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More reasons to let your pastor lead

Feb. 23, 2016 | by Brian Thorstad

In an earlier blog, I spoke directly to board members and made a case for allowing your “lead” pastor to actually lead your church: to be the one who comes down from the mountain with both a vision and a ministry strategy for your congregation. 

This doesn’t mean that you don’t carefully review it. In rare cases, you may have to reject it altogether. But please give the guy a chance and the benefit of the doubt.

I shared three reasons for my plea: (1) Groups don’t lead, groups are led, (2) God usually downloads His visions through individuals, and, (3) Only an individual can give a church a cohesive, systematic strategy for making disciples. Here are two more reasons to let your pastor be the one who makes big, important proposals for big, important changes:

4. The pastor will be held responsible for the overall ministry of the church.

This is simply a “fact of life.” Churches that do not have paid pastors may not experience this phenomenon, but all churches with vocational pastors do. 

Once you give somebody the title of “lead” or “senior” pastor he is automatically held responsible for everything. Our culture thinks in terms of the CEO or General Manager. To 99 percent of Americans, the pastor is the CEO of the church. So he’s held responsible for the condition of the parking lot, the ministries which are led by board members, the warmth of the greeting given by greeters and ushers, the quality of the care given in the nursery, the skill level of the musicians in the worship service — did I say, “everything”? Being held responsible for a ministry which one is not actually able to lead, to inspire with a vision, to direct with a strategy, is a formula for frustration. Many pastors give up and walk away from their churches for this very reason.

5. The pastor needs to be able to be the inspired and inspiring vision caster and evangelist of clarity.

I once was given an unforgettable factory tour. The head of the engineering department had been allowed to design and build a new finishing line which involved millions of dollars worth of sophisticated washing, priming, top-coating and paint curing equipment. As my new boss, he proudly and excitedly walked me through the whole department and the whole process. Everything was carefully designed, interconnected, and intentional. His pride and enthusiasm were unmistakable. Looking back I understand why he was so excited.

Pastors must be given the same privilege to be ministry designers if we’re going to expect them to have the same enthusiasm.

A pastor who has not been allowed to share a God-given vision and install a God-given strategy cannot be expected to be inspired by yesterday’s dreams. He needs a dream that fuels his passion, that keeps him awake at night (in a good way), that he can share with others with joy.

Churches which desire to see inspired pastors inspiring others to greatness should find pastors whom they can trust and then turn them loose to fulfill God-given dreams. If board and pastor can’t come to agreement on a vision and a plan, they should part ways amicably instead of staying together in a miserable marriage of convenience. There is nothing to be gained by having a passionless pastor trying to lead an untrusting and directionless church. The result is something like Moses’ 40 years in the wilderness. I don’t think any of us want that.  


Brian Thorstad

Brian Thorstad is a Redevelopment Transitional Pastor. He is the author of Heaven Help Our Church! (A Survival Guide for Christians in Troubled Churches) and Redevelopment: Transitional Pastoring That Transforms Churches.



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