"My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye then not partial in yourselves, and become judges of evil thoughts." James 2:1-4
Pastors hear the mind of God on this issue. Any attempt to build or sustain your ministry on the backs of the rich and famous will come to nought. Recognizing someone for something they did or to acknowledge an accomplishment has nothing to do with this verse. This is about the mindset that you are handing down to your staff and assistant pastors. Trust me, you won't win any favor with man for following this concept and staying true to James position. You will be ridiculed, ill spoken of, talked about behind your back, maybe even pulled aside and chastised by those who think they know best. But the legerdemain of man is hardly to be counted against the hand of God.
You may have started your ministry with a small core group of faithful believers, but if your doors are open to bring the gospel to the lost, it won't be long and your meddle will be tested. The lost don't always look so good, but most of the time they aren't playing like they are someone they are not, either. I was senior pastor of a small storefront church for five years with five associate pastors under me. We had it going on: Great music, anointed teaching, good Sunday School for the kids and we provided food for the hungry and many other ministries as well. But I was critisized on several occasions for making the drug addicts and the alcoholics feel comfortable.
There was one instance in particular where a mom, who had just lost her daughter to a terrible crime against the daughter, was invited to come to our church. (The crime made National news) She was in shock for weeks and she was in much pain and she probably hadn't been the mother she would like to have been. She had problems herself, with ex-marriage, troubled finances and maybe some drug addiction, but the crime against her daughter was a non-related issue. She needed Jesus and the love of the Church family at this point in time. Of course she wasn't going to turn over a new leaf in a week and maybe she wouldn't change at all, but for the body of Christ it was important to reach out and give her one place she could have solace.
I remember the first Sunday that she came. Previously I had some carpenters put together a wooden cross with large timbers weighing about ninety pounds. I wanted each person to get under the cross and feel the pressure. We let the one leg of the cross on the floor and had each person come up as two of our men gently laid the cross on the shoulders of each person. They would let more and more pressure down as each person wanted. Some people wanted to feel the entire weight and others just a little, but all in all everyone participated. This woman who had lost her daughter came to grips with God losing His Son right there. She and many others were broken and found new light about God.
Later, I was pulled aside by a few women and they told me that that woman wasn't worthy to get under the cross and that she shouldn't have been allowed to participate. Trust me on this one, nobody will ever forget the day we carried the cross on our own shoulders. It was a cleansing exercise.
The point is: Build your Church on faith, raw faith, the kind of faith that trusts God; the kind of faith that follows the scriptures. Your Church should be built with all kinds of people; rich, poor, middle class, black, white, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Trinidadians and anyone else who walks through your doors. In the long haul you will be far better served listening to and doing what God wants you doing than what a few wealthy or pushy parishioners would like to see.
Note: How many pastors have had a similar experience where the Church Board or parishioners want to steer them into a cleansed group of worthy recipients. How disgusting. If you are a pastor and this is happening to you; stand your ground or move on, otherwise you might start to be steered away from your calling. It can happen, but it happens slowly and those intent on making you come to your senses are inflexible (hardened against the move of the Holy Spirit) calcified (they aren't learning anything) and ruthless (will do the most underhanded things against you, your wife or family) things that those drug addicts and alcoholics couldn't even think of.