I recently had lunch with a young pastor who has been leading a church plant for a couple years now. The church is doing well, but it has had its fair share of challenges as well. One thing he shared was how difficult it was to live up to the expectations of the congregation. Shortly thereafter, I came across a short video by Bill Hybels where he highlights some of the challenges pastors often face today – and I felt it was worth sharing
“When a pastor preaches his or her first sermon on a Sunday and gets those chills up his or her spine and goes ‘I’m a pastor and handled the Word well’. Monday morning they wake up and go ‘Oh, my god I have to run an organization. I have to hire and fire people. I have to raise a budget. I have to architect an infrastructure. I have to mobilize hundreds, or thousands, of volunteers. I have to understand real estate, because I have to buy some. I have to understand construction, because I have to build something.’ If you preach well, all you do is set yourself up for a dozen leadership challenges; the thought that you are done if you present the world with a fantastic sermon. If that preacher does not have the accompanying leadership capabilities, he or she is going to frustrate people throughout their whole preaching ministry. The greatest churches out there today are not necessarily the ones that are the best preached. It’s good to great preaching and good to great leadership. It’s always the one two punch of communication and leadership. There are churches well fed, but terribly led, and the whole congregation is frustrated. They get a nice sermon but nothing is getting mobilized, nobody is being empowered, nobody knows their spiritual gift. There is no vision. All they get is a fantastic sermon once a week – you can get that online. The world has changed. We need a combination of great preaching and great leadership. That’s what is going to change the world.” – Bill Hybels (Well Led and Well Fed – May 26, 2017
Everybody has their strengths, but nobody is great at everything. If you are a phenomenal preacher who has the gift of lifting up your congregation so high on a Sunday morning that they can see Heaven, then you likely have other glaring weaknesses. Weaknesses that are often difficult to see in oneself.
Now, let’s be honest, it is unfair to place all these expectations upon pastors. There is no way they can be gifted at all things; and the congregation needs to be made aware. This way the expectations can be managed. A great way to manage a church, or any other organization, is to know our limitations, and to have resources that can assist us with our weaknesses. For example, alcoholism is a very real addiction, and providing advice, when you are not trained to deal with it, can be dangerous…if not fatal. This is why churches will allow AA to host their meetings at the church. This allows a pastor to point someone who is struggling with alcoholism to proper treatment
I have met some wonderful pastors who are great at delegating many of these duties to better qualified people in the church. They are able to identify God’s gifts in them and motivate them to step up and take ownership of a need – on top of the other things in their already busy lives
If you have been a pastor for any length of time, you understand that running a church is far more than preaching a good sermon every Sunday morning. It also requires you to lead an organization. I encourage you to take the time to grow as a manager, for it will be a key in keeping you from burning out and serving with passion for many years to come.