9 Things Your Pastor Wants to Say to You, but Won't

Today’s guest post is from Darrell Vesterfelt whose blog is called This is Me Thinking. Darrell blogs about blogging, the creative process, and its relationship to the church. He also happens to be a pastor. I am also guest posting over at his blog about the “affair” I once had. Check it out.

Growing up a lot of little boys have heroes they look up to.  Whether it is a famous athlete or their favorite musician, most young boys idolize someone, wanting to be like them when they grow up.  For me, it was neither an athlete nor musician; it was my pastor.

I started volunteering at my church (willingly) in my teenage years.  It was during that time that I decided that I wanted to be a pastor. Deciding on post-high school education, I applied for schools where I could study formal church ministry.  I was accepted into a school in Minnesota where I studied Church Ministries for four years.  While in Minnesota, pursuing that degree I accepted several staff leadership positions at churches in the area.  Two months ago, I accepted my first official job as a pastor at a church plant in Palm Beach Gardens, FL called Shoreline Church.

In all these years of experience with the church, I have learned an awful lot about being a pastor.  First of all there is a lot more responsibility, then I initially realized.  I also realized that even though pastors generally have a lot to say, and aren’t afraid to spend a lot of time talking about the things they believe in, there are a lot of things that a pastor wants to say but cannot without the scrutiny from their members.

Here are nine things that your pastor wants to say, but might not ever tell you (and maybe should):

1. It’s not my job to share the gospel with your friends: Contrary to popular belief, it is actually your job to do that.  I am here to help equip you to share the gospel.  Stop taking the easy way out and just bringing your friends to church, and expecting me to do all the work.

2. I have a life when I’m not at church: And it’s actually pretty important to me.  Just like you have family, friends, and hobbies I do as well. Even though the church is really important to me, my life does not just revolve around the events there.  If I don’t respond to every phone call or text message right away, I will as soon as I am free.

3. It might be nice, if I knew you cared about me once in a while: Beneath this strong exterior of leadership, I have a heart that cares deeply for the people I pastor.  I would love to know that they care for me too.

4. Why is it okay for you to have nice things, but not me: I like nice things too, just sayin.

5. If you wouldn’t cry so much, I would cancel our Christmas pageant: And give the money to families who can’t afford to buy their kids gifts.  I think its what Jesus would do.  Maybe it is time to think about the real values of our church and walk in them.

6. I can’t fix your problems: Even though you might think I can, I really can’t.  I might even have a lot of good advice, but it is impossible for me to be your rescue.  That doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear what you are going through, because I really care, but all I really can do is listen and let you know God is with you, because…

7. I actually struggle with sin too: I know, I know.. I’m the pastor, but lets get real here: Pastors are people too.

8. I don’t want to run this church alone: I would rather partner with you.  Church is a community, where we all work together to bring the hope of the gospel to the world.  Your involvement is key to the success of the church and it’s ministries.

9. The gospel is about Jesus’ unending love for humanity, not your comfort on Sunday morning: The mission of the church is a little bit more serious then your music preference during our worship services.  That doesn’t mean your opinions are not valid, but let get things in perspective here.

Chances are that your pastor has actually said some of these things to you before, but the reality is that a lot of pastors are not able to openly say hard things.  I am lucky to be apart of a church that values honesty.  My heart goes out to those ministers who are not able to speak truth.  I long to see a Christian culture that is values truth over harmony.

Okay, now it is your turn.  How would you respond to your pastor, if he told you some these things? On the flip side, what would YOU like to say to your pastor, but haven’t?

Darrell Vesterfelt is a social media strategist at Sheepish Design, where he is able to express his passion for social media and the church. He is also on staff at a church plant in West Palm Beach, FL as an associate pastor. You can read his blog here, and follow him on twitter here.

49 thoughts on “9 Things Your Pastor Wants to Say to You, but Won't”

  1. I absolutely love this list. As a pastor, I said many of those things to my church, but I needed to do a better job of saying them more often. This is a great list, and a great post.

  2. I have been blessed to have two pastors who tell it like it is. They haven’t held back on all saying all the things on this list to me. My pastor frequently says that “we are not church as usual” and that “it’s not about religion, but about relationship with Jesus Christ and each other.” In our tiny church, the work is spread out pretty evenly.

  3. So blessed to have a pastor who tells our church these things on a regular basis. I wish I would have heard some of these things when I was growing up.

    There is a balance in how to do this, I know there is no right way to do it, but I wish more people would take a serious approach to get in or get out.

