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Comparing pastors

pulpit, church
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Comparisons of pastors have been around since we’ve had pastors. Paul wrote about it in 1 Corinthians 1:12: “Some of you are saying, ‘I am a follower of Paul.’ Others are saying, ‘I follow Apollos,’ or ‘I follow Peter,’ or ‘I follow only Christ.’”

In the first part of the 20th century, local church pastors were compared to well-known radio pastors. In the latter part of the 20th century, they were compared to television pastors. Beginning in the 21st century, the comparisons were to podcast pastors.

The idealized pastor versus our pastor

Church members can have idealized perceptions of pastors they don’t know. These platform personalities often have charisma and incredible communication abilities. It can be tempting for church members to believe their other pastoral skills are as gifted as their communication skills. 

We see our own pastors, however, up close and personal. We see their gifts, but we also see their humanity. We see them when they lose patience. We see them when they stumble in their sermons. We see their family members who, like the rest of us, are not perfect. So we often criticize them for their imperfections.

Our pastor versus the idealized pastor

But those platform personalities will not be with you in your deepest of valleys. They will not be an embrace when your loved one dies. They will not be there for weddings, funerals, celebrations, and moments of deep pain. 

Your pastor knows you. The platform pastor does not know you. Your pastor is there for you. The platform pastor does not know where you are. Your pastor loves you and prays for you. Platform pastors can’t pray for you by name, because they don’t know your name.

It is time to rethink how we treat our pastors 

It is time. 

It is time to be less critical and more prayerful.

 It is time to be less judgmental and more forgiving. 

It is time to be less expecting and more serving. 

The beginning of a new year is a time to start fresh patterns and habits.

May some of those habits include loving your pastor more unconditionally, evaluating your pastor less harshly, and praying for your pastor more fervently. 

I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. Ephesians 1:16-17. 

Originally published at Church Answers 

Thom S. Rainer is the founder and CEO of Church Answers, an online community and resource for church leaders. Prior to founding Church Answers, Rainer served as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources.

Rainer has written over 30 books, including three that reached number one bestseller: I Am a Church Member, Autopsy of a Deceased Church, and Simple Church. His new book, The Post-Quarantine Church: Six Urgent Challenges and Opportunities That Will Determine the Future of Your Congregation, is available now.

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