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What Your Pastor Really Wants You to Know But Can’t Tell You – Part 2

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Local church pastors wish their congregations were aware of certain realities, but they are concerned that being too transparent could threaten their jobs.

Yesterday, I shared three things congregational leaders wish their members knew. Here are three more:

1. The current rate of adaptation in our church may not exceed the rate of decline.

Pastors have more perspective on a local church than most anyone. This is not because they are special, but because of their position in the system.

More input and information cross their desks or through their offices so to speak, than for most anyone else. Because of this, they have perspective when it comes to assessing the viability of a local church.

Too many pastors live with this sinking feeling; with the awareness that soon, too much water has passed under the bridge for adaptive change to be a possibility.

Your pastor would more directly confront you with this reality if he or she thought it would help, yet your pastor also loves you and doesn’t want to turn you off to church participation.

Can you see the double-bind position inherent in this dilemma?

Your pastor wants you to know that he or she is ready to engage mission-congruent risk-taking; ready to step out in faith.

Your pastor also knows this requires sufficient numbers of us to support holy experimenting in church for it to be acceptable and embraced.

2. That time you took a significant step of faith and then shared it with your pastor … you unknowingly saved his or her ministry.

Central to your pastor’s original call to ministry was a driving desire to encourage Christ-focused life change. Now your pastor finds his or her time eaten by activities, which sometimes seems, well, meaningless.

So, when you faced your fear of speaking in public and accepted the invitation to tell your faith story during worship, your pastor lived off that victory for a week.

When you shared with your pastor you found a new way to be a Christian presence in your workplace, taking a risk based on God’s love, your pastor realized his or her ministry is bearing fruit.

When you asked your pastor to pray with you about the resentment you’ve been carrying for years, finding relief when you finally granted forgiveness, your pastor’s ministry was filled with life-giving joy.

Your pastor wants you to know that sometimes he or she wonders if it’s worth it anymore. When you shared your spiritual progress with your pastor, you unknowingly saved his or her ministry.

3. When you find your voice and speak out against bullying behavior or obstructionist attitudes, hope for this church skyrockets.

Yes, some people learn that church is an easy place to push people around because so many people believe that being nice is more important than being real or honest.

This allows those people to become church bullies, silencing others and cultivating a nasty tone for interpersonal interactions.

Most people are not this extreme, yet they function as obstructionists when it comes to mission-congruent transformation.

Their misguided efforts are focused on restraining change, believing doing what we have always done in just the way we have always done it is spiritually responsible leadership.

Your pastor knows that if he or she confronts these people too directly or too often, he or she may be scapegoated and sent into the wilderness. The silent majority who outsources their leadership responsibility to the pastor sit back to watch things play out.

When you (layperson) find your voice and speak out against bullying or obstruction, progress is far more likely to happen.

Bullies love it when pastors take them on because pastors come and go. Bullies actually change when it’s clear their peers don’t appreciate their ways.

Your pastor wants you to know you are part of this church’s effort to move ahead. You turn up the hope when you find your voice.

There’s more, yet this is plenty for now.

Please pass this article around among the leadership of your church. Maybe your pastor can’t share this out loud, but you sure can.

Let’s take another strong step toward closing the gap, toward living into God’s hopes and dreams for God’s church.

Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part series. Part one is available here. A version of this article first appeared on Pinnacle’s blog. It is used with permission.

Mark Tidsworth

Mark Tidsworth is president of Pinnacle Leadership Associates.