How to Love Your Church

Let’s talk about ways the pastor leads with love and shows it.

Enough of abusive leadership. Enough of selfish empire-building. Enough of thinking that some people are little people. Enough of using people as pawns in our selfish games of ministry. Enough of solo leadership with no one daring to push back.

Followers of Jesus are called to wash feet, not hurt their teammates. We are to serve if we are to seek greatness, humble ourselves if we are to be strong. One writer about the return of Jesus to the earth said he knew what “the shout” or “the loud command” Jesus would give (1 Thess. 4:16) would be. His suggestion: Jesus will shout, “Enough.”

Enough of selfishness. Enough of this abusive leadership. Enough of this lack of love.

Maybe so.

Seeking to love,

Knute, with Jeff and Jim

Read the conversation here or download the PDF »

What are the best ways for you the pastor to show love to your church?

Jeff Bogue

  • Live life with them.
  • Lead well.
  • Keep your personal house in order.
  • Communicate.

Jim Brown

  • Do life with them; be around them.
  • Walk through the hallways on Sundays and greet and encourage workers and volunteers.
  • Send them notes of encouragement.
  • Share words of appreciation for them from the pulpit.
  • Be present in their times of trouble.
  • Pray for them and tell them you love them.

Knute Larson

  • Say it and write it as you demonstrate love by unselfishness, listening, putting the other person first when possible, getting down on eye level when you listen to someone in a wheel chair, honoring staff as fellow heirs, showing up when there is the need for a pastor, not always having a “That’s nothin” story when someone tells theirs, paying attention to children, fetching the fruit of the Spirit even when you do not feel like it, staying with them through hard times, seeking wisdom to make hard leadership decisions. And a few other ways.
  • I think of the old and sad joke about the husband who said, “I told her I love her when we got married, and if anything changes, I will let her know.” No, none of us would be so foolish about the church, but we could possibly approach it.
  • A good definition of love is, “Righteous action to meet the needs of another.” So we must not only say and write it, but demonstrate by our servant care.

How do you keep yourself thinking of these ways?

Jeff Bogue

  • Schedule relational time with people.
  • Remember my charge to be the shepherd.
  • I am a fellow Christ-follower.

Jim Brown

  • Remind yourself often of your calling and your commitment to them.
  • Do daily reminders that express acts of love such as wishing them happy birthday on social media.
  • Don’t pass them and not pause on your way to ministry.
  • Ask them how you can pray for them.

Knute Larson

  • This could sound mechanical, but I would write it in my calendar—on Monday to write five thank you notes, at certain intervals to say it on Sunday morning—“I love you and so do the others on staff, and we want what is best for all of us in Christ.” It is too easy to take people around us for granted. And the church is filled with people who love us, pray for us, offer to help in any way possible, give their money, and overlook many mistakes. If you have an assistant, don’t allow that person just to answer phones and do paperwork. He or she can remind you of your commitment to love and be unselfish. And to express it.
  • Have people around you who would tag you out if you are not acting in love, or sounding harsh, or being selfish in your decisions. Starting with your wife, but including staff and strong leaders in the church.

What is wrong with, “They know that I love them; I do not need to remind them …”?

Jeff Bogue

  • Nobody works that way.

Jim Brown

  • Everything—it is callous and cold and disrespectful.
  • People need touches along the way to see that you appreciate them and that they are valuable to the kingdom.
  • This is your family. No family should live that way.

Knute Larson

  • Try that in marriage. No, do not.
  • Read 1 Corinthians 13 about love and I think you will agree it is mostly actions indeed. So our actions of unselfishness and putting the church first after Christ and family will show our love in good ways. And at times it is healthy to say it in appropriate ways. I think it is very important for a pastor to communicate with the church regularly. A short email on Fridays about how he loves to gather on Sundays, and a monthly or quarterly longer letter with updates and expressions of appropriate affection—these go a long way to communicate love.

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Jeff Bogue, of Grace Church, in several locations in the Bath-Norton-Medina areas of Ohio; Jim Brown, of Grace Community Church in Goshen, Indiana, a church known for its strong growth, family and men’s ministries, and community response teams; and Knute Larson, a coach of pastors, who previously led The Chapel in Akron for 26 years.

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