This October will mark 25 years I have been a preaching minister in a local Church setting. This journey has led me to two student ministries while attending college. Since then, I have also worked in four local Churches, one of which I started from scratch.
Over those 25 years, I have seen some changes in the Church. Not only has worship changed, but also the technology in the worship setting has radically improved from the instruments to computers. Methods have changed, personal technology is now a thing, and it seems every year brings new ideas that are meant to help people love God and their neighbor.
Each year I push myself to do the very best I am able at my job. Recently, I told someone that I was doing my best as their pastor and later I thought I should expand that thought.
I am trying to do my best at …
1. Learning about God through his word. Over the last ten years, I have dedicated more and more time each week to reading the Bible and understanding what it says. This results in an extended period of Bible study each day along with hours spent reading articles online and in magazines beside my traditional books. I want to know more about God so that I can lead the Church from my reservoir of information.
2. Listening to the voice of the Spirit. For me, this could be captured with two words: prayer and reflection. Each day I want to spend quality time in prayer about my family, myself and my work. Then I want to couple that to moments of reflection where I can process how God is leading and what he is trying to tell me through circumstances and people.
3. Meeting the needs of the congregation. Every week when I write a sermon I ask myself, “What can I say that will be helpful to this group of people?” Do people need to hear about marriage, parenting, spiritual growth, or a variety of other Christian topics? I want to speak only after I have observed and listened carefully. This influences my sermons and series, the classes at the Church and the programming we offer.
4. Using the best practices for growth. Not only do I read books about Biblical topics, but I also absorb as much material as possible about what other Churches are doing. I want to know what is working for others that leads people to spiritual growth along with numerical growth. I try to keep my finger on the pulse of Church trends in the United States. I never want to lead a Church with methods that worked many years ago but are no longer effective.
5. Applying everything I have learned. God has taught me so much through the last 25 years and beyond. I have personally tried and failed at more programs and projects than I care to remember. I have gained knowledge about people and seen the typical responses to situations. These lessons are not wasted information reserved for conversations about the good old days. These are stones I am using to build the kingdom more effectively where God has called me to minister.
These are the things I spend most of my time doing.
Please notice that there is a long list of things I am not trying to do. I am not trying to make everyone happy. I am not trying to hold onto the past while neglecting the future or vice versa. I am not trying to make a name for myself. I am not even trying to get people to like me.
I am trying to please God through my leadership in the local Church. One day I will stand before him, and he will ask me to give an account for all that I have done. He will be the final judge of my work. I hope it inspires people and leads them closer to God. I hope some people do like me, but I primarily want to please God above all else.