I have a confession: I’ve spent the better part of my ministry life pursuing the growth of my ministry.
I’m sure that many people are wondering why that is a problem as it seems to be the expectation of ministry leaders, to strive for growth. But it is a problem. It’s a sin because God, through the Bible, calls leaders to build up the body, but not to build their ministry. And there is a difference.
Building my ministry makes me the visionary, and adopts my vision (or a community’s vision) as the purpose for the church. In reality, it should be God’s vision that we work toward.
God’s vision is about seeing more people come to faith in him and to maturity in their faith, that is, in their love and care for one another. In God’s vision, pastors are shepherds (caregivers), not dreamers and motivators. Visionary leaders have value, but the New Testament doesn’t qualify leaders based on their ability to develop great visions (1 Timothy 3:1-7). Rather, the church needs the day-to-day leadership that matches the skills set and heart of a parent, who cares for and brings God’s family to maturity (1 Peter 2:17).
It’s time that we recapture this kind of leadership in the church. It is time that we begin to redevelop our churches as families where the members belong unconditionally to the family, are cared for in their younger days, and are challenged to grow in maturity.
Just as a parent is an example to the children of their home, our pastors and elders are examples to the people of their church family. If pastors and elders see themselves as CEOs and directors of a board, the body of the church will learn to be customers and employees whose loyalty is conditional and who are there for a quid pro quo exchange.
We need to exchange this model of ministry for a family model of ministry, where pastors and leaders demonstrate loving care for their congregations so that their congregations will learn to love others in the same way.
I have a confession: I haven’t modeled that as well as I should, but I want to. I hope that many pastors and elders will learn to want the same.