Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Kind of a Big Deal

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
-- Romans 12:3-5

I'm not sure how to put this . . . I'm kind of a big deal. People know me.
-- Ron Burgundy

What do churches look for in a pastor? I ask honestly: Has anyone ever seen a minister search ad that specifically asked for a man of integrity, monogamy, self-control, peace, financial propriety, and gentleness?
I mean, I know we want leaders who are gifted, skilled, trained, and educated. But is that all we want? A professional?

Gentleness! God forbid we seek out gentle pastors. That's sooo not in the pastorpreneur job description.

I'm not talking about being passive or a pushover. I'm not talking about being weak or timid. I'm talking about being gentle, which is something the Bible says a church shepherd should be.

(A somewhat related question: Wouldn't it be super-radically innovative for a church to list the fruit of the Spirit on its website as its "core values"? Somebody please steal this idea! It beats the same ol' "excellence, quality, creativity, yada yada yada.")

Pastor as visioneer. Pastor as CEO. Pastor as figurehead. Pastor as celebrity.

What in the world are we doing?

Is it any wonder the pastors we consider "successful" are the ones increasingly disconnected from their people, while the ones who throw themselves into messy ministry get burnt out, chewed up, spit out?
Can our church culture even tolerate the pastor as humble shepherd? Is that sort of person too boring?

I know this is rambling.
I'm just thinking about people close to me, and I can't bring myself to turn my thoughts of their ministry situations into a treatise.
I'm just . . . concerned.

We have a long row to hoe, and I am concerned the average Christian is not looking to the right men to lead the charge. Our values may be upside down. And like the fighter jet illustration in Dallas Willard's The Divine Conspiracy, we can be upside down and not even realize it.

This is why Christ must be the focal point. This is why Christ must be the center. This is why Christ must be the true north of the Church.

Not growth, as blessed as that is. Not changed lives, as addictive as those are. Not all the great things the Church can be and can do. Satisfaction in knowing Jesus, living on Jesus, worshiping Jesus as God and as our friend.
Jesus is the context. Jesus gives the right perspective on everything else.

Do we want pastors who will attract attention, raise our numbers, fix our budget, plan for our future, and then, if there is time left over, help us be satisfied in Christ, to find grace sufficient?
Do we want someone planting his flag? The church's? Or Jesus'?

Piggybacking on David Wayne, who piggybacked on Bill Kinnon, who piggybacked on Daryl Dash, I must share this Tim Keller quotable:
Most churches make the mistake of selecting as leaders the confident, the competent, and the successful. But what you most need in a leader is someone who has been broken by the knowledge of his or her sin, and even greater knowledge of Jesus' costly grace. The number one leaders in every church ought to be the people who repent the most fully without excuses, because you don't need any now; the most easily without bitterness; the most publicly and the most joyfully. They know their standing isn't based on their performance.

I think one of the hardest crucifixions of the flesh the church will have to commit is the relinquishing of the tyranny of "results."

Yeah. Messing with DNA here. It's church growth heresy!

Is there a place for the gifted, skilled, mature pastor who is not, well, you know?

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
-- Philippians 2:3

The Entrepreneurial Pastor Trend


joe byler said...

you're right on,,, messing with the DNA, no doubt, but it needs to be done. I think our current problem with "spiritual consumerism" has been amplified due to church "leadership" (not just pastors) taking the so called "easy" route to "growing" a church.

I'm a full-time worship pastor at a church in Ohio, and i really struggle with how to lead. (not just how to lead the worship service, but how to be a "leader" in my church). Over and over God has shown me that i need to be a broken, humble leader, a servant of his people. But when i look for examples around me, and just my normal human tendencies, i find myself becoming that which i don't want to be - a leader who feeds his people spiritual milk and is content to cater to spiritual consumerism so that number grow, people like me and so that i still have a job. Anyway, God is really working in my life in these areas, so your post was an encouragement to me. thanks. anyway, may church leaders begin to band together, on our knees, praying that God teach us to be humble leaders following the example of Christ.

Jared said...

Thanks, Joe!

Blessings on your ministry.

I am learning the leadership thing as I go too. It is both exhilarating and frightening, isn't it? :-)

Anonymous said...

Celebrity is in keeping with relevance to culture.

I don't believe it's always the Pastor/ CEO's wish to become a celebrity as much as it's the Church community's cultural training to view him as one. Then it becomes a matter of nipping the idea in the bud or succumbing to it's alure.

I lean towards believing it's an American thing, grown in suburbia. Do seminary, get a gig, write a book, go to conventions and seminars, do book signings. It doesn't hurt to come up with a catch phrase and even slap a descriptive title behind your name... like, Author, Speaker, Catalyst for Synergy, All Around Cowboy.

The flesh is weak, but it has a strong facade sometimes.


Jared said...

don't believe it's always the Pastor/ CEO's wish to become a celebrity as much as it's the Church community's cultural training to view him as one

Nathan, I agree.

The temptation from idolatrous adulation can be overwhelming, particularly when it appeals to pride and self-interest, which all of us without exception have hardwired in us.

Travis said...

Completely agree with you here, Jared--and it's one big reason why I've never pursued a pastorate. =/

Jimmy said...

I think one of the hardest crucifixions of the flesh the church will have to commit is the relinquishing of the tyranny of "results."

Worth the read...one single sentence is worth the whole post...where do I pay my $750.00 for the church growth seminar?

Jared said...

Send your check or money order to . .


cavman said...

As I look for a new call I'm astounded by the number of positions that like "proven record of successful ministry". Many churches have messed up priorities.
When I began my first pastorate people thought it strange that I didn't want my name on the sign or letterhead. It was my subtle reminder that it is about Jesus, not me.

Eric said...

The "Fad-Driven Church".

Here is a great article on what has become of the modern church in America.



Ed Brenegar said...

Churches are fixated on numbers because they cannot figure out what impact they are supposed to have. A results focus is borrowed from the business world, and it is just as damaging there as in the church. Tyranny of the numbers. Instead, church should ask what would be the impact if each member lived a life of love to its fullest potential. What would change? Answer that, and you have a clear idea of what the impact of a church should be.