Pastor and People Relationships - Caring for Churches

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Caring for Churches
You're a Great Pastor


John17:21-23 "may be one"
1John3:1 "called the sons of God"

III. THE ATTITUDE PS.103:13 / PRO.3:12 / 1THES2:11 / 1TIM5:1
Attitude has the idea and meaning of - approach - position - way of thinking towards the pastor and people relationship. In many pastor / people relationships that are problematic or nonexistent is a lack of understanding of their basic role of a pastor / people relationship. There are some basic foundational Biblical truths that can help both pastor and people to have the right attitude toward each other. If either don't know, understand or except their Biblical roles, there will be little or no relationship between them.

Just as a family (church should have a family atmosphere) has to know and fulfill each role in the family to have good and healthy relationships, so does the church. And just like a family this will take time, effort and growth on all the members that are involved.

I'm speaking from experience from a young, wet behind the ears, green horn pastor. Relationships are not demanded but lovingly earned by practicing Biblical principles from God's word and by His grace.

Here are some basic Biblical roles for the pastor and people. Starting with the role of the pastor and his attitude toward the people in relationships.
1. The role and attitude of an Elder - 1Tim5:17
This role speaks of one that has spiritual maturity and that gives wholesome spiritual guidance in the area of administration for the church. This has nothing to do with the pastors age, but all do with his role as it relates to the people of the church. A pastors spiritual maturity has a lot of influence towards his relationship with the people.

There are not only immature church members but there are also immature pastors as well. The pastor in his role of elder will not act or respond childish in relation to the people in the church. The role of elder could be likened to that of a loving mature father towards his children. A mature and loving father will do whatever it takes to have a good and healthy relationship with his children. A father knows and loves unconditionally. How is our relationship with our own children as well as the family of God in the church? I've found that there is a lot of resemblance between a father and his children and a pastor and his church family. How a pastor treats his own family will often be the way he treats the members of the church.
2. The role or attitude of a Bishop or Overseer. Acts20:28 / Phil1:1 / 1Tim3:2
The role of Bishop is one of watching over and for the church which requires a God given call and care for the church.

From the (POSB Comm.)  "Note that the position of the ministry is not what is stressed, but the work of the ministry. The emphasis is not the esteem and honor of the profession. The emphasis is on the work of the ministry. The office of minister or bishop is to be desired. The word (desire) means to seek after with a strong desire; to set one's heart upon. God stirs hearts to seek the ministry and to dedicate their lives to the work of the ministry."

The role of Bishop has certain qualifications and responsibilities as found in 1Tim 3 and Titus1. This watching over is not a lording over the church, but a living concern for what is right and best for the whole church. This should be  a relationship of a servant leader under the headship of Christ to His church. The Bishop is to be a mature man in The Lord with spiritual wisdom and experience that can lead and care for the flock of God.

Today there are many good intended "preachers" but not God called "pastors" (Bishops). Many are mistaking preaching for pastoring with wanting to just preach without the watching and caring for the flock. The Lord does call preachers, but He also calls and gifts men with the desire to lead and care for His church (1Tim3). If one only gets fulfillment from preaching and really doesn't care about the other responsibilities of the Bishop then he needs to seek his best gift (1Cor12:31). Pastoring is not so much a position to be desired, but a desire to do a good (work).

3. The role or attitude of  Shepherd or Pastor. Acts20:28 / Eph.4:11 / 1Peter 5:2
In both the role of shepherd and pastor is the idea of leading, authority, guidance, provision, and protection. In the NT the words shepherd and pastor come from the word "POIMEN" meaning "to tend as a shepherd" (Strong's).
This we know is really the position of an undershepherd which is given by the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ Him self - (1Peter 5:2-4). The Chief Shepherd has entrusted His undershepherd with the responsibility of caring, guiding and protecting His flock. One of the first responsibilities in a shepherd and sheep relationship is knowing one another. Today there is a lack of the shepherd and sheep knowing each other. The example from the Chief Shepherd is to know and be known - (John 10:14).