    I am not afraid to tell someone to get on the train or get out of the way. Jesus spoke in cryptic parables at times to weed out the people who were wasting His time and just wanted to play religion/church.

    Following Christ is not about your comfort, so don’t sit here expecting the programs that offer free-babysitting so you can relax. Get on the train and get your hands dirty or get off the tracks and out of the way.

    1. I think there is a balance. Sometimes Jesus was gentle and other times he was whipping people and throwing tables out of the way. I think its about walking closely with the Lord and discerning how and when to say the right things.

  4. My pastor works a second job. That second job just happens to be the same place I work. It makes it much easier for us to know what type of things the other deals with.

    1. Isn’t it great when we can have a real relationship with the pastor? I think its important to have a tangible conversation/relationship with church leaders like that. It brings them to our level, which is more biblical then the pedestal American Christianity has placed them on.

      I say that as a pastor.

      1. For the first 30 years of my life, I was in churches where the pastor and other leaders were put on pedestals. The more I learned about the Gospel, the more the pedestal Christianity made me sick in my stomach.

        Jesus is the ultimate example of a great pastor is. He walked about his daily life with his disciples, but he also had his time away from them. Even though he was the Christ, he didn’t force or ask anybody to address him with any title.

      2. I have been excusing myself in this area by telling our pastoral care committee to do the visitation instead of me alone. The tendency is my time to have tangible conversation to members is becoming obligatory instead of aiming to have them into our level.
        Well thanks for this topic. A good personal reflection on our pastoral calling.

    2. I wish more folks could have that kind of experience. I think it would help so many congregations see their pastor as human…and pastors see their congregation as individuals.

      1. I came from a place where the pastor actually said or acted like the opposite of what you said is true. So it was very refreshing and energizing when I landed in this other church I’m at now.

  5. Darrell, I love your list and don’t have a beef with any particular one but I hope you might expand on #8 a little bit. You say you don’t want to run the church alone and I agree that you shouldn’t carry the whole burden. However, if you look at your church members as little more than your servants to plug into where you need it with little regard for their gifting or abilities, are you really treating them in the manner you should be doing?

    For example, I attended a church where a guy was really gifted in dealing with kids. He and his wife owned a day care and he knew how to make kids laugh and listen because he did stories every day. When he tried to volunteer with the children’s ministry at his church, they told him they didn’t need him there but they were short on the parking team and he could go there.

    If you make members feel like they mean little more to you than warm bodies then you will lose a lot of helpers. And you could say “well, God calls you to serve in any way necessary” but you’re not God.

    And what about the members who have a clear passion to fight a problem like human trafficking? If they want to start an outreach with the church to help teen girls in your town who have been trafficked do you ask how you can help them or do you say “well, our church doesn’t do that. But we need someone to teach our 7 and 8 year olds on Sunday morning”?

    I’m not saying people don’t step up when they can. I know that happens. But it’s not a situation where it’s always the fault of the people in the pews.

    1. I am totally on the same page with you Jason. Our church is apart of a movement of churches called ARC (Association of Related Churches). One of their main values is what they call “life giving church”.

      A life giving church is exactly what you are talking about here. I believe the church exists to serve the callings of it members not to in-list them to serve the “vision” of the church.

      I think we have to fight against generations of backwards practice in the church. It is time for churches to serve its members. And time for the members to get out of the pews and live in their callings. I think both have to happen at the same exact time.

      Good thoughts man, glad you brought it up because it is really important.

      1. I have always wanted to serve in children’s ministry. I love kids very much and my background is clean. I receive a disability check and can’t afford to tithe much. when I asked if I can serve they tell me they appreciate my interest but because of my disability I might hurt a child and not understand how that’s wrong and that it would be a liability if I were to serve. Would I prefer to be a greeted or parking attendant? NO! I KNOW WHAT MY CALLING IS AND I’M TIRED OF BEING DISCRIMINATED AGAINST! I HAVE THE BIBLE KNOWLEDGE OF CHARLES STANLEY AND THE ENERGY OF JIM CAREY AND NO ONE WILL RECOGNIZE MY GIFTS AND LET ME SERVE. IN THE POOL AREA OF MY APT. COMPLEX I AM ADORED BY ALL CHILDREN AND THEIR PARENTS!

  6. love this article! while i don’t shy away from some of these when preaching or talking with the church, there are some that i do. i need to be more bold!

  7. Great post! I can imagine several of those things being ones that would be true but not said in churches I have attended in the past.

