eNCDine | The Pastor As Spiritual Example
Petr Cincala wrote an article in the Natural Church Development (NCD) blog that was troubling to me. One of the questions in the Natural Church Development survey asks the respondent to mark on a scale of 0 ("to a very great extent") to 4 ("not at all") whether they agree with the following statement: "Our pastor is a spiritual example to me". In his article, Petr compared the average mean of the survey results on this question across continents, countries, and denominations; and then demonstrated that this question has a profound correlation to the local church's overall health.
Guess which denomination was the lowest on the average mean? It was the Roman Catholic church (41.9%). The second lowest? That would be the Seventh-day Adventist Church at 46.4%. The highest on the average mean was the Foursquare Church at 54.9%.
My first thought when I saw these results was Ouch! My second was Ok, now how do we fix it? I must confess, I've known these statistics for a few months now, but I still have only a few rough ideas on how to go about improving the situation.
First, I need to look at myself. Am I living an authentic Christian experience in front of my congregation, or am I putting on a show. Maybe churches want to see a pastor who has it all together, puts on a smile as easily as his necktie, and goes around solving everyone else's problems. But my hunch is that what churches need to see is a pastor who struggles with some of the same things they do and yet gets the victory through Christ's power, not his own.
Second, I think perhaps we need to look at the way we structure the training, hiring, and firing of pastors. Both the Adventist and the Catholic churches have a strongly academic approach to training pastors, and both have a structure in which an organization other than the local church/parish has the ultimate decision over who their pastor will be. These factors may be present in other denominations as well (the third-lowest Lutheran Church actually had the closest score to the Adventist Church), but it is my hunch that they play a role in my denomination's poor performance.
I guess I don't really have the answers on this one. What do you think could be done about this situation? Is your pastor a spiritual example to you? Are you a spiritual example to your church?