Being a pastor is one of the most joyous things I’ve ever done. Not only do I get to pastor some of the most amazing people and lead an incredible staff, I’ve had the honor of meeting some of the most amazing pastors in the world. The pastors that I know may not be “celebrity” pastors by our weird church culture standards, but they are spiritual giants and flipping awesome people whom I’d do anything for. On the other hand, I’ve had many conversations with pastors who have stories about how they have felt misunderstood by other pastors and have strained relationships with other pastors.
The last thing the world needs to see are pastors at odds with each other. So, pastors, for those of us who have a strained relationship or feel misunderstood – these are a few simple things that we need to be reminded of:
1) We are on the same team. It’s true, we are not each others competition. I don’t want you to view me as a threat, I want to be viewed as your friend and advocate. I’ve never understood why we can be so territorial about our community. Surely the entire city can’t fit into your building. The more churches we have, the bigger the Kingdom of God can be. I bet we would be more productive if we would work with each other, as opposed to staying stuck in our little kingdom.
2) Don’t quit! Every year thousands of pastors leave the local church – and unfortunately, I know some of them. Ministry is tough and it saddens me when I hear stories of pastors and staff members leaving their calling. Every time I want to give up, Holy Spirit always reminds me of Galatians 6:9, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Your family needs you, your community needs you, and your church needs you.
3) We don’t have to agree on everything. I just threw up in my mouth thinking about how many pastors get bent out shape over minor issues. For far too long pastors have given focus to minor things instead of the major thing (The Gospel). Sadly, I’ve seen many pastors not willing to build relationships with one another due to differences in methods of ministry and minor theological issues. How grieved the heart of God must be when we build walls of hostility over minor disagreements. Trust me when I say that it’s possible for the reformed and charismatics to live in unity – I just so happen to pastor a multi-denominational/cultural church.
If we can agree that Jesus is God and he died for our sins, then I’m sure we can find common ground on other secondary issues.
4) I have to obey God. When I set out to plant Refuge in 2010, there were only 3 pastors in my community that reached out to me and tossed their support for what God was calling me to do. On the other hand (and sadly) there were pastors who weren’t so welcoming. Obeying God may mean that others will leave you or that others won’t join in with what you’re doing. Even though I was doing something that some people didn’t understand, I had to obey God. Furthermore, if God has given you a bold vision for your church, we pastors should celebrate and pray that the vision is accomplished.
5) I want to see your church flourish. Because when your church flourishes, the Big C church flourishes. God gave Refuge Point Church a crazy vision to reach 1,000 people by 2020, but I want every church to be more than a thousand in our area. That would mean that pretty much every person in our community would be a part of The Church. When the church flourishes, the community will flourish.
6) I don’t want your church members. Okay, it’s probably the elephant in the room, but this one is kind of a sensitive topic. The fact that some people will change churches is inevitable, but please know (for me) I’m trying to bring in the unchurched and de-churched. I’m not after sheep transfers.
Pastors, we are better when we are together and when we have each others back.
So pastors/church staff, help me out here, what else would you add?