I was delighted to receive a copy of the revised book, The Art of Pastoring, from IVP. It was unsolicited, and I look forward to reading this new edition. Early on I find it intriguing.
When the author, David Hansen, began his ministry in Montana, he inherited an entire library from the previous pastor. That pastor had left the ministry and as a result, just abandoned the library he had built in the church office.
As Hansen perused the nice selections, he wondered why the previous pastor had abandoned the ministry. His conjecture: Maybe the previous pastor confused following Christian movements with following Christ.
Great observation. It’s such a temptation. As a pastor, the temptation is to plug in the formulas as quickly as possible so the numbers start coming in and there is a sense of satisfaction. If we move from one formula to another, we will find ourselves off-track in a hurry.
A few years ago I watched an interview with Dr. George Wood, general superintendent of the Assemblies of God. The question asked was the value he saw in furthering his theological education. The Assemblies of God has had a love/hate relationship with theological education since its founding. Dr. Wood said he was fortunate to advance his education, and he understood not everyone would get that opportunity. In his own life, he found that if he had not learned to think theologically, he probably would not be in ministry today.
If we follow fads and programs, when those fads and programs don’t work out… we tend to quit.
But if we follow Christ, and can work through the painful conversations from other pastors about “How many you running?” there is hope.
Next year are two significant milestones for me. I will celebrate 25 years of marriage with my incredible wife and it will also be my 15th year at my current church. I love this church, as I think about ministry.
There have been my moments when I thought ministry might not be for me, but this church has anchored me. I don’t have all the answers, and they know it. I follow Christ as best as I possibly can, and I want them on that journey as well. I wish I could report the fabulous numbers. What I can report is we have a church following Christ as best as we know to do at this moment in time.
The current fad in my movement is “satellite” campuses. It’s “working” in many spots.
That comes on the heels of the “seeker sensitive” model.
That came on the heels of the “Brownsville Revival” model.
And so on.
Each of those movements have their place somewhere and for some reason. But if I follow only those things and try to build my church off of that method, what do I do when that method is on the trash heap and the next thing is coming down the road?
We keep following Christ. It may not look great all the time, but it’s what I know to do best.