Whenever I’m about to bemoan the stupidity of people in my church, I remember that their stupidity is why I got hired.
I mean, seriously, if I had a great church I wouldn’t be the pastor.
In all honesty, pastors who whine about their churches are quite funny. Many of my jokes about people in my church are made up. Many of the true ones are about people who have left. And, yeah, humans are funny, so I poke on some remaining people. But at the core of it, we’re all in this together.
Speaking of making fun of people who left my church. There was a guy who had a problem with my leadership in the church. He told me my leadership style was “my way or the highway.” He then went on to compare me to his jerk of a dad. He maintained that I enforced too much of a difference between clergy and laymen. I found that funny because my approach to church is so far from a clergy laity split it’s ridiculous.
The only difference between clergy and “laymen” is that the clergy are appointed to do some stuff in church. There should be a standard of conduct and faith maintained, but this same standard should be every Christian’s goal. Clergy are not above the rest. We all have feet of clay. All have sinned and all need Christ.
I’m not the smartest guy in the world. I know this about me. I know my weak spots and have a wife to point out the weak spots I’ve missed.
Pastors will attract people who are similar to them. They just do. If the pastor is intellectual and academic; the church will soon be made up of academics. If he’s hip and cool; then hip and cool people will go to him. There are always exceptions to the rule, but in general this is how it works. I dare say it even goes down to body weight! Fat pastors have fatter churches than skinny ones!
Pastors are a reflection of their church and their church is a reflection of the pastor. This is the main reason why the standards for a pastor are so high. Why Paul told Timothy to make sure people see your growth in the faith.
A pastor who rips on his church all the time, and not just in good fun, but I mean constantly criticizes them, to the point of actual animosity toward the people, is merely expressing animosity toward himself. Again, there are exceptions and this certainly isn’t true if you’ve been at a church for a short time.
I have not been at my church for a short time. It is my fault. The people there have become like me. This is in parts good and in other parts not so good.
But to sit back and judge them as though I have nothing to do with anything, as if it’s their fault entirely, is dishonest. The state of people in my church is not entirely my fault. I am accountable for who I am. But nor is it entirely their fault. I’m the one they come to for spiritual instruction (the ones who come do better than ones who don’t, incidentally, speaking of the two sides). They will, by default, see how I act and talk and make the assumption that this behavior is consistent with what I’m teaching.
There is a heavy burden on pastors to be an example to the flock. There is also a burden on the flock to follow the shepherd, and we’re all following the Good Shepherd. We’re all in it together. We all need to take spiritual growth more seriously and pursue Christ with more zeal and passion.
Let’s help our people do that and pray they help us too.
Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock.
1 Peter 5:2-3