I just celebrated my 5th anniversary as pastor of Fairview Church. I am so thankful to be their pastor, and I am blessed by how well they love our family. It’s been, honestly, a very quick time here. I stopped to reflect over that time and some of the things I have learned. Being 5 years older, I realize even more the foolishness of youth that thinks it has it all figured out. I certainly have much more to learn, and this list is neither authoritative nor exhaustive, but I do pray it will be beneficial.
If you missed part one, be sure to check it out here.
- It is difficult, but rewarding to shape your people into a missions-minded church
God is a missionary God with a heart for the whole world, and he has commanded his church to have that same heart. Unfortunately, our fleshly tendency is to concentrate more on ourselves than others and to say things like, “Well, we really need to focus on people at home before we go abroad.” That is not the heart of God, and it takes time and intentionality to slowly develop a heart for the nations in your people. In order to do so, you need to beat this drum from the Bible repeatedly, you need to model it for your people by going on trips to difficult places, you need to take key leaders with you on trips (that’s another way to invest in young leaders), and you need to cast a compelling vision of why this is who we need to be as a people. If you do that, then over time you will be amazed at how God works. We have seen our people go to places they never thought they would go, we have given more to missions than at any other time in our history, and we have folks preparing to go right now as career missionaries. It takes time and patience, but it is worth it!
- Make the offering time an act of worship
One of the biggest lessons I learned, with the help of the generosity consultants Generis, is to intentionally use the offering time to teach people theologically and to cast vision. The consultant asked me, “How much time do you put into planning the offering moment?” I paused and said, “like 30 seconds.” He explained to me that it wasn’t wise to have the majority of your donations from the majority of your donor base coming in during that one time of the service and yet not even plan it intentionally at all. The offering moment is an act of worship – not an interruption from worship. It is a time to teach people theologically about why we give, how it builds trust in God, and how it should be an act of sacrifice. It is a time to develop and cast vision. As you explain to your people where the money goes and what it accomplishes, people will be excited to give more because they know their money is making a difference. So, we now highlight a ministry opportunity, or tell a story from the mission field during our offering moment, so people see that their generosity is changing lives. It has dramatically increased our giving.
- Always look at your church through the lens of Acts 20
When the Apostle Paul said goodbye to the Ephesian elders, he told them to “care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.” You should always see your church – the people you shepherd – as those for whom God Almighty shed his blood. Pastoral ministry can be difficult, exhausting, and discouraging at times. As you shepherd, you may get frustrated with your people, and they may get frustrated with you. Shepherding is hard work, but despite all the ups and downs and challenges, always look at your people and think, “God shed his blood for you,” so it is an honor and privilege to care for this flock!