One of the struggles that pastors, priests and church leaders have all around the world, is getting their people/parishioners to think beyond themselves. It’s not about them, but about what God is trying to do through them.
Typical church attenders come because for them, it is about them. They want the church to meet their needs and if they are offended at something, they leave. They don’t often take to heart the idea of submitting to leadership, and working together with their leaders for the cause of the gospel. Some give money, some give time, but often these are the things they do to be in good standing. They do the minimum to feel that they are doing the right thing, and they expect the right thing to be done to them too.
Not Here for Yourself – It’s Not about You.
Catherine Booth would say to these people that they are mistaken. She would say “You are not here for yourselves, you are here for others.” The early Salvation Army was very accomplished at serving others, putting the needs of others first, and being willing to accept persecution, offences and more for the sake of Christ. Getting God’s people to copy the example of the early Salvation Army, and think of others in a bigger way, can be hard to do for church leaders, but living for others is what Christ did, and what we are called to do. And certainly this is what pastors think they are doing themselves.
Yet, there is a thing which is very subtle and undermines a pastor’s hard work and sacrifices, and it is a certain mindset which is the opposite to what he or she thinks they have. Pastors very often, (but not all of them, and not all the time) filter their hectic work schedules and ministry lives through a question something similar to this:
Will this benefit my church?
The answer to that is the title of this blog, it’s not about your church.
Do You Really Have a Church?
Firstly there is an assumption that you have a church, but there is really only one church, the church that belongs to Jesus. Once we assume that we own or have a church, even if such a thing is subconscious and not overt, we now find ourselves in a similar mental space to that of our parishioners we wish to change. We are only thinking of ourselves.
In reality, all the scriptures about the church are speaking about the whole of God’s people. Love one another, prefer one another, honour one another above yourselves… these are some examples. Yet pastors and all believers tend to think these only apply inside the congregation we attend, and not to all the believers outside. Instead of thinking “will this benefit my church” we should ask “what does God want me to
do?” and “will this benefit the whole church?”
Once our mindset thinks in this broader way, we will find that our preaching and teaching adjusts and our congregation start to see things a bit differently too… in time. There may be other struggles that will initially result from that, especially with traditional congregations who demand their pastors time and attention, refusing to allow him to consider the bigger body of Christ, but one thing at least will have changed. When a pastor tries to lift the vision of his parishioners to consider others, he will truly be setting an example of doing such a thing. So it is not about you, and it is not about your church. Instead, here is another question.
How can we work together, to extend the kingdom of God here, and to the uttermost parts of the earth?
Here is one great way to get started – consider serving another in the ministry with these messages.