Lately I have been trying to take mental note of things that I notice and feel as a congregant if I should return to appointed ministry as the Pastor of a church. This is a constant process of discernment for me but over and over I can’t help myself but think, “wow, I wish I had known people felt this way…saw this thing…perceived it this way…while I was up there as the pastor of a church.” I want to make sure I remember theses things or at least can give some insight of there are pastors who want it. Not many get to straddle both worlds like I do. So here are some thoughts about what I am hoping that pastors could please remember….
- Pastors, please remember that you know way more names and parts of peoples lives than most of the people in the community. It is part of your amazing job and what an honor it is to know so many of the people that come and go in our community. I have not had that much exposure to our people, partly because of the nature of the church and partly from my own choices. And that has to be ok. So when I hear you say, “well, you know so and so and they can do such and such.” Chances are, I may not know them or what they do. I would like to know them and what they do but I probably don’t know them. Please remember to not assume that I know them or what they do in the world. Perhaps a better conversation is, “There is this amazing person in our community that I want to introduce you to.” This makes me feel less out of it and more eager to connect.
- Pastors, please remember that while you have spent many many hours on worship and church life, I have just arrived on Sunday morning. This means that I still need to be brought into the amazing story that is playing out before us.
- Pastors, please remember that while you have a built in network of a church who is eager to bring you to dinner, introduce you to everyone, invite you to all the latest events, etc, most of us don’t have that. This is one reason we try to come to church, for such a network. It does not mean that the church is unfriendly, this is what churches do but it also doesn’t mean that it can be assumed that it is as friendly as it has been to you upon arrival. I made the mistake of assuming people just hadn’t had the opportunity of taking advantage of friendliness of the church since I was invited to so many things but as a congregant, I haven’t been invited to many things at all. Just something to remember.
- Pastors, please remember that while those of us sitting in the pews yearn for the church to meet us where we are and get excited about what that could look like, we turn off our ears when we hear the next sentence as pleading to sign up for committees. Our service in the world should not be limited or even offered as signing up for committees. Committees are no longer the answer. I will tell you now, I will not be signing up for committees. Teams, maybe. Projects with timelines, yes. Service opportunity, possibly. Offerings of worship and ways to worship, absolutely. Do not associate our commitment to God with a sign up to a committee.
- Pastors, please remember that while I probably won’t come to a bible study, I am hungry for the Word. Lets not ignore it in worship but embrace it more fully. Lets not ignore it throughout the week but perhaps get creative about how to engage it.
- Pastors, please remember that I need community. My life depends on it. I need people to check in on me once in a while and while I am delighted its you sometimes, it doesn’t have to be. As a pastor I used to fool myself into thinking I needed to be checking in with everyone all the time. This creates an added level of busyness that is heavy to carry. We have networks. We should be setting up small groups and people who care to check in. One person can’t care for hundreds well. Our job is to set others up well to do the work of God.
- Pastors, please remember we are here if you call on us. We may not offer up ourselves all the time. Its not realistic. We are living full lives in the day to day, church is not the only thing on our mind and it shouldn’t be. That’s how we create burn out in lay volunteers and pastors. But if you invite me to do something, chances are I will say yes (except for committees, see previous note:)).
- And above all pastors, please please please remember in order for us to be encouraged to live healthy lives…balances of prayer life and action, taking time to care for ourselves and honoring Sabbath, grounded behavior and not falling into the busy scam of living, etc….we need to see you modeling this way. Take your time off. Honor Sabbath. Take care of yourself. Please don’t wear yourself out with busyness. The work will never be done and it will eat every second you hand it…greedily.
Others, what would you add to the list?