Meet Rosa. Rosa loves Jesus and her church. God has blessed Rosa financially, and in turn, she blesses her church through generous and regular giving. Rosa is nearing the end of life, and as her health declines, her need for skilled care will increase - and with it, her need for pastoral care. Rosa also loves her family, those who will inherit whatever she leaves behind. Unfortunately, Rosa's heirs do not share her love for her church, perhaps not even her love for Jesus. They perceive that they would benefit financially if Rosa would discontinue her financial support of her church.
While this is a fictitious scenario, the trend it describes is very real and more common than you might expect. If you pastor aging people in your congregation, you will bump into this trend at some point. You are likely to encounter this trend if:
Clearly you cannot simply confront the family on the matter, but here are some actions you may be able to take:
I used to enjoy sparring online with people in different debate forums. A response I received once jolted me a bit: "Experience has to count for something." Over time, my perspective has changed some. I still think there are pastorates out there for guys who have never done it before. At the same time, I definitely see the value of experience. So - wait a minute - the headline of this post is "How Leaders Grow," but the opening paragraph is all about experience. Yep. You guessed it. As a plant needs exposure to sunlight, water, and rich soil - it also needs time. And it is not true that experience is the best teacher. Evaluated experience is the best teacher.
Pastor Billy Shaw is a full-time pastor, husband, and father with a passion for helping other pastors.