This week completes 20 years of serving in vocational ministry of some kind. I spent my first 8 years serving as an associate pastor in a variety of roles in several different churches (May 1995 – August 2003). These last 12 years have been spent as Senior Pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church (September 2003 – May 2015). There are several lessons to reflect upon, many through pain and suffering. Here are 20 in light of my 20 years:
1. God’s Word is sufficient to build Christ’s church.
I remember my first Sunday as Senior Pastor, I sat alone in the sanctuary wondering if the doors of this church would be open a year later. I realized in all my cleverness or worldly wisdom I could not save this church. I believed then that God, by his Spirit and through his word, was sufficient to build his church and revitalize it. Over a decade later, I have watched God do that very thing.
2. The Gospel is powerful enough to change lives.
Programs, gimmicks, or personality do not change people’s hearts. Nor do these things give life to a church that had been in decline for over thirty years. For twenty years, I have watched the gospel free people from the bondage of sin and give hope to the hopeless. I have watched the gospel unite old and young, black and white, rich and poor, and give life to our church. The gospel of Jesus Christ is enough to change lives and revitalize any local church.
3. An effective pastor is one who feels deeply.
The church has bought into this phony idea of strong biblical masculinity being a stoic, unemotional, unrattled man. The Bible paints a different picture, one in which true masculine strength is a man who feels deeply so he is able to love passionately and sacrifice willingly. Feeling deep emotion causes our heads to descend into our hearts, allowing us to emphasize with hurting people. An effective pastor is one who owns his weakness, is secure in Christ enough to be vulnerable, and suffers with others.
4. Hang on to your family…
Read the rest of the article (Lessons 4-20) here.