By Ron Edmondson
I was talking to a young pastor recently. He’s been called to a church in steep decline and asked to salvage and, hopefully, even grow the church again. It’s hard work changing a church. (I know this firsthand.) He knew immediately he would have to do some things differently to achieve different results. (You understand that…don’t you?) So far, in the six months he’s been there, the church has stopped declining. That’s a good start. He’s lost a few families, but gained others to replace them. He believes they are being positioned for growth and believes that’s why God called him to the church.
The hardest part on him, and even more so on his family, has been the conversations being had about him that he hears about second hand. There have been times he thought things were going great, only to hear of the small coup forming behind his back. Sometimes his wife hears about it before he does. He’s naturally hurt knowing how some are responding to his leadership in this way. He is trying to be open to input and humble in his approach, but he wants to lead where he feels God has wired and called him. The behind the back network of talk is threatening the work the church is doing.
I wish I could say this was church specific, but I hear it (and see it) frequently. Hearing this pastor’s heart reminded me what someone said to me recently. She said, “I don’t know why, but people feel they can say anything about a pastor they want and there’s no accountability for it.” It’s true. It’s not fair or even Biblical the way some pastors are gossiped about in churches, but it’s a reality in ministry.
By the way, it has to be very unattractive for those outside the church.
That’s why I’m writing this post. It’s intended to be a lighthearted approach to a very serious issue. If you are active in a local church, please consider how you can encourage your pastor and pastor’s family today. One way you can do this is to monitor your conversation about the pastor when the pastor is nowhere around. (Do to others as you would want them to do to you…that should include pastors.)
Now, again, in an attempt to be humorous, let me also stretch your mind around this idea. (To understand this post, you should know that I’m a cook. My mom raised me to be. So I can not only pastor a church…I can roast a mean chicken or a smokin’ piece of roast beef.)
If you’re going to roast your pastor…here are a few things to consider:
Temperature – I play with temperatures when I’m cooking a roast. 325. 350. 375. It depends on how fast or slow I want to cook it. When you choose to roast your pastor, consider your own temperature. Are you angry? Are you really at a good temperature personally to be roasting? With the temperature of the church right now, am I helping or hurting the mission of the church by roasting the pastor? This is a good time to check your heart and motivation.
Time – I’ve cooked a roast as long as 8 hours. I can sometimes accomplish it in 2 hours, but it isn’t as good. Consider the timing of your roast. Have you thought through what you are upset about? Is it valid in a context beyond your personal preference? Is it valid within the context of the vision your pastor has been called to lead? Have you given adequate time to think through how you’re responding, or is this only a gut reaction…or even a selfish or angry reaction?
Seasoning – I typically flavor my roast beef with garlic, salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce. I usually put a few beef bouillon cubes in the water. When you’re roasting your pastor, remember you are to be the “salt of the earth”. Are you seasoning your conversation with love? Would you be okay with others, even your pastor, hearing what you are saying right now? What if it were being recorded and played before the church…or the unchurched? Is it seasoned well? Does it represent the church and Christ’s love well?
Veggies – Momma always said “eat your veggies”. I cook potatoes, carrots, and onions on my roast. I often alternate between green beans, cabbage and mushrooms as an addition. You’d be amazed how good those can taste in the roast. My family doesn’t always agree on what veggies I put in the roast, so I go back and forth between their favorites. When you roast your pastor, consider the issues besides the issue you’re roasting. A pastor juggles many hats. Where two or more are gathered in Jesus name, He will be there, but also will be two or more opinions on how things should be done. At least one opinion for every person in the room. Most of the time, multiple opinions for each person. Do the math on that for your church. As you continue your roast, consider the veggies in your roaster. (You do realize the church can’t operate effectively if it only pleases you….right?)
Quality – When I’m buying a roast, I realize already that I “get what I pay for”. I can’t expect a less expensive cut of meat to be as tender as a more expensive cut of meat. I can’t expect a grass fed beef and a grain fed beef to taste the same. As you roast your pastor, remember he isn’t a god. He can’t do everything. Don’t hold him to a standard he could never meet. Don’t expect his sermon to be the quality of an Andy Stanley sermon when he may not be Andy Stanley, and when the church doesn’t afford him the staff to lead that Andy has to prepare to preach. I was talking to someone recently who told me of a large megachurch pastor who has a paid research team helping with his sermon. You think he has a well researched message? Of course he does. Realize that the more you pull your pastor in dozens of different directions, and the more expectations you place on him personally, the less time he will have to concentrate on his message. Also realize that God didn’t wire everyone the same in communication or leadership styles. And, God may not place on your pastors heart what you hope He will.
So there. You have some tips for your next roasting time. Happy roasting.
Roast any preachers lately ? What tips do you have?
(This is intended to be a satirical post. I’ve been writing quite a few of these lately. In spite of my disclaimer, someone will misinterpret my poor attempt at humor. For those who do, simply add me to your next roast, but my goal is to help the local church and its pastor better achieve their Kingdom mission. We are losing hundreds and thousands of pastors to the ministry. I see this issue playing a part in that exodus.)