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Scan the brochures that hit a pastor's desk, and you'd assume the greatest challenge facing pastors today is providing leadership. Many conferences pledge to help with casting vision so you can, to paraphrase Star Trek, "boldly lead where no pastor has led before."

But as difficult as leadership is, pastors face a greater challenge: to love the ordinary church.

It's hard to lead; it's even harder to love. And to love an ordinary church requires a lifetime of spiritual growth.

On blue Mondays, we may wistfully long to pastor the extraordinary church—the kind that's growing, that boasts great lay leaders and spiritual intensity and power, that offers PowerPoint presentations, a cool Web site, and conferences to help ordinary churches become extraordinary.

But in our saner moments we remember that even the high-visibility congregation is an odd-lots assortment of messed-up people who found Jesus. A cutting-edge worship band does not eliminate parishioners' Original Sin. Every pastor faces ...

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