A: THE PASTOR AS PERSON
The tug-of-war takes place in the lives of Pastors between their personal and public lives often creates dilemmas that eat into the very soul.These slip and falls in the lives of the Ministers call our attention to Pastors as person, fallible human beings just like the parishioners they serve.While they have been called by God to serve his people, Pastor's should always remember that they are not angels nor are they God. As sin-prone individuals, they have to walk a tightrope and maintain balance in a number of areas in their personal lives, such as personal growth and sanctification family in relationship with work.
PERSONAL GROWTH AND SANCTIFICATION
Pastors recognize that they are first Christians before they are Ministers. As Christians they need to fully depend upon God, daily seeking His will and drawing strength from His word. Thus, they must seek Christian growth on daily basis, understanding sanctification as the work of a life time. While one cannot overemphasize the importance of the personal growth of minister, this growth cannot be archived by the accumulation of theology degrees or by constant search for more knowledge. How often we have watched those highly qualified individuals feel that they do not need study the scriptures anymore. Henry and Richard Bl’Leaders in full time ministry….. Are busy people…The danger for them to neglect their time with God is more subtle, because their Bibles are open so often for sermon preparation, counseling, and other religious work. If they aren’t careful they’ll view their Bibles as a textbook rather than as the living word of God. They’ll begin substituting their public prayer life for their personal conversation with God’’ Growth does not come by hard work either, but rather, as the result of an imperceptible transformation of lives through grace as Pastors daily learn to be still with the open word, allowing God to teach them, to reprove and rebuke them. The Spirit will show them where they need to change and improve; He will point their secret sins and motivate them to ask forgiveness and strength to overcome. As they learn to tune their ears to His words and His voice, one on one He will prompt them as to where He works so they can lion to where He works so they can lion Him in the harvest of souls. Peter wrote, ‘’But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ ‘’(2 Peter 3:18, NIV), Ellen White says that grace ‘was sent in search of us’’ and God abundantly provides this grace that ‘’we may accomplish everything that (He) requires’’.
Philippians 1:6 emphasizes, ‘I am sure that God he who began good work within you will keep right on helping you grow in his grace until his task within you is finally finished on that day when Jesus Christ returns’’(TLB)
Hence, this growth process will never be completed until Jesus comes. No wonder Ellen White says that Christian’s growth or sanctification is the work of a life time. As long as Satan reigns, we will have self to subdue, sins to overcome, with no responsibility of anyone saying ‘’I have finally arrived at maturity’’.
For their part, Pastors must, on a daily basis connect with the word of God, study it, and use it as a guide in deciding on their highest goals and which of those are deemed best for God’s kingdom and for His glory.
2. Balancing between being and doing;The work of the gospel must flow from the inside out in contrast to Satan’s ‘’Operation outside in’’. Their motivation for doing has come from a quiet sense of being engrafted to the Vine so that what they do stays God focused. This comes not from anything external, such as good results often termed success or self-fulfillment, but rather by doing God’s will, even when they don’t receive the applause of men or a pat on the back .However, this does not mean that when ministry does not mean that when ministry does not draw individuals closer to Christ, Pastor’s have the perfect excuse. God has promised that all who are engrafted to the vine will not bear fruits and enjoy an abundant harvest. He has also promised prosperity and blessing to those who obey Him and follow His bidding.
A state of being in Christ will provide the motivation to witness and create a sense of urgency to share the gospel to a dying world. Unless Pastor’s consciously recognize the fine balance between being and doing, they may fall into the traps of being overdoing or under-doing.
One cannot overemphasize the fact that Pastors as persons should be consciously protective of their emotional and physical health. Following the laws of good health in eating right, exercising regularly, getting enough rest, drinking enough water, enjoying the sunshine and fresh air, and demonstrating temperance and an implicit trust in God are essential to physical wholeness.
In addition, Pastor’s also need to find emotional support in a confidante, a fellow traveler who can act as a sounding board and counselor in times when the going gets rough. While on one hand, many pastors overwork and suffer burnout, some are guilty of ministerial laziness.
Adolph Bedsole aid, ‘’The Pastor has a better opportunity to be lazy for a longer period of time without his laziness being discovered than any other person in the community. A lazy Pastor is like a porcupine; he may have a lot of fine points, but he will ultimately come to want for company. We preachers bring many of our heartaches upon ourselves by unadulterated laziness’’.
Finding the fine between being and doing requires wisdom from the Holy Spirit. Yes, it is true that when Pastors are en grafted to the vine, they can rest assured that God will accomplish what He wills through them without striving through human effort alone. But this does not mean they won’t have to exert any effort, for it calls for education is found this found this beautiful verse.
‘’The heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night’’
In the busy life of a Pastor, seeking first to be healthy spiritually and emotionally is the key wholeness. This state of health will enable Pastors to look at themselves candidly, without the element of selfish pride, to admit their weakness and rejoice in their strengths that grace has accorded them. Then, a wiliness to adjust where adjustments are called for is paramount to the growth process.
3 Prioritizing family in relationship to work. During a pre-ordination interview, a candidate was asked how he would rank in order the following with regards to priority of service; God, church, and family. The answer came loud and clear for God. Then he hesitated, ‘’Church and family, which should be next?’’After a couple of moments, the candidate said, family should be second, then church’’. Why the hesitations? Having the right answer is not as important as living life with priorities that often reflects on the value system we hold dear. In no uncertain terms. Ellen G.White declares, ‘’One well-ordered, well disciplined family tells more in behalf of Christianity than all the sermons that can be preached Such a family gives evidence that the parents have been successful in following God’s direction, and that their children will serve him in the church … ‘’The greatest evidence of the power of Christianity that can be presented to the world is a well-ordered, well-disciplined family. This recommends the true as nothing else can, for it is a living witness of its practical power upon the heart’’ One area of the Pastor’s personal life that can remain well hidden for a long time or may never be discovered by their church, centers around family relationship. We know of a Pastor who as not only a spiritual leader but a well-published author and speaker, apparently casting a positive influence far and wide, while his own marriage was in shambles. His Parents and supportive wife, although bleeding inside from year to year of emotional abuse and neglect, kept her sorrow all to herself until her children were grown, before seeking healing for herself in another country.
