Thursday, March 11, 2010

What really matters in ministry? 2

I want to continue a post from yesterday.  Much of pastoral work involves administrative tasks, and many churches expect their pastor to be the primary administration person in the church.  That's fine...someone has to handle the administrative tasks of a church, and pastors are often in a position to do that.  However, I do believe that a church will suffer if that becomes the pastor's primary function.  I have to wonder how many people decide to attend a church because the pastor is a great administrator.  I further wonder how many church members get excited about following a pastor who is efficient in administration.  I think another component of pastoral ministry is more important, and that component is vision.

People willingly choose to follow a pastor who has a clear vision for where the church is to go.  New people are often attracted to a church that seems to have a vision that gives them direction for ministry.  And the larger the vision the more people will be attracted to it.

We are told that 80 percent of our churches today are plateaued or declining.  I personally believe most of them are declining, and the reason for that is they have lost their vision for ministry.  Content to drift along, they open their doors each Sunday and hope something good will happen.  Hope is not a strategy.  There is a huge mission field surrounding every church, and God has placed our churches in that mission field to impact it for the Kingdom of God.  Every community is different; every church is different; so every church's vision will be different.  But every church needs a vision for ministry if it is serious about wanting to have an impact on their community.  Challenging the church with that vision is the task of the pastor.

This does not mean that the vision must come from the pastor.  Vision can come from anywhere because it is God's vision that we are seeking, not the pastor's vision or the deacon's vision, and God can choose to reveal His vision to anyone.  He can choose to speak His vision through some very unlikely sources.  However, the pastor must receive that vision, flesh out what it means to the church, and must lead the church to own it as their vision.  Administration is important to keep the church functioning, but vision is imperative if the church wants to reach its community for the Kingdom of God.

Pastors must spend time dreaming about where God wants to lead His church.  They must get outside their office walls and spend time in the community to truly understand the needs of that community so they can determine how their church can best minister to those needs.  They must spend time with their own people so they can better understand the concerns and passions of their people.  They must also spend time in God's Word to better understand what God is wanting to do in our world today. 

Having a clear vision from God regarding the ministry of the church is not an option, it is a necessity if we want to enjoy an effective ministry that honors God.  This is what really matters in ministry.


Brian said...

I am reminded of a Eugene Peterson book called The Contemplative Pastor, He writes of focusing on the important things, mainly people's souls. I am not a pastor, but am definitely contemplating calling quite a bit. In the end, a pastor's first responsibility it seems is people's spiritual well being.

Dennis Bickers said...

Peterson has another book in the same vein titled "Working the Angles." Both are excellent books that stress the importance of focusing on the real issues of ministry such as prayer, meditation, and spiritual mentoring.

I hope you have someone to help you process the sense of call on your life. Be sure to talk with your pastor or other trusted spiritual advisor in your life about this important decision. I am convinced God is calling persons into pastoral ministry, but many are missing that call due to the busyness of their lives. It's not always an easy call to understand or sort out, so it's helpful to have someone walk with you on that journey. God bless.