‘Pastors…prepare God’s people for works of service.’ Ephesians 4:11-12 NIV (1984 Edition)
Here are two final principles for increasing your pastor’s effectiveness:
1) Don’t limit them by what happened in the past. The ‘ghost of pastors past’ can block what God wants your church to do now. Don’t say, ‘In the good old days when Pastor Smith was here we didn’t do it that way.’ That hinders your church’s growth and obstructs your pastor’s effectiveness. God is always on the move, and He requires us to stay in step with Him. Don’t expect your pastor to do things exactly like his predecessors. Appreciate what God did in the past but understand that His blessings - like His mercies - are ‘new every morning’! Yesterday’s manna won’t do for today; God will give your pastor fresh manna and fresh vision to take your church to new spiritual heights. The pastor’s job is to lead - yours is to follow.
2) Your pastor can’t do it all alone. ‘Pastors…prepare God’s people (that’s you!) for works of service.’ Paul writes: ‘Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us’ (Romans 12:4-6 NIV 1984 Edition). Who’s responsible for your church’s growth? You are! And if you don’t know where you fit, ask God and your pastor for direction. Until you know your place you’re an unemployed body-member. Get connected and help fulfil the vision God has given your pastor.
‘Make disciples of all nations.’ Matthew 28:19 NIV (2011 Edition)
Don’t tie your pastor’s hands when it comes to a budget. A church’s budget reveals its heart, and it should also reflect God’s values and priorities. Jesus said, ‘Make disciples of all nations…teaching them to obey everything I…commanded you’ (vv. 19-20 NIV 2011 Edition). Our responsibility is twofold: to evangelise sinners and to equip saints. Many churches tie the pastors’ hands by penny-pinching, preventing the church from fulfilling the great commission. It’s commendable to be wise about spending money, but fear-driven churches stockpile savings and investments for a rainy day. This not only hinders effective ministry, it discourages giving.
When people know there’s lots of money squirreled away in a bank account, they’re apt to say, ‘Why should I give from my limited resources?’ Mission-focused churches aren’t afraid to spend money on ministry, and as a result God moves people’s hearts to give generously. Remember the three stewards in Matthew 25 who were charged with administering their master’s money? Two put the money to work and earned his approval by doubling their investment. The third risk-averse steward held on to the money, returning just the original amount. Consequently the master said, ‘Take the thousand [from him] and give it to the one who risked the most…get rid of this “play-it-safe” [steward] who won’t go out on a limb’ (vv. 28-30 MSG). The church’s job isn’t to amass funds - it’s to ‘go out on a limb of faith’ by enabling God’s servants to do His work unhindered, and trust God for the ‘rainy days’.
‘[Pastors]…should be considered worthy of respect.’ 1 Timothy 5:17 PHPS
When it comes to your pastor:
1) You must pray for them. Nothing releases the power of a pastor’s ministry like the prayers of their flock. Paul recognised that his effectiveness in ministry depended on the people’s prayers: ‘Pray in the Spirit…Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me…that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel’ (Ephesians 6:18-19 NIV 1984 Edition). Satan targets pastors who preach the truth. The thing he hates and fears most is God’s Word: ‘Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against…the powers of this dark world and…spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms’ (v. 12 NIV 2011 Edition). Often when pastors are preaching, the spiritual struggle is so intense that afterwards they find themselves drained. Praying ‘in the Spirit’ for your pastor strengthens them and maximises their effectiveness when it comes to reaching the lost and bringing those who are saved into spiritual maturity (see 1 Corinthians 1:21).
2) You must respect them. In a day when church has become more ‘casual’, it’s easy to lose respect for God’s leaders. The Israelites did it: ‘The anger of the Lord…divided them; he will no more regard them: they respected not the persons of the priests, they favoured not the elders’ (Lamentations 4:16 KJV). And God’s standards haven’t changed: ‘Elders [pastors] with a gift of leadership should be considered worthy of respect.’ By respecting your pastor and church leaders, you act as a role model for the sacredness of God’s ministry to this generation and the next.
‘Preach the Word…correct, rebuke and encourage.’ 2 Timothy 4:2 NIV (2011 Edition)
Let’s consider some other ways you can help your pastor be more effective:
1) Understand that it’s your pastor’s responsibility to enlighten you, not entertain you. Writing to Timothy, Paul says, ‘Preach the Word…correct, rebuke and encourage - with great patience and careful instruction.’ Encouragement we enjoy; correction and rebuke we must learn to accept. ‘The Lord disciplines those he loves’ (Hebrews 12:6 NIV 1984 Edition). Your pastor is God’s instrument for your spiritual growth, not for your entertainment. When you don’t like the sermon, maybe it’s ‘scratching where the real itch is’. Don’t resent the messenger; instead review the message in light of God’s Word. Emulate the Berean Christians who ‘received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true’ (Acts 17:11 NIV 2011 Edition).
2) Talk to - not about - your pastor. If you’ve an issue, you’ve a scriptural obligation to talk first to the Lord, then personally to your pastor - and always with love and grace (see Matthew 18:15; Ephesians 4:15). Remember, pastors are cut from the same bolt of cloth as you. They forget things, have ‘off days’, make mistakes, and are occasionally insensitive. And a good pastor will receive the truth when it’s spoken in love. They’ll consider your concerns, admit when they’re wrong, and seek to grow by it. On the other hand, talking about your pastor creates strife in the church. Like yeast, it ‘leavens the whole lump of dough’ (1 Corinthians 5:6 NASB). Bottom line: ‘Don’t touch [God’s] chosen [ones]’ (1 Chronicles 16:22 CEV) by talking about them behind their back, and don’t give credence to those who do.
‘[Pastors] who do their work well should be…paid well.’ 1 Timothy 5:17 NLT
Your attitude and actions affect your pastor and your church. When you bless your pastor you bless your church, and when you hinder your pastor you hinder your church. Let’s look at some ways in which you can increase your pastor’s effectiveness: Provide a good salary. Once in the Old Testament and twice in the New Testament, God holds us responsible to provide generously for our pastor. The old quip, ‘Lord, You keep him humble and we’ll keep him poor!’ is no joking matter, and is contrary to the teaching of Scripture. Many a pastor is hampered by inadequate income, causing them stress and worry over their family’s financial needs.
God established the law of compensation for those who provide for our bodies and souls - from oxen to pastors. An ox’s strength and capacity to do its job effectively required that it ate as much as it needed from the grain it was threshing. ‘But was God concerned only about an ox? No, he wasn’t! He was talking about [his servants]’ (1 Corinthians 9:9-10 CEV). And Paul applies the same principle when it comes to compensating those who minister to us: ‘[Pastors] with a gift of leadership should be considered worthy of respect, and…adequate salary, particularly if they work hard at their preaching and teaching. Remember the scriptural principle: “Thou shall not muzzle an ox when he treadeth out the corn,” and the labourer is worthy of his hire’ (1 Timothy 5:17-18 PHPS). When possible, free your pastor from financial worry. Allow them to focus on developing the potential God sees in you, your church, and His kingdom in your community.