I once heard a story about a Minister of Music’s “run in” with a Pastor: The Minister of Music was trying to explain to the members of the music ministry that music wasn’t to be done with him, the church, or the pastor in mind. Rather, music was to be done with God in mind. God was our “audience” and the church was His, not our own.
For his exhortations, the Minister of Music was called into the Pastor’s office only to be told by the Pastor: Never forget, this is my church.
Needless to say this kind of sentiment sends cold chills down my back. Where did we get the notion that it is our church?
Pastors have an inherent problem with power. Most people look at the pastor as “the boss” and they seem, at times, to put their faith in him. So, even though the pastor is the recipient of many accolades, as unwarranted as many of them may be, he is not to be the object of anyone’s faith! Sadly, many pastors forget that the people of any particular church are under our care, not our ownership.
Well-meaning pastors have taken to referring to the church they pastor as “my church.” As with most things, the heart-intent of the pronoun my determines the true meaning and it determines the intent of the pastor’s heart.
IF you say “my church” and are truly referring to the church to which you belong, your heart may be in the right place (although it is not guaranteed).
IF you say “my church” and are truly referring to the church for which you will be held accountable on the Day of Judgment, your heart may be in the right place (but, again, no guarantees).
However, IF you say “my church” and are referring, even unintentionally, to the church which you own, you might be in deep trouble.
We must all try to protect ourselves and our pastors against this false and condemning mistake. And if you see that I’ve forgotten to practice what I am preaching here, please remind me! May God grant us His grace to keep this in its proper perspective.
The simple truth of the matter is this: Pastor’s do not “own” churches and, unfortunately, way too many pastors act like they do. Pastor’s are simply shepherds of the Master’s flock. We are stewards of the Master’s property. And, unless you stretched out your arms on a Roman cross and spilled your blood (which you can’t even qualify to do), you simply cannot call it “my” church.