After Expectations was posted another thought occurred to me about dress. Do you expect the pastor to wear a tie, coat and jacket to every church service? Some church members have been offended by a pastor in slacks and a Polo shirt after not clearly explaining their expectations beforehand. A person once felt so strongly about style of dress that he said “I don’t think I would attend a church if the pastor came out wearing a suit.” In an attempt to not make clothing too important, he made the issue of clothing too important. My take is that the pastor should dress according to the standards of the congregation. Some pastors insist on a coat and tie even though no one else is wearing one. That seems a little out of step to me. I have no problem wearing a button up shirt with a tie if that’s what the congregation expects but currently I wear black dress pants and either a button shirt (often times solid color or with a print) or a two button Polo. For about a year I wore black Wrangler jeans and cowboy boots. (They were solid black, very formal dress cowboy boots). The church congregation and I agreed on our expectations.
No one person is good at everything. I had a church pastor, nearly 20 years ago now, that had a heart for missions. He fully supported the youth group and their missions trips and I was glad to see it. He had several well-stocked bookshelves in his office and we often discussed what he was reading, what he had read, even old seminary professors of his that he continued to follow as they published. His preaching, to be honest, was nothing spectacular. He was right from a theological standpoint, but was just not that interesting to listen to. He had played in the Red Coat marching band as a UGA student and got fired up at a game or in his living room. He was a leader and friend but we did not join that particular church because I wanted to hear him preach. He helped us move furniture and decorate before and after VBS. He came to the hospital and stayed in the waiting area while my mother had open heart surgery. We played UNO and whatnot for 3 or 4 hours and when they started letting family members go back to see her he politely excused himself. He was there to minister to us, not visit her (my parents lived 45 minutes away and had a home church in another city). Sorry, too much storytelling. Your pastor may be a gifted preacher but awkward in social situations. He may be great at church things but kind of dull at cookouts, picknics, Christmas parties and so forth. Maybe your last pastor played guitar, piano and loved to sing. Your next pastor may not be a able to carry a tune in a bucket but God may have gifted him in other ways. No one person is good at everything, and let’s extend what I’ve said about pastors to youth ministers, choir directors, Sunday school teachers and other ministry workers.
Real problems occur when churches and leaders do not communicate their expectations well. Some churches expect a pastor to focus on preaching/teaching and they have a good system of leadership in place for everything else. Others expect the pastor to have a vision and lead the church in a particular direction. I’m not saying either model is right or wrong, we just need to discuss these things and not make assumptions. A church, to remain nameless, had been without a pastor for a while and they were excited when one answered their call. I met him a time or two, seemed like a great guy. One of the first things he did was to dismiss the deacons. He told them he would be handling everything without their help. That would raise a red flag for most Baptists but he was new and they gave him some leeway. About a year later he announced he was dissolving the financial stewardship committee and would be making all the financial decisions personally. And that’s when they fired him. He expected the church congregation to give him that kind of unilateral authority, they did not expect for a pastor to try exercising such authority. Here is my point though, as it relates to this topic: Something in his past made him think these things were okay. He had a father or grandfather maybe, or served under a previous pastor, that did these things and got away with them. Some churches function with complete authority that cannot be questioned invested in the pastor. I don’t think that’s how it should work but there are pastors and churches out there that agree that is how it works. They key is making sure we understand what is expected.
If you haven’t read the original post please do. Thank you to those who have made comments; please consider joining the discussion.