Originally posted March 9, 2012
Here’s a question that could reveal an awful lot about the health of your church.
“What church are you in love with…really?”
You see, you can often discern a church’s vital signs by how much love the senior pastor has for his congregation.
And few seductions can steal a pastor’s heart away from his congregation quite like the lure of another church.
These are what I have found to be the 5 most common churches that can steal a pastor’s heart:
1. The church you want to lead
If you find yourself saying, “Man, I can’t wait until we’re a younger, hipper church” you may be falling out of love with your present congregation.
2. Your former church
You might be infatuated with an earlier church in your ministry where you had a particularly good run. A classic warning sign would be if you find yourself looking out over your congregation and secretly asking, “Why can’t you be more like my old church?”
3. Someone else’s church
“I wish I had Bill Hybels’ volunteers at my church.”
“I wish I had Craig Groeschel’s media people at my church.”
Other ministries can, and should, inspire your leadership. But heed the warning sign when you begin to romanticize their congregation.
4. The “good ol’ days” church
If you’ve had a long ministry run in your present church you can find yourself waxing nostalgic for the way things used to be, and the people you used to have.
5. A sub-set of your own church
You might love a particular group in your own church more than other groups. Here’s how you can tell. In referring to groups within your church do you ever find yourself using “us” and “them” language? For example, “Our church is on mission! But the seniors? They just don’t get it.”
To love your present congregation doesn’t mean to leave them as they are. To quote Bill Hybels, your job is to take them “from here to there”. But it’s these people you are to take on the journey, and to do so requires that you love them without reservation.
So be careful that these “other” churches don’t steal your heart. Because there is a direct link between your love for your church and the health of your church.
How do you remain “in love” with your church?
I find that praying for my congregation helps me love them more. Sitting down with them over coffee is another great way. One of the ways we justify falling in love with another church is because we aren’t connected to our own, when we don’t pray for them.
Seth, what a practical way to ensure that the love between a pastor and his congregation stays ‘white hot’. It’s pretty hard to love someone (or a church) if you’re not praying for them. Conversely, if you’re praying for someone it’s pretty hard not to love them!
Thanks for weighing in with a great insight.