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How Much Should a Church Depend Upon One Pastor?

Isn’t it amazing how much stuff happens when you are gone? 

Whether it is while on vacation or doing ministry outside your local church, inevitably the unforeseen happens when the one full-time pastor is gone and you cannot do anything about it. 

While I was in Zambia, I missed a very important funeral and a sudden open heart surgery of one of our elderly members. Because of this, my time in Zambia reminded me of the importance of my “motto” for pastoral ministry:

“Expendable, But Appreciated”

Expendable.

I realized that I must pastor this church in such a way that allows this church both to flourish while I’m here and continue to do so once I’m gone (Lord willing, I hope a long time from now). 

This requires me to delegate responsibilities, share the pulpit, share my authority (plurality of pastors/elders), raise up and train leaders, train my people to disciple, serve and minister to one another, and personally take breaks with my family that require my people to step up while I’m gone, to mention a few. 

For different reasons, too many pastors want their ministries built around them, yet in doing so we are hurting the next generation in the local church from moving forward after we are gone.

But Appreciated.

Some of you may be thinking, “If I work myself out of a job … then I won’t have one! 

Since my full salary package, benefits and insurance absorb close to a third of our annual budget as a smaller church, it is also a good idea to give reasons for the church to still keep me around. 

Unfortunately, some pastors (especially at smaller churches) accomplish this by building the ministry around them to where the church feels helpless if something happens to the pastor. I prefer my “job security” to be in the form of appreciation for me and my efforts to care faithfully for their souls. 

It is the church’s desire to keep me as their pastor year after year out of appreciation for my ministry of the word, friendship and spiritual care for their souls that creates the dynamic of a local church who will not miss a beat if I, in the providence of God, am hit by a truck tomorrow.

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braincroft@churchleaders.com'
Brian Croft is senior pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky. He is also the author of "Visit the Sick: Ministering God’s Grace in Times of Illness (foreword by Mark Dever) and "Test, Train, Affirm, and Send Into Ministry: Recovering the Local Church’s Responsibility to the External Call" (foreword by R. Albert Mohler Jr.). Brian blogs regularly at Practical Shepherding.