I have only been pastoring churches for a few years now and there are those out there with much more experience than I have. When I look at the time I have spent and listen to those who have gone before me, I realize many pastors spend almost all their time tending to the needs of their congregations. More specifically the needs of individuals in the congregation. The result is a prevailing thought that the pastor exists to serve the life of the church. I am coming to believe this is a large contributor to the decline in the North American church.
When the focus shifts to personal needs, the church is reduced to a consumer based industry. The struggle is there is always someone else with a bigger budget and more resources out there that can seem to offer what is needed. The leaders of the church begin to spend their time figuring out how to keep the members happy. This increasingly leads to less time engaging the world in the mission of God. There is not time, the needs of the congregation must be met. This is also why most churches never grow past the size of 50-60 people. Much more than that and personal needs cannot be met anymore by one person.
So how should pastors and leaders spend time? The first priority is to be engaging the journey for themselves. This means building into our lives the practices which are consistent with a follower of Jesus Christ. Second priority is to offer engagement points for others to engage the journey. Third priority is to shape a church culture in a way that allows for the transformation of people, communities and a world to reflect to present, coming kingdom of God. That's it. Note there is no concern about meeting the personal needs of a congregation. It is about moving a community of people closer to the realization of the kingdom of God.
So why do so many church leaders spend so much time doing what is killing the church? I believe there is a new generation here that will put an end to the insanity. A new generation who engage the journey while engaging others to journey with them.