A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about “How to Treat a Pastor.” Recently someone asked me to write about “How to treat a parishioner!” I have a considerable disadvantage because I’ve been involved in ministry for so long as a pastor. However, in my own interactions and relationship with people, I’ll give it my best shot. By the way, the word “parishioner” is an old- fashioned word for church attendee. It is also where we get the name for our Pastor-Parish Relations Committee, a leadership team that supports and advises pastors and their staff.
- Love people. You can’t serve someone you don’t love. Sometimes people can feel like they are being used for the goals of the pastor. This can’t be faked. Pastors need to put people first. If your congregation knows they are loved, everything matters, but if they don’t feel loved, then nothing matters. Paul put it this way: “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection and take delight in honoring each other.” Romans 12:9-10
- Understand people. Recently I attended a seminar about interim pastors. One of the first tasks they give to every interim pastor is to interview the core leaders and members. The goal was simply to listen. The questions were pertinent and applicable to them personally, as well as the health of the church. What’s the point? To understand someone, I need to know them as a person. That begins by listening to them. Explaining what we want, without finding out others want is a recipe for the frustration.
- Accept people. Sometimes, in a pastor’s zeal to improve things, it may appear everything is wrong and needs to be changed. Or even worse, we are all wrong and need to be changed! That isn’t true! We all need to be valued and accepted. Pastors need to slow down and acknowledge everyone’s unique giftings, perspectives, and personalities. It’s only as we accept others that God can be glorified through us. The Bible says, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God” Romans 15:7.
- Empower people. One of my pet peeves is to call the pastor the minister. The fact is, every member of God’s family is a minister. A pastor is one of the ministers, but not the minister. Pastors are called to equip and train the body of Christ to be ministers. The Bible says that “Christ Himself gave… pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service…” Ephesians 4: 11-13.
BEFORE YOU GO
Okay, again, I shared this from the perspective of a pastor. Many of you that read this blog are not pastors. Let us know some other ways we need to treat people in the church, okay? I’ve love to hear from you!