Prepared for Ministry

As I look back on my life, I realize God was preparing me to be a preacher all along.

When I was in fifth grade, I wrote a speech on oceanography and the wonders of the sea. After I presented it to my class, my teacher told me that it was so good that she wanted other classes to hear it. One by one, I went around my elementary school trying to give the same speech to each class, including the older sixth-grade students.

In High School, my favorite teacher was our speech teacher. Mrs. Price was a child of the sixties and held strong opinions about much going on in the world. She also liked me as a student. She helped me with projects and molded my thinking on how to make an impact through public speaking.

In college, while I was still deciding on what God wanted me to do with my life, God opened the door for my first sermon through a girlfriend’s music group. They were singing, and they wanted me to preach after their performance. The sermon did not go well, but a young woman stayed after worship to tell me how touched she was by my words.

Looking back over the landscape of my past, I can see God’s waypoints that moved me from location to location on the trail of becoming a public speaker for the kingdom of God.

Here is my question for you: What has God been preparing you to do? What experiences have you walked through that has uniquely shaped you to serve him? What skills and habits have you developed that God could use?

I do not believe I became a preacher overnight. God spent years molding me, shaping me, and preparing me for what I am doing now. I also believe the same thing is true for you.

The Worship Experience in the Small Church

God does this amazing thing for those who follow him. He puts us together with other believers as a community of people who worship him. Every Sunday, we stand up and sing our praises to the glory of God. A few brave, gifted, and willing people get up and lead us into the presence of God. I believe it is in these gathering where we truly learn to worship. We discover that real worship is not about our likes, dislikes, or feelings but rather about bowing our lives before Jesus because of his grace for us.

Occasionally people walk out of these gatherings and complain to me and others about their experience. If this has ever been you, then let me remind you of a few things.

  1. Our worship is led by volunteers. I appreciate the people who lead us in worship each week. I am grateful for their willingness to lift their voices and lead us without compensation. The whole Church community should be thankful for these brave people.
  2. Our leaders are doing their best. Each week I share the song list for the coming Sunday with the worship team. Many of them listen to the songs on YouTube, and they practice instruments at home. The entire group shows up over an hour before worship each week to practice. They give of their best, so the rest of us can worship.
  3. Some issues are beyond our control. We have experienced computers lock up, power failure, dead batteries, and a host of other problems. We try to do our best quality of work each week, but some things are beyond our control.
  4. Other people might like what you hate. Personal preference in music is unlimited. Some like old songs, others do not. Some like piano music, others do not. It is difficult to make everyone happy. Instead, our church puts the focus on lyrics above all else. We chose a variety of music that we pray is a blessing to everyone.
  5. The primary focus is on Jesus alone. Ultimately what we do each Sunday is an attempt to worship Christ. We do our best to point everyone to Jesus and then to get out of the way. Honestly, I do not care whether you are happy about worship; rather, my concern is that God is glorified.

Every week we gather to worship, and sometimes it is incredibly moving. Other times it is rough, and we do not feel as connected as we might like to be. This probably reveals more about me than about the Church of which I am a part.

Worship in a small community of believers is a unique experience. We are not exactly like a big Church on Sunday morning, but every week we gather in the name of Jesus just like they do. In both cases, I pray that God is glorified, the community becomes a family, and we grow in our faith together.

Keep Swinging

Tonight is most likely my son’s final baseball game of the year. I am not a baseball fan, but I love my son, so I have endured some hot evenings sitting outside the fence, cheering him on to victory. Watching this season, I have realized there are two types of players and teams when it comes to youth baseball.

The first group of players is in the “I hope I get a walk” category. They stand there watching the ball and rarely swing at any pitch. The occasionally strike out but because of the accuracy of young pitchers, many times they get a walk.

The other group of kids are the “I want to hit the ball” hitters. They walk to the plate, and they swing at every pitch near the strike zone and occasionally some that are not so close. They want to feel the swing of the bat and the contact that makes the game so fun. Sure, sometimes they strike out, but once in a while, they get a hit. They run and smile and score.

Baseball at the youth level is not about winning and losing. It is about learning to play. It is about having fun while enjoying an outdoor sport. It is about swinging the bat, hitting the ball and seeing what happens. It emotionally hurts to strike out, but you will never get a hit with the bat on your shoulder. You must keep swinging and trying to get your bat on the ball.

Life is much the same way. You can get up each day and hope something good happens while you stand watching the pitches come at you. Either that or you can get up and start swinging.

I hope you will keep swinging. Keeping swinging in your marriage, your family, your career, and even with your hopes and dreams. There will be days when things go wrong and you feel like you strike out. Other days you will make contact, the ball will fly, and you will not believe how far you will run. It will be fun, and it will touch your soul in a way that walking through life will never be able to do.

Today life is going to throw you some balls; so, set your feet, tighten your grip, and take a swing.