Today I went to see the launch of a new church in the same community in which I hope to plant a cluster of house churches. Actually, it was the launch of a new site in the American phenomenon called multi-site churches. My goal was to see what this new church was doing, introduce myself to the new pastor and offer to help in any way I could to make them successful in representing the Savior in the community, and then meet up with some friends for lunch afterward.
All my missions were accomplished. I heard a wonderful message from a young pastor, and came away with a new clarity on why I don’t want to do what this particular church is doing.
That is not a criticism of them. What they did, they did wonderfully well for the model they are using in the planting of this new congregation. They love Jesus. They are seeking to be faithful to him. And they want to reach people with the life-transforming message of the gospel. But as I sat in worship I began to see with greater clarity why I don’t want to plant an attractional model church. I have missiological and ecclesiastical reasons for that non-desire. But I am not going to write about that here. Today I am going to write about my personal reason, the reason that is just me being honest at this phase of my journey with Christ.
I sat in the service, and these thoughts came with the clarity of a hunting knife to my spirit. I watched a fine young pastor, with a deep value of preaching the authoritative word of God, who had done his homework and now was delivering a passionate message and I thought,
“I hate these meetings because I love them.”
I love worship. I love being with the family of God. I love hearing the word from preachers who have been with God and desire to communicate with passion. That’s not what I mean when I say I hate these meetings.
What I mean is that, as a pastor, for me, these meetings are intoxicating. I love being that man. I love having “the answers.” I love being sought out. I love it when the whole room is hanging on my next word. I love knowing that others describe me as a “big deal.” I love it that I am considered the “essential guy” to have in the room in some situations.
And that’s why I hate these meetings; It’s because they feed a dark part of my soul. I hate them because I fear that they accelerate a cancerous growth in my spirit that threatens to undo the whole of my life.
I’m not saying anybody else struggles with this or even should struggle with this. I’m just saying that I have been that guy and I don’t want to be him again.
I want Jesus. I want Him to be enough. He’s all I want and he’s all I want my soul to want. Ever.
7 thoughts on “Love and Hate in the Ministry”
Minutes after I posted above, I got the news that John Piper is stepping away from ministry for 8 months. (See: http://ow.ly/1rM37) As I read his letter, my heart was warmed with the thought that Dr. Piper has been, continues to be a man of great integrity. I want to echo his thoughts and emulate his passion for going to war on sin.
Pray for me as I do battle with sin in my own heart. And pray for Dr. Piper and his desire to do the same.
And this is that work, that power of HIS mighty hand working within the man to move HIM to the side so, HE can be seen through us, thank you for sharing a bit of your heart and may the KING of Glory who give the increase continue to sift, and shake in our lives.
Love bro. Miguel
All of life is in some way, learning how to get out of the way so the Holy Spirit can do his work.
Thank you for that post, Pastor Marty. It is refreshing that you care more about what God wants rather than just what people want because I have realized that what He wants is ALWAYS better than what we want, when what we want is different than what He wants! I wish more pastors would pray about and follow what Jesus wants for the Church rather than just what people want. Christians and non-Christians alike want authenticity in churches, and I believe that the way to accomplish this is through living passionately for and like Christ not to act like we have to “attract” or “sell” our Christianity to people to make them come to OUR church. I will be praying for you that you will continue to be more like Christ!
Patricia, you are a delight to your former pastor’s soul. Thank you for your prayers my sister. You have mine as well.
Marty, a great article which I wished was required reading for every Elder. I certainly wished I had read such sage words 30 years ago. I say “amen” and “oh me” to it all. Great insight and realness of heart. Thanks for reposting it so I could find it. God bless you brother…
Amen! “He must increase and I must decrease.” As much as I appreciate affirmation, encouragement, & positive feedback, the folks I work with need to look to Him & depend on Him & not me!