Please don't take me wrong, but there seems to be some shepherds that are not around their sheep enough to really know them. A shepherds responsibility is to his own flock first and not the flock of another. Sometimes a shepherd will hinder and stunt the growth of his own flock by trying to help every one else.
A shepherd has the God given call and responsibility to care for the sheep that are under his watch. This responsibility is not given to the staff or any other preachers in the church.  
If the sheep are unhealthy, sick, hurting, weak or just not growing then it's the shepherds responsibility to know why and seek how to correct it.

It takes time and a lot of loving effort to shepherd the sheep. It will involve hard work and spending quality time studying God's word to feed the sheep. Priorities should prevail instead of plagiarism which is a alarming trend with today's shepherds.

Here are a few ways to build a shepherd and sheep relationship better;
A. Be around them - a shepherd and sheep should have contact with each other- more not less.
B. Know them personally - not just by name but their hearts also.
C. Have awareness of where they are - sheep are prone to wander and some may be ill or hurting.
D. Feed them well - sheep will usually become what they are fed. Leftovers and little care for
where the sheep are feeding will hinder their health.
F. Love and enjoy the sheep that are in your fold - sheep will respond to genuine love from the shepherd.

4. The role or attitude of a Preacher – 1Tim. 2:7 / 2Tim. 1:11
In most churches the role of the pastors preaching is seen in the actions and attitudes of the church members. The personality of the preacher is brought out through his preaching and the members will relate to his preaching in either a positive or negative way. Most churches will take on the personally of their pastor and a lot of this is through his preaching. There are just as many different types of preachers as there are different types of churches, and hopefully they are a match.  

Preaching – real preaching is a discourse or sermon from God’s word that was given first to the man of God, the preacher. Not all preachers are pastors, but all pastors should be an able preacher. The gift of preaching is to be developed and used for the glory of God and as a ministry for the people of God, the church.

There are many different styles of preachers and all can be used of God if they are Spirit led and filled and preach with passion. Most churches have a certain style preference of a preacher that they can relate to better than others. This is reason why sometimes the same preacher can preach the same sermon in two different churches with totally opposite responses. By the way different areas of the country prefer certain styles of preachers, it would do well for the preacher to know and understand where he is preaching.  

Paul was known as a preacher that could relate to a church through his preaching. He was a God called preacher that surely used his preaching for the betterment of the church. I’m sure that he encouraged Timothy to be the best preacher that he could be through training and development. A man may be called to preach but never give time or effort in developing his gift. The pastor “preacher” should always be willing to improve his preaching skills for the sake of the ministry that God has called and gifted him with to serve the church.  

In relationship to a preacher and to those he preaches to in the church, should be an earnest desire to communicate God’s word with love and boldness. There should always be a balance between “reprove, rebuke and exhort” (2Tim. 4:2) in the preachers messages. Sometime pastor and people relationships are strained because of a wrong perception from the preaching. A preacher can preach hard if he has the respect and love of the people, but this doesn’t come quickly or without the pastor first showing love to the people out of the pulpit. No matter what the style or what the sermon is about it should always be delivered in a spirit of love “but speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15)

May the preacher relate to his people through his preaching in a way that will bring honor to God and be a blessing to His church. Paul asked the church to pray that he would have boldness to speak (Eph. 6:19-20), but he also spoke with love and compassion.   

5. The role or attitude of a Teacher – 1Tim. 2:7 / 1Cor.12:28 / Eph.4:11
The idea of teaching in the NT of the pastor to the people is providing instruction and exposition of the Scriptures for instructive and corrective purposes. There is always a balance in the preaching and teaching ministry of the pastor to the people. Sometimes there is an imbalance of one or the other which leads to a lack of the other that is needed in the equipping of the saints.  

I know that all pastors love to preach but in all preaching there should be a good bit of teaching. There should also be a large amount of time spent in teaching the people of God in the church, (or may I say should be). Many pastors are hands on in doing more of the work of the ministry, rather than teaching and developing the people to do the work of the ministry (Eph.4:11). There may be a need of the more pastors developing their teaching skills, so that they are able to teach and train the believers to do the work of ministry.  

I hear a lot about church members that don’t want serve or do much in the church ministries. There will always be people that won’t get involved, but there are some that want to be involved and serve but really just don’t really know how or where. Many times this is from a lack of teaching or training from the pastor and staff in not teaching or giving time for discipling their people. Teaching, training and discipling takes a lot of time and study on the part of the teacher/disciple. The investment of this time will be greatly rewarded in seeing the people of God growing and maturing in their Christian walk with the Lord.  

