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Ambassador Baptist Church
1926 Babcock Blvd
Pittsburgh, PA 15209
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clear.gif - 808 Bytes I'm a young pastor. How would you respond if you were accused of dictatorship and authoritarianism? I feel like there are adversaries on every side.

You may click on verses to reveal pop-up Scripture

Here are some thoughts that you may want to consider.
  1. Are you being a dictator? I think we all need to answer that question honestly. We are NOT lords over God's heritage. We believe in pastoral leadership, but also in congregational rule. Is that what you are giving the people? Are you setting the example with your actions and not just with your words? By the way, I have no idea what your leadership style is like. I'm not condemning; I'm just asking questions. I believe you grew up in a church where the pastor's word was absolute. The fact that he could get away with it doesn't mean you can. Remember, he was their pastor for a very long time, and we don't know how things were on day one.
  2. Are you moving too fast? My experience in the past, having taken over a loose GARBC church (probably not as bad off as your church, however), was that there were some things that HAD to be changed right away, and some that could wait. In a deacon's meeting one of the old, long-time deacons, said, "Pastor, if you implement all these changes the church will blow apart.", and he was right. A new broom may sweep clean, but if you sweep everyone out you don't really need a broom anymore. When I arrived, the church had been there for 49 years. The previous pastor, who was fairly loose in his convictions, had been there for 12 years, and not only that, he was 62 years old and had grown up in the church, and the people loved him (he died of cancer, which is why they needed a pastor). Here I came: 28 years old, never been a pastor before, and the people looked at me very skeptically, particularly when I taught contrary to what the previous pastor taught. It took YEARS to build up a relationship with them where they trusted me. They had to see me in action. Illustration: I had been there about 2 years and the deacons and myself decided that we needed to purchase a bus for $1500. At the business meeting when we voted on that a man in the church (who had voted against me coming as pastor in the first place) requested a secret ballot. Why? Because he was going to vote "No". He didn't trust me (and the board) with $1500. Several years later the deacons and I presented to the church the opportunity to buy a house that was next to the church property for about $85,000. The same man stood up in the meeting and said, "I make a motion that we turn the entire matter over to the pastor and deacons and let them decide what would be a good price and then purchase the house." What a change! He went from not trusting me (us) with $1500 to giving me (us) absolute trust with $85,000+. What made the difference? Time, and thus being able to see me as someone who did love the Lord and was trying to make decisions that would honor Him, not just make me look good or give me prestige.
  3. While not being a dictator, there are Biblical principles involved. You ARE a Bishop and an Elder and a Pastor (shepherd) and you have the rights and responsibilities that go with those titles. You have the "rule" (actually, I would encourage you to look up the word "rule" from Hebrew 13 and do a word study on how it is used in the NT. It is translated "chief" and "governor", but is also often translated "to count" or "to account" or "to esteem". I find that interesting. Perhaps the idea of ruling (as in being the absolute boss), is not what the word really means. Even when Revelation says that Christ rules (different Greek word) with a rod of iron the Greek word there is "to shepherd'). I would encourage you to show your people what pastoral leadership is, which is "servant leadership": whosoever will be chief, let him be your servant; Christ washing the disciples feet, etc. Be a leader, but do it as a servant of the Lord and of your congregation.
  4. You my have differences with some of the people in this area for a long time; maybe for your entire run as pastor. Once you have determined that you are being scriptural in your leadership style, or have made the necessary changes to get to that point, then I think you need to help the church to understand what pastoral leadership is (and what a deacon is supposed to be as well, I might add). I would suggest that you teach through the Pastoral Epistles, since they are the guide for what a pastor ought to do and how the church should respond to him. Don't announce that you are preaching a series on pastoral leadership. Just say that you are starting a series in I Timothy, and then do a verse by verse study. Eventually you will cover most everything that you need to. After teaching on the subject, you may need to sit down with some people who still oppose you and find out what is going on and what their problems with you are. At that point you can remind them of what the Bible says on the subject (which you have already taught them), and then you can determine whether or not they wish to be Biblical. If they make the choice to be unbiblical, then you will have to determine how you are going to handle that, but I think you are a while away from making those decisions.

 It's no fun dealing with what you are dealing with. First and foremost, make sure you are right with God. Second, make sure you love those people and desire to see them be right with God. Sometimes we get upset with our members who aren't doing right, but the reality is that we are not upset for their benefit, but we are upset because their sin is affecting us. Is my frustration based upon love for God and them, or love for myself? Third: teach, teach, teach. It is the Scripture that is a two-edged sword, so give that to them. Fourth: communicate with the troublemakers. If someone is overtaken in a fault, you, the allegedly spiritual one, needs to go to them to help to restore them. If you know that they have ought against you, perhaps you need to leave your gift and be reconciled to them, or at least show them Biblically why you do what you do.

 Hang in there. If the ministry were easy, anyone could do it.
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Pastor Dr. Mark Montgomery
Email: Ask the Pastor

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