Not many pastors build great churches but great churches build great pastors.
I love to bask in that truth. Nearly every pastor I know can look back over their years of service and say something like, “I remember when I went to Judith Gap, MT. It was my second church and I went there with some major scar tissue. Things had not gone well at my first church. I was young and inexperienced and I made a lot of bad decisions. I won’t list them all, but I was glad when I left there…and so were they.
“But Judith Gap (a pseudonym of course) was different. They put their arms around my family and me. They pledged to do everything they could to help us succeed. They loved on us, big time. When we did something right, they heaped on the affirmation. When we did things we could have done better, they wrote it off with a ‘Well, they’re growing. But don’t you just love ‘em?’”
As every Board of Directors knows, you staff to weakness. If the CEO is good with cash flow but doesn’t handle people well, they hire a Personnel Director. If he or she is entrepreneurial and creative but not good with sales, they hire a Sales Manager. Every strong organization staffs to weakness. But the structure is a bit different with pastors in our fellowship group. Since generally about everyone on the team except the pastor is a volunteer, the church Board and Nominating Committee begin by bringing strong volunteers around the pastor’s weak spots. That way, not only does the task get done, but the pastor goes to school on the new team member. Have you noticed how open most pastors are to receive coaching when they know the church’s leadership really believes in him/her.
But there’s something much deeper here. And it’s this: I mentioned how great churches build great pastors. But pastors do not become great pastors simply by developing elite pastoral skills. Pastors move from average to great built on their own prayer life, and that of the people around them. When I was in Seminary many years ago Pastor E L Minchin came and spoke at our chapel service. His presentation changed my ministry. He said that the people in my church and the people in my community, when I came to call at their home, when I opened the Word to speak to them, had the right to know that I had just come fresh from the presence of God.
Few professions have less accountability than a pastor. They decide their own agenda for the day; they manage their own calendar; with few exceptions they decide where they will be and when. That’s where a trusted prayer partner is indispensable. It helps build loving accountability into the daily schedule. You want a great pastor? You and your church can start that project on its collective knees.
>By Don Jacobsen