3 Prerequisite Convictions for Senior Pastors Who Experience Authentic Community

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Last week I challenged senior pastors with a bold statement.  I said, “If you want authentic community to flourish in your church, it begins with you.  It must begin with you.”  See my post, Note to Senior Pastors: Authentic Community Begins with You.

Although I included a simple example of how it could begin with the senior pastor, I had a great question from a very respected source.  He asked:

“How do you help pastors overcome the fear of authenticity and desire for self protection/preservation?”

An important and complex question.  At its core, I believe the answer is this simple:  The road to overcoming the fear of authenticity and desire for self protection/preservation is taken one courageous step at a time.  I don’t believe there is any substitute.

I do believe there are 3 prerequisite convictions for senior pastors who want authentic community.

3 Preliminary Convictions

  1. A preliminary step is the senior pastor’s conviction that life-change really does happen best in the midst of life-on-life relationship.  As long as there is there is the remnant of hope that life-change is likely to happen in rows there will be resistance. See also, Life-Change at the Member Level.
  2. Another foundational conviction is that whatever you want to happen at the member level, will have to happen to the leader first.  Isn’t it logical to conclude that it would be folly to assume that there would be much happening at the member level that hadn’t already been experienced by the senior pastor?
  3. Finally, shouldn’t it be every senior pastor’s ambition to be able to say, “Follow me as I follow Christ”?  Shouldn’t their conviction be that they must lead to authentic community?   See also, 8 Habits of a Life-Changing Small Group Leader and 10 Commandments of Small Group Ministry.

Easy?  No.  Consequence free?  Not hardly.  Essential?  Absolutely.

What do you think?  Have a question? Want to argue?  You can click here to jump into the conversation.

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  1. Cathy on November 18, 2013 at 5:38 am

    How do you keep the senior pastor’s group from being elite and harboring deeply spiritual people who need to be leading groups themselves?

  2. markchowell on November 18, 2013 at 5:51 am

    Very good question, Cathy. Thanks for jumping in here!

    In my mind the most important objective for the senior pastor’s group is creating a safe place for authentic community to happen. The risk factor for senior pastors is different than for anyone else. They will only experience what they need in a safe environment. Allowing some who may be able to lead their own group to commit their time and energy to being in the pastor’s group is a worthwhile investment.

    Remember, there is no problem-free solution. Wise leaders simply choose the set of problems they’d rather have. Both solutions here (allowing some who could lead to be members of the pastor’s group vs insisting that they lead their own) have a set of problems. I’d rather have the set that comes with the senior pastor finding authentic community at the expense of 2 or 3 additional small groups.

    Make sense?


  3. Andrew Mason on November 18, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    “As long as there is there is the remnant of hope that life-change is likely to happen in rows there will be resistance.” You need to tweet that 🙂 Good stuff!

  4. markchowell on November 18, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    Thank you Andrew. Means a lot to me coming from you!


  5. John Mark Harris on November 19, 2013 at 8:30 am

    Those people would be in the pastor’s group, AND they would lead their own groups. 2Tim 2:2 does not command the pastor to invest in everyone the same, but to look for the faithful who will be able to teach others also.

  6. markchowell on November 19, 2013 at 9:06 am

    Thanks for jumping in JMH! Great application of a key principle. And, I think in some cases it could be implemented as you suggest. In others, it would be likely that group members would be serving in other key roles.