In the book Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas, James Peterson likens living to juggling five different balls- work, family, friends, health and integrity. Work, as the first ball and often the entire focus for many, is made of rubber. If you drop the ball on work, it will bounce right back. However, the other four balls are made of fragile glass. Once dropped, they will never be the same again. With such an overemphasis on ‘’carrying the rubber ball’’ (doing the Lord’s work), Pastors often don’t even think twice when they drop the family ball again and again. Henry and Richard Blackaby cited the following incidents about Theodore Roosevelt in his role as president of the United States and as a father to his unable to take an active role in supervising his free-spiritual daughter, Alice, he replied ’’I can be president of United State, or I can attend to Alice. I can’t do both’’. To President Roosevelt, his priority was his country.
Although he might be able to get away with a statement like this, Pastor cannot afford to set their family aside in preference to work. The Bible gives us this clear injunction regarding Bishops, and poses a powerful rhetorical question.
‘’The saying: Whoever aspires to the office of Bishop desires a noble task. Now a bishop must be above reproach, married to only once, temperate, sensible, respectable, apt teacher, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, and not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well keeping his children submissive ans respectful in every way-for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church’’(1 Timothy3:1-5, NRSV; italics supplied).
1. Do family members exhibit an attitude of service?
2. Is there intimacy between the Pastor and his household?
3. Do the parents teach and train the children?
4. Do children obey and honor the parents?
5. Are Pastor’s loving spouses’ as well loving leaders in the home?
Although the ministry is a calling, it should never control us and our plans for marriage and family enrichments. Pastors should live what they preach; they should be models of the spiritual and moral values first in the home and then in the church.
Grace works from inside out, first to save Pastors and then to grow Pastors. So long as they submit to a daily relationship with God through His Word and constant communion with Him through prayers, He will keep them on this inside-out track as His spirit works in them. When they neglect this connection, they go down the slippery slope and find themselves operating from the outside in, where the lovers for people’s applause and subtle draw of affirmation and recognition becomes the driving force as they work towards self glory.
In a ministry magazine, E. E. Claveland penned these words:
I am a minister-the face of the church-the voice of God.
Men see in me the gospel preached-and lived,
The path the master trod-the law fulfilled.
And if somehow I fail to stand the test,
Then in men’s eyes God, too, has failed.
The guilt on all the ministry doth rest,
And to His cross our Lord again is nailed.
B: THE PASTOR AND THEOLOGY
Today it is practically impossible to provide a definition of theology acceptable to all. Here we can only provide a working definition that will help us in our discussion on the relationship between the pastoral work and the theology as the study of the nature and work of God as He has revealed himself to us in an attempt to better understand the world and ourselves. In that sense, then, theologians are individuals who reflect on the God they worship, on what He has done and is doing for them, and on the nature of a proper response to Him. Therefore, every believer becomes, in a nontechnical sense, a theologian.
Ministry and Theology-inseparable:
As indicated above, in the apostolic church, there were not theologians in academics settings as we understand the term today. The role of understanding the Christian message, teaching and proclaiming it, and developing its meaning and significance, was in the hands of the Apostles, Pastors and Teachers in the church. The doing of theology was at the service of the church with its ministry of reconciliation (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:17-21). In fact, asking at that time weather the Pastor was a theologian or not would have been inconceivable. The connection between ministry theology is still maintained at least in the training of ministers.
Although we have separated method from theology, the separation is artificial. In other words, theology cannot be separated from the ministerial labor. How ministers perform their work can be determined by their biblical ecclesiology and more particularly by their theology of the ministry. Therefore, ministers will always examine the theological and doctrinal foundation as well as the impact of what they are planning to do or accomplish in the parish. The how needs to be evaluated by the content of the gospel they been called to proclaim. With everything they do determined by their understanding of God in his self-revelation in Christ, preserved for us in the scriptures, they seek to do His will for them and for the church. This equates with theology in its deepest and more dynamic sense.
Theological function of Pastors
The relationship between Pastors and theology does not abruptly end after they leave seminary. The interaction should continue throughout their ministerial work, in order to have a more effective ministry. Based on the previous remarks, we can now proceed to explore in more detail the specific roles of ministers as theologians in their own right.
1. Ministry and theology: Missiological interaction. While theological task within the church should be constantly oriented towards the mission of the church, the same applies to the pastoral work. Ministry, by its very nature, is mission oriented. Pastors are in mission as they serve the needs of the congregation, as well as when they reach out to the community as ambassadors for Christ.
Within this context, it needs to be reaffirmed that mission and messages are indivisible unity, and that constantly theological thinking includes an intrinsic part of the missiology of the church (cf. Matthew 8:18-20). The nature of the Christian ministry reminds theologians in the academe that when theology is out of touch with the reality of the church, its mission, and its needs, it could be damaging or even useless. Theology has to be motivated by ministry or it cannot be called Christians theology. Pastors do this type of theology constantly-a theology encrusted in mission and that, like all true theology, challenges the mind and dynamically integrates into the life of the church.
But this understanding of theology, as inseparable from mission and message, place serious demands on the Pastor for an effective ministry and equates with a theologically well-informed ministry. In order to perform the mission of the church, Pastors will need a clear comprehension of the message they intend to proclaim. Uncertainty with respect to the theological content of what we need to proclaim and teach reveals itself in a lack of personal commitment and theological doctrinal ambivalence (cf, Hebrew2:1). The pulpit becomes a stage from which the public is entertained and from which the power of the gospel to change lives and to move the hearers to a commitment to Christ and the message and mission of his church is absent-an inherent danger.
This absence of true biblical theology from the pulpit betrays the mission and the message of the church. Pastors as theologians need to have a clear understanding of the task, they will model the true nature of theology to professional theologians within the church who may have forgotten it.
