The relationship between a pastor and the congregation is critical to the success of a church. God gives us direction for this important relationship in His word. In 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 it says, Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other.
A congregation shows respect for a pastor by praying for, encouraging, and supporting him or her. A congregant can help a pastor if they see an area that can be realistically improved by offering their idea as a suggestion with a personal offer to assist in making things better. A critical or rebellious spirit toward a pastor, however, is toxic to the whole body.
It is essential that a congregation hold their pastor in highest regard. I know that pastors can be placed on a pedestal to an unhealthy degree, but if a pastor is disrespected, potential for effective ministry in the church is thwarted. God has established roles in the church to provide order and unified ministry. Although every believer is a minister and of equal value to God, not every believer should be in church leadership.
Pastors have been ordained by God to be the principle leaders in the church working in partnership with other qualified leaders. Hebrews 13:17 says, Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you. This must be a discerning obedience; not a blind obedience. Furthermore, this obedience is to leaders, plural, indicating that a pastor should not be leading alone. Only an accountable pastor who shares leadership with elders and/or deacons, who is functioning according to God’s word is deserving of obedience.
Healthy relationships are always two way streets and the bible places a great responsibility on pastors to exercise their leadership in a Christ honoring way. 1 Peter 5:1-3 says To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed. Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers – not because you must, but because you are willing as God wants you to be, not greedy of money, but eager to serve, not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.
I heard an unloving husband say to his wife “you have to stay with me, because the bible says you must.” We know that doesn’t work and in the same way an unloving or ineffective pastor cannot expect respect from their congregation. However, a pastor with a servant’s heart who loves their people and carries out their life and work according to God’s word will typically find their congregation ready to follow their leadership. And, a congregation that will love and respect their pastor encourages the pastor’s best effort on behalf of the church. A loving and wise expression of authority is the only effective way to foster respect for leadership and obedience to leadership. Demanding respect and obedience doesn’t work in the church.
A pastor’s first responsibility is to be an example; to live close to God and model a Christ-like life. The pastor’s leadership then needs to be exercised in loving servanthood, always seeking what is best for the church and the advance of God’s kingdom, treating people with patience, respect, and love. Also, the pastor has a huge responsibility to insure that God’s word is taught. Pastors are to preach the word (2 Timothy 4:2) and the church is the pillar and foundation of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15).
When parties on both sides of the pulpit are functioning according to God’s plan then the church can go forward with unity and great effectiveness.
Pastor Bryan and Brenda Thompson started Mountain View Assembly of God in Thornton, CO October 17, 1999. The church will be celebrating the Thompson’s 10th anniversary October 25, 2009. Congratulations Bryan and Brenda!
Canyon Road Assembly of God in Ogden, UT honored Pastor Ray and Beverly Wead on September 26 and 27, 2009 for 30 years as Pastor of Canyon Road. Congratulations Ray and Beverly!
NEW CHURCH REPORTS:
Last week I mentioned new churches that were launching in September and October 2009 and I would like to note our other new churches that are preparing to launch or have launched in the last three years. I invite you to pray for our new churches and church planters, and support them wherever possible.
Pastor Jerry and Susan Cassell in partnership with Pastor Randy Popineau and Church at Briargate in Briargate, CO will be planting a new church in Monument, CO in the coming year.
New Hope Family church in Pueblo, CO Pastored by Steve and Carla Cornella is developing their core team and preparing to launch in the near future. Outreaches into the community is already reaching unchurched people and nine families are now part of the core team. Steve was on staff at Bridge to Life AG in Canon City, CO with Pastor Larry Kettle and Bridge to Life has been a vital partner in this effort.
Elevation Church Kaysville Satellite pastored by Trinity and Ami Jordan started April 11 and 12, 2009. Promise Assembly of God merged with Elevation to create this new effort. Thanks to Pastor Jerry and Nancy Koetitz for their years of ministry establishing Promise AG which now goes forward as part of Elevation Church.
Abundant Life Assembly of God in North Salt Lake City, UT pastored by Alex and Donna Lucero planted a satellite congregation in Heber City, UT out of a bible study started several years ago. Cliff and Linda Gregory became the pastors of this emerging work in January 2009 and the church is thriving.
Celebration Church in Loveland, CO pastored by Charles and Glennis Hefton started April 12, 2009 and has already developed a solid congregation with a healthy DNA going forward.
Journey Church in Colorado Springs, CO pastored by Dave and Sara Ruckman started April 2008 as a Home Church. The church is doing well meeting in homes with periodic corporate gatherings.
North Peak Christian Center in Woodland Park, CO was started by Pastor John and Kay Gowins in March 2008. John and Kay handed off pastoral leadership to Ray and Missha Wagoner in August 2009. Thanks John and Kay for carving out this needed church.
Elements Church in Summit County, CO pastored by Jeff and Cheryl McElhattan and team started in the spring of 2007. Elements is moving forward as a unique home group based ministry reaching and discipling people through relationships.
Crossroads Community Church in Commerce City, CO pastored by Keith and Julie Boyer stared March 2007 and has grown into a sizable church impacting the Commerce City area.
Denver Church in Denver, CO pastored by Bryan and Joy Sederwall started January 2007 and is reaching out effectively to an eclectic population in downtown and near downtown Denver.
Plum Creek Community Church in Castle Rock, CO pastored by Doug and Beth Miller started January 2007 and has experienced extraordinary growth.
Please pray with me that God will strengthen all our churches and lead us into the development of many effective new churches so we can together reach the vast majority of people in Utah and Colorado who do not know Christ.