Support and Resources For Pastors and
Christian Ministry Professionals
Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor
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Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A.
- Paul Harvey once described a town in Texas which had a high crime rate. In response,
the town officials passed a law mandating that everyone possess a gun. Amazingly, the
results was a precipitous drop in crime.
- What happened?
- Perhaps what Paul Harvey described was the positive benefit of what happens when
everyone is involved in a cause. When it was only the sheriff, deputies, or a few police
officers involved in law enforcement, crime proliferated. When everyone took ownership and
active involvement in the cause the main objective, reduced crime, was realized beyond
- Are You Doing It All?
- For Christian leaders the results described above ought not be surprising. St. Paul
described how a healthy church enjoys the full functioning and participation of all its
members. To the extent that does not occur in our churches it is, well, a crime.
pastors and Christian leaders often get in a position where they feel they must do it all.
Reasons for this might include.
- Feeling that no one else will do it
- It's faster and more efficient that recruiting, having meetings, getting approvals, etc.
- Perfectionistic tendencies which demand it be done the "right" way (i.e.
- Lack of trust in others
- Inactive church membership
- Feelings of guilt
- Over-zealous love for the church
- Undue pressure to perform
- Misunderstanding and/or impatience with God's will for the church
- A flawed understanding of the Office of Ministry and Christian Leadership
- Various anxiety-related factors (cf. Ministry Health's
articles "Forty-Two Anxiety
Indicators," "Twenty-Six Steps To Self-Destruction"
- The Unhealthy Results
- Whatever the reasons, and there are many more, the end result is the same. It's
- It's not only is it unhealthy for you. It's unhealthy for the Body of Christ. As
well-intended as it may be pastors and Christian leaders who carry out a one-sided
ministry enable an unhealthy congregational environment.
- The long-term results of one-sided ministry are nearly always burnout, increased
congregational lethargy, decline in participation, increased passivity and indifference
toward ministry, members feeling "left out" or incapable of doing ministry,
increased sense of the pastor being a dictator, increased levels of conflict, increase in
frustration and legalistic perfectionism.
- Signs Of Unhealthy, One-Sided Ministry
- Alfred Ellis in his book, One-Way Relationships (Thomas Nelson, Publisher),
identified twelve factors indicating unhealthy one-sided relationships. Building on Ellis'
insights, the following are some indicators of pastors and Christian leaders involved in a
- 1. They consistently do more and take on more responsibility than other members;
- 2. They change their style of ministry based on a sense of apprehension or fear of what
others in the congregation may do or say.
- 3. They avoid honest, open, direct, and loving communication with others in the
congregation about their need to be involved in ministry.
- 4. They become critical, blaming or negative toward others in the congregation including
the leaders. This negativity also tends to become directed against the mission of the
- 5. They personally support a greater share of the ministry than they should in a
multitude of ways. One way is to give financial support by continually by-passing the
congregational treasury and purchasing needed items themselves.
- 6. They are unable to overcome their impatience and frustration of seeing needed items
and let others see--and respond--to the need.
- 7. They avoid working in teams preferring, instead, to do it by themselves.
- 8. They avoid advertising their need for help out of a false sense of Christian
- 9. They recruit and enlist others by guilt, not by extending opportunities to service.
- 10. They try to "fix" other people's ways of doing things to suit
- 11. They strive to keep peace at any price.
- 12. They feel that if they don't participate, everything will fall apart.
- 13. They develop expectations of being "power brokers" because of all they do
and contribute to the church.
- How To Get Out Of A One-Sided Ministry
- The answer to this dilemma is simple. Back Off! Don't do it all. Let things go.
- If something goes undone, ask someone else to do it. This may be difficult at
first, especially in a one-sided ministry where you are doing it all! Be disciplined,
patient, and focused on your real ministry role. If a sermon needs preaching, preach it.
But if the pipes break, call the members. If they don't respond positively, call the
plumber. When they get the bill, they will see that their service to the Lord has
spiritual and financial value.
- Intentional neglect can be a very good thing. When healthy congregations see that
ministry is not being done because they are not responding, they respond in a healthy
manner and take ownership of the ministry. In unhealthy churches the response is an
unhealthy barrage of undeserved critical behavior directed against the leaders. The
intensity and persistence of this blaming behavior is, perhaps, the most blatant
indication of their destructive posture relative to the ministry.
- It is so good, in fact, that Satan would often cause Christian leaders to feel
unwarranted and undeserved guilt for not doing what other members should be doing.
Considering how a one-sided ministry can cripple a church that is not at all surprising.
- Often overlooked is a style of preaching. Preaching dominated by legalism,
guilt-motivation, blame and shame may get immediate or short-term results from the
guilt-prone. But it does nothing to enhance a healthy, Gospel-driven ministry. Most
important, such Gospel-less legalism does not glorify the Lord of the Church.
- Finally, be sure to pray for leaders. This simple, but powerful tool, is often
overlooked. When you pray, pray not for existing leaders but that God would raise new
ones. In response to your prayers, invite the quite, unnoticed and sometimes unknown,
inexperienced members to assist. Invite them to help participate in the ministry and to
make a personal difference for the Kingdom.
- Thomas F. Fischer
Index Articles 1-49
Articles 50-99 Articles
100-149 Articles 150-199
200-249 Articles 250-299
Articles 300-349 Articles
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was revised on:
Tuesday, October 05, 2004 11:04:23 PM