Pastors fulfill the theological task by proclaiming the faith that was entrusted to them (cf. 1 Peter 3:15; Titus 1:9). With when the Christian faith under constant attack from materialism, natural evolution, and secular and anti-Christian forces, evangelism has become not only a proclamation, but also a defense of the gospel against the other options offered to humans to satisfy their need for the divine and self-realization. Ministers use theology argument as they try to deconstruct the existential and conceptual paradigms of meaning offered by a secular or a non-Christian society, in order to show the meaningfulness, relevance, and the unique salvific power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is apologetics at its best. The spirit can use this combination of theological thinking with evangelistic outreach to move the hearts of the listeners to repentance and conversion. Ministry and theology: Sermon preparation. Theologians share their mainly through teaching and writing and ministers do it through the proclamation of the word. Describing preaching as the ministerial activity through which the theological function of Pastors becomes more visible can probably be classed as correct. Preaching presupposes that ministers spent time on their knees studying the scriptures, reflecting on it, and dialoguing with the writings of theologians while doing the exegetical work that will result of that preparation, the pulpit becomes the place where the minister clearly proclaims the gospel instructs the community of believers, strengthens their faith, and reaffirms their commitments to Jesus through the hearing of the word, empowering them for service. Sermon preparation should motivate Pastors to remain theologically well informed. One could even say that in the preparation of a sermon a dialogical bridge is created between Pastors and theologians. However, for Pastors, the final arbiter of meaning lies in the text itself. In case, the Pastors personal knowledge of the scriptures and of the message and mission of the church plays fundamental role in the evaluation of theological discourses. It should be clearly and unambiguously established that what Pastors is not what theologians believe, but the message of the scripture (2 Timothy 2:15) Therefore, they have to develop a deep understanding of the word that will enable them to evaluate different theological perspectives In order to take t the pulpit and proclaim the biblical message and not human inventions opinions and theories. The authority of their proclamation does not depend on the renowned name of the theologian quoted in the sermon, but on the scripture basis of their message. The recognition of the collective nature of theological development, and the need for Pastors and theologians to be in constant dialogue, requires the direct involvement of the church administrations in the dialogue. They should facilitate the communication through seminars, professional development courses for ministers, and making accessible to Pastors theological materials that will contribute to building the theology, message, and mission of the church. When church leaders put the emphasis on the overall nature of the ecclesiastical ministry becomes weakened with the nurturing of the church put at risk. However, when Pastors put emphasis on the theological task and the nurturing of church members at the almost total exclusion of the evangelistic work, they, in the long run, put at risk the very existence of their own congregations. Pastors and administrators should cooperate in shapin0g a well rounded and properly equipped ministry to fulfill the gospel commission and should consider this of great importance.
C: THE PASTORS AS A VISIONARY
Pastor Smith, as well as shall call him, was having trouble falling asleep. His head swirled and his heart pounded as he tried to recount and process the events that had turned his church board meeting that evening into a vile, venomous verbal fight of accusations and recriminations. Slipping out from under the covers, he left his wife in bed (they had married while he was still in seminary) and tiptoed to his study, where he slumbered into a chair. His hands cupping his chin, Smith began to muse about where and how things had gone wrong in his ministry.
Smith was a bad Pastor. He was used to giving adequate amount of time to sermon preparation, and his sermons, almost reflective of theological depth and clarity, ere generally well received. Smith was organized and punctual in keeping appointments and getting back to people. Though not a Youth Pastor in the classic sense, he was appreciated by them, who found hi genuineness freshing. The older members especially liked that their Pastor devoted a good portion of each week to visiting them in their homes. In short, Pastor Smith was approachable, available, and accessible. Yet if one word were used to describe the overall mood at Smith’s church that word would be apathy. Or perhaps boredom. After three years of ministering to his congregation, no one was sure in which direction Smith was talking it. When pressing to share his vision for the church, Smith usually demurred, saying that he was waiting to hear from God. In time, the members simply stopped asking, and inertia and the doldrums set in. The congregation’s discontent with Smith’s leadership exploded at the church board meeting that night when a request a large disbursement of funds was made. Several board meeting members protested the expenditure, claiming that it was directed toward maintenance ministry and symptomatic of the absence of a coherent, compelling vision of where the congregation was headed. These members were quick to stress that while they thought Smith was strong in the area of Pastoral nurture, they thought he came up in the area of leadership, especially when it came to vision-casting. Frustration that the members felt that they lacked a clear sense of where the church was headed, that night members again pressed for answers, and Smith caught off guard, stuttered through a few incoherent comments, As Smith slouched behind his desk in the darkness of his study with the ticking of the clock on the wall rhythmically breaking up the silence, he could not help but admit that what he had heard at the church board meeting that night was essentially correct.
The importance of vision:
Vision separates the dreamer from the doers; Vision energizes, motivates, informs shapes, creates a climate, sets a tone, raises the bar, triggers passion, and endangers action. Nothing of substance or worth has ever been accomplished but that a vision had first been cast. Leaders are domed to irrelevance, if not failure, without vision. Some years ago, the American express Company used as its advertising slogan, ‘’The American Express card: Don’t leave Home without it’’. So central and crucial is vision to leadership that it might well be said, ‘’Vision: Don’t leave Home Without it’’. A Pastor benefit of vision can be likening to an armless person trying to pitch baseball. After a Pastor’s personal relationship with God, vision becomes the most important resources of a Pastor.
Vision injects purpose and life into an organization. Almost always a unifying force, vision gives people common issues around which they may rally and to operating principles in the field of philanthropy incorporate the concept that people do not support needs but visions. Fund-raisers know that parading the dire financial straits into which an organization has come will neither excite nor inspire potential donors as will sharing with them the vision of the organization.
Vision: What is it?
What is vision? As much as vision as a concept is in vogue these days, exactly what defines it seems confusing. Often spoken of as synonym of mission, purpose, goal, or objective, vision can be defined as a mental image or picture of the future. Barna views it as ‘foresight with insight based on hindsight’. It is a clear mental picture of a preferable future imparted by God to his chosen servants and is based upon an accurate understanding of God, self and circumstance’’. When Robert Kennedy stated that some people, on seeing things they are, asked ‘’Why not’’ he was conveying the essence of a vision.
