Sarai Schnucker Rice wrote a good article here about the qualities a church needs to be “good at.” I understand this to mean: becoming a healthy congregation that a healthy pastor will want to serve.
(That’s not exactly how SSR put it, but imagine the extraordinary things that can happen when a spiritually confident pastor is matched with a spiritually confident congregation.)
Most of us clergy try to be the kind of pastor that a church will want to call – especially in this current state of things when there are more pastors looking for positions than there are positions. Ambitious pastors take certification courses. We attend conferences. We get the word out to our connections that we are looking. But just as pastors need to be the kind of pastors congregations will want to interview, congregations need to be the kind that pastors will want to serve.
Mistake #1 when churches are looking for a pastor: The attitude that “our church is awesome and who would not want to be our pastor?”
Mistake #2 when churches are looking for a pastor: The attitude that “our church doesn’t have much to offer so who would want to be our pastor?”
Some of our congregations seem to be confident mostly in themselves, their history, their numbers. Or they are not confident at all. Imagine congregations that are spiritually confident. They know God Is With Them. They sense the Spirit working through them.
What does “a good church” look like? I’ve listed SSR’s points and added questions that we might ask ourselves, in hopes of being the kind of church that we are called to be.
A Church Should Be Competent in:
- Discernment/Decisiveness – Do we pray together for God’s guidance when tough decisions need to be made? Do we make our decisions clearly, respectfully, and in a timely way?
- Self-Awareness – Do we understand who we are in 2014? Do we know what our neighborhood needs? Have we noticed who’s sitting in the pews and who’s not sitting in the pews?
- Organizing Itself – Do we communicate information well to everyone? Do we have solid policies and procedures that people actually follow?
- Resilience – Do we happily try new things, fearless that a failed program will not kill us nor will the paradoxes of life paralyze us?
- Expressiveness – Do people talk with each other confidently about Real Life? Do they joyously articulate their faith using art, music, storytelling, financial giving, and mission projects?
- Public Faithfulness – Do we talk about how excited we are about what our church is doing to make the community look more like The Kingdom of God? Do we love our spiritual community so much that we often mention it in random conversations with neighbors and friends?
- Strategy – Does our church see trends in the neighborhood? Are we aware of demographic shifts in our school system, real estate market, crime rates, and unemployment statistics? Do we align our ministry accordingly?
- Clarity – Can most members articulate our church’s core purpose?
- Community-Building (“SSR calls this a congregational orientation”) Do members warmly welcome strangers and guests? Do we forgive each other well? Do we refrain from gossip and blaming? Do we see each other with the eyes of Christ?
A spiritually gifted pastor can help a congregation make these shifts. But if a congregation has no interest or energy to be competent in these areas, even a rock star pastor cannot succeed.
But what if our congregations saw their challenges through the lens of a spiritually confident community of faith?
As we countdown to Pentecost Sunday, this is the perfect time to prepare for the Spirit of God to Change Everything. I’m quite confident that this can happen.