I have a confession to make. My pastor isn’t the source of my spiritual growth. In fact, pastors should not do all the ministry.
Please don’t get me wrong, though – my pastor is a kind and compassionate man with plenty of biblical wisdom to share despite the fact that he went to seminary at Duke (I graduated from UNC, class of 2013 – sorry, couldn’t resist!). His sermons make me think and give me encouragement. But his sermons only consist of about 20-25 minutes out of my week.
Anyone who has been a Christian for more than a day or two has probably met someone who switched churches because they “weren’t being fed.” I believe that in some cases, this statement can be an excuse for spiritual laziness. It can be tempting to lean on one’s pastor as the source of one’s spiritual growth or the one person who does all the ministry, but there are three compelling reasons why this won’t work.
3 Reasons Pastors Should Not Do All The Ministry
1. It isn’t biblical.
The Bible doesn’t say “No one comes to the Father except through an ordained pastor during the appointed hour of worship service on Sundays.” That would be pretty silly, right?
Instead, in Philippians 2:12, Paul instructs his fellow believers to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” Of course, Paul didn’t mean this in the context of going to the gym, but if you think about it that way, the analogy can be helpful. After all, you wouldn’t expect your personal trainer to complete your workout for you. That wouldn’t be a very effective way to strengthen your body or lose weight.
In the same way, we are called to have a personal relationship with God through Christ and the Holy Spirit. But it can only be a personal relationship if you are personally invested in its success.
2. It isn’t practical.
You probably only spend 1-3 hours per week in a church building. That’s only 1.8% of your time. If you’re married, I would hope that you spend more than 1 hour a week interacting with your spouse. It would be pretty difficult to continue developing intimacy in a marriage if you only spent a tiny percentage of your time with your spouse.
Why should a relationship with God be any different?
Since your pastor undoubtedly has a life outside of his/her church work, and possibly a family as well, he/she can’t be on call 24/7 for every little doubt that may creep up in your heart. As mature Christians, we should learn how to handle the more minor doubts and disturbances on our own or in small groups because our pastors can’t always be right there with us.
3. It isn’t sustainable.
This may sound obvious, but pastors are people too. They have their own stresses and issues in life, and they already feel a tremendous responsibility to those in their congregations to care for them spiritually. According to studies by the Francis A Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development, 90% of pastors report working 55-75 hours per week. The vast majority of them experience depression, burnout, and other issues that negatively impact their ability to minister to those in need.
When believers take on some of the burden of their own spiritual growth instead of complaining that the pastor isn’t doing his/her job well enough, this contributes to the health and wellbeing of that pastor. It will hopefully promote career longevity and decrease burnout. Don’t forget, pastors should not do all the ministry.
So maybe you agree that your pastors should not do all the ministry, but you don’t know what to do on your own. I’ve made a list of a few suggestions but you’ll have to wait and get those in my next guest post where I outline “4 Ways to Grow Your Faith Outside of Sunday Morning.”
Hayley Crowell Curry makes her home in Winston-Salem, NC, where she lives with her husband, a recovering youth minister who is transitioning to the corporate sector. Hayley works as a TV and Internet marketing consultant for a local TV station, but has volunteered at the churches she has attended pretty much all her life, including stints in the worship band, youth ministry, and the “first impressions” team, which welcomes visitors. She loves ice cream, a capella music, reading as often as possible, and cheering on her beloved Tar Heels.