I have been saying this for years! Kudos to Joseph Yoo!
In a recent sermon, Pastor Andy Stanley stated that every church has a gravitational pull to be a church that serves only its members-- a pull to be a church for just insiders. That's because 100 percent of the complaints, suggestions, critiques, and comments come from people who are already there-- already attending the church. The leadership team feels pressure to bend towards a lot of those complaints and suggestions and in turn they become more inwardly focused than outwardly focused. So the church becomes more and more friendly to the "insiders" because we put a lot of effort into meeting the needs of the "insiders." It's easy to ignore the "outsiders"-- those we're trying to reach-- because they have no voice within the walls of the church. And they have no voice, no suggestions, and no complaints because they aren't present.
One way churches continue to force their pastors to bend inwards is their insistence on office hours. Some folks feel that the pastor is not doing her duties if she isn't in her office when they drop by on a whim. As if every pastor should be waiting around in their offices for people to drop on by so they can answer questions about mind-numbing things of the church. (Don't get me wrong, I've had powerful ministry moments when people stop by unannounced. But, in my personal experience, those are far and few in between.)
In the age of smartphones and being able to reach pastors almost anywhere (also not the healthiest of things) why do churches feel the need for their pastors to be secluded in a room in a building when life is happening all around the community? Who does that benefit? Who are office hours for, anyway? I'm inclined to think that office hours are more for the already-church members than anyone else. But, serving in a small church, I can go days without seeing anyone in my office.
Whether good or bad, the pastor becomes the biggest representative of the church. The reputation of a church often hangs on the reputation of the pastor. If you truly think your pastor is wonderful, then why are you keeping him in the office and not allowing other people to get to know him?
You can read Joseph Yoo's entire post, "Pastor's Office Hours: Time to Cut Back?" here.
There is a lot of truth that the church can become very inwardly focused. I've found a number of churches I've been at over the years spend a lot of time talking about reaching out but have very little practical application of reaching out. It can be difficult at times in some churches where even after attending for some time it feels as if the church has a recognized "base" which seems more important than the others attending. Practically most churches recognize something as wrong with this, but functionally it still happens in a great number of churches.
Good point. I have come to the conclusion that a certain percentage of folks in the pews really have no idea what is meant by outreach. What they often suggest as outreach is really more inreach
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