I am a young pastor. I have limited experience on many levels, and because of that I know that there are not many who would give much weight to my words. Years ago, as a student, I could have told you what type of church I wanted to work in, and the type of people I wanted to minister to. I wanted to be a part of a church that had some history; that had thriving ministries, and had enough money in the bank to cushion any hardships that may come their way. I wanted plenty of people to pick from when it came to having a need for volunteers and I wanted a church that was progressive and valued new ideas. I had so many ideas (if money was no object and people were abundant of course). Back then, my idea of success revolved around shrinking seating space, and expanding offerings. In fact, if everything worked out well, then I may get into a church that had excellent music, incredible preaching, and a flexible congregation that really wanted to try new things.
Over a period of time, as I grew in confidence and knowledge, I began to have complaints. My first church was somewhat small, and didn’t really have much of a budget for the youth program I was leading so I often sat in my office and felt sorry for myself and blamed everything else for why my ministry wasn’t growing. I began to become jaded about the church for various reasons (they still sing from hymnals, they sat in pews, they needed new carpet, they didn’t have a very nice website). Surely all of these things PROVED they didn’t want to grow. If they valued ministy, then they would pay me more so I could do more things. I would sit around, in a mental autopilot, waiting for things to change so that “real ministry” could begin.
After being a youth pastor for a while and seeking more education, I started to realize the horrible faulty thinking I had come to believe. I realized I was the problem…not the old furniture or traditional music. It was ME. My heart and mind needed to conform to God’s.
Then, God called me to start a new church. At first, my thoughts revolved around ways this new congregation could be cutting edge, different, and set apart from any other church in town. If it was different and exciting, then people would come to my church instead of any other. If you know me now, you may be surprised that this was my thought process, because over the last 5 years God has completely transformed my heart and now I desire to lead a church much different than the one I used to crave. I have a new desire.
Now… I want to lead a church who:
…cares more about the broken than looking all put together.
…welcomes the single parent, widow, and widow and desires to be a source of encouragement for them
…prays for those who do not look, smell, or sound like them and embraces them with compassion
…will give up their comfort and be sacrificial for the advancement of the kingdom
…will put God’s word into action
…will do things that are bad for business but great for relaying the gospel
…will welcome the abused, rejected, oppressed, and hated
…will hate sin so much that they are willing to be grace agents
…will seek what sacrifice truly means
…will welcome the sinner no matter what their sin, and treat them with respect and dignity
…will follow God into the darkness; ready to be the light
…will do everything they can to see other churches grow
…will accept the fact that the Church must be real and transparent
…will not be a different person in the seats than at home
…want passionate worship instead of manufactured praise
…want to serve more than want to be served
…understand that “being fed” means feeding too
…want imperfection in-process instead of processed perfection
…desire God’s will to be done no matter church size, money in the bank, or political climate
…look at the world around them with love instead of bitterness
THAT is the church I want to lead.
I’m sure glad I do 🙂