Mission can be described as parents to vision, the former dealing with the why of ministry, the reason the organization exists. Visions encapsulate the what of ministry, painting a picture of what the successful achievement of the mission of the organization will look like. A vision is the end product, it does not deal with things as they currently exist and eschews the status quo. That was the problem with Pastor Smith’s ministry-it was focused on the present-just giving attention to current matters.
Elements of good vision
Certain elements of good Barna’s definition of vision immediately grab our attention. Even though vision is future-focused, its anchor resides in the past or present. Vision does not ignore or discount past present realities.
On the contrary, vision takes inventory of them as it frames the future. Vision takes note of capacities and challenges, juxtaposing them against the promises and power of God and vision focuses on results, on outcomes. It pictures what can be or will be as the result of the accomplishments of a mission. With God central to vision, He imparts the vision, and the visionary, whose understanding of or walk with God is inspired, stands to miss the vision.
For vision to be worth anything they must be sharp and clearly stated, for fuzzy, blurred visions confused and do not motivate. A clear vision is a compelling vision, and you know you have a clear vision when others are able to picture and articulate it as well as you can. A compelling vision appeals to our better, nobler instincts, challenging us to stretch ourselves, to depart from our comfort zones, and to abandon the plains of mediocrity. Shades of sacrifice and strain are necessary components of a compelling vision, and though grounded in present realities, we are encouraged to scale heretofore unconquered territory. Although it stretches us, a vision is doable. Conceiving of and pursuing dreams hopelessly out of reach is ultimately frustrating, leading to low moderate and leader burnout.
Admitting that vision take note of the present, even as they look to the future, does not say that visioning is by nature cautious or conservative. To be sure, a vision should be realistic, but also daring. Visionary leaders take risk, stretching themselves and resources to make the seemingly impossible possible. They hear things to which others are deaf, and they see things others do not. Visionary leader believe that because the Almighty God, who can do anything but fail not, gave them the vision, all things are possible. Consequently, they pursue their vision with optimism and a sense of accomplishment.
The source of visions
God must be the source of a Pastor’s vision. The Pastor who fail to include God in the visioning process id=s destined to end up with a vision replete with selfish, mundane elements. The human heart, apart from the converting, regenerating action of God, remains powerless to cast aside its sinful inclinations to power and ambition and to place self before others. A vision that does not have God’s imprint may rally a church to action and may even generate what appears to be kingdom success, yet in the long run, it will be seen for what it truly is-a temporary mirage bereft of lasting value. How will the Pastor know for sure that a vision came from God? Vision from God lift up and glorify God, not the church, the Pastor, or anything or anybody else. And because Christianity continues as more a relationship than a religion, God-breathed visions almost always focus on people, not programs or things.
Communicating the vision
Forming a vision is one thing, and how Pastors communicate a vision becomes, in a sense, as important as the vision itself. As such, Pastors need to be fully aware of the principles and dynamics of communication, paying particular attention to this in the context of leadership. Pastors will want to be sure that they do not communicate a vision in a holler-than thou, condescending manner. Such an approach will almost certainly make for a less-than-robust acceptance of the vision. Pastors will also want to be sure to cast a vision broadly and to provide ample opportunity for dialogue and feedback so that, if necessary, tweaking or modification of the vision may be done.
Dealing with resistance
To expect that a vision will receive 100 percent endorsement shows naivety. The adversary of the church will never allow a vision that has been formed and shaped by God to be warmly embraced by an entire congregation. The spirit of Sanballat et al is anything but dead in the contemporary Christian church, a fact that should actually cause Pastors to be leery if a wholehearted endorsement of a vision will ever happen.
Aubrey Malphurs identifies and expands on three categories of vision busters; vision vultures, vision vampires and vision fireman. Vision vultures are nitpickers who dissect a vision piece by piece, while vision vampires explicit all the substances out of the vision. Vision firemen douse the vision with so much negative comment that has its flames quickly burn out. These three categories of people have in common a desire to torpedo the vision of the group for one reason or covert, and may be short term or long term.
Interestingly, many resisters have what they consider to be good, pure motives, believing firmly that they have the best interest of the entire church at heart, and many cloak their resistance in the garment of expertise and knowledge. Vision busters mouth comments such as, ‘we know what is best for this church’’, we know what will work and what will not work here, and we’ve been around a long time.
Why do well-meaning people oppose vision? The reasons run the gamut-cowardice, resistance to change, fear of the future, an unwillingness to invest recourses, and a spirit of nonchalance and non-involvement. Not surprisingly, sometimes people triggers opposition who hurt because they were overlooked in the visioning process. Worse, some may resist the vision because they have personal ax to grind. The Pastor who cannot be categorized as a visionary most likely will not be an effective leader. After their relationship with God, vision becomes the most valuable resource a Christian Pastor can have. It behooves Pastors, therefore, to spend time discovering and clarifying God’s vision for their ministry, and to invest energy in partnering with their congregation in knowing and pursuing God’s vision for their parish.
D: THE PASTOR AND THE LOCAL CHURCH
The Local Church’s Centrality for Ministry
The relationship between congregation and parachurch ministry raises the question of how one should define church. Without getting into the complex details of ecclesiology, we can say that while other types of ministries may be part of the church, the local congregation is the most basic understanding of church as the Scriptures describe it. Jesus founded the church, described it as His body, and invested in no other organization the same promises of His presence and spiritual authority. Other organizations may have vary focused ministries, but the church carries the broad responsibility of the gospel commission. The local congregations conduct baptisms and hold membership.
It is the place of weekly worship and the storehouse for tithes and offerings, the place where people come together in community, and where God works through the body in unity and authority to protect the true faith in accordance with the scriptures. The church represents God’s people in the broadest sense, and stands as the hub to which to which all activities and ministries should relate.
