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NEWS FLASH! What a New Pastor Cannot Do!

May 30, 2013

The following story was mailed out in the June, 2013 “Visitor” Newsletter.

News Flash: “New Pastor!”

Sunday, April 28, 2013.

First Presbyterian Church Luverne, Minnesota. ParkingLot-B

The church parking lot was more than full. The sanctuary was too. Two hundred name tags were not enough. Excitement filled the air. Every breath tasted the anticipation. Five weeks ago this congregation called a new Teaching Elder (Pastor), Rev. Jason Cunningham. What a great day April 28th was when we called him. (CLICK HERE for photos and story).DSCN1115

Afterward, you could feel the sense of release and relief. The anxious months (only 8) had seemed so long. Yet having an interim would have seemed even longer. From here we can see new beginnings! Now it just feels good to be at the beginning of the end. All feels fresh.

Why does NOT having a pastor feel so uneasy? When the Pastoral Office is vacant there is a level of tension that we feel. We have trouble finding the words. Tense? Anxious? Unsure? Drifting? Abandoned?

Quiz: Fill-in the blank.

A church without a pastor is like ___________.”

  • A Ship without a sail? A Plane without a pilot? A family without a leader? ?????????????

Now, before Pastor Jason arrives, and we slide back for a Sunday afternoon nap, I need to say some things. Allow me as a duly qualified old preacher and old man offer some frank reminders on the following topic:

What a Pastor (New or Old) Cannot Do!”

While a pastor can do many things, (some neat and others almost amazing), there are many things a pastor cannot do. The following are a few that come to mind:

  1. A pastor cannot make a congregation grow. All labor, but God gives the increase (I Cor. 3:6-7). Not just numbers, but spirit and strength.

  2. A pastor cannot make everyone happy. First of all, this is not a pastor’s job. Secondly, Jesus had a lot to say about happiness (or ‘blessedness,” Matthew 5: 3-11). Finally, I agree with Abe Lincoln, “Folks are about as happy as they want to be.”

  3. A pastor cannot always tell you what you want to hear. “Speaking the truth in love” may be an uncomfortable challenge. (Ephesians 4:15)

  4. A pastor cannot be good at everything. Every human being has strengths and weaknesses. Pastors are human beings. God already knows that and calls them anyway. (example: Moses in Exodus 6:28 – 7:7)

  5. A pastor cannot always “be fair.” While ‘fairness’ is an important ideal to follow, God’s grace, mercy, and steadfast love are not fair. God gives us what we need, not what we deserve or can afford

  6. A pastor cannot remember everything. You know that really important message that you told the pastor when you shook hands with him going out of church, WELL, he forgot it before you got to your car. Next time give him a note and your phone number to call for more info.

Now, here are TEN Ways you can help your PASTOR (Christ’s Church and yourself):

  1. Remember that Prayer is the greatest path to the power and presence of God.
  2. Remember that servant hood is the highest greatness.We have seen much servant leadership in the last 8 months.I have been proud to see church members step up to all the work and responsibilities without a pastor. “Get ‘er dun!” has been the motto for so many in recent times. That ownership is essential to being Christ’s church, with or without a pastor.
  3. Remember that funerals offer our best “picture window” on eternity. True both in the worship and the fellowship meal. And may we all be promoted to kitchen-help at the Heavenly Banquet.
  4. Remember that Communion is our greatest supper. All other meals are just practice.
  5. Remember that Baptism is our greatest symbol of death and life.
  6. Remember that Love is the greatest act.
  7. Remember that the church does not belong to the pastor. For that matter, neither does it belong the congregation. In the biblical model, the church belongs to God, who has appointed Christ as its head. We as believers are Christ’s body. The word for church is ecclesia meaning the “called-out ones.” We are the assembly of the called-out ones who gather to worship. He died for us and as his body, we live for him. For a Pastor to be truly successful, we as members of Christ’s body, as leaders in the church, need to come to grips with this truth and live it out daily. DSCN1151
  8. Remember, while a pastor is a shepherd, the LORD is our shepherd, and Christ is the Good Shepherd. We are to look always to God’s provision for us all. In every moment of life this is true. A pastor is but an imperfect reminder of the Holy One who loves us and embraces us in each moment of life.
  9. Remember that the pastor is a leader but Christ is the Founder of the Church. So we always have our Founder, even when we may be without a leader.
  10. Remember to keep your sense of humor. “Blessed are those who can laugh at themselves, for they shall never cease to be amused.”

 “Blessed new beginnings.”

Rev. Dan Leininger

Visitation pastor




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