    I have recently (in the last 6 months or so) started attending a new church. I love that it’s very hands-on. They expect everyone to be involved – their motto is Love God, Love People, Serve the World. And they really do a lot of service – in all areas, locally, globally, internally. It’s one of the main draws to me as a parishioner.

    But when I went to the “About” meeting to learn more about the church and membership, etc., the pastor said if we aren’t in a small group or participate in an outreach event or on a team at the church within a couple of months, it won’t be a good fit for us and we might be happier somewhere else. I think he was trying to illustrate how much they are a go-and-do, be-the-hands-of-God type of church, not just a sit-and-listen one. Which, again, is what I like about it. But it was a bit off-putting to me (not so much that I stopped going), because as much as I would like to be more involved, I’m not at a point in my life where I have as much flexibility as I have in the past to do more.

    I think it’s important for pastors to remember that just because we can’t all exhibit the appearance of dedication doesn’t mean that we don’t feel it in our hearts and desire it. It’s ok to emphasize the importance of their focus, but they need to remember the inverse of #2.

    1. Jennifer,
      I love that your pastor gave the “join a small group and serve or find another church” speech. I have heard of churches adopting this practice and growing tremendously as a result.

      Not that church members or numbers is the goal, but it does help encourage people who are committed to the community and willing to serve in it.

      1. Sounds good-except at my church I tried to join a small group twice and never heard back. Meanwhile, someone in my Sunday School class recently told me out of the blue, “Well, you’re always welcome in our gtoup!” Hmmm…

  8. My pastor does say all this stuff except that he’strying to sell all his nice stuff to do more #5.

  9. Our pastor has no problem calling us out on these things. Clearly, you need to meet Dr. Gary Johnson. lol He holds nothing back, refuses to pander to the membership, and isn’t afraid to tell it like it is, even if that means telling us he struggles with sin, that his family takes a cruise once a year, or telling us we need to get off our bottoms and help out.

  10. Hi Darrell,

    Thanks for the guest posting here; I’ll check out your own site soon.

    I suppose the thing I’d like to tell pastors is that I attend church, when I do, to get help making through the week myself, not to hear about church problems, lack of funds, or the launching of some new program.

    There’s a broken heart in every pew. I’m one of them.

    John Cowart

    1. Hi john! How do you tell a pastor that you are tired of hearing them preach about tithing? Or that as a member you like the current location and see no need in rigging even more money for their vision for a new location and a bigger building? The pastor has had this vision before and can’t comprehend why people choose to go to competing churches in the proximity of his church as opposed to his church? Or why the pastor is furious because you didn’t invite at least one uncharted person you knew to church

  11. I have been blessed to have a pastor that is bold on many of the above points. One of the items I do disagree with is #5. I think your view on the Christmas Pageant is a jaded one, Darrell.

    My sister directed our pageant for several years at our church. She was extremely gifted at directing the children. She was able to use her God-given gifts to make it fun for the kids which helped minister to them the message of the story. One year, she asked me to help with the play and I saw this gifting and the amazing influence it had on the children. They learned discipline, evangelism and that God sent angels to spread the good news and that we should as well.

    Each year our church had a play, our congregation was encouraged (REALLY encouraged) to invite non-believers to witness (not just watch) the play. My sister invited my parents every year and they went. This gave us the opportunity to share our church with them. They would have otherwise said no to attending (they didn’t attend my sister’s baptism, to give you an idea).

    After my mom was diagnosed with lung cancer, she asked to go to church. She had been there several times before and she admitted that the plays my sister directed really opened her heart to God. I drove her home after that service and she was open to the conversation I started with her about how God’s love is bigger than any bad things we had done in our lives. This is something I knew my mom struggled with. I used Moses, David and Paul as examples of how God can love us, forgive us, and use us as witnesses even after we’ve done terrible things.

    I do not think that my mom would have been so open to the Word if she hadn’t first experienced it in the plays my church put on. A week later, in our very serious Christmas Eve service, my mom gave her life to Christ! You have no idea what a miracle it was!

    Sadly, since my sister left (she moved out of state), they do not do the plays anymore. If I had the same gifting, I would volunteer because I know that it is more than just parading children around to look cute.

  12. 1) I know, and I don’t expect you to. Just let me know in advance if you’re going to do a stewardship sermon, I’d rather not bring a newbie on that day.

    2) You should say this more often, and to the specific people that don’t seem to get this.

    3) You should express this need. I just figure you probably get so much attention like this, one more thing would just get lost in the noise. I shouldn’t assume that, I suppose.

    4) Understood.

