One of the things I love about Church World is that I am introduced to people I would never have the opportunity to know if we didn’t do Church together. Some of the finest people I know exemplify the love and strength of Jesus. They share their wealth sacrificially – and by “wealth” I don’t necessarily mean they are wealthy. But they make decisions on purchasing a new car or going on vacation based on needs over wants so that they can fund projects for those in need.
I say this first and foremost because this could sound like a bummer of a blog post. Bear with me.
In every church I’ve served, someone has told me early on about a leader or a family or a neighbor that the church “could not live without.“
- The retired pastor who is willing to help in any and every situation.
- The amazing family who can trace their church membership back five generations.
- The preschool director who is so generous with her time that she is always in the building.
- The church elder whose financial contributions always get the church out of a pickle when the boiler dies or the roof leaks.
- The sweet lady who lives next door who volunteers to polish the furniture and organize the closets.
- The church administrator who is the only one who knows where everything is.
My friends, we might be able to name individuals we know who are like these examples, and they are faithful servants who ask nothing in return for their contributions of money, time, and wisdom. Without these pillars of the Church, everything would crumble. Or so we fear.
But this might not be the whole story. Because of my ministry in the Church, I often learn that:
- The retired pastor is interfering with the authority of the current pastor.
- The amazing family who can trace their church member back five generations believes that the building belongs to them.
- The preschool director who is so generous with her time has no boundaries.
- The church elder whose financial contributions always get the church out of a pickle is unintentionally sabotaging their congregation’s future.
- The administrator who is the only one who knows where everything is has control issues and is trying to solidify her power.
- The sweet lady who lives next door preserves the property and records in a way that perpetuates a culture of Church as Institution rather than Church as Disciple-Maker.
Healthy congregations allow the pastor to serve as they’ve been called to serve, recognizing that the Church belongs to Jesus, healthy boundaries are essential for everyone, and a culture of shared giving, shared power, and making disciples of Jesus Christ is the goal.
I can’t tell you how many congregations are being destroyed by the very people whom “we can’t live without.” They are not pillars as much as they are unwittingly preventing the Church from growing.
They love their Church but they are getting in the way. They are “good people” but Church has become about them, not about expanding the reign of God.
I write these things as a love letter to Church Pillars and all who love their own churches Please ask someone you trust, “Am I helping move our congregation into a Body of Christ that serves others? Or am I honestly about transactional ministry? (I give you money, time, wisdom and you give me what I ask for/demand.)
This is a question for each of us.
Image is of the Pillars of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.