Every pastor I know, including me, wants a healthy church, but we sometimes unknowingly take actions that cause our churches to be unhealthy. This is exactly what we’ll be discussing in our Healthy Church focus group at General Conference 2019. We know that God wants every pastor to be as healthy as possible in our relationships with Him and with others, and He wants that health to influence the churches we serve.
At GC19, we’ll talk about many topics that are too involved to mention in this short article. But a couple of the foundational ideas we’ll be discussing include how we can earn the right to be heard and how we can be life-giving so we can produce the healthy churches we desire.
Since many of our churches existed before we were called as their pastor, it’s honorable, as well as wise, to be respectful of those who have gone before us and of those who joined that church family before we arrived. Very often when we first arrive to serve, we confuse our chain-of-command authority as a pastor with the much more effective relational authority that takes time to earn. In our focus group, we’ll discuss God’s perfect plan to get things done through a team. The church is held together exactly like our bodies, by healthy cells in complimentary relationships with one another so they enable one another’s functions. These complimentary connectors are enjoyable relationships.
If these relationships break down, the church may be forced to function through chain-of-command authority, which is difficult to maintain when so many participants are volunteers. Chain-of-command authority works in many situations, but it’s not nearly as efficient or fun as positive relationships. If the chain of command breaks down, some resort to brute force. This may briefly work, but ultimately it’s inefficient and unhealthy, and pastors who apply this tactic eventually lose. At GC19, we’ll discuss how to develop a positive, relational dynamic so you and the people in your church can stay healthy and happy.
The second idea fundamental to healthy pastoral leadership is understanding how to be life-giving. Life-giving leadership is a powerful conduit of the Holy Spirit, and it energizes us to minister God’s Word in a way that infuses life. It is Christ in us that makes us a new creation, renews our minds, and builds godly righteousness. He offers us freedom in our spirits and joy unspeakable. Achieving authentic godliness is a Spirit-led endeavor and successful pastors recognize this and know how to encourage it.
These are just two of the ideas we’ll be discussing to help increase the health of your church. River Church Lead Pastor Jeff Baxter and I will lead the discussions, and we are 100 percent committed to the divine establishment of the local church as well as your call to the church. With that presupposition, we will do everything we can to open the door so you too can have a deeply satisfying experience in pastoral ministry in a healthy church environment.
Ted Haggard is the founding pastor of St. James Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and the leader of the Healthy Church focus group at General Conference 2019 (gc19.org).1