Does Ministerial Courtesy Really Matter?
by: Ralph M. McGuire
Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous” (I Peter 3:8). “And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. Use hospitality one to another without grudging” (I Peter 4:8-9).
Many of our more serious church problems could be avoided if simple courtesies would be extended and practiced. The pastor-congregation relationship is delicate, thus making imperative that the sweet spirit of Christ be predominant in our personality. Not only do we need to be spiritual but mannerly as well. Many pastors and evangelists find themselves unpopular and unsuccessful and do not understand the reason.
Someone said: “A man’s success depends upon his percentage of error.” If the percentage of error is too high, then a man’ work will declare it. The temperamental loves to think that people are so understanding that they will overlook his outbursts of emotion or exonerate him for his rude discourteous, and ill-mannered spirit. But this is not true. “A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city” (Proverb 18:19). A few simple courtesies observe can avoid much regret and troubles, which often are not easily mended.
The “husbandman must be first partaker.” It is wise for the ministry to set a good ex ample of courtesy and good manners be fore the flock. However, it is of vital an equal importance that ministerial courtesy be practiced between pastor and pastor Likewise the pastor-evangelist relationship must be compatible if the evangelistic effort is to be successful. Many strong churches have been reduced to a mere handful of people through unprincipled ethics and the undisciplined spirit. In this setting, the sheep of God’s pasture become victims of ministerial warfare. While the conflict is waged between ministers in strife, contention, and jealousy, the precious sheep become a prey to Satan and are scattered to the four winds.
Unity of Pastor and Evangelist
In the revival meeting the pastor and evangelist enter into a pact as a team, each respecting the other’s position and feelings. Many revivals have become only a series of special meetings because of a breach in the delicate balance of unity of this team. There are rules and regulations for a pastor to conform to as well as a book of rules for the evangelist to observe. There are some evangelists who soon run out of bookings because they are never called back a second time to the same church. The evangelist who observes a few laws and has learned what ministerial courtesy really means without exception becomes a successful evangelist.We will endeavor to list a few of the discourtesies that arc sometimes found in the pattern of behavior among unwise evangelists.
The Highly Discriminate
These feel that they are highly specialized and very much in demand. They generally announce the fact that they are booked up solid for meetings for a year in advance. The writer has had this type announce that they are the highest priced evangelists on the field. Upon their arrival they hint very strongly that they are often 150-dollar a week type, and then they produce a diet sheet that will assist the pastor’s wife in preparing the special menu of food that they will require. Next, they ask if they could have the utmost quietness because they arc late sleepers and suggest-that they be called at 10:00 a.m. for breakfast. They would not stoop to wash dishes or perform any menial chores because “it takes from the dignity of their high calling.”
The writer is not quoting from some book he has read, but as a pastor of 33 years he has been personally acquainted with this type of evangelist. I remember one evangelist who told me that he would probably “clean house” in my church and bring people to a quick decision. “I preach them in or out,” he said. “I thin them down in a two-week meeting.” How true. He thinned some out that I could never reach again, some that I considered most precious souls.
The evangelist is not sent to “set the house in order,” or to straighten out the pastor, or to hold a series of Bible studies, per say, but to “do the work of an evangelist.” The humble evangelist is one who comes to a church with a burden for souls and an appreciation of a pastor’s position. He very humbly assumes the position of servant of a pastor and church and submits himself to the jurisdiction of the pastor.
Every pastor knows that there is a great need for evangelists on the field today who can leave a church in a healthier condition after a two-week meeting than it was when he arrived. We must pray that the few consecrated evangelists will remain on the field.
The above material was published in the July/August issue of the Louisiana Challenger, pg. 7.
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