Let’s face it: Pastors make a lot of mistakes. From forgetting people’s names to saying the wrong thing to someone who is grieving, pastors are not immune to making a mistake any more than anyone else. Yet, there is one area many pastors struggle with from day one that truly has the capacity to affect the overall outcomes of our ministry.
It’s something which requires effort day after day, week after week. It demands that we give of ourselves and step outside our comfort zones. Without it, can we be prevented from reaching our ministry goals and being effective for God’s Kingdom? What is this pivotal skill that we must have or else we may be doomed to fail?
Connecting with People. Yes, that’s right. Not connecting with people is the fatal flaw of pastoral ministry. Without the ability to connect, we will face challenges that are insurmountable.
As we lead our people, let’s reflect on how we are connecting with them and consider these things:
Not connecting with people produces a congregation that fears what the future holds because they sense ambiguity and an uncertain atmosphere. A lack of connection creates an inconsistency in expectations that prevents trust and credibility from being built.
Connecting with people produces parishioners who can rely on their pastor. They know us and what to expect. They understand our emotions and passions, quirks and flaws. They know that we will be there in the good times and the bad. They are free from fear, want to follow, and see Jesus reflected in their leader.
Not connecting with people means the members of the church have needs that go unknown and unmet. When they find themselves in need, they are uncomfortable asking for the pastor’s help. They don’t know whether we will care for them and, therefore, may seek assistance elsewhere.
Connecting with people means people feel seen, heard, and understood. When they have needs, they feel more comfortable about sharing those needs to the pastor and are confident we will listen and respond. They refer others in need to the church, assured that the church is a place where people will receive care and compassion. They are proud to call their church their home.
Not connecting with people results in disunity that is palpable. People walk through the doors of the church and can feel the lack of harmony among the members. This kind of discord begins at the top with the pastor. When we don’t connect with church members, they won’t make the effort to connect with one another. Leaders must model the behavior they want fellow believers to perform.
Connecting with people results in a church that is unified around a common mission and vision set forth by the pastor and leaders of the church. Parishioners will connect with others more readily because they see their pastor doing it as well. People will love and embrace one another freely. That love will overflow into the community. The church will gain a reputation for the welcoming environment it has created. It all starts with the pastor. If we connect with people, others will connect as well.
Connecting with each other is the key to pastoral ministry success. It covers over a multitude of other offenses and brings unity to the congregation and a compassionate response to the whole community. Connect with others now. Connect with others often. The eternal reward will be worth it.