There’s a very good chance you’re doing ministry wrong.
It’s not just for preachers, pastors, and professional clergy, but anyone who actively serves in or through the local church. There’s a good chance you are missing the one factor that will elevate and magnify your ministry.
Love for your church.
Many of us serving churches are gifted, thoughtful, prepared women and men but we do not love our churches.
How can you tell? Try these.
- Listen to the way you speak about your church when you are away from them.
- Are you always trying to change them – not into a contextually relevant and vibrant church – but into another church across town or in another city? Some church you heard about at a conference? “Let’s try and be like them.”
- You don’t worship with. With the advent of larger church staffs, some working in video production, etc…some staff pastors don’t worship with the churches they “minister” to.
- You’re more concerned with building your platform or becoming a Celebrity Pastor than you are sitting with the elderly or praying with the sick from your church.
In a time of intense church conflict, the Apostle Paul, when pleading for reconciliation, with the church in Corinth, appeals saying, “our heart is wide open to you.”
Openness of heart is the missing piece for some of us. We love God. We love ministry. We love “The Church.” We just don’t love our church. You know, the one with rickety pews and the even more rickety elder board.
I get it!
Churches can be petty. They can be highly-critical at the same time you’re being underpaid. Churches are fickle and frequently don’t have the first clue what they want. And, perhaps worst of all, church people have a loose sense of boundaries. “Of course I wasn’t asleep at 1am. Why would I be? And, yes, I’m very sorry you’re missing your cat.”
Yet, the entire gospel we proclaim hinges on love.
If your speaking, writing, and travel schedule is filled to over-flowing, but do not love, you are only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
So what can you do?
- Get Some Food. Dedicate time each week – coffee, breakfast or lunches – to spending with church members. Be a student. Ask about their lives. Listen to their stories. Get to know them. Start with the people you’d be least likely to spend time with.
- Get Out On The Margins. Regardless of how big or small your church, there are people who economically and socially on the margins. Spend time with them. Begin to see the world and its challenges from their perspective.
- Get on Your Knees. The unique vision for your church should be an outgrowth of silence, study, and prayer. It can ONLY come through the Spirit. Quit copycatting other churches and ministries. If there’s a church you appreciate, learn to think like they think, don’t try to do what they do. It’ll have to be different for you. Churches aren’t McDonald’s.
- Get Busy Leading. Many pastors don’t love their churches because of what I call, “The Pastor’s Secret.” Wanna know what it is? Most pastors work at their church, but wouldn’t choose to worship there. We cite lack of control over the worship and other excuses. The truth is, we lack the guts to lead the church or leave the church. Because we lack the courage to lead or leave, we fall into a lack of love.
Love is the X-Factor in ministry. You will be adrift without it. Fortunately, love is not a gifting. Anyone can do it. You just have to try.
What have I missed? What other ways can church leaders begin to better love their churches?