In the interest of fairness, I follow last week‘s article on what preachers wished their members knew about them with the inverse, what members would like preachers to know about them.
In this list, I will not include demands that are either selfish or unspiritual. Demanding that a church be all about serving “me” is not a legitimate demand to make on the preacher. Demands to do unbiblical things are neither legitimate nor fair. And yet there are some things that preachers should know about their members.
- Members want you to preach the word. Really! They don’t like their time to be wasted, and spending thirty minutes in platitudes or poorly prepared messages wastes everyone’s time. Make your message a deep study from the Bible.
- Members want you to provide a balanced diet, giving “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:20). Members understand that some messages will be first principles directed toward young Christians, and others the meat of the word, intended for the mature. Some messages will encourage, while others will chasten. They know the congregation is filled with a variety of needs.
- Members wish you knew how much it meant when you spoke to their aged parents or their children. Although preachers are not celebrities in the usual sense, your gesture of speaking to their child is a little like a celebrity stopping to speak to a member in the crowd.
- Members wish preachers knew how much a visit to the hospital or home meant in a time of trial. While it is true that elders are to “shepherd” the flock (Acts 20:28), it is also true that Paul, who was not an elder, taught publically and “from house to house” (Acts 20:20).
- Members want you to know that you are wanted and needed in the crises in their lives. At the deathbed of a loved one, of all the people they want, they want you. They don’t know what to say. You will have to say it. They don‘t know how to respond. They need you there.
- Members want you to know how devastating it is when a preacher leaves. They know at one level that changes will occur, but they do grow to know and love their preacher, they see him at the great confluences of their lives: births, baptisms, weddings, deaths, and it means a great deal to them that you are there.
- Members want you to know that they don’t always have the words to express how they feel. Some time ago my car had a flat tire at church. I started to take off my coat and repair the flat, but two men insisted on doing it themselves, a father and son. They were both quiet men. I believe it was their way of expressing their gratitude for me.
Church members are “fellow servants” (Colossians 1:7) with their preachers. It is one of the sweetest partnerships in the human experience, and the friendships I have made with members on two continents has been richly, immeasurably enriching.