By Thom Rainer
If you really want to hurt your pastor, then this blogpost is for you.
This past week alone, I had conversations with dozens of pastors. These pastors love their churches and the members. They are really committed to their callings.
But they are real people who can really be hurt.
The pastors I spoke with this past week shared with me seven common themes of the things that hurt them the most. So, if you really want to hurt your pastor, follow these guidelines carefully.
- Criticize the pastor’s family. Few things are as painful to pastors as criticizing their families, especially if the criticisms are related to issues in the church.
- Tell the pastor he is overpaid. Very few pastors really make much money. But there are a number of church members who would like to make the pastor feel badly about his pay.
- Don’t defend the pastor. Critics can be hurtful. But even more hurtful are those who remain silent while their pastor is verbally attacked. Silence is not golden in this case.
- Tell your pastor what an easy job he has. It can really sting when someone suggests that the pastor really only works about ten hours a week. Some actually believe that pastors have several days a week off.
- Be a constant naysayer. Pastors can usually handle the occasional critic. But the truly painful relationships are with church members who are constantly negative. How do you know you’ve succeeded in this regard? The pastor runs the other way when he sees you.
- Make comments about the pastor’s expenditures. I heard it from a pastor this past week. A church member asked, “How can you afford to go to Disney World?” Wow.
- Compare your pastor’s preaching and ministry unfavorably to that of another pastor. Many times the member wants you to know how much he or she likes that pastor on the podcast compared to you. If you really want to hurt your pastor, you can make certain he knows how inferior he is.
So, if your life’s goal is to hurt your pastor, one or more of these approaches will work just fine.
But, if you are like most good church members, you want the best for your pastor. So just do the opposite of these seven.
And if you are worried that your pastor will not remain humble unless someone puts him in his place, don’t worry. There will always be plenty of those other church members around.
Do you identify with these seven items? What would you add?
This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on June 16, 2014. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.
By Thom Rainer
Any pastor or other church staff member should be prepared in biblical truths. Theology is a key discipline as well. Indeed none of the classical disciplines should be forsaken, nor any of the practical disciplines, such as missions, evangelism, or church planting.
But the American culture has shifted dramatically in a relatively short period. The United States is becoming more like an international mission field. As a result, ministry training, whether formal or informal, should reflect this reality. Missionaries are typically required to receive intensive cultural and language training before they go overseas. Frankly, a similar need exists today for those in American congregations, or those planning to go to these churches.
So where are the greatest needs? My list is certainly not exhaustive, nor is it in any particular order. But I do see all of these areas as key to reaching our new and challenging culture.
- A new language. If a pastor or church staff member does not “speak” social media, he or she is neglecting one of the fastest growing trends in our nation, indeed in our world. It is no longer a fad; it is a primary means of communication.
- A non-Christian culture. Our nation is fast becoming a non-Christian nation. While we lament the relative decline in the numbers who follow Christ, we must also accept the reality that those in our community cannot be assumed to be like us, or to hold our values.
- The decline of cultural Christians in churches. The Pew Research project confirmed the dramatic increase in the numbers of people who have no religious affiliation. For our churches, this development means that most people do not feel cultural pressure to attend churches. More and more, those who are there are convicted Christians and not Christians in name only.
- A new work/life balance. Pastors and church staff members have always been on call 24/7. But now they are connected 24/7 as well with computers, smart phones, and other technological advances. For better or worse, the world of work and personal life is becoming increasingly blurred.
- Unregenerate church members. Cultural Christians are those who really know they are not believers, but are affiliated with churches for cultural reasons. But another group includes those who may cognitively assert a belief in Christ, but have really not had a conversion. For certain, this development is not new. But we are seeing the cumulative cost of weak discipleship and false conversions in our churches. How will we respond to the issue of numbers of members who are not truly believers?
- The community as a mission field. Can we change our mindsets and be better prepared? Our communities are not just changing because there are fewer Christians. They are changing with an influx of new ethnic groups and people of other religious beliefs.
- Less automatic cultural respect of church leaders. In past years, those who held the title of “pastor” or some similar nomenclature were revered in the community just by the position they held. Such is not the case today. Respect must be earned one day at a time.
- A more critical world. Many pastors and church staff members do not deal well with the more transparent and critical world in which we live. Some retreat to a form of passivity or paths of least resistance. And some quit altogether.
- A greater need for leadership skills. The world in which we live is complex. We may long for simpler times, but that won’t change our realities. Church leaders must be better leaders in more challenging times.
- More churches in need of revitalization. This last item may be last on the list, but the need is huge. As many as nine out of ten of our churches are in need of some level of major revitalization. There are tens of thousands of these churches, and the implications for equipping leaders for them are vast.
This list may be discouraging to you as you read the cumulative implications. I see it, however, from a different perspective. I see this new reality and this new mission field as a great opportunity. No, it’s not your father or mother’s church. It’s a new and challenging reality requiring a missional mindset. It requires total dependence on the One who sends us to the mission field. And that is exactly where God wants us.
What do you think about this mission field called America?
This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on March 10, 2014. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.