When choosing a place to serve…

Some years ago, I posted an article for PDYM Community discussing one of the premiere factors when choosing a place to serve. I thought it was pertinent to my situation, so I thought I would go ahead and share it here.

When determining whether you will serve at a church, “Pick the Pastor.”

You see, I think that most people will agree with the fact that the pastor determines the very character of the church. The pastor will determine so much in regards to his congregation. The pastor is the shepherd, the guide, the protector and so many other Biblical roles to his particular flock. We need (not you, WE) to be aware of this when we are entertaining the possibility of serving at that particular church.

The pastor determines the direction of the church. Now this goes beyond the style of worship or anything like that, but it is included. The pastor determines where his flock goes. It’s not a bad thing, but it is a reality. Whether he’s being led by the Spirit or not, he is leading the congregation.

The pastor determines the health of the church. Take a moment and let that work it’s way into your mind. The pastor will determine whether the ministries of the church are based upon the 5 Biblical principles or if they are based on traditions and “what we’ve always done.” He will determine if the ministries program driven or purpose driven. If you’ve been in youth ministry for 1 month, you know as well as I that you determine the health of the ministry you have been entrusted with.

The pastor determines the attitudes of the church. If the pastor is outgoing, encouraging, supporting, and loving others, then the church will in response. If the pastor is positive and creates a nurturing atmosphere that welcomes outsiders and make everyone (from the nursery to the blue-haired) feel welcome, the congregation will as well.

The pastor determines the priorities of the church. The pastor determines whether or not the church is welcoming to seekers. The pastor determines if the church is a safe-place for believers to take shelter from the big-bad world, or whether the church will become a force to reckoned with in the community. The pastor determines whether the church will think of itself in terms of brick and mortar or a living organism embodying the risen Lord.

As I said, this is not the end all deal-maker or deal-breaker. However, it is one of the things that we sometimes forget when finding a place to serve. It is so critical. One of the highlights for me of getting together with other youth pastors to discuss issues, is seeing how similar their struggles and issues are to mine.

Recently, someone asked Doug Fields which was more important: a person who does a wonderful job at their specific role that the lead pastor doesn’t particularly “click” with, or someone who is not as good at that role, but clicks with the lead pastor. Doug’s response was, “There’s no question…” He then proceeded to leave those of us less experienced in the ministry (most of us) in the dark. We had to ask. He then explained that, and I’m paraphrasing, when the atmosphere is conducive to a positive, team-oriented spirit, each role will be strengthened. But if we only focus on our own small portion of our ministry, the whole will be weakened.

I hope you follow me to the next level of thinking. If we can find a pastor that we can fully and whole-heartedly support and who can fully and whole-heartedly support us, the results will be so much better than if we simply looked at the annual budget and the numbers of the church when choosing a place to serve.

What do you think? Do you agree with this idea, or completely disagree?

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