If it sometimes seems as though your church is the devil’s target, you can be sure that your pastor is the bull’s eye. The enemy understands that the larger the tree that topples in the forest, the larger the circle of other trees that are taken down with it.
We’ve been talking here about establishing our churches as Houses of Prayer Everywhere, and it’s up to the leader to make sure that happens. But not alone. Let me suggest a viable scenario. From your Board of Elders, three are chosen. One of them contacts the pastor and tells him/her that they would like to extend an invitation for a get-together. (Preferably not a breakfast meeting – too many distractions.)
The three have an agenda – to release the pastor to be the resident man/woman of God that He intends. I’ve discovered that often a church’s pastoral expectations tend to expand over time. A sample from an actual conversation with a head Deacon: Pastor, we’re going to paint the mothers’ room, could you pick up the paint sometime this week; I work. No! The pastor must come daily to ministry fresh from glory. Instead of, Did you get the paint? our question needs to be, Is there any word from the Lord? Our unthinking assignments force them to dig out their Seminary notes rather than seeking afresh the mind of God. To listen and plead and explore and discover and agonize and rejoice and pray and weep over the Word…that’s the task for which God sends pastors to churches.
Let me be candid. This meeting with the pastor is accountability time. Lovingly, the Elders ask questions. Not, How much time do you spend each day in worship and study. Rather, like this, How satisfied are you with the amount of time you are spending each day in worship and study? If it’s less than say, 8 on a scale of 1 – 10, the next question might be something like, “What can we do to help you with that?” Much of the future spiritual health of the church and the community are tied to that answer.
Out of this meeting I suggest two assignments: First, that each Elder agree to provide prayer cover during the month ahead. Serious, consistent, specific. And second, that the group meet again in a month for an accountability discussion built around the same questions. (Multiple staff church – maybe a different group for each pastor. Multi-church district – maybe an elder from each church. Tweak it to make it fit.)
Here’s the deal: Spiritual battles are only won with spiritual weapons and the enemy will do anything…ANYTHING…to keep the pastor/leader unfocused and distracted, doing good stuff, but not eternal stuff. We need their influence to help shape a prayer-saturated church, and we can give them permission to stay on task. When I was a Seminary student – more than 50 years ago – E L Minchen spoke to us at a chapel service. I don’t remember much of what he said, but I remember vividly who he was. He tipped his hand when he read a short quote which admonished that the pastor should come to his/her task each day “fresh from glory.” I’ve never forgotten it. I want that to be my journey – and my pastor’s journey.