I can tell when ministry is happening… Because I start to gain weight. 🙁
It’s true though. As I write this I’m currently 5-7lbs over my base weight, which is actually a brick more than my target weight. But this post isn’t about me needing to diet (although…). The extra weight I’m carrying right now is sort of a good thing, actually. Because it means that I’m spending more time meeting friends over breakfasts and lunches. It’s over these meals that conversations happen about real life and faith.
Some of the best ministry happens over good meals.
Right now, it’s not uncommon that I’m meeting someone over at least one meal per day. One day recently, I had breakfast, lunch, then afternoon coffee with different church friends. Everyone of those conversations were rich in (calories and) fruitful encouragement.
Some of these times are just getting to know each other better. Some are focused on praying through hard decisions or working through low valleys; harder moments in life.
I mean it when I say that I get life from these times as much as it is (hopefully) encouraging to my friends.
Sometimes people ask me what are my favorite parts of being a pastor. It’s easy for most people to think it’s the upfront stuff—the teaching and leading. And of course, the Sunday teaching is exciting when I feel like I’m receiving and offering up God’s truth in a way that’s clear and inviting, but the other role that I enjoy is meeting with people and hearing their stories and helping them connect with God’s bigger Story for them.
This wasn’t always true though. Once I served on the pastoral staff of a very large church. While I was there I enjoyed significant friendship with some of my staff and those close within my ministry circle, but as far as the body at large—even though I wasn’t the Lead Pastor—there was always a distance between us and them.
I was searching for some information about about a pastor I heard of who was getting significant traction with his teaching. His church is gaining momentum, the book is published and social media followers are increasing daily. I have to imagine that deep ministry is happening there. Curious about it, I checked out the church’s website and found this under the FAQ:Q: Can I get an appointment with Pastor _____? A: It’s unlikely that you would be successful in being able to arrange a personal appointment with Pastor ______ due to the many other responsibilities occupying his schedule and the large number of such requests that he receives. _______ Church can be a great place to go and receive prayer and Biblical advice or you can always find a Pastor at the front of the church immediately after the weekend services.
I was sad when I read this because I wondered how I might feel if I were feeling drawn to Christ through the worship and teaching at the church, but I had some questions… What if I was needing to work through some things and I wanted to be cared for by the pastor who God is using to impact me. And then I read on the website that “it’s unlikely” that I “would be successful” in arranging a personal appointment with him. Because he has other responsibilities and there are too many other people that he’s meeting with. If I look up front on Sunday maybe someone (I don’t know) might help me.
I think about the persistent widow in Luke 18, who clammered after Jesus even when he initially refused to see her. Seeing her not giving up, Jesus said, “When the son of man comes, will he find faith (like this woman’s)?” It’s true that faith like hers is rare. Most people would have just given up.
The scriptures describe the genesis of the Church in Acts 2 and there it says that they devoted themselves to learning what the Apostles taught, eating together, praying and sharing life as one. And through this, God moved in amazing ways.
Over the years I pastored a more intimate-sized church, I have had my values adjusted. (Will I ever stop italicizing it?) It’s easy to measure the success of a church by the width of its reach. I guess I’m coming to measure it by a different standard… (my waistline!?) The number of people who are being honest about their struggles and growing in their confidence in God’s grace, dependence on Christ and passion in the Spirit.
Want to get lunch sometime? Contact me here