There is a lot of stress in the NT of the teaching ministry of the pastor due to the nature of instructing and correcting the believer in the church. The “Master” teacher (Jesus) is referenced to 68 times in 64 versus in the gospels. The words “to teach” (in its various forms) is used 205 times in the NT and always centered upon the Gospel of Jesus Christ and is for the maturing and equipping of the believers for the service of the Lord.     

A true shepherd’s heart will have a desire for feeding (preaching/teaching) the word of God in such a way that the sheep will get the most out of what they are fed. This calls for a higher standard of accountability of the teacher to God and those whom he teaches the word of God (James 3:1). The studying to show ourselves approve unto God, is for the purpose of the teacher/preacher to “rightly” divide the word of truth so that the sheep can grow and mature in the Lord.  
Every growing church has a growing pastor/teacher that is willing to learn and apply himself more in the study and art of preaching and teaching. Churches will not rise above the preaching and teaching of the pastor/teacher. If the pastor desire for his church members to grow and do more in the church, it may be a call for himself to first grow in his own preaching and teaching skills.   

Here are some suggestions for improving our preaching and teaching;
A. Ask the Lord for insights in improving your skills and seek input from a
mature honest friend (if you dare).  
B. Get or review some books on the subject of preaching and teaching.
C. Listen to your preaching and teaching with a willing heart to improve.
D. Spend more time in prayer and preparation for your messages and
F. If you have a loving, spiritual, humble wife you can ask her and she could
probability help you.

6. A recap of the pastor’s role, attitude toward the members of the church.
(1) Elder – 1 Tim. 5:17 One that has spiritual maturity and can give
wholesome spiritual guidance to the church.
(2) Bishop or Overseer – 1 Tim. 3:2 One of watching over and seeing to the good welfare
of the flock of God.
(3) Shepherd or Pastor – Eph. 4:11 One of leading, guiding, provision and
protection of the flock of God.
(4) Preacher – 1Tim.2:7 – One of bringing forth in a sermon / message from
God’s word to His flock from a heart of humility and love for the people.
(5) Teacher – One of providing instruction and exposition of scriptures for
instruction and corrective purpose to God’s flock.

These are the roles of a pastor to the people in the church that he is serving as a minister of God to His people. When these roles are reversed, absent, neglected, or just plan not fulfilled than there is a great need in the church. Just like the role of the husband in the family to fulfill his God given role in the home, so are pastors to understand and give attention to their God given roles of responsibility to the church. Sometimes if these roles are not present or neglected there will be a void or someone else other than the pastor will fill that role.  

The pastor should understand that these are God given roles for the pastor and that he is to fulfill them with the Lord’s authority backing them up. The church doesn’t get to chose which of these that the pastor is to do; they are God’s standard for the pastor to fulfill. No other man, woman, or group is given these roles to fulfill in the ministry of the church. For anyone to take away or seize these responsibilities from the pastor is without Scriptural authority from God and is in disobedience to the clear teaching of God’s word.  

The God given role and authority that a pastor has doesn’t give him the right to abuse his position either, which has caused many churches to be confused in how to relate to a pastor. The fear of abuse, caused by some pastors, has caused many churches to stumble and sin by trying to prevent any future pastors from over stepping their God-given responsibilities - once again demonstrating how sin can spread from one individual to a whole church.  

If the pastor and people understand their God given roles and have a right attitude towards each other subsequently their relationship can grow and in turn may help the church to grow. Many pastor/people relationships have been taught by some preacher or pastor, that either didn’t know or refused to practice right relationships to their churches. This has often resulted in many hurtful and painful conflicts and with unrealistic expectations. It is often easier to follow someone else, than it is to follow God’s word, which may lead to a wrong way of relating to the people in and out of the church. We may just need to ask God how to build better relationships with our people. Good pastoral relationships are made through time and much effort by God’s grace.  


Part 1        Part 3


2 Corinthians 11:28, "Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches."
Helping pastors and people to seek God’s best in ministry.
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