Saturday, 23 February 2013 00:00

Your View Of The Pew

Written by Tim Patrick

congregationWhat is your view of the people in the pew?  These are the people we lead and serve.  These are our co-workers.  Our view of these special people will determine our leadership style and, to a great extent, our success in ministry.

I have observed many diverse attitudes  harbored by pastors and staff, toward the people we lead.

  • There is the condescending attitude.  When we harbor this attitude we tend to look down our noses as if lay people are a step below us.
  • There is the suspicious attitude.  We are suspicious of what lay people think of us and the intent of their motives.
  • There is the autocratic attitude.  We tend to exert authority over lay people and are reluctant to work with them.
  • There is the “I am the expert” attitude.  We tend to show little respect and appreciation for the opinions and feed-back of lay people.
  • There is the “I am in control” attitude.  We tend to feel we must have our hands in everything that happens in our congregation.
  • There is the “I have to do this” attitude.  We feel we must preach every sermon, make every hospital visit, do all the counseling, authorize every decision, and the like.
  • There is the “laissez- fare” attitude.  We yield our leadership to the “democratic process” and go along for the ride.  When this happens we give up or minimize our leadership to the congregation.

Obviously there is not a leadership style that fits everyone.  Also, every attitude, listed above, is not right or wrong in and of itself.  We must recognize our unique personhood and adjust accordingly.  The key word is “adjust.”   These attitudes often preview how we lead people and where we lead people.  The Bible uses many terms to describe the church and its members.  It refers to the “body,” a “family,” “the gifted,”  “priests,” and a number of other special titles.  These qualities beg us to adjust accordingly.

Pastors should be given respect and honor by the church family because of their calling.  In addition, pastors should give respect and honor to the church family.  There are many factors that go into the exchange between “the called” and “the laity.”  The mere usage of these terms reflects some of the problem.  The Bible does not make this distinction.  We are the “body of Christ.”

I realize there are many situations where church members disrespect, mistreat, and fail to submit to their pastor’s leadership.  Such behavior causes a bad reflection on the members in the flock, who harbor sweet spirits and Godly attitudes.  However, my point in this article is not to judge the bad apples among us.  My challenge is to those who serve in ministry.  It is important to respect, see potential, equip, encourage, and cooperate with “the people in the pew.”  As we share, cooperate, collaborate, give respect, and support the whole body benefits.  In addition, this Spirit facilitates an advance in the kingdom of God.

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