/or death.
Now, some of you are not going to like this. On the other hand, some of you are going to use portions of this blog at your next administrative council meeting to say “Hey, I’ve been telling you this all along!”
Okay, here it is, the one step that will lead to church growth, health, and/or vitality…or church shrinkage, sickness, and ultimately death. Trust your pastor!
Now, ask yourself, “Do I trust my pastor?”
Some of you automatically chimed in, “Of course I trust my pastor!”
Others, without hesitation, shouted, “Trust my pastor? You’ve got to be kidding me!”
Some of you are possibly still thinking about it.
For those of you who quickly called into question your pastors trustworthiness, ask yourself, “Why don’t I trust my pastor?”
There is a chance your pastor is not trustworthy. So, laity, if you have a pastor that cannot be trusted, you just might have the wrong person leading your congregation. I will be the first to admit that there are some pastors who simply should not be trusted.
Let me ask this, for those who do not trust your pastor, is there a non-petty reason for this? If you don’t trust your pastor because her theology doesn’t line up exactly with yours, that’s petty. If you don’t trust your pastor because he doesn’t tuck in his shirt, that’s petty. If you don’t trust your pastor because you watched him pocket money out of the offering plate, well, that’s not petty. If there are serious reasons not to trust your pastor, you should not hesitate to contact those that oversee the pastor. If a majority of the congregation questions the trustworthiness of the pastor, it’s time for a serious conversation.
I’ve come to find that many of the folks who do not trust the pastor are withholding their trust over minor issues. Eventually, you are going to come to a crossroads. If you cannot trust your pastor, it might be time to find a new church. Seriously, if you are putting up roadblocks every time the pastor attempts to lead, you are probably not helping the church. So, if you don’t trust your pastor and it’s for petty, minor differences…get over it. I’m not saying there is never a time to question your pastor. Questions help us refine. Questions don’t always mean a lack of trust. Sometimes questions are just an attempt to find clarity. However, some folks are going to question everything due to some silly disagreement they had with the pastor over whether or not his Blues Brothers tie was appropriate on Sunday (come on, at least the pastor was wearing a tie!).
Now, pastors, we all play a role in this too. Are we giving our laity reasons to question our trustworthiness? Simple things, like not showing up when you said you will show up, call trust into question. While we may not be having affairs, stealing money, or covering up major scandals, we may be doing small things that, over time, add up and cause people to trust us less and less. So, are we leading in ways that are worthy of trust? Are we being faithful to God, faithful to our families, faithful to our call, and faithful to our churches? Are we honoring God, family, church, and our commitments in ways that build trust?
For those of you who quickly affirmed that you trust your pastor, ask yourself, “Do I really trust my pastor?”
Do we trust our pastors to set the mission, vision, and values? Do we really trust our pastors to set the tone? Do we trust that our pastors actually know what they are doing? Do we trust that our pastors are being led by God when they push us to take risks? Do we trust our pastors when they encourage us to prune ineffective programs and ministries? Do we really trust our pastors?
So, if you trust your pastor, and he/she is worthy of being trusted, you have taken one step towards church growth, health, and/or vitality.
If you don’t trust your pastor, and yet he/she is worthy of being trusted, you have taken one step towards church shrinkage, sickness, and/or death.
If you trust your pastor, and he/she is not worthy of being trusted, you have taken one step towards church shrinkage, sickness, and/or death.
If you don’t trust your pastor, and he/she is not worthy of being trusted and you are taking appropriate steps to address the issue, you have taken one step towards church growth, health, and/or vitality.
Of course, I’ve seen pastors that should never be trusted grow churches. And, I’ve seen pastors for whom trust should never be an issue kill churches. I know some pastors who are messed up and really have no business leading churches grow churches that are doing some amazing things. And, I know some pastors who are incredible followers of Christ, overly qualified to be pastors, and they kill churches everywhere they go.
So, I guess at the end of the day, I could be wrong.
Well, there you have it…My one step to church growth, health and/or vitality…or shrinkage, sickness, and/or death…trust your pastor (or don’t).