Written by Minister Jewel D. Williams
October 11, 2007
The pastor plays a vital role in church administration and he/she must lead the way for the church to see it’s vision, mission and value so that it can be effective. The church operational characteristics must change so that a church can grow both numerically as well as spiritually, which means there are changes a pastor must make to remain successful as well as effective. In this look at the church, I will examine first the mission of the church (in general and specifically). I will also analyze the congregation’s relating and functioning styles. Specific activities of the pastor will be addressed regarding administration. I will also try to identify what is needed for the success of the pastor in his role of guiding the church toward fulfilling the mission. Finally, I will develop a plan for the pastor’s changing administrative role as the church grows.
In the book, Death of the Church, the author Mike Regele with Mark Schulz state, “THE MOST IMPORTANT PROBLEM in the church today is a fundamental lack of clear, heart-grabbing vision. The church in America has no vision. It has programs and institutions and property and ministers and politically correct hymnals, but no vision” (229). This is not a new problem with the church for the Bible states the same sentiment in Proverbs 29:18a “Where there is no vision, the people perish”. When the authors took a survey regarding the vision of the church this is what they found, “The church and what it stands for represents something qualitatively better than what this world on its own has to offer. They sense that in it there is a promise of something. What is that ‘something?’” (Regele & Schulz, p.230).
The question then is, what is that something that the church should be offering to the world? What is the church’s mission? The author Gailyn Van Rheenen explains the mission of the church in his book, Biblical Foundations & Contemporary Strategies, where he states, “Mission does not originate with human sources, for ultimately it is not a human enterprise. Mission is rooted in the nature of God, who sends and saves…He continually seeks to initiate reconciliation between himself and his fallen creation” (14). This reminds the reader that God is the originator of the mission. That mission as future explained in a flow chart by the author shows that God originated the mission, Jesus Christ enacted the mission, the Holy Spirit gives power to the mission, the church carries the mission and the world hears the mission (Rheenen, p. 18).
The church’s mission is to be the avenue by which the Holy Spirit equips believers to tell the world about the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the savior of the world. While this is the general mission of the church, it is not always evident in our local church. We sometimes forget what our mission is and we become bogged down in our traditions and rituals. “Few Christians are able to describe vividly in biblical terms what God desires the church to be. Without biblical undergirdings, the church is swept along by the ebb and flow of culture and in various forms degenerates into a social fraternity. When this happens, the church more nearly reflects the world than the nature of God and has little that is distinctive to offer the world” (Rheenen, p. 28).
The local church sometimes has difficulty connecting what “should be” with “what is”. We some times believe we are a teaching church, a seeking church and we classify ourselves a loving church. What we truly are is not always in line with this vision of ourselves. So the work is, how do we line up the mission of the church with what we really are? The first thing is we need to have a clearer vision of who we are and what we need to become. “We will see again that God intends to close the gap between ‘what is’ and ‘what ought to be’ in our own lives and in the lives of all whom he sends us to serve…Such a grand vision calls us to mission. It gives us ultimate purpose. And what is that purpose? To close the gap between what is and what ought to be. In other words, everything we do in ministry together has validity only to the extent it helps us close the gap. It is this singularity of direction in response to our vision that is our mission” (Regele and Schulz, p.234).
With this understanding of mission how can the local church move from what is, to what ought to be? The pastor has the responsibility of helping the body to daily move so that it lines up with what God calls for the church to be. It first starts with us looking at our ideas about our selves. In the writing entitled, The Role of the Pastor in Church Administration – Lecture: Week One, written by Michael Toombs, where it is stated, “Every organization has espoused values, which are those things identified by mission and vision statements. They are neat and tidy statements. They are revealed in constitutions, bylaws and covenants. They are usually easily measured. Every congregation also has enacted values, which are unspoken. They may reveal more of the ‘family dynamics’ of a congregation…These unwritten expectations may be just as vital to a congregation’s sense of ‘self’ or well-being as the nifty statements we hammer home and publish. Ignoring them can be fatal to a pastor” (p. 7).
I believe the pastor achieves this alignment with what ought to be through the teaching ministries within the local church. Correction is also accomplished by the preached word in the church. If the word of God goes forth with power, the Holy Spirit can convict the hearts of the people to change their attitudes and behavior. In the book, Pastoral Ministry: How to Shepherd Biblically, the contributing author, John Mac Arthur writes, “Paul was content to sacrifice his reputation. A pastor’s goal is not to be popular with the world. Those who preach boldly against sin and live godly lives will sacrifice their public reputation and prestige. They will suffer rejection, face opposition, and endure slander…In the ministry, pressure to compromise, to mitigate the message, and to avoid offending sinners will always exist. However, the preacher’s job is to expose sin, to confront the lost with the hopelessness of their condition, and to offer the cure for their wretchedness in the saving gospel of Jesus Christ” (pp. 17-18). This is also true with the body of believers. The pastor must instruct us in holy living and to preach boldly against anything we do that is contrary to us living godly lives. Some will not want to hear and accept, but that does not negate the responsibility of the pastor to do it.