Church this morning, then everything started again at 2:30pm and I am just finishing up now at 12:20am, with a 6:00am Elder Meeting tomorrow morning! Don’t you feel sorry for me?! Yeah, right! J You’ve been there, done that. Besides, who’s the crazy pastor who scheduled a 6:00am Elder’s Meeting?
And – this is a riot – it’s going to be cold (-20) with 35mph winds tomorrow morning. The wind chill will be close to 50 below! Good morning to start our new elder meeting morning schedule!
Wow. Ever have a really, really busy day of ministry? Today was one of those days. I usually can get a chance to rest on a Sunday afternoon, write a blog post, read, watch some football, etc. Not today! Why, I did not even get a chance to write a blog post – can you tell? After taking our Thanksgiving - New Year's blogging break, I need to get back into the routine.
So I thought I would send a quick message that says – we’re thinking about you! Jonny and I will work on Wednesday’s podcast on Monday, and I’m excited about it because we have a couple different directions we want to go in. We will pick one, and it will be good!
The 200churches Podcast has hit another upsurge since New Year’s Day – thanks so much if you have shared it with others. 200church pastors need all the encouragement they can get, yes I do!
It’s Monday, so dig in and get it done. Remember it’s all about people and we are the shepherds. Feed, care, comfort, challenge, rescue, and protect the people under your care. Jesus is with you, by His Spirit. Serve in the power of the Spirit, you can’t do it yourself. Thank God we don’t have to!
We will catch up with you on Wednesday on the podcast, Episode 52!
There’s a boy in my church, I’ll call him Bobby, who was born in the fall of 2003. That would make him just over ten years old. Bobby is a great young man, articulate, smart, and very happy to follow Jesus.
I came to this church in January of 2004. Bobby was just a couple months old. I first saw him in his car seat, all bundled up against the subzero weather we had that January. I am the only pastor Bobby has ever had.
I love kids and always try to develop a personal relationship with the kids at our church. I want them to know some things:
Bobby is the kid who comes to my mind whenever I consider my commitment to my pastoral ministry here. Bobby has only known one pastor – his whole life. If I just stay eight more years Bobby can graduate having experienced one pastor and one church, for his entire childhood and teen years! Bobby will understand that the church, the body of Christ, is real, true, important, vital, and genuine.
If I can stay for at least eight more years, and Bobby’s parents continue at our church, Bobby will get to experience something precious few experience – church stability. A church literally living out the love and mission of the body of Christ is so important for a kid to actually believe. It’s important because a kid’s understanding, what is weaved into the fabric of his soul, is what the adults in his life live. They won’t learn from what we tell them – they’ll learn what we live.
Pastor, it’s important, that ministry you’re serving in today. And it’s not just important to the Bobby’s of your church – it’s important to all of the people in your church. The average church member, kid or adult, has to switch out pastors 2-5 times if they stay in a church for more than ten years. Pastoral turnover is bad for churches.
A recent study found that while long term pastorates do not guarantee a church will grow, short term pastorates (less than four years) absolutely do guarantee that a church will NOT grow.
We are not just talking about numbers growth here, but I believe this also relates to the personal spiritual growth of the people as well. Bobby will not grow as much spiritually if he has three or four different pastors before he is eighteen years old. His church certainly won’t grow.
Pastor, what did you commit to when God called you into ministry? Personal happiness? A nice part of the country? Having the mall just five minutes away? A warm climate? Or did you commit to people, and to the Gospel?
Did you enter pastoral ministry because God looked at you and said – “here is someone who will shepherd my sheep. Here is someone who will look at the crowds and will, like me, be moved with compassion for them. Here is someone who will feed, and not abandon, the flock.”?
What’s grinding on you Pastor? What’s making you want to leave? What are you committed to – the idea of ministry, the place where you minister, or the people to whom you minister? Does God really want you to leave them? Only you can answer that question. Make sure you have the right answer.
One year ago Jonny and I embarked on a blind date! We embarked on a blind date with this thing called a podcast. We'd never seen one up close and personal before. We had, honestly, no idea what we were getting into. Here's what we did know: we care about small church pastors and want to do what we can to encourage and support them!
We had no idea that we would meet a whole bunch of very cool people. We've met men and women who also love small churches and the people who pastor them. One of those people is Karl Vaters, the pastor of Cornerstone Community Church in Fountain Valley, CA.
Karl shares his heart for ministry in a book titled The Grasshopper Myth - Big Churches, Small Churches and the Small Thinking that Divides Us. This is a fantastically legit 200-page book - that will help you reframe your thinking on church size and the impact you can have in the Kingdom of God!
In this podcast episode, #51, the three of us talk about the content of chapter one in this book, which is called "Hi, I'm Karl and I'm a small church pastor!" There are a lot of traps that small church pastors can fall into in their thinking about church size. We can feel insecure about the size of our churches because of the culture of BIG we live in. We can also easily feel like failures if our church has plateaued in size. Many pastors have left the ministry because of stagnant church size, much to the angst of the people they left behind... who actually loved their pastors!
In Episode 51 Karl talks about how to accept the fact that 1. You are a pastor, and 2. Your church is small. Those two truths mean that you are right now a "small church pastor". That is not a bad thing - it is a good thing! Small is not bad, and big is not good. The size of a church is just one of a myriad of variables that would go into the evaluation of a church. You can have a bad big church and a good small church, or vice-versa. We need to get over our idol of size.
Finally, Karl is the founder of www.NewSmallChurch.com, a blog that passionately argues on behalf of all healthy churches, regardless of their size! At the top of his home page, he has a banner that directs first time visitors to his site to another page - where he keeps his top 12 essential blog posts - he calls them his "read these first" posts. In 2014, we are going to do a podcast episode with Karl on each of these posts - so next month, on February 5, we'll talk about his post titled "Your Church IS Big Enough!"
We know that these first-week-of-the-month "Vaters Episodes" will be encouraging to you in your ministry. We want to be the wind in your sails and the oxygen of encouragement to your soul. Your shepherding and pastoral care to the people in your 200church matters HUGE in the KINGDOM OF GOD.
p.s. In this podcast episode, please forgive Jonny's use of "Carlos Danger"... what am I going to do with him??!
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