I love pastors.  I was one for thirty years. But my heart goes out to them because most of them are wasting their lives.  Let me tell you why.

Statistics show that some 85% of the churches in the U.S. are either on a plateau or are declining. Some of these churches can be turned around, but most of them can’t. From my 50+ years in active ministry, my guess is that 60-70% of pastors in the U.S. are pastoring churches that have no chance of long term survival. All these pastors are doing is wasting time. No real pastor was ever called to preside over a dying church. Even most of the disciples finally left the Jerusalem church.

There is a real disconnect between what so many pastors consider authentic ministry and what the Scriptures refer to as authentic. Jesus was clear – we are called to make disciples, not dish out pastoral care, which is what most pastors are doing. 

So folks, I’m pleading with you. If you are the pastor of a dying church and all you are doing is administering pastoral care, abandon that sinking ship and set sail to participate in authentic ministry that makes disciples.

Now I know what the pushback will be – everyone deserves to be cared for. Sure, I get that, but I also get that it has nothing whatsoever to do with the Great Commandment or the Great Commission. Dishing out pastoral care is not making disciples nor is it fulfilling the Great Commandment if it keeps healthy people from becoming productive disciples. Going to church and sitting in committees isn’t the gospel. Leaving worship, refusing to sit on committees, and taking the gospel to the surrounding area is the gospel.

I have a saying: “You can take care of people without transforming or discipling them; but you can’t transform or disciple people without first taking care of them.”  So I’m not against taking care of people. What I’m against is doing everything for healthy people instead of following Eph. 4:1-12 and equipping them for the work of ministry. 

Most people in established churches are left to rot spiritually while attending church on a regular basis. That is not what God intended. Period! Jesus said “go,” not “sit.” He said “be my witness,” not “listen to sermons and inspiring music.”

It’s time we take notice.  We will all be held responsible for one thing – did we or did we not make disciples? It’s that simple if we are healthy people with all our faculties.

Question: How can a pastor who is used to spending his or her time simply caring for the church transition to making disciples as Jesus calls? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.