The Pastor and other ministries are servants to the church. This is not to say that parachurch ministries should not exist, It is to say that parachurch ministries need to take responsibility for creating intentional linkages to the church. It is to say that laity needs to support, with time, talent, and financial gifts, the work of the church so that it, too, will have vibrant, exciting ministries. It is to say that Pastors need to make use of the best professional tool and processes to move the church into an active, attractive, spirit-filled church life. With a lot of room for the local church to be all it can be as the central site for the ministry, members may still need to change forms or style so that it can become the most successful, attractive, appealing place to be.
Such a vision of the local church requires new thinking on the part of the denomination and its leaders, as well as new focus among the members. But there are also things that the Pastor can do to help create this new reality. In fact, the role of the Pastor is essential, with this principle widely recognized in church-growth literature. William M Eassum says, ‘’the single most important factor in determining the growth of a church is the Pastor’s attitude about its mission’’. Because of this, Eassum also suggests that longer tenure increases the likely-hood for growth to occur. Commenting on the trends of the world’s largest churches, John Vaughan says, ‘’The Pastor is unquestionably a key to the growth of the church’’
In the ‘’natural church development program created by Christian Schwarz, the first quality characteristic of a healthy church is empowering leadership. If this is true, what are the most important things that a Pastor can do to help make the church a thriving centre of ministry?
The Pastor’s need for adaptability to the local congregation
Some years ago, Arlin J.Rothauge wrote an analysis of churches, of four different sizes and how that one factor affected the way each church carried out its ministry, how it attracted new members, and the implication for leadership in each setting. This classification has since become an important reference point for others studies in congregational life. Rothauge labeled the four categories: Family church (up to 50 members), Pastoral church (50-150 members), program church (150-350 members), and the corporation church (350-500 members and over). In the family church, the Pastor will function as a chaplain and the head of the family (church) is a local matriarchal or patriarchal members.
The next category, as the name suggests, centers around the Pastor. Almost everything revolves around the Pastor and if pastor are wise, they will find others to share in the leadership. In the program church, the laity becomes ever more important since the pastor can no longer maintain close contact with everyone in the congregation. The role of leading, equipping, and managing becomes essential. The central Pastor in the Corporation church can describe as more symbolic and legendary. Here the leadership role of vision-casting is most important, whereas the operation of the church moves forward with a complexity of staff members, boards, secondary leaders, groups, and volunteers. This brief overview suggests the adaptability that the Pastor must have in various situations.
Leadership style must vary according to the situation and personality of a church. Some congregations may not have a wide variety of gifts represented in their membership because of small size or other circumstance. In some cases, Pastors may need to do certain roles that might otherwise be best shared with members. The goal includes what is necessary to make church healthy, but not to do what members can and should be doing. Pastors will always be seeking to work themselves out of a job here or there as Person emerge who can take up that ministry.
The Pastor’s authority in the Local Church:
One of the most ambiguous aspects of the relationship between the Pastor and the Local Church lies in the issue of authority. Sometimes both the Pastor and the members do not know for sure how this works. Pastors assert themselves as the final word. In other situation, committees or congregation do the same and they delight in keeping Pastor in their place. Other Churches willingly submit or even seek clear, decisive directions from the Pastor. How much authority does a Pastor really have?
The Pastors will be the most successful when they find that balance between clear, consistent, inspiring, visionary leadership, while not over-assuming power in a autocratic manner. A Pastor does have a great deal of influence, but not a great amount of decision-making power. Actually, it is better this way because it encourages participatory processes that install ownership, motivation, and participation among the members.
The Pastor’s relationships with Members
One other area that can have a significant effect on ministry in the local church and continues as a source of uncertainty in a Pastor’s life lies in how they should relate personally to the members of the congregation. If the Pastor develops certain close friendship, other members may feel slighted and accuses them of having favorites. Some members have such high expectations for the pastoral family, with no allowance for them to live as normal human beings, and this has been sometimes referred to as a pastoral pedestal. Others may see the pastor on that pedestal as aloof, artificial, hiding behind a mask, or without authenticity. Worse still, the pastor may, in fact, be actually living in that unreal world. But if pastor jumps off the pedestal to become a fellow human being, he or she may land in a pool of alligators that could quickly tear him or her apart. Because the best approach will be different from one congregation to another, pastor should always seek to be genuine and authentic, but without a need to reveal every personal thing about their private lives.
Ministry is usually more effective if done as a ‘’wounded healer’’, to use an image from Henry Nouwen-that is, individuals who must bind up their own wounds, while also the ministering to the wounds of others. Even when they are down-to-earth with other humans, pastors need to maintain a certain dignity for the office they represent .Always keep in mind that both pastors and members live on the same level as human beings before God. Their status remains the same; both are the people of God (Laity). Only their roles may differ in terms of what God call them to do.
Jesus instructed His disciples, ‘’The kings of the Gentiles Lord it over them, and those who exercise authority over them call him selves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that, Instead, the greatest among you should be like the Youngest, and the one rules over you like the one who serves’’ (Luke 22:25,26, NIV).As a pastor of the local church, the minister again serves as the first servant of that church and not a lord to rule over it with force. They are the designated leaders of the church-commissioned by God and assigned by the employing conference. Paul counseled the early believers, ‘’No one takes this honor upon himself; he must be called by God, just as Aaron was’’ (Hebrew 5:4, NIV)
As a leader, the pastor must master a wide range of skills, from implementing and administrating processes to inspiring the membership in spiritual formation, growing in faith, in knowledge, in stewardship, and in discipleship. The Pastors fills a number of roles, using a wide range of skills and leadership style according to the task, the situation, and people involved. As a shepherd, the pastor leads, guides, and guards the flocks of God. As a teacher, the pastor teaches them and trains the people in the will and ways of God. As an Apostle sent forth to advance the work of God, the pastor also is a preacher and an Evangelist commissioned to share the everlasting gospel with those who live in darkness and who have no knowledge of God or His Son, Jesus Christ.
