I was raised in a pastor’s home, and have pastored at various levels. I have also been on the pew side of the pulpit. In all of these phases of church life I have learned a few things that I think are beneficial to experiencing the best God has to offer in the Church. Some of these lessons are primarily for leaders. I talk about these with other pastors and leaders in conversations. But some of the things I have learned are things that many pastors would like to say to their people, but perhaps don’t because they don’t want to sound self-serving.
It is Pastor Appreciation Month, so I am putting some focus on what it means to be a God-honoring, pastor-supporting, and believer-edifying parishioner. How can I be a better part of my church?
It has been joked about that Sunday is the only day a preacher works… and for only an hour at that. We may chuckle, and a few people may even believe that. But anyone who is familiar with pastoral work knows that this is not the case if a pastor is ‘worth his salt.’ While a good pastor is basically on call 24-7 and serving over 60 hours a week, Sunday morning is the most obvious work he will do, and it is at times the most physically, emotionally, and spiritually draining. The preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is literally heart-to-heart combat with the forces of darkness. The enemy doesn’t want the Gospel to be preached because he knows how powerful it is. So he fights all week, and especially on Sunday.
Here are some things you can avoid in order to be a part of the solution and not part of the problem on Sundays.
DO NOT – (Here are some things to avoid on Sunday mornings at church.)
FIND FAULT WITH THE SERMON – A pastor will often say thousands of words in a given sermon. He will probably misspeak from time to time. He may end a sentence in a preposition. He may ask you to turn to the wrong passage (“Turn with me to John 6:13” when he meant John 3:16). Some people hear these mistakes and can’t wait for the sermon to be done in order to correct him. In fact, they won’t hear anything else he says because they are caught up in the mistake. Then they pounce on him before he even makes it off of the platform. This is not good practice. Pointing out inconsequential errors in a sermon shows that you are focused more on mistakes than the message. The fact that you can find fault with someone’s words does not make you awesome, even if you believe fault-finding to be your spiritual gift.
FIND FAULT WITH THE CHURCH – This goes beyond the sermon. Do not approach you pastor and tell him how difficult it was finding a parking spot. Don’t tell him that one of the ushers didn’t smile at you. Don’t point out the grammatical mistakes in the bulletin. Don’t tell him that the soap dispenser is empty in the bathroom, or a light bulb is flickering in the closet. These things may need to be addressed… but not on Sunday morning. Again… you don’t get any extra crowns in Heaven for recognizing flaws. If the soap is out… here’s a thought… go get some more soap. If the usher did not meet your expectations, give the pastor a call on Tuesday… or… maybe ask the usher how he is doing and if you can pray with him.
SMOTHER THE PASTOR – In most churches there is a time after the worship service to shake hands with the pastor. Some people hit the door so they can hit the buffet. Others give a wave and smile as they go by him. And then there are those who settle into a conversation with the preacher about everything going on in their life. Sometimes it even turns into a counseling session. This is not good practice. Most preachers are glad to say, “Hello”, thank you for being a part of the service, and wish you God’s blessing. But you may not realize how draining it is to deliver the eternal truth of God. If done right, it is a battle. So when you are done, you aren’t prepared to give someone advice on how to handle a mother-in-law who is overbearing at family events. It’s not to say it isn’t important. But it doesn’t have to be fixed in that moment. Again… set up a time later in the week to talk with him, and let the other 20 brothers and sisters get a chance to thank the pastor for being faithful to the Word.
So there are three simple things you can avoid doing in order to have a better experience at church, and be a blessing to your pastor. The writer of Hebrews gives us this admonition...
"Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account, so that they can do this with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you." (Hebrews 13:17)
Not only during Pastor Appreciation month, but every day we should seek to be the best part of the body of Christ we can be.
TOMORROW WE WILL LOOK AT 3 THINGS YOU SHOULD BE DOING ON SUNDAY TO SHOW YOUR PASTOR HOW MUCH YOU APPRECIATE HIM.
[Bible quotes are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, unless otherwise noted.]
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My name is David, and I want to know God more, and help other people find Him.