What a Church Needs from the Pastor
Having spent more time in the church from ‘behind the pulpit’ than in the pew, I am probably not the one who should be writing this. And in making the attempt, I have been greatly convicted, being forcefully reminded of the congregation’s needs and what the flock expects from its pastor. I do not pretend to think that this short article is exhaustive but hopefully it does lay the groundwork. And hopefully it will help all of us, pastor and church alike, reflect on the great needs we all have; the greatest need being the Lord Himself, but also the need we have of one another.
A church needs a pastor who continually seeks the leadership of the Spirit, for it is the Holy Ghost who has made him the overseer. As the overseer, the pastor is expected to take heed unto all the flock, observing them and learning from them, so he might better tend to their needs. Peter reminds the elders what their attitude is to be – not one of lordship but one of willingness; not trying to force people to do things but being an example. A church needs a Spirit-led pastor to lead the flock; not drive them. As Paul instructed Timothy, a church must have a servant who is not given to strife; one who is gentle and patient; a servant who can teach others with the unique combination of meekness and boldness.
A church needs a pastor who is determined to declare the whole counsel of God. He should be always mindful of the usefulness of Scripture – for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness. Peter exhorts the elders to feed the flock and a church needs to be fed a complete diet; milk for the young and meat for the mature so that all may grow thereby. The church should expect the pastor to minister to and teach young and old alike, without showing partiality and without limiting himself to when and how he fulfills his ministry. A church needs a pastor who teaches while he preaches and whose walk is in harmony with his words.
A church needs a pastor who is willing to spend and be spent. It should be expected of the pastor to feel as the apostle Paul did, “woe unto me if I preach not the gospel”; and to heed the exhortation given to the young minister Timothy to “be instant in season, out of season.” The church should expect the pastor to do the work of an evangelist, giving the flock an example so they can do the same. After all, the greatest witness and most effective evangelist is a content church member who is happy in the Lord.
A church needs a pastor who is willing to preach on the difficult subjects as he is given light; not one who only preaches smooth things. The church should expect him to be wide awake and to sound the alarm when the enemy is on the prowl. A church needs to remember that the pastor is accountable to God for the condition of the flock; at least, as far as the flock is willing to take heed to his leadership and instruction. A church needs a pastor who is patient and compassionate but still willing to give firm admonition to the disobedient. A church should expect the pastor to not only advise but to lead when hard decisions must be made. The church must have a pastor who strives to maintain a good report with those outside and around the church.
A church needs a pastor with a vision grounded in God’s word. The flock should expect their pastor to lead as an undershepherd, always following the Great Shepherd; not trying to make a name for himself but holding forth the word of life, bringing glory and honor to the Head. Every local church needs not just a preacher, not just someone to fill the pulpit, but a pastor.
For the cause of Christ, Elder Matt Jordan