March 11, 2008

Being a good church

Church Matters, the blog from 9 Marks Ministries, has an interesting post titled Things to ask a church when considering a pastorate. Since 9 Marks Minsitries' demographic target is pastors, this article is written to them. It answers the question, "What things should I check out to determine whether or not I should accept the call to pastor a church?"

Success in marriage is more than finding the right person: it is being the right person.
– Robert Browning (1812–1889)

Since I am not a pastor, this article doesn't have direct impact on me, but I think we can all benefit from this article by considering what it means to those of us who make up the membership of our local church. The quote from Robert Browning is just as true for a church as it is for a bride or groom. It's not just about finding the right church—it's about being the right church.

If we want our pastors to enjoy their pastorate, if we want to be winsome (easy for our pastor to love us), we need to be concerned about being the right church. Hebrews 13:17 tells us to " Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you [emphasis mine]. I think a careful consideration of the items laid out in the 9 Marks blog post would be very beneficial to those of us in the congregation. If we consider how to be a good church, we will be contributing to our pastors' ability to "keep watch over [our] souls ... with joy and not with groaning."

And imagine how great it would be if God called your pastor to a new church and you had to begin the pastoral search. What if one of the potential candidates followed the advice in the 9 Marks post and contacted the previous pastor to hear what he had to say about the church. Imagine if your previous pastor was able to say, "This is the most loving and God-honoring group of people I have ever had the privilege of serving." Imagine him saying, "I don't think you could make a better choice than to pursue this invitation." Or, better yet, imagine: "Be careful to watch over these people as a good shepherd. They are truly the household of faith. I will miss them."

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