Does being a flourishing pastor mean a flourishing ministry?
I think we need to understand that there’s nothing intrinsically wrong or unhealthy or unfaithful or unfruitful in a large context, nor is it in a small context. You can have health, success, fruitfulness — in many different contexts of size and visibility. The shepherding model clearly looks on future growth or more sheep or larger flock as not bad — but the primary focus is the health of the existing sheep.
In the feedback from The Flourishing Pastor, what appears to have resonated?
The “scorecard” has been a fascinating conversation. Because all of us have a scorecard of what we think effective pastoring and faithfulness are. Pastors have a scorecard. The church staff they serve has a scorecard. The congregation has a scorecard. What does it mean to nurture a loving culture, not only in the work we do, but among the people we work with? I come back to that over and over again. How do we review that on a scorecard? How do we evaluate it? If we think of John 13 — “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” — how much more important should that be in our church cultures than other metrics?
You wrote The Flourishing Pastor on the heels of the pandemic. Is anything you’d want to address differently?
Yes, and I can answer this one very specifically: I would’ve spent much more time on the area of pastoral burnout. I would’ve spent more time giving specific guidelines for resiliency against burnout. And I would’ve spent a little more space on the increasing hostility to orthodox Christianity. That’s where I’ve been reading a lot, such as the work of George Yancey at Baylor. How do we navigate that? I probably would’ve spent more time talking about cultural navigation.