Having worked with some of the largest churches and ministries in the country during my career, I’ve seen a lot of controversy. Some is legitimate, and some is manufactured by disgruntled ex-church members, or the local media bearing a grudge. As a result, I’ve been keenly aware of what I call “Flash Points” that pastors and ministry leaders should avoid – no matter what size your church or organization.
A flash point isn’t necessarily a matter of what’s right and wrong or what’s legal or not, it’s a matter of engaging the community or culture in a positive way. It’s a matter of avoiding unnecessary criticism or conflict that diverts attention away from the gospel message.
For instance, while I don’t rule out the use of private jets in some ministry situations, there’s no question that having one is a flash point. I’d like one myself, but the cost is insane. And for a ministry leader who’s funded by donations, is it really needed? More important, is it really worth the hassle and controversy?
For a smaller church or ministry, driving an expensive car may be a similar flash point. Sure it’s not illegal or even wrong, and I love a great car as much as anybody. But if your real passion is the gospel, is it worth distracting those you’re trying to reach?
Remember: Everything communicates.
The way you dress, the vacations you take, the house you live in, the car you drive, and the way you treat people. That doesn’t mean you have to live like a pauper, but it’s an important principle to remember. The last generation of pastors and ministry leaders spent too much time trying to justify mansions, limos, expensive vacations, and jets. But when it comes to connecting to people who are donating their hard-earned money to pay your way, it’s not about justification, it’s about what’s appropriate.
Live well. But never forget that everything communicates, and sometimes things like the distraction of a lavish lifestyle or an abrasive personality creates PR havoc that can be far more damaging than the temporary inconvenience of driving a Chevy.