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Dear pastor (an imaginary letter)

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Dear pastor,

I’m writing this letter to you not because I don’t value you and thank God for you. Quite the opposite. You are God’s gift to us at church. Your leadership and love and teaching have been used by God in many ways to help me and those around me to grow.

I’m writing because there are some things that pastors tend to do and say that perhaps have unintended effects on those they lead. So please read this in a spirit of charity. Some of my generalisations may be wrong. But I hope raising it with you will help you be even better at ministering to the people God has placed under your care.

So here goes.

Dear pastor:

When you frequently refer to the Greek and Hebrew (or the ‘original’) in your teaching, it can make me feel like I’ll never really understand the Bible I’ve got in front of me.

When you speak or post on Facebook about your wonderful wife and adorable kids, it makes me feel like a failure because my marriage is a struggle and my kids aren’t that gorgeous.

When you elevate the importance of full-time Christian ministry, it makes me feel like there’s not much I can do to serve God in my secular employment except to give money.

When you emphasise the importance of Word ministry but come under-prepared to teach and preach, it makes me wonder how important it is to you.

When you ask us to invite unbelieving friends to church, but when they come, you don’t really make an effort to meet them and greet them, I feel a little betrayed.

When you guard your day off as something so sacred that you can’t even take a phone call, and yet our church regularly schedules activities and meetings on everyone else’s days off (i.e. weekends), I feel it’s quite unfair.

When you appeal to cleaning or morning tea rosters needing to be filled or finances needing to be raised but never appear to be leading by example, it makes it hard for me to joyfully serve and give.

When you push the importance of training but don’t demonstrate growth in your own skills in leading, counselling, preaching or teaching, it demotivates me to take time out to upskill myself.

When you always appear tired and busy, it makes me afraid to approach you for requests, trouble you for a conversation, and feel like I have a right to take up your time.

When the only times I hear from you is to plug an event or organise a meeting (including on Facebook), it makes me feel a little used in our relationship.

When you talk about the importance of confession and repentance, but never share about your need for grace, it makes me wonder if you need the gospel as much as you say we do.

Dear pastor, I understand that some of these things will be really difficult for you to read, because they are intensely personal and probably mostly unintended. But I write them because I know that while God gave you to us as our leader and shepherd, you’re also our brother in Christ. And so part of our role in the body is to help you as much as you’ve helped us.

Thanks for reading.

Your faithful member, brother, and friend.

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