I was surfing the web today when I came across something very interesting. A pastor in Virginia used one of my blog posts in her church newsletter. You can see the church newsletter here. It was written based on my blog entitled “The Truth About My Church (And Others)” .
In this letter, she adds a portion that I would like to respond to publicly. It is a great question and one that needs exploring. It is a question about the role of openness and honesty in the pastoral position. Basically, the pastor wants to know the result of such openness. Allow me to respond through an example.
Today was an incredible day at my church. It was an informal service in which everything was simplified. We had a good crowd there, sang a capella Christmas songs, experienced communion, and most notably heard many spontaneous testimonies. These testimonies were amazing and depicted the reality of God’s saving grace, healing power, and His general faithfulness despite our circumstances. We heard testimonies of people being delivered from addiction, and saved from certain destruction. We also heard about struggles currently happening in the lives of some. These struggles were articulated to gain support and accountability for the strugglers growth in the faith.
As a pastor, I can stand up in front of my congregation all day and tell them what they ought to do. As author Calvin Miller says in his book called “Preaching: The Art of Narrative Exposition”….a preacher, in some cases, is a “veteran sinner that tells amateur sinners what they ought not to do.” I don’t adhere to the fullness of that statement, but I understand the concept and agree with the heart behind it. If I think for one moment that I am somehow more elite than everyone else then my testimony is not beneficial.
Studying to be a pastor, I started out thinking that church growth and encouraging people into involvement was based in production, staging, and talent. What I have found through experience is that churches grow in depth and number when the leadership and attenders are authentic, honest, and caring. No matter the style of music or the way the preacher delivers his or her message, people generally want to feel welcome, they want to know that the faith they are observing is real to those who follow and they want to know that they matter to the community.
When we are real about our imperfections; we will see growth. We may have a fear that people will run for the hills, but if we truly believe that God is real and active than no amount of marketing or false fronts will surpass His blessing in our lives.
These are the types of things that get me up in the morning.