Photo Courtesy of Ken L. Haigler
Do you ever have one of those thoughts that simply hangs on, digging in the fingernails, refusing to let go? I have been grappling with one ever since beginning my journey as a church planter a number of years ago. But let me preface it by saying, this is not intended to be even about church planting. No, it really is simply a thought.
It started with listening to a conference speaker who explained how Acts 2:41, the response to Peter’s sermon with “…three thousand souls being added to the number,” was a good measuring stick for church starts. “Really?,” I thought and there it stuck and it did not leave me. I learned the real data later on, what churches need, people wise, to become a church. There is a simple reality of economics in our day that plays into this but then this is no different from established churches.
We keep finding ways to measure and report effectiveness. It has been talked endlessly now how pastors can be more effective as leaders and CEOs. It seemed like for the longest time, we could have the best of both worlds – borrowing from scripture on one handed and the sages of the corporate world on the other hand. Yet, we’ve neglected to consider what Les McKewon terms “The 3 Things Every Leader Gets Wrong.” He identifies those three things as:
1. The time needed to do things.
2. The relative importance of people and ideas.
3. What other people hear you say.
And just like getting the best of both worlds, when leaders err this way (and I have), then the church receives the worst too. Not only have we, as pastors, failed in leading our people, we’ve failed to demonstrate to live out the pattern of life Jesus lived and the Fruit of the Spirit-filled life which Paul taught - 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Galatians 5:22-23 (NKJV)
I know this too well from my own failings both in ministry and in my own heart. I kept coming back to my calling to ministry. Most of us did not come into ministry to enhance resumes and gain our share of the pie (I did say most). I came into ministry because God called, or let me put it this way – I prayed and God spoke. Now others confirmed this calling, so certainly it was not in a vacuum. What remains as the foundation is my journey began with prayer.