Dear church member,
Can I share something with you?
Regardless of which local body of believers you are a part of, I can almost guarantee that your pastors really love you.
They take God’s command to “shepherd the flock that is among you” (1 Peter 5:1-2) very seriously. According to pastor John MacArthur, “A shepherd leads, feeds, nurtures, comforts, corrects, and protects–responsibilities that belong to every church leader. In fact, the word pastor means shepherd.”
The spiritual health and vitality of their flocks are continually upon pastors’ hearts and, like Paul, they have no greater joy than to see their people walking in truth (3 John 1:4).
Do you see the depth of this love and why it is so important? It is vitally important that your pastors love you in this way because spiritual health and wellness is a matter of eternal significance. Soul prosperity is crucially important, not just in this life, but for the one to come.
Having said that, can I share something else with you?
You (yes, you) have the opportunity to minister to your pastors. You have the ability to help them and spur them on as they seek to be obedient to God’s call on their lives to shepherd their local flocks.
Dear church member, your words, actions, and even your attitudes, are a powerful force in ministering to your local church leaders.
A positive word of affirmation, blessing, or the promise of faithful prayers can go a long way in ministering encouragement and love to your pastor. Even a word of constructive criticism spoken in kindness with a humble spirit can speak volumes of love and is often helpful and even necessary.
On the other hand, words of complaint and unnecessary criticism, spoken to him directly or behind his back, will lay heavy on the heart of your pastor and likely prove unhelpful in the end.
One of the easiest ways to guard against the latter of these is to check your own heart and motives and to guard yourself against a “church consumer” mentality. The role of the pastor (see above) is not to provide a service to the church members, and the role of church members is not to come to church on Sundays and Wednesdays and consume that service.
In other words, the role of the pastor is not to entertain or even “keep the people happy.” A worship service is not a performance put on by the choir, worship leader, and teaching pastor by which church members are entertained for an hour every Sunday. No. A worship service is a performance put on by the church members, led by the choir, worship leader, and teaching pastor, in which GOD receives adoration, glory, and praise.
Dear church member, check your heart for a “church consumer” mentality by asking the following questions of yourself:
1. In terms of music, are you more concerned about the style or currentness of the worship music than you are about the lyrics being Christ-centered and God-directed? During worship, are you focused on whether or not you know and like a particular song, or are you focused on worshipping God in your heart through the words and message of that song?
2. Is it more important to you that the teaching pastor be a fluid, eloquent speaker (who offers engaging stories and illustrations) or a faithful expositor of the biblical text (even if his speaking style isn’t flashy or particularly entertaining)?
3. Are you more concerned with the length of the pastor’s sermon than his content? During preaching, are you focused on the Word of God (seeking to let it teach, reprove, correct, and train you in righteousness–2 Timothy 3:16) or on whether the preacher is done in under 30 minutes?
4. Why are you faithful in your church attendance? Does your faithfulness flow from a passionate love for Christ or a passionate love for programs and traditions? Do you love Jesus or do you love churchy-ness?
5. Do you see yourself as an integral part of the body of Christ? Do you seek to use your spiritual gifts to build up the body for the ultimate purpose of bringing glory to God through the building of His Kingdom? Or do you just come to church to occupy your pew space and be “fed?”
Dear church member, I know these are tough heart-examination questions. But we all need to ask these questions of ourselves. Even pastors’ wives.
Dear church member, you are an important, irreplaceable part of the body of Christ. Your church roles and spiritual gifts are God-given and necessary, as are the roles and gifts of your pastors (1 Corinthians 12). You have the biblical responsibility to honor your spiritual leaders (1 Timothy 5:17) and the ability to use your words, actions, and spiritual gifts to minister grace and love to your pastor as he seeks to faithfully shepherd the flock. I earnestly charge you to be faithful in this task.
Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. —1 Timothy 5:17
Dear church member, you are precious and you are loved.
Grace, peace, and love to you in the name of Jesus Christ,
A young pastor’s wife