The Lone Ranger, the person characterised by the catchphrase “I work on my own terms”. The couch commentator, the one always sitting on the sidelines but always has an opinion on how things should be done. We laugh and joke about these generalisations, but they are real and they are dangerous…
We’ve all seen the pastor who goes at it alone, never asking for help or wanting it, but also not equipping and training others to serve. This results in one-man ministry. A style of ministry that is built around the individual rather than the Word of God. Things can seem fine for a while, but once the pastor goes on holiday or leaves the church people start to realise that he did everything. Not because others weren’t able to, but he wasn’t happy to let them. This almost always ends in an ugly way. Hurt, heartache, feeling of betrayal and a church dependant on a man rather than Jesus.
How can you help such a man? Draw alongside him and lovingly and gently call him out. In Ephesians 4:7-16 we see the glorious truth that every Christian is blessed with a spiritual gift given to them, by Christ, through grace. The role of a pastor is to equip their church members to serve. To enable enable and give opportunities for them to serve. Why is this so important?
- Because the Bible says so!
I know that this isn’t seen as a convincing answer by many folks, even some pastors (which is disheartening). For the job description, at least the barebones of it without all the HR and contract stuff, look at the New Testament. According to Ephesians 4:12, a pastor’s role (which is the role of every elder in the church) is to equip the people in their local church for works of service. To rob people of that equipping, which is found in the solid teaching of the bible from the pulpit and in regular 1-1s and visits, is outrageous. A pastor who robs his people of opportunities to serve is not only harming the church but he is actively going against God’s Word. Read that again, it’s that serious.
- Because the local church needs it!
Why is it important to equip church members for service? 3 reasons;
– Fullness of Christ
Pastor, the body of Christ does not belong to you, she is the bride of Christ. No pastor should play the role of a kidnapper and attempt to force himself on centre stage as the groom of the great banquet. The whole point of members being given spiritual gifts is so that they can serve the church of Christ, so that they can build up the body. Do not rob them of that privilege. Do not rob them of that calling, but equip them instead to do it.
The role of every pastor is to enable and equip their people for service. Whilst this may sound like it takes less time, let me assure you that it takes hours. The temptation is always to do it yourself because it would be quicker, but it isn’t always best.
Pastors, you are not called to be a Lone Ranger, but a shepherd of the sheep. To be a shepherd, you need to smell like sheep (trust me, I’ve been a shepherd). Therefore, you need to be with your people, encourage your people and service alongside, not over, your people.
We’ve all seen the Lone Ranger, and we’ve also probably all seen, or heard, a couch commentator. This is the person who never gets involved, who has subscribed to consumer Christianity and yet wants a say in everything that goes on in the church. We all know of such people. Why is this such a big problem?
- Because they are part of the problem!
Often these people are the ones who slow down steps forward because ‘we’ve always done it this way…’ These people are often the ones who go around the houses behind people’s back and drum up support for their cause. This not only undermines the role of the elders God has put in place over the church, but it fuels the fire of disunity that rages so powerfully in many churches today.
Criticisms are welcome to every idea and in every church, or at least they should be. No leader is right all the time. But every Christian is called to service, we are not called and saved to sit and twiddle our thumbs. Sadly, these are also often the people who are not mature in the faith, despite the number of years they’ve been a Christian. Instead they are often those that Paul describes in Ephesians 4:14 as infants, people being tossed back and forth by every wind of teaching. Often these can be people who pretend to give the ‘truth in live’ but never receive rebuke and correction. Why? Because it’s easier that way. It is east to cast stone at those who are working from a static position, it’s not so easy if you’re serving alongside them in ministry.
There is much more that could be said on both of these topics, but the main point is that neither glorify God and neither build up the church. Both of these people are living for and serving themselves rather than living for Christ and building up his bride. Christ has gifted the church with everything it needs to grow, don’t go at it alone (it won’t work), don’t comment from the comfort of the couch (it says more about you than anything else). Live instead out of a desire to grow in unity and maturity and to reach the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.