This leads us to examining the congregation’s relating and functioning style. In week one’s lecture, it states, “These two things contribute to a church’s duality. Every church as a relating style that stems from its unwritten rules and expectations, as well as an organizational style or functioning style that is more easily identified by espoused values” (Toombs, pp. 7-8). A pastor helps the church to live out both their functioning style alongside of the relating style by trying to help the congregation connect both to the mission of God. In some churches there are by-laws and rules, however everyone may not be aware of what the rules or laws really are. They may be written down, but they are not related to the congregation as a whole. This might be due to the church being comfortable in her past. The church may have become caught in her tradition (like the Brownstone church in a scenario’s from a previous lesson) that she does not remember everyone does not know about the church’s past or importance. This discourages some because you are expected to live up to laws, ways and ideas that you do not know and were never taught. I jokingly call it the “secret minister’s book”.
Some are expected to know how to function in areas of ministry, yet they may not have ever been taught the values of the church, which can discourage them in their walk. Individuals may not have been taught what is expected, but are criticized if you do not match up to the “mysterious standard”. I believe the pastor needs to help the body in this area by making sure that there is full disclosure of the by-laws of the church. I also believe this is one area that the church needs to teach.
I wanted to make sure I was prepared for ministry so I returned to school so that I could be trained in the best way possible for the mission of God. Going forward, I see that in whatever church capacity I function, I must teach those for whom I am responsible. That is the reason I set in motion “Student teachers” for the teenage class I teach. The oldest teenagers are taught how to study the lessons, prepare for class and teach. I allow them to teach the class with my assistance to gain competence instructing in the word. This process of growth and development involves some extra work and risk, however it is critical to the furtherance of the teaching ministry.
John Galloway, Jr. in the book Ministry Loves Company suggest to the reader regarding vision this, “If we cannot grow together to the point where we tilt forward in risk, the Lord can never teach us to walk. What we are saying is that we make a transition from listening to leading, not by drafting a vision statement or a long-range planning report, but by adjusting attitudes and procedures…Churches like families, get rather set in their ways…Our task is to free up the visionaries and then help them focus their vision” (p. 40). This is the biggest hurdle that faces the church today. There are those that do not want to change things or move outside of their comfort zone, even though they see their local church dying. The pastor then has to try and help those with a vision for the church that lines up with the will of God to have the freedom to grow and motivate others to grow. One of the suggestions from this author on how to move individuals forward in a positive way is, “Be yes people ourselves” (Galloway, p. 35).
Many pastors are receptive to hear individual’s ideas regarding the needs of the congregation. I have seen believers get excited because of the support of their pastor regarding the work in the church and due to his “yeses” others have wanted to be involved in the ministry. “Without strong pastoral leadership the reins of a church may well wind up in the few hands of an overworked, though saintly core, who have so much church business on their plates they gag on even the thoughts of something new” (Galloway, p. 37).
Galloway also gives us other criteria on how to function, as a church should. He writes about accountability. The pastor has a major role in helping the church understand whom she is accountable to. As Galloway states it, “To whom or to what are we accountable?” “For whom are we playing the game?” (p. 42). Sometimes believers think they are accountable only to the leader of their organization or to what someone has said, or just to themselves however, the pastor must help the body understand all are first accountable to God and not to holding to their traditions or ways of doing things. “Don’t get me wrong. The will of the congregation cannot be taken lightly. After all, we are a people who believe in collective wisdom…What the ruling board needs to grasp is that, while we take the input of the congregation with great seriousness, perhaps even wondering if the Lord might be speaking to us through the will of the congregation, we are to see ourselves quite differently from politicians who have been elected to represent their constituents…Our task is repeatedly to remind them that we take serious the will of the congregation but are accountable to God” (Galloway, pp. 42-43).
Reforming. Galloway also speaks about being “always reformed, always reforming” (p. 47). This speaks to the church’s ability to continue to grow in holiness of purpose and commitment. “In other words, ministry is a terribly difficult balancing act of getting people enthused about a particular work, but not so narrowly enthused that the work becomes an idol…Remember, folks: Our work is in service to God. It is not itself God” (p. 49). The pastor then has the responsibility to help us understand that we must be willing to change our attitudes and behaviors so that we are doing things for the Lord and not making our traditions, or work a god in itself. The pastor must help us keep a clear vision of how we look at what we do. It is also his responsibility to help us with “self”. “Nowhere do we need to be more intentional in our work of reforming than we do with our own idolatrous worship of our own sinful egos” (Galloway, 52). – Came back next week for the next installment.