Dear Big Time Pastor,
I’m a young pastor who is just getting started in ministry. Like many other young pastors, I have immersed myself into church culture and mainstream Christianity. I’ve been reading your books, listening to your podcasts, attending the big conferences and learning from experienced pastors like yourself. I watch you from a distance. I see you leading people well, I see you celebrating,and I see you making timely, risky decisions that grow your ministry. I also see how you handle difficult situations, and sometimes I can read between the lines and see when you are under spiritual attack. I pray for you during those times. You don’t know me personally, but you have had a huge influence on my life and my ministry. Much of what I’ve learned in ministry, I have learned from you.
I have to be honest with you, though. I have learned a few things from you that have hurt more than they have helped. Some of what I have learned from you has crippled me as a spiritual leader and local church pastor. I know this wasn’t your intention, but after years of following you, paired with my sinful, selfish ambition, I’ve developed a lopsided framework by which I view ministry. I have made many decisions from this framework that I regret. As I’m putting together a new framework, I’m finding myself praying that the next generation of pastors could be better informed. It bothers me deeply to consider that they, like me, might be viewing ministry through the same broken, clouded lens that I have for so long. Here are a few examples:
#1. I have learned how to grow a church, but I’m still learning how to grow people.
You have taught me a lot of church growth techniques that really do work. I feel like I actually know a ton about growing a church. I know statistics, tricks, marketing techniques and all kinds of church growth “hacks.” You taught me well. However, I’m still fumbling the ball when it comes to helping people grow spiritually beyond Sunday morning. Sure, I know how to create church environments where people can grow, but I don’t know how to actually help someone move from “here to there” in their relationship with God. Personally, if Sunday morning didn’t exist, then my ministry probably wouldn’t exist either. Please teach me how to grow people instead of a church.