As Clergy, we are more than bean counters; we are capable of multiplying fish and loaves. However, we must be ‘’wiser than those in Thessalonica’’, who were slow to learn and slow to change. Just as Paul’s followers, we must be avid students of the word and of the times, disposed to hear the gospel, void of bigotry and prejudice, and circumspect in our regard for one another. We must become lifelong students of the gospel if we are to share God’s word with our members. We can set no better model for those we pastor than this. students, we will learn how to use our talents most wisely-our ‘’our spiritual , mental, and physical ability, the influence, station, possessions affections, sympathies, all are precious talents to be used in the cause of the Master for the salvation of souls for whom Christ died’’. We must live as owners of our talents, not just workers. Each pastor must assume more personal responsibility for the success and completion of God’s work. To function as an owner, a Pastor must use peripheral vision, developing the ability to grasp the large picture while gaining a sense of the whole.
E: THE PASTOR AS A WORSHIP LEADER
In its basic formation, worship may be defined as respect and reverence offered to a divine being or supernatural power. The root of the word has to do with worth, and worship’s one true impetus recognizes the inherent worthiness of God apart from all other beings. The starting point of worship, therefore, does not center on human condition but the divine reality. The focus of worship should not be by needs, my culture, or my emotional or intellectual expression. The true focus of worship is GOD HIMSELF. God’s attributes and perfections, God’s glory and majesty, God’s wisdom and will, God’s words and deeds past ,present, and future, towards the sons and daughters of men. Before He does anything that we can evaluate or perceive, we recognize God as worthy of our highest devotion simply because He is God. After he has spoken and intervene and His actions are recognized by us as gracious, awesome, merciful, punitive, or even mysterious, He is still worthy of our highest devotion because HE IS GOD! The starting point of worship begins, not with the human condition, but the divine reality.
The true center of worship
In order to function as a worship leader, the minister must understand what is at the center of worship. This has become a matter of contentious debate in modern religious circles, particularly when secular values have been permitted to slip in and compromise the principles at the root of worship. Strong arguments have been made for worship as a from expression based on culture, emotion, intellect, ritual or personal therapy needs, among others. Whatever the rational and however distinct one form of expression may be from another, they all share the common basis of being anthropocentric, worship that originates from the human perspective, from the worshiper perception of his own need. This may be compatible with the philosophy of the world, but does not comport with the principles of scripture.
Principles of worship practice for the church
2. Corporate prayer
F: THE PASTOR AS AN ADMINISTRATOR
A Methodist minister put it this way: The modern preacher has to make as many visits as a country doctor, shake as hands as a politician, prepare as many brief as a lawyer, and see as many people as a specialist. He has to be as good an executive as the president; and in the mist of it all, he has to be good a diploma that he could umpire a baseball game between the Knights of Columbus and the Ku Klux Klan.
You are never to do everything, but you are to attempt to see that everything is done. That describes administration in the pastorate-you are responsible for the implementation and operation of the church program. Capable of arranging, setting in orders, putting members to work, the pastor oversees the function of the church.
By definition, administration is ‘’ad-minister’’-something that happened prior the ministry or serving- something added to make ministry work. As pastors, you are to see that various departments’ services, committees, and boards function. You need to be present at the major church committees and receive reports from the various committees detailing their activity. You will want to meet with the various leaders of your church and see that each officer has a clearly defined responsibility sheet or job description. Function happens best when officers know what is expected, so a flow chart outlining levels of responsibility and whom officers are responsible is vital.
Administration should not be for dominance, lordship or dictatorship. The pastor’s administrative style contributes to the health and vitality of the church. A well church has leadership that empowers, considers all members as key players of the team, and ensures they are adequately trained and tutored in their role. The pastor will be people oriented, working in partnership with the team as player/coach. The Master model is the pastor’s model: just as the son of man did not come to be served, but to serve (Matthew 20:28 NIV; see also Matthew 20:25-27).
If, as a pastor, you immense yourself in all the function of the church, you are inviting fatigue and burnout. To stop this, see that all sections of the church are working, and you will then be able to maximize ministry time in the key areas of preaching, mission, and nurture. Frustrated pastor, unfulfilled pastors, and pastors lacking empowerment becomes such because of the minimizing of their key roles. A plumber who never plumbs, a pilot who never flies, a baker who never bakes, and a surgeon who never operates are frustrated.
A radical shift
‘’A new way of doing church is emerging. In this radical paradigm shift exposition is being replaced with entertainment, preaching is being replaced with entertainment, preaching with performances, doctrine with drama, and theology with theatrics. The pulpit, once the focal point of the church, is now being overshadowed by a variety of church growth techniques, everything from trendy worship styles to glitzy presentations to vaudeville-like pageantries. In seeking to capture the upper hand in church growth, a new wave of pastors is reinventing church and repackaging the gospel into a product to be sold to consumers.
Paul’s counsel to Timothy needs to be read every day by the pastor: ‘’Challenge, warn, and purge your people. Don’t ever quit. Just keep it simple. You’re going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food-catchy opinions that tickles their fancy. They’ll turn their back on truth and chase mirages. But you-keep your eyes on what you are doing; accept the hard times along with the good; keep the message alive; do a thorough job as God’s servants.
The preacher for today must have the heart of a lion, the skin of a hippopotamus, the ability of a greyhound, the patience of a donkey, the wisdom of an elephants, the industry of an ant, and as many lives as a cat. Pastors need many attributes and skills, but above all they are Jesus representatives
Pastors are the spiritual leaders of the church, the ambassador for the kingdom of heaven, God’s mouthpiece, living and articulating the life of the kingdom. The Pastor ministers the word of God-and is ordained for such. In administering church life, pastors should be what they are supposed to be without modeling after a CEO Guru using the secular styles or models in which the church is seen as a business with chains of command and bosses giving orders.
Techniques of administration alone do not make a successful leader. What a leader is, as a person is, of greater importance than the leadership role assumed .A Christian leader is first of all a Christian. With a God-directed life empowered by the Holy Spirit, Christian leaders must live what they profess. Their lives must be credible. They are God’s men and women living out the life of Christ in the mist of His people. They are first and foremost a witness of God’s grace. They serve not in order to benefit themselves, but that their congregation may know God, exhibit Christ likeness, and archive spiritual maturity.