    5) I wouldn’t complain one bit. Cancel the whole thing and arrange the congregation to use the money, planning, and time involved to do something important for the community through the whole year. I don’t think Jesus restricted His behavior to the holidays

    6) I need to be reminded of this sometimes. I know it’s true, but I forget

    7) I wish more pastors would admit this.

    8) I wish more pastors felt this way. (I’ve been in churches where help is not welcome)

    9) Preach it, brother!

  13. i’m reading this, this Sunday morning and i wish it’s what i would preach. i know at times it’s not bad to have some “me” time also.

    God bless! I love this!

  14. I am a pastor wife.I wish my husband could tell this to our church congregation.He always so silent.he carries all tough job at the church. everybody believes he is superman but its not..He really loves God and because of this he keeps on believing that someday church member will do the same.

  15. Sometimes I want to tell my pastor, “I know what I’m supposed to do. Help me know why I should do it. Help me know God, not just His to-do list for our church.” We’re part of a very new church plant, and I understand that they need all hands on deck.. And I understand that my personal relationship with God is my responsibility.. But you can e-mail me a to-do list. When I’m at church, I want to know WHY we’re serving Him, WHY I should pursue Him too, and HOW to do that better…when God is real and close and relational, it’s only “natural” (in the new nature) to serve Him. Can we get back to that??

  16. 1. You are not better than me just because you are a pastor
    2. Showing compassion outside of the pulpit would be nice.
    3. Don’t preach to me about something YOU have issues with me about and call it God inspired.
    4. Don’t brag about how you are a father figure to everyone, even other pastors.
    5. You have pride also, so don’t condemn me for mine.
    6. Admit when you are wrong
    7. Sincerly apologize and repent when you are wrong.
    8. Preach all the bible truths not only what you want from the congregation.
    9. Don’t abuse the high position you’ve been given.

    1. Lee,
      This is a phenomenal list. I especially l like and agree with #2, 6, and 7. I think it is easy for pastors to begin to feel special or superior. We elevate them. We are the ones who wrongly place them on a pedestal. They would do well to realize that honesty and humility would go a long way. If a pastor apologizes and admits a mistake or even a sin, I am that much more likely to listen to what he has to say.

      Thanks for adding to the discussion Lee.

    2. Lee. check out the website ncclv.com I USED TO attend that church and EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THE 9 things you mentioned I even showed this to that pastor Chris bennett. he laughed hysterically in my face and said I have a case of the gimmie gimmies and that If I ever questioned his authority again he would black list me from other churches in town. well about 5 other churches I visited were warned ahead of time that I may attend their church and I was chased out of all of them whom of course took that popular well known pastors side over mine and refused to even hear my side or give me a chance or forgive me and extend grace as the bible teaches. new community church las Vegas Nevada and senior pastor Chris Bennett ncclv.com most demonic non Christian cult in existence today!!

  17. very true statements<< wish our pastors can tell us the true point blank and stop telling the people what they want to hear

  18. Arguing with a pastor about Rick Warren being unbiblical and the purpose driven life being Cultic garbage will get you NO WHERE! THE MAJORITY OF CHRISTIAN PASTORS ARE IDIOTS THAT LACK DISCERNMENT!?

  19. What a sad post. Sad to learn that even One pastor feels this way. “Not my job to share the gospel with your friends'”???? Are you kidding me? Anyone who feels that way should not be a pastor. Read the Bible much? Please try it. I see nothing in it that states pastors are exempt from spreading the Good News.

  20. @Randy Saffell
    I think this is an excellent post, and I think you took point #1 entirely wrong. Good pastors will make general “come to Jesus” appeals and speak more directly to those in the sphere of influence. I think Darrell was saying too many of us think that all we need to do is herd our unsaved friends and family in the door and our job is done. If our lives are aligned with Christ and we’re authentically “speaking” (with words and otherwise) the gospel to our friends, family and neighbors, many of them should be 90% of the way before they reach church doors.

  21. I have experienced the settings of different church environments over my lifetime this far. I really never thought about the above until this unique transparency was happening in church I got really involved with during and later after college. Pastor Brian’s leadership allowed for all in service and the people of the church to be and potentially become more intimate with Christ. Then it’s like this sudden change happens and he is called away. I know what it was like now I can’t help comparing other church environments now as I am trying to figure out where to belong again.

  22. I would say…

    PASTOR: Please stop asking my husband questions like “What kind of work do you do again? Where do you do that? Is that a full time thing? How is that working out for you?”
    Please just ask him questions about faith, or Jesus, or anything like this. We are at church to talk about Jesus, not our income.

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