As you know, we at Preparing for Amazement focus on the health of people and congregations. To aid you in thinking through such health, I want to take a moment and consider what it means for congregations to ask the following question focused on spiritual health:
How often do we check our spiritual direction and growth with our pastor?
A very large indicator that a congregation is suffering from unhealthy attitudes or behaviors is their interaction with the pastor. If the congregation refuses to listen to the pastor or sees all they say with suspicion, there is a problem. Likewise, if the pastor uses their position to get what they want from a congregation, there is a problem. Of course, this causes issues in the realm of leadership and organizational momentum. However, there are bigger problems at hand.
The pastor helps the congregation primarily through their spiritual guidance. Not only have most of them had training to help people through difficult spiritual decisions and circumstances, but they have also have had unique experiences that give them an awareness to such things that many do not have. For example, what’s the difference between selfishly pursuing the interests of the congregation and a humble pursuit of the congregation’s mission and vision? Most of the time, such questions require nuance grown in spiritual experience – watching people, interacting with them, and supporting or challenging them.
So, how often do your congregational groups meet with the pastor? Or, to say that differently, how often does the pastor contribute to the spirituality of the group as it pursues its goals?
If this has never happened in your church council, committee, or board meetings, I urge you to take steps to enter into dialogue with your pastor or other spiritual director. If you are in a challenging place with that pastor or director, bring another spiritual leader (Matthew 18).
We all need someone to help us ask and help us answer our spiritual questions. Are we being who we want to be in our behaviors and attitudes? Are we missing something big that’s hiding under the surface? Are we avoiding challenging work together? What do the Scriptures say about the current struggle we’re going through?
So, spend some time and discuss what questions you want to go through with your pastor or spiritual director. Give good thought to them in the hopes that your spiritual health as a group will remain the focus. Then, be open to hearing what the pastor has to say. Sometimes it might not be pleasant, but you will be able to work through it. Other times, you will discover how much the Holy Spirit has been working in and through you all.
Nate Whittaker, Coach