Be Shepherds of God’s flock that is under you care, serving as overseers-not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock (1 Peter 5:2,3, NIV)
G: THE PASTOR AND THE LITTLE THINGS
Pastors lead with visionary focus; they lead by peering into the future, they see not only far into the distance but also look at the big picture. Such capacity for visioning and dreaming incorporates one of the most important ingredients that will make for successful pastoral leadership. Without any attempt to argue the truth or falsehood of the views just presented, the truly successful pastor not only visions and dreams, but also has the capacity to focus on the little things-that is, be aware of the basics. Stated negatively, the argument suggest that many would be successful pastors have failed, because they have not been called of God, nor gifted by the Holy spirit, nor understood their theology, nor skilled in their preaching, nor expansive in their vision, but they have failed in the little things. Pastoral attention to the little things demonstrates that a pastor can be a person of deep commitment, high competence, and extreme carefulness. The point is, as Malcolm Gladwell puts it, ‘’little things can make a big difference’’. Gladwell uses several examples to make his point, such as showing how social epidemics work, how fashion trends develop, or how diseases become epidemics or pandemics, or how behavior patterns such as crime develop. He argues that what starts as little things then develops into big things. And further, that often what accounts for dramatic success is not what happens through the strategic plans, visions, goals, or rationalized timetable of a leader or organization, but the little things that tip the balance, moving from ordinary to extraordinary. As Stephen covey notes in his popular book on personal leadership, Habits of Highly Effective people, there are several little things that makes for effectiveness in building one’s emotional bank as a leader. Seven of which are presented in paraphrase form:
1) Being empathetic-attending to the hurts of others.
2) Being responsive-learning how to give feedback to open communication.
3) Being punctual-recognizing that it is the little minutes that make an hour and a day.
4) Being attentive-especially with children.
5) Being careful to keep commitments and promises.
6) Being aware of people-remembering to congratulate people’s small efforts.
7) Being aware of protocols-many a public meeting gets destroyed because of the leader’s lack of understanding protocols.
Jesus and the little things
The one who best portrays giving attention to the little things without forgetting the larger picture was Jesus. He said it quite clearly, ‘’He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much’’ (Luke 16:10, NIV). While He sat on the temple in the worship service, He could have overlooked the widow who gave her mite, but He did not. His observation sought to challenge the ostentation of the Pharisees and build the faith of the decuples (Mark 12:43; Luke 21:2).
When He was in a crowd and a woman touched His garment, He knew that virtue had left .The touch was a little thing, compared to the push of the crowd, and could have been left without public observation, but Jesus comments drew the attention of the religious leaders, challenged their lack of compassion, and built the faith of the woman in a way that she received healing and forgiveness. She came to realized that her touch was not a contact with magical spell but that she had been in contact with the Living God(Matthew 9:20,21)
Jesus gave attention to the man in the sycamore tree. Although the crowd was very large, Jesus found time to look up to connect with one individual. Jesus asked him to come down so that He could share a meal with Him.(Luke 19:4,5). The list of examples as to how Jesus was exemplary in giving attention to the little things, little people, and little moments of life need not be extended. They are multiple, to say it mildly. Leighton Ford’s points in his book, Transformational Leadership, was that Jesus understood that being connected to the role of the kingdom includes the ability to be faithful in the little things .He considered the little things significant if they were done to the honor and glory of God. On the contrary, the biggest accomplishment is to small if not done to the honor of God
Attending to the little things that lead to frustrations in communication.
Pastoring coincides with relationship building. Relationship are either enhanced or destroyed by communication and break down when individuals are frustrated in communication. Pastors should take care to understand the utmost importance of frustrations that are created through the method or means of communication that they might choose to use. When frustrations occur, the wise Pastor will seek to find ways of identifying the source of the frustration. Find ways of addressing it and reassure the person that the Pastor will work hard to avoid such problems in the future. After the board meetings, for example, a pastor might have s brief meeting with a person who shows frustration, to ask for the source of the frustration, and if it shows authenticity, the pastor needs to share empathy and give the reassurance that better days are coming. It might be important to follow a stand-up meeting with a phone call, an email, or a visit. With some of the little things that create frustrations in communication, it is important to note that:
• Pastors do not have to speak to every issue in the church.
• Pastors need not to speak unless they have something to say.
• Pastors should be careful not to criticize the organization for which they work.
• Pastors need to practice returning phone calls, if a pastor cannot make a physical visit, make a phone call.
• Pastors need to remember that if they are going to be late for an appointment, they need to call ahead to make clear they may not be able to meet the appointment when originally scheduled. These little issues in communication are of great importance for effective pastoral practices.
Little Things that create an Effective Ministry:
1. Focusing on the Appointment.
2. Attending to the little things that impacts cross-cultural relationship.
3. Attending to the little things that impact those who are dealing with death and crying.
4. Attending to the little ones who are sometimes the invisibles of the community.
5. Attending to the little interest of the Youth.
6. Attending to the little stresses of the middle-aged
7. Attending to the elderly, especially the sick and shut-ins.
8. Attending to the little dirt and rubbish in the physical plant of the church.
9. Attending to the little things that impact the church visibility in the community.
10. Attending to the little things that cause stress and burnout.
11. Attending to the little networks in the communities we lead.
12. Attending to our posture, weather we are or are not sitting upfront.
13. Attending to how we say Yes and No.
Some positive consequences of minding the little things
1. Faithfulness in little things points to our integrity.
2. Faithfulness in little things demonstrates our competence and effectiveness.
3. Faithfulness in little things builds our relationships with others.
4. Faithfulness in little things keeps us away from crisis management
5. Faithfulness in little things ultimately helps us to overcome stress.
6. Faithfulness in little things is often the commendation that we receive for greater responsibilities.
H: LIVING BEFORE GOD: THE PASTOR AND ETHICS
Some ministers who claimed to have committed their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ and who call upon others to follow Jesus have engaged in sexual misconduct. Studies show that Roman Catholic priests are more often involved in sexual misconduct with children, whereas other clergy (Protestants, Jewish, and Muslim) most often are involved in sexual misconduct with adults. Whether with children or adults, misconduct is still wrong. Clergy engaged in such misconduct are not faithful to God-and they roam among the flock and the community as predators’ .How widespread is clergy misconduct? You ask. Some people say, if may be happening in other denominations, but not among us, But how do they know that to be so? Is it just a hopeful assumption? Some authorities have estimated that up to 10 percent of clergy are involved in some form of sexual misconduct. The church should not tolerate any level of sexual misconduct by ministers-or by anyone else for that matter.
Ethics in the Daily Life of the Pastor
The Pastor faces ethical issues every day:
Preaching: William Willimon, in his book on the work of Pastors, reminds us that Preaching is ethically demanding. Not only the sharing of information, preaching includes telling what the Lord Jesus Christ is doing in our lives, so that the hearers will realize that they, too, can experience the new life in Christ.
Private life: What Pastor does not crave for some privacy? Yet privacy, which is needed, does not take away stability. Practically speaking, we cannot separate our public and private lives because the private person is reflected in the public life.
Family relationship: Many Pastors do not treat their Families as being very important. Yet we are reminded that ‘‘The spiritual welfare of (The Pastors) family comes first’’. As if not challenging enough, the same writer states that ‘’It is not so much the religion of the pulpit as the religion of the family that reveals our real character’’
After all, which is more difficult; preach a sermon or apologize to your spouse, daughter, or son? Some of us would probably rather prepare and preach a series of sermons before offering an apology. Those of us who are married should remember how we treat our spouses before the marriage. Prior to marriage, we tended to be more gracious, understanding, forgiving and always looking for reason to compliment the other. We need those attitude positive attitudes and behaviors to strengthen our families.
Relationship with other Pastors; Remember the first day of that new assignment? Some said that you were more capable or a better preacher than your predecessor. Noel S. Fraser, who has held various ministerial roles in the West Indies, reminds us that, ‘’that same tongue that curses our predecessor will also curse you when the time comes’’. We can be successful and effective without allowing ourselves to be compared to those before us. Success is ultimately God’s assessment of how faithful we are to our calling.
Counseling ministry: While Pastoral counseling is a part of ministry, most Pastors do not have the expertise or the time to do general counseling. Pastoral counseling may take place during a brief conversation in the church or in a more formal meeting at an appropriate place. Because all Pastoral counseling requires adherence to strict professional standards, here are some helpful principles which will help you, as a Pastor, avoid some dangerous pitfalls. Recognize your limitations.
1. Limited time: Consider Pastoral counseling are as only one part of ministry.
2. Limited expertise: Pastors cannot address all of the issues, as experts, that members face.
3. Limited understanding of facts: Although tempting to listen to a person give an account of the actions or words of another person and reach conclusions, how does the pastor know the accuracy of the report? Before we reach conclusions about the person not present, we need to hear from that person. Seeking a resolution. Pastors should recognize the importance of working towards resolution; otherwise, very little will be accomplished. Here are some suggested principles to keep in mind;
1. Listen: Listening is difficult but necessary if we want to help the member look for a resolution.
2. Focus: Some individuals want to spend most of time retelling wrong done to them or recounting their hurts. While the Pastor should recognize the importance of listening to past events, focusing on solutions should be considered critical. For example, asking a person to consider their options will help them focus on a resolution.
3. Refer: Some situations need the attention of other counselors or health care workers, but only refer those individuals to professionals you are sure are competent and ethical.
4. Confidentiality: Carelessness with confidential information will harm the member and bring the work of the minister into question.
5. Legal implications: On occasion, an individual will share information’s that has legal implications, and ministers should know their responsibility. For example, what do you do with information about sexual abuse of a minor?
Be in love with your spouse and let others know it: Are you and your spouse seen together? Do others see the bond that exists between you and your spouse so that when you are seen together, a positive message is given?
1. Be aware of your vulnerability: Yes, it can happen to you.
2. Be accountable: Accountability to another person will help the minister stay away from improper relationship. But remember, we are not only accountable to others –our accountability is ultimately to God.
3. Be ready to run: Instances occur when the Pastor must exercise the Joseph option-run. The Pastor will come into contact with individuals who are not interested in counseling, but rather desire to enter into immoral relationship.
4. Be spiritually strong: Pastors must have an ongoing plan for spiritual growth, What is yours?
Planning to Act Ethically
All too often, the discussion of Pastoral ethics happens after a serious problem has occurred. This section will help Pastors order their lives in such a way that they will not be party to serious ethical problems. Here are some specific actions.
Address the Problem: Admitting that a problem exists is important but not sufficient. A well-known writer and storyteller describes a bar scene with a song being played. A tangy song played on the jukebox, the deep, mournful voice of a man sorry was the singer for his misdeeds if he was still committing them? How sorry is a Pastor who acknowledges a wrong but continues doing it? Do not detour around the problem, Deal with it.
Bypass the first desire: Schweiker states that ‘’All of us have first-order sexual desire’’. We may want to call such desires temptations, but temptations in themselves are not sin. Having a desire is not sufficient ground for acting upon it. The question is, do we allow it to grow to the point at which we act upon it?
Describe: Describe your actions or relationship to another individual-I mean the actions you would rather not talk about. If you are not bold enough to describe them to a confident, challenge yourself to at least write them down. Write down something such as ‘’ Name of person and I are ……’’ How would you complete such a sentence? What are you and that person talking about, planning, and doing? Would you feel comfortable describing it to others? If not, change course.
Follow the road: Where is the road on which you are traveling taking you? Look ahead and acknowledge where you are heading, for good intentions alone will not help us if we are traveling on the wrong road. Personal feelings do not make the wrong road the right road.
Invite God before disaster strikes: God will listen to our pleas even when we are in the midst of personal disaster. But during this time, while we are in the midst of a disaster of our doing, our spiritual reference points may have disappeared. We should recognize the importance of asking God for spiritual strength before much time passes. Paul says it effectively; Put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-17, NIV). Dietrich Bonheoffer wrote that ‘’Morning Prayer determines the day’’ that sums it up well.