Welcome to this week’s Church Leader Insights. We have some fantastic blogs for you to check out.
Too many small church pastors are doing most, maybe all, of their ministry alone.
They wonder if anyone outside the church even knows or cares that they exist.
That isolation can become toxic. And it can start to bleed out into their congregations, confirming the worst stereotypes about why small churches remain small.
On top of that, when we look for help, we often find more frustration than encouragement – as we discussed in my last post, 5 Things You Should Never Say To A Small Church Pastor.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. If we took just a little time and energy to reach out, we could help reverse this trend.
So what can we say to help encourage the small church pastors in our lives? Or even bring them into our lives so we can encourage them?
In my experience, these 5 expressions of support would go a long way. Whether they come from a denominational official, a fellow pastor or a church member.
1. “A Small Church Can Be A Great Church”
I’m in favor of church growth. I rejoice every time I see it.
But most churches stop growing after they reach certain plateaus. Even when church growth principles are applied, most small churches stay small.
What if, instead of insisting that a church must get bigger to prove its value, we found out what’s great about small church ministry, then encouraged, supported and resourced it?
John Maxwell and Kevin Myers are two great bosses I have worked for in my ministry career. They are both strong visionary leaders, creative, empowering, and love God. I’m grateful for them both.
I have also known many bosses that other people work for who are a cross anywhere between Mr. Rogers and Godzilla. Extremes I know, but bad bosses are unfortunately all too common.
Over the years, I’ve interviewed hundreds of church staff and asked them what they want in a great boss. This post reflects those answers and my experience.
Before we tackle the main list, here’s a quick outline of the basics that everyone has said they valued, and essentially assumed:
- Love Jesus – humble spirit, servant heart, hears God’s voice
- Continued Growth – secure, learning, practicing leadership
- Strong Character – Trustworthy, living by same standards that they expect, discipline to do the right thing.
5 Traits of a Great Boss:
1) They know how to manage the tension between making things happen and making staff happy.
As a boss, you are not responsible for the happiness of your staff. Each of us is responsible for our own happiness. But some bosses try anyway. Good heart, bad leadership. There is a fine line between the leader who gets results and the one who just wants everyone happy.
They are the walking dead.
They are dead emotionally.
Their vision and passion are dead.
Their spiritual life has little life at all.
They are burned out.
Many have died vocationally. Others are waiting for burial.
Autopsies are not a pleasant topic. I get that. But I would be negligent if I did not share with you about the numbers of pastors who are dead in ministry. You need to know. You need to grasp this reality. You need to pray for them. You need to walk alongside them.
How did these pastors die? My figurative autopsies uncovered eight common patterns. Some pastors manifest four or five of them. Many manifest all of them.
1. They said “yes” to too many members. In order to avoid conflict and criticism, these pastors tried to please most church members. Their path was not sustainable. Their path was unhealthy, leading to death.
2. They said “no” to their families. For many of these pastors, their families became an afterthought or no thought at all. Many of their children are now grown and resent the church. They have pledged never to return. Their spouses felt betrayed as if they were no longer loved, desired, or wanted. Some of these pastors have lost their families to divorce and estrangement.
3. They got too busy to remain in the Word and in prayer. Simply stated, they got too busy for God. Read Acts 6:4 again in the context of all of Acts 6:1-7. The early church leaders saw this danger, and they took a courageous path to avoid the trap.
In our current culture of celebrity worship, we often look to well-known names and faces to teach us things. You’ll find enough lessons inadvertently taught by the likes of Elon Muskand the late Steve Jobs to fill a library full of books.
But, we can also learn from people of the distant past. Take Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius (121-180 AD), for example. Devoted to the ancient Greek philosophy of Stoicism, Aurelius was known as the “philosopher king.”
To keep himself true to Stoicism, Aurelius wrote a book that was never meant to be read by the public, but was posthumously published as the Meditations, chronicling 12 different periods of his life.
And now, allow me to generalize and oversimplify five of these important lessons so we can apply them to the 21st century.
The longest-lived and the shortest-lived man, when they come to die, lose one and the same thing. (Book 2, Ch. 11)
Life is brief. We came from atoms and we will go back to atoms in the infinite universe, so be genuinely happy and enjoy the opportunity to have your human experience.
Don’t be afraid to take risks because it is the journey of life rather than the destination that counts. The real value in life is in the experiences you have, not what you end up with at the end.
Never esteem anything as of advantage to you that will make you break your word or lose your self-respect. (Book 3, Ch. 7)
Be truthful to others and yourself. As leaders, trustworthiness and respect form the ground you stand on. Without them, you will not be able to operate as a true leader.