So, you go to a church where the pastor/vicar/ministers/leaders (now pastor for shorthand) aren’t training you in the way you’d like to be trained. You know that you could be growing as a Christian with a bit more focused input, theological training, mentoring and stuff. You could preach! You could do apologetics! You have had a taste by attending a conference or reading a book and you long to be trained up to serve. But nobody is doing that, and your pastor isn’t interested in helping you, in fact he doesn’t seem to think it’s part of his job. So, obviously it’s time to think about moving on to a different church isn’t it? Maybe a church that’s part of one of those trendy new networks where everyone can be a church planter and have their ministry potential fulfilled?
If you’re thinking of doing that, then you have one thing right – you have a lot of maturing to do as a Christian. Here’s the downlow:
1) Your pastor should be training people. But he probably has a million other things to do. Preparing sermons that people like you will critique if they don’t reach the standards of the ones you podcast from celebrity pastors is just one of those. He may have his hands full visiting sick people and comforting the grieving and dealing with a million pastoral crises you don’t know anything about. He needs the people in his church who think they have leadership potential to help, not whinge, and certainly not leave. Serving in your church, imperfect as it is, sounds exactly like the training that you need.
2) Pull your finger out and train yourself. In this day and age, excellent training materials are just one google search away. In nearly every major city there are training courses like this one that you can attend. If that’s not cup of tea, there’s loads of distance learning and part residential stuff from these people and if you don’t want a course like that, for goodness sake open a book! If you can’t be bothered doing that, here’s a list of sermons you don’t need even need to order from Amazon. Get together with a couple of people in your church, read something and pray about it. If you can’t even do that, then I’m pretty sure you are mistaking your calling to leadership. Stop delegating the responsibility for your spiritual growth to someone else. Maybe 200 years ago people’s only access to theological training was through their church leaders; it’s certainly isn’t now.
One of the key patterns we see in the Old Testament is God’s anger at his people when they dressed up their sin in a pious religious garb. I’m afraid, if your complaint is about training, you are probably doing the same thing. It sounds so evangelically plausible that you are longing to be trained; in fact you are treating church as a consumer service that doesn’t reach your high expectations, you are not respecting your leaders, you are thinking more highly of yourself than you ought. Settle down and love your church – that’s what potential leaders do.
I write all this not as a frustrated pastor who can’t do any training. In fact, at our last members meeting my amazing church passed a budget that allows us to have enough staff to train others and to have people on staff to be trained. I’m so grateful to my lovely church members for doing that. But many pastors, maybe including yours, aren’t freed by their congregations to do everything they should be doing. The people with leadership potential should be part of the solution not the problem.