Author | Steve
My last post (part 1) started a conversation that I think is vital for our churches today: are we being, and from our being – doing, that to which God has called us? And especially at our leadership levels, are we actually living from the grace of the gospel of Jesus and the filling and empowerment of His Spirit? More simply asked: what kind of culture and community surrounds our pastors and church leaders to help them receive Jesus’ gifts and follow Him?
What kind of culture and community surrounds our pastors and church leaders to help them receive Jesus’ gifts and follow Him?
This is not a small or unimportant question. And it can’t be swept away with the simple response that in worship we receive all that we need. That is one hour out of 168 each week. One hour that pastors and other church workers are often on duty. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that God’s gifts are truly given and received in worship, even for those leading. But, Luke lets us know early in the book of Acts,
“And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts.” ~ Acts 2:46
So what does the typical culture and community look like that surrounds our church leaders day by day?
A Missing Community
I’ve recently begun reading Paul David Tripp’s book “Dangerous Calling.” In it, he has a chapter entitled “The Missing Community.” His experience both as a pastor’s kid and a pastor is that from seminary on, the culture and community around most pastors is not one of discipleship, but is often only one of leader, which more often than not leads to isolation – the exact opposite of what we see in the fellowship of believers in the book of Acts.
Regrettably, I contributed to some of this lack of gospel community in my ministry over the years. However, when I discovered my own longing and need for this community, I found it quite difficult to find, create and nurture in the systems in which I found myself. Some of that difficulty was my own stuff I needed to work through. But a good chunk of the problem was systems that not only didn’t prioritize the spiritual health of leaders, but actually worked against it. If our pastors and church-workers are struggling to live lives of discipleship then how in the world are we going to help other people experience it?
If our pastors and church-workers are struggling to live lives of discipleship then how in the world are we going to help other people experience it?
An Appeal to Christians
If you are a part of a church and you love the leaders and staff that God has given to you, I would encourage you to check this out with those leaders with whom you have a relationship. Find out if they have…
- a place where they can be themselves.
- a place where they can ultimately be vulnerable and experience the freedom of confession and absolution.
- a place where they can be prayed for in personal and tangible ways.
- a place where they are truly known, not just as a face, but their hurts, their joys, their struggles.
- a place where the gospel can be spoken out loud to them.
I would also encourage you to take it up with your lay leadership as a topic for action:
- How do we foster a culture and community that takes seriously the spiritual health of our staff and leaders?
- How do we nurture a community that offers them the same forgiveness, healing and restoration that they, in the power of the Spirit, share with us?
- What things are keeping us from fostering this kind of culture?
When our leaders live from the depth of Jesus’ healing for them, the whole church will experience the overflow of this grace. When our leaders live in close community with a few other disciples of Jesus, the whole church will witness the benefits of living close lives of discipleship. When our leaders remain isolated from this kind of culture and community, I can tell you from first-hand experience, that we shrivel and die, whether we look like it on Sunday morning or not.
When our leaders live from the depth of Jesus’ healing for them, the whole church will experience the overflow of this grace.
For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. ~ Romans 1:11-12
Read the next blog in this series | Hard Call (part 3): Where Do We Go from Here?