In a Christianity Today blog series regarding pastors developing healthy boundaries in their ministry, Ed Stetzer has been writing on four key points in the process. The first two "fence posts" he has covered are to recognize your role in the church and pursue personal emotional health. The third, Stetzer writes, is to guard your flock, even if it is from other Christians. What does this mean? Stetzer says: "It may seem ironic, but some of the people from whom you have to most tenaciously guard your church are other believers. If you don't, the focus of the ministry is to respond to the special interests of customer Christians. And that means your ministry (and its boundaries) will be focused on keeping your customers happy -- and no boundaries will exist." Stetzer goes on to say that your church "is not a public square for people to debate and opine," but rather "a place that you are to guard and shepherd. ... If you allow your church to be a gathering of special interest groups, then your ministry will be built around keeping them happy."
Creating this healthy boundary for your church means "knowing who you are as a church, where you are, where you're going, and what that means for people who are outside of that," Stetzer writes. "You (and your church) must recognize that the mission is more important than special interest groups. Your church needs boundaries (so that it is focused on its mission and won't be distracted from that). You need boundaries (so that you won't spend your time trying to keep 'issue Christians' happy and placated."
How can pastors keep the right focus in their ministry? In an article on Crosswalk.com titled "Dealing With Congregational Phobia," Joe McKeever urges pastors to preach with boldness and to forget fear of their audiences. "People-phobia has been with us from the beginning, afflicts even the strongest among us, and continues to be a threat to effective service for the Lord today," he writes. Pastors need not to be afraid of what the people might say, but to remember that God is with them. "No fear is allowed, Christian worker," he says. "God takes it personally as a lack of faith in Him." In another Crosswalk.com article titled "How to Find a Vision for Your Church," Whitney Hopler writes of several ways for pastors to develop a vision for their church and effectively pursue a gospel-centered ministry -- such as being passionate about the Bible, valuing the Great Commission, working to make disciples, helping people grow in their faith, having a strong prayer ministry, and valuing biblical preaching.
What do you think is the most important factor in guarding your flock, forming boundaries and keeping your church focused on its mission?