What the Pastor Needs to Know about His Church
Joe McKeeverJoe McKeever says he has written dozens of books, but has published none. That refers to the 1,000+ articles on various subjects (prayer, leadership, church, pastors) that can be found on his website -- joemckeever.com -- and which are reprinted by online publications everywhere. His articles appear in a number of textbooks and other collections. Retired from "official" ministry since the summer of 2009, Joe stays busy drawing a daily cartoon for Baptist Press (www.bpnews.net), as an adjunct professor at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, writing for Baptist MenOnline for the North American Mission Board, and preaching/drawing/etc for conventions and churches across America. Over a 42 year period, McKeever pastored 6 churches (the last three were the First Baptist Churches of Columbus, MS; Charlotte, NC; and Kenner, LA). Followed by 5 years as Director of Missions for the 135 SBC churches of metro New Orleans, during which hurricane katrina devastated the city and destroyed many churches. Joe is married to Margaret, the father of three adults, and the proud grandfather of eight terrific young people. He holds degrees from Birmingham-Southern College (History, 1962), and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (Masters in Church History, 1967, and Doctorate of Ministry in Evangelism, 1973). Joe's father was a coal miner who married a farmer's daughter. Carl and Lois McKeever, both of whom lived past 95 years of age, produced 6 children, with Joe and Ronnie being ministers. Joe grew up near Nauvoo, Alabama, and attended high school at Double Springs. Joe's life verse is Job 4:4, "Your words have stood men on their feet."
- 2017 Mar 15
“…the Holy Spirit has made you the overseer…” (Acts 20:28)
To be an overseer, one has to know what’s going on.
Someone is angry at the pastor? He needs to know. Perhaps he is at fault and can do something to remedy the situation.
Some leaders have had a falling out with each other? The pastor needs to know since this affects the church.
The assistant pastor took a group on a mission trip and charged each member $500 for expenses. The pastor needs to see an accounting of income and outgo, or to know that the appropriate people in the church were on top of this. No staffer should ever handle money themselves.
The youth minister gathered the students in the auditorium and showed them a movie with questionable content. He/she should have informed his/her supervisor–and in a small church that’s always the pastor–in advance and let him make the call. This protects everyone, but most of all the young people.
The class has invited in a prophecy expert–you will pardon the expression–to speak on the rapture or the antichrist or such. The pastor should know in advance and approve the decision. Otherwise, it should not be done. No group in the church exists unto itself.
The pastor needs to know.
Write that down in big letters. The pastor needs to know.
He is the undershepherd of the church.
The pastor of the small church proudly informed the guest evangelist that “Our church is a generous people” and “they always take good care of visiting preachers.”
As he handed the guest the offering the final night of the meeting, the pastor said, “I don’t know how much it is, and I don’t need to know.”
He should have “needed” to know. When the visiting preacher returned home, he opened the envelope and counted the offering given to him.
It was not sufficient to cover his mileage.
And yet that host pastor went on his way, confident his people had done the right thing and honored God with their generosity.
Now, let me say…
Had the host pastor informed the guest at the time he issued the invitation that “We are a small church, and while we will do the best we can with the offering, it may not be as much as you need or as we would like to give you. But if the Lord leads you to accept our invitation, we would love for you to preach in our church,” he would no doubt have accepted.
Preachers do this all the time, preach in places where the congregation can give them little or nothing (jails, nursing homes, mission churches, etc.).
But integrity demands that the host tell him that up front when he’s being invited to a church that can not sufficiently meet his needs.
Some pastors would be surprised–and embarrassed–to know things going on in his church.
He should. He needs to.
The pastor should know the salaries of everyone who works at the church. And have a say-so in how those salaries are determined and raises are given.
He needs to know if full-time ministerial employees are earning money outside the church with other jobs or sideline ventures. It is not enough for them to say, “My free time is my own business.” The church would want to know if the pastor had taken on a second job, or had started a mail order business over the internet. Likewise, with a staff member.
He needs to know the spiritual condition of his people as much as possible since Hebrews 13:17 says he will give account for their souls (as scary a thought as it’s possible to have!).
- A faithful pastor would want to know how his people are treating the visiting evangelist.
A pastor informs the guest preacher, “A member of our church has this cabin and loves to provide it for guests at the church.” Or, “One of our families has an apartment over their garage which they make available to preachers and missionaries visiting our church.”
Often that turns out to be a blessing, as the host family takes joy in seeing that it is clean and well supplied.
But sometimes, that is not the case.
What if the cabin/apartment is unclean? Insects in the corners of the floors, dust where it shouldn’t be, that sort of thing.
A faithful pastor would want to know the church’s guest was being well-provided for.
The pastor who sends his guest preacher to a cabin or a home should make sure that it is safe (some cabins can be amazingly remote and isolated), that it is clean, that the sheets are freshly laundered, and that the fridge and pantry are sufficiently stocked. How to do this? The simplest answer is to have a Hospitality Committee, and turn the matter over to them. The pastor will simply make sure they are on top of their job, and then one thing more…
During the time the guest is at his church, the pastor visits with him. He takes a look around, goes into the bathroom, checks everything. (It’s not enough to ask the guest. In most cases, he will not want to hurt feelings and will endure anything.) If matters are less than satisfactory, a loving pastor will take action immediately. He should help the guest get his things together, then move him into the nearest Holiday Inn Express or Hampton Inn. (He does this with no fanfare, as quietly as possible.)
And yes, he should prepare for the fallout which is sure to come. But he did the right thing.
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy” (Proverbs 27:6).
In a larger church, the pastor cannot know all these things. So, he relies on faithful colleagues to do so, and makes sure they are doing their job.
The pastor who wants only to preach and not be bothered with what’s going on in the church is not worthy of the title shepherd.
It’s hard work shepherding a flock. No one who does not want to work hard should ever go into the ministry.
God bless you, pastor. Be faithful. The work is hard, the time is short, but the pay is great.
Photo courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com
Publication date: March 15, 2017