So, preacher… what do you do? How do you react? How much of yourself are you willing to share, give, put out there on a limb of raw emotion?
Those people… those congregants… those who are even on the outside of your tight little circle. They all want a slice of time. Which ones do you let in? How many layers of that spiritual artichoke will they need to peel off before they actually get an audience with you? After all, you are a busy fellow… you need to study… you need to spend more time with your own family, much less all those other people!
So, congregant… have you ever gotten frustrated because the senior pastor never seems to have time for you? I’ve been there too. I wanted to talk to a preacher once upon a time and after multiple attempts at getting past the gatekeeper, I finally gave up. Maybe that was his strategy? Sometimes it is. However, maybe he was struggling within his own little circle of life and just couldn’t bear dealing with another “thing” added to his spiritual plate? I would assume that sometimes, that IS the reason. Obviously, there is a difference between pastoral availability when he leads a church of 100 versus one of 5000. The dynamics are very different.
The small church pastor typically has time to meet his own family’s needs and his church family’s needs. The senior pastor of the larger church – whether he likes it or not – typically takes on the role of spiritual CEO. Can he actually effectively minister to the needs of a congregation of 5000’ish, much less their extended families? Nope. So, he develops that small circle of mighty men with whom he shares his vision, passion, and burdens. He trusts them to be extensions of himself. Unfortunately, some of the congregants see this as a way for the senior pastor to dodge them and evade their real-life issues and needs. Feelings get hurt and stress levels rise. In extreme cases, this can cause division in a church.
Thus, the quandary.
I certainly have no professional solution. This is just personal commentary and an attempt to shine a light on the situation in a way that causes all of us to think. That includes you, preacher. Sometimes, you MUST leave the ninety and nine to minister to the one. Hopefully, the Holy Spirit will help you discern those situations. I would encourage you to never lose that small church pastoral heart for the sheep entrusted to you. Especially in public discourse, be vulnerable and real. Be personable, not guarded and hard to reach. Congregation, and that includes me, let’s not be too quick to judge the motives of the senior pastor. Remember he is but a man, with his own needs and worries and family situations to deal with. Pray for him and help him when you can. Don’t assume he is aloof and uncaring. If he is, God will handle that in His own time. Amen.
Hey preacher… Acts 20:28, 1 Peter 5:2-3
Hey congregant… Acts 6:1-7, Hebrews 13:17