It is true of any pastor but I feel particularly true of those who might be called Replant or Revi Pastors — we must define the goal line. For most of us we operate in a manner that communicates growth, wealth and accumulation are the signs of a successful pastor, the only ones that matter.
If the church he serves is growing, he is a good pastor. If it is in decline, he is a failure.
On a side note that may not need to be said – that very well may be the case. In many cases a bad or lazy pastor will be a major factor in the church’s numeric decline. It is one of the pastor’s responsibilities to be self aware and know when he is over his head and in need of help.
In reality, the only meaningful factor of success in the pastorate is faithfulness.
My friend took the pastoral call of a church that has been in a steady, long term decline. The church has an enormous debt and is culturally different than the community it is situated in. The building’s are in significant disrepair and the community is not even aware the church exists but for the large building on the corner. There are unregenerate members and currently an un-biblical church polity of committees and Senior Pastor governance. He was fighting for the life of a wounded soldier. It is a terribly tough task and he has fought well. He may lose that fight.
If he does, he would have the chance to stand in the role of a Hospice Nurse. He can help lead that church to die honorably. One option would be to merge the congregation and current resources into a viable church body. Another might be to sell off the current campus and invest the funds into Kingdom Work. Too often when churches die, and it happens all the time sadly, the resources are transferred to the bank or the city. That would be a tragedy. These buildings were built by the sacrifice of Christians over many years. By leading the church through the end, the Replant Pastor can help the church to die with honor and continue Gospel work far beyond the grave, so to speak.
I think we need to remind ourselves that a large average attendance has never been a win, it’s not even really a score. At best it is a symptom, a variable.
The goal of pastoring is to be faithful,
- Be faithful to the mission. Lead believers to effectively reach the surrounding community. Lead by doing.
- Be faithful to the Bible. Preach and explain as best you can the intent of the authors, and the Author.
- Be faithful to family. Do not sacrifice your family on the altar of a church.
- Be faithful to the Lord. It is very possible God called some pastors to a church to help them die with honor.
I am prayerfully being faithful in my context and in my pastorate. My hope is that we will grow numerically for purposes of mission and ministry. That, however, is not my goal.
NOTE: If you feel called to Replant a Church or you are currently involved in a Revitalization — I work with the North American Mission Board in that area. Connect with us and find resources at https://www.namb.net/replant
this post originally appeared on Josh King’s Blog
Published February 18, 2016