The Pastor's Apprentice: The Four Pillars of Ministry
In the past I have done some cartoons with "The Pastor's Apprentice". This one is not a cartoon but a written lesson for the pastor's apprentice. Enjoy! Ah, my dear apprentice... please absorb these four pillars of pastoral ministry into your thoughts and into your work, and the results you so strongly desire will be immediately yours!
- First and foremost, it is necessary to realize that your people really don't believe in anything they can't see. So the opposite is true: they only believe in what they can see. And what they see is you and only you. You are their visible and material God. You must remember this at all times. You are in the very same position as Moses: when he disappeared for a few days they all freaked out and ended up worshiping an idol. Make no mistake: you are God to them! The rest falls into place once this is firmly established in your mind as it already is in theirs.
- People will not give money to anything invisible for any reason. The Old Testament concept of bringing a sacrifice of precious value to the altar only for it to go up in smoke is antiquated and unacceptable to the modern mind. Why? Because there is no profit, no purpose, no value, no investment, and no payback. It is a complete and utter waste in the minds of your people. They view it, though they won't admit it, as a senseless and primitive gesture similar to leaving food on an altar so your dead ancestors won't hunger. Your people are not really giving their hard-earned money to God, but to you. If they love you, believe in you and trust that their money is well spent, their wealth will flow without measure into your hands. Remember the golden calf: if they are promised visible results, they will give you the very gold off their fingers!
- Volunteerism is a vital part of congregational life. If your people adore you, they will also avoid disappointing you. Disappointing you is akin to disappointing God. In fact, in their minds it is the same and you must nurture that sentiment. When they disappoint you they will feel embarrassment, which will lead to the inner provocation to work harder. They must be made aware that if they don't work hard they will smear their own reputation and suffer an uncomfortable demotion in your eyes and in the eyes of the people. This relates to almost everything, including attendance and offerings. The more one is at the church, the more one works and the more one gives, the more one should be rewarded and promoted, and vice-versa.
- The same is true for morality. You hold a secret that everyone knows: every one of your members is a sinner and has shameful secrets. You need to settle in your mind right now that what you reward is not not their lack of sin but their skill in concealing it. Like an axe always hovering above them, they must feel the imminent threat of being discovered, whereupon the swift axe of divine judgment, punishment, discipline or consequences (whatever you want to call it) will come down upon their heads. Public shame and social shunning must never for a moment escape their thoughts. This, I guarantee, will always keep your people looking pure, presentable, and impressive, and this will make your job easier!