Monday, February 8, 2010

Going the Distance - Chapters 13 & 14

This series was originally posted on In Tandem, a blog for ministry wives. 

Depending on the structure of your church and denomination, these two chapters will be applied differently. However, the principles in each are sound and worth taking note of to see how they apply in your particular circumstance.

Chapter 13: A word for local church leaders
Local church leaders can be a source of great encouragement or of despair for pastors. (p202)
Brain starts by listing the characteristics church leaders should have: they must be converted, trusting in Christ daily, have a heart to see the lost saved, be in a personal relationship with their saviour, growing in godliness, etc.

Practically, there are a number of ways that local church leaders can greatly strengthen a pastors' ministry and encourage him in the process. These include:
  • attending to the physical aspects of ministry - ministers need adequate pay, housing, study facilities & resources. If these are provided with a willing and generous spirit, the pastor can be greatly encouraged. Reviews of these things can often pick up areas where more attention or resourcing is needed.
  • giving permission to attend to self-care - encouraging the pastor to take his day-off, have family holidays, to attend conferences and training, do exercise, etc all show support for his entire person and well-being.
  • planning together and establishing priorities for both pastors and churches
  • praying for and with their pastors
  • dealing with perfectionist expectations of both the pastors and the congregation
  • participation. I think this is something that is becoming more and more valued. As 'regular' church members now often only attend 1 in 2 weeks (if that), the commitment to regular weekly attendance speaks volumes to the pastor.

Chapter 14 - A word for denominational leaders
Local church ministry is surely the most strategic and difficult ministry around. It is a noble task. But given the multiple responsibilities of a typical one-pastor church, the nobility of the task can be lost, clouded over by the multiplicity of tasks and expectations. The denominational leader is uniquely placed to affirm pastors by consistently affirming their work. (p219)

How can denominational leaders encourage and affirm their pastors?
  • recognise the primary of the local church. The local church is where people are fed, converted, and sent out to the community. Denominational structures do not do this and denomination leaders would benefit from remembering it.
  • realise that pastors can be torn between meeting demands or requirements of the denomination and those of the congregation or local church leadership
  • to affirm them - remember them, make a phone call, send a card, remember their name at denominational events, spend time with them in their church setting, give them time.
  • ensure they are adequately resourced & remunerated
  • give particular attention to pastors of small congregations (remembering that 75% of churches have less than 80 members)
  • provide opportunities for development, especially feeding them on God's word, rather than new programmes or structures
  • allow fair hearing for disputes

Again, chapters like these (and the previous one) can lead to great thanks for the situation you are in or alternatively, discouragement. As we are unlikely to be the ones who change a poor situation, I suspect we need to consider our role of encouraging our husbands both in their ministry and their own godliness, and watching our own godliness as well.

Do you have any ideas or suggestions for those who have conflict with church or denominational leaders? And how as wives we can be supportive of our husbands in such situations?

Next week: Chapter 15 - Finishing the race

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