Shepherding requires pastors to enter into the lives of people. If you are a pastor, then you cannot lead from the platform alone. When people only hear from you when you’re behind the pulpit, it becomes more of an ivory tower and less of a sacred desk.
You can’t hang out with everyone all the time, even in a small church. But it’s likely you need to hang out more often with at least some in your church. I like to watch baseball. I happen to live in an area with a major league team. Since it’s the Rays, tickets are cheap. You’ll find me at several Rays games a year just hanging out with church members getting to know them. For you, it may be golf or fishing or boating—whatever it is, find something you enjoy and invite church members to join you.
Hanging out lets a pastor lead in real time. A string of successful decisions shows the church a pastor has talent and discernment. An archive of theologically sound sermons proves to the church a pastor can rightly divide God’s Word. However, talent and preaching alone don’t allow for a pastor to lead by example in real time. You must be among people to live out a right example.
Hanging out provides hints about how to handle tough decisions. The better you know people, the more you will understand how difficult church decisions will affect them. When people know you well, they are more willing to let you make those decisions.
Hanging out shows people who you really are. Do not fear showing your true colors. Your church should know who you really are, and you deserve the right to be honest with your church. Churches need pastors who are comfortable in their own skin. If you aren’t, then you’ll hide. A shepherd who hides exposes the church to danger.
Hanging out is a good way to discover close friends. Every pastor should have a few good friends in their congregations. How else are you going to find them unless you’re hanging out with people in your church?
Hanging out balances the second greatest commandment. Christians are called to love others as much as they love themselves. Pastors especially should live out this commandment. Too much alone time in the office is not only selfish, it’s unbiblical.
Hanging out is fun. At times, I hear pastors describe ministry with groanings. Is it tough? Yes. Are they exaggerating? Not likely. Guiding people spiritually is a grind. Resolution does not come until Christ completes His good work. But don’t forget to have fun along the way. A few church members recently took me and my family boating. We spent a good part of the day just puttering around, swimming, and talking life. It was pure fun. My children also got to see the redeeming side of ministry that day. They will have a positive view of the church because of these members.
Hanging out may not be the most important part of ministry. However, ministry becomes more difficult if you are not hanging out with people in your church. Go